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Showing posts from September, 2015

Edward Hopper and Rockwell Kent: Painting Blackhead

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Hopper
In 2006 I first visited Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. The small island has earned a special place in American art history from  the steady stream of artists who followed the advice of their charismatic teacher Robert Henri to go there and paint. Two of the best to take the advice were Edward Hopper and Rockwell Kent. Both spent important time early in the 20th century painting on the island. The commanding promontory Blackhead that stretches eastward out into the Atlantic inspired both of them make repeated paintings of it.


Hopper
The first four images are all small oil studies Hopper made of Blackhead. The final four paintings are by Hopper's art school classmate Rockwell Kent. Though the temperament of their paintings differ, what the two shared was an almost obsessive willingness to create painting after painting of a motif that obviously fascinated them. There's a sort of driving youthful energy to their engagement with Blackhead. 



Hopper
By their actions th…

Ghosts in the Closet

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Charles Burchfield, Salem Bedroom Studio Feb. 21, 1917 Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY
Burchfield Penney Art Center posted this Charles Burchfield watercolor on their Facebook page.
Who doesn't remember worrying as a young child about supposed ghosts or monsters waiting to creep out of your bedroom closet in the middle of the night. (Under my bed was full of them too). Leave it to Charles Burchfield to take this normal childhood terror and turn it into serious art. He took his childhood sensations with him into his adult life. Using his profound knowledge of painting and his good eye he gave these emotions permanent visual form. 
His painting above takes a cloth draped over a chair and seems to turn it into a ghost. In his hands the clothes hanging in the closet become creepy spectral accomplices. 
In August my wife Alice and I traveled from Baltimore to the Salem, OH family home where Burchfield grew up and began doing some of his most important early work. It is now the B…