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.