Click image below for more "still life"

Click image below for more "still life"
Francis Cunningham "Three Baldwin Apples" (1964) Oil on linen 5'' x 16''

Friday, November 20, 2009

"New Realism" and Philip Pearlstein & Al Held Exhibition

UPDATE: See the James Kalm video from the opening reception of Philip Pearlstein & Al Held Exhibition here.

Philip PearlsteinI'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 jokes.
No political content.
No illustration.
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.

Francis Cunningham
[Image: Francis Cunningham "Reaching"]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Buy Francis Cunningham Paintings Online + Group Show This Weekend

Dick's small premier coup will be in a group show of small paintings at Laurel Tracey Gallery in Red Bank, NJ. The show is inaugurating Laurel Tracey Online gallery and will be up until December 31. Please join Dick at the gallery for the the opening reception this Saturday November 21, 6:30 - 8:30pm. You can see and buy Dick's works on at Laurel Tracey Online starting Thursday. There are six works to buy online and many others are available in the gallery in Red Bank to see.

 Introducing Laurel Tracey Online


Opening Reception
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

small paintings, custom framed
 available to buy online starting Thursday, November 19th, 2009

10 White Street
Red Bank NJ 07701
732 224 0760

Gallery Hours
Tue 1-5 PM, Wed - Sat 11-5 PM

Summer '09 Still Life: Studio in NYC. On the Golden Section Ratio

I originally planned two short videos on Dick's summer-long project, still life done in the Berkshires, but it ended up being three videos because of the amount of great material Dick discussed on camera. So, below is the video, part 2, recorded in Dick's NYC studio in which he discusses and explains his use of the golden section ratio in "organizing the surface of the canvas and its relationship to the space in the painting." If you have not yet seen part here it is  on YouTube and here is our blog entry on it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

John Leavey: History, Artist and Model (Subject)

Today Dick and I worked on the rest of the summer still life video and manged to finish it. It's ready for somewhat time consuming compression process to be viewed on YouTube in a few days.  It's just like "varnishing" a painting before getting it out to the world.
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