- RSS Channel Showcase 4211003
- RSS Channel Showcase 6125711
- RSS Channel Showcase 5066979
- RSS Channel Showcase 7450210
Articles on this Page
- 06/09/17--09:26: _Camillo Innocenti: ...
- 06/20/17--10:14: _Michele Cascella: Y...
- 07/03/17--09:48: _Luigi Ghirri: Mixin...
- 07/06/17--00:01: _"They Told Me I Sho...
- 08/10/17--18:08: _Johanna Grussner: O...
- 08/27/17--16:31: _Ernst Haas: Photogr...
- 09/07/17--13:41: _Artichokes & Ardor
- 09/18/17--13:04: _From A Box Of Old P...
- 09/24/17--17:42: _Elusive Brenda Bullion
- 10/01/17--18:20: _Essex Moonrise
- 10/08/17--14:12: _The Georgics Of Cha...
- 10/22/17--15:59: _Harry Van Der Weyde...
- 11/02/17--15:16: _Linda Nochlin Looks...
- 11/07/17--12:31: _Bacchus In Autumn
- 11/21/17--13:25: _Stagedoom
- 12/25/17--13:22: _Luminance
- 01/02/18--13:41: _A Thousand And One ...
- 01/10/18--08:21: _Disturbing The Univ...
- 01/17/18--07:45: _Read Like An Irish ...
- 01/26/18--13:37: _La maison de Biala
- 01/30/18--14:56: _Joan Murray: Poet F...
- 02/07/18--11:26: _Gaslight: Jozsef Ri...
- 02/13/18--09:20: _Patricia Chidlaw: S...
- 02/25/18--13:41: _Consider The Olive ...
- 03/14/18--07:52: _Georges Le Brun: T...
- 06/09/17--09:26: Camillo Innocenti: The Cottagers
- 06/20/17--10:14: Michele Cascella: Youthful Prodigy
- 07/03/17--09:48: Luigi Ghirri: Mixing Anthropology And Metaphysics
- 07/06/17--00:01: "They Told Me I Should Go To Rehab....."
- 08/10/17--18:08: Johanna Grussner: Out Of This World
- 08/27/17--16:31: Ernst Haas: Photographing Intimate Space
- 09/07/17--13:41: Artichokes & Ardor
- 09/18/17--13:04: From A Box Of Old Photographs
- 09/24/17--17:42: Elusive Brenda Bullion
- 10/01/17--18:20: Essex Moonrise
- 10/08/17--14:12: The Georgics Of Charles Daubigny & Childe Hassam
- 10/22/17--15:59: Harry Van Der Weyden: An American Tomalist Abroad
- 11/02/17--15:16: Linda Nochlin Looks At Art. Art Looks Back At Her.
- 11/07/17--12:31: Bacchus In Autumn
- 11/21/17--13:25: Stagedoom
- 12/25/17--13:22: Luminance
- 01/02/18--13:41: A Thousand And One Nights - More Or Less
- 01/10/18--08:21: Disturbing The Universe: Guido Gozzano
- 01/17/18--07:45: Read Like An Irish Woman
- 01/26/18--13:37: La maison de Biala
- 01/30/18--14:56: Joan Murray: Poet From New York
- 02/07/18--11:26: Gaslight: Jozsef Rippl-Ronai's Park At Night
- 02/13/18--09:20: Patricia Chidlaw: Space,Time
- 02/25/18--13:41: Consider The Olive Tree
- 03/14/18--07:52: Georges Le Brun: The Man Who Passed By
It is the kind of tromp l'oeil picture that many an amateur has accidentally produced, but in this instance the result is so perfectly achieved that you want to know who is the photographer - and where exactly is he in relation to the other elements in the photo? Has he risen from some watery deep just beyond the frame? And when you learn that his name is Luigi Ghirri, you wonder why that name is not familiar.
Luigi Ghirri began his career with a sense that everything that could be done with photography had already been accomplished. He spoke often of how deeply affected he was by the view of Earth photographed from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. "It was not only the image of the entire world, but the image that contained all other images of the world." From this, Ghirri extrapolated the idea of the image-within-image, a framing technique he would use in his photographs. He brought the eye of an anthropologist to bear on the seemingly unremarkable sights that we see everyday but with an intensity that has been described as metaphysical, a word often applied to artists of Emilia-Romagna region, like Giorgio de Chirico and Giorgio Morandi. Ghirri called them his "sentimental geography" but that does not exhaust the interest of, say, those yellow traffic lights bobbing in the fog
Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992) grew up in the northern province of Emilia-Romagna. A temperate area of broad fertile plains, fed by the Po River, it was created millennia ago when the sea retreated, leaving marshlands as it retreated. The young Ghirri moved to Modena, a small city but no backwater, located near Bologna, the regional capitol and home of the oldest university in the world. His studies in surveying and graphic design coalesced in a new hobby - taking pictures - that quickly became his chosen work.
Conceiving his photographs mostly in series, Ghirri presented them in books more often than in exhibitions which may have limited their initial impact. His first book Kodachrome, published in 1978, featured the tightly cropped images that would familiar in his work.
Ghirri's last home was at Roncosesi, not far from where he was born. Although he traveled, he found all that he needed for his work there. Formal, cerebral, witty, Ghirri always intended his photographs to explore rather than merely represent what was before him.
“Everything has a blighted, faded quality about it now. Still, if you look at it for a long time, the old charm reemerges. And that is why I can see that I will lose absolutely nothing by staying where I am, even by contenting myself with watching things go by, like a spider in its web waiting for flies. You need to look at things for a long time…” – Vincent van Gogh
Ghirri copied this quotation from a letter written by Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo in his own journal.
Although admired during his lifetime, Ghirri's work has only grown in importance since his untimely death from a heart attack at the age of forty-nine. "...(N)ow, in their faded and aging present state, Ghirri’s prints from the 1970s and ’80s signal themselves as relics of the first wave of the then-new colour photography, carrying with them both prescience and nostalgia.." Christy Lange wrote for Frieze in 2011.
1. Paris (self-portrait in reflection), 1976, reprinted from Kodachrome, 1978, reprinted London: 2012.
3. Fagnano Olona - elementary school designed by Aldo Rossi, 1985, Pompidou Center, Paris.
4. Reggio Emilia, 1973, Pompidou Center, Paris.
While I'm away from the keyboard,I hope you will explore the archives here and, if you find something that interests you, please comment and I promise to respond to each one as soon as I am able.
Original photograph by Peter Librizzi, restoration by Renee Ing Akana at 28moons
When I'm looking at you
I hear out of this world
The music that no mortal ever knew
The fairy tale I read when I was so high
No armored knight out of a book
Would find a more enchanted Lorelei than I
After reaching so long for a star
All at once from a long and lonely night time
And despite time, here you are
If you said we were through
So let me fly out of this world
And spend the next eternity or two with you
After reaching so long for a star
All at once from a long and lonely night time
And despite time, here you are
If you said we were through
So let me fly out of this world
And spend the next eternity or two with you"
- Out Of This World, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, music by Harold Arlen.
Melisma is a technique familiar to us from its use in gospel music; its use originated in early Christian plainsong. Unlike syllabic singing where each syllable is accorded one note, when a singer moves from one note to another on a single syllable, that’s melisma. When Johnny Mercer came to write this lyric in 1944, he had been working in Hollywood for almost ten years and it shows in its style; this was no Tin Pan Alley show tune to be belted to the rafters for applause. Rather, it existed on an altogether more intimate emotional plane. Wilder was certainly right to describe Out Of This World as not being typical of Harold Arlen's songs, but then it is not typical of anyone else's that I can think of either.
Listen to Johanna Grussner sing Out Of This World.
Visit Johanna Grussner's website.
No More Blues, a recording by Johanna Grussner, Naxos Jazz: 2005.
Photograph of Johanna Grussner, 2010, courtesy of Allaboutjazz.com.
The nubbed leaves
in a tease of green, thinning
down to the membrane:
the quick, purpled
beginnings of the male.
Then the slow hairs of the heart:
the choke that guards its trophy,
its vegetable goblet.
The meat of it lies, displayed
the stub-root aching in its oil.
-"Artichoke" by Robin Robertson
Mabel Allington Royds (1874-1941)- Artichoke, 1935, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.
The charm of both drawings and watercolors is their customary intimate scale. They are suited to domestic spaces and invite the viewer to live comfortably with them at length. The gigantism of many recent paintings renders them more suitable to public spaces; how to relate to something that pushes the viewer away, maybe even out the door, makes them arrogant companions.
Visit Corners Gallery
Image: Brenda Bullion - untitled, 1973, crayon and watercolor, Steven Barbash Collection, Herbert F. Johnson Museu, Ithaca, NY.
To name the towns and beaches that border the Great Marsh is, for me like fingering a string of beads, each one more beautiful than the last" Newburyport, Plum Island, Ipswich, Crane Beach, Essex, The Dragon. Moviemakers concur: The Thomas Crown Affair was filmed at Castle Hill in Ipswich and The Witches Of Eastwick at Crane Beach, while The Crucible was shot on nearby Choate Island.
Salt marshes are nature's lungs, their grasslands and tidal estuaries filter out storm water and pollution, thus protecting the fish, insects, mammals, and sea birds that live there and, not incidentally, their human neighbors. But more than that, they are beautiful to behold; the air really does shimmer with a luminance I have seen nowhere else.
John Leslie Breck (1859-1899), who was born at sea near Hong Kong and spent his final years in and around Ipswich, made his most evocative paintings of the littoral zone, that restless, shape-shifting place between land and sea, a objective correlative to his favorite time for painting - the crepuscular hour between day and night. And so it is that the blue marsh estuaries have turned violet and pink. I wonder if Breck had ever had the twilight experience of seeing the earth's shadow in the eastern sky as the sun sets in the west, a demarcation between blue and violet that is a product of particles of the earth's atmosphere. I first saw this as a child living in Newburyport one evening when my parents pointed it out to me from our backyard.
Claude Monet settled his family at Giverny in 1883, just beginning to enjoy some commercial success in his forties, thanks to the efforts of his Parisian dealer Durand-Ruel. He began by renting the house at Giverny, only becoming able to purchase it seven years later when he turned fifty. It was no part of his intention to establish an art colony in the picturesque Norman village but by 1887 the first group of his American admirers had descended on him for the summer: Willard Leroy Metcalf, Theodore Robinson, and John Leslie Breck. Breck became an especially close friend of the artist. However a romance with Monet's stepdaughter Blanche ended badly and sent Breck home in 1890. But Breck returned an altered painter, his colors brighter, his brushwork looser, having cast his lot with the plein air or outdoor painters, He died, an apparent suicide, at thirty-nine years old just as critics reckoned that he had come into his own as an artist.
John Leslie Breck - Essex Massachusetts Moonrise, Breck family estate, courtesy of Boston Center for the Arts.
I had never thought much about Daubignyuntil I saw Fields in the Month of June. But there it was and I came to relish the times I sat on a bench in front of it, absorbing it or being absorbed into it, the light coming down from a window high above, my own personal floating world of meadows and agriculture, made seamless by the drive to Ithaca through other similar meadows. It hardly matters whether Hassam painted his meadow in England or the United States, any more than that Daubigny's meadow is French; there is something charming and familiar in this vision of agriculture as human handwriting on the land.
From a family of artists, Charles-Francois Daubigny (1817-1878) had his first lessons at home with his father. Like Hassam after him, Daubigny apprenticed with an engraver; indeed his first exhibited works were prints. His attentiveness to landscape was intensified by the year Daubigny spent with his friend Jules Breton aboard Le Botin, a houseboat converted into a movable studio; the two artists floated along the rivers of northern France, the Seine the Marne, and Oise, on an unmatched peripatetic painting trip.
You can read The Georgics by Virgil courtesy of MIT.
1. Childe Hassam - Sunrise - Autumn, 1884, oil on canvas, 12in. x 18in. Sullivan Goss: An American Art Gallery, Santa Barbara.
2. Charles-François Daubigny, Fields in the Month of June, 1874, oil on canvas, 88in. x 53in., Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY.
The sun was almost below the horizon on the evening in 1898 that Van der Weyden set out to paint. In the shadow of the cliffs at left, two men anchor a boat while another man rows toward shore and into the shadows. Looking closely, you find a varied palette of tones has went into the making of this lavender-blue image. The affinity with early photography is obvious in tonalism's monochromatic effects. James McNeill Whistler and George Inness are the two American artists best known for their atmospheric paintings (and in Whistler's case, also prints).
Kathleen Gilje's Linda Nochlin in Manet's Bar at the Olympia is a tribute to a great historian that is as layered as Manet's original; a young woman stands in the public eye, meeting the gaze of all comers. As an aspiring scholar, Nochlin looked beyond the popular Impressionists to their forebears, the Realists, who offered a revolutionary reinterpretation of art history: 'II faut etre de son temps'[“It is necessary to be of one’s time.”] In her studies of the French painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Nochlin saw more than just a magnificent recording eye but more, an encyclopedic knowledge of visual prototypes. Like Courbet, Nochlin would make her mark on history by reinventing it. Gilje began her career as a conservator at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples Italy. From restoration to reinterpretation seemed a natural progression; her 'revised' version of Jan van Eyck's The Arnolfini Wedding would bring a smile to the face of all but the most hardened aesthetic sensibilities.
She was born Linda Weinberg to a family of secular Jewish intellectuals living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. And lucky to grow up just as New York City was becoming the center of the art world, usurping the place long held by Paris, then recovering from the twin devastations of war and Nazi occupation. Vassar College, even in 1947, was no artistic backwater on the Hudson; its campus galleries were hung with paintings by artists as various of Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O'Keeffe, Kay Sage, Florine Stettheimer and Veira da Silva. Just as important for a developing aesthetic awareness was the presence on campus of women teachers and the school's brilliant background as a feminist institution.
Her interest in art history made Deborah Kass obviously keen to the ways Linda Nochlin turned art upside down and gave it a salutary shake. A cursory look at images from The Warhol Project might lead the viewer to include Deborah Kass in the category of art appropriators that Andy Warhol perfected with his Brillo Boxes. In place of Warhol's cool detachment, Kass offers up heartfelt admiration for her subjects. Orange Disaster - Linda Nochlin is, like others in The Warhol Project, a series of variations on her chosen theme; its title is Kass's smiling critique of Andy Warhol's dead-ended irony. Thank you. Linda Nochlin, you turned us upside down and made us infinitely more than we would have been without your work.
Read an obituary for Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) at New York Times.
For further reading:
Realism by Linda Nochlin, New York, Penguin Press: 1971.
Women, Art and Power by Linda Nochlin, New York HarperCollins: 1988.
Bathers, Bodies, Beauty: the visceral eye by Linda Nochlin, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press: 2006.
Courbet by Linda Nochlin, New York, Thames & Hudson: 2007.
1. Kathleen Gilje - Linda Nochlin in Manet's Bar at the Folies Bergere, 2005, courtesy of the artist.
2. Deborah Kass - Orange Disaster - Linda Nochlin, 1997, Paul Kasmin Gallery, NYC.
For his stewardship of the restoration, Alain Baraton, head gardener of Versailles then and now, received so many awards from a grateful nation that he wrote "I have more decorations than a Christmas tree." Baraton's memoir of his life in the world's "grandest garden" was a best seller in France and its charm is evident in translation. A middle child in a family of seven children, Baraton did not excel at school; he recalls his time at horticultural school as being more servitude than liberation. An impromptu visit to Versailles in the summer of 1976 resulted in the dream job he hadn't even imagined: gardener to the Gods.
1. Alain Baraton - The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World's Grandest Garden, translated by Christopher Brent Murray, New York, Rizzoli: 2014.
2. Thomas Hedin, The Sculpture of Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy, Columbia (University of Missouri Press) 1983.
Image: Jean-Baptiste Leroux - Le bassin de Bacchus en automne -Chateau de Versailles, c.1672-75, photo from the collection of Jean-Baptiste Leroux, Paris.
Al primero que llega."
"They swear to be faithful yet marry the first man who proposes."
In Goya's original (below), all the participants are morally compromised, from the nubile woman offering herself to the highest bidder and the church fathers who guide her, to the watching crowd. Thompson made significant alterations to the image for Stagedoom. Her nakedness emphasizes the young woman's vulnerability at the same time that the mask she wears dehumanizes her by hiding her facial expression. The priests offer no comfort; their teachings imprison her. And who could doubt the evil intentions of the hovering bird-like creatures, a frequent feature in Thompson's paintings. The smiling death's head gives the game away.
Stagedoom, painted in 1962, the year Thompson visited Spain, exhibits a marked understanding of the painful road to womanhood with its potential for physical and emotional violation. In Goya's acerbic prints, Thompson recognized "the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual " he had experienced during his Kentucky childhood.
Stagedoom, typical of the intimate scale of his watercolors, is reminiscent of such 19th century predecessors as Granet or Harpignes, while his oil paintings combine the influences of Abstract Expressionism with the saturated colors of Pop Art. Unlike Andy Warhol, whose appropriation of advertising images constituted a poke in the eye to all but a knowing few when they were made, Bob Thompson worked in utter, bold seriousness. The artists he revered, Piero della Francesca, Titian, and Nicolas Poussin, all masters of classical European art, gave him a symbolic vocabulary. Their compositions provided Thompson a ready scaffolding for his technicolor nightmares where humans and animals interact, often interchangeably, to illuminate human folly.
“I began to think, my god, I look at Poussin and think he's got it all there. Why are all these people running around trying to be original when they should just go ahead and be themselves and that's the originality of it all...You can't draw a new form... [the] human figure almost encompasses every form there is...it hit me that why don't I work with these things that are already there...because that is what I respond to most of all.” - Bob Thompson
1. Bob Thompson - Stagedoom, 1962, opaque watercolor and charcoal on woven paper, approximately 21 x 18 inches, Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute, Utica.
2. Francisco Goya - El si pronuncian y la mano alargan, plate number 2 from Los Caprichos, c. 1795-97, intaglio print, Brooklyn Museum.
Although not so obviously based on the delicate glazes that mesmerize viewers of Girl With A Pearl Earring, their cunning use in Girl With A Red Hat harmonizes the muted colors of the tapestry that provides the background for the young woman in her theatrical red hat. And what a hat the artist makes it: feathery strokes of orange shade gradually to vermillion, the underside of the hat definitely deep purple, reflecting light onto her face through flecks of white paint. This is what luminance does, it makes us see light where it is not but ought to be. Luminance is the term of art for the relative brightness that enables us to interpret three-dimensional space in two dimensional representations.
In his own lifetime Vermeer (1632-1675) was a moderately successful painter although his portraits and other commissions were sorely stretched to support the fifteen children Johan and his wife Catharina produced. So it may be unsurprising that no documents in Vermeer's own words have come down to us. Considering the silliness of some of the speculations that have been committed to paper about the origins of Vermeer's paintings, critics might do better to follow Vermeer's own example.
Johannes Vermeer - Girl With A Red Hat, c. 1665, dimensions: 9 1/8 x 7 1/8, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
in refreshing capes of black satin
they're typing out the new aubade
daybreak just dictated
to see how the gasping train
climbs the ladder of frail ties
to get to the mouth of the tunnel
and be sucked in like a licorice stick
I'm queasy this evening
bring me on of those 7-colored
cocktails like they drink in Paris
I wanna go somewhere over the rainbow
Discouraged by the drabness and lack of imagination he encountered at the Venetian Art Academy, Vittorio Zecchin took an eight year detour as a civil servant, before having a second try at the art life. It took five years (1909-14) and a dozen panels to complete the commission for The Thousand And One Nights, Zecchin's interpretation of the story of Aladdin. Intended for the lobby of the aptly named Hotel Terminus, the ensemble was split up by the upheavals of war. Zecchin wisely set up his own hybrid laboratory/gallery where he could pursue painting, tapestry, and glass-making all at once and without interference. Zecchin's stylistic debt to Gustav Klimt needs no underlining at this point.
Recently the Musee d'Orsay in Paris was fortunate to acquire one of the panels (above) however, like Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series (MoMA - NYC and The Philips Collection-Washington, DC) it remains split, some pieces in private collections and some at Ca'Pesaro in Venice,
Vittorio Zecchin - The Thousand and One Nights, 1914, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
With its unkempt garden, its vast rooms, its fine
seventeenth-century balconies decked with greenery,
the villa seems cribbed from certain verses of mine,
a model villa, a piece of postcard scenery ...
It thinks of its past to ease its present gloom,
of jolly gatherings under ancient oaks,
of legendary feasts in the dining room,
and dances in the great hall, now stripped of antiques.
For where, in better times, the Ansaldos called,
or the d'Azelglios, or this or that contessa,
some motorcar now jerks up, its tires bald,
and hirsute foreigners batter the Medusa,
First comes a bark, then footsteps, then the lazy
creak of the door ... In that hush (think cloister or tomb)
lives Toto Merumeni with his ailing mum,
a grizzled great-aunt and an uncle who's crazy.
excerpt from "Toto Merumeni" by Guido Gozzano, translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock, from The FSG Book Of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux: 2012.
T.S. Eliot called "Prufrock" (1911) his first perfect poem; leaving aside any quibbles about that definition, it is still a poem most poets would be happy to claim as one of theirs. It was "Prufrock" that attracted the attention of another - already successful - American expat - Ezra Pound.
These two men, Toto Merumeni and J. Alfred Profrock, are decidedly older than their fledging creators (Prufrock worries that women will ridicule him for his baldness) but both share a wariness in the face of material progress accompanied as it is by changes in social relations, not least between women and men. If no one has yet done a doctoral thesis comparing these two poems...
My favorite catch-all definition of free verse has been attributed to the Englishman Richard Aldington (1916) who described it a based on cadence, that is "(I)t is the sense of perfect balance of flow and rhythm. Not only must the syllables so fall as to increase and continue the movement, but the whole poem must be as rounded and recurring as the circular swing of a balanced pendulum." That last bit really ups the ante on a poet. While Eliot admired, with some reservations, Walt Whitman's versification, he was deeply moved by the example of Jules Laforgue (1860-1887), a short-lived poet (Laforgue was born in Uruguay to French expatriates but moved to France as a child). Laforgue was the first French translator of Walt Whitman so there is simpatico at work here. Both the Symbolists and the Impressionist schools of French poetry have argued over custody pf Laforgue for several times longer than Laforgue's own life.
As for our two imaginary gentlemen, they appear like the Roman god Janus, fated to look both ways, to the future and the past.
Fortunato Depero - Cavalcata Fantastica, 1920, prate collection - Geneva, courtesy Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
I offer a few suggestions from my own recent reading for your delectation and look forward to yur responses.
"On the 6th of April 2012, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, 11, 521 red chairs were laid out in rows along the eight hundred metres of the Sarajevo high street. One empty chair for every Sarajevan killed during the 1,425 days of siege. Six hundred and forty-three small chairs represented the children killed by snipers and the heavy artillery fired from the surrounding mountains." - excerpt from The Little Red Chairs
Read the article "A Tipping Point " at The Guardian.
For further reading:
A Woman Without A Country by Eavan Boland, New York, W.W. Norton: 2014.
Academy Street by Mary Costello, New York, Farrar Straus and Giroux: 2015.
The Green Road by Anne Enright, New York, W.W. Norton: 2015.
A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride. Minneapolis, Coffee House Press: 2014.
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien, New York, Little, Brown and Company: 2016.
Alan Betson for The Irish Times - Anne Enright, 2015
unidentified photographer for The Irish Times, Mary Costello, 2014
Eric Luke for The Irish Times - Eimear McBride, 2016
Bryan O'Brien for The Irish Times - Edna O'Brien, 2015
"I have always Matisse in my belly." - Janice Biala
Biala seems not have been bothered by any demarcation lines between realism and abstraction, but then she was not only a New Yorker. She was French, and European, and before that she was Polish. Or, again as in the later paintings of Pierre Bonnard, the picture plane is there to played with. In Canaries in Their Cages, the birds are spectators to the real show - strips of venetian blind and sunlight traversing two separate spaces with compositional mastery.
There is a playful intimacy in Biala's paintings that never lapses into sentimentality. Wilted tulips or a kitchen that looks to be a utilitarian, even unisex, room in a modern apartment rather than the workshop of an immiserated housewife, take the place of the sensuous odalisques that appear, sometimes incongruously, in Matisse. But then nudes have a way of doing that in the works of painters in any style you can name. On a more technical note, Biala using more shading than Matisse and the white areas of her canvases are not fetishized, either. Art historians still argue over the relationship between Fauvism and Abstract Expressionism, the bridge being the bold use of color. Biala brought a unique intelligence to the orchestration of color and form, as you can see.
On a visit to France in 1930 Biala met and fell in love with British novelist Ford Madox Ford and that was that; she stayed in France until 1939, by which time Ford had died and there was political unrest roiling Europe once again. In the meantime she received several much admired gallery exhibitions in New York. Although she eventually married an Alsatian artist in New York and moved back to Paris in 1947, she always maintained a studio in the United States.
Biala’s paintings are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
1. Biala - Horse and Carriage, 1983, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC.
2. Biala - Canaries in Their Cages, 1986, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC.
3. Biala - Five Tulips, 1997, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC.
4. Biala - Blue Kitchen, 1969, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC.
6. Biala - Vase fond noir - faude rose en haute - la rose, 1976, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC.
Find more about The Visitor: Poems From the Eastman House by Joan Murray with photographs by Gertrude Kasebier (1852-1934).
Murray has also been a poet in residence at Olana, the historic home, now a museum, to the painter Frederic Edwin Church (18261900).
For further reading:
Swimming For The Ark: New and Selected Poems, Buffalo, White Pine Press: 2015
Dancing On The Edge, Boston, Beacon Press: 2002
Looking For The Parade, New York, W.W. Norton: 2000
Queen Of The Mist: The Forgotten Heroine of Niagara, Boston, Beacon Press: 1999
The Same Water, Middletown, CT, Wesleyan University Press: 1990
1. Gertrude Kasebier - Amos Two Bulls, Dakota Sioux, c.1900, Library of Congress.
Gertrude Kasebier - Dorothy, 1903, private collection, courtesy of Artnet.
Ethereal and atypical, this delicate pastel by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai is suggestive of much that is specific to the period when it was created (c.1892-95). If you think of the works being created at the time by the Belgian symbolists, you can imagine its atmosphere is vaguely anxious. The cluster of tree trunks appear as insubstantial as a group of hovering ghosts. Rippl-Ronai creates this effect by making them appear as they would in a photographic negative: they are pale against the dark night. And speaking of the Belgian, we will see similar trees in the 20th century paintings of a another Belgian, Leon Spilliaert (1861-1946), their (primarily) vertical lines suggesting interpretations as various as their individual trunks.
Like William Degouve de Nuncques' pastel Nocturne in the Parc Royale, Brussels, also in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay, Rippl-Ronai's Un parc la nuit is a love letter to artificial illumination. We moderns may think about light pollution or the Dark Sky Society that supports the mission of astronomers but to people of the 19th century, gaslights offered the tantalizing prospect of nightlife, the nocturnal excitement offered by theaters, cafes, clubs, and bars. We enjoy Un parc la nuit for the evanescent aesthetic it embodies but it can enrich our experience if we understand some measure of what its contemporaries saw in it.
While in France he also became friends with the sculptor Aristide Maillol. His portrait of Maillol won a gold medal at Vienna in 1914. In 1925, Rippl-Ronai was invited by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to contribute a self-portrait to their gallery of self-portraits.
To read more about the friendship between Jozsef Rippl-Ronai and Aristide Mailloll.
Jozsef Rippl-Ronai - Un parc la nuit (A Park at Night), c.1892-185, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
Wonderful is this wall of stone,
wrecked by fate.
The city buildings crumble,
the bold works of the giants decay.
Reefs have caved in, towers collapsed.
Barred gates have gone,
gateways have gaping mouths,
Hoarfrost clings to the mortar.
- anonymous poet, from The Battle Of Malden And Other Old English Poems, edited by B. Mitchell, London: 1965
John Brinckerhoff Jackson (1909-1991), was a pioneer in the study of cultural landscape and founder of the magazine Landscape in 1951. He was known for his complex and humane stance on the state of what we call the environment than some radicals of recent decades, commenting that "death is seen as merely the first step in the producing of compost," a credo that resembles an early but short-lived Christian heresy. Jackson, who was born in Dinard, France, taught at Harvard and lived in the American southwest for several decades, His peripatetic life supplied the intimate familiarity with both new and old landscapes that characterized his writing. Jackson had a toleration and, more than that, a taste for the contradictions in human actions.
1. Under the 280
2. Sunrise at the Palace
3. No Vacancy
4. The Red Chair
5. Fish Bowl
"Nobody knows how long it takes to kill an olive.
Drought, axe, fires, admitted failures. Hack one down,
grub out a ton of mainroot for fuel, and next spring
every side-root send up shoots. A great frost
can leave the trees seedless for years; they revive.
Invading armies will fell them. They return
through the burnt-out ribs of siege machines.
Only the patient goat, nibbling its way down the ages
has malice to master the olive. Sometimes, they say,
a man finds an orchard, fired and goat-cropped
centuries back. He settles and fences;
The stumps revive. His grandchildren family prosper
by the arduous oil-pressing trade. Then wars
and disease wash over. Goats return. The olives
go under, waiting another age.
Their shade lies where Socrates disputed.
Gethsemane's withered groves are bearing yet."
- "The Olive Tree" by Mark O'Connor, Collected Poems, Alexandria, (N.S.W.), Hale & Iremonger: 2000.
Perhaps it was because I had been thinking about olive trees, but when I looked at Robin Gowen's painting Shades of Shadows VI, I thought what a civilized landscape. The trees and, even more, the hedgerow in the background at right are signs of a well tended meadow. And the light washing over everything could easily be the light in Provence although it is not.
Writing to his editor, Richard Olney, an American expatriate painter and cookbook author, gave his reasons for living in France and the penultimate one was "the presence of olive trees in the landscape." A civilized answer
The oil of the olive has been sacred to many cultures. By the time of Homer (c. 900 B.C.), olive oil had become a luxury good, used to anoint the human body for ceremonial occasions. (An olive tree appears in Book XXIII of The Odyssey,being the center post of the marriage bed). In The Odes (c. 13 B.C.) the Roman poet Horace testified to the olive's delectable qualities as food: "As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance." According to the Bible, it was an olive leaf that the dove brought back to Noah's ark.
Robin Gowen (b. 1957)is an American artist who was raised in New Hampshire and Nigeria. In recent years she has moved around the western United States.
Robn Gowen - Shades of Shadows VI, 2017, Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara.
Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece ( completed in 1432) is arguably the greatest work of art in Belgium, one that has inspired generations of visitors to make a pilgrimage to this Flemish city. To grow up surrounded by the glorious works that artists created during the period when the Burgundian royal court sat in Flanders and not be affected by them would be difficult to imagine, especially for aspiring artists. What originated as a painterly arrangement of the metaphysical world became an organizing principle in paintings by Fernand Khnopff. (1858-1921).
There are other similarities, too. Le Brun used the combination of charcoals and pastel to create a personal symbolism, notable for excellent draftsmanship. Although Le Brun traveled, spending three months in Italy in 1900, the landscape he became attached to emotionally was the high fens (Haut Fanges) of the Ardennes in eastern Belgium. During his times in Brussels, the lawyer/collector Octave Maus helped to advance the young artist's career, commissioning articles from Le Brun for his magazine L'Art Moderne. And Le Brun, as much as Khnopff, was a master of ambiguity.
Le Brun heightened the symbolism in his pictures by using a limited palette Le Brun works with. Compared to them, the mural (at top) La ferme de la Haase uses the same media to more realistic ends; we can imagine ourselves looking out a window at the fen lands.
Belgium in the nineteenth century was at the forefront of industrialization and for several years Le Brun apportioned his time between painting and working as a representative for a steel company although he deplored its effects on the countryside and the peasants who bore the brunt of its upheavals. In 1899 he exhibited at the Salon des Beaux-Arts in Ghent and participated in the group La Libre Esthétique. From 1903 to 1908, he collaborated on the magazine L'Art Moderne where he defended the works of the Nabi artists in France.
While on combat duty with the Belgian Army, Georges le Brun disappeared near the Ysaer on October 28, 1914. His body was never found.
2. The Vestibule, c.1909, charcoal and pastel, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
3. The Man Who Passes, 1900, pastel and charcoal, Musee Communale de Verviers.