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Archive for October 27th, 2011

This is a caricature of famed German composer Richard Wagner drawn by the great David Levine.  It was one of the  many,many caricatures that he created in an illustrious career for the New York Review of Books and other major magazines.  Levine was considered the king of caricature and, according to John Updike, was “one of America’s assets.”

I recently obtained this from the West End Gallery from the personal collection of  Thomas Buechner, the late painter/museum director/writer  who had painted with Levine for decades as part of the renowned Painting Group in NYC  (the subject of an HBO documentary in 2007 about the group’s 25 member’s simultaneous portrait of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who sat for them) and had written a book on Levine’s work. 

I really like this piece a lot and like the connection it has to Levine and Buechner’s relationship.  I also know that Buechner was a huge fan of Wagner’s work and had undertaken the illustration of Wagner’s Das Rheingold in 1988.  His work was translated into glass and was subsequently displayed at the Metropolitan Opera when they presented the Wagner epic.  I am excited about the prospect of having such a piece with me in the studio and hope it brings even a small bit of inspiration.

You’re probably all most familiar with Wagner through the use of his music in populkar culture such as it’s use in the film Apocalypse Now where it was the soundtrack for the calvary’s helicopter attack.  My favorite use of his music is, of course, as the inspiration for the Bugs Bunny classic, What’s Opera, Doc?   But to show the music in its natural environment, here’s Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphonic Orchestra with a little taste.

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