March 31, 2010
My sketch from the Louvre including Chardin's dog from "The Buffet"
Going to an art museum can be like going to a party with an inordinate amount of guests; all of whom you feel you should meet. Best bet seems often to find two or three individuals and concentrate on getting to know them better rather than skimming the surface of the entire crowd.
Two summers ago while at the Louvre I sat and spent time with two works, a Fra Angelico crucifixion and a Chardin piece called “The Buffet” – I actually blogged about this particular sketch this past August 3rd. From “The Buffet” where a dog curiously looks at a parrot that is taunting it over a banquet of food. I drew the dog.
I bring it up again here because as of late in reading a small Chardin biography I found out an interesting fact. When I entered the room in the Louvre with Chardin’s work I scanned the walls and found “The Buffet” for some reason very engaging; it seems I haven’t bee the only one.
Apparently the work was studied by a number of artists in the 19th century. Philippe Rousseau ‘spent many dejected hours under the spell of this picture, despairing already the lack of success of any imitations of it.’ Cezanne, Van Gogh and later Matisse would also copy the work.
"The Buffet" by Chardin, dated from 1728; the Louvre
As Helene Prigent and Pierre Rosenberg wrote, “They (Cezanne, Van Gogh and Matisse) were attracted not so much by the subject matter or by any particular technique as by his evident relish of painting itself, in all its glorious variety. That a painting could succeed without the need for a pretext, a story or underlying idea, that it could render with wonderful precision not only the physical reality of things but also the intensity of our emotional relationship with them, that was the truth so subtly revealed by Chardin.”
I concur wholeheartedly and felt an odd twinge knowing that I have been in the footsteps of some pretty extraordinary artists who have also been drawn to this work. Good company indeed.
March 29, 2010
George Bellows, The Lone Tenement, 1909 oil on canvas 36 1/8 x 48 1/8 inches (91.8 x 122.3 cm.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
As of late I have been reading a book on George Bellows. He’s part of the “ash can school” in New York in the first half of the 20th century (ironically the term “ash can school” was coined for them a good thirty years after they painted).
This group of artists that Bellows was a part of (some others are John Sloan, Robert Henri etc…) would be known for painting nitty-gritty paintings of the goings on in the big city; large tenement houses, boxing matches, crowds, construction sites, and nights scenes in the city would all be in their lexicon’s of subjects.
Here is a quote I ran on of Bellows that captures their ethos:
“I am always very amused with people who talk about lack of subjects for painting. The great difficulty is that you can not stop to sort them out enough. Wherever you go they are waiting for you. The men of the docks, the children at the river edge, polo crowds, prize fights, summer evenings and romance, village folk, young people. old people, the beautiful, the ugly. Everywhere the difficulty that I have had, even when I was quite young, was to stop long enough and do the thing. As a student I was always eager to do the tremendous, vital things that pressed all about me. It seems to me that an aritist must be a spectator of life; a reverential, enthusiastic, emotional spectator, and then the great dramas of human nature will surge through his mind.”
George Bellows 1917
(So no complaints out there as to what to make images of!)
March 25, 2010
Parable: noun; A short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
So, I have been invited to participate in an exhibition of works influenced by the parables found in the New Testament. I have finished the paintings and am currently launching in the pieces sculptural and assemblage frames.
I thought it would be fun to put them out here and see if you can figure out what parables they are of. Some information (such as figures) are missing because they are going to be a part of sculptural aspect of the work.
So can you name what parables that these paintings are of? In a couple of weeks I’ll post a comment on this post with the answer.
March 23, 2010
Th Champion Single Skulls, 1871 Thomas Eakins, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
In the span of years from 1870 to 1878 Thomas Eakins would paint some of his most memorable paintings; numerous images of men sculling on the rivers of Philadelphia, the allegorical painting of William Rush, and the striking “Gross Clinic.” In that period of time he would make a total of $140 from the sales of his paintings. In fact he never made a living selling his pictures, and yet now he is considered pivotal in art history in America.
The Gross Clinic, 1875, Thomas Eakins, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia Penn.
Regarding the “Gross Clinic” which Eakins worked on for most of a year, Dr. Gross tired so much in posing for the painting that in exasperation shouted, “Eakins, I wish you were dead!” The large painting would be rejected from being part of the United States Centennial Exhibition in 1876, which Eakins had hoped to be included in, in hopes of securing his place as a vital American painter. The stark realistic rendering of the teaching hospital of Dr. Gross was too bloody for most. The painting would be exhibiting but not in the art hall but the Army Post Hospital exhibit. It hung on the wall of a mock hospital complete with paper-mache’ patients. A friend reported that Eakins nearly cried when he saw where it had been displayed.
I don’t mean to continue to the myth on the starving artist that doesn’t get notiritiy until there dead, but what I can say in reading biographies of artists as of late, it seems the art community runs about 60-70% correct on what it feels is “the best art” of the time. And different eras find one artist often more interesting than others; historical artist fall in and out of favor like fashion (were the French impressionist popular in the 80′s and 90′s or what?).
If I’m learning anything as of late it seems like much of what it is to be a successful artist is to keep dialoging with what has come before you, what is currently happening, and make what your heart calls you to create. As an artist you simply have a responsibility to make the work and let it be.
(The information given here on Eakins is from a wonderful little book: The Essential Thomas Eakins, by Alice A. Carter; Abrams Inc, New York 2001)
March 18, 2010
Me and the Guggenheim- kind of disappointing to be honest. They didn't have a lot up, and were between shows.
I was able to spend a couple of days quickly running around New York city the beginning of this week. I had a wonderful time catching up with friends and seeing as much art as I could cram into a very short period of time. Man oh man there is so much to see. Needless to say I need to get back soon. I feel like I simply scratched the surface of the metropolis’ offerings.
All the public art and buildings were a delight as well as the constant flow of humanity. People are a very good thing you know
Tall buildings indeed.
The only thing I found very ironic about New York city was the proliferation of Starbucks. With New York and all of its originality I was intrigued to find out what delightful and innovative coffee shops they had; instead I found the Target of expresso was simply EVERYWHERE. A friend informed me that since I was on the upper east and west sides I was in areas where mom and pop shops don’t have enough money to start up because the area is expensive. Seems I need to explore more. Feel free to make recommendations.
New York is a town definitely worth checking out just make sure you are flush with cash. Dinner can easily run you $20, and that’s for a glass of wine and soup. The city was quite the contrast to my recent trip to Bisbee Arizona; indeed.
Met up with a student of mine Felix who is studying this semester in NY. We had a good time seeing as much as we could of the Met in one day. That building is three blocks long!
March 10, 2010
12"x12" I've been pleased how these paintings have been coming along. Now just wait till you see them with all their additions. I'm looking forward to getting them in their finished state.
Here is the third of what will be four storm paintings. Their assemblage/sculptural frames are coming along, but to be honest I want to show those to you when they’re in their finished state. Maybe I’ll give you a peek at some of the sculptural pieces as they get built. We’ll see. I’ve been enjoying engaging with these weather systems in oil. I have found myself looking a lot at clouds lately.
I’ll be off line here for about a week, but the blogs will start up again in a bit. Hope you are well.
March 8, 2010
Rose Johnson in front of her mural on a hotel in Bisbee. (Photo from Sunset magazine)
In 1995 in Phoenix Arizona I became a part of a long established co-op gallery called MARS. There I would meet a quirky woman with a British accent and a voracious drive to make artwork. Rose Johnson was one of those rare individuals that simply worked to embody a world where she could make art. I was struck that she lived as cheaply as she could so that she could devote her life to her passion. Rose’s objective was simply to make art. I found her to be amazingly prolific in her production, and as she continued to create work her style and technique got better and better.
Rose would move to Bisbee Arizona several years after I met her and found the old mining town breathe a new life into her work. While recently there I found myself very sentimental visiting several murals that grace the walls of the town; thinking about her often as I walked the streets.
A mural Rose painted on the main drag in Bisbee
A year ago on May 31st Rose was killed tragically at age 48. While in Bali she died due to ingesting a drink laced with methanol (wood alcohol); 28 people in all died in the senseless poisoning. She is missed. I found Rose to have a kind-heart and a sincerity as she negotiated her life and hopes through the imagery she created.
You can read more about her on these sites:
Thank you Rose for all the art.
Good seeing all your work here Rose. You are missed.
March 5, 2010
Much to check out in Bisbee. And you wondered what to do with those old bottle caps, well now you know. (photo courtesy Aaron Cromer)
Although I grew up in Phoenix Arizona, I had never been down to Tombstone and Bisbee. When in Arizona the past week I was able to visit a dear friend of mine Aaron in Tucson and we got behind the wheel and went on a day-trip adventure to these two unique desert cities.
It has been said that Bisbee is a mining town that became a refugee for hippies in the sixties. The town definitely has an individual spirit with its buildings appearing to be assembled out of cast off materials and whatever was at hand. It also has a thriving art community, not to mention mosaics, welded sculptures, yard art, junk sculptures and murals around every corner.
Some nice welded yard art overlooking the mined hills.
It’ old downtown strip is riddled with galleries and anitique stores. A gallery that impressed me with its mission was Belleza Gallery. The artwork was well crafted and catered to a “decorative” market, but what I thought was wonderful is that it was owned and operated by a non-profit called Renaissance House that works to rehibilitate formerly homeless women. Talk about an art gallery with a heart- too bad there aren’t more of those, spaces that are about making the world a more beautiful place on multiple levels. There webiste is:
If you were wondering how to decorate the exterior of your home, Bisbee will give you lots of ideas. (photo courtesy Aaron Cromer)
With psychedelic music coming out of it, it was difficult to tell if this was a home or store. Notice this was photographed on the opposite side of the street. (photo courtesy Aaron Cromer)
A unique patio at someones home
March 3, 2010
Stephanie Trenchard; Flying Dreamer, 2004, cast glass with handmade inclusions, 22"x11"x5.5"
Darted off to Arizona for a wedding and during the weekend I was able to dash over to the Mesa Art Center (
). I was able to see a nice Artic photo show, pastels of the developmentally disabled, and their current juried national crafts show.
In the crafts show I was very impressed with the sand cast glass sculptures of Stephanie Trenchard, which they had two of on exhibit. Very well crafted, the work has also a delightful sense of whimsy with nice nods to art history. Check out her site, she has some beautiful work: