Monday, February 22, 2010

Bravo for Art... or Not?

When I was studying art at the university, my painting instructors encouraged non-objective or abstract art. They were often critical or dismissive of those students who were interested in capturing fine details of a still life or model.

Since the advent of photography, there's been an ongoing discussion whether realistic painting's time has passed. Perhaps it's no longer necessary to chronicle life and time in paintings. I was considering this when a "Google" search led me to the art of Claudio Bravo (1936 to present), a very famous and successful realistic painter. (Self-portrait above.)

Brav0 was born in Chile and studied art in Santiago. (He has lived in Morocco since 1972.) His first exhibition was held at age 17. Although Bravo gained international fame as a portraitist, he is also an accomplished still life painter.

His works are found in the prestigious museums and galleries in the world. Several books have been written about his art. Yet, art schools, critics and many curators are moving away from promoting realistic work - leaving that to photography.

Looking at the few examples below of Mr. Bravo's often described "hyperrealistic" painting style, do you think in our digital world this type of painting is passe'? (click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Hands of Guayasamin

Hands. So many artists spend hours and hours sketching hands trying to get them just right. (It's been reported that viewers first look at faces and then at hands in paintings.)

You might think that something so familiar would be easy to sketch or paint. Not so. In my opinion it's because they are so familiar.

We use hands as one of our major forms of communication. One artist most noted for his expressive paintings of hands was Oswaldo Guayasamin. (1919-1999)(Self-portrait on left.)

I first learned of Guayasamin in my college Spanish class. He was born in Ecuador to a poor Quechaun Indian family. Guayasamin was very talented and attended the School of Fine Arts in Quito where he studied painting, sculpture and architecture. By age 23, he had his first exhibition.

Guayasamin traveled throughout the Americas to meet the indigenous people. The poverty and injustice he witnessed would become his art project for the rest of his life.

Below are some of his paintings. What comes to mind as you look at Guayasamin's hands?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Briefly Speaking...,

Last Thursday I was driving to the post office and listening to NPR. The host was interviewing the authors of a book on 6-word memoirs.

The authors said that allegedly Hemingway was challenged in a bar (where else?) to come up with a 6-word memoir. He responded, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." That's profound, but then again, he was a writer. Less daunting were funny ones from Stephen Colbert and Dave Barry.

The NPR host invited listeners to phone in their 6-word memoir. It was wonderful. Memoirs were serious, funny or poignant. Since I was driving, the only one I can remember to quote is: "Bachelor party, You-Tube video, Wedding canceled."

Now, since this blog is titled Ruminations on Art and Life, I invite you to make up a 6-word memoir.

The only thing I ask is that you post your memoir with your first name on this website. Let's make it interactive and not use email for your brief "gem."

I've written one to get the ball rolling. Click on comments, read mine/others and add your own.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Luce and Anarchy

Two blogs ago, I wrote of a little-known but highly gifted female impressionist painter. (Morisot) This time, I'd like to tell you of a man of the same period who was also very talented but is not well known today - Maximilien Luce (1858-1941).

Ever heard of him? Well I hadn't either until I had to write an essay on an impressionist painter. Knowing the teacher would be inundated with papers on Monet, Degas, and Van Gogh, I researched and found Luce.

Luce was a wonderful and interesting find - painter, lithographer and anarchist. He painted landscapes and urban life. (Along with Seurat and Signac he originated pointillism - a technique where small dots of color optically blend to create an image. )

Luce was also known for painting subjects of social realism - war, citizen revolts, industry's effects on people and the land, and the plight of the those out of power. These were the images that would lead to his arrest, trial and conviction. (Google: "Trial of the Thirty")

However, after release Luce continued his political resistance in his paintings albeit more subtly. At age 76, he was elected President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. He soon resigned in protest against the society's policy to restrict the admission of Jewish artists.

He always stood by what he believed. Could this be why we know so little of him in the history of Impressionism? What do you think?