May. 7th, 2015 02:32 pm
randy_byers: (blonde venus)
'This anecdote may prompt your own extended consideration of whether the female mermaids' penises are, in fact, erect.' (Jen Graves, "The Most Unusual Art Gift Ever" - NSFW)
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
I took my Big Book of Caspar David Friedrich to La Push with me again on the latest trip. Friedrich, who lived from 1774 to 1840, continues to amaze me. He was capable of what look like fairly normal landscapes to my eyes (albeit with perhaps more of the canvas than usual dedicated to the sky), but many of his paintings are deeply weird. They have an uncanny feeling. If there are figures in the painting, he will typically show them from behind. He also loved the moon and the evening star. He did a series of paintings over the years showing people looking at the moon, and they are very odd. Johannes Grave, who wrote the Big Book I have, says that the people in these paintings are usually wearing clothes that were archaic even at the time. There's an Addams Family vibe to these paintings, particularly the third one.

Moonrise by the Sea 1821

Moonrise by the Sea 1822

Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon 1824

randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
So I saw Tim Burton's Big Eyes a week ago, and it piqued my interest in Margaret Keane's artwork. I've seemingly been aware of Keane's big eyed waifs my whole life, and I've always had her in the kitsch category. It's interesting to discover that she has painted in a more modernistic style as well (the movie hints at this), and the first four paintings below fit that mode. The fifth is a big eyed child, but from her later career when she was painting happier scenes rather than the melancholy ones she is perhaps more famous for. I like the exuberant colors and composition. That one is called "Who Says Animals Can't Fly?" I haven't been able to find titles for the other four.

In poking around the web I've seen a number of other remarkable paintings that make me think there's a lot more to her artwork than I imagined. But those big eyed waifs are still kitsch.

Margaret Keane Three Models

Margaret Keane Sunflowers 1963

Margaret Keane Harlequins

Margaret Keane Faces

Margaret Keane Who Says Animals Can't Fly
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
The portrait of Medea by Evelyn de Morgan that I posted not too long ago got me looking at more representations of Medea. When I was looking at the Evelyn de Morgan painting, I found this comment by Whitney Chadwick from Women, Art, and Society: "Evelyn Pickering de Morgan’s Medea of 1889 replaces conventional male representations of Medea as a cruel temptress and the murderer of her children with an image of a woman skilled in sorcery." While it's true that there are a lot of paintings of Medea either about to kill her children or having just killed her children (or her brother, which is another part of the myth), my take is that representations of Medea as a woman skilled in sorcery are just as conventional. In this group of five paintings, three focus on her sorcery, while a fourth (the Flint) shows her taming the dragon that guards the golden fleece. (Oops, now I see that Turner's painting also depicts the murder of the children.)

The Gustave Moreau painting is striking for its ripe sensuality, which brings out another aspect of the Medea myth: that of the young woman who falls in love with the glamorous hero. Flint's painting is very sensual as well. This sensuality brings up a perhaps more general point, which is how many paintings of classical scenes (although not in this group) feature nudity. I'm sure this is a topic that's been studied to death in the annals of art history, but it's not something I've read a lot about. I've seen so much nudity in fine art that I just accept it. However, as you get closer to the modern era, these mythological paintings start to look more and more like the roots of the artwork that has illustrated the magazines and books of the science fiction and fantasy genres. Suddenly the half-naked women of the pulp magazines start looking like the sirens and nymphs of nineteenth-century classicism. Has anybody written about the roots of genre artwork in this tradition? It's not far from Flint's painting to Frank Schoonover's illustrations for A Princess of Mars from 1917.

Medea - Vision of Medea by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1828
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Vision of Medea (1828)

Four more ... )
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Like Marianne Stokes, Evelyn De Morgan was associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, but unlike Stokes she was directly related to the group. Her uncle, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, was a "second wave" Pre-Raphaelite painter. The Art Magick article about Morgan says of her paintings, "Many do reflect the usual conventions and literary subjects of late Victorian art with its Pre-Raphaelite traces and neo-classical tendencies. However, looking closer, one discovers Symbolist works that employ the language of Christian allegory to reveal the artist’s engagement with the contemporary issues of her time." Art Magick also says she was a practicing spiritualist and feminist, who "sought new heroines with which to construct her own images of Victorian womanhood."

Medea (1889)

Four more paintings ... )
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
When I was poking around looking at Symbolist painters recently, I came across Marianne Stokes' meditative portrait of Melisande (from the Maeterlinck play Pelleas and Melisande, which Debussy adapted into an opera). Stokes was not herself a Symbolist, and the Wikipedia article says she started out painting in a rustic naturalist vein but eventually came under the influence of the pre-Raphaelites and started painting Biblical and medieval subjects in a more stylized or ornamental manner. Not surprisingly I'm most interested in her pre-Raphaelite-influenced stuff, but even in this small selection you can see the naturalist influence in "Capri Witch" and "Faun Feeding a Squirrel".

Marianne Stokes A-Capri-Witch
A Capri Witch (1884-1885)

Marianne Stokes-faun feeding a squirrel
Faun Feeding a Squirrel

Four more paintings ... )
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
It's harder to find dates for contemporary paintings, at least with the amount of time I'm willing to put in, so for a couple of these I've substituted birth years of the artists. I'm not even completely sure I've got the right titles for e.g. the Gasparian, which was probably something Armenian to begin with. I'm also not completely surprised that a couple of these (particularly the Potocki and the Nelson) look like things I might see in the art show at a science fiction convention. I imagine a lot of science fiction artists have been influenced by the Symbolists.

Dino Valls Incubo 1992
Dinlo Valls, Incubo (1992)

Armen Gasparian, Play
Armen Gasparian (b. 1966), Play

Roberto Ferri Tristezze della Luna
Roberto Ferri (b. 1978), Tristezze della Luna

Gail Potocki the-raft-of-the-medusa-2012
Gail Potocki, The Raft of the Medusa (2012)

Kim Nelson Isis-Unveiled 2013
Kim Nelson, Isis Unveiled (2013)
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Gustave Moreau voices-of-evening 1885
Gustave Moreau, Voices of Evening (1885)

George Frederick Watts Dweller in the Innermost 1886
George Frederick Watts, Dweller in the Innermost (1886)

Franz Von Stuck The Guardian of Paradise 1889
Franz Von Stuck, The Guardian of Paradise (1889)

Jacek_Malczewski in the dust cloud 1894
Jacek Malczewski, In the Dust Cloud (1894)

Jean Deville L'ange des splendeurs 1894
Jean Deville, L'ange des splendeurs (1894)

william degouve de nuncques les anges de la nuit angels of the night 1894
William Degouve de Nuncques, Angels of the Night (1894)

randy_byers: (Default)
Odilon Redon the-winged-man-the-fallen-angel-1880
Odilon Redon, The Winged Man (The Fallen Angel) (1880)

Carlos Schwabe-Death_and_the_Gravedigger
Carlos Schwabe, Death of the Gravedigger (1895)

Hugo Simberg the_wounded_angel_lg
Hugo Simberg, The Wounded Angel (1903)

Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis Angelas.Preliudas 1908
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, Angel: Prelude (1908)

John Duncan St Bride Carried by the Angels
John Duncan, St Bride (1913)
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Lucien Levy Dhurmer Salome with the Head of the Baptist
Lucien Levy Dhurmer, Salome with the Head of the Baptist (1896)

Jean Delville Orpheus 1893
Jean Delville, Orpheus (1893)

Carlos Schwabe The Afternoon of a Faun
Carlos Schwabe, The Afternoon of a Faun (1923)

Alphonse Osbert Moonlight
Alphonse Osbert, Moonlight (1896)

Jan Toorop o-grave-where-is-thy-victory-1892
Jean Toorop, O Grave Where Is Thy Victory? (1892)
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
carl, Scott, and I went to the Miró exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum on Saturday. I'd previously seen some of Miró's artwork (along with Picasso and Dalí's) at an exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum in what the internet tells me was 1996. I seem to recall that I looked at some more of his painting online at that time, although that would have been early days of internet access for me. I've almost certainly seen some of his artwork in European museums as well.

The work in this exhibit is all from late in Miró's career (ranging from 1963 to 1981, which was two years before his death), and I didn't find the paintings as interesting as his earlier work, although there were at least two or three that I liked a lot. However, the one that was in many was the most interesting was one that from close up looked like the ugliest kind of puke green and orange cheap motel drapes or bed covering. Just really awful looking, to my eyes. Scott and I were kind of laughing about it, but then we noticed that when you looked at it from across the gallery, it actually looked a lot better. The colors blended better and didn't look quite so garish and ghastly. The way things were set up, we could actually still see the painting through two doorways when we were two galleries away, and it looked really great from that distance. It doesn't seem likely that Miró actually planned it that way, but he managed to create something that looked better and better the further away you got from it.

Perhaps more eye-opening than the paintings were the sculptures. Miró worked with found materials and then created wax molds and cast the sculpture in bronze. First of all, I was fascinated by how much the bronze castings looked like the original materials, whether it was a tree stump or a broken ceramic cup. The textures looked very real, and it took me a while to figure out that I was looking at bronze. The other interesting thing about the sculptures was the way he could find human figures or faces in the most incongruous assemblages of found items. Sometimes in the paintings I felt that he was teasing us by calling the utterly abstract swooshes and splotches a Woman, or a Figure, or a Landscape. But in the sculptures I could usually see them as faces or bodies, even if very distorted ones. There's definitely a playful sense of humor there as well, in the way that crazy things like doll parts could become a nose or a mouth.

Anyway, not as great a show as that Picasso, Miró, Dalí show of yesteryear, but definitely worth a view. As always, it was interesting to tour through some of the other galleries as well. One of SAM's new acquisitions was a beautiful painting by the American artist Kehinde Wiley called Anthony of Padua. The surface is so smooth it looks like a print, although the label says it's oil on canvas. I loved the parody of aristocratic/religious portraiture, and I loved the way the ornate background bleeds into the foreground. A really beautiful painting.

Miró, Woman, Bird and Star (Homage to Picasso)
randy_byers: (Default)
Caspar David Friendrich, View of Arkona at Moonrise

As I've said before, Friedrich is such a goth! One of the interesting things about him is that he apparently never, or at least rarely, gave his paintings titles, so all the titles you see for his works were given by other people and tend to be descriptive rather than allusive. I've seen this one also called "View of Arkona with Rising Moon and Nets," "Cape Arkona," and "Moonrise on an Empty Shore" (which is probably the most poetic of any of these).
randy_byers: (Default)
Caspar David Friedrich Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon

'[Caspar David] Friedrich's Romantic paintings have also been singled out by writer Samuel Beckett (1906–89), who, standing before Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon, said "This was the source of Waiting for Godot, you know."' (Wikipedia)
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
It's been a busy week. On Tuesday I got together after work with [livejournal.com profile] daveon at the Elysian and solved the problems of the world. (Somehow they keep recurring. That's the one problem we haven't solved yet.) On Wednesday I saw The Raid: Redemption at the Metro with [livejournal.com profile] holyoutlaw, followed by pizza at the Big Time. (Highly recommended to fans of hardcore martial arts films. The movie *and* the pizza, yes.) Then yesterday I went to the Gauguin and Polynesia show at the Seattle Art Museum with carl and Scott, after a tasting at the Oola Distillery and another visit to the Elysian.

The Gauguin show was utterly packed, probably because it was First Thursday and prices were reduced. The crowd made it very difficult to enjoy the artwork, and I actually ended up being more fascinated by the teeming schools of well-dressed, intellectually-curious faces with guide-phones stuck to their ears. Running through my head was Gang of Four: "He fills his head with culture/He gives himself an ulcer." As many have said, the interesting thing about this exhibit is that it has a lot of Polynesian art in it as well, and it attempts to show how naive Gauguin's understanding of Polynesian culture and history was -- how much he imposed his idealism and ideology on the Polynesian subjects of his art.

If the joint had been less crowded and hectic, that might have been an interesting thing to engage with. As it was, I felt pretty disconnected from the show, and generally found the Polynesian art more interesting to look at, if only because there tended to be fewer people standing around it with guide-phones glued to their ears. There was one painting by Gauguin that I had never seen in reproduction that I really liked a lot (although the JPEG at the link does not reproduce the colors accurately), but other than that my favorite pieces were the Maori carvings in the final room of the exhibit. They were incredibly elaborate, and I particularly loved the use of spirals to depict the muscles of buttocks and shoulders. Or perhaps they represented tattoos. Beautifully detailed stuff.

After that we wandered around some of the permanent collection on the third floor, which was full of fascinating stuff, from the paintings of Morris Graves and Mark Tobey to the early paintings of Mount Rainier and Astoria Harbor to the carvings of Susan Point and other contemporary Coast Salish artists (which reminded me of the work by John and Luke Marston that I saw at a gallery in Vancouver in 2009) and much more. That was a very pleasant chaser to the over-burdened main attraction.

So a busy week, and the weekend comes just in the nick of time. Perhaps I'll relax by mowing the lawn or otherwise digging around in the garden.
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)

Yeah, where to start? I suppose it starts with X-Men: First Class and memories it raised of my days as an avid comics reader in the '70s and '80s. Although maybe it actually started with the recent death of Jeffrey Catherine Jones, which got me thinking about the comic book and paperback cover artists that I grew up with, and how many of my favorites owed a debt to the Pre-Raphaelites and to Art Nouveau. That's when I started poking around the web looking at websites for Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Michael Kaluta (all three founders of the Studio, along with Bernie Wrightson). But the X-Men movie stirred all that up again, and for some reason yesterday it got me thinking about -- and googling -- Jean "Moebius" Giraud, whom I first encountered in the pages of Heavy Metal in 1977, when I lied about my age and subscribed to it. (You were supposed to be 18.) Little did I know that I would one day hang out with the editor of Heavy Metal, Ted White, who recently wrote about getting stoned with Jeff Jones and the gang at parties at the Studio.

It turns out that despite his worldwide fame as a designer for Alien (1979), Tron (1982) and The Fifth Element (1997), there isn't much of Moebius' work in print in the US at the moment. I had already gotten that impression from googling around, but it was confirmed when I stopped by the U District Zanadu and talked to a very knowledgeable young guy. There's a collection of Moebius' collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Incal, coming out this month, but there are no current collections of Arzach or The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius or The Long Tomorrow. It was actually a lot of fun to talk to the guy at Zanadu. I had run across some names of current artists who have been influenced by Moebius, including Geof Darrow, Frank Quitely and James Stokoe, and this guy was able to show me their work and the work of other people too. He said I should look for artwork by a Brazilian guy named Rafael Grampa. There are clearly a lot of great young artists out there, and I went home with a few things, including a collection of Frank Quitely's work on the X-Men -- and a new deluxe collection of Kaluta's brilliant collaboration with Elaine Lee, Starstruck, which I loved so much in its earliest incarnations.

When I got home I also looked through my small collection of graphic novels and magazine-sized comic books. There's a lot there I'd forgotten! I even have a collection called Heavy Metal Presents Moebius, with an introduction by none other than Frederico Fellini. I still have the very first issue of Heavy Metal, too, with the top image above above by Moebius on the back cover. For that matter, I still have a complete run of Los Bros Hernandez's Love and Rockets from issue 1 through issue 46. I actually still have a fair number of comic books too, although I gave most of my superhero comics to my oldest nephew when he was the appropriate age. I still really love the artwork by my favorite artists from those days -- still love Kaluta's Carson of Venus stories, Craig Russell's Elric, Moebius' surreal, deadpan science fiction. I was into it enough back then that I was starting to explore the roots, and I have over-size collections of Windsor McKay's Little Nemo in Slumberland and E.C. Segar's Popeye. I gave up collecting at a point in the '80s when I was unemployed and broke, and I stopped reading then too, despite the fact that I'm surrounded by Denys' vast collection.

The past couple of nights I've been reading old X-Men stories from the original '60s series, and I've really been enjoying them, much to my surprise. I didn't think Stan Lee's writing would stand the test of time very well, but from a historical perspective it's interesting to remember how his injection of soap opera elements and mundane worries revolutionized the field and how his theme of superheros as alienated outsiders still shapes the hit movies of today. Now I've got this small pile of new stuff to look at, including a Moebius-influenced title by a young guy from Ballard and a strange title from Stokoe called Orc Stain, which looks more like S Clay Wilson than Moebius, but whatever.

Maybe I should stay away from comic shops. Nostalgia in this case could end up being expensive.

randy_byers: (Default)

Love Among the Ruins

Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

"I mean by a picture a beautiful, romantic dream of something that never was, never will be -- in a light better than any light that ever shone -- in a land no one can define or remember, only desire -- and the forms divinely beautiful -- and then I wake up, with the waking of Brynhild."
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
[livejournal.com profile] e_compass_rosa is putting together an art project called "You carry your weight well.": 'We ask -- "What is the weight that you carry?" What do you carry with you, always, that your body hides and your face conceals?' People are asked to submit an image or graphic along with a short description of the weight they carry.

There are already a number of fascinating contributions to the project. I sent something in yesterday. (The image is based on photos by my brother, by the way.) Take a look at the submission guidelines and consider sending in something yourself.


randy_byers: (Default)

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