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Posts Tagged ‘Quote’

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The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become.

Alphonse Mucha

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You most likely know the work of Czech painter Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) for his extremely popular posters that set the style for and were the epitome of the Art Nouveau movement. It was beautiful and graceful work much like the piece shown here on the right.

That was definitely the extent of my knowledge about Mucha’s work. And that alone would be a worthy enough achievement for most artists. But his greatest work may well be his monumental Slav Epic series.

The Slav Epic is comprised of 20 large works that depict the history and the mythology of the Slavic people. It was painted over the course of 16 years with the aid of financial support of American industrialist/philanthropist Charles Crane. The works are all painted on a grand scale with some of them measuring 20 feet in height and 25 feet in width.

They somehow survived Czech occupations by both Nazis and Soviets who both saw the work as being counter to their ideologies. Mucha died soon after being interviewed by the Gestapo in 1939. The paintings are now in possession of the Czech government who are in the process of creating a museum to permanently display this magnificent work. I am sharing a number of images below that show them with viewers so as to give  an idea of the sheer scale of the works.

Pretty amazing. Good reason to get to Prague.

Alphonse Mucha- Slavs in Original Homeland

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Diego Rivera- Zapatista Landscape 1915

 

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As an artist I have always tried to be faithful to my vision of life, and I have frequently been in conflict with those who wanted me to paint not what I saw but what they wished me to see.

–Diego Rivera

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Big fan of the work of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), the great Mexican painter/muralist and husband of Frida Kahlo. There is much I love in his work such as the way his colors harmonize and soar off the surfaces, the sheer brilliance of his compositions, the scale and breadth of his murals and the fact that his work was beautiful and powerful in whatever genre or style he chose at any given moment. He was also fearless in expressing his political and philosophical beliefs in his work, often becoming a strong element in his work.

I also admire his absolute devotion to his own voice in his work, as noted in the quote above. He painted his own vision, not what others desired him to see. That’s a big thing for any artist and not something easily done. Too often artists try to work for the approval of other eyes, for people who want their work to remain as they have always known it.

It’s understandable from the perspective of a viewer to want an artist to remain in that space that first attracted the viewer. They know and like the work as it is and perhaps can’t imagine it becoming more than it is if it somehow evolves or changes. Or they fear it will become less or something that doesn’t speak to them in the same way. As I said, it’s understandable.

But from the artist’s point of view this present a threat in that this may stop them from expanding their creative vision. They begin to be afraid to go off their own beaten path, to try new things, to move out of their comfort zone to challenge themselves, and to grow their self-created universe. They remain in a known space and may never know how expansive their vision might be if they only tried.

From what I know, Diego Rivera always moved to new creative spaces with his work. He painted with his own voice, even in his commissioned murals. I still stumble on pieces of his that surprise me.

A true inspiration.

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Diego Rivera’s Mural at the City College of San Francisco

Detroit Institute of Arts Mural Segment

Diego Rivera- Flower Seller

Diego Rivera- The Alarm Clock

Diego Rivera- Nocturnal Landscape 1947

Diego Rivera- Symbolic Landscape 1940

Diego Rivera- View of Toledo 1912

Detroit Institute of Arts Mural Segment

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Hokusai- First Cargo Boat Battling the Wave

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You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

—-Henry David Thoreau

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Really felt like looking at some of my favorite Japanese prints from the 19th century this morning, mainly from Hokusai and Hiroshige. There are a couple here, including the one above, that led to the iconic Great Wave from Hokusai, shown just below.

With their great rhythm, harmony, and force, I could look at these pieces continuously and never feel like I’ve looked enough.

As for the symbolism of the wave today, you can plug in whatever meaning pleases you.

I know what it means for me today. And, with a bit of hope, tomorrow.

Hokusai- The Great Wave

Hokusai- Feminine/Male Wave Kammachi Festival Float Ceiling Panels

Feminine Wave – From Float Panel Hokusai

Hokusai

Hokusai

Hiroshige- Navaro Rapids

Hiroshige- Sea Off Satta Point

HiroshigeThe Wave 1859

Hokusai- View of Honmoku off Kanagawa

19th Century Japaneses Woodblock -Artist Not Indicated

 

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If a painting of mine suits me, it is right. If it does not please me, I care not if all the great masters should approve it or the dealers buy it. They would be wrong.

Arshile Gorky

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Arshile Gorky is one of those names that instantly stands out for me. But the reality is that I never knew much about his work. Just a unique name.

But of course there is more than the name. Gorky was born sometime around 1904 in Armenia and came to America in 1920 in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire on its own citizens of Armenian heritage. About 1.5 million Armenians died in this dark era including Gorky’s mother in 1919.

Fortunately for him, America was still a welcoming land to refugees fleeing hatred and danger.

He quickly integrated into the America of the 1920’s and spent the rest of his life here, gaining a sizable reputation as an important painter. He is considered one of the major influences on the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1950’s, which he unfortunately didn’t live to see.

His candle burnt brightly but was short lived. He suffered several personal setbacks after 1946 including a car crash that broke his neck and temporarily paralyzed his painting arm. He hung himself in 1948, dying at around a young 44 years of age.

He hadn’t even come into his prime as a painter.

I like much of his work that I have seen. I am not a fan of abstraction for abstraction’s sake. For me, a work still has to have something to say and a sense of movement, rhythm and harmony of some sort. It has to talk, to communicate a meaning of some sort to me. It has to have have that sense of rightness that I have referred to a number of times here.

Without that, the most beautifully crafted piece of work can be sterile and cold.

Dead.

So, I agree with Gorky’s words above about rightness in his own work. That is the quality I seek most in my own. His work is often described as Lyrical Abstraction which is where the work has many of the qualities that I described above, forming in itself a visual language of sorts that transcends the image.

These are ideas that spark my imagination, that make my time spent in the studio worthwhile.

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I have made a great discovery. I no longer believe in anything. Objects don’t exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence, what I can only describe as a sense of peace, which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry.

Georges Braque

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Just about anything I read  from Georges Braque (1882-1963) makes me stop and think. I am still trying to digest this. In one moment it makes perfect sense and aligns with my own thoughts while the next it confounds me, like I’ve turned down a street that is totally unrecognizable. Not sure which way to turn.

But there is something in the pondering that makes me think it might be worthwhile.

Braque had a pretty amazing career, moving from Impressionism to Cubism to Fauvism and Expressionism with his own unique voice. Here are some of my favorites.

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I know perfectly well that only in happy instants am I lucky enough to lose myself in my work. The painter-poet feels that his true immutable essence comes from that invisible realm that offers him an image of reality… I feel that I do not exist in time, but that time exists in me. I can also realize that it is not given to me to solve the mystery of art in an absolute fashion. Nonetheless, I am almost brought to believe that I am about to get my hands on the divine.

–Carlo Carra

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The Italian painter Carlo Carrá (1881-1966) was one of the leading figures in the Futurist and Metaphysical movements of the first part of the 20th century.

Like many artists with long careers, Carrá went through other phases in his work. While I am showing only a few images of his work that really strike  a chord with me, I am also drawn to most of his other work. Maybe it is the simplicity of form and composition or the quality of his colors. I can’t really say except that it seems to be work that jibes with my own way of seeing things. And I suppose that is how artist attracts eyes, by creating work that speaks in a way that is both understandable and meaningful to the viewer. Hmm…

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Will Barnet/Age

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Painting is almost like a religious experience, which should go on and on. Age just gives you the freedom to do some things you’ve never done before. Great work can come at any stage of your life.

–Will Barnet

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I have known the work of Will Barnet for many years and usually immediately recognize his work. But what I didn’t know was that the work that I associate with him is only the most recent work from a career that spanned eighty years.

Yeah, eighty years spread over nine decades.

To give an idea of the span of his career, as a child automobiles and aeronautics were in their infancy and he actually saw John Singer Sargent working on the murals at the Boston Public Library. At his death, we were on the verge of private space flight and self driving cars. Imagery is now transmitted instantly around the globe via the internet.

A small computer chip can practically hold all the content of the Boston Public Library.

Barnet, born in 1911 and died in 2012 at the age of 101, knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist. What I admire is that his career followed a series of radical transitions throughout his career, constantly changing but always maintaining his own voice and maintaining a high level on consistent quality.

But more than that was need to continue his work. On the day he died, he had worked on a large ambitious painting of his granddaughter.

It’s a fascinating evolution, one that greatly interests me at the current stage of my career. Seeing painters such as Barnet painting to such an advanced age while still evolving is inspiring, giving me hope that I can continue on the path I am on for decades to come.

Obviously, I am showing only a tiny portion of his work here. Below is a video of the work that first made me aware of Barnet. The others are a selection from various periods just to give a sample of the range his career encompassed.

Will Barnet- Martha and Her Cats- 1984

Will Barnet

Will Barnet- Abstract Composition – 1957

Will Barnet – Big Duluth- 1960

Will Barnet- Early Spring- 1977

Will Barnet- Father and Parrot- 1948

Will Barnet- Play- 1975

Will Barnet- Children Drawing- 1946

Will Barnet- Idle Hands- 1935

Will Barnet- February- 1980

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