Archive for April 2008
Gary Scneider is a contemporary photographer in New York City teaching at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science. He is probably most renown for his exploration of light and the human body – his nudes. A series or laying portraits depicts his curiosities of the relationship between the seen and the unseen. Photography is known as the art of light, the capturing of light, the manipulation of light. A subject is nothing without light. Think of that notorious Confucius saying, ‘If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’ As is if there is no light to see an object, can the object exist? Can we ever understand the object? Schneider’s portraits offer a means to which we can understand these ideas. With his aperture set small and his shutter open long, he captures the dance of his flashlight along the bodies of his subjects. In essence, he paints them into the camera with light. Think of the basic additive process of drawing, pencil added to paper creates shade. Think of the basic subtractive process of relief work, carving away at a block of clay reveals the image. To capture his portraits, Schneider is using a subtractive process. By taking away the darkness with his flashlight, he is revealing his image. And what better subject to use with this process then the naked body; a entity we are not often exposed to in complete form. He is not only physically erasing the layer or darkness that lies between our vision and his nudes – but theoretically he has used this subtractive process in breaking through society’s norm. Brilliant. And what is revealed? A perspective on the human form that is contorted. A vision we have not experienced before. The light dances on the surface of the body creating shadow we don’t expect to see.
Chiaroscuro is the term used in art to identify the distribution of light and shade within an image. The greater the chiarscuro, usually the more dramatic the mood. Since chiaroscuro is shading and shadow, there are logical, realistic areas for chiaroscuro to exist and help shape a form. Schneider’s nudes however, lit only by the strokes of his hand held flashlight, exemplify unrealistic, unexpected chiaroscuro; revealing nudes in a light that is more difficult to accept.
Printmaker Ralph Steadman and best known today as Hunter S. Thompson’s accompaniment in the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas psychedelic madness. Thompson, an American Journalist and Steadman, an English cartoonist, had a long lasting partnership through which they collaborated on various articles and other works. Steadman’s coined style revolves greatly around caricatures of Thompson himself, depicted in their notorious journey to the Southwest. This collection of Steadman’s work, Gonzo Art, stems from Thompson’s coined term of Gonzo Journalism – A style of journalism that invites reporters to involve themselves with their own story so much so that they themselves become the central plot. In addition to illustrating his own books Grapes of Ralph, The Curse of Lono and others, Steadman has illustrated versions of famous works as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Ray Bradbury’s Fehrenheit 451. In addition, he has designed labels for the Flying Dog Beer Company and California’s Boony Doon wine. His most notorious label was banned by Ohio state censor due to a Zinfandel labeled Cardinal Zin and portraying a disgruntled bishop. He has portrayed, in his own crisp and splattered ink style, William Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Frank Kafka, Ernest Hemmingway, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Robert Graves among other intellects. A favorite is an anonymous figure he calls The Camp Follower. In Steadman’s description of this work, he states that as he was cleaning off his lithography plate, his cleansing chemicals reacted with the ink in such a way to form the outline of a man which he couldn’t bring himself to erase. “This character is a mystery to me. He emerged unbidden from the acid bath and I just hadn’t the heart to tell him to go away. He makes a graceful, if enigmatic enterence; rather like those uninvited guests, who stay for the meal. When the Cognac has been served, the phone rings and it’s for him. He disappears and when asked, ‘Who was that?’ the Host replies, ‘I haven’t the slightest idea! More Cognac anybody?” Aloof as his character may be, Steadman has managed to capture quite eliquently, a figure and caption that pays tribute to a Don Quixote.
The Camp Follower
A likely predecessor to Daumier is a french born cartoonist who’s work will strike you as vaguely familiar. His cartoons are often light and approachable, yet spot on with their timely commentary on modern society. There is a friendly spirit that is attached to his works. A no stings attached, come, see and enjoy, agree with the humor while your looking, but let it pass you by when your done, like a small, sweet dessert. Not to be thought of too much or contemplated over for too long. As for its familiarity, you’ll recognize the style from various New Yorker covers and strips within the magazine; a style perfect for this sort of publication; witty and sarcastic, but easy to get and easy to get over nonetheless. His works are often muted watercolors. His palette is airy and his pen work delicate, working well with the whimsical nature of his scenes. As a young boy, Sempe was expelled from school for bad behavior. He failed several work related examinations in order to qualify to work for a French bank, a railway station and the post office. He then joined the army, where he was put in detention on a number of occasions for drawing instead of fulfilling his duties. He first found fame with a comic strip he titled Le Petit Nicholas which was published in the 1950s in a French magazines Le Moustique and Pilote. Since this Sempe has been a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and has published a number of books; Many of which revolve around French lifestyle and include titles such as Displays of Affection, A Little Bit of France, Everything is Complicated and Notes From the Couch.
Considered France’s greatest satirical artist, Honore Daumier was born in 1808 and past in 1879. Although a master sculptor and painter, he is best known for his brilliant lithographs, especially those published in Le Charivari, a Parisian illustrated newspaper, from the early 1830s onwards. He is highly revered as a social critic and commentator among such predecessors as Spain’s Francisco Goya and England’s William Hogarth. On occation, Daumier’s artistic commentary on French King Louis Philippe, landed himself behind bars. Although first considered to be a “Citizen King,” King Philippe’s conseravative monarch lead his country into an economic crisis in 1847. Among Daumier’s devestating attacks, he often portrayed the King as Gargantua…seen below. These public portrails aided the fall of King Philippe’s rule.
Perhaps his most famous work, titled Rue Transnonain was published in Le Charivari in 1834 in response to the massacre of 19 people including women and children by the French National Guard in respone to a strike of silk weavers in Lyon.
Emile Friant was a french painter living between the years of 1863 and 1932. His paintings are known for their photorealist qualities. Although his subjects are ordinary people, caught in their ordinary lives, there is a quailty Friant brings to his palette that is so realistic, it becomes almost immortal. His color palette glows, especially the skin tones he creates. They are so real, so translucent, and so delicate, it’s as if one could see or is convinced there is blood flowing through the body of his characters. Soft and so flesh like, the first entity that comes to mind is belief. His paintings captivate such reality he prompts us to forget and remind us at the same time, how mundane life is. These moments provokes me to ask Do we believe his work? Do we trust the artists intentions? Do we feel the intentional mood? The slight gestures and minute detail in expression and body language and the rich and vivid palette reflect these moods. Do we believe them? Can we feel them?
Childhood Grief 1897
Images taken from http://www.oil-painting-portrait.com/KunstBildList.asp