Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Matinee Idolizers"

9 x 12"
oil on panel

My new painting features Edward Hopper's New York Movie which I last saw at the Art Institute of Chicago, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in an exhibition titled America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930's.  The exhibition included my very favorite painters - Hopper, O'Keeffe, Grant Wood to name a few - depicting scenes during the Great Depression.  It was unforgettable.

The Art Institute has several fun facts about New York Movie:

- Hopper painted the work in 1938 after a long dry spell of not painting anything.

- The location is the Palace Theater, now the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, chosen after scouting out the Strand and others.

- The woman on the right was modeled after Hopper's wife, Jo.  He had her stand under a hallway light in his building for sketching and studies.

- The outfit Jo is wearing was based on the wide-legged jumpsuits actually worn by the Palace Theater's staff.

- The theme on the movie screen was thought to be from a 1937 movie Lost Horizon by Frank Capra.

- The poet Joseph Stanton wrote an ode to the painting. 

Please click here for a larger view.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"A Breath of Fresh Air"

12 x 12"
oil on panel

I once stepped into a gallery in the Smithsonian American Art Museum that had four or five or six, I can't remember how many, grandious landscapes by Albert Bierstadt.  It was crowded with patrons and you could hear a pin drop.

That is exactly what Albert Bierstadt strived for - the awe and amazement from the viewer.  Bierstadt was a showman.  A self-promotor.  He held theatrical events, sold tickets and presented his newest masterpiece by unveiling it from behind a curtain - with dramatic lighting - followed with a tall tale of his explorations in the West and how he came upon this very scene.  One critic described him as the 'vast machinery of advertisement and puffery'.

Bierstadt's paintings were wildly popular and commanded high prices during the time of 1860's - 70's.  People had a thirst for images of the frontier - especially people who lived abroad and had never seen anything like it.

In 1862, Bierstadt's studio was destroyed by a fire, including many of his paintings.  He struggled financially, as the demand for these massive landscape paintings waned - replaced during the Gilded Age with portraits of prominent tycoons and their family members.  Interest in his work was reborn in the 1960's and thanks to his prolific life as an artist, there are hundreds of paintings held by museums around the world.

Please click here for a larger view.