Wow and super wow! I've just returned from the Georgia O'Keefe Show at the New York Botanical Garden (through October 28, 2018). I love her flower paintings and truly can say my flower paintings are influenced by her (bee's eye view). This show is based on her trip to Hawai'i in 1939. She painted two of my favorite flowers both native to Hawai'i: Birds of Paradise and Hibiscus.
Two wonderful surprises. She went to Hawai'i at the request of a pineapple company that wanted her to paint for their advertisements. She painted a rainbow colored pineapple.
She also painted the Ocean and lava in such a moving way. While the painting is deceptively simple, it totally captures the mighty power of the sea.
I think her own words say it best and express what all artists hope to do.
What does it mean to stay in the same house for such a long time? Longer than I've lived anywhere else. Forty-four years! Yes, it means you grow old along with your house. And the young boys, ages seven and four when we moved here, have grown up and moved on. Married and had children of their own. Those children have all run up and down the stairs in this glorious house. Their laughter still ringing in my ears. That room on the upper left, once was the older boy's, then the younger boy's, then a granddaughter's. That spacious room turned into my art room and from it have flowed all the paintings you see on this website.
That tree on the left was a beautiful pink tulip magnolia. Magnificent and perfect for two boys to climb. Alas, it was strangled to death by wisteria. Yes, you heard me right. Read "The Giant Wisteria" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman if you don't believe me. But I was young and innocent when it came to the garden and I thought the wisteria, cloaked around the tree like a necklace, was beautiful. But it killed the tree like the most merciless killer in an Agatha Christie mystery. Later I planted a weeping cherry blossom tree in that spot, and it brings the Spring every year. Black-eyed susans still smile under the fir tree. Though they are more spare, shade will do that. And the red roses still bloom every Memorial Day. That prize winning yellow dahlia has never been reduplicated, though I remembered it in a painting, "Nude Woman With Dahlia". The bluejay is emblematic of so many that have made our house their home, nesting in the upper rafters of our front porch. Our house has grown old along with us. How I cherish it and all the memories, inside, outside and yet to come.
Don't come to this exhibit looking for happy paintings. You won't find them. These are Expressionist paintings from a very painful period in German and Austrian history between the World Wars. Expressionist artists express emotion, and the emotion evoked is horror. Most assuredly for the Jewish artists represented, but for the Gentile artists, as well, whose works were vilified as "degenerate" (a previous show at the Neue Galerie exhibited the "degenerate art' by the same curator, Dr. Olaf Peters).
The show opens with Still Lifes. If one were to enter this room with no knowledge of the time and place they were painted, one would guess that they were the works of very disturbed mental patients who happened to be great artists. Even a seemingly harmless painting of a vase with flowers, "Autumn Bouquet" by Rudolf Wacker (Oil, 1938) on close examination depicts dead leaves and flowers whose petals are like dead fingers.
There are four paintings that win the prize for most horror provoking. Karl Volker's "Puppet Theater" (Mixed Technique ,1931-2) in which serious faced children are streaming in to see a creepy puppet show. The puppets cannot be described, except that they are slimy, with faces that horrify. And Volker's "Mask With Balls" (Mixed Technique, 1930), is a gory head on a stick as one might have seen in the village square in Medieval Times.
The power of Expressionism is truly on display here to evoke the oppressive time. The viewer can feel it palpably.
There are two paintings of ugly dolls with old women's heads by Rudolf Wacker, "Sheep And Doll" (Oil, 1934) and "Japanese Doll And Poppy (Oil, 1934). These are not childhood playthings!
Of the paintings in the first room, I was most struck by "Storm" (Oil, 1932) by Franz Sedlacek. His paintings are categorized as Surrealist. A tiny white deer flees eerie trees with dead branches and a black background. But at least in the white deer, one perceives the human spirit.
As you go up the stairs to the 3rd floor gallery, you are assaulted by a horrendous poster by Bruno Heinrich, in which a stereotyped caricature of a Jewish Man with a Jewish Star pendant and a grotesque nose and face stands behind the American and British Flags, "Der Jude Behind The Enemy Flags (1941-3). There is also a photo/poster by John Heartfield, "A Tool Or God's Hand?" in which a man dangles Hitler like a puppet on a string.
There are many works on paper on this floor that are depressing as hell as they depict Hell, with Nazi flags, Hitler with blood coming out his eyes and nose, a soulless faced German soldier with hollowed out eyes, and cartoon drawings from the time.
I was drawn to the Surreal landscapes. Again Franz Sedlacek caught my attention with "Thunderstorm" (Oil, 1936) in which a dark silhouette on a bicycle drives over a bridge under blackening skies, passed a factory with broken windows. The effect is of a silent nightmare. Sedlacek also painted "Rainbow" which, though blunted in color, on a black background on a road reflecting ominous clouds, nevertheless holds out a ray of hope as the rainbow lights up a small patch of green trees.
Richard Oelze's "Expectation" (Oil, 1935) is also a Surrealist painting in which an urban crowd is huddled out in nowhere. It made me think of War Of The Worlds.
The painting that haunted me the most after I left the museum, was "Railway Underpass" (Oil, 1934) by Rudolf Dischinger. Beautifully painted, it portrays an ordinary German mother and her young son. They both have the same sad eyes frozen in place, as a dog forages for scraps on the ground, and the big back of a man in a business suit walks by. That young boy will be sent as a soldier to die in ten years time. So it is, that everyday lives are destroyed by the evil of the times.
The show includes the works of many more familiar names: Max Beckmann, Max Ernst, Oskar Kokoschka, as well as a chilling self portrait by Felix Nussbaum, "Self-Portrait In The Camp" (1946), because tragically, that was where it all lead.
This painting (Oil, 30" H x 40") will be on display at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 118 Chadwick Road, Teaneck, NJ, for a special Good Friday Service, March 30, 2018, 7:30 pm. The Lenten Sketches, by Joseph M. Martin, inspired by the life and message of Jesus Christ, with the St. Mark's Choir and a Chamber Orchestra. Sixteen paintings will be on exhibit representing, Suffering, Forgiveness and Rebirth. The art exhibit reception will be on April 2, 2018, at the Church from 6-8 pm. The paintings will be for sale.
I just saw this delightful show at the Boca Raton Museum Of Art. It runs till April 8, 2018. Katz has his own style. Those who don't appreciate him say he's too illustrative. But they're missing something. He pares things down to their essentials, and whether he paints on a huge canvas,, or a small one, he captures the essence of a flower, a portrait or a landscape. He is definitely a great American Artist, age 90, and I believe, still painting.
I like his flowers, which use the power of color and shape to speak to the viewer.
Late Summer Flowers, 2011, Oil on Board, 9"X 12"
Yellow Flags, 2011, Oil on linen, 84" X 240"
Nicole, 2015, Oil on board 7" x 16".
Katz is famous for his portraits of women. This one is particularly arresting, as it captures an introspective mood, perfectly.
Night Light, 2005, Oil on Board, 9"x 12".
Night Light, 2005, Oil on Board, 9" x 12". This simple landscape captures the mystery of Winter Snow. He lives in Maine part of the year. His feeling for the landscape, and light in the house, reminds me of Munch. Very sensitive and heightened in feeling. If you escape such a Winter and find yourself in Boca Raton before April 8, I highly recommend this exhibit. And if you can stand slow service in the cause of great Tex/Mex food, I recommend Uncle Julio's across the street.
David Hockney is most known for his paintings of L.A. swimming pools. There is something luxuriant about these paintings and he does something fascinating with water, making it a bit out of focus and mesmerizing. But swimming pools are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to Hockney's art.
He was dazzled by Los Angeles, and it's when he came to L.A., in the 1960's, that his work came alive. He must have been blindsided by the Technicolor of my hometown, coming from grey and dreary England, and it shows.
He painted bold color with a passion and he began painting in Acrylic, which is the best medium for his bright, flat color.
His paintings are all on a grand scale. He spent some time in Colorado, and painted the open sky vistas with Indian iconography.
,But it was in L.A. that his unique style came into fruition. He painted interiors, exteriors, and portraits, all with a unique L.A. vibe.
He was part of a large and creative British ex-pat community. He was also early to come out and depict Gay life. Two men shower together in one painting, there is a semi-nude in another.
His portraits are like freeze frames. Stolen moments in time, in which a look reveals psychological underpinnings. In this, Hockney reminds me of Alice Neel. As important as the face, is the body language of the subject. This is particularly stunning in his portrait of the famous English couple, Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (to read how much these two were revered in the Gay community, read Armistead Maupin's reminiscence in his recent memoir, LOGICAL FAMILY).
Another telling portrait, is of Hockney's parents, in which his mother shows all the stress of a life contained in a face, while the father examines a book , oblivious to his spouse. Here is a closeup of her face.
If one is looking for a wow factor, it is in the 1990's where Hockney simply explodes with color in his love affair with L.A. He does this with interiors, his own backyard, and in the painting that literally knocked my socks off, PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY AND SANTA MONICA (Oil, 1990).
He does return to Yorkshire in the 2000's with some strong paintings. Perhaps he was able to see the environment he came from with new eyes. BRIDLINGTON, YORKSHIRE (Oil, 2006) is an example. It is made up of several blocks of canvas which are connected like giant puzzle pieces.
When I was an art student, we were given a common enough assignment. Find a famous painting and copy it. I copied Hockney's , MT. FUJI AND FLOWERS (Acrylic, 1972). I loved its grace and simplicity. I copied it from a postcard, which meant I missed the delicacy with which he treated the petals, and his special effects with water. What a thrill to see that painting in all its elegance in person.
My fledgling artistic copy is below the Master's.
Thank you Mr. Hockney, for being so inspiring to artists everywhere, and bravo on your 80 year retrospective career!
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is a great artist and this is a great show. There is much more to his art than "The Scream", though contained in all of his art, is raging emotion, with a scream of sadness or despair always implicit. This is an all encompassing show with many paintings that have never before been seen in the U.S. I was enthralled by his ability to express intense feeling in a way, no other artist does.
The sun never sets in Norway in the summer, so Munch had to paint his night paintings in the dead of night. "The Storm" (Oil, 1893) is a standout. The houses seem to have faces, and brood with emotion. The ghostlike figure is backed up by wailing women. A mesmerizing haunted painting.
"Starry Night (Oil, 1922-24) gives Van Gogh a run for his money. A glorious bright starry night, and large shadows in the snow. Again, window light between the trees that seems to speak, and an ominous face in the lower right corner (he often has shadows, faces, silhouettes, in lower corners of his paintings.
There are a series of paintings that evolve around the bridge that figures so prominently in "The Scream". Munch said that Nature seemed to scream up from the water under the bridge. He was someone who was severely depressed and struggled as he said, "to stand up" each day. He did live to 81 which means his struggle did not defeat him. Perhaps, because he painted his grief and despair.
,One seminal event that caused him grief, was the death of his sister, Sophie, from TB, when Munch was 12. Forty years later, he painted his grieving family at her bedside. This painting so captures the horror that death of a loved one, especially premature death, brings. There is a very ghoulish painting, "Inheritance" in which a mother holds her syphilitic baby on her lap.
While almost every painting has a dark view of life, one is filled with passion and sexuality. So let's end with "The Kiss" (Oil, 1897). How powerful this is, even though, or perhaps, because, all facial features are erased.
For a larger view of these paintings, go to my Instagram: pamwings (Pam Malone)
The brilliant Swedish film, "The Square" is about modern art and so much more. It is a bit of a thriller and holds one's attention throughout. Yes, it does satirize the art world. One of the exhibits in the X-Royal Museum are multiple mounds of ashes, all identical. When the museum cleaner inadvertently sweeps up some of the mounds, the museum staff panics, until the curator comes up with the idea of taking the ashes out of the vacuum cleaner bag and simply replacing the mounds the way they were before. No one is the wiser. But the film deals with a more important question regarding modern art and museum exhibitions. If one took an ordinary object, like a purse or a chair, and placed it in a museum, does that make it a work of art? This is explored in many ways. A performance artist portrays a wild animal, but he gets carried away to the point where it is no longer performance, he has become a savage beast. The key art work explored in the movie, is "The Square". An Argentinian artist has created a lit up square in front of the museum, which symbolizes a place one can step into to experience equality, and peace. This is a Utopian vision that is soon shattered, as The Square blurs with the city square and becomes social reality around and outside the museum. The director, Ruben Ostlund, enforces this with visual squares throughout. Even the eerie music lends itself to this concept. Surprisingly, Swedish society is more like our own than I would have thought. There is evidently no safety net for the many beggars and European Union refugees. As a result there is a pronounced inequality, as seen when toughs in a poor neighborhood, throw detritus at the curator's Tesla. He begins the movie wrapped in his own elite world in which "The Square" is clearly an art piece but nothing more. He ends totally transformed. And therein I think the director is showing us that art is not just an object in a museum, but something that has the power to affect us all.
Last night was the opening reception for the 20/20 show at the Academy Square Galleries, 33 Plymouth St., Montclair, NJ. The show will run until December 15, 2017. I have 2 oil paintings in the show, "Hummingbird" and "Tulip". That's my artistically perceptive grandson, Harry, with me in the Hummingbird picture. He knows how much I love hummingbirds!! The show was very impressive. The concept is that all paintings, and other media, are at eye view and are 20" X 20" in honor of Studio Montclair's 20th Anniversary. The curator, Pamela Moore , wanted to create a show that included humor, beauty and innocence. She said my paintings personified "innocence". I am quite happy with this designation, as I look at the world with the eyes of wonder, and hope that is revealed through my paintings.