L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, December 31, 2021

Post tenebras lux? - Sturzacker (Plowed Field) by Caspar David Friedrich, circa 1830


The lighting in the landscapes of Friedrich is so often indeterminant. Not quite dark, not quite light. Is the sun rising, is it setting? Is that indeed the sun, veiled by clouds or mist? Or is it the bright golden moon? Many of the pieces have an attached name to direct us toward the intended moment of dawn or dusk. But, otherwise, it sometimes feels like the great artist is giving us the choice to make that decision ourselves. Sun or moon? And does it set or does it rise?

On the eve of another year, I can't help but ponder a parallel question. After a difficult year for so many - following on several hard years - will this one be better?

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Among his friends and colleagues, himself - a selection of portraits by Jacek Malczewski

Pomocnik Charona, 1911.
"Moses", unknown model, 1904.
Self-portrait, 1908.
Feliks Jasieński, 1903.
Władysław Żeleński, 1908.
Tadeusz Błotnicki with Medusa, 1902.
 Leon Wyczólkowski, circa 1895.
 "Polish Hamlet", portrait of Aleksander Wielopolski, 1903.
Tadeusz Błotnicki, 1901-2.
Jerzy Mycielski with a Muse, 1903.
Erazm Baracz, 1907.
Wactawa Karczewski, 1906.
Wladyslaw Reymont, 1905.
Feliks Jasieński, 1903.
 "A Lark", portrait of Antoni Zembaczyński, 1902.
"Young Poland", unknown model, 1917.
Self-portrait, 1914.


Jacek Malczewski (15 July 1854, Radom, Congress Poland – 8 October 1929, Kraków), Polish artist, associated with the patriotic Young Poland movement, and one of Poland's most revered painters. Regarded as the father of Polish Symbolism, his work combined the historical motifs of Polish martyrdom and its romantic ideals of independence, Christian and Greek mythology, folk tales, as well as his love of the natural world. Born while Poland was under occupation of the Russian Empire, he was greatly influenced by his father Julian, a Polish patriot and social activist who introduced him to the romantic literature inspired by the November Uprising. On his mother's side, he was related to the Szymanowski family. He moved to Kraków at the age of seventeen, beginning his artistic education in 1872, and the following year enrolling at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1876 he went to Paris and studied for a year at the École des Beaux-Arts, in the studio of Henri Lehmann. He next moved to the Académie Suisse, returning to Poland to complete his studies in 1879. Between 1885 and 1916, he regularly visited Paris, Munich, Vienna, and made several trips to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. He drew his inspiration from a wide variety of sources often exotic or biblical, and translated them back into Polish folklore, its tradition and motifs, in his own painting. Many of his paintings prominently feature self-portraits in elaborate costume, a trademark of his style, often displaying a self-mocking humor. He married Maria née Garlewska and they had two children, Julia and Rafał, the latter also a well-known painter. In 1897–1900 and 1912–1921 Malczewski served as professor and later Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. Having lost his sight in his last years, he died at the age of seventy-five and was buried at Skałka, Poland's national Panthéon.

Self-portrait, 1925.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Happy Christmas - and any and all of the year-end holidays!


It was supposed to be my turn to manufacture our Holiday/Christmas/New Year's card this time. But I just went from finishing my big October/November show at Froelick Gallery here in Portland to diving into the creation of a whole new body of work for a show at TEW Galleries in Atlanta, opening right after the first of the year. So I begged Gigi to take up the mantle of nutty-holiday-card maker for the second year in a row, and this is the delightful nonsense she came up with. Great job, G; I love it!

The original card. 

(The artwork featured on most of these vintage cards is so awkward and inept; I guess the old card companies just didn't want to pay for a better class of artists.)

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The lyricism of peace, the lyricism of stone - the Ara Pacis Augustae, Rome


The Ara Pacis Augustae (Latin: Altar of Augustan Peace; commonly shortened to Ara Pacis) is an altar in Rome dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace. The monument was commissioned by the Roman Senate on July 4, 13 BC to honor the return of the Emperor Augustus to Rome after three years in Hispania and Gaul, and consecrated on January 30, 9 BC. The monument consists of a traditional open-air altar surrounded by precinct walls which are pierced on two sides by openings, the entire structure elaborately and finely sculpted in Luna marble. Originally located on the northern outskirts of Rome, a Roman mile from the pomerium - the religious boundary marking the limits of the city of Rome - the Ara Pacis stood on the west side of the Via Flaminia, in the northeastern corner of the Campus Martius, the former flood plain of the Tiber River.

Gradually buried under thirteen feet of silt deposits, fragments of the structure were being discovered as early as the sixteenth century, but serious excavation only began after the turn of the twentieth. In 1938 it was reassembled in its current location, now the Museum of the Ara Pacis, but turned 90° from its original orientation so that the original western side now faces south. Both the original sheltering pavilion, built during the Fascist era - and whose construction involved the demolition of dozens of neighboring buildings - and its replacement, built in 2006, proved controversial. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)