John Singer Sargent @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

JS Sargent Self Portrait MET 7.2015

John Singer Sargent – Self-Portrait 1906 Oil on canvas Instituti museali della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino, Galleria degli Uffizi

If you’re considering a trip to New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a. the Met) is a must see, especially if it is your first visit. The museum was conceived in Paris in 1866 and built in New York City in 1870. Located on Fifth Ave on the east side of Central Park from 80 to 84th Streets, the Beaux-Arts building is the largest museum in the United States and averages five to six million visitors a year. The museum has seventeen departments and is capable of hosting several major exhibitions at one time. The current exhibition, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, opened June 30, 2015 and runs through October 4, 2015.   The exhibition originates from the National Portrait Gallery in London, curated by Richard Ormond, Elizabeth Kornhauser, and Stephanie Hendrich, who organize a collection, partly of commissioned formal portraits. Sargent is an American (1856-1925) who spent much of his time in Europe, returning to America for lengthy visits in Boston and New York, where his subjects were actors, musicians, artists and writers. Sargent seems deeply engaged in the culture of his time, and always open to new influences and friendships. A few of the portraits in the exhibition are of famous artists such as Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin and the writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

Fountain

John Singer Sargent – The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907 Oil on canvas

The Fountain, was painted in 1907, where Jane de Glen is shown painting plenaire beside the great fountain Villa Torlonia in Frascati outside Rome. The pool lies at the top of a cascade of falls down the hillside to a Renaissance villa. Sargent captures so eloquently what he himself is so good at, the facility to compose and capture the spontaneity of the moment. Few artists of his time have the degree of visual theater in their work, combined with a gift for drawing with such gesture and realism. It was as a young student in Paris that Sargent studied with Carolus-Duran, who eventually referred to Sargent as his finest pupil.

Monet

John Singer Sargent – Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood 1885 Tate: Presented by Miss Emily Sargent and Mrs. Ormond through the Art Fund 1925

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was during this early time that Sargent captured this private moment of Claude Monet painting, with his future wife Alice Hoschede, as he worked on what is thought to be the painting Meadow with Haystacks near Giverny. For Sargent, this impressionist influence would stay with him for a lifetime, as Impressionism was the name given to a kind of observation that processed the moment as a phenomenon of optics base on the intensity of the outdoor light. It is well documented in letters that Sargent befriended Monet, and acknowledged him to some degree as an influence. In 1889 Sargent painted a portrait of Claude Monet while they were together at the Salon.

JS Sargent MET 7.2015

John Singer Sargent – Henry James 1913 Oil on canvas

As it turns out, Sargent and expatriate American novelist Henry James became friends as they both recorded the social scene on the transatlantic voyages between the United States and Europe. Close friends for forty years, James remained a supportive critic of Sargent’s work. James was one of the first to recognize Sargent’s talent. In 1913, it was a group of James’s friends who decided to commission a portrait to celebrate his seventieth birthday. The study of the enigmatic literary genius provides the audience with a rich and sympathetic depiction of Sargent’s aging friend.

Mountain stream

John Singer Sargent – Mountain Stream, Watercolor 1912

Among the 92 works of art in the exhibition, Sargent’s Mountain Stream typifies much of his watercolor work. The painting is owned by the Met, and captures the flowing water among the French Alps in 1910. A young, nude male in the scene addresses the question of Sargent’s sexuality. In a biography, Sargent is portrayed as “a complicated, exuberant, passionate individual with a homosexual identity,” a lifelong bachelor surrounded by family and friends. The painter’s great-nephew Richard Ormond, himself a Sargent scholar, says “If [Sargent] had sexual relationships they must have been of a brief and transient nature and they have left no trace…. We simply do not know, and decoding messages from his work is no substitute for evidence.” Given the context of the time in which Sargent lived and a close look at his work, particularly the number of male nudes he painted, it is this writer’s opinion that Sargent had an attraction to men that today would be fully accepted.

JS Sargent MET Out of Doors Study 2015

John Singer Sargent – An Out-of-Doors Study 1889 Brooklyn Museum, Museum

 

The painting An Out-of-Doors Study demonstrates how Sargent experimented with portrait compositions whose informality stood in contrast to his commissioned studio portraits. Here, his French friend and his young wife settle in the grass at Fladbury, England. Sargent’s approach here seems liberated from his standard studio work and features a compositional asymmetry, natural light, and a casual moment. It is paintings like these that leave their mark and go beyond studio portraiture.

John Singer Sargent was an American giant among realistic illusionary painters. Although there was a time period where his work was in disfavor, his popularity has risen steadily since the 1950’s as illustrated by the large-scale exhibitions of his work in major museums in the United States and Europe. Sargent increasingly turned to landscape painting as a respite from his portrait commissions. Time Magazine critic Robert Hughes praised Sargent as “the unrivaled recorder of male power and female beauty in a day that, like ours, paid excessive court to both.” He was sixty-nine years old when he died in London.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art    https://goo.gl/AXke6w

1000 5th Avenue, New York City, NY 10028    (212)535-7710  10:00am – 9:00pm

Tom Parish @ Robert Kidd Gallery

Domenica III  54 X 64   2010 Oil on linen

Tom Parish – Domenica III 34 X 64 2010 Oil on Linen Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Parish has spent more than two-thirds of his eighty-two years of life creating illusionistic oil paintings, and the work seems to attract more attention than ever. Although Parish, Professor Emeritus at Wayne State University, remains in the Detroit area to live and paint out his remaining years capturing the visual poetry of Venice, Italy, he has rarely exhibited a group of paintings in the Detroit area. Most of his exhibition work has been at the Gruen Gallery and the Gilman Galleries in Chicago, Illinois. Fortunately, the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham, Michigan has procured fifteen of Parish’s large paintings of the Venice landscape for a show opening July 17, 2015 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm. “I became intrigued by the sturdy compositional blocks of color that frame and organize the artist’s traditional realist imagery. An especially entrancing element is Parish’s handling of water surfaces… For these passages, Parish weaves a tapestry of light and reflection that activate a lively dance for the eye.” said Ben Kiehl, Director at the Robert Kidd Gallery.

Educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Parish’s various art-scene influences run the gamut, but his internal homing device has always seemed to keep his beacon on illusionistic imagery, focused for the last twenty-nine years on the textures and reflections of Venice, Italy. Parish’s body of work spans two thematic periods. From approximately 1960 to 1986 he painted foreign-like structures in an industrial landscape viewed from above. Then from 1986 to the present he has led his audience on a poetic journey through the Venetian landscape. Capturing perspectives in light doubled by reflections from undulating forms of water and architecture. Parish produces magical realism, to use a literary term, manipulating and imagining reality in such a way as to share with the viewer his romantic interpretations of a place he calls Zarna. In a recent exhibition catalog he says,

“The earliest source of my vision goes back to a farm in Northern Minnesota when my grandfather showed me a stream of mysterious water on our farm. I was not yet four years old. My work while living all these years in America’s “Great Lakes” has involved an imaginary island called Zarna, a sea of beds of stones and a full joyful experience, Venice.”

Dalla Ponte

Tom Parish – Dalla Ponte oil on linen 48 x 102 inches Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery

In the painting Dalla Ponte, Parish sets up his ‘way with water’ to lure the audience into his composition. Bringing the viewer forward, he delivers on a favorite theme, a kind of undulating water that is a mixture of current and reflection. The bricks of a canal wall appear in most paintings and become the backdoor to a simple abstraction, part and parcel of an overall realistic landscape image.

Grattacielo Veneziana

Tom Parish – Grattacielo Veneziana oil on linen 72 x 70 inches Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery

Sinking over the centuries due to natural processes building on closely spaced wooden piles and the pumping up of freshwater from an aquifer deep beneath the city, Venice remains in a state of rebuilding. In the painting Grattacielo Veneziano, Parish seizes on a construction site along a canal and plays with the contrast of the water and its reflection against the semi transparent protective tarp covering the renovation. As always, he carefully creates his composition and sets up a contrast between the grid and the organic nature of swirling water that may have been left by the trail of a waterbus.

Venetian Velvet

Tom Parish – Venetian Velvet oil on linen 72 x 70 inches Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through Parish’s eyes, Venice, a once marshy lagoon built on an archipelago of islands, transforms into place with never-ending inlets, an occasional speedboat, oscillating water during the day, and channels of light at night. These quiet moments of architecture and light invites the viewer into his world of meticulous studies of light, reflection and composition.

The exhibit runs July 17 – August 15, 2015

Robert Kidd Gallery

107 Townsend

Birmingham, MI  48009

http://www.robertkiddgallery.com

 

Abstraction @ the Detroit Artists Market

 

Abstraction Installation Entrace Onward

Detroit Artist Market – Installation Photo – Courtesy of DAM

On May 1st, the Detroit Artists Market opened the exhibit Abstraction: Artist /Viewer /Dialog. The exhibit runs through May 30th and brings together 38 visual artists who work in the field of abstraction. Juried by Lester Johnson, a native Detroiter who just recently retired as a full professor from the College for Creative Studies, said, “Abstraction is improvisational with layers of meaning and a search for truth; A Lyrical blending of connected memory and interpretive thoughts. Listening to your inner voice makes abstraction your reality.”

As an art form, abstraction has been with us dating back to the turn of the century and the Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky (1866-1944) when the Bauhaus artist segues into abstraction in 1909 with his painting Landscape near Murnau with Locomotive and follows up in 1911 with Composition V. From there, movements such as Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism have all come under the abstract umbrella and, as demonstrated in the DAM exhibition, are alive and well today. Abstraction like other art forms, is a genre, not having a beginning, middle, and an end, but exists on a continuum. There are new movements today such as performance, installation and new media that present us with new forms, but this does not negate previous forms from co-existing as the art world moves forward, and as demonstrated in music, drama, and literature. The DAM exhibition is a good mix of painting, sculpture, textile, and photography.

Aimee Cameron, Garden

The Garden 49 X 82 Plaster on Fabric, Courtesy of DAM

Aimee Cameron’s work, The Garden, presents the viewer with a horizontal piece of fabric that is folded and arranged using layers of plaster followed by the application of color. She describes her work as, “My fascination with the relationship between materials, form, layers, and process, has played an essential role in the development of my current collection of work. The plaster and fabric base is created with a fast, intuitively uncontrolled process while the surface work is carefully composed in reaction to the base, revealing all the subtle substructures and complicated textual patterns.”

I would not hesitate to describe Ms. Cameron’s work as a form of Abstract Expressionism, and what is interesting to this viewer is both the material and her use of color that pulls the eye towards the center with a dance that works against the folds of fabric. The Garden presented here is ripe.

Bruce Giffin, Blackboard Jungle

Black Board Jungle 16 X 22 Color Print on Watercolor Paper, Courtesy of DAM

Bruce Giffin’s photograph, Black Board Jungle, does a good job reflecting his interest in capturing abstraction. Known for his years of commercial and editorial photography in Detroit where he has created a multitude of covers for the Metro Times, his wealth of personal photography is beautifully portrayed in the 16 X 22 color print, Blackboard Jungle, on watercolor paper where light floods a room creating an interplay of shape and form. The combination of object and shadow presented in an informal composition produces an attractive and mysterious moment for this viewer. “Minor White said it takes 20 years to become a good photographer,” Giffin says. “Twenty-five years later and after having a few good things happen to me, I’m still not good enough. Photography is an evil mistress.”

Janet Hamrick, Littoral Drift

Littoral Drift 24 X 30 Oil on Canvas, Courtesy of DAM

Janet Hamrick, painter and printmaker, delivers an oil painting on canvas that provides the viewer with a quiet execution of line and color in an exchange that is set up formally by dividing the composition using three vertical rectangles. In Littoral Drift, she presents something that could be described as pure abstraction where she creates a non-representational reality that effectively delivers a subtle background pattern. Working out of the Blue Spruce Studio and having exhibited with the Lemberg Gallery, Ms. Hamrick says, “My paintings are meditations found in my life, visually or musically. Littoral Drift comes from the subtle visual formation of ridges or lines in the movement of water.”

Guastella, Carnival-Garden of Plenty

Carnival, 48 X 50 Acrylic on Board, Courtesy of DAM

Carnival, the abstraction by Dennis Guastella captures a field of personal hieroglyphics defined by a grid that could be an Egyptian code or an aerial view of a festive part of Mexico City. The macro view illuminates sections of defined color located informally in the field. He says in a recent statement, “For several years I have integrated a systemic patterning of small beads and thin lines of paint in geometric formations. These patterns allude to woven girders or a framework in an explosion of color and supercharged cubist space.”   The abstraction in Carnival is executed with a kind of crisp precision of brush stroke applied in layers, uses a large color palette and resonates best as it invites contemplation.

Dorchen, Graffiti

Graffiti, 40 X 60 Oil Enamel on Canvas, Courtesy of DAM

Graffiti, the two connected gray panels, in Barbra Dorchen’s enamel oil on canvas, provide the viewer with an understated representation of abstract spaces, one that relies heavily on a field of underdrawn pencil and crayon; the other a red area near the bottom of the painting that hints at a relic of landscape gone by. She says, “My work is an ongoing exploration of imagery, inspired by remnants of past and present cultures. The process involves combining or layering a variety of media, including pages from old books, transfer images, paint, tar, wax, found objects, photographs on paper, wood and installation. My intention is to express a tactile manifestation of form and surface in works that evoke a sense of timeless mystery.”

Brian Pitman, Untitlled

Untitled, 18 X 9 X 14, Limestone, Wood, and Bronze, Courtesy of DAM

Abstraction has deep roots in sculpture. Think about Marcel Duchamp’s R.Mutt, in 1917. Brian Pittman delivers his three-dimensional work, Untitled, made of limestone, wood, and bronze. The symbolism can go in a variety of directions and would seem to intentionally ask the viewer for an interpretation. The heavy wooden base opens to a split piece of shaped limestone, where a bronze, tooth-like shape emerges. The strength comes from a contrast of the material as it works its way upward in this mysterious, abstract form. Mr. Pitman say in his statement, “My work is inspired by my life long investigation of nature and my place within. I explore thoughts on infinity, natural cycles and the balance of conscious and unconscious.
I like to create a personal connection to the material with the repetitive and meditative action of hand tools which also gives sensitivity to the essence of the form.”

A group exhibition of this size can be uneven in terms of quality, and I would submit that has much to do with the jurying process. When the juror makes selections from JPEGs (short for Joint Photographic Experts Group), there is a gap between the real and the digitally photographed image. As Robert Hughes, long-time critic for Time magazine says in his book, Nothing if Not Critical, “Art requires a long look. It is its own physical object, with its own scale and density as a thing in the world. Art is more… than an image of itself.” Across the board, all large juried exhibitions use JPEG images for their juried process, and more than likely, that is not going to change. Perhaps there should be two steps: One screening based on images, and the final selection requiring the real art to be present.

Detroit Artist Market Feature Artist – Catherine Peet

Catherine Peet Entrance

For more than a year now and with each new exhibition,  the Detroit Artists Market has been using the back wall near the desk, as a place for a featured artist. Catherine Peet is an artist whose body of work features a collection of intriguing creative constructs. She combines painting with assemblage to create imagery that incorporates ideas that she derives from mythology, nature, and spirituality. She blends the two techniques together to make political, religious, and pervasive cultural statements in her work.

Abstraction: Artist / Viewer / Dialogue    –  May 1 – 30, 2015

4719 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

(313) 832-8540

http://www.detroitartistsmarket.org/