Tuesday, December 05, 2006

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.


Anonymous marly said...

Fooh! I have spent too many hours ordering gifts and the fabulous DogDen2, and so now I have come by for a quick restoration.

I like the idea of your club so much--and that you care about its tradition, receiving it and passing it on. That sort of thing makes one's little hop, skip, and jump through life seem part of something ongoing.

Enjoyed my drift through the pictures; this batch was restful.

So this pool of once-young artists suggests that--not so long ago--the best and natural thing for an ambitious young man was to take his freedom and go to Paris, and the best thing for an ambitious young woman was to get the right husband. I suppose there are many young men who didn't quite make it to Paris, and many young women who married someone who, in the end, turned out not to be sympathetic after all.

Back anon, with mind in less disarray...

December 06, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home