29 May 2023

Yvonne Jacquette: Up/Down/Inside/Out

The artist Yvonne Jacquette died on April 23 at the age of eighty-eight. She had participated in planning a new exhibition that combines early and recent work and is now on view at the D.C. Moore Gallery in New York City.

Jacquette's aerial views earned her the sobriquet "Canaletto of the skies" after the Venetian painter famed for his topographical views. Like Canaletto, The line between what is real and what is imaginary is shifting. Typically, she built layer over layer of shifting perspectives. 

Film Cans is a rare still life, an unusual subject for Jacquette, rendered from an oblique angle that evokes for me the works of Chinese artists of the past two millennia. Of course, the humble film can is usually dark gray but the addition of many other colors hints at the varied marvels witin.

Jaquette  depicted Manhattan from a rented airplane, circling the island; sometimes she worked from a perch on the upper floors  in the Empire State Building. 

Jacquette was married for four decades to Swiss filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt until his suicide in 1999.

Image: Yvonne Jacquette - Film Cans, 2020, oil on linen, D.C. Moore Gallery, NYC.

21 May 2023

Flowers Under a Tree: Paul Georges & Gustav Klimt

The American painter Paul Georges (1923-2002) studied with Fernand Leger in Paris from 1949 to 1952 While there he met his future wife Lisette Blumenfeld at the studio of Constantine Brancusi.

Before that, in 1947, he was one of a stellar class that studied with Hans Hoffmann at Provincetown. Jane Frielicher, Wolf Kahn, and Larry Rivers all became fast friends that summer.

Georges is better known for his allegories and self-portraits but I was taken with Calla Lilies by its echoes (deliberate or by chance) to a famous landscape by the Austrian Gustav Klimt. The composition is similar and so are the colors; here Georges has chosen more angular, spiky or, if you look aslant, abstract forms. 

Before that, in 1947, he was one of a stellar class that studied with Hans Hoffmann at Provincetown. That summer Jane Freilicher, Wolf Kahn, Larry Rivers, and Georges all became fast friends at the Cape Code summer school.

His paintings are in the collections of numerous major museums are color and sound the United States. Georges died at his home in Isigny-sur-Mer, Normandy. 

In Rose Bushes Under the Trees (1904-1905),  the focus is also on color and simplified forms, vibrant greens and flattened forms that mesmerize the viewer's eye with repeating decorative patterns. Klimt's brush work is fluid and circular, suggesting the invisible presence of a passing breeze. 

I like to think that Georges may have seen Klimt's painting, in reproduction if not in person.


1. Paul Georges - Calla Lilies, 1987-1989, oil on linen, Simon Lee Gallery, London.

2. Gustav Klimt - Rose Bushed Under the Trees, circa 1904-1905, oil on canvas, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

13 May 2023

Albert Gleizes: Lazy Afternoon

"It's a lazy afternoon

And the beetle bugs are zooming

And the tulip tress are blooming

And there's not  another human in view"

    - Jerome Moross & John La Touche, lyrics for "Lazy Afternoon," a song written for the 1954 musical The Golden Apple.

Everything in Man in a Hammock means something, so there's a lot to decipher. Like every Cubist worthy of the name, Albert Gleizes plays fast and loose with traditional linear perspective - and it works brilliantly. The mobile perspective mimics the back and forth of a swinging hammock. A strong series of diagonals anchor the man to the moving hammock while, at the same time, merging him with the landscape. His right foot rests on a typical Parisian park chair. The eye is drawn to a small still life near his right hand -  a table holds a spoon, some lemons, and a glass. As he holds a book in that hand by Gleizes's friend Alexandre Mercereau, this may be a portrait of his fellow artist; so, we can intuit the town in the  background as Cretail. .

Albert  Gleizes (1881-1953) always insisted that he was the founder of Cubism. Unlike Braques and Picasso who used subdued colors in their Cubist works, Gleizes preferred to work in bright colors. Gleizes was inspired by the paintings of Alexandre Mercereau who exhibited his paintings in Moscow and Prague. The two men would collaborate in founding a utopian community a Abbaye de Cretail, a suburb of Paris.

Image: Albert Gleizes - L'homme au hamac (Man in a Hammock) 1913, oil on canvas, 56 x 67.75 inches, Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo.

01 May 2023

Winslow Homer: Working Girls

"He has chosen of the least pictorial features of the least pictorial range of scenery and civilization; he has resolutely treated them as if they were pictorial, as if they were every inch as good as Capri or Tangiers; and to reward his audacity, he has incontestably succeeded." - Henry James on Winslow Homer, from "Some Pictures Lately Exhibited." in Galaxy (July 1875)

I was taken with this farm girl's dress, its orderly rows of white dots dominating the center of the picture. The tools on the wall and the baskets and barrel form a pleasing diagonal line that opens the image out from the young girl at its center. And with what deftness the artist delineates the rooster in the lower right corner.  Fresh Eggs nicely illustrates the decorative quality that appeared in Homer's pictures in the 1870s.

Young girls, usually outdoors, working as shepherdesses or dreaming under sheltering trees. Young women, often school teachers, making their way in the post-Civil War world as it slowly opened its doors to female education and independence. Winslow Homer possessed an instinctive sympathy for them all, perhaps influenced by his close relationship with his mother, Henrietta Benson Homer, herself an amateur watercolorist and Homer's first teacher.

Image: Winslow Homer - Fresh Eggs, 1874, watercolor, gouache, and graphite on wove paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.