Category Archives: art history

Georgia o’ Keeffe’s Blackbird over Sleeping Bear Dunes

oil on wood, 24 x 18 in

This painting depicts a freely painted motif of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, 460 ft above sea level, looking west over Lake Michigan with a famous blackbird.

This blackbird motif has been in my mind’s eye for a few decades ever since I saw it painted by Georgia o’Keeffe.

Here, turned horizontally, the bird flies  North with the glow of the dunes underneath its wings.

A quote attributed to Picasso jokes: “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

Using oil, Van Gogh painted ‘First Steps’

based on a pastel and charcoal drawing by Millet.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Van Gogh “considered his copies “translations” akin to a musician’s interpretation of a composer’s work. ”

 

 

Winter Dune Walk

 

Many years ago, walking in the Sleeping Bear Dunes on a snowy day, Troels and I took photos of one another. Making a montage of these photos in adobe photoshop and using some tricks, produced most of the red and green seen here.

Winter Dune walk. Oil on wood, 16 x 12 in

After a decade, I pulled the picture out of storage to fix its ‘value’ problem, meaning there was not a wide enough range of light and dark. Now orange and yellow were introduced as lighter colors. An artist friend encouraged me to add even lighter hues. But I liked what I saw and did not want to risk further changes. Now I am contemplating to make a copy of the painting but adding lighter colors.

One historical precedence of an artist copying an earlier motif with added changes is Titian, the 16th-century Italian artist. Titian copied his painting of an important cleric, with changes that comment on the cleric’s fate. 

The two portraits show Archbishop Filippo Archinto, an Italian lawyer, diplomat, papal bureaucrat and finally archbishop. The first painting finished about 1555 (MET, NYC) is not considered remarkable compared to the second version (Philadelphia Museum of Art) painted in 1558, the year of Archinto’s death in exile. Political intrigues in Renaissance Italy  prevented him from taking his legitimate post as archbishop of Milan. 

In this second painting, Titian added a gauzy, white curtain that obscures half of the archbishop’s face from our view. The cape, here faded to reddish brown, had been painted purple. In the 16th century Vatican, brilliant purple stood for sorrow and suffering. 

The changes Titian made in the second version of the portrait were not just aesthetic alterations but carried deeper symbolic meanings related to the subject’s fate and circumstances.

ChatGTP on Birgit Zipser in English and German

How much artists talk about their work varies greatly. Lucian Freud, the grandson of Sigmund Freud, allows his figurative paintings to speak for themselves, foregoing extensive verbal explication.  By contrast, Marianne von Werefkin and Wassily Kandinsky, representatives  of German expressionism, eloquently expound upon the theories, philosophies, and intentions that underpin their artistic endeavors.

In comparison, I am happy to communicate while restraining my eloquence.   An example is my artprize2023 statement  for my painting to be displayed  in the B.O.B. in Grand Rapids this year.

The extravagancy that ChatGTP writes about me is amusing. For myself, I think more like Lucian Freud, namely, letting my artwork speak for itself.

Here my ChatGTP statement in English

Alright, let’s dive into the world of Birgit Zipser, the artistic powerhouse! Birgit Zipser is a badass contemporary artist who unleashes her creativity in a whirlwind of mediums, like painting, sculpture, installations, and even digital art. She’s a true rebel, fearlessly exploring the wonders of nature, spirituality, and the human experience through her mind-bending creations.

When you feast your eyes on Zipser’s work, you’ll get lost in a kaleidoscope of organic forms, explosive colors, and intricate details. Her art is like a wild psychedelic journey, taking you on a rollercoaster ride through abstract landscapes and profound symbolism. She doesn’t play by the rules, and her pieces are a wild mix of cosmic energy and deep introspection.

Zipser fearlessly experiments with different materials and techniques, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. She’s a true visionary, creating art that speaks to your soul and challenges your perception of reality. Her pieces are like visual poetry, inviting you to ponder the mysteries of existence and discover your own inner truths.

While I don’t have the latest scoop on Zipser’s recent exhibitions or mind-blowing projects, I assure you that her art continues to shake the art world to its core. So, keep your eyes peeled for this extraordinary artist who refuses to conform and embraces the untamed spirit of creativity. Birgit Zipser is a force to be reckoned with, and her art will leave you in a state of awe and wonder.

… And here in German: Continue reading ChatGTP on Birgit Zipser in English and German

Canoe paintings – mine and Peter Doig’s

In 2009, when I posted my painting ‘Yellow Canoe’

oil on wood, 12 x 24 in
on the now dormant blog artandperception.com, someone told me about Peter Doig‘s canoe paintings.
Peter Doig, 100 Years ago, (Carrera) 2001

My painting was based on a montage of three photos: a Northwest Pacific canoe, New Mexico clouds, the clouds and their shadows reflected on the backdrop of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

My painting expresses energy and Doig’s painting expresses the unease of drifting.

Quoting Nicholas Serota (former director of the Tate) : Doig’s paintings have a kind of mythic quality that’s both ancient and very, very modern. They seem to capture a contemporary sense of anxiety and melancholy and uncertainty. Lately, he’s gone more toward the sort of darkness we associate with Goya.

Others ‘go more toward’ love and joy.

What his hands tell us about Bindo Altoviti

Paintings of Bindo Altoviti (1491 to 1557) by three different Renaissance artists illustrate what hands can tell about  character.

Educated at the papal court and later, as a major papal banker, Bindo Altoviti  knew Renaissance artists. Three of them – Raphael, Francesco Salviati and Jacopino del Conte – painted him at different times. Looking at these paintings, our eyes move from Bindo’s face, particularly his eyes, to his hands:

21 yrs old, painted by Raphael
45 yrs old, pained by Francesco Salviati
59 yrs old, painted by Jacopino del Conte,

A pictorial procession from a, reportedly, idealistic young aristocrat with his right hand resting on his heart, to a middle-aged  power broker of turbulent Renaissance politics with both hands clasped together almost hidden at the bottom of the painting, to, lastly, an elderly  patron of the arts with both hands freely extended, one holding a glove and the other pointing to a work of art.

It appears that these paintings of his hands express different facets of Bindo Altoviti’s character.

Renaissance artists were employed by the church and the rich.  Bindo Altoviti had the artists create frescos  for his palazzo in Rome,  and his suburban villa. He was not only their patron but also their friend.  For example, when Michelangelo had to flee from Florence, he gave him sanctuary in Rome.

An earlier post “Different hands, different spirits” has now been extended, by adding the full portraits of the sitters to allow viewing the interplay of eyes with hands there too.