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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.

1 comment:

  1. Heh. Got a good chuckle out of that last one. I love it when I find paintings like that.

    Beautiful collection here.