Friday, December 31, 2010

Keith Haring Graffiti Art

Keith Haring (1958-1990)
Graffiti art is vandalism. It is unwanted and can be obscene and destructive. However, Keith Haring became well-known and famous by doing graffiti art. He was born in 1958 and died in 1990 of AIDS. After Keith moved to NYC where he studied art, he became involved in the thriving art community that was developing outside of the gallery and museum system. Soon, Haring joined artists like Basquiat and Scharf in creating immediate and accessible artwork, graffiti in the New York subways. Haring's dynamic images rely on patterns, strong design, vivid colors and expressive lines to show movement and passion concerning his interests and social issues. His work might be drawn from aboriginal art since it displays the simplicity and force of gutsy, primitive style artwork. He was an idealistic and compassionate person, donating his time to create murals that benefited children after he became well-known.

Haring's influence is strong in current design. His work has had an impact on our culture with his vital and bold images.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Book by Patti Smith

Patti's new book, "Just Kids" is an amazing story of two poor artists, lovers living in NYC during the 1960's and 70's.  It won the National Book Award for non-fiction. Prior to reading this book, I didn't know anything about the life of Patti Smith. I certainly didn't know the story of her close and intensely personal relationship with the controversial photographer, Robert Mapplethorp. The two met in NYC when they were just 19 and starving newcomers to the city. They quickly developed a love relationship and a shared personal and artistic support system that lasted the rest of his life.

In 1989 I saw photographs by Mapplethorp and I was shocked by some of the images but I didn't know the story behind them. Mapplethorp died in about 1988 of AIDS. The gripping story of Patti and Robert's early years as struggling artists sheds light on their eventual divergent creative directions. She doesn't sugar coat how difficult life was for them. Living in New York and working to achieve artistic success was more challenging than I would have imagined. They lived on the edge of starvation for years. Not many people would have stuck it out but they did. Eventually, it paid off but not really in the way they had suspected.

Patti was a hard working woman and supported herself and Mapplethorp minimally for years by working in a bookstore. She also bought and sold used books with her developed knowledge of valuable collector's items. However, that wasn't always enough. When life became particularly difficult Robert started hustling in the streets at night. Both women and men were attracted to him.  He was beautiful. His raw and shocking images followed years of internal searching brought on by feelings that developed during this seedy period of selling himself to the highest bidder. Patti doesn't dwell on this other than to report her despair during this time. One can only imagine the desperation of such a life.

Even as they found other lovers, Patti and Robert continued to support each other as artists and friends. It's a tragic love story with an artistic twist.

Patti Smith

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Line drawing by Charlotte Rossmann

Violence to self can happen.
Violence to others can happen.
But it's never, ever right.
It can be a habit to be broken, just like junk, just like smack.
It is seductive and seemingly beneficial to the ego to stroke with hatred.  Get over it!
It's violence and it's never, ever right. 
You wicked, wicked soul to think bad things of yourself.
Get over it!
It's never, ever right.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More on David Hockney

Above: David Hockney's Digital iPad creations that I snagged off the internet.
Anything new is instaneous.  I just googled David Hockney's iPad images and there is a ton of info on it. 
Please scroll down for more on Hockney and iPad art.

David Hockney and the iPad

David Hockney who is the current rock star of the art world has a new line of work.  It's totally digital, done on his iPad.  He sends his new creations to 30 or 40 of his relatives and friends. (David, my email address is:

Back in 2008 Hockney started experimenting with his iPhone and using only his right thumb began this new series of images.  He started early in the morning while still in bed capturing dawn as it broke over the horizon.  Throughout the day he continued to practice and a favorite was fresh flowers, imaginary or real.  Anything enhanced by light was most effective because light is the media of digital transmissions. 

In 2010 Hockney moved on to the iPad.  He found this a little more challenging because it's larger and mistakes are visible.  Now, he has quite a collection of these images.  He estimates there are more than 1,000 to date. 
"He is thrilled that the art establishment-a confederation he sometimes calls the I.C.S. (International Crooks and Swindlers)-will have a hard time figuring out how to convert this oeuvre into cash." *

This year the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, in Paris will be showing these works in an exhibit on iPhone and iPad screens.  New images will be constantly streamed by by Hockney on a regular basis.  He calls this exhibit "Fleurs Fraiches" (Fresh Flowers). "the art is subversive", says Berge, but "creation is subersive-always!"*

I have not had experience with either the iPhone or iPad since I'm at the level of food and shelter, not expensive digital media.  However, my daughter sent me a beautiful line drawing that she created on her iPhone (below).

*Vanity Fair Magazine, page184, Nov. 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Red Grooms

I remember seeing an exhibit by the artist Red Grooms at the Denver Art Museum many years ago.  It was a fun art show.  I suspect excitement is a quality quite common to the exhibits of this artist.  Red Grooms provides a complete experience in his exhibitions.  I felt like I was involved in the process of creating the art as I toured the exhibit.  His work reminds me of the immediacy of a funky, alternative exhibit except the quality of work is more professional and cohesive.
Grooms is a pop artist and he studied under the artist, Hans Hoffman.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago.

This is one of Red Grooms' sculptures.  This artist creates powerfully dynamic and original artwork.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Henri Rousseau

An artist who had trouble balancing his dream vs. reality and problems with acceptance from the "art world" is the artist is Henri Rousseau (1844-1910).  He was called a "Sunday Painter".
Rousseau came to art in his 40's.  Before art, he tried many occupations, law, military and government work.  Finally he became employed as a tax collector to support his widowed mother, wife and 7 children.  He quit working at the age of 49 to devote his life to art.  To support himself he played the violin on the streets and occasionally did illustrations.

Rousseau did not study art, instead he was self-taught.  He is considered to be a Post-Impressionist in the Primitive manner.  In fact, his art was ridiculed by art critics.  Frequently, when I read about the art world I think it's very similar to middle school.  The in group decides how it rolls.  For my money, Rousseau is the man!

I've always admired Rousseau for his jungle scenes which are unlike any that I've seen.  They are inspiring and creative.  The great secret is that Rousseau spent his life in France and never set foot in a jungle.  The details in his paintings came from books on tropical plants combined with rich imaginative color and fantasy.  He created paintings that depict the tropics of our dreams and or nightmares.  His jungle scenes are in the small group of "The Best Paintings" anyone has ever done.  At least they are on My List.

Rousseau was belittled by art critics for creating paintings that are nice to look at but not serious artwork.  His work was considered naive or childlike.  Things were so bad for Rousseau that Picasso found one of Rousseau's paintings sold on the street as trash canvas to be painted over by another artist.  Picasso recognized his genius and threw a party to honor Rousseau.

On many levels Rousseau is an inspiration.  The fact that he was ridiculed by the art establishment and that he managed to support his family and still have time to paint and finally the fact of his detailed depictions of the lush, forbidding jungle of his imagination.  In the end he did conquer the world.  We know his name Rousseau today as an artist of merit and his work has inspired generations of artists and designers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Painting with Zen and Cubism

Cubist Still Life Oil Painting on Canvas
Colorful Abstract Cubist Still life Painting

Shapes and colors that come together when I'm dreaming but still awake. 
"There is no music allowed..."

"How can I do that?"
Alone, no noise
Painting with cubism and zen. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Andy Warhol's Shoes!

Andy Warhol's Shoes
I'm crazy about these shoes! I found a whole collection on MOMA website:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Interesting article on Gorky

I just pulled this article from online listed below:
"Arshile Gorky was one of a generation of artists in 1930s New York who were fed by Roosevelt's New Deal while they studied the works of the European modern movement in Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art. By the 1940s, these painters were opening themselves to a Jungian unconscious of mythic forms; by around 1950, they were becoming famous for abstract, wall-filling visions of sublime mystery.

But by the time Jackson Pollock and the other abstract expressionists broke the ice, Gorky was dead. He killed himself in 1948, with his painting still in the movement's intermediate phase of development, not yet purely abstract; his tearpools of paintings swim with psychic metaphors and spectral shapes, shards of figures, washes of landscape".
Online Source of quote and photo:

I didn't realize that Gorky killed himself.  Whereas, I have admired his work, I do not know much about this artist. His work is interesting and moody.  Just the kind of art that I love!
Mythic forms ... Arshile Gorky's Garden in Sochi Motif (1942). Photograph: Arshile Gorky Estate/Belvedere Asset Management

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Abstract Expressionism: My Shocking New View of the World

Abstract Oil Painting from early 1990's

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. In many ways it is a very conservative area. Yet, there was a culture of abstraction in St. Louis, particularly abstract expressionism that flourished around Washington University when I lived there.

Oil painting from mid 1990's

I was in high school when I developed a strong interest in fine art. At 17 I went on a field trip to Washington University and had my first glimpse of abstract expressionism as well as nude models in life drawing class! I was shocked by both.
In the beginning I was horrified by the experience. Yet, within two years I was involved in life drawing classes and abstract art in design classes at a local college.  My view of the art world and my taste in art changed, dramatically and forever.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Andy Warhol

An American original, Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburg, PA in 1928. He left Pittsburg for New York in the 1940's and became a brilliant commercial Illustrator for several magazines in the 1950's.
In the late 1950's and 60's he became a successful fine artist. He painted the Campbell's Soup Can and other famous paintings that have become the essence of Pop Art and the icons of a generation.
The theory behind Pop Art which was images created of mass-produced, ordinary, everyday items was that these ideas came from the real world and what the average person came in contact with daily. In the past art had an aura of refined wealth and exclusive power. Andy came from a working-class, immigrant family.  His philosophy was more about showing common images which took ideas from TV, movies, newspapers and billboards.

Concerning his famous Coke Bottle, Andy said:
"What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it".(

Andy created his work in a large studio that he called a "Factory". He hired assistants who helped him with his work and shared in his glamorous life. He constantly filmed people at the Factory and at his parties which were an ongoing feature of Andy's life.
Andy was almost killed in an assassination attempt in 1968. He suffered life long problems because of this and eventually died of gallbladder problems in 1987.

In retrospect, more than anything Andy Warhol  defined America in the 1960's with his edgy social life infused with sexual freedom and recreational drugs along with his lack of social skills covered up by silent voyeurism that all together became known as "Cool".  Andy Warhol was an enigma.  Nobody really knew him and yet a bewildered looking Andy, white hair flying from his head as if electrically charged became a symbol of a changing America in the 60's and 70's every bit as much as the soup can became the symbol of crazy art in the 1950's.  In the end, Andy himself became The Art.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alberto Giacometti

A wonderful artist who is most known for his sculptures is Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966).  However, I love his paintings more.  In the beginning of my art career I saw one of his oils at the Art Institute of Chicago and fell in love with his style.  His nervous lines, rubbed out surfaces and highly defined forms express an angst that speaks to me.  His work looks unfinished like a painting in progress that he just walked away from for a moment.  It's immediacy that gives his work a life an vibration that hooks me in and makes me want to know more. 
Painting by Alberto Giacometti
This style influenced other artists that were to follow such as Jim Dine and many working in the 1970's and 80's. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Matisse: Living Color in the Midst of a Black and White World

When it comes to use of Color, Henri Matisse is your man.
Born in 1869, he died in 1954. He created some of the most beautiful color work in the world of art. His work is peaceful, gorgeous, easy to look at and above all infused with beautiful color schemes and harmonies.
Considering the time frame that Matisse lived through one wonders how he managed to create art that seems to be an island of perfect harmony in hues when the world was going to Hell in a hand basket.
Matisse lived through a most devastating time in history. Picasso, a contemporary of Matisse suffered in his art. The neurotic, psychotic trail Picasso left in paint marks the 20th century with the angst of modern man. This was the 20th century: two world wars, atom bombs, mass extermination, horrific destruction, brutality beyond what the world had seen all broadcast in the big screen in living color. For the average person life was anxiety ridden with political forces threatening further damage and destruction. Picasso reflected this turmoil, creating work that furthered anxiety. But Matisse? Picasso allowed almost all color to drain from the sharp edges of his canvas as holocaustic photos in black and white splashed across newspapers of bombed out buildings. It's as if he had no heart for the tender rose and mauve colors of happier days. But Matisse? Matisse's world was the shelter from the storm, the calm center in a world gone mad. He used to color to bring back the joy and smiles of humanity. Whereas another artist might go into the storm and for inspiration Matisse isolated the ideal, denied reality and continued to create art for all centuries. When the winds of change turned the world more peaceful, Matisse was there with his gorgeous color to welcome back the light.
Matisse Created the world Baudelaire imagined in his poem L'Invitation al Voyage:
"Furniture gleaming with the sheen of years would grace our bedroom; the rarest flowers, mingling their odours with vague whiffs of amber, the painted ceilings, the fathomless mirrors, the splendour of the East ... all of that would speak, in secret, to our souls, in its gentle language. There, everything is order and beauty, luxury, calm and pleasure."

Carnival Painting

This painting is from my Carnival Series:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Picasso in Paris

Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973)  was born in Spain but he lived most of his life in France.  The two backgrounds blend into making what Picasso became.  I can't imagine that he would have developed his style in quite the same way if he had not moved to France.  There is the Spanish passion that Picasso brings to the light and color of France which combine to make such a dynamic statement.   

For whatever reason I felt I was with Picasso in Montmarte in his bleak artistic garret.  He lived the classic artist's life in the early years.  When he started out in Paris, Picasso was very poor.  At one point he shared a studio with the poet, Max Jacob.  The apartment was so tiny that only one could sleep there at a time.  One worked by day and one by night.  They were so poor, they even shared a hat!

Next he lived with a mistress in a damp, dirty, and dilapidated apartment at 13, rue Ravignan in Montmartre at the Bateau Lavoire.  He was a young and promising artist and in 1905-6, he painted the portrait of Gertrude Stein in his tiny, unheated broken down, studio.  Gertrude Stein was a wealthy American who had many art buyers in her circle of friends.  She also hosted parties for artists.  Through this connection and others like her Picasso became well known in Paris.

In time Picasso became very wealthy.  At one point he filled his house up with paintings and junk.  Since Picasso never threw anything away, he simply locked the doors, walked away and found another house to live in.  He didn't like people to move things or clean his house so he lived with the trash and junk he kept around him even when he lived in mansions.

There are books on the many women in Picasso's life.  He had a long string of lovers and many artist friends.  He was dynamic, forceful and very appealing.  After he became successful he had a circle of associates that surrounded him.  He was like a rock star before there were rock stars!
Picasso in Paris

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Great Italian Lover, Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), charming, handsome and irresistible to women, was an Italian artist living in Paris in Montparnasse during his artistic years.  He spent much of his early career as a sculptor.  Living in deep poverty, he stole the stone he used from building sites in Paris. 
Modigliani was drawn the bohemian life which drew him to the drugs and seedier side of life. Through his studies he developed the philosophy that creativity was enhanced by disorder and rebellion.  The drugs, alcohol and illness sapped the strength from Modigliani and eventually he gave up carving in stone for the physically easier occupation of painting portraits.  Yet, one can see the depth of form in his paintings that came from his 3-D work.
Modigliani and Picasso were friends and rivals in Paris.  It seems that both artists reflect an influence of each other by painting in a cubistic style that for a time shares characteristics.  Picasso owned several of Modigliani's paintings.  However, he seemed to feel that Modigliani was exaggerating behaviors to enhance his image.  At one point he commented, 'It's odd but you never see Modigliani drunk anywhere but at the corners of the boulevard Montmartre and the boulevard Raspail.'
Modigliani produced great quantities of work which lends credibility to Picasso's comment.  I don't think it's possible to create as many works of art as Amedeo did and drink all the time. 
In the early years of WWI Modigliani became involved with South African writer Beatrice Hastings. She was somewhat successful and was able to provide a living for Modigliani. Even so, the relationship did not go well. It was marred by excessive drinking and abuse. At one point Modigliani threw Beatrice out a window.
He had numerous love affairs but most did not last long.  However, these affairs did produce beautiful paintings that have in time made Modigliani a famous Modern Art Master and added to his image as a Great Latin Lover.

Amedeo Modigliani

Friday, February 5, 2010

Amedeo Modigliani, The Great Latin Lover Part II

When I was 19 I first saw some of the many paintings of female nudes by the famous Modern Art Master, Amedeo Modigliani, in Chicago. At that time I knew very little about the artist but I was struck by how sensual and lush his paintings were. He paints the female model as if he were the lover.
Later I found out.  Indeed, he was!  Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian artist living in Paris, was wildly handsome and had no problem attracting the women who flocked to him, posed for him and were discared for the next edition.
It was in 1917 that he met the beautiful 19 year old Jeanne. They fell in love but her parents were opposed to their daughter's involvement with Modigliani. For good reason. They saw him as a druken derelict which is what he had become in his years in Paris. Addicted not only to alcohol but also narcotics, Modigliani was not the perfect companion for their lovely daughter.  One eye-witness, André Salmon, reports:
"He was dragging her along by an arm, gripping her frail wrist, tugging at one or another of her long braids of hair, and only letting go of her for a moment to send her crashing against the railings of the Luxembourg. He was like a madman, crazy with savage hatred."

In 1920 the story ends. Modigliani, the great Italian lover and artist, died at the age of 35 of tubercular meningitis. Shortly after that his young, beautiful and nine months pregnant girlfriend threw herself from a window. Both the mother and baby died.
There was another baby daughter who was born in 1918, she survived the death of her parents and went on to research and preserve the history of her parents.  From Modigliani's life and death a legend was created.  It seems there is a current movie that has been released on his life.

Jeanne Hébuterne