Archive for February, 2010

Favorite Artists

February 1, 2010

Painting by Julie Verhoeven

Julie Verhoeven, illustration

Julie Verhoeven, " Far from the Madding Crowd".

Julie Verhoeven, illustration.

Julie Verhoeven is a designer, illustrator and artist. Like fashion itself, Her work, can be vibrant, blissful, seductive, playful, chic, moody, aggressive, and confident. The multifaceted artist seems to  experiment with mediums  to depict women who can at times embody all or some of these qualities. Because I too am inspired by a love of art and fashion, I admire her compositions as well as her artistic approach.  Julie creates with “attitude” and I love her for it!

"Miko no Inori" installation still

"Miko no Inori" 1996, installation still.

"Last Departure" 1996

Mariko Mori, "Last Departure", 1996.

Pureland 1996

Mariko Mori, "Pureland", 1996-1998. Video installation.

Mariko Mori is a Japanese artist who combines digital imaging and photography to merge the traditional and the contemporary. Drawing upon her own experience in the fashion world, Mariko adorns a guise and sets the stage to send a message. Although the images she creates are surreal and fantastic, they convey the artist’s own ideas regarding art, western culture, religion, and philosophy. She is also known for her sculptures and video installations.

"Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid's Garden" , 1904 oil on canvas

John William Waterhouse, "Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid's Garden" , 1904. Oil on canvas.

"A Niaiad" 1863

John William Waterhouse, "A Niaiad" 1863. Oil on canvas.

Known primarily for his paintings depicting women of literature and mythology, John William Waterhouse was a great Pre-Raphaelite painter. Because I am addicted to the written word, I recognize and appreciate many of his subjects. Whether it is his use of color or seemingly impressionistic application of paint, I also admire his classic technical skills.

Beatriz Milhazes, "Sinfonia Nordestina", 2008. Acrylic on canvas, 96 7/8 X 144 7/8 inches

Yogurt 2008

Beatriz Milhazes, "Yogurt", 2008. Mixed media collage on paper, 73 X 55 1/2 inches.

Beatriz Milhazes, mixed media.

Looking at Beatriz Milhazes’ work is much like looking into a kaleidoscope.  Brilliant, candy-colored organic and geometric shapes appear to have a life of their own as they swirl or spin across the canvas.  Her creations leave their viewer enraptured and hoping to see if a new and more stunning pattern or shape will sprout from the work.  Despite an interest in “making something you can’t find in the real world,” Milhazes is very much stimulated by what is around her. She credits her home, Rio de Janeiro, as a source of inspiration. When considering its carnival celebrations and lush natural settings, it is easy to account for Sinfonia Nordestina’s and Ice Grape’s exuberant and irresistible nature. Milhazes’ work reminds me that art can still be admired as a source of beauty and pleasure. With all its infinite options, it can be hard to imagine art stripped of any ideas or ideology. Even as viewers, we can get caught up in trying to decipher a work and forget that it can still simply be “art for art’s sake.”

Henry Ford Hospital 1932

Frida Kahlo, "Henry Ford Hospital" , 1932. Oil on metal, 12 13/16 x 15 13/16 in. (32.5 x 40.2 cm).

The Two Fridas

Frida Kahlo, "The Two Fridas" , 1944. Oil on canvas, "67" x 67".

For Frida Kahlo, painting provided her with a means of salvation through out her life. Willing to endure and reveal her every strength and weakness, she poured her soul onto the canvas whenever she painted. Whether they were sorrowful, cruel, joyful, lonely or passionate in their nature, Frida Kahlo is known for her revealing self-portraits such as Henry Ford Hospital and The Two Fridas. The artist once summed up her purpose perfectly when she wrote to those who would ever look upon one of her paintings, “I confess before you, witness of this painting, in order to attain the serenity needed to vanquish pain. I believe it requires an amazing kind of strength for someone to look so deep within and face whatever it is that can be found. I hope that I, like the passionate Frida, can be so brave in life and in art.

Eugene W. Smith's "Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath". 1972.

Between 1971 and 1974, LIFE photojournalist W. Eugene Smith studied and documented the hardships suffered by the victims of a mercury-poisoning epidemic in Minamata, Japan. While trying to open the world’s eyes to the destruction in Minamata, Smith took many photographs of the victims of the Minamata disease and their loved ones, but none would prove to be as powerful as Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath. Visually, this photo of a deformed young girl being cradled by her tender and loving mother is reminiscent of Michelangelo’s stunning Pieta. Even tough it is not “perfected” like the sculpture, the photo is still extraordinary because of its emotional intensity and beautiful because it serves as a reminder of human capacity.

Among the many stricken with Minamata Disease was a young girl named Tomoko Uemura. While pregnant, Tomoko’s mother, Ryoko, had unknowingly consumed some of the poisoned fish and thus passed the Methyl Mercury to her child. As the child was growing inside her, the placenta had absorbed the Mercury from Ryoko’s bloodstream and transferred it to the fetus. Having taken on all of the toxins from her mother‘s system, Tomoko was born incapacitated and deformed, while her mother was spared. An unaffected Ryoko would later give birth to six other children that would not be afflicted with the disease. Because of this, her family referred to Tomoko as a “treasure child.” Her loved ones believed that her agony had made the opportunity for a fulfilling life possible for them.

Recovery or hope seems impossible for a child who suffered so greatly, and the photo is tragic and heartbreaking because of her. But still reminds us of what it is that allows us to make the most of whatever measure of courage and strength we have. Like Tomoko’s mother, a person can transcend a hardship when consumed by an incredible love. As a saving grace, love is something impossible to resist because it brings value and purpose to life. Possibly like a mother caring for her hopeless child, suffering seems to lead a person to acquire a new found reverence for life. While Ryoko’s unconditional and selfless love makes this one of the most moving photographs I have ever seen, it is also the most tragic. It seems indescribably sad that someone could be so loved but her suffering makes it impossible for her to know what it feels like.

Euan Uglow. "The Quarry Pignano", 1979-80. Oil on canvas, 80x 113. 12 cm.

Euan Uglow. Oil on canvas.

Euan Uglow. "Root Five Nude", 1976. Oil on canvas.

Euan Uglow was an English artist who worked primarily with the figure. To say that Uglow was “meticulous” is an understatement. He could spend months or even years, in some cases, preparing for and producing a painting. After positioning his subject, he would take many measurements and then utilize them in order to accurately reproduce what he saw. If you look closely at one of his paintings, you will see that there are small horizontal and vertical lines throughout. It appears as though the artist is plotting coordinates upon a grid. These marks are a testament to Uglow’s fastidiousness as well as his complex, absolute method. Euan Uglow put it perfectly when he said to a model: “ Nobody has ever looked at you as intensively as I have”. As a perfectionist, I marvel at Uglow’s painstaking approach. I also revere him for what he chose to do with his subjects. He rendered them in an extraordinary way because he chose to accentuate those delicate, little details some may not have noticed otherwise. Every plane of every part of  Uglow’s figures is perfectly articulated. He “sculpted” as he painted. With each brushstroke, it is like he imagined running his fingers along his subject. Connecting one plane to another to express form is not only done with line but also with changes of color. At times, one part can be differentiated from another only by the slightest variation of color. His beautiful use of many colors also helps him achieve a wonderful sense of form. I hope to one day to, like Uglow, be so perceptive and have as great an understanding of the human figure.


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February 1, 2010

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