Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Paintings- midterms

This is what I showed at midterms:

Gerhard Nordstrom

Admiring the beautiful paintings of Gerhard Nordstrom today. He's 87 years old and known for his anti-war paintings of the 70's. He is perhaps Sweden's most famous painter. His usually pleasant nature paintings often have dead bodies hidden in them.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Studio and Garden: At the Met: John F. Kensett, Minimalist

Studio and Garden: At the Met: John F. Kensett, Minimalist: Sometimes we are reawakened to an artist's work by seeing it in a new context, which scrubs our eyes clean and opens a space in our mind. This happened to me during my recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new American Wing. In a gallery devoted to 19th century landscape painters, one stood out for me in a startling way: John Frederick Kensett. It's as though I saw a completely new painter, one who looked at the world with a sense of its essential nature, and who left the extraneous behind. A painting: sea and sky, the light of sunset gently touching the waves, the only diagonals barely traced in the upper sky. A painting full of light, but not drama; an everyday glory.

Eaton's Neck, Long Island, 1872; oil on canvas, 18 x 36 in.

A curve of beach and hillock sweep into the space of sky and sea, each element in perfect balance.

Eaton's Neck, detail

Kensett's touch is restrained yet visible, alive in its descriptive power.

Twilight on the Sound, Darien Connecticut, 1872; oil on canvas, 11 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.

Another still sunset, with elements separated by treed masses, a human trace in the floating boat.

Passing Off of the Storm, 1872; oil on canvas, 11 3/8 x 24 1/2 in.

This painting is a marvel of light and air. Clouds are reflected in water of nearly the same hue, yet each is itself: the water transparent and reflective, the clouds indefinite masses. Three simple rectangles make up the composition: water, dark clouds, and the bright band above them.

Passing Off of the Storm, detail.

Small details of boats, a fisherman, a bird taking flight, are added with quick strokes of the brush; they seem to hardly be there at all, just brief touches on the landscape.

A Foggy Sky, 1872; oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 45 3/4 in.

Salt Meadow in October, 1872; oil on canvas, 18 x 30 in.

I photographed the first four paintings above at the museum, then went to the Met's Kensett website page to see if I could find additional works that fit the feeling I had that day of a painter using minimal means to express a great deal. I found the two paintings above, which are not on view in the galleries, but in the study collection, so I will try to see them on my next trip. In preparation for writing this post, I pulled my Kensett book, John Frederick Kensett: An American Master, from my studio bookshelf. It wasn't until then that I realized that all the work I'd been so drawn to were part of what is known as Kensett's "Last Summer's Work", a group of 39 paintings that he completed during a three month period in 1872, mainly around his Darien, Connecticut studio on Contentment Island, an amazing achievement. Tragically, Kensett died a few months later, and in 1874 his brother gave this group of paintings to the Metropolitan Museum, many of which are still in the museum's collection. I can't help but wonder how his work would have developed if he had lived; would he have continued to be inspired by the spare landscape on the Long Island Sound, and emptied his paintings even more of incident? In his Last Summer's Work, Kensett has left us paintings which are quietly attentive to specifics of light and landscape, and through that very sensitive attention transcends them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Emmett Kerrigan

Saw the beautiful paintings of Emmett Kerrigan at Linda Warren Gallery. They look so much better in person than in these images, very Wayne Thiebaud and very Chicago. He actually draws with with the paint, it's so thick.

Art Sinsabaugh


I'm really enjoying the work of photographer Art Sinsabaugh. His long Chicago landscapes don't have the usual dimensions of photography or painting-- something I want to try to do in my own work.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Monday, February 06, 2012

Edward Bieberman

Conspiracy, 1955.

From the LACMA website:

Edward Biberman was born in Philadelphia in 1904; both he and his older brother Herbert, expected to join the family garment business, wound up pursuing careers in the arts (Herbert as a writer for stage and screen). Edward began his career in Paris in the late 1920s, and subsequently settled in New York where he was included in on of the first exhibitions at the newly opened Museum of Modern Art. In 1936 he moved to Los Angeles, where he increasingly incorporated social concerns into his paintings. He also began making mural paintings and taught at the Art Center School. His social and political consciousness was heightened by the Spanish Civil War and the international rise of fascism. Even his portrait subjects, including Lena Horne and Paul Robeson, reflected his political leanings.

Biberman’s career was put on hold for five months in the early 1950s when his brother Herbert, one of the Hollywood Ten, was imprisoned for his refusal to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The experience of living in Los Angeles during this politically charged period profoundly influenced Biberman, whose work of these years – including Conspiracy – clearly reflects the political realities of the day. Although he resigned from the Art Center School (in anticipation of dismissal for his political beliefs), he continued to teach throughout southern California. Biberman lived and worked in Los Angeles, known locally but largely ignored on the national art scene, until his death in 1986.

White Fire Escape, 1956.