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Bryn Craig – An Artist’s Dwelling (17)

Bryn Craig was born in 1931 in Lansdale, PA. He studied at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art and with the Art Students League of New York, and taught at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. At 83, Craig is represented by three galleries, and continues to create.

The artist’s work explores the relationship between people and interiors. Many of his canvases are filled with a subtle moodiness and subdued emptiness. He distorts rooms, elongates perspectives, or skews proportion of items in order to convey the real essence of a place.

Bryn Craig The Star Quilt, 2014 Gallery Bergelli

Bryn Craig, The Star Quilt, oil on canvas, 2014, Gallery Bergelli

Craig writes, “Although my work is representational, I am definitely not a photo realist. I try to include much more than just the surface of a place. I want to express my emotions about the subject and to stimulate emotions in the viewer.” To me, Craig’s painting above conveys the strangeness one feels when they are staying at a friend’s house on vacation – the uncanny sensation that a room is yours, but also is not home. Those silent moments of being alone in a shared vacation home, perhaps on the Cape, can be calming but also disorienting.

Vacation home decor items inspired by Bryn Craig, painter

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 /

Craig’s process involves photographing one location at various times of day, and from many angles. Although he uses the snaps to direct some of his painting, he is not concerned if a lighting fixture is out of place, or a building changes colors.  In this way, his works become a sort of fantasy invention.

Drawing from his travels as well as from his commonplace interiors, Craig’s paintings are imbued with color, feeling and texture.

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Ben-Day Dots – An Artist’s Dwelling (9)

The Ben-Day dots printing process, named after illustrator and printer Benjamin Henry Day, Jr. and is similar to Pointillism (Think of  Georges Seurat‘s The Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and how it changes from an amalgam of tiny dots to a fully shaded image based on one’s proximity to the canvas). Depending on the effect, color and optical illusion needed, small colored dots are closely spaced, widely spaced or overlapping to create the illusion of shadow, color, and dimension. These dots differ from the printing process in newspapers (ever notice those little dots on the edges of a page) – those are halftone dots or dot gain – and differ from the Ben-Day dot in that they come in many sizes, circumferences, spacing and diameters. Ben-Day dots are able to express an image while all dots on the page remain the same size.  Most people are familiar with Ben-day dots without even realizing. Why? The simple answer is Western-style comic books from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Puma 917 – Popart Pack – Roy Lichtenstein

Hi! I am a Ben-Day dot, all the circles above are the same size!

Hi! I am a Halftone dot, I help to create images with dots of different sizes. 

Pulp comic books used benday dots in primary colors to inexpensively create the secondary colors such as flesh tone. The dotting technique was also an inexpensive way for artists and printers to create shading and depth. Ben-Day dots were considered the hallmark of American pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein, who enlarged and exaggerated them in many of his paintings and sculptures. In addition to appropriating comic books’ melodramatic content, Lichtenstein manually simulated the Benday dots used in the mechanical reproduction of images. One is not supposed to actually “see the dots” in images however, in Lichtenstein’s paintings the dots are over-sized and a central tenant. In this way, the painter is taking something robotic and manual (and hidden) and forcing to be the organic, man-made focus of the canvas.

 Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl, 1963

The artist himself explains, “I was interested in the fact that the cartoon faces and so forth were so unreal and that we took them, generally for realistic. If you go through the magazine, the girl looked pretty in the picture, you know. Then when you really look at what you’ve got—black lines and red lips—that there isn’t anything in this picture that’s real. I was interested in say, the style of, say, a pretty girl in a comic book, or a hero, whatever it was manufactured out of a kind of idealism as to what people should look like, modified by economies of the printing process.”  There is also a dark-humor inherent in Lichtenstein’s ability to make-fun of a character’s death, or the dramatic narrative of a comic book, by oversimplifying it in large format.

ROY LICHTENSTEIN’S STUDIO, AS PHOTOGRAPHED BY HORST; TAKEN FROM ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST’S “CELEBRITY HOMES II”, 1981.

Comic books and printing techniques are often very focused on properly recreating a human character by using mechanical means. However, I am more interested in how these “dots” can recreate the oeuvre and warmth of a living space. In Interior Series by Roy Lichtenstein the idea of a “home” is explored and mocked. The prints of the Interior Series are banal domestic environments inspired by furniture ads he found in telephone books. The Interiors are based on advertisements, most of which Lichtenstein cut from the Yellow Pages – further challenging the idea of and blurring the lines between “low art, commercial art, and high art”.

 

Photographer Laurie Lambrecht worked as a part-time assistant to Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein from 1990 to 1992, helping him to inventory his studio in preparation for his 1993 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

The Interiors, one of the artist’s major final series, portray colorful magazine spreads of rooms for purchase. With the artist’s usual dry wit, they depict domestic spaces, occasionally occupied by Nudes from his other late series. his body of colorful paintings and prints reflects the excess of the 1980s. I was lucky enough to view one of these LARGE format paintings in person at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and let me tell you they are massive, mural sized pieces. They are almost the size of the room they are trying to portray and give the effect of actually being in a real room (which is incredible seeing as though they are all on a 2d plane). They hit you in the face like Whaam!

La Sortie by Roy Lichtenstein. Image found HERE.

Image found HERE. 

Roy Lichtenstein’s Interior with Skyline. I spy a Saarinen design.

Wallpaper with blue floor interior by Roy Lichtenstein. Image found HERE.

Modern Room by Roy Lichteinstein. Image found HERE. I spy mid-century modern and an homage to Warhol.

The Den by Roy Lichtenstein. Image found HERE.

Image from Roy Lichtenstein: Interiors, by  Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Fitzpatrick, Dorothy Lichtenstein printed by Hudson Hills, 1999., pg. 58

The Living Room by Roy Lichteinstein. Image found HERE.

Roy Lichtenstein – Interior with Red Wall – lot 47 – $7,026,500, est. $8 to 12 million via ArtNet. Roy Lichtenstein’s 10 foot tall Interior with Red Wall (1991), as seen above, sold to a telephone bidder for $6.2 million ($7,026,500 with fees) against a pre-sale estimate of $8 million-$10 million. I spy lots of Knoll inspired design items. Zap! Bang! Whoosh!

So how can you live in this mechanically produced Ben-Day dot world of excess, consumerism, pop and color? Have no fear! Zing! Swoosh! Zap! Hint: stick to CMKY or RGB tones, meaning Yellows, Reds, Green, Blue, and other primaries. Look here:

 

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11a / 11b / 12

 

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An Artist’s Dwelling (5)

I recently visited a show at the Andrew Krep Gallery, in Chelsea, titled, “‘Interiors’: Pierre Bonnard, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, William Copley, Édouard Vuillard”  The show juxtaposed several styles and decades of art history by exploring the evolution of personal space, decorative wallpaper, and intimacy. The press release from the gallery explains, “The show highlights the rich optical and visual layers and patterning consistent in each of the artists’ work, depicting interior spaces full of feeling, psychological depth and a sense of remembrance – a domestic hedonism, or meditations on the nature of time, perception and memory. ” The exhibition included some surrealist details, some impressionist strokes, and a lot of rooms. Often everyday objects in our home accumulate into accidental still lifes – these interior spaces show a psychological snapshot of both an artist and his/her life. Above all, the show allows the viewer to realize it is OK to mix centuries – the 19th century can converse with the year 2012 easily. French windows and ikea furniture can match.

InteriorsPierre Bonnard Marc Camille Chaimowicz, William Copley, Édouard Vuillard, Installation View, Image Courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery

Pierre Bonnard, The Breakfast Room, 1925, Oil on canvas, 25 3/4 x 42 1/2 in (65.4 x 108 cm) & (wallpaper), Marc Camille Chaimowicz, 2011, Non-woven paper, Image Courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery

Interiors, Pierre Bonnard Marc Camille Chaimowicz, William Copley, Édouard Vuillard, Installation View, Image Courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery

In my humble opinion, no artist understand the importance of monotonous interior life quite like Jean-Édouard Vuillard (perhaps also Giorgio Morandi, but we can save his obsessive bottle painting for another post). Vuillard (November 11, 1868 – June 21, 1940) was a French painter and printmaker associated with the artist collective called The Nabis. This avant-garde group was named for the Hebrew word for “prophet”. They believed they could revitalize modern art much like the prophets inspired people from the biblical days. The group did not just work with canvas, they often extolled and designed wall decoration, and also produced posters, prints, book illustration, textiles, and furniture.

Édouard Vuillard, Interieur, 1902, Oil on Cardboard, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated

Édouard Vuillard, Interieur a la Table à Ouvrage, 1893

In his paintings Vuillard depicted mostly interiors, intricate patterns, streets, and gardens.  The patterns of a tablecloth, of a woman’s dress, and of wall coverings intermingled to create a beautifully layered piece. He lived at home with his mother (a dressmaker and Parisian corset maker) and had siblings who visited – most notably his sister. Often my inspiration comes from the outside – wandering streets, stopping into boutiques, and traveling. Yet, Vuillard did not need to leave his home to understand the aesthetics of beauty and to find his animus.

Vuillard was best known for intimate, indoor looks at the private lives of his subjects. These domestic scenes feel “very claustrophobic,” explains the curator of The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Kimberly Jones. She continues. “You can almost feel the walls closing in in some cases and that’s very much intentional. This is the world behind closed doors, an intimate private world that we live but we don’t get to see. So we become a voyeur.”

Édouard Vuillard. Mother and Sister of the Artist. c. 1893. Oil on canvas. 18 1/4 x 22 1/4″ (46.3 x 56.5 cm). Gift of Mrs. Saidie A. May. © 2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. (Can’t you just smell the mothballs?)

Vuillard’s interiors are often described as richly patterned, dizzying, and highly feminine. We are surrounded by bold fabrics, blurred walls, and quiet Sunday scenes. Vuillard, the artist himself one remarked, “I don’t paint portraits,” he said. “I paint people at home.” His heavily decorated rooms define a person, his stokes create a soothing rhythm for the eye (even though sometimes they are depicting SHARP geometric designs), and his understanding of fashion (both interior and physical) as a psychological delinieation,  is why I believe his interiors are so powerful.

Vuillard’s Room at the Château des Clayes, c. 1932, Distemper on paper, mounted on canvas, 30 5/8 x 39 7/16 in. (77.8 x 100.2 cm), Signed, l.r.: “E. Vuillard”, Gift of Mary and Leigh Block, 1973.337, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Edouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940), printed by Auguste Clot (French, 1858-1936), published by Ambroise Vollard (French, 1867-1939), Interior with Pink Wallpaper I, plate five from Landscapes and Interiors, 1899, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

After reading this blog post you have now become familiar with “Intimism”! Bravo! Yippee! This is a variety of late 19th- and early 20th-century painting which intensely explores domestic interiors as subject matter.

 Clashing patterns = matching patterns.  A richly patterned and layered room ala Vuillard. Found via Better Homes & Gardens, HERE.

Un Bisou Collection Wallpaper. Feminine and delicate. Here, actually used as a neutral “paint” color. Don’t be afraid of pattern and layering! Image found HERE.

Eijffinger wallaper – perfect for your afternoon tea service! Hello pastel table. Image found HERE.

Grand Gala Wallpaper. Although this room is not nearly cluttered enough to be a Vuillard. Image found HERE.

Living with patterns is as easy as finding one common color in all of your fabrics. Here it is a light, almost Robin’s Egg Blue with accented grey tones. Image found HERE.

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