Saturday, March 26, 2011

A powerful little favorite...

As I mentioned in the post just before this I was at the Museum of Fine Arts today for a lecture on "Inclement Weather in American Painting" given by Katie Pfohl an art history student and one to watch!  She's clearly got a great future ahead of her.  After the talk I went to visit my favorites, and I have a LOT of favorites, but this one strums my heart strings like no other.  It's a little study by Paul Huet called Foret de Compiegne (1830) and it's only about 13 x 17 inches.  I've spent a lot of time in front of this little piece, it's quiet, a peek into the artists' mind as he wanders and paints in this famous forest North of Paris.  Maybe one of these segments will become a larger painting, maybe it's background work for a series, it doesn't matter I just love seeing his process and how complete each little section is the rest I'm content to wonder about.

Another mysterious painting...

Big day at the Museum of Fine Arts today, fun but shocking.  As usual I went to visit my little Rembrandt painting and's been moved.  AH.  Be still my heart, I know it will pop up somewhere else and there's tons of stuff to see, like the one above.  It is another compelling and mysterious painting - Gerard ter Borch's "Man on Horseback".   I couldn't find nearly as much written about this as there was about El Perro, by Goya.  But then again Goya was far more famous than Borch. There is a cheesy Boston Globe blurb that reckons this with the Marlborough Man, ugh.  Another article from the UK I found on-line basically just describes what we already see but offers interesting comments about not seeing the face, hence not being able to read the emotions. However, I pick up a lot of emotion from the soldiers' demeanor and the ease of the horse, most of which feels like tiredness or weariness: the soldier is relaxed or even a tad slumped and the horse is not galloping, it's doing an easy plodding gate perhaps they are coming back from something that has spent them completely. Or after digging into history a bit maybe they are riding, hesitantly, towards something very difficult. I think the key to understanding this work is that it was painted in 1634. That was the year that the great Battle of Nördlingen took place in Germany and was part of the Thirty Year War. The soldier is bent a little, but he's not muddy or bloody from battle which made me think he's going toward the conflict. The light is ambiguous, it could be late afternoon which would imply he's riding home or back to camp.  Then again it looks like daybreak which could mean he's riding to battle.  Every time I see it I read it differently and as always the true meaning lies with the artist and it is up to us - the viewer -  to bring our own meaning to it.  Even though I couldn't visit Rembrandt's Studio today it means I got to spend more time with this and as usual I came away with more questions.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Favorite Artists #2

...and so many more!

Wow it has been a very interesting couple of weeks and I learned a lot! First a very big, warm hearted thank you to Gagosian Gallery for the generous time and attention they gave me regarding a recent request to use images. At first I was intimidated to contact them as they are such a giant but in the end I relied on the old saying "it never hurts to ask" and the people I talked to were fabulous. Also the same big thank you to the DeKooning Foundation for their willingness to answer my questions and pointing me in the right direction.

You are probably wondering "what the heck is she talking about"…well I wanted to do a blog series on my favorite artists, many of them are alive and thriving (thank goodness) some of whom are carried by Gagosian so I contacted them regarding the rights to use images of the artists work since I had no way to contact the artists directly. As an artist I don't want people using images of my work without my written permission (and I mean via snail mail) so I won't use images by other artists without the appropriate okays. As we all know Gagosian is a mega-gallery and wicked busy but I enjoyed great email exchanges with them until I realized this project, if I went forward to get permissions, was going to turn into a monster time-eating enterprise for me and for those I would be contacting. I learned that it's not just a quick ok, you have to be very specific in your request, be ready with detailed information about the image you want to use and when you contact someone as big as Gagosian you are using up their valuable time.  So I decided to drop the project with the exception of the image above where I write the artists name and there may be more posts like that which frankly has an appealing meditative quality to it.

For the most part when people see an artists name such as some of the above whose very names invoke images that will be enough and you can ponder the work from just the mere mention of their name, but if you don't know the artist it would be my deepest wish that you have the curiousity to find out more about them. I have a great respect for curiousity!

Recently, and some of you may have seen it, I put up Willem DeKooning as my first "Favorite Artist" blog post because these were some images that resonated with what I'm currently working on. I told the gentleman at Gagosian with whom I'd been talking to about it so he could get a sense of the post. He very kindly advised that I might want to take that post down until I had permission from the DeKooning Foundation. So I called the DeKooning Foundation and had a great chat with them. I was under the assumption that since we had lost this genius (DeKooning) that his images were up for grabs…not so!!! It varies and this is what I've learned from further research…there is a general rumor that it's about 75 - 100 years after an artist passes that one can use their images. Since it does vary and since it depends on WHO holds the copyright one should always check. The DeKooning Foundation was more than willing to look at the images I was using, pass them around to the appropriate people at the Foundation for further approval but it dawned on me how much time this will take on their part just so I could post a few pictures on a blog. Don't get me wrong, I love my blog and hope it is an important/different view on all things art plus I have a lot of fun with it but these people are swamped with requests and frankly I don't want to add to their mayhem.

Furthermore The DeKooning Foundation sent me to an important website about copyright information which I hope readers will bookmark for future reference The Artists Rights Society and the address is

What a terrific learning experience this has been and in one of my discussions (I won't say which place) we talked about how blogs are the worst for snatching images without permission, it happened to me and I didn't like it so I won't do that to other artists…living or gone to the great studio in the sky.