Saturday, March 10, 2018

Crazy Art or Crazy Artists?

Is it a myth that Artists are CraZy?  

Yes, it is a myth. Creative people may not be mainstream but that doesn't mean they are crazy.
Picasso painted images that might have looked crazy but he had a strong grip on reality.  Picasso had a tumultuous love life and he seemed to think that his lovers were crazy as this painting suggests:
Picasso's lover

Yet, in spite of most artists being sane, there are artists who seem to have had genuine mental issues:

Vincent Van Gogh killed himself at the age of 37 and suffered from some unknown ailment throughout his life.  He may have been bipolar or an addict but in reality, we do not know. This self portrait was created after Vincent chopped off his ear.
Van Gogh's ear

Edvard Munch suffered from a variety of emotional issues, depression and hallucinations. Mental illness ran in his family. He credited his mental illness for the creation of his most famous work, "The Scream".
Munch's famous painting

Francisco Goya at the age of 46 came down with a mysterious mental illness that affected his painting style.  This painting came after his breakdown.
Goya Painting

Georgia O'Keefe was hospitalized for depression and anxiety at the age of 46.  However, I'm not sure she was crazy.  This was a time when Georgia was living with a bossy, old man (Alfred Stieglitz) who also cheated on her.  After he died and she moved to New Mexico, she thrived and her art blossomed. Stieglitz who was a photographer, he created a beautiful series of photos of O'Keefe though the years of their relationship.   
Georgia O'Keefe

Alice Neel, like Georgia O'Keefe, went through a rough patch.  After an early marriage, Neel lost a young child to diphtheria.  Shortly after she had another child and her husband who was Cuban left Alice and took their daughter to live with his family in Cuba.  Alice was unable to get her daughter back and her relationship with both husband and child ended.  After that, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a nervous breakdown. Her life was filled with more relationship drama.  She went on to have two sons by different fathers and managed to support them as a single mother on welfare and painter in the government program, WPA which employed artists during the depression. Bohemian? Yes. Crazy? Probably not.  In the 1960's her years of success and fame began.

Alice Neel

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Chuck Close

The art of Chuck Close 

Here is a brief bio: "Charles Thomas "Chuck" Close (born July 5, 1940) is an American painter, artist and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. Close often paints abstract portraits of himself and others, which hang in collections internationally. Close also creates photo portraits using a very large format camera. Although a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint and produce work that remains sought after by museums and collectors." (

'Big Self Portrait', (1967-68)
acrylic on canvas (107.5"x83.5")

'Big Self Portrait' is fifty times life size and was done by using a half a teaspoon of black paint which was thinned to the consistency of water. Close used both brushes and airbrush.  He blended with an eraser attached to a drill.  

Chuck Close Self-Portrait, 1991For this painting Close used a Polaroid photo that he mapped into grids.

Self-Portrait, 2004-2005

This is from Chuck Close's Red, Yellow, Blue exhibit at the Pace Gallery in 2015.

Things to know about Chuck Close: 
He revived the art of portrait painting.
He was a key figure in the Photorealism movement of the 1970's.
Chuck Close struggled with dyslexia and partial paralysis.
He used the grid system in his art. This became a creative expression and an area for growth for Chuck.
He also used a variety of techniques and medias. 
His work has remained relevant long after Photorealism lost it's popularity.    

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jean and Raoul Dufy, two brothers that did well as artists

Modern Art of two brothers 

Here is the bio of the younger brother: "Jean Dufy was a French Art Deco painter best known for his colorful depictions of post-war Parisian society, notably Jazz musicians who arrived with American soldiers. He was born on March 12, 1888 in La Havre, France as the brother of the well-known French Fauvist painter Raoul Dufy, who would serve as a mentor to Dufy throughout his career. Though he had no formal training, he decided to become a painter after seeing a gallery exhibition of Modern Art in La Havre—he had his first show in 1914 at Galerie Berthe Weill. For almost 30 years, Dufy was employed at a porcelain manufacturer hand-painting decorative designs of animals and flowers, for which he would win a gold medal at the 1925 L’exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs—the very exhibition where the term Art Deco was first coined. Dufy was for a time the next-door neighbor to Georges Braque, who would encourage the younger artist to experiment with Cubism. He died on May 12, 1964 in La Boissière, France."

Raoul Dufy's Beautiful Paintings

 Raoul is the older brother.  He left school at the age of fourteen to work in a coffee-importing company. In 1895, when he was 18, he developed an interest in art and started taking evening classes in art at Le Havre's École des Beaux-Arts.

In 1900, after a year of military service, Dufy won a scholarship to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he concentrated on improving his drawing skills. The impressionist landscape painters, such as Monet and Pissaro influenced Dufy profoundly. His first exhibition (at the Exhibition of French Artists) took place in 1901. 
Henri Matisse's artwork which Dufy saw at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, was a revelation to the young artist, and it directed his interests towards Fauvism. Les Fauves (the wild beasts) emphasized bright color and bold contours in their work. Dufy's painting reflected this aesthetic until about 1909, when contact with the work of Paul Cezanne led him to adopt a somewhat different technique. In 1920, Dufy developed his own distinctive approach. 
His work was very beautiful and decorative which caused some critics to not take him seriously.  His work has aged well and is popular today.  It is light, loose and easy to look at but that doesn't make it less significant. 

 By 1950, his hands were struck with rheumatoid arthritis and painting was difficult for him as he had to fasten the brush to his hand. In April he went to Boston to undergo an experimental treatment with cortisone. It proved successful, and some of his next works were dedicated to the doctors and researchers in the United States. Dufy died on 23 March 1953, of intestinal bleeding, which is a likely result of his continuous treatment. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Damien Hirst and His Unfortunate, Unbelievable Hoax

Recently, I watched a Netflix "documentary" on the recovery of an ancient shipwreck, "Unbelievable", that had been retrieved by an artist named Damien Hirst.  I watched over several days, knowing nothing about the film or Damien Hirst.  

The story line: a freed 1st-century slave named Cif Amotan II amassed a fortune, built an incredible collection of art and artifacts, and then lost it all when the ship ferrying it—with the Greek name Apistos, or Unbelievable, hence the show’s name: “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”—to a private museum sank under the sea. "(

Once they started bringing up the sculptures, a few things seemed out of whack.  The work was odd, not fitting into any art history period. The "so called" experts didn't seem to know much. The features on the sculptures looked too modern and the placement on the ocean floor was suspect.  As the film went on, it got even more ridiculous.  There was a figure that looked like a transformer and the last straw was Mickey Mouse!     

The exhibit got scathing reviews.   "Damien Hirst’s doubleheader in Venice is undoubtedly one of the worst exhibitions of contemporary art staged in the past decade. It is devoid of ideas, aesthetically bland, and ultimately snooze-inducing—which, one has to concede, is a kind of achievement for a show with work that has taken ten years and untold millions of dollars to create."  (Art News 08/05/2017)

Since this sculpture of Mickey Mouse was part of the supposed loot from the fictitious shipwreck. I have no reasonable explanation of why he spent so much money on the film and the so called hoax.

3 Images from:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

New Drawings December, 2017

There are some who wonder why I draw naked people.  I don't think I can explain, completely. I could just as easily draw an animal but the only animal I have near me is a cat and she won't pose for me.  For years I couldn't draw the human figure because I didn't have models.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can draw from models online.  The human body is endlessly fascinating and since discovering the online models, I've gotten myself back into daily life drawing.



Friday, October 20, 2017

I Draw Naked People

I started art college classes when I was in my teenage years.  One of my classes was called Figure Drawing.  I had no idea what that was.  I assumed it was drawing numbers (figures).  Although, that didn't make any sense.
My first class in figure drawing was a warm, fall day and being a new student, I went to class early. There weren't many people in the room yet but I saw an older man sitting on a stool with a robe on.  As the class filled up with students and instructor, the man took his robe off.  That was my introduction to Figure Drawing.
I had no idea at that time how much a part of my life figure drawing would be.  Most of the paintings I've I've exhibited and sold are landscapes but back in my mind, figure drawing has always been my first love.
The big problem with drawing and painting naked people has always been models.  It's hard to get people to pose.  Over the years, I've sporadically joined groups to do life drawings and classes to have access to models.
In the past 2 years I've been doing drawing from YouTube videos.  Finally, art has come to the internet.  It's not perfect but it's better than nothing.  Because of the videos, I've gotten back into it and am once again working on Naked People.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Love Paintings

Marc Chagall and his wife Bella had what seems to be rare, a true love connection.  They met in 1909 and fell in love at first sight. 

Chagall was of a Lithuanian Jewish family, born in Russia but the Russian revolution created financial problems for the artist. In 1922 the Chagall family move to Pairs.

After moving to Paris, during the1920's and 1930's he achieved fame.  However, this brought attention to the fact that he was Jewish.  As the Nazis gained power in Europe, there was danger for the Chagall family.  His work, particularly, was mocked by the Nazis.
By the time that Chagall realized how close the Nazis were, it was too late.  The only country he safely go to was the US but he didn't have the money to post the bond required for immigration.
Fortunately, Chagall's daughter convinced Alfred Barr of the New York Museum of Modern Art to save her father. Together with Varian Fry, an American journalist, and Hiram Bingham IV, the American Vice-Consul in Marseilles, artists and intellectuals were smuggled out of Europe to the US with forged visas. Chagall was one of over 2,000 who were rescued.
The Chagall family arrived in New York in 1941 but sadly, his wife passed away in 1944. In 1948 he moved back to Côte d'Azur and lived there until his death in 1985. 
After Bella's death, Chagall was heartbroken.  His daughter set him up with a young woman. Virginia, and he quickly went into a love affair with her.  Unfortunately, she was already married. Virginia had a son, David, in 1946 who was Chagall's but did not carry his name.  Finally, she divorced her husband in 1951 but ran off with a totally different man.      
 Again, Chagall was heartbroken and again, his daughter set him up with another good looking young woman!  Very quickly they were married and stayed together until his death in 1985. 

Marc Chagall called Love the primary color of his paintings. He said that the central source of love in his paintings was his wife Bella.   

“I had only to open my window, and blue air, love and flowers entered with her. She seemed to float over my canvases, guiding my art.” — Marc Chagall