Monday, November 29, 2010

In Praise of Shadows

Good little book--easy read. Only thing I don't understand after finishing is why this cover art would be chosen for a book on aesthetics that values subtlety, tradition and shadows.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wolf Kahn by Justin Spring

Glimpse of a House by the Beach, 1965

I recently went out to my parent's house and as I was leaving my mom pushed this book into my hands. She got it at a talk of his in 1996 and it is signed which is pretty cool. I really like Wolf Kahn's work but I guess because I grew up with the book on our coffee table I never thought about reinvestigating it. That's the unfortunate thing about growing up with a mom with great taste in art...takes me longer to admit I agree with her.
Anyway, I read the first two pages of the book and am totally engrossed. The first essay is by Justin Spring and basically outlines Kahn's development. The second is by Louis Finkelstein and gets more into formal aspects of the work. I really like seeing the work he made when he was around my age just getting out of school. Its like seeing someone's baby pictures. You can see how they grew into the person they are now but when you see a baby you have no idea what they will look like as an adult. The work has the same threads of questions and interests but it manifests itself in really varied ways until he has been working consistently for about 10 years.

Portrait of Frank O'Hara, 1953-54

That's when the nuances get really interesting and he seems to pull away from being influenced by other artists and seems on a path all his own. Finkelstein notes the painting at the top of this post as a really important development. Kahn is able to establish space with color. The house in the distance only seems distant due to the diagonal of purply gray yet it is completely flat. How poetic. The book has been helpful in pointing directly to things like that. I know that particular painting is strong and different from previous works but still have a hard time verbalizing how it has been constructed to do that. It seems like so much of my education has been looking and absorbing that it feels really good to see words that confirm the why. So anyway, note to self, read the text in your books and listen to your mom.

Near the Potomac, Near the Canal 1987

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Poem and a Painting

In honor of the first flakes of winter spotted today, here is a nice little painting by David Fertig

And here is a beautiful poem that reminds me of the simple things I am thankful for this year.

Kay Ryan is a contemporary poet whose work I really love...

Things Shouldn't Be So Hard

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space-
however small-
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn't
be so hard.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Yesterday I went to Tibor de Nagy and saw one painting that made my entire trip to NYC more than worthwhile. It was by the artist Biala in a little side gallery with about six other pieces some by Jane Freilicher and others by Nell Blaine. I passed over Blaine pretty quickly, the Freilichers were pretty nice and then this painting above hit me in the stomach. The richness in the subtlety found in person is something rare and stunning. It was a perfect painting.

"Biala's paintings seem touched by a tough ingenuousness — never sentimental or na├»ve, but slightly nostalgic in their playful intimacy. Suffusing them is the outlook of a painter who has found what she needs and knows what she wants to do. The results glow with a wondrous candor." John Goodrich NY Sun

I really hope there is a solo show of her again soon. They had one in 2007 and I didn't know of her until pretty recently. There is very little online and these have to be seen in person. Her palette, subject matter, touch, restrain all create a really magical work and again I see what I want to do and just how much work it will take.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First Friday Fun

This past friday I was in a show with 9 other PAFA MFAs in Old City. It was a good time and the show looked really nice. I ended up putting in two smaller works rather than the one in the postcard. It's at Margot and Camille and open on the weekends all month at 142 N 2nd St.