American Painting at Madron LLC
Ever since last August, I've been on a desultory quest for paintings done by the early members of my art club, the Palette and Chisel -- mostly out of what might be called "team spirit" -- but also because I like the painting and sculpture of 20th C. America -- back before the Armory Show -- but especially before the canonization of Abstract Expressionism ---- back when American painters and sculptors looked to Paris for culture.
Not that I don't like any American folk-art or visual journalism --- but I think the quick-study styles developed by the French avant garde of 1840-1900 were especially suited for the urban American life style (which is why American aesthetes still love to practice and collect them -- despite its middle brow status)
There's a few galleries in Chicago that specialize in this period -- a new one is called Madron LLC -- and here's what I found to like on my first visit.
(note: in some styles of painting, a partial view is uncomfortable for me -- because of my desire to see it all. But in these late 19th C. French styles -- as in Chinese brush painting -- the close-ups are what grab me the most -- so each picture here is shot both in whole and in part.)
This is by Pauline Palmer (1867-1938)-- a Chicago girl who was bound and determined to be a painter --- taking every class -- joining every club -- marrying the supportive Dr. Palmer -- and I think she got quite good. Some of her figure studies might have suffered from her loose approach -- but I like the breezy mood of this landscape -- she just seems so happy to be outdoors behind a friend's house.
Here's another 19th C. American woman, Harriet Randall Lumis (1870-1953)-- who seems to have done everything Pauline did -- except that she married Mr. Lumis, an architect.
And again -- what a fine painter ! This little urban scene is blowing at least as much Jazz as the much-later Stuart Davis. Which is to say -- she swings.
Here's Carl Albert Buehr (1866-1952) -- a Chicago boy who should have joined my art club but instead ended up hanging out with some American painters in France who were, I have to admit, a notch or so better (Richard Miller, Theodore Butler, Frederick Frieseke)
These were the painters who loved to see beautiful women in daylight -- and well -- that is why men have eyes -- isn't it ?
Wilson Henry Irvine (1869-1936) is probably the most famous Palette and Chisel Club painter from that era (at least, among those who stayed in Chicago) -- and he has risen to that glass ceiling that the Art Institute has installed for 20th C. painters who are outside any modern movements (i.e. he's got a painting hanging in the museum library)
Personally - I like things a little more turbulent -- but nothing is wrong with a quiet kind of beauty.
The other Palette and Chisel painter here is Richard Schmid -- who is still alive, painting, and writing books about how to do it. He's something of a legend among non-modernist painters -- has had many successful students -- and has really supported his old Chicago art club -- even though he prefers to live in the mountains.
I think this painting shows why he's so popular: he really paints to please -- but he still can hold the attention of viewers who are more demanding.
I guess that's it -- but somewhere, I'm sure, a painting by an old Palette and Chisel member is being boxed up and shipped to a gallery in Chicago -- waiting to be discovered by my digital camera.