Thursday, May 27, 2021

Andrew Dasburg: Forgotten Mastery

 It's so interesting to refer to art and artists both contemporary or historic. Last week was about plastic as a recent art medium. This week is a historic step back to one of the artists who was inspired by Santa Fe & Taos, NM scenery. In the early days of the past century, there was a wonderful colony in Santa Fe. A few artists are so well known as to immediately come to mind; others not so much. 

Perhaps Andrew Dasburg (1887-1979) falls into the latter category. He trained privately with renown teachers as he made his life in Europe and NYC. It was while Dasburg was studying in Paris that he came to know Matisse and also the style of Cubism. (This style would later greatly influence his works in NM.)

As with so many artists, he was invited to Taos, NM by Mabel Dodge Luhan,the patroness of the arts and an active member of the art colony there. Making his home in Santa Fe, he rubbed elbows with her and Georgia O'Keeffe.


When Dasburg passed in 1979, a retrospective showing 96 of his paintings was exhibited at the New Mexico Museum of Art. His works are in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA, and several others. 

In fact, his home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and yet with all the accolades, Andrew Dasburg's name and art have faded in the popular conscious. Why is that?

(While he did use Cubism as the basis for much of his scenic paintings, he employed a different technique for his still life paintings. Here's a sampling of both - click to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Art of Plastic Flotsam & Jetsam

There was a time in art when the definition of "visual art" was to paint with oil on canvas. I recall being at the Musee d' Orsay in Paris and seeing the craft paper and cardboard that impressionists like Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec would use to make hurried pastel drawings of whatever inspired them. Later, these were used as notations as the basis of an oil on canvas painting. It was the same for sculpturors, who made hurried sketches with charcoal or pencil on paper to later make into marble statues. 

Time and artists have certainly moved from those strictures of what is fine art. Now, there's "mixed media" which makes it  possible for a 2-D artist or a sculptor to find pieces and parts to create a piece out of almost anything - even the flotsom and jetsam of the ocean. (L. whale diving into waves)

Single artists and groups are creating art media out of the plastics that pollute the seas. Some choices are to paint a scene and use plastic waste to add dimension. (click on images for better viewing)

Some are to help make us aware of the harm that's being done to our beautiful planet's creatures.

Others are forming groups to build a fierce creature or a not-so-seaworthy turtle. Even in this playful way, artists are filling the roles of social and environmental consciousness. 

It is best defined in the plastic sculpture of a single contemplative human. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Jahn Ekenaes: Master Chronicler of Ordinary Life

 When I first saw the paintings by Jahn Ekenaes (1847-1920), I was drawn to his subjects because they reminded me so much of Caillbottte's "The Planers" which is a beautiful, detailed painting of men planing a wood floor. (As it happens, Ekenaes and Caillbotte were born within a year of each other.)

Ekenaes documented the every day world of the people living and working in his native Norway. He brought to his works the fine detail of their homes, work places and general activities. (RT: Women doing laundry)

Since he was fascinated with the the camera and photography, the degree of detail that he captured in his works might have been related to his many photographs. Even though color photography had its roots in the 1890s, it's probably a case where he took a black & white photograph and sketched or noted the colors for his paintings.

Whatever his techniques, he created a chronicle of daily life as he witnessed it in his world. (Left: This portrait of a child is to show Ekenaes' details in faces)

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Dominque Bordenave: Wire Mastery

 Dominque Bordenave (1960-) was born in France and attended Beaux Artes in Paris. In the course of a career as an artist, Bordenave has referred to himself as a "multidisciplinarian." In seems to be a path of experimenting with various media. 

There was a sponsorship by a shoe manufacturer that led to a humorous portrayal of characters made from worn out shoes. (left picture of his recent treatment of shoes using wire mesh)

Then, there was the works done for video game companies. Lately, he has developed a method of working with stainless wire mesh.

Bordenave titles this series, "Void Capture." He describes this series as being "like life forming by the folding of a single membrance." 

To demonstrate his versatility with such a medium as wire mesh, below is a sampling of his ability to create human, animal, lettering and inanimate forms. No doubt, Bordenave has mastery of the medium.