Sunday, October 05, 2008

The American Scene

Just saw a wonderful exhibit
of painting by
Gerrit V. Sinclair (1890-1955)
at Richard Norton Gallery
here in Chicago


leading me to ponder the disappearance
of this genre of painting.

Has the American scene itself vanished ?
Or have painters just stopped painting it ?

I suspect it's just that the contemporary artworlds
tend to ignore it.

The highbrow is ashamed of America,
and the middle brow
mostly wants to look at cowboys and Indians.

************

Don't you love the above scene ?

It's as tight as a Giotto fresco,
but instead of saints on the way to Jerusalem,
it's kids on the way to church, school, or somewhere.

How charming!

I really like this guy,
depicting himself here
in his Paris studio
(he only lived there a year)

He was proud to be painter,
.... and also a father.



This was his view of the Louvre
... as kind of a scary place
where the Addams family might live.

And of course it's scary.

Everything about European history is scary
to a middle class person
from the Midwest

Here he is back at home,
looking at "th Beer Line"
pulling into Milwaukee

What a fine way to pass the day.




and who would know more about a painting class
than the person who spend his entire career
teaching them
(35 years at the Layton School of Art)


Yes -- it's sweet and charming.
But it's not just a corny illustration.

It's energies are resolved.
So it is also a painting.








Here we have Midwesterners at the beach.

A sturdy lot -- not especially sensual
in their near-nudity.






And I'm doubting whether Sinclair ever painted the nude
except here....
where he imagines a policeman looking over his shoulder,
nightstick ready for action
(and the artist is not even looking at the girl,
whose knees are held tightly together)



Another scene
of a nice, clean upper Midwestern city
that might feel just a little oppressive
to it's stalwart citizens


Whatever happened to American Scene painting ?

Whatever happened to museums conceiving themselves
as centers for regional art?

The two questions are the same.


1 Comments:

Blogger marlyat2 said...

Interesting, Chris... A little biography of a particular sort of painter and way of life, defended against the outer world.

October 13, 2008  

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