Synchronicities and Correspondence between paintings of Grandma Moses and Fairfield Porter

While gallery hopping recently in New York City , I happened upon some wonderful paintings by the great American master and ” Outsider” Folk artist, Grandma Moses. Grandma Moses was born as Anna Mary Robertson in Greenwich, New York in 1860. She starting to paint in her late 70’s and lived to be 101 years of age. Grandma Moses painted till the end of her days. Her paintings featured elemental and charming scenes, depicting simple country pleasures, and modest well articulated landscapes. She painted barn raisings, wooden carts crossing fields, grazing farm animals, and old white frame houses sitting in the early morning light. While looking at the art of Grandma Moses, it occurred to me how very much her paintings looked in spirit- and even form- like the landscapes and still life paintings of Fairfield Porter. Fairfield Porter was born in 1907 in Winnetka, Illinois and studied at Harvard, later entering the New York School art scene and producing representational art during the height of Abstract Expressionism. Porter’s art was both heartfelt and simple, depicting scenes of domesticity. Porter was fond of painting dappled lawns where the sun breaks through the trees and throws a pitter patter of small organic shapes on deep green lawns. Both artists painted white open farmhouses with front porches and shadows cast by large oak trees, painting the true American landscape. While Grandma Moses yielded a smaller brush and worked in a more detailed fashion, her appetite and love for the simple chores of life, the beauty of farms and villages and the charms  of a cloud about to nestle over a church...
My Visit to See Francis Bacon Paintings at Gagosian New York

My Visit to See Francis Bacon Paintings at Gagosian New York

I recently attended the new Francis Bacon exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in New York. I was struck by how very powerful his paintings were and was unexpectedly pulled into them, having seen them many times. This most recent visit was intense in its grasp of my attention and emotion. Bacon is a most curious painter in that he combined a raw and gritty set of images against a beautifully painted and often serene backdrop. Combining the beautiful with the grotesque gives Bacon’s work an unexpected mystery and strength. Francis Bacon came from a design background and did a certain amount of set design early in his career. He had a way with color that was somewhat schizophrenic. The ‘set’ or ‘stage set,’ within which his figures writhe and twist and bend and scream, is painted in a fairly flat and beautifully coordinated way. It occurred to me during this visit how elegant were the backdrops, lean and clean and very much like a Motherwell painting in their sensitivity to flat planes of color and beautifully aligned edges. The creation of a proscenium sets the stage quite literally for the drama that is about to unfold. Within this ‘stage set,’ Bacon gives us figures that are anything but beautiful. Often grey and grisly, Francis Bacon’s figures are twisted and torn, whether sitting or stretched out on the floor. Bacon’s figures are bruised and bent, sometimes missing parts of their anatomy – as if the pressures of life have carved entire chunks of flesh away. Bacon was interested in diseases of the mouth and one sees in many of his paintings...
Curves & Stripes in Abstraction and The History of Art

Curves & Stripes in Abstraction and The History of Art

Above: Duke and Wigmore No. 24, 2008 by Gary Komarin   It is a most curious thing how some painters lean towards stripes and others towards curves in the development of their work. Neither is better than the other, they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum. Throughout the History of Art, and that of painting in particular, artists have been using both striped and curved motifs in their work. This was a natural progression as the world itself is filled with both striped and curved motifs. The human body is, needless to say, a bundle of carefully orchestrated curves. Architecture, stone slabs, trees that shoot up to the sky in a straight shot – all have aspects of the stripe, which moves in one direction only and does not bend or twist in its ascent. Some bones in the human body are quite straight, but most curve at some point as they reach their ‘attachment’. Painters began, sometime after the beginning of the 20th century, to choose between stripes and curves. I don’t think this was a communal decision. Rather, individual painters in the privacy of their studio and their own thoughts, selected stripes or curves as the motif for their work. With this decision (stripes or curves) painters may have felt that they were reaching ‘higher’ ground, as for many painters there is a spiritual quest that is going on, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. The world is such a complex and uncertain place that I believe it gave some artists great comfort to choose between stripes and curves rather than have this choice be made for them....
How the American West Served to Expand the Depth and Breadth of Painting

How the American West Served to Expand the Depth and Breadth of Painting

There is an unexplored relationship between the expansion of the American West and contemporary abstraction in painting. The American West and the opening of the West to exploration and expansion were filled with mythology and bravado, plus a great deal of inaccurate reporting. The Western territories were already inhabited in the 16th and 17th centuries by Native Americans who were tribal and of course did not refer to themselves as Indians or Americans. And while the Territorial Expansion was not fair minded or kind in any fashion, it did allow Europeans and individuals from around the world to find a part of the world that was full of promise, enormous in its geographic range and chock full of nearly impossible possibilities. Europe had for centuries been developed in its architecture and cultural agendas and its peoples located in a kind of caste system that could limit creativity. This is not to say that Europe did not develop some of the greatest painters in the world between the 15th and 20th centuries.  But there was a kind of limited thinking in terms of scale and the possibilities of what pearly open space could do to affect the artistic imagination. There is relationship, in other words, between the amount of space that people inhabit and how very wide they can spread their wings and fly. Artists working in Europe had limited space physically, culturally and mentally The artists working in tight channels in Europe, in city lanes and wrapped around mountain villages, with few exceptions, did not have the space or the imagination to think far outside the historical and architectural limitations of...