Monday, October 26, 2009

Colorist Wolf Kahn

Above Painting is one I did based on New Mexico Travels.  See more:

When I went back to Southern Illinois University to get my undergrad degree, I had been painting for many years. I already had my own style, cubistic and totally abstract. My painting professor told me that my use of color reminded him of a former classmate of his, Wolf Kahn. I had no clue who Wolf Kahn was. Later, of course, I did find out.
Kahn is a colorist but unlike some of the colorists of the early 20th century he incorporates realism or an effect of images that frequently look realistic in his paintings and drawings. They are very creative in the sense that he is not copying nature but using nature to inspire a form of abstract art that has a look of realism. He is a magnificent artist, to be sure. 
Wolf Kahn was born in Germany and came to the US when he was young. He studied in a variety of places but probably most influential was the time he studied with the famous abstract artist, Hans Hoffmann, who is known for his use of color. Kahn got his degree from the University of Chicago and that must be when my former professor met him.
Wolf Kahn is still alive and painting. His work is available for viewing on the internet and worth the time to check out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More on Suzanne Valadon

In reading more about Suzanne Valadon I detect an underlying problem of alcoholism.  Her son, Maurice Utrillo, was an alcoholic.  She struggled to keep him out of jail.  One of the important paintings she posed for was Toulouse-Lautrec's wonderful painting called, "The Hangover".  Of course she might have been acting but I doubt it.  I suspect Lautrec saw this in her and it inspired the painting.  After all, this is a woman who spent many of her nights in the bars.  This is how she met her many lovers/husbands as well as artists who befriended her and helped her.  In her 50's she married an artist in his 20's which was probably scandalous in those days. 
I do wonder how she managed to spend so much of her time at night drinking in the bars while she was raising a young son and supporting him as well.  These are the details that I wish to find and cannot.

At least one of her amours called her the only love of his life and found his life to be empty when she left.  He was the composer, Erik Satie.  Without a doubt she left a lasting impression on her part of the world.  She is known for her strong, female, nude paintings.  Before Valadon women were frequently painted as passive and weak but Suzanne, a physically able woman, gave the world a more healthy look at women's strength and abilities.  No wimp, this Valadon lady! 
One has to think she didn't have that much money in her life. She couldn't have had the safety net of middle class security. I think it's interesting that at one point she did marry a banker. They lived together for 14 years but suddenly, she became restless and that is when she left him for the younger artist and went back to her preferred bohemian lifestyle.
She was an illegitimate daughter of a laundress and she had a son without the benefit of marriage. Those were strict societal taboos of the time which would have placed her outside the norm, outside the acceptable.  Yet, this is a woman who is known today as a famous artist, even today. Growing up poor, making something of herself in the world of art on her own terms.
What an unlikely occurrence that this woman would have become famous and have a famous son. Yet, it happened! This was who she was and the world of art is richer for her existence.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Suzanne Valadon: a Famous Woman Artist that I admire

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Suzanne Valadon had a very colorful life.  Born in 1865, she started out as a circus acrobat but a fall from a trapeze ended that career early.  Soon she became a model for many of the most famous artists of the time including Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec.  Lautrec gave her painting lessons and Degas encouraged her artistic career and purchased her work.
Valadon was a free spirit and lived her life on her own terms.  She kept a goat in her studio to eat up all the art work she didn't consider fit to show.  When she was 18 and unmarried, she had a child, Maurice Valadon.  Her son later took the name of a family friend and became the well-known artist, Maurice Utillo.
Suzanne, as a model, was the subject in many famous paintings by the artist Renior with whom she had an affair and also in Lautrec's paintings. She was a well-known artist at the time of her death in 1938.