The “Drop”

”The three members of a middle-class family – a pastor, his wife and their daughter – form a staid group in this painting of a well-decorated interior. The smooth finish of Harry Willson Watrous’ brushwork obscures the insidious reality of racism implied in the work’s title. The ”drop” refers to a pernicious American custom of treating anyone with even a drop of African-American blood as black and discriminating against them on that basis. Watrous’ carefully rendered painting of a mixed-race daughter and her parents suggests that beneath the veneer of egalitarianism and placid family togetherness (portrayed  in this scene), the treatment of African-Americans in the United States was still far from equal.” Portland Museum of Art

And, guess what… more than a century later, it is still isn’t.

However, had I not read the description I’d never have guessed the Artist’s reference. So captivated was I by the Mother’s silent despair and the Father’s quiet resignation at the Little Girl’s insistent demand, I missed that point completely.

Harry Willson Watrous (U.S., 1857-1940)
The Drop Sinister – What Shall We Do with It?, ca. 1913
Oil on canvas


Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018

The most eclectic way to warm up

Enter the Portland Museum of Art

Untitled (Hooking Buck Head Down), 2013
Marc Swanson (U.S., b. 1969)
Polyurethane foam, crystals, adhesive


Leopard, 19th century
Glazed earthenware


Candlesticks, ca. 1880
Bronze, marble, gilding
Unidentified Artist


Summer, 1927
Bronze
John Clements Gregory (U.S. (born England), 1879-1958)


Left Hand, 2007
Oil on linen
Jenny Holzer (U.S., b. 1950)


Frisbee, 1987
Oil on canvas
Will Barnet (U.S., 1911-2012)


Black Cat on Orange Background, 1958-59
Oil on masonite
Alex Katz (U.S., b. 1927)


Two Female Models Sitting with Legs Crossed and Kazak Rug, 2013
Oil on canvas
Philip Pearlstein (U.S., b. 1924)


Slab City Road, 1959
Oil on linen
Alex Katz (U.S., b. 1927)


Mother and Child, 1922
Mahogany
William Zorach (U.S. (born Lithuania), 1889-1966)


Diana of the Sea, 1940
Oil on canvas
Marguerite Thompson Zorach


A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2016
Ink on latex saturated cellulose
Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (U.S., 1955-2017; U.S., established 1984)


New York-Paris No.2, 1931
Oil on canvas
Stuart Davis (U.S., 1892-1964)


Mrs. Henry St. John Smith (Ellen Archer Eveleth Smith), 1883
Oil on canvas
John Singer Sargent (U.S. (born Italy), 1856-1925


Dancer and Gazelles, 1912
Bronze
Paul Manship (U.S., 1885-1966)


Sideboard, ca. 1795-1800
Mahogany and other woods
John and Thomas Seymour (U.S. (born England), 1738-1818 & 1771-1849)

Portraits of Sally Stevens Lord and James Lord, ca. 1834
Oil on canvas
Attributed to Royal Brewster Smith (U.S., 1801-1855)


Eleanor Foster, 1755
Oil on canvas
Joseph Badger (U.S., 1708-1765)


The Dead Pearl Diver, 1858
Marble
Benjamin Paul Akers (U.S., 1825-1861)


Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018

Bruce Sargeant (1898-1938): The Lost Murals

@ClampArt Gallery, curated by New York artist Mark Beard (Bruce Sargeant’s great nephew).

”Mark Beard has devoted more than two decades of his life to researching and collecting the work of Bruce Sargeant, a painter who largely concentrated on the idealization and celebration of the male form.” […]

”The Lost Murals brings together large-scale canvases that were known to exist but hidden from public view for over half a century. After years of meticulous research, Beard located the murals and painstakingly arranged for their return from a number of locations around the globe. In the murals, Beard’s great-uncle portrays his favorite subject: muscular young men at the peak of form and athletic prowess.” – Source & more: ClampArt

November 10th, 2018

Portraits || El Paso Museum of Art

Today, America honours the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

On this very special Memorial Day, let us also take a moment to reflect on the lives of all our fellow humans that were cut short – more recently, in the Covid-19 pandemic. They were someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, friend.

Let us all remember and raise our voices for peace.

Silence the guns. The time is now.

Tom Lea
Sarah (Portrait of the Artist’s Wife), 1939
Oil on canvas


Manuel Acosta
Yolanda, 1956
Oil on canvas


Gerrit Beneker
Telephone Operator, 1921
Oil on canvas


Robert Henri
Carl (Boy in Blue Overalls), 1921
Oil on canvas


Irving Ramsey Wiles
Gladys in Chinese Robes, 1920-29
Oil on canvas


El Paso Museum of Art, TX

October 12th, 2018

The Artist’s Den

I quite enjoy visiting an artist’s studio, there is something very charming and simultaneously voyeuristic about it. Going ”behind the scenes”, walking amidst art and creative clutter, the excitement of getting to see first-hand new works in progress, not to mention meeting the artists themselves.

If you time your trip to Marfa during the Chinati Weekend (which is actually a three-day event extending into Monday), you will find many artists opening their studios, which are also their homes, to the public.

Julie Speed Studio – Marfa, TX

October 6th, 2018

Obsession || Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso *Safe For Telework*

From the Scofield Thayer Collection.

Scofield Thayer (1889-1982) was editor and co-owner of the Dial, a journal that published writing and art by the European and American avant-garde from 1919 to 1926. An aesthete, he was a brilliant abstract thinker and a complex, conflicted personality. In the early 1920s, Thayer underwent psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud in Vienna. While in Europe, he assembled a large collection of some six hundred artworks – mostly works on paper – with staggering speed, acquiring them from artists and dealers in Vienna, London, Paris and Berlin.

While Pablo Picasso’s work had been shown in America, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele were unknown in this country at that time. Both artists were remarkable for their frank portrayals of female nudity and sexuality.

In 1924 a selection from Thayer’s collection was exhibited at a New York gallery and won acclaim, but it found little favour when shown in his native city of Worcester, Massachusetts. Offended by intolerant views toward provocative art, Thayer drew up his will in 1925, leaving his collection to The Met before retreating from public life until his death in 1982.

An exhibition of the bequest has been planned since its arrival at the Museum in 1984, but its diversity, unevenness and vast quantity proved a challenge. While a select group of paintings by artists of the School of Paris is always on view, the light-sensitive watercolours, drawings and prints have been rarely displayed. This exhibition, held on the centenary of the 1918 deaths of Klimt and Schiele, presented these erotic and evocative works together for the first time.

It ran from July through October 2018 at The Met Breuer.

Egon Schiele || Sorrow, 1914 || Drypoint


Egon Schiele || Squatting Woman, 1914 || Drypoint


Egon Schiele || Girl, 1918 || Lithograph


Egon Schiele || Reclining Nude with Boots, 1918 || Charcoal on paper


Egon Schiele || Standing Nude with Orange Drapery (recto): Study of Nude with Arms Raised (verso), 1914 || Watercolor, gouache and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Nude in Black Stockings, 1917 || Watercolor and charcoal on paper


Egon Schiele || Observed in a Dream, 1911 || Watercolor and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Two Reclining Nudes, 1911 || Watercolor and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Self-Portrait, 1911 || Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Seated Nude in Shoes and Stockings, 1918 || Charcoal on paper


Gustav Klimt || Reclining Nude with Drapery, 1912-13 || Graphite


Gustav Klimt || Two Studies for a Crouching Woman, 1914–15 || Graphite


Pablo Picasso || Fondevila, 1906 || Oil on canvas


Pablo Picasso || Head of a Woman, 1922 || Chalk on paper


Pablo Picasso || Erotic Scene (La Douceur), 1903 || Oil on canvas


The Met Breuer

August 19th, 2018

To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour

Thus spoke Marcel, and we obliged (for five minutes).

Looking for ”almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect similar to Marc Chagall’s experience, some years earlier.

Marcel Duchamp
To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour, 1918
Oil, silver leaf, lead wire, magnifying lens on glass (cracked) mounted between panes of glass in a standing metal frame, on painted wood base

”The title of this work, which Duchamp said he ”intended to sound like an oculist’s prescription” tells the viewer exactly how to look at it. But peering through the convex lens embedded in the work’s glass ”for almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect, the view being dwarfed, flipped and otherwise distorted. Meanwhile the viewer patiently following the title’s instructions is him-or herself put on display for anyone else walking by. 

Duchamp called this his ”small glass”, to distinguish it from his famous Large Glass of 1915-23. He made the work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had fled earlier in 1918 to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the United States during World War I. When he shipped it back to New York, the glass cracked in transit, en effect that delighted him.”

Marc Chagall
I and the Village, 1911
Oil on canvas

@MoMA

August 8th, 2018

The way we hammer art

without a nail

Jonathan Borofsky’s Hammering Man was installed right in front of the Seattle Art Museum, in 1991. Hammering Man is a series of monumental sculptures situated in different cities and was created in honour of the working class women and men of the world.


Daedalus/Upliftment, 2016
Acrylic, gold leaf, spray paint on canvas
Fahamu Pecou


Double Elvis, 1963/1976
Silkscreen in, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Andy Warhol


Caterpillar Suit 1, 2007
Anodized brass wire
Walter Oltmann


Untitled, 1982
Acrylic, spray paint and oil stick on canvas
Jean-Michel Basquiat


Warhol/Basquiat, NYC August 1986
wowe (Wolfgang Wesener)


Birdcage
Wood, metal, ivoyr
Late Qing dynasty (1644-1991) or Republican period (1850-1920)


Leda and the Swan, probably after 1915 and before 1923
Oil on canvas
John Covert


Morning, probably 1933
Oil on burlap
Morris Graves

Morning is a deeply affecting image of retreat, of the pain of facing the light, of the fear of facing the day.


Catfish clan figure, 19th-20th century
Wood, polycrhome
Melanesian, Papua New Guinea, Guam River Region, probably Breri or Igana people


Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018