Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Strolling through Artopolis 2007: Part One

There's no accounting for taste,
or for what might compel me
to pull my camera out of the red knapsack and start clicking away
while walking through Chicago's first Artopolis art fair.

It's mostly contemporary art -- so it was made to disturb/confront
and I'm disturbed enough,
so 95% of it did not get a second glance.

But there was also "modern art" -- i.e. early 20th Century,
as well as a few retro-contemporaries,
so my camera got quite busy.
(and it was the first time I ever filled up the memory card)

Consuming five hours (and probably five miles)
of hiking and art looking,
it was truly a marathon event,
and I suspect that the kind of things that
interested me in hour #4 were different
from what attracted me when I first walked through the door.

The following pictures are shown in the order
in which they were seen

-- and it begins with the show called "Art Chicago"
which has the international galleries
and the more prestigious American ones.

(needless to say, it had zero contemporary figure sculpture)

(and note: a completely different take on this exhibit can be found here )

Lorser Feitelson 1898-1978

This is the early work (1923) of Feitelson who is better known for the simple, hard-edge abstracts he did in the following decades.

His abstracts, though pleasant, put me right to sleep,
but this is the kind of fantasy I can share.

Orpheus beware !

And while I'm sure there's something sick
about these male fantasies of life on Lesbos
(the title of this painting is "The Island")

It's a disease, that in my case,
appears to be incurable.

...and this piece has that explosive, erotic energy
I remember from 19th C. Indian miniatures.

What a shame this painter's work
later became so radically reductive.
(i.e. banal)

John Santoro (b. 1963) "Backyard" 2006

Santoro is the only contemporary Chicago painter
I liked at the show,
and this happy suburban scene
does not seem characteristic of his
usual "Chicago Ugly" work I found online.

But it's certainly how I used to feel while playing in a backyard,
and it would make a nice pattern
for the surface of a Wabi-Sabi ceramic

Janice Biala 1903-2000

From what I've just read,
Janice was the prototypical 20th C. art chick,
Polish-Jewish girl growing up in New York,
then moving to Paris,
moving in with the aging Ford Madox Ford,
and spending the rest of her life among the avant garde.

This painting comes from the collection
of one of her friends, the art critic, Harold Rosenberg.

This painting is not quite there for me --
neither as earthy/powerful as an African pattern can be,
nor as luscious/beautiful as a European painting.

But it reminds me of another Jewish-American
art chick of that period,
my beloved grandmother Pearl,
so I am quite fond of it.

Eric Aho "Rutland Green"

I really like this younger painter (I'm guessing he's born in the 60's)
who's not afraid to make things that are beautiful

This heavy paint reminds me of some of the houses I've painted.
(houses - not canvases !)

But mostly it reminds me of scenes from my life,
of bright sunny days from 30 years ago.

These details are so tasty to me.

Henri Hayden (1883-1970) "Vue sur beauval" , 1959

Here's someone from that first generation of modernists,
a Polish artist who moved to Paris in 1907,
and joined in all the excitement.

He followed the leaders into Cubism,
and I suppose that as a follower, he doesn't often make it into American museums.

But he's still a good painter, and I enjoyed this late work.

Wolf Kahn (b. 1927) "Gray sky, gray barn" 2006

Judging by the price tag ($60,000), Wolf is one of the deans of American landscape painting,
and I love the eerie emotion of this piece,
and since the viewer is looking up to that barn,
through a maze of verdant scrub,
it reminds me of so many moments I've spent floating down rivers.

Bernard Lamotte (1903-1983) Les Amoureux

I think I'd call this French-American
a high-end illustrator
(i.e. these are paintings, not prints,
and the scenes may not be
pleasing for those who demand the Norman Rockwell attention to detail)

If you look him up on the internet,
you'll find many more light hearted, charming urban views.

How I wish that this was the kind of painting
that would be going into the new Modern-Contemporary wing
of the Chicago Art Institute.

Because I want paintings that summon good feelings and memories,
not just paintings about painting.


Blogger Robert said...

Thanks for these Chris, naturally disappointed that there was no sculpture. Will you be uploading any more or is that our lot? Please forgive me for asking but it is wonderful to see what is going on one third of the way round the world sometimes. I wonder just how many people feel the same way as you do on entering a similar event? I will be sending those pictures shortly I promised of the 20c sculptors.

May 04, 2007  
Anonymous Bill said...

Feitelson's website writes that from 1956 to 1963 he hosted a Sunday morning NBC television program broadcast from L.A. called "Feitelson on Art". Nationally? If so what a surprise: a TV show with only 7 mentions by Google! Can you imagine such a show today? The prestige abstract art had! Do you think he would had the job if he were still painting adolescent nudes draping themselves around sprouting tree stalks?

May 04, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Don't worry, Robert, the sculpture is coming ! (although I only found one piece the entire afternoon that was made by a contemporary)

And no, Bill, I don't think Feitelson would be on television then - now - or ever --as a painter of nudes (adolescent or otherwise)

And it was kind of a cute concept, wasn't it ? Erotic women making love as they are saluted by a forest of male affection.

May 04, 2007  

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