Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sanjo Palace Revisited

As noted four years ago
"The Attack on the Sanjo Palace"
in the Boston Museum
is one of my favorite paintings
of all time.

And when I read
Norris Kelly Smith
deplore the
"taste for episodic history"
evident in so many non-Michelangelo paintings
in the Sistine chapel,
I tried to think
of which such paintings
I may have enjoyed.

That's when the Sanjo Palace
came to mind.

And now,
I have discovered
that Bowdoin College
has finally done it justice
on the internet


Even if I lived
in the Boston Museum
I wouldn't be able
to see such details
so conveniently

And what incredible details it has-
so full of variety

and composed with such
strength and vigor

It's like a an entire art museum
all by itself.

This kind of treatment
should be given
to every great painting and sculpture

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Calligraphy of Metal Tubes

I'm not especially a fan of modern, abstract sculpture.

It mostly feels cold and awkward to me.

Nor, do I think the Morton Arboretum is worth the trip.

It's not as wild as a natural area - nor as beautiful as a good garden)

But I'm kind of excited
about what Steve Tobin's statues
do in that space.

Tobin does all kinds of stuff
(like blow up buckets of clay)
which doesn't interest me.

And I'm not enthusiastic
about life-casting.
(the above bronze cast
of some tree roots
is similar to his
famous memorial to 9-11)

But, then he started bending big pipes,
and what can I say?

He's a good figure sculptor!

Here's the first view
I got of his work,
and it really perks up
the dreary flatness
of the Arboretum's
anticeptic slice of nature.

And I love fight scenes.

I also have fond memories
of the hula hoop.

Young football players
huddle together
to plan their next play

This piece feels a bit more ominous,
like one of the squid-like aliens
from War of the Worlds

This enjoyable piece
is made from
canisters used to shoot fireworks

the Kung-Fu masters


Being a former river rafter,
I can remember concoctions like this
washed up along the banks
by former floods.

But none of them
were this satisfying

The bull-whip
is a wonderful thing

More menacing aliens

Fingers dancing over the keys

One creature
sights another,
and only one
may survive the contact

Ball-room dancer
(possibly the tango)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Artopolis 2010

There seem to be two reasons
why something makes it
into the contemporary end
of this multi-gallery show.

Either it looks good,
or it looks weird.

And this year, there seemed to be
more good stuff than in years previous.

Even if two of my favorite galleries from the past,
Marlboro and Arcadia,
were both absent.

Has the artworld
taken a turn toward the conservative?

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)

It's hard to believe this painting was made this year.
May we all be so vigorous
at the age of 90

Jan De Vliegher

Tourists and pidgeons
can be found
all over the world.

But where else
could this be
other than Piazza San Marco?

The artist must have been
looking out the window of the Doge's Palace.
But I would have been looking
at the Veronese and Titian

Thelma Paddock Hope (1898-1991)
Port of Chicago, 1940

Charles Sheeler (1883-1965),Winter Landscape, 1928

There was a big
Sheeler show
at the Art Institute 4 years ago,
but nothing like this was included.

John Santoro

I first saw this Chicago artist
last year

Robert Chaillout (1913-2006) "Honesty"

I can't help
but imagine finding this one
in a narrow hallway
in the immaculate apartment
of a lady I would like to visit.

Richard Garbe (1876-1957)

This British sculptor
is best known
for his architectural pieces.

He served a taste
that was a little too effete
for my own,
but I'd certainly like
to have this figure
in the garden.

Richard Norton
still hasn't sold
this Hovsep Pushman,
and I hope he never does
if he continues
to bring it to the Antique Fair

Peggy Bacon (1895-1987)

Best known as a witty, fashionable cartoonist,
how she pictures the life of an artist.

(this drawing was in a box,
rather than up on the wall,
so I had a hard time shooting it)

Noel Martin (1922-2009)

Here's my last post
about this typographer.

Don't these shapes
remind you of type faces?

Chuck Walker

This was the only exhibit
that caught my attention
on the 7th Floor,
and since that area,
called the "Next" exhibition,
was dedicated to emerging artists and galleries,
I had figured that this artist
was in his twenties.


He's my age,
and it just goes to show
that there is an ageless interest
in imagining low rent scenes
with zoftic young women.

As the artist says in this interview

" I had no interest in “cartoon” based styles. I was always wondering how I could get weight and presence and the pungency of the flesh in there somehow."

Which is a very rare quality nowadays,
and exactly why I find him so interesting.

Plus -- he really pays attention
to the space behind the figure,
which separates him from neo-academic drawing.

Every year,
there's a gallery
that brings some more Manzu
to Chicago.

And thank God for them!

Man Ray (1890-1976)

I'm not especially devoted
to the Paris avant garde scene
of the early 20th C.,
but Emmanuel Radnitzky
was clearly a talented fellow.

Don't know the name
of this contemporary sculptor

But I like
what he does
(his name is Juan Martinez Lax)

John Talleur (1925-2001)

Here's another Chicago artist.

It looks like he started with Surrealism,
and ended up
with the more clean, abstract and pleasant style
appropriate for universities where he taught.

Johann Berthelsen (1883-1972)
(Park Avenue looking south from 52nd St.)

This would be way too sentimental
except that it's a sentiment that I share,
as it reminds me of late Decembers in New York,
out shopping with grandma,
about 50 years ago

Harry Vincent (1864-1931)
("The Harbor Bringing home the Catch")

I get the feeling
that this guy
had a hard time
from his paintings

Gideon Bok (b. 1966) Night, 2010

Once again,
I love images
of cluttered rooms
and savor
the exhaustion


it's as gimmicky
as his name.

But he really is good,
and I love paintings
of the urban wasteland

George Gardner Symons (1861-1930)

Yet another Chicago painter,
though he left in 1903
and ended up in Brooklyn.

It's interesting to compare him
with John Santoro, shown above.

Despite their similarities,
they seem separated by at least 80 years
of history.

A different kind of tension.

Francis Chapin (1899-1965)

A fun cartoon.

The cute red head
seems so much more modern
than the painting
she is copying.

Eugene Montgomery (1905-2001)

What a good painting
by this Chicago artist
whose legacy as a portaitist
and muralist
has not yet reached
the internet.

The woman pictured
is his wife.

Charles Demuth (1883-1935)
Misty Morning, 1915

A delicious little piece
that could almost be
the glaze on a Chinese pot.

Copeland Burg (1889-1961)

What a fun story!

Copeland Burg was a crime reporter
who started dabbling in art,
attacked Mrs. Logan's "Sanity in Art" screed,
and was told by his boss to
"Stick to rape and murder"

And his father
was a circuit judge
who was lynched by ranchers
in Montana?

No wonder his life was so confusing,
and eventually,
he quit his day job at the newspaper,
and just spent his life painting.

Not all of his pieces
are quite as minimalist
as the one shown above

Charles Hoffbauer (1875-1957)
"Country Club, Pittsburgh", 1910

A French artist who came to America to glorify our good life,
and our wars .

Charles Harold Davis (1856-1933)

Carl Schmitz (1900-1967) Dancer

Not an especially famous sculptor,
but a familiar name to me
since he was my father's faculty advisor
when he got an M.F.A. at Michgan State
in the late forties.

My father admired his technical knowledge,
but not his sculpture.

So this piece makes an interesting comparison
with the "Dancer"
made by his other teacher, Milton Horn:

(note: I've never seen a Milton Horn statue
in any of the Chicago art or antique fairs)

Ben Aronson (b. 1958)

With Chicago painter Enrique Santana now making pictures of New York:

Enrique Santana

it's only fair that Ben Aronson travel west
and do a few of Chicago

He really does
rule the genre
of urban scene

To quote Donald Kuspit:

"The “new” art is no longer “shocking” let alone new, nor is modernity: the dislocations of both have been assimilated and become trite. Art has moved on, and so has modern life, which no longer seems as “heroic” as Baudelaire thought it was. Aronson has brilliantly adapted to these changes rather than nostalgically beating an old drum about the tribulations of modernity and harping back to the old idea of “primitive” in-your-face painting."

And a little debate about this artist
can be found here

Anita Huffington

I don't really care for
most of what Anita Huffington does.

When she goes flamboyant, she loses me.

But her simple, female torso
feels like the twin sister
of the male torsos
from the golden age of Greece.

Wei Dong

I'm not sure the above painting
was shown in Chicago

But I did see one of Wei Dong's meaty mermaids,
concerning which the art blogger,
Chris Rywalt
had this to say:

"Very definitely PAINTINGS. They're skillfully executed in a strong academic style with just the right amount of idiosyncrasies. Wei Dong exhibits all the superficial skills to denote Art, to tell anyone looking at his paintings that these are certainly Art. And the subject matter is just weird and baffling enough to qualify as Contemporary Art -- no stuffy still lifes or pious saints for us! No, we need meaty rotting Chinese mermaids with disturbingly over-rendered sex organs. In short, this show is slick, soulless, and not worth anyone's time."

O.K. -- a fair criticism --
and I would also like to see
painting that provokes reverence
instead of disgust.

But if it's really "not worth anyone's time"
neither of us would have written about it.

Andre Masson (1896-1987)

Here's the kind of nightmarish stuff
I really can't stand.

Except that -- I couldn't stop
looking at it,
like this creepy statue
from the Aztec empire.

Jamie Adams

Here's a huge painting
that was hard to ignore,
perhaps because of those
"superficial skills that denote art"

As a viewer,
I feel like John Belushi in "Animal House",
peering through the window
of a sorority house.

Oh no!

The ladder is starting to fall backward!

Ephraim Rubenstein

This is a very large painting,
so the open drawer
really intrudes into the viewers space.

How Baroque!

Lots of fun,
and perfect for the person
who's got way too much stuff
in her life.

Aron Demetz (b. 1972)

There are so many
Tyrolean sculptors
named "Demetz"!

Is Aron related
to this family
of church woodcarvers that goes back 400 years ?

Or to this woodcarving Demetz who's a bit more postmodern?

Aron is a more secular than the one, and less contemporary-trendy than the other.

Daniel Bodner

This artist has been shown
in Chicago for 15 years now,
but this is the first time
I've seen him,
perhaps because his gallery
specializes in abstraction.

Like the other painter of urban scenes,
shown above,
these are obviously begun with photographs.

Here's an interview with a local art blogger.

Charles Wilbert White (1918-1979)
"Bare chested man", 1935

This African American artist went on
to have a career as a muralist
and painter of socially relevant themes.

But none of his later work
seems as exciting as these
life sketches that were on display.


BTW, a completely different tour
of this show
can be seen here:

here ,
here ,
here ,
and here

It's as if Paul Klein and I
had seen
two entirely different shows!

.. including this gallery of "old masters"

They must be authetic,
since Paul tells us that

"a committee has walked around and removed
anything of questionable authenticity."

But I can't believe that Monet, Pissarro, and even Bouguereau
were capable of such poor work.