Monday, December 21, 2009
The image above is from a Chinese restaurant downtown I went to during the weekend. The table there has a holiday look all year long. The empty bowl once had a delicious soup.
Now, lunch break at the Cunningham studio is the time Dick and I move over piles of documents, books and other objects on the table and set our plates generally piled with sandwiches or other delicious concoctions we created or Kitty supplied. While eating we plot the next edit in the video or skim through a book Dick recommends, or plan the next blog entry.
Please enjoy the photos as a set here and as a slideshow here.
Enjoy the holidays.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Dick is beginning with the oils today on his new painting of three figures.
We've been documenting the progress and here are the stages from December 2-16, 2009.
From the map,
Monday, December 14, 2009
Your thoughts and reactions are as always welcome. Comment here, email or even snail mail. Watch for more videos here and on our YouTube Portraits playlist and Dick's YouTube channel.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
In the mean time we're posting two images of the new painting showing work in progress and a rough cut of the introduction for our new video.
[Images from December 2 and December 9, 2009]
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I've just added Al Held and Philip Pearlstein "PEARLSTEIN/HELD: Five Decades" now on show at Betty Cuningham Gallery to Dick's "want to see" and "recommended" lists, found here Dick mentioned the show to me the day before it opened and my appetite was whetted further when I saw James Kalm's short interview with Philip Pearlstein at the opening, found on Facebook and hopefully also coming to James Kalm YouTube channel. Dick has not yet seen the show after his successful cataract operation left him a bit disoriented for "more than" a few days.
In September/October 1997, Dick worked with Philip Pearlstein, George Nick and John Moore in Israel on series of paintings for an exhibition in 1999 in Tel Aviv Museum entitled "90th Anniversary of Tel Aviv; Contemporary City Scapes; Israeli and American Artists."
Al Held and Philip Pearlstein "PEARLSTEIN/HELD: Five Decades" at Betty Cuningham Gallery compares careers of two artists, as explained in the press release, "born in the mid – 1920’s: Pearlstein in 1924 and Held in 1928. The artists arrived in the center of the “art scene” in the late 1940’s at the time of the birth of Abstract Expressionism. Both tried their hand in Abstract Expressionism in the 1950’s, but by 1960, both had left Abstract Expressionism behind. Philip Pearlstein chose the route of representation – particularly of the female nude, a classic subject throughout art history. Al Held moved toward clear abstraction. Both shared the position that “Expressionism” would be dropped from their paintings. By the late 1960’s Pearlstein had committed to the “New Realism”, as stated in John Perrault’s manifesto:
No stories; no allegories; no symbols.
No hidden meanings; no obvious meanings.
No philosophy, religion, or psychology.
No political content.
No fantasy or imagination; no dreams; no poetry."
Of the two artists, in my opinion, Pearlstein is more relevant to what Dick's practice is, so I'll just talk about him.
Dick considers Philip Pearlstein revolutionary for figure painting. One of their common subject matters is the nude.
Our conversation today ended up on the issue of breaking tradition in art, and “New Realism,” which Dick lived through, but was not swept away by, holding to the humanity of the subject and its emotional and intellectual manifestations as well as the physical.
Dick says that he's greatly indebted to Pearlstein. "Philip broke with the Western tradition of the idealized nude and freed artists to look at the nude with their own eyes, fresh."
Dick is also "preplexed by why it's not generally seen that Pearlstein is cut out of the same cloth as Signorelli and Michelangelo in his sense of form and space," which I find interesting as an issue in art history and tradition to bring up in this context.
[Image: Francis Cunningham "Reaching"]
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Saturday, November 21st 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Please join us for an opening reception featuring
recent works by our gallery artists
to celebrate the launch of our new online website
available to buy online starting Thursday, November 19th, 2009
10 White Street
Red Bank NJ 07701
732 224 0760
Tue 1-5 PM, Wed - Sat 11-5 PM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
At one point Dick and I talked about the distance between the painter and his subject, which brought us to the recent studio visit of one of Dick's long time friends from the Art Students League, John Leavey, or as Dick calls him, Jack.
Jack attended the Art Students League, where Dick met him in Robert Beverly Hale's class. Later they went to Edwin Dickinson's class. Jack won a Prix de Rome and spent seven years in Italy. At one point he painted stage sets. He's painted and drawn continuously and now lives in Bennington, Vermont.
So, now you have an idea about Jack.
When at Dick's studio, Jack made this drawing of triangles about HISTORY, ARTIST and MODEL. I like how it illustrates the disappearance of distance between history and the artist. For simplification, I think we can assume that the distance between the artist and the model remains the same.
At the top Jacques-Louis David looks at a 50 year old male model while he paints a "historical" figure, such as a Roman soldier. As painting in the 19th century moves towards realism, the line of the triangle illustrated here, between the artist and history, gets shorter and shorter. Courbet (Realism), Manet, Degas and we wind up in Jack's diagram with Toulouse-Lautrec. Lautrec draws a 50 year old man who is no more or less, a 50 year old man. In Jack diagram photography is a straight line between the artist and the model, as there is no longer history. (We find this problematic.)
Now, the question is what is the distance between Dick and his new piece, he's just started, here at the map stage, or his subjects in general?
-perke and Dick
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Yesterday was my first full day working from Francis Cunningham studio and I spent most of the day editing video about his summer'09 sill life. I made a solid rough cut of part one and am up very early this morning getting the first sequence re-done. I'll just add that the October mosquitoes in my house were a big "help" getting me out of bed 6am. Anyone else has mosquitoes in Manhattan?
Today is Dick's check up day at the doctor's, and the pre-exam dietary restrictions prevented him from sharing this lunch with me yesterday. But, he had yogurt, other goodies and tea from Michelangelo cup.
Next week, perhaps Dick will share the recipe for his famous sandwich when we start on part two of the video about the big still life.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Dick fresh back from the woods in Western Massachusetts while still searching for ticks in his clothes is making a list of the must see and recommended exhibitions, most of which he's not seen yet himself.
I've made him a MyNYAB account on NY Art Beat to bookmark his favorites, so they are handy and sharable here.
The list currently includes lots of 18th century, mainly drawings and some paintings from France, and it starts with Dicks favorite space, the Frick Collection followed by the Met, through the Morgan library, ending with the MoMA.
The Frick Collection has an exhibitions on of French 18th and 19th century drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection.
"Watteau to Degas: French Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection" Exhibition
Venue: The Frick Collection
Schedule: From 2009-10-06 To 2010-01-10
At the Metropolitan Watteau's show of paintings which take on the theme of music and theater contemporary to the artist is the destination.
"Watteau, Music, and Theater" Exhibition
Venue: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Schedule: From 2009-09-22 To 2009-11-29
The lower key, but highly valued Watteau show is followed by a minor blockbuster: Vermeer's "Milkmaid," which also include the Met's collection's Vermeers. Even is crowded, it's a must see.
"Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid" Exhibition
Venue: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Schedule: From 2009-09-10 To 2009-11-29
There are more drawings at the Morgan Library, again including Wateau and more 18th century French drawings.
"Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings" Exhibition
Venue: The Morgan Library & Museum
Schedule: From 2009-10-02 To 2010-01-03
"William Blake's World: 'A New Heaven Is Begun'" makes Dick's list for now.
"William Blake's World: 'A New Heaven Is Begun'" Exhibition
Venue: The Morgan Library & Museum
Schedule: From 2009-09-11 To 2010-01-03
Finally, something I brought up, since I already saw it, the Monet’s Water Lilies at the MoMA. Unlike the other blockbuster, Vermeer at the Met, the Monet room at the MoMA had ample room to enjoy the huge paintings and smaller work.
"Monet’s Water Lilies" Exhibition
Venue: The Museum of Modern Art
Schedule: From 2009-09-13 To 2010-04-12
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The 18th Annual Take Home a Nude® Art Auction & Party Honoring John Currin took place Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at Sotheby's.
"Take Home a Nude" is a clever title
"This year the New York Academy of Art holds its 18th Annual Take Home a Nude Event. Celebrities and prominent members of the New York art community always attend this showing of some of the city's finest figurative work. As with last year's auction, there is a wide variety of work, and artists will be showing off their skills, showcasing their techniques and walking those interested through the process of creating figurative art. The 2009 Event will be held Wednesday, October 7, 2009.
View the auction preview here
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
But it's not the first time we meet in NY this late summer. We met a few weeks back in Chelsea, when Dick came to the city for the opening of the exhibition of Israel Hershberg at Marlborough Gallery.
Israel Hershberg "From Afar"
Venue: Marlborough Chelsea
Schedule: From 2009-09-10 To 2009-10-10
Israel Hershberg was one of the students picked by Dick for High School honors class at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in 1966. Israel went to study at Pratt and teach at various US institutions. Dick and Israel have stayed in touch and remained friends.
Israel eventually moved to Israel, where he founded and continues to direct the Jerusalem Studio School.
Dick says that Jerusalem Studio School is the only institution he knows where Dickinson's way of looking and principles are still central today.
Israel took from Dick's teaching Dickinson's tonal work: color spots, plumb line and the finder. He used those tools to develop his own form of realism and teaches them the Jerusalem Studio School.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Talking with Dick about the still life he's currently working on demystified a lot of painting process for me and I hope to show Dick elaborating on it in our video.
This is part of the still life set up, of which only a fragment is visible on the canvas and on the "map."
The rest of the set-up. The dried fruit is a beauty.
Finally, an attempt by me to capture the whole of the setup with my still camera, as it is on Dick's canvas.
Something, I'd not known about Dick's painting process is "the map." He starts his longer projects with a map like this, transfers it to a canvas and then begins his "color spot" painting process. (The many maps that got saved would look great strangely as a B&W graphic novel, in my opinion.) The "color spot" process that Dick uses justly attracted attention of my companion to the Berkshires, partner at NY Art Beat and husband, Kosuke who brought attention to it on his Japanese blog. He touched upon the subject of the technique and wrote in general about our trip and some of the anecdotes that Dick is so good at telling.
Here is the yet unfinished still life on canvas.
When not working on our video and photos, or enjoying a few meals prepared by Kitty, Dick showed us around the area where he's been coming to paint every summer since the 60s. So, here is Perke and Dick by one of the pear trees.
I'm taking the the pear to the barn and then to NY. It was good after a few days of sitting on my fridge.
Walking through the swampy area in the back, from which we had to eventually withdraw, because my shoes were not ready for such an adventure and mosquitoes were biting strong.
At the falls, which Dick claims he used to run to daily after a day of work to cool off. We drove, due to the unstable weather and the mosquitoes.
Saturday afternoon in the barn- resting with tea before Kosuke and my leaving for NY- after a lunch of Sheffield corn, sandwiches and some wine which we'd bought for early Friday dinner in the barn. The dinner was supposed to be followed by Dick and Kitty's trip to a ballet by Ulysses_Dove. All of it was literally cut short by the storm. With the power and telephone out, we made the most of the evening by driving to the nearest restaurant for a good meal and plenty of anecdotes.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Today a twitter friend tweeted the following "aaaah USA http://bit.ly/7qtS6", link leading to a Guardian story "Model arrested for posing nude at New York museum."
Next in the story, "Kathleen Neill charged with public lewdness after posing for a photographer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." I thought Dick would be interested in this story, having himself had some of his nudes taken off the walls of a gallery in NY, in the 70s, if I recall right.
The show of photographs of the above mentioned nude model in public spaces will be closing, in a few days, August 30 at Chair and Maiden in NY.
"aaaah USA http://bit.ly/7qtS6", and I can only add, why in chains right away?
Dick might not be in touch or reading this until later in the week, as I believe he's still disconnected, due to the storm a week ago ripping out some trees near his barn and breaking some telephone poles and wires, which are probably still being fixed. Here is how it looked from the cottage where I was staying last weekend, right after the storm hit. Watch my short clip to the end and listen...
More images coming to my photo set(UPDATE now already there) from the Berkshires trip here.
Check out the "lewd" show if you're in NY before it closes.
Zach Hyman "Decent Exposures"
Venue: Chair and the Maiden
Schedule: From 2009-08-20 To 2009-08-30
Address: 19 Christopher St., New York, NY 10014
Phone: 212-255-0562 Fax: 212-675-6330
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Since I'll be heading out to Dick's studio in the country to do a little photo and video shoot, and to breath in some fresh country air, I'm especially taken by the newly added paintings of tools of all sorts associated with art and labor.
Industry (1967) oil on linen 40'' x 50''
Chime Knife and Barking Spud (1970) oil on linen 28'' x 44''
Forest Tools (1985) oil on linen 72'' x 46''
Harvest Tools (1987) oil on linen 36'' x 48'' Andso on.
And of course the studio table...Studio Table (1996-97) oil on linen 36'' x 48''
Blogging-wise, I don't think we're ready to move on from the current topics of the nude and photography that are on Dick's mind and in his writings. Conveniently, Dick stays on the subjects in his phone calls too. I listened to a voice mail(thank you google voice!) Dick left me the other day, where he mentions another two photo related books and authors, Janet Malcolm and John Szarkowski.
I let the Wikipedia entry on Janet Malcolm be an introduction to this staff writer for the New Yorker.
John Szarkowski was best know to me as the author of several books on photography and a MoMA curator.
I'm sure Dick would have a few words to add here on both authors and their photography ideas.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Whenever the human body appears, in life or art, clothed or unclothed, there is an erotic potential. In art, whenever the erotic goes beyond potential to become itself the subject one may cross the line between art and pornography.
In art, the nude body is neutral. Sexual differentiation is a fact.
Unless the artist has gone intentionally past the line, whatever happens beyond the artist’s intent lies in the eye, or rather the mind, of the beholder.
For myself, the subjects of the nudes are the particular individuals, male and female, which I have painted. They have 3-dimensional form, in the painting as in life; they are capable of movement and in their postures express the connection between their inner self and its physical manifestation.
In the “Art of Painting: Reflections on Edwin Dickinson and Representation” (unpublished) I have written, “A great photographer of the nude such as Robert Mapplethorpe in his straightforward studies has understood light on form and the way the parts of the body move into each other in a dynamic relationship better than most painters, present or past...” I am interested in these nudes, not his homoerotic images or for that matter, his still lifes.
Francis Cunningham 8/6/09 (UPDATED 8/10/09)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Note the new addition on the side bar, on the right hand side, the widget with Dick's book recommendations. To start with, it contains books, which Dick either mentioned to me in our conversations or handed me to peruse. The first was Kenneth Clark's "The Nude."
It was not the first time that I came across it. In my own research on the body in the films of Claire Denis I came across this title. It's interesting how such a "classic text" can be used even for contemporary film analysis, the text I have to admit I did not use to its full potential.
Later, Dick surprised me a bit, but not really, mentioning The Black Book. I think it's a natural due to Dick's interest in the nude. Here is what he told me he came up with before breakfast, "when often interesting thoughts occur," today and left it on my voice mail, to clarify the reasons behind his interest in Mapplethorpe's photography and in particular in his nudes.
"Whenever the human body appears in life or art, clothed or unclothed, there is an erotic potential. In art, whenever the erotic goes beyond potential to become itself the subject one may easily cross the line between art and pornography.
In art, the nude body is neutral. Sexual differentiation is a fact. Unless the artist has intended the erotic to be the subject, whatever further happens lies in the eye or rather the mind of the beholder.
For myself, the subjects of the nudes are the particular individuals, which I have painted, male and female, having 3 dimensional form in the painting as well as in life, capable of movement, and in their posture expressing the connection between their inner self and its physical manifestation.
I am interested in Mapplethorpe's straightforward nudes, not his homoerotic images or for that matter, his still lifes." Francis Cunningham 8/6/09
Finally, a title that Dick refers to in his writing a lot, but was cautious when mentioning to me for material for the blog. But I think Italian Painters of the Renaissance is a wonderful inspiration.
When on the Renaissance, there was a great show at the Met "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy", which I was lucky to see earlier this year and found it great and on top of that packed with visitors of all ages.
A quick final note to close the circle, Kenneth Clark was a great British historian, but also a TV personality, here is a DVD title, a series that covers a big chunk of European art history.
I understand the show was a hit when it was running.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Really hot day in New York, with Dick away, in the barn - as he'd probably say, I worked from home on adding a few remaining nudes to the website. It's great to see them all together, but they look so much grander human size and in relation to objects around them and to each other.
Image: Francis Cunningham with "Stephen Ringold" (1983) by Francis Cunningham oil on linen 60" x 56"
We've finally informed Dick's friends via email about this blog and invited them to follow us here.
So, Welcome! Drop us a comment, so we know that you're watching.
Friday, July 24, 2009
"The lack of rigorous training directed toward a specific visual goal – the nude – combined with a view of humanity that saw the model as more than a studio prop for learning to draw, paint and sculpt, led my sculptor colleague, Barney Hodes, and myself to develop new approaches. By focusing on the model, we were working on a nude that was neither idealized and classical nor modernist and anti-classical. It wasn’t a nude people expected or could readily categorize – a Venus or Apollo, say, or a Picasso or a Modigliani. It would be a different nude, and when we founded the New Brooklyn School of Life Drawing, Painting & Sculpture, Inc. (1979-82), we were on our way to articulating what that nude could be." -Francis Cunningham
excerpt from A Vision of the Nude (Abridged for Linea)
Another reason (a less important detail) to remove that previews version of A Vision of the Nude from this blog was the confusion about the authorship of the essay, due to an image of the bust of Francis Cunningham by Barney Hodes, which I'd originally used to break up the text.
Dick still thinks that the bust is a good illustration to his text.
"Francis Cunningham" by Barney Hodes
Here is another bust by the same hand of Barney Hodes:
"Mason Harding" by Barney Hodes. Photograph: by Christopher Wood
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
This blog idea came about after Dick and I, Aneta aka perke, made a short YouTube video on the occasion of his show "Saints" at St. Francis College, few months back in March 2009. We did not know how to best incorporate the video and the new essays that Dick worked on recently, so we started blogging them.
That was the beginning, but now we're hoping to record more than that.
From now on, assisted by Dick, I'll be writing casual entries, accompanied by images, in an attempt to record current developments in Dick's painting studio and country barn, on his website and more.