Friday, December 31, 2010

A PICTORIAL AMBIENCE




Alberto Pasini by Tiziano Marcheselli
Source Book "Le strade di Parma"
From it.wikipedia.org


Orientalist painting was in great vogue throughout Europe in the 1850s and Alberto Pasini quickly enjoyed great success. One reason for his popularity was the remarkable sense of verisimilitude that his paintings convey. While many of his contemporaries composed their works in the studio using written descriptions, book illustrations, and artfully arranged props, Pasini drew on his voluminous sketchbooks and myriad firsthand experiences, which give his paintings an unmistakable ring of authenticity.
(doylenewyork.com)
Alberto Pasini (1826-1899) was born in Parma and studied at the Academy there, before moving to Paris in 1851, where he studied with Eugène Ciceri (1813-1890) and was a friend of Théodore Chassériau. When Chassériau was unable to participate in the 1855 French offical mission to Persia, Pasini was invited as personal artist to diplomat Prosper Bourée. This trip lasted a year and a half, during which time the artist visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Yemen and the Persian Gulf. He was also commissioned by the Shah of Persia to execute several paintings. He returned to France via the Black Sea and Constantinople.
(emiratesartandantiquesfairs.com)
Pasini discovered his personal style - and what would become his tour de force: Orientalism. Unlike many of his contemporaries who created their Orientalist paintings in Paris studios based on secondary accounts and arranged studio props, Pasini undertook numerous trips to the Middle East.
(christies.com)


Circassian Cavalry
at thr door of a Byzantine Monument
Awaiting the Commanding Officer
On view at the Art Institute of Chicago
From michellehauske.com


Cairo (Kair)
From commons.wikimedia.org


Fontana turca
From equilibriarte.org


The Palace Guard
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From allartclassic.com


‘La favorite du sultan’
From jmrw.com


A Labor
From artmight.com


The Pashas Escort
From artmight.com


Damascus
From art.thewalters.org


Standing Guard
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


The Watermelon Merchant
From artmight.com


This first trip to the Orient was followed by visits to Egypt in 1860, Constantinople between 1867 and 1869, and to Asia Minor and Syria in 1873. Following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Pasini left Paris and returned to Italy. He would either paint from memory or elaborated on the wealth of drawings, bozzetti and notes that he had rapidly executed on site during his travels. Orientalist compositions formed the bulk of the artist's work throughout his career from the late 1870s until the mid 1880s, incorporating a diversity of 'exotic' elements in these works. Pasini regularly exhibited these works in the Paris Salon, and is counted among the finest of the Orientalists.
(emiratesartandantiquesfairs.com)
Although he frequently visited Venice and Spain, Pasini returned most often to Egypt, which held a great fascination for him. There, he wrote, he had found "a pictorial ambiance adapted to my artistic nature, which is disposed to cheerful plays of light and colour."
(robilantvoena.com)


Mercato in Oriente
From artnet.com


His juxtaposition of different social types brought together by the common bonds of trade and religion, his natural sense of composition and strong sense of realism, combine in the present work to create an image as grand as Mercato in Oriente (above).
Mercato in Oriente was most likely painted during his second trip to Constantinople from 1867 - 69 and coincided with the Sultan's commissions. He coupled his inspiration from his trip to Spain with the great Orientalist painter Jean-Léon Gérôme and the lavish setting to create the energy and composition of Mercato in Oriente. Both Spain and Gérôme doubtlessly influenced the artist, the former with its bright and exceptional color combinations, and the latter with his sublime mastery over issues of composition and space. Pasini's trip to Venice in 1876 also had tremendous impact on his work; the city's opulent decadence is mimicked in the jewel-like chromatic feast of Venetian Byzantine domes and baroque façades.
(christies.com)


An Eastern Market
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


The Fruitmarket
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Market Scene
From artmight.com


Pasini painted a great number of Constantinople market scenes, usually including certain recurring motifs: horses, a splash of pink or light blue to pick out the womenfolk, a jumble of goods in the foreground, and a dominating background motif - often a minaret. He was intimately familiar with the city, visiting it often: it was relatively close by, he enjoyed strong political connections there (he had been commissioned in 1867 by Sultan Abdul Mecit to paint equestrian military scenes), and the general populace was still wedded firmly to its traditions - C. Juler, Orientalistes de l'Ecole Italienne, Paris, 1987.
(maviboncuk.blogspot.com)


Halte A La Mosquee
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


In The Courtyard
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Outside The Mosque
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


The Falconers
From artmight.com


Pasini's oriental scenes incorporate superb draghtsmanship and a great sensitivity to color and are, despite their looser brushwork, remarkably similar in overall effect to those of Edwin Lord Weeks. His 'technical skill, sense of color harmony and excellent treatment of light make one regret that his delightful paintings are so rarely to be found.'
(christies.com)


An Arab Caravan
From artmight.com


Pasini's desire to replicate the colors he found in the East is echoed in his writings which were published in l'Album della Esposizione Belle Arti, Turin.In An Arab Caravan (above), it is apparent that 'Pasini was struck by the delicacy of the light in the East. His treatment of the play between shadow and the sun and his almost photographic representation of architecture and figures are a world apart from the imaginary exoticism of earlier Orientalist paintings.' The artist 'excelled in group compositions of horses, their shiny rumps towards the spectator, held by simple soldiers who mix with merchants and passers-by' - C. Juler, Orientalistes de l'Ecole Italienne, Paris, 1987.
(christies.com)


Mercato a Costantinopoli
Market in Constantinople
From maviboncuk.blogspot.com


Pasini's outstanding ability to render architecture accurately and theatrically, allowed him to use expressive Oriental structures as backdrops for his compositions. In Mercato a Costantinopoli (above) he recreates the same market scene as in Mercato in Oriente, but instead, in front of the steps to the Yeni-Cami. Though the architecture in Mercato in Oriente is not immediately identifiable, it does bear resemblance to the structural elements of the Topkapi Palace complex.
(christies.com)


An Arab Encampment
From artmight.com


Pasini's technique combines careful draftsmanship, subtlety of color, and above all, an uncanny exactitude of descriptive detail. His views of Middle Eastern courtyards, markets, and mosques are almost miraculous evocations of polished surfaces-marble inlays, metalwork, glazed ceramic-contrasted with the coarser textures of leather, wool cloth, wood and rough stone. An Arab Encampment (above) is a classic example of Pasini's treatment of a desert subject, with its wonderfully acute depiction of the rugged cliffs, the mist rising above the water, the coarse robes of the men, and the shiny coats of the horses.
(doylenewyork.com)
Alberto Pasini's work found great official acceptance, and he won many awards, including the chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur, and officer of the Légion. His works can be found in many public collections, including the Museo Glauco Lombardi, Parma, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago.
(robilantvoena.com)


Thursday, December 30, 2010

FOREST LANDSCAPES




Ivan Shishkin, by Ivan Kramskoy, 1880
From articlesandtexticles.co.uk

Ivan Shishkin
From mighty-whity.blogspot.com
Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898) was a Russian landscape painter closely associated with the Peredvizhniki movement. Shishkin was born in the town of Elabuga of Vyatka Governorate (today Republic of Tatarstan), and graduated from the Kazan gymnasium. He then studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture for 4 years, then attended the Saint Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts from 1856 to 1860, graduating with the highest honors and a gold medal. He received the Imperial scholarship for his further studies in Europe. Five years later Shishkin became a member of the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg and was professor of painting from 1873 to 1898. At the same time, Shishkin headed the landscape painting class at the Higher Art School in St. Petersburg. For some time, Shishkin lived and worked in Switzerland and Germany on scholarship from the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. On his return to Saint Petersburg, he became a member of the Circle of the Itinerants and of the Society of Russian Watercolorists. He also took part in exhibitions at the Academy of Arts.
(fineart-china.com)


View of Valaam Island, Kukko
Oil on canvas, 1859
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
From cozy-corner.com


Having received a Major Gold Medal for two pictures with the same name View of Valaam Island, Kukko (1860) and an Academy grant for studies abroad, Shishkin spent 3 years (1862-1865) in Germany, Switzerland, Czech, France, Belgium and Holland. Gradually he got disappointed in his foreign teachers and European authorities in landscape painting. Now he felt free and independent and longed to return home, to Russia.


The Itinerants
From articlesandtexticles.co.uk


Ivan Shishkin was a member of The Itinerants, also known as The Society for Circulating Art Exhibitions. The society was active between 1870 to about 1923. It’s difficult today to discern exactly what the aims of the original group were, because so much of Russia’s history has been hijacked and rewritten since those days.
(articlesandtexticles.co.uk)


Pine Forest in Viatka Province
Oil on canvas, 1872
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
From cozy-corner.com


The Rye field
Oil on canvas, 1878
From blog.designsquish.com


A sandy coastline
Oil on canvas, 1879
Collection: French and Company, New York
From nga.gov.au

A sandy coastline
From visualrian.com
Russian painters invented a new, heroic art of landscape in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ivan Shishkin demonstrates some of its elements in A sandy coastline: the painting holds an implied moral narrative with nationalist overtones. A few giant but slender pines inhabit the shoreline, their roots gripping into uncertain soil. Waves lap up the beach, unceasing tides which will eventually undermine the trees. Darkest sky lurks behind them, threatening an impending storm and, perhaps, oncoming night. Other trees still stand upon firmer ground in the grass, although many have been felled, hauled away for timber. Bright, intense light glares onto the sand and off the silhouetted trunks. This is nature’s drama, which twists the largest tree away from the viewer, while it withstands the continuous assault of wind and water.
He was a founding member of the famous artists’ group the Wanderers, who began to depict the vastness of Russia’s lands in the 1870s. These reformist painters rejected the artificiality of contemporary pictorial themes, instead commenting on contemporary social ills while developing the first Russian interest in their own surroundings, looking at the bleak beauty of their plains, steppes and mountains.
In 1879 Shishkin travelled in the Crimea from May to September, so that he could ‘make plein-air studies in accordance with his fascination for working outdoors’. A sandy coastline was exhibited in the 7th Wanderers’ exhibition in St Petersburg in 1879, the year it was painted.
Forests became Shishkin’s major subject. His compositions are based on direct observation instead of that compilation of elements that underpins Classical and Picturesque landscapes. His works are also marked by extraordinary attention to detail, seen here in such elements as a tangle of debris washed up on the sand. He combined such realistic renderings with larger poetic truths. A sandy coastline sets up many qualities for us to ponder: light and dark, sunshine and shadows, strength and fragility, enduring time and a fleeting moment.
(Christine Dixon at nga.gov.au)


Stream by a forest
Oil on canvas, 1880
Museum of Russian Art, Kiev, Ukraine
From allartclassic.com


Path in a Forest
Oil on canvas, 1880
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
From cozy-corner.com


Polesye, 1884
From commons.wikimedia.org


Gathering Storm
Oil on canvas, 1884
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
From abcgallery.com


Morning in the Pine tree Forest
Oil on canvas, 1886
Tetryakov Gallery, Russia
From cozy-corner.com


Oaks
Oil on canvas, 1887
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
From cozy-corner.com


Oaks, Evening-Study, 1887
From articlesandtexticles.co.uk


Mixed Forest
Oil on canvas, 1888
From commons.wikimedia.org


Winter
Oil on canvas, 1890
From commons.wikimedia.org


Coniferous Forest, Sunny Day
Oil on canvas, 1895
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
From cozy-corner.com


During his stay abroad Shishkin engaged in lithography and etching. His numerous pen drawings caught the eye of the Düsseldorf public and critics by their virtuoso hatching and filigree treatment of detail. In 1865, Shishkin painted his View near Düsseldorf for which he was awarded the title of Academician and which was shown at the 1867 World Fair in Paris.
In 1865, he returned to Russia and settled in St. Petersburg, where he joined the Itinerants’ Society of Traveling Exhibitions (Peredvizhniki). One of his first masterpieces Noon in the Neighbourhood of Moscow (1869) critics called “song of joy”. He always preferred to draw daytime scenes, full of sunlight and life. Pine Forest in Viatka Province (1872), Rye (1878), Path in a Forest (1880), Oaks (1887), Coniferous Forest, Sunny Day (1895). His scrupulous reproduction of nature stood in sharp contrast to the academic canons of landscape painting. For his loving approach to detail some critics called his works colored pictures, which lack of life. But despite such attention to details Shishkin’s paintings do not fall apart, but give full and finished impression.
(Bibliography: Shishkin by I. Shuvalova. Russian Painters of the XIX century. Moscow. 1990)
Among the Russian landscape painters Shishkin was the staunchest and most consistent exponent of the materialistic aesthetics – to depict nature in all its pure, unadorned beauty. His role in Russian art did not lose its significance even in the years, which saw the appearance of splendid landscapes by Isaac Levitan, Valentin Serov and Constantin Korovin. Despite the fact that he espoused different aesthetic principles and advocated a different artistic system, Shishkin enjoyed an indisputable authority among young Russian painters of the late 19th century. The new generation did not fail to acknowledge him as a thoughtful and masterful portrayer of Russian nature.
(Bibliography: Shishkin by I. Shuvalova. Russian Painters of the XIX century. Moscow. 1990)
A highly esteemed master of Russian realist landscape painting, Shishkin's creative method was based on exhaustive, analytical studies and on a kind of "portraiture" of nature that exposed its most typical features. Distinguished for his forest landscapes, Shishkin is known not only as a painter but also as an outstanding draftsman and printmaker.
(artsstudio.com)


The Mast Tree Grove
Oil on canvas, 1898
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
From articlesandtexticles.co.uk


Shishkin had a troubled private life, twice he fell in love and married and twice his wives died. His sons also died. But never Shishkin allowed his sorrows appear on his canvases. His last work is Mast-Tree Grove. He died in his studio at the easel with newly begun canvas.
(Bibliography: Shishkin by I. Shuvalova. Russian Painters of the XIX century. Moscow. 1990)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS



No man in the world ever attempted to wrong another without being injured in return,--someway, somehow, sometime. The only weapon of offence that Nature seems to recognize is the boomerang. Nature keeps her books admirably; she puts down every item, she closes all accounts finally, but she does not always balance them at the end of the month. To the man who is calm, revenge is so far beneath him that he cannot reach it,--even by stooping. When injured, he does not retaliate; he wraps around him the royal robes of Calmness, and he goes quietly on his way.
When the tongue of malice and slander, the persecution of inferiority, tempts you for just a moment to retaliate, when for an instant you forget yourself so far as to hunger for revenge,--be calm. When the grey heron is pursued by its enemy, the eagle, it does not run to escape; it remains calm, takes a dignified stand, and waits quietly, facing the enemy unmoved. With the terrific force with which the eagle makes its attack, the boasted king of birds is often impaled and run through on the quiet, lance-like bill of the heron. The means that man takes to kill another's character becomes suicide of his own.
The most subtle of all temptations is the seeming success of the wicked. It requires moral courage to see, without flinching, material prosperity coming to men who are dishonest; to see politicians rise into prominence, power and wealth by trickery and corruption; to see virtue in rags and vice in velvets; to see ignorance at a premium, and knowledge at a discount. To the man who is really calm these puzzles of life do not appeal. He is living his life as best he can; he is not worrying about the problems of justice, whose solution must be left to Omniscience to solve.
In the race for wealth men often sacrifice time, energy, health, home, happiness and honor,--everything that money cannot buy, the very things that money can never bring back. Hurry is a phantom of paradoxes. Hurry always pays the highest price for everything, and, usually the goods are not delivered. Business men, in their desire to provide for the future happiness of their family, often sacrifice the present happiness of wife and children on the altar of Hurry. They forget that their place in the home should be something greater than being merely "the man that pays the bills;" they expect consideration and thoughtfulness that they are not giving.
We hear too much of a wife's duties to a husband and too little of the other side of the question. "The wife," they tell us, "should meet her husband with a smile and a kiss, should tactfully watch his moods and be ever sweetness and sunshine." Why this continual swinging of the censer of devotion to the man of business? Why should a woman have to look up with timid glance at the face of her husband, to "size up his mood"? Has not her day, too, been one of care, and responsibility, and watchfulness? Has not mother-love been working over perplexing problems and worries of home and of the training of the children that wifely love may make her seek to solve in secret? Is man, then, the weaker sex that he must be pampered and treated as tenderly as a boil trying to keep from contact with the world?
In their hurry to attain some ambition, to gratify the dream of a life, men often throw honor, truth, and generosity to the winds. Politicians dare to stand by and see a city poisoned with foul water until they "see where they come in" on a water-works appropriation. If it be necessary to poison an army,--that, too, is but an incident in the hurry for wealth.
Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or for evil,--the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life. This is simply the constant radiation of what a man really is, not what he pretends to be. Every man, by his mere living, is radiating sympathy, or sorrow, or morbidness, or cynicism, or happiness, or hope, or any of a hundred other qualities. Life is a state of constant radiation and absorption; to exist is to radiate; to exist is to be the recipient of radiations.
There are men and women whose presence seems to radiate sunshine, cheer and optimism. You feel calmed and rested and restored in a moment to a new and stronger faith in humanity. There are others who focus in an instant all your latent distrust, morbidness and rebellion against life. Without knowing why, you chafe and fret in their presence. You lose your bearings on life and its problems. Your moral compass is disturbed and unsatisfactory. It is made untrue in an instant, as the magnetic needle of a ship is deflected when it passes near great mountains of iron ore.
There are men who float down the stream of life like icebergs,--cold, reserved, unapproachable and self-contained. In their presence you involuntarily draw your wraps closer around you, as you wonder who left the door open. These refrigerated human beings have a most depressing influence on all those who fall under the spell of their radiated chilliness. But there are other natures, warm, helpful, genial, who are like the Gulf Stream, following their own course, flowing undaunted and undismayed in the ocean of colder waters. Their presence brings warmth and life and the glow of sunshine, the joyous, stimulating breath of spring. There are men who are like malarious swamps,--poisonous, depressing and weakening by their very presence. They make heavy, oppressive and gloomy the atmosphere of their own homes; the sound of the children's play is stilled, the ripples of laughter are frozen by their presence. They go through life as if each day was a new big funeral, and they were always chief mourners. There are other men who seem like the ocean; they are constantly bracing, stimulating, giving new draughts of tonic life and strength by their very presence.
There are men who are insincere in heart, and that insincerity is radiated by their presence. They have a wondrous interest in your welfare,--when they need you. They put on a "property" smile so suddenly, when it serves their purpose, that it seems the smile must be connected with some electric button concealed in their clothes. Their voice has a simulated cordiality that long training may have made almost natural. But they never play their part absolutely true, the mask will slip down sometimes; their cleverness cannot teach their eyes the look of sterling honesty; they may deceive some people, but they cannot deceive all. There is a subtle power of revelation which makes us say: "Well, I cannot explain how it is, but I know that man is not honest."
Man cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character, this constantly weakening or strengthening of others. He cannot evade the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. He can select the qualities that he will permit to be radiated. He can cultivate sweetness, calmness, trust, generosity, truth, justice, loyalty, nobility,--make them vitally active in his character,--and by these qualities he will constantly affect the world.
Man is the only animal that can be really happy. To the rest of the creation belong only weak imitations of the understudies. Happiness represents a peaceful attunement of a life with a standard of living. It can never be made by the individual, by himself, for himself. It is one of the incidental by-products of an unselfish life. No man can make his own happiness the one object of his life and attain it, any more than he can jump on the far end of his shadow. If you would hit the bull's-eye of happiness on the target of life, aim above it. Place other things higher than your own happiness and it will surely come to you. You can buy pleasure, you can acquire content, you can become satisfied, – but Nature never put real happiness on the bargain-counter. It is the undetachable accompaniment of true living. It is calm and peaceful; it never lives in an atmosphere of worry or of hopeless struggle.
(Adapted from Project Gutenberg's The Majesty of Calmness, by William George Jordan)


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

THE STRANGER




Clint Eastwood
Fromimg501.imageshack.us


After the cowardly residents of a mining town stand by while a local lawman is whipped to death, his reincarnated spirit returns as The Stranger (Clint Eastwood). He agrees to protect them from a gang of criminals who are due to be released from prison, but he also sets about getting revenge on the townspeople for their betrayal.
(onlygoodmovies.com)


High Plains Drifter
From myfreewallpapers.net


High Plains Drifter is a morality tale carved out of the harsh Western desert and directed with a panache that synthesized the styles of Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, two directors who had worked with Eastwood frequently. The result is one of the best Westerns of the 1970s.
(userpages.umbc.edu)


The stranger riding into town
Source: filmsquish.com
From en.wikipedia.org


The story begins as a mysterious stranger (Eastwood) materializes out of the desert heat. He rides into the small town of Lagos, where his presence is considered a threat by the mean and cowardly populace. Before too long, he is attacked by three gunmen, and Eastwood kills them all coolly and efficiently. The stranger then rents a hotel room, and the town dwarf, Curtis (who is also disenfranchised in town due to his size), attends to his needs.
(userpages.umbc.edu)


Hell
From cgi.ebay.com


By the time the Stranger makes the corrupt community paint their town red and re-name it "Hell," it is clear that he is not just another gunslinger. With its fragmented flashbacks and bizarre, austere locations, High Plains Drifter's stylistic eccentricity lends an air of unsettling eeriness to its revenge story, adding an uncanny slant to Eastwood's antiheroic westerner. Seminal western hero John Wayne was so offended by Eastwood's harshly revisionist view of a frontier town that he wrote to Eastwood, objecting that this was not what the spirit of the West was all about. Eastwood's audience, however, was not so put off, and an exhibitors' poll named Eastwood a top box-office draw for 1973.
(allmovie.com)


Behind the scene
From cgi.ebay.com


"John Wayne didn't like HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and let me know it. He wrote me a letter putting it down, saying it was not The West. I was trying to get away from what he and Gary Cooper and others had done."
--Clint Eastwood.
HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER has been called deconstructionist, formulaic, a dark study of the soul and a simple western… All of the above, and a scorching classic to boot. Clint Eastwood’s first true American “avenger” film, re-writing the book on the quintessential cowboy; no longer the singing fop or the John Wayne do-gooder; the cowboy was now a sociopath, a recluse, an "anti-hero."
The second directorial effort by Eastwood (after Play Misty For Me, 1971) is a revolution in film-making. We may well say “they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore” but the fact is: they didn’t even make ‘em like that back then! Note all the departures from Gene Autry/John Wayne convention: The Stranger is the star of this show, yet his horse is not white, but a dirty mottled appaloosa; he is unshaven, with a dusty longcoat (and he doesn’t get any cleaner), he speaks in a velvety rasp usually reserved for villains and movie trailer voiceovers, without unclenching his teeth, like he holds all and sundry in utmost contempt (which he does), he doesn’t wait for the “bad guys” to draw first (he’ll shoot ‘em in the back, or in the dark, or without warning – as long as he kills them); even his hat was not the usual “cowboy hat” with upturned sides, but flat-brimmed.
The Stranger displayed such calculated cool in gunning down the three bad men from the opening scene, that the sheriff (Walter Barnes, channeling Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) begs him to become the town protector against three outlaws who hold a vendetta against the town and were on their way to Lago for revenge. In return for his protection, The Stranger would have free reign of the town and its resources.
The Stranger tears down people’s barns to make picnic tables, makes the town midget, Mordecai (Billy Curtis), the mayor and sheriff, gives free supplies to Native Americans, eventually forcing the townsfolk to paint all their buildings red and rename the town “Hell” – and we realize The Stranger himself is exacting some kind of revenge on the townsfolk.
In the town’s dark past, these townsfolk stood by and watched as their Marshal, Jim Duncan (Clint’s actual stand-in, Buddy van Horn), was whipped to death by the three outlaws. Was it coincidence that The Stranger breezed into town at exactly the moment that the outlaws would return?
(High Pains Grifter, by Jon Dunmore © 21 Apr 2008. poffysmoviemania.com)
A lone wolf slavers down the trail of a thrilling scent. It doesn't look left or right. It's preoccupied in its single-minded pursuit. It shuts out everything from its consciousness except for the lure of that scent. The wolf can only satisfy the ferocity of its longing through the remembered sense of cornering its prey. So the lone wolf goes on resolutely stalking through an inner city landscape of dark puddles and cobbled streets towards its prize. Nowhere are these 'lone wolf' fantasies and desires more clearly seen than in the Clint Eastwood film, High Plains Drifter.
The Drifter organizes the town into trying to defend itself against the expected arrival of the three, professional killers. He then appears to leave them to fend for themselves. The final humiliation of the town comes with the easy destruction of the defenses by the hired gunmen and their cowardly capitulation.
At the last minute the town is saved by the re-appearance of the Drifter. He draws the threads of the revenge plot together by intimidating and then destroying the killers. The film ends with a shot of the new grave for Jim Duncan in the town cemetery, and the High Plains Drifter disappearing into the hills again.
(Achilles Heel at achillesheel.freeuk.com)


Mono Lake
Tuffa at Mono Lake
Sierra Nevada in background
Image taken in June 2004 by Daniel Mayer
From en.wikipedia.org


The seductive appeal of these fantasies and desires can be very intense in the lives of many men. They suggest that the rugged, self-sufficiency of the Drifter can be actually achieved. The main myth of High Plains Drifter is that self-sufficiency can be achieved without our debt to our invisible networks of support being fully and clearly acknowledged.
The Drifter doesn't appear to be dependent on anybody else. He isn't dependent on a woman. He just comes out of the mountains, rugged and weather-beaten, when he wants to. He isn't answerable to anybody else. He's not weighed down by domestic ties or attachments that sap his energy and his strength. He can get by through his own emotional self-containment. And he's free to return to the mountains at his own pace.
Unlike ordinary men, the Drifter isn't controlled by his emotions. He doesn't feel fear. He never panics. He just shows an unruffled calm when confronted by trouble. He clenches his cigarillo in his teeth, screws up his eyes, and doesn't need to say much. It's almost as if he doesn't have an inner world, that he's all robust action in the outer world.
(Achilles Heel at achillesheel.freeuk.com)
High Plains Drifter was filmed on location on the shores of Mono Lake, California. The screenplay was written by Ernest Tidyman and an uncredited Dean Riesner, with Tidyman authoring the novelization. Dee Barton provided the film's eerie musical score.
(From en.wikipedia.org)


Monday, December 20, 2010

AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISM



Several of the leading artists associated with American Impressionism came from Cincinnati and enjoyed their first instruction in the Queen City. Most notable were John H. Twachtman, Robert F. Blum, Joseph R. DeCamp, and Edward H. Potthast. The term American Impressionism has been loosely applied to a wide spectrum of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century paintings that take modern life and landscape for their subjects. In many instances, the stylistic debt to the French Impressionist group--Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, etc.--is limited. However, American Impressionists did share several attitudes with the French artists: the desire to paint subjects from the life around them without narrative content; an emphasis on brushwork rather than line; a stress on subjective impressions of nature; and an interest in alternative ways to articulate space and light. These tendencies were not restricted to the French Impressionists, but were international impulses that changed the face of European painting in the 1870s. For Twachtman, Blum, DeCamp, and Potthast, a first encounter with many of these notions came not from France, but from the Munich avant-garde via Frank Duveneck (1848–1919).
(American Impressionism and the Queen City by Julie Aronson at antiquesandfineart.com)
Edward Henry Potthast was born to a family of artisans in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 10, 1857. At the tender age of 12, he began studying art at Cincinnati's new McMicken School of Design and continued his studies there off and on for over a decade.
Potthast went overseas in 1881 and studied at the Royal Academy in Munich. There, he studied with the American-born instructor Carl Marr (von Marr, after 1909), who was known for his adroit handling of light and shadow in realistically rendered works. Potthast completed his European tour with a visit to Paris, where he studied at the Academie Julian for about a month before returning to Cincinnati in 1885 where he began to earn a living as a lithographer.
(Susan at redeasel.com)
Even though he enjoyed modest success in his hometown, Potthast made the decision to leave Cincinnati in 1895 and establish himself in New York City. While he went about setting up a painting studio, he fulfilled illustration commissions for the publications Scribner’s, Century, and Harper’s. He exhibited watercolors and oil paintings in exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1896, and at the National Academy of Design from 1897. He won the academy’s Thomas B. Clarke prize for best figure painting in 1899, the same year was he was elected an associate of the academy. Potthast was made a full academician in 1906.
(hollistaggart.com)


Coney Island
The Athenaeum Virtual Art Museum
From en.wikipedia.org


After his move to New York, Potthast made scenes of people enjoying leisurely holidays at the beach and rocky harbor views his specialty. He spent summer months in any one of a number of seaside art colonies, including Gloucester, Rockport and Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and Ogunquit and Monhegan Island, Maine. Such was his love of the beach that, when he resided in New York, he would journey out on fair days to Coney Island (above) or Far Rockaway with his easel, paintbox, and a few panels.
Potthast never married. He was an extremely private person, though he was close to his nephew and namesake, Edward Henry Potthast II (1880-1941), who also was an artist.
(hollistaggart.com)
When not painting in Central Park or on summer trips to New England, Potthast would pack up his paints and canvases and go to the beaches of Long Island. The paintings that resulted from his Long Island forays are his signature works. His full-blown Impressionist style seems to have been released by the glare of the sun and the sand. The colors at the shore are brilliant and fresh; the shadows are filled with reflected light. The natural effect easily lent itself to an Impressionist treatment. The motion of the surf, children playing, as well as the casual poses of people on holiday demanded from the artist a quick animated brushstroke.
(tfaoi.com)


Longbeach
From free-articles-zone.com


At the Beach
From columbusmuseum.org


Happy Days
Courtesy of the Art Museum of Western Virginia
Source the-athenaeum.org
From commons.wikimedia.org


Ocean Breezes
From artesmagazine.com


On the Beach
John B. Woodward Memorial Fund.
From commons.wikimedia.org


A July Day
Source The Athenaeum Virtual Art Museum
From en.wikipedia.org


Blonde and Brunette
From elle-belle10.livejournal.com


Sun and Shade
From elle-belle10.livejournal.com


Along the Shore
From elle-belle10.livejournal.com


A Holiday
From .gradiva.com


At Rockaway Beach
From paintingmania.com


Edward Potthast was among the best of the American Impressionist painters. Although he adopted the Impressionist style somewhat late in his career, he was nevertheless extremely popular and successful in his own lifetime. Potthast is known as a painter who celebrated the relaxed and cheerful world of the seaside holiday and summer afternoons in New York's Central Park. His paintings avoid complex emotions and instead depict happy carefree moments. Whether he shows us families playing in the surf or friends picnicking under the shade of a great tree, it is always with the sun shining and the scenery beautiful. Potthast presents this lovely world to us with a masterful flourish of brushwork that captures the essence of the day.
(tfaoi.com)


Afternoon Fun
From butlerart.com


Afternoon Fun
From 1.bp.blogspot.com


Deceptively casual, Afternoon Fun (above) is a calculated nature study in which Potthast has orchestrated the details of the beach, selected the viewpoint, eliminated distracting details, and enhanced key elements. The eye moves from the foreground figure group, firmly drawn as in Winslow Homer's High Tide (1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), to the secondary bathers at the distant shoreline, who balance the picture. A similar discipline is imposed on the color scheme: areas of white peak at the kneeling female figure and are set off by a man wearing a navy blue blazer, whose hue is echoed in a second male figure in the middle ground, and by the thin line of cold sea water in the distance. Such contrasting blocks of color became a specialty of Potthast's. The brushwork varies from the broken Impressionist strokes that highlight the lavender puddles in the sand to the more evenly coated banks of saturated blues that define the blazers, water, and wide expanse of sky. It is a hard, clear American light against which the heads and shoulders of the bathers are clustered. The intensity of the hot sunlight dyes the air above the beach; perhaps there is a slight cooling effect in the gentle winds that typically blow off Long Island Sound late in the afternoon.
Afternoon Fun is an unabashedly sentimental picture. In the main, of course, American Impressionist painters were not intent on making probing queries into the condition of man. These are the smiling realities of the American bourgeoisie early in the new century, when a rush of leisure activities seized the New York middle classes. The soft and honeyed voice of Afternoon Fun sings with style and charm. The painting radiates the vigor and confidence of life in what historians call the Age of Innocence.
(RICHARD COX at butlerart.com)


The Shade
From spanierman.com


Many of Potthast’s depictions of seaside vacationers were executed on easily portable panels, as is the case with the present example, which features a female figure relaxing under a pair of umbrellas that afford her a measure of shade from the hot sun (above). Further on, a woman and a boy sit next to the water’s edge, their forms enveloped in dazzling sunlight. The viewer is instantly aware of the charming subject matter; however, upon closer inspection we become aware of the artist’s penchant for a tightly cropped, carefully articulated composition divided into simplified areas of land, sea and sky. The Shade also reveals the way Potthast could use a specific shape––in this case the parasols, one standing straight up, the other leaning on its side––to add eye-catching design elements to a painting.
As was his practice, Potthast refrains from imparting any detail to the faces of his figures, preferring to render the participants in the scene in generalized terms, focusing on matters of pose and gesture in such a way that expresses the pleasure of the activity at hand and the bonds between the people––the small boy being led by an adult towards the red umbrella, for example, and the conversation taking place between the vacationers along the shore (aspects of family life that Potthast, a bachelor, would have been highly sensitive to). In this example, the artist applies his paint in a divisionist manner, alternating between tiny, regular strokes, as in his rendering of the sky, to a broader, patch-like application of pigment, apparent in his portrayal of the foreground. Bright color, of course, played a vital role in Potthast’s shore scenes and this piece is no exception; our eye is immediately drawn to the hot pink of the central umbrella, profiled against the azure blue of the sky. Luminous pastel tonalities have been used to represent the shoreline, while the blue and purples of Impressionism denote the spots of shade that provide relief from the strong rays of the summer sun. Deft touches of white add sparkling highlights to the view, while areas of green, maroon, gold and brown enhance the overall chromatic variety of the picture.
Certainly, this delightful vignette demonstrates Potthast’s skills in translating the effects of outdoor light into paint and reveals his ability to evoke the sense of relaxation we associate with a carefree day by the water. Not surprisingly, the artist concentrated almost exclusively on beach pictures during the 1910s and 1920s, prompted by the strong market for his work and by the very pleasure he took in painting them. The decision served him well, they became “best sellers,” bringing him a steady income and critical acclaim; as one commentator, put it: “When a man paints a theme as well as Potthast paints seashore scenes, we forgive him to sticking to it to the exclusion of other subjects.”
(CL at spanierman.com)
From seeing Edward Potthast's paintings, we may be correct in assuming that his life was a happy one. He was well thought of by his friends; his achievement in painting was recognized during his lifetime and respected by his peers; and he had the good fortune to be able to work until the end of his life. On March 9, 1927 at the age of 69, he died of a heart attack in his studio. According to reports of the time, Edward H. Potthast was found surrounded by some 500 of his paintings.
(tfaoi.com)