Archive for January 2014

America the beautiful

Yesterday a buddy and I visited the Art Gallery of NSW to check out the Summer blockbuster America: painting a Nation.  The works were organised chronologically, following America’s development since white settlement. We were able to witness the changes in the way Americans have seen themselves.

Copley, John Singleton_Portrait of a Lady_1771.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) Portrait of a lady, 1771, oil on canvas, 126.9 x 100.3cm

The 18th century portraits were similar in style to the European ones I’m more familiar with.  Idealised, ‘airbrushed’ images of perfect flesh and immaculate rendering of fabrics. This image by Copley is an example, with the addition of a marvellous capturing of character for which he was famous. I could have sat with this image all day.

The 19th century saw a relationship with the wild landscape which was being ‘conquered’ as people moved west. There was an undercurrent of conflation of principles of liberty, a noble principle, with the right to colonise and develop the land.

We did see some images that made reference to the plight of the First Peoples, including this beauty:

REMINGTON, FREDERIC_HERD BOY_C.1905

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frederic Remington (1861-1909) The herd boy, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 68.9 x 114.9cm

 

wyeth,nc_MOVING CAMP_1908

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NC Wyeth (1882-1945) Moving Camp, 1908, oil on canvas, 92.1×66.4cm

This image was amazing. It was in fact darker than it looks here. It was dim, really. But the line of bright water, aligned with the chiefs’ headgear, was really interesting. you could not take your eyes off this one. It is worth considering in more detail in terms of its composition.

It was great to see a Mary Cassatt image in the flesh. The canvas is wonderfully active. She went off to join the French Impressionists and exhibited with them several times.

CASSATT,  MARY_MOTHER ABOUT TO WASH HER SLEEPY CHILD_1880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Mother about to wash her sleepy child, 1880, oil on canvas, 100.3 x 65.8cm

I finally got to see a work by the father of Abstract Expressionism, Hans Hofmann. The show finished with the Ab Ex painters, more or less.

Blue Monolith, 1964 (oil on canvas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) Blue monolith, 1964, oil on canvas, 183.5 x 152.7cm

I did enjoy the material presence of this, although I’m not sure I really received it as he intended…the scale was relevant, it’s pretty big and…unapologetic. I enjoyed the negative space. There was depth and movement to be sure. Maybe I needed to spend more time with it.

 

 

Upcoming workshop on abstract art-making

Over the Summer I’ve been delighted to be part of Local: current, now showing at Wollongong Art Gallery (previously Wollongong City Gallery.) I’m in excellent company with this show, thoughtfully curated by Louise Brand. As part of the show I’ll be conducting a workshop on abstract art-making. I see it as an opportunity to perhaps open some doors with regard to abstract art, which continues to be mysterious to many. Details below…

 

WORKSHOP FLYER_FB

STEHR, KATE_POLARITY OF PURPOSE_2012