while doing research for my webinar on Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, i discovered that she was acquainted with Ben Nicholson, a favorite early 20th century painter i admire. i came across his very first abstract painting from 1925. as you can see, he was aware of Cubism. but what a wonderful sense of color!
while reading in an art book i have (“Pictures Of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock” by Kirk Varnedoe) i came across a painting by Matisse that i had never seen. it reminded me so much of a collage – even though it was a painting of an interior – that i wanted to share it. it is “Interior with Eggplants” or “Intérieur aux aubergines”. the fact that all the objects shown are placed on a strong pattern that is totally flat, and does not differentiate the floor from the walls, is very much like “collage space”. i hope you enjoy seeing it!
i really enjoy abstractions that skirt the line between representation and total non-objectivity. it may not seem so, but i do it in my own work, which often owes something to landscape and intimate views of landscape. one of my favorite painters who travels – perhaps more obviously, this path is Laura Sharp Wilson. i acquired one of her beautiful paintings, done on rice paper and then glued down on a dimensional wood backing. i purchased it from McKenzie Fine Art on one of my sojourns to NYC several years ago. i will post one image now, and follow it up with a few further images. i’m thinking of doing a video on her work for my Focus on Abstraction webinar on artistvenu. i hope you like her work as well!
in researching for a webinar i’m working on discussing artists who include representation in their abstraction, i came across an artist i used to adore! i hadn’t thought of him in a long time. he was associated with the northern california Funk movement. a number of his pieces are obviously well thought out in an abstract sense, but the weirdness is in the details! William T. Wiley. Photo courtesy Parker Gallery
of course, because the snow is melting a bit, i’m thinking of spring. and i’m also thinking, as you know about my webinar where i will be discussing artists who skirt the line between non-objective abstraction, and abstraction with recognizable “things”. so, paging through compendium of fairly recent artworks, i came across a piece by Beatriz Milhazes – a Brazilian artist. her work also skirts the line between what we may think of as “decoration”. of course, that is another interesting “boundary” to explore. but in the meantime, i’m posting a beautiful piece of hers from the Guggenheim Museum. “The Four Seasons” 1997
i was going to post a few images of the artwork of Arturo Herrera. instead, i’m posting a link to a short preview of how he works. from there you can watch the whole episode on Art21. i always find it very generous of artists to share their thoughts and working methods with others. art21.org
artists use all sorts of inspiration when making their work. usually they look around themselves, and pick from what they see. however, many artists go to different sources – infinite choices are available. one of my favorite artists, Terry Winters, did a whole series of paintings in the 1990’s titled “Graphic Primitives”. he was looking at, and thinking about diagrams that “explained” in some way “a method of thinking”, and “how information can be processed as pictorial imagery.” quite a challenging premise, but the paintings themselves (which are very large) a beautiful, and at the same time obscure in meaning.
i’ve followed Galen Cheney’s works for quite a few years now. i’m always impressed that she can harness what may at first seem to be a chaotic mix of elements into a cohesive whole. she is also fearless about letting her work change over time, which is not an easy thing for a successful artist to do. for those of you who are interested in technique, her work is inspirational; scraping, overpainting, taping… one of her mentors when she was completing her MFA was Grace Hartigan – whom i have covered in a separate webinar available on artistvenu. besides admiring her paintings, i admire her work ethic! she also does a blog on her website, which is smart. the more that you can communicate with your audience, the better! you can check out more of her artwork on her website (galencheney.com), and also view several videos of her discussing her work on YouTube. enjoy!
a long time ago (well, actually only 4 years ago apparently) i watched a video shot by the son of a favorite painter of mine – Thomas Nozkowski. what he revealed about how an artist “finds” his or her subject matter was revealing – and thrilling! i hope you agree.
Figure 1: Graduates of the Fine and Performance Art Department at the American University of Beirut (AUB): Farid Haddad (Lebanon) and Jay Zerbe (USA). Photo from L’Orient, December 30, 1969. Farid Haddad Archive.
an online exhibit from the American University of Beirut, where i did my undergraduate work. seems so long ago!
At the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, the Beirut artistic scene witnessed a series of artistic collaborations. At the heart of these exchanges were two young artists: one Lebanese and one American (Figure 1). The Lebanese Farid Haddad (b. 1945) graduated in 1969 from the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at the American University of Beirut and was working as a medical illustrator, while the American Jay Zerbe (b. 1949) was in 1969 in the junior year of his B.A. from the same department at AUB. In that year, and the year that followed, Haddad and Zerbe launched a series of exhibitions at AUB, as well as in various galleries outside campus. On other occasions, their collaborations added a third member, the Chinese-American painter Wen-ti Tsen, who taught at the International College (Figure 2). For this inquiry into the international history of the Beirut art world a few years before the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War, we will focus on the Haddad-Zerbe bridge.