Monday, November 26, 2012

Art That SIZZLES!!

Art, that sizzles, transforms, stops you in your tracks and stops your heart-sublime. I am not talking about the cheap thrills of modern novelty art. Art that sizzles with eroticism, not the sleaze of common pornography. Paintings that move you with sheer beauty, not cheap sentimentality or that horrible toad of nostalgia. Spare me those gauzy Victorianas, damsels staring out to sea, arranging flowers or sitting on various forms of gingerbread brick-a-brac- chaises, porches etc.
Please- no more 'tender pictures' of natives, especially those smarmy renderings of 'artfull' digital vacation pictures of Tibetans who live in that unfortunate, oppressed country. That is what Tibetan Buddhists call 'idiot compassion' and it is nothing more than sheer exploitation. Quite as ghastly, in my opinion, are those wretched butter-churning paintings of prairie bonneted children of 'days gone by'. This is art that at best, is 'pleasant' and is better suited for greeting cards and calendars- Hallmark moments.

We are too easily impressed by these 'skillful' and the cheap maneuvers of painters to gain a niche for their 'art'. The 20th century was a free for all of unregulated garbage, so anything that has a whiff of skill looks like a masterwork. One good result of this free-fall is that artists can take bigger chances with their work and move on many inventive planes.

Over the next few days I will try to post more work that illustrates my point.

Look at this Bernini "Rape of Persephone detail- Aeeeii! No-one  can match this today- no-one!

Look at the powerful eroticism of his  exquisite Daphne and Apollo-
Ecstasy in Marble
Bernini's St. Theresa

Vincent Van Gogh White Roses 1890
I was floored by the exquisite and subtle coloration of this painting when I saw it in the National Gallery
This gives meaning to the word sublime.
"The Skater"
Portrait of William Grant 1784, Gilbert Stuart
This powerful an inventive portrait is at the National Gallery in Washington DC.
This portrait was done before photography was available and yet the skill of the painter is able to depict something  vibrant and in motion.
This is a huge towering portrait of  commanding presence- unlike the mostly insipid portraits of CEO and politicians done today.
El Greco
Fray Hortensio Felix Paravicino 1609
When I was at (briefly) The Boston Museum School, I used to visit and stare at this portrait. You could say, though it depicted a priest- I was in love with him.
The sensitivity of his beautiful face and hands still communicates  through the  centuries.

Odile Redon 1840-1916
Odile Redon was a French symboliste
What I adore most about him is his exquisite use of color. He was also a fabulous pastellist.

Nicolas de LargillierreElizabeth Throckmorton, Canoness of the Order of the Dames Augustines Anglaises, 1729
Most delicious, look at those ravishing skin-tones, her beautiful lips and luminous eyes.
Throw out you cameras. You cannot do work like this from a photograph.

Madame Cezanne in Red Arm Chair 1877
Paul Cezanne
28.5" x 22"

This jewel is at the Boston Museum, I thought it was a much larger painting because of the impact it makes in person. The design and colors are sublime, there is not a misplaced or poorly thought out passage. Cezanne is a challenge for me because he does not prettify things. They are compelling because they make me look beyond the surface of a painting.
There is an excellent new Biography of Cezanne "Cezanne, a Life" by Alex Danchev.

He details the excruciating path Cezanne's career took. Cezanne may have not, like Van Gogh have the facility that impressed the French Salon at the time but his heart-breakingly honest and powerful paintings put to shame their overworked slick pretentions. 
Below is a Bouguereau, the leading painter du jour. I am knocked out by the sheer courage of Cezanne to paint as he wished to paint when slick sentimental and titillating erotic paintings like this were ruling the day- pornography for the bourgeoisie- much like Currin's work is for the one-percenters today.

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