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I am a painter. www.StephenCefalo.com, http://twitter.com/#!/CefaloStudio

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucien Freud dies at 88. Celebrate the legacy of this great painter.

If you're not familiar with Lucian Freud's work, please take a moment to learn about a great British painter, the grandson of Sigmund Freud, who passed on this week at the age of 88.  I understand the arguments against him.  His work is offensive, distasteful, uncomfortable, and dangerous, but so is Caravaggio, so is punk rock, so was Beethoven, and so are many things that I love, and I find enormous beauty in their humanity.  Either you get him or you don't and that's okay, but the man was a daring and powerful painter.

-I did a "living grand master" post a while back about him that you can view here.
-Freud on Wikipedia
-NY Times article
-Just found a documentary on him I had not seen before on youtube.  Here's part one.

These are two of my favorite paintings by him:

His process was completely mad.  It makes my heart sing.

A few More...

Ok I put most of my favorites in my other post.  The sheer volume of his work is impressive, but I guess that's natural considering he never stopped making work and painted through his eighties.

Head of a Naked Girl

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

William Orpen

William Orpen (1878-1931)

There is a foreboding beauty about William Orpen's paintings that rings true for me.  In his figures especially there is a haunting poetry.  They are full of the tensions and struggles of life that make it mysterious, frustrating, and ultimately worth living.  In his brand of naturalism is a mythicized reality that  makes the mundane feel epic.  Of course he did not invent this, but it is a temperament that runs through many of my favorite painters from Caravaggio to Carriere.

Quite an androgynous self-portrait.  I like it.

An obvious reference to Rembrandt's "Hendrijke Wading In a Stream", but a unique take on his motif.  There is a poetic futility in the cascade of sad black hair that throws the eye into complete shadow.
Rembrandt still rocks the mike.

Orpen's female nudes are lumpy. They're always homely, often oddly shaped sometimes even grotesque, but there is an almost aloof modesty in there attitude that give them a tragic saintliness.  Their melancholic sensuality is ultimately endearing and forcefully defies what academics had rigidly defined as beauty.   

He was obviously obsessed with Rembrandt.  This one brings to mind a baker's dozen of Rembrandt's Susannas and Bathshebas.

There is no beauty to me like the human figure disheveled in a state of some kind of hopeless toil.  In art misery can bring comfort and suffering can bring consolation.

I'm speechless here.  It doesn't get more touching than this.

I'm a sucker for wife portraits and things that blow in the wind.

Young Ireland Grace Gifford, Sir William Orpen
Mighty strange.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Norm Quotes Mike: An Obvious Oversight

After posting the last entry about Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter one of my students pointed out on facebook that he has directly borrowed from Michelangelo's "The Prophet Isaiah" from the Sistine Ceiling.  Good eye Logan!

But did you know that Raphael grabbed the pose from Michelangelo first?  The story goes that when the ceiling was still under wraps in 1511 the architect and painter Donato Bramante snuck Raphael into the chapel to sneak a peek.  Raphael's "School of Athens" still in progress at the time, he is said to have scraped off the fresco to start it over again inspired by Michelangelo's style.  His figure of Heraclitus is said to be modeled after his rival Michelangelo who hated Raphael as a plagiarist.   

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rockwell's Riveting Rosie.

A recent blog post by a friend of mine blogging as Flannery O' Kafka  posted an image of J. Howard Miller's Rosie the Riveter (1942) remade in jellybeans by a contemporary artist.  This reminded me of the other Rosie I love by Norman Rockwell done a year later in 1943.  Rockwell was in his own class as an illustrator, and this is a great example.  

With a little research I was simply giddy to discover that this piece is in the permanent collection of the upcoming Crystal Bridges Museum, scheduled to open this November in Bentonville, Arkansas!  The museum will house one of the largest collections of American art in the world.  I actually feel some kind of beetle-mania, and have to suppress a scream when I think about it.

 Rockwell's beefier Rosie portrayed here as a 1940's begoggled punk rocker (down to the buttons!), slings a riveter across her lap like a pieta.  The "S" curve originating in the stars of the upper left corner runs straight through the bicep down through the busted old power cord, making her feel monumental.  Even the meat on the sandwich dances and her flexors and brachioradialis are to die for.

To top it off this is one of the most beautiful heads I've ever seen.  Tough as a jackhammer and yet so delicate and charming.

File:We Can Do It!.jpg

J. Howard Miller's Rosie.  Not bad but probably improved with jelly beans.