Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gupta Sculpture

Tara group, Aurangabad cave

The problem with sculpture
from the Gupta era (250-650)
is that so much of it did not survive
the Muslim invasions of northern India.

Dancing Gana, Bhumara, 500

This little fellow once danced
on the roof of a temple
that has long since been turned to dust.

Uttar Pradesh

This is probably the kind of thing
that the invaders found so offensive

Punar, 5th C.

It's called a "Golden Age"

Mirpur Khas, 400

Matrika, Rajastan, 6th C.

Mathura, 5th C.

Bihar, 6th C.

Rajastan, Tanesar-Mahadeva, 500

These little fragments
are now on display
at the Art Institute

Cruel Beauty

where would you expect to find
a piece like this ?

(other than in the Ando Gallery of the Art Institute)

in the boudoir of
a femme fatale

There's something unnatural
about its beauty.

even when she's wearing
way too much makeup,
a woman can still be beautiful.

This would be a drawer
where the deed
to a client's family is being kept.
(before it is sold to a speculator,
and the current inhabitants are evicted)

what about this cricket cage.

with a captive pair of
metal crickets.

There's something
so uncomfortable about it.

As a beautiful object
that might adorn a life of hopeless despair.

(both of the above are Meiji era pieces)

Of course,
I'm much more comfortable
with some 15th C.
Wabi Sabi.

reminds me
of the floor
of my studio!

Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper at the A.I.C.

Matisse 1906

This show
is a nice opportunity
to compare Modern with Contemporary
(unless, like myself, you'd just as soon ignore the latter)

I'm not especially thrilled with the above,
I sympathize with the artist
needing to add a strip to the top of his sheet
after realizing that
he began the figure too high on the page.

Ludwig Meidner, 1913

Nightmarish ?
Yes... but also beautiful

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1905

Ah.. for the life of a wild, young artist.
This is presumably a scene from his studio in Dresden
where he and his friends founded "Die Brücke"

Lovis Corinth, Self Portrait , 1924

Something of an anomaly,
Corinth is from an earlier generation (b. 1858),
but here,
in the last year of his life,
we find him
as a full blown expressionist.

Oscar Kokoschka, Portrait of Alma Mahler, 1913

Another relic
of the famous romance
between a young artist
and the widow of Gustav Mahler.

There's something so...
about it.

Kurt Schwitters 1942

There seems to be a story here.
With a little modification,
it could be one of the side panels
done by Duccio.

Which is why I like these
early 20th C. Expressionists,
even if there's a straight
(and descending)
from their artworld celebration of miserable self
to the contemporary art
that followed them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Luca Cambiaso

Here's a drawing
I saw last weekend in
this show at the Block Museum,

which reminded me
of another drawing by the same artist
that I saw in the
Goldman Collection
at the Art Institute last year.

Now, I realize,
I don't like Renaissance Italian drawings
so much as I like Luca Cambiaso

and here's the first one
I ever saw,
about 45 years ago
at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
(it was one of my father's favorites)

note: not that it's very important-
but the big toe on the lady's left leg
is on the wrong side of her foot.
The artist might have noticed that himself
when he finished -- but too late!

So now,

I'll just go whole hog,
and show as many as
I can find.

Here's the drawing
that made him so famous
in the early 20th Century.

An early cubist!

What could make a Modernist more happy?

But I'm more excited
by his rapturous control of space.
(though I'm also intrigued by
those block-headed figures
that he uses --
an early variant of the cone-heads
that would become famous centuries later
on American television)

Though, more likely,
it just shows that
he has a design
that's trying to become a narrative,
rather than
the other way around.

What a wonderful vision
of poor St. Paul falling off his horse
(and how much energy
is being released in every direction)

These lines
are as perfect
as those of Wang Hsi-chih

A nice image of St. Francis

Every squiggle
is just so right.

Here's a nice puzzle for you:
one of them is
by Cambiaso,
and the other is
someone else's copy.

Which is the original ?

The problem is.....
that he couldn't carry
this level of excitement
into the paintings
for which these were studies.

Unlike the great Chinese masters
of ink on paper,
European artists are basically
just high-end contractors.

They're small businessmen,
and perhaps they can't always afford
to bring exceptional quality
to all of their projects.

while these pieces
can be completed in a few hours. (or less)

so lively!

and I love how energy
moves across this scene
like a breeze
blowing through leaves
in a forest.

Poussin and Rembrandt
also made this kind
of wonderful drawing.

(but they could also carry that wonder
into their paintings)

every drop of ink is alive

here's the answer
to the question asked above.

the difference between
Cambiaso and the
other Renaissance draftsmen
is not one of degree.

It more like the difference
between poetry and journalism.

His sense of volume and space
is uncanny.