Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 18 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.
Although we are not traveling as we once did, and surely will again, the internet allows me to bring you excellence from around the world. As Doctor Seuss said, "Oh the places you'll go!"
From the time I first encountered Cezanne, in a large poster book that became thumb-weary, to today, I have been fascinated by his use of space and redefinition of geography and perspective. This article discusses his significance, his rejections ("aggressive brushstrokes and overwhelmingly dark palettes"), his relationships with other artists, and his final series, painted right before his death, centered on Mont Sainte-Victoire.
At a time when too many people are focused on dislikes and differences, it is refreshing to see a reminder of love's enduring presence. Entitled "A Photographic history of men in love", this article starts with an old photograph found at an antiques store in Dallas, Texas. Two men pursued the subject t hrough countless trips to junkyards, flea markets and auctions, ending up with a collection of about 3,000 images. They have published a book with 300 of the pictures, giving us not only a chronicle of affection but a record of hair styles and fashion in the period between the mid-19th century and the end of World War II. Most poignant is an image, taken more than 100 years ago, with the notation "Not married but willing to be".
If you have not have heard of Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, these compelling portraits of women are a good place to start. Painted at the end of the 18th century, many of them were created when she served as portrait painter to Marie Antoinette. Vigee Le Brun caused a scandal when she painted "Self-Portrait with Her Daughter Julie" in 1787: it was considered outrageous to portray a woman open-mouthed and smiling. In an extraordinary move, she was granted membership in the Academie royale de peinture et de sculpture, one of only 15 women to be given full membership. That honor was diminished when the Academie refused to include her allegorical painting (rather than a portrait) in their category of paintings. She was further dismissed after the French Revolution when female academicians were rejected. Eventually, in 2016, she was given a retospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
In a further bow to female portraitists, Christie's Auction House is featuring "Five groundbreaking self-portraits by women", from a book designed to counterbalance portraits of women by male artists. The prevailing culture insisted that women be wives, mothers, nuns, sisters, but not artists, certainly in Europe. As a result, women were denied training, materials, space and time to pursue their passion. Additionally, they were not allowed to use live models: they could paint flowers and scientific specimens, even themselves, but not unclothed men.
Look with joy at these human/machine radial vessels. They were created in Abu Dhabi by an artist and a computer scientist. The accompanying video gives you a taste of how they were created, but the end result is a group of exquisite forms.
The world of Ryan McGinness is colorful, engaging, and energetic. His "Mindscapes" are created with metal and acrylic on linen, bunched up against each other on the wall, offering what seems to be a new and frenetic environment to step into and attempt to resolve. One editor described his experience of these works by saying "It almost feels like you are discovering a lost land that once existed amongst a tower of ivory, unpruned and waiting to be found." Give yourself time to explore this site: there are several videos worth seeing, and a number of different views of the works. Think Keith Haring, with a touch of Jean Michel Basquiat, a whisper of Paul Klee, and touches of scribbles and doodles.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is playing an excerpt from William Kentridge's "More Sweetly Play the Dance". The clip features music composition, video projection, sound, costumes, animated drawings, and performances. Kentridge, a South African artist, is best known for his animated films, made by drawing, filming, erasing and changing, and refilming. Tate filmed an interview with the artist 3 years ago that is worth watching.
"Not Another Second", at The Watermark in Brooklyn, New York, features the stories of gay elders who have spent the majority of their existence hiding from the public. The mixed-media exhibit includes 12 LGBTQ seniors who were willing to share their experiences of how it felt to be in the closet for so much of their lives. Most of them endured words like "sissy" and "queer", ugly innuendos, and, until 1973, being classified as mentally disturbed by the American Psychiatric Association. In fact, sodomy laws were in effect in many states until 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court made these laws unconstitutional. Sadly, higher incidences of depression in these closeted communities have led to a higher rate of dementia. The exhibit is meant to encourage others, whether young or old, to realize that they are not alone and can achieve happy and productive lives out of the closet.
"Outpost 454" brings us the joyful neon light paintings of Susan Larsen and Patrick Collentine. Collentine tells us "I've always had a passion for raw light". Outpost 454 is their workshop in Northern California
Further adventures in light can be seen in the glass art of Harriet Schwarzrock at the Curtis Glass Art Studio. Addtional wall panels with stainless steel remind us how far glass art has traveled since the establishment of studio fine art glass in the U. S. by Harvey Littleton, Marvin Lipovsky. and Dale Chihuly in the 1970's. You might look also at the architectural glass constructions of Matthew Curtis.
We learn from Christie's Auction site that the drawings of Jean-Honore Fragonard were as highly regarded in the 1770's and 1780's as were his paintings. Fragonard was apparently "addicted to drawing", and considered his drawings not preparatory studies but finished pieces to stand on their own. Pages of these drawings are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Harvard Art Museums, and the Louvre.
The field of porraiture is blossoming currently. Here are several examples worth considering. Take a look at the striking portraits done by Otis Kwame Kye
Quaicoe, to be shown at Roberts Projects in Los Angeles. Then see the work of Agnes
Grochulska, followed by the bronze and marble veiled figures of Kevin Francis
Gray. You might compare these to the digital portrait called "Curling" on the cover of this month's giraffe.com.
One last note: I am an inveterate bird lover. At one point I had over 50 birds, from gouldian finches to parakeets. Thanks to EG for this delightful site with identified bird songs. (PS: I had to let all the birds go finally, because I could not stand the idea of living creatures in cages.)
c. Corinne Whitaker 2021