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Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Busy morning here in the studio but I wanted to replay a post from over eight years ago about a painter whose work always dazzles me, Joseph Stella. I’ve added a few images from the original post as well as a video that shows the wider range of his work over his lifespan. Just plain great work…

When I see the paintings of Joseph Stella, particularly his modernist work, I am immediately engaged. They seem dense and complex, almost manic in their compositional content, yet the color and symmetry have an effect that I find calming.  I often wonder how Stella viewed this work, what he felt from it. Not in an artspeak sense. Not academic jargon. Just how it made him feel.

Stella (1877-1946) was an Italian immigrant to this country who has often been linked with several movements- modernism, futurism, and precisionism among them.  There is a contradiction in this in that everything I find about him points to someone with an outsider’s mentality, someone who never felt himself a part of any group  and with an “antipathy for authority” as it has been described, with which I strongly identify.  Joseph Stella Brooklyn Bridge

Maybe that’s what I see in the work.  I don’t know. I do know that I am drawn to the boldness and beauty of it. The strength of the lines. The depth of the colors. The sheer visceral bite of the  image that when taken in as a whole seems to engulf you. Gorgeous stuff. Work that makes me feel smaller, even tiny, for a moment yet inspires me to want to move my own work further ahead. To grow and expand.

Maybe that’s how I classify other’s work in my head- by how much they make me want to do better, by the way their work’s impact becomes an endpoint for me, a goal that I hope to achieve.

The work of Joseph Stella is definitely such an endpoint. Now I must work…
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joseph stella old brooklyn bridge

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There are sensory perceptions that we carry throughout our lives.  It might be a sound, a smell, an image that once brought to mind brings forth the atmosphere and feeling of the time in which they first entered our consciousness.

The smell of a cooking turkey instantly returns me to my childhood and the farmhouse where we lived. It would be Thanksgiving and  I can see Mom’s old formal dining table with the heavy chairs that surrounded it. It’s a long table with all the extending leafs in place and it’s surface is covered with the bounty of Thanksgiving, the mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, stuffing and so on. Just the tiniest whiff of a roasting turkey always — and I mean always–sends me hurtling through time back to that table.

The same is true with certain songs. Take for instance, the song In My Life from the Beatles. Hearing those opening chords always sends me back to same big old farmhouse that played such a big part in my formative years. I can see the old floral wallpaper in the living room and there’s a big console record player with cloth covered speakers on its front and two sliding panels on top that uncover a turntable on one side and the controls for a radio on the other. Those opening chords have me immediately standing in front of that record player with the light from the large windows in that room filtering through Mom’s frilled white cotton curtains. On the wall there was a reproduction of a schlocky painting — I think it was a red covered bridge–printed on thick cardboard that was bought at the Loblaws grocery store.

It’s a good memory. I felt safe in that place, free to imagine places and adventures I hoped for in the future. It was a good place to foster some of the thoughts and observations that direct my paintings to this very day.

That’s my intro for this week’s Sunday morning music. I thought instead of playing the original Beatles version of In My Life which is understandably a favorite of mine, I would opt instead for one from Bette Midler with a beautiful accompaniment on ukelele from uke wizard Jake Shimabukuro. The feeling of his playing on this song works for me as much as the original in bringing back that earlier time and place.

Give a listen, think about some of those sensations that trigger your own memories and have a good Sunday.

 

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I often stumble across the work of Alfred Kubin, an Austrian printmaker/illustrator/writer who lived from 1877 until 1959.  It’s hard to look away from his imagery as much as it sometimes may make you wish to do so. His work is often associated with the Symbolist  and Expressionist movements but it has an oddness that is distinctly its own.

Macabre and creepy may also describe it.

But it has an appeal that makes the imagery seem as though it is from a dream, familiar yet odd and distant, making you want to know the what and why of what you are seeing. As though it has some personal relevance and meaning for you.

There is not a large amount of info in his bio and his work is yet to claim universal acclaim. He lived his life in Austria, lived through both World Wars and during the second, even though his work was labeled degenerate art by the Nazi regime, was allowed to continue making art in the small 12th century castle that was his home for the last 50+ years of his life.

He also wrote a few things including a book, The Other Side, which seems to be the literary equivalent of his visual work. It is considered dark and prophetic, as it was written in 1909, of the coming World War and turmoil that would embroil Europe. It was said to be greatly admired by writer Franz Kafka, whose own work the book is often compared. I can see that comparison just in the visual images.

But like many from the past, Alfred Kubin is an artist you may not know. Nor may you like seeing his work. But it is compelling in many ways and I think you will want to at least take a look. Here’s a video of his work along with some of his images. Judge for yourself.
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I wrote about Lotte Reiniger on this blog several years ago.  In this world that is filled now with fantastic computer generated  animations, her work still has the power to amaze me. The idea that this person armed with little more than a pair of sharp scissors and some paper could create these worlds of wonder is thrilling to me, an incredible manifestation of the creative vision. I thought I’d rerun the post from back in 2010 and add another of her films, Daumelinchen, from a bit later in her life. Made in 1955, it tells the story of Thumbelina. Take a look and try to remember that these are just papercut silhouettes.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

I first saw a film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed,  from Lotte Reiniger several years ago in a series about early silent films.  It was made in 1926 Germany and was one of the first animated films made.  It’s a form of animation that Reiniger pioneered and mastered, based on Eastern shadow theatre.   Using silhouette figures, each is painstakingly cut and hinged then  filmed in small movements with time lapse photography to produce motion in the film.  This film took three years to complete.

Lotte Reiniger At Work

In this telling of the Arabian Nights stories, I was immediately struck by the beauty and movement of the colors in the film.  Each cell was tinted by hand to produce intense bursts of color that gave the film a gorgeous surreal quality.  The movements of the figures in the film are smooth and natural,  very subtle.  I found myself so taken with watching the movements and changes that I found myself not following the story.  But I didn’t care.  It was beautiful to see and sparked the imagination.

Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), born in Germany and living most of her post-WW II life in Britain,  left quite a body of work from a career that spanned over 50 years, including one of the first film versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle. She’s pretty much unknown in popular culture which is a great shame.  Her work is marvelous and deserves to be seen.

Here’s a small clip of Prince Achmed:

And here is Daumelinchen or Thumbelina.

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I am kind of at ease this morning. It’s nice to not have any big obligations directly ahead of me after finishing yesterday’s Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery. It lets me unwind from the anxiety that those kind of events create, the kind that is always there even though I try to appear at ease when speaking in front of groups of people. Fortunately, the folks who come to my talks are really good people who make it as easy as possible.

I want to thank everyone who came out on such a gorgeous day with so many other things going on to spend a little time with me at the talk. It was wonderful speaking with so many friends that I only get to see once in a great while and to meet so many new people. It was a good day all the way around and I hope everyone there felt that the time was spent well. I’ve said this before but their willingness to open themselves to me makes it easy to open myself up to them.

And that is a gift to me.

Speaking of gifts, of course, the highlight of the talk came at the end when I get to share a gift or two with them. I can’t explain how much pleasure I get out of this part of the talk. I’m sure other artists think I am crazy for giving away my work but the way I look at it is that it’s just a small pay back for all they have given me. Without their support, without their encouragement and interest through the decades, there is no telling where I would be or what I might be doing. Of if I would even be at all.

So, in my eyes I am playing with house money and just sharing a bit with my friends. Thank you so much to everyone at the talk yesterday and thanks to my good friends at the Principle Gallery– Michele, Clint, Pam, Taylor and Pierre– for allowing me to be a part of their wonderful gallery. I am so grateful–thank you.

Now for this Sunday’s musical selection I was looking at the new painting above, Back in Time, and wanted an old song. While shuffling through older music I settled on the old folk tune, House of the Rising Sun. This version from the great Odetta came late in her life and delivers to the song great weight and grace. Just a great performance.

Enjoy and have a great day.

And thank you…

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I don’t know…

I would guess that I’ve said that phrase a couple of hundred thousand times in my life. Or maybe even a million times. But then again, I don’t know.

As years pass, I am constantly fascinated by how little I know despite consciously trying to obtain more knowledge. It turns out the only thing I really know is that there are an awful lot of things out there that I will never know.

That doesn’t make me happy but I have learned to live with it and take some comfort in knowing that I am not alone. I don’t think any of us really knows as much as we let on. Oh, some speak with absolute certainty and and an air of confidence but that’s just bravado or a simple failure to recognize their lack of knowledge. I do know that.

From personal experience, unfortunately.

So I cringe a bit now when I spot that arrogant certainty in the declarations coming from myself or others. Then I cast a doubtful eye towards these claims, my own included.

What does this have to do with the price of a gallon of milk in Kokomo? I don’t know. I’m just blabbing in order to set up this week’s Sunday morning music. It’s from the Irish singer Lisa Hannigan  and is titled, fittingly, I Don’t Know.  I particularly like this version shot in a Dingle pub. Lovely.

Have a good day and be wary of those who seem a bit too certain. Or not.

I don’t know.

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I am busy this morning and thought I would replay a post from several years ago. No reason except that I came across it yesterday and it really caught my eye again. The work of Arcimboldo always does.  But I did add a video that shows more of his work so it’s really a replay plus. Take a look– I think you’ll like it.

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You don’t often think of work of art from an Italian Renaissance painter as being whimsical. Generally, they seem to focus on themes of religion and myth or on portraiture of wealthy patrons of the time, most beautifully painted.  Then there is the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo, who was born in Milan in 1527 and died there in 1593, although much of life was spent in the service of  the Hapsburg courts of Vienna and Prague.

Arcimboldo was trained as stained glass designer and painter and initially worked in these fields in a traditional manner.  Much of the work from this time has faded into oblivion, although there are examples of his windows and a fresco or two.  However, it was his other work that gained him fame in his time and which has came through the ages as a constant source of fascination.

Arcimboldo-Winter 1573

Arcimboldo- Winter 1573

The other work was creating portraits, sometimes of his patrons such as the portrait at the top of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor from 1576 until 1612 , that are composed using all sorts of objects to create the figure and features of the subject.  He used fruits, vegetables, birds, books, fish and many other objects in creating these unusual figures.  The final result was always striking, colorful and whimsically imaginative.  And sometimes grotesque, even a bit spooky– I’m thinking here of a series of pieces that Arcimboldo created portraying the Winter season as a person, such as this example on the right, painted in 1573.

Arcimboldo’s work always brings a smile to my face while also stirring my interest in how he must have worked at the time and how he was perceived in that era.  I am sure he was both admired and disliked for his unique work.  Whatever the case, the work remains a fascination.  I am showing several example here but you can go  a site– Guiseppe Arcimboldo: The Complete Works— that features a broader view of his work.  Very interesting.

Arcimboldo-TierraArcimboldo-The WaiterArcimboldo-AirArcimboldo- The LibrarianArcimboldo- The Admiralarcimboldo-winter_1563

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