Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Strolling through Artopolis 2007: Part Five

Picasso: Vollard Edition

Continuing our stroll through the Antiques Fair,
this is a page from the Vollard edition
(that was also just on display at the Art Institute)

A Classical fantasy,
custom made for me.

This is why I love figure drawine, Picasso,
and the ancient Classical world.

( if only Picasso had turned his hand
to making those kinds of statues..
if only Prokoviev had continued to
write classical symphonies...
if only Strauss had continued to write
Mozartean operas... etc etc etc)

Ohara Koson (1877-1945), 1910

What's interesting about Ohara
is that all his work was made for export to the West.

Early 20th C. Japan was so fascinated by Europe,
that their own culture had fallen out of style.
(as related in these Mishima books that I read last year)

Isn't there something lurid about this butterfly ?
As if these insects were
overdressed courtesans ?

Harry Parr, 1939

A rather silly piece,
but still, stuffed away in a glass case with other ceramic falderol,
it caught my attention.

Here's another (inferior) version --
which leads me to conclude
that what I really like is the patina,
all those whacky, tasty colors
that remind me of expensive Italian ice cream.
(or this Meissen treasure,
which admittedly is a bit more sumptuous)

(and I'm feeling that this is me,
at the age of two)

Spain or Italy, 15th C.

(just as I feel that this is me ... at the age of 20)

But what happened to that poor man's right hand ?

I suppose the piece is
part of an emsemble --
maybe he's pointing to a wound
in the Savior's flesh ?

Henri Lebasque (1865-1937) "Le basin aux reflets bleus, Le Pradet , 1923
26 x 32 Inches

Lebasque is an also-ran in the current narrative
of art history.
People still like to put his paintings on their walls
(so the above sells for six figures)
but I'm sure that he's considered
too derivative to merit a place in art history.

And yet --- if the above were treated
like an artifact from ancient Egypt or China,
it would be treasured for its beauty.

(and if I were of the class
that keeps a condo by the beach--
this painting would be in it)

Karl Albert Buehr (1866-1952)
This is the kind of German-born Chicago painter
who joined my art club a century ago...
but for some reason Karl never did,
though he did teach at the Art Institute for many years.

And for some reason,
this photo does not remind me
of why this painting appealed to me at the show.
Maybe it's just my familiarity with this local style.

So similar to this one by a contemporary club member,
Louis Oscar Griffith, who was also found at Artopolis.

..or maybe I'm imagining that it was once much brighter.

Caroll Nichols (1882- ) "BlueIce, Buck's County" , 1934

This is the kind of painting I love to find at the Antiques fair:
i.e. one made by the totally obscure artist
(nothing on the internet - and nobody knows when he/she died)

John Storrs (1885-1956)
"portrait of Monique" (artist's daughter) , 1925

Storrs has become Chicago's official modernist
(in the generation that followed Laredo Taft).
He hung out in Paris -- he was born wealthy -- he did as he pleased.


Blogger Robert said...

I am intrigued at John Storrs’ "portrait of Monique" (his daughter).

It has a look of "1925" of course, I wonder how good the likeness was.

I have found, and I am sure Chris you have too, that because you are a sculptor or artist that people automatically think you can do portraits. The truth is that if you have a long enough time and you have enough opinions cast at you, then with a modicum of skill you can produce a likeness.

A likeness is essential but is only one third of the job. It is in capturing two other essential ingredients that a plaster cast does not have and a good portrait does.

The second ingredient is in giving the clay/ bronze/ marble / other - the proactive oozing of personality.

The third is trickery,- an ability to make it "alive".

This is a tall order do you not think? Eyelashes are not really viable in most media and anyway I do not advocate that a portrait needs to be a wax work or even like Ron Mueck ‘s amazing work,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Mueck ,
neither of which do the trick, just make you look twice and feel uncomfortable which is definitely not the artist’s intention in most cases!

NO what we are after is;

Hi there, this is “Monique”. This is how I see her, understand her, this is her at her wittiest, at her most endearing, at her wickedest, at her happiest, at her saddest, you’d -love her, hate her, enjoy her company, be really frightened by her.

Now how do you feel about John Storrs’ daughter? Or more to the point, what he thought of her.

May 19, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

One of the more outrageous Chinese novels, Jin Ping Mei (or "Golden Lotus") depicts a professional Chinese portrait painter at work.

He had seen the subject once at a social event many years before -- so he has at least something to start with.

But after he has made his first version -- he takes it around and shows it to everyone who knew her and solicits their corrections --
which he compiles and then applies to his final version.

That's what I think a likeness is all about - and, of course, for those of us who never knew the subject, it's irrelevant.

The only thing that's relevant to me is: how does this portrait make me feel ? -- so I want some kind of beauty from it -- and since it's a portrait -- I want a beauty of character.

I didn't really get that from the Storrs piece -- she seems like a whining little girl who has to endure an art-obsessed father.

But still -- the piece feels so tightly designed -- I'm attracted to it.

May 20, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

Square perhaps in more than one sense?

I certainly do not want people to remember my children like that. I have been considering your comment some time ago about the prettiness in English sculpture and have found much reference to it from a variety of other sources just recently by chance which will prompt me to make a post on it soon. This one is a useful illustration of what is not so pretty!

May 23, 2007  

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