Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, Louise Bourgeious - Surrealism

I have toyed with surrealism some. I like the opportunity to express ideas and emotions that could not be similarly expressed in pure abstraction or pure realism.

From what I've read of the surrealist movement, however, it was dominated by misogynistic males. I saw a show in Copenhagen (2009) that was the most anti-female art that I have ever seen in a museum. It gave me the creeps.

It is interesting to learn in Frida Kahlo's biography that while she spent some time with the Surrealists in Paris- that she didn't care much for their theorizing. She was not interested in being considered a part of their group.

I am finishing the book, Women, Art, and Society by Whitney Chadwick (many images from the book can be found here). In the book, there is an image, supposedly by Leonor Fini called Sphinx Regina which I like (a close-up of nature with bones)- but it is so unlike anything else that I see that was done by her (mostly women with little background)- that I don't think it was by her. At the very least, it is not representative, from what I can tell.

___________________Leonor Fini
Red Vision

___________________Leonor Fini Grande___________________

Fini's paintings tend toward the ghostly / spiritual.

___________________Leonora Carrington Labyrinth___________________

There is an University of Albany Museum site featuring several 20th century women (based on an exhibition) that has an image by Leonora Carrington (born England 1917, lives in Mexico) - Big Badger Meets the Domino Boys. Fortunately I looked up some others by her - because that one did not seem representative, either. But it did not seem so completely differnt and it may just be a different stage in her life. Carrington also paints images that suggest spirituality.

___________________Leonora Carrington Voteaza___________________

Louise Bourgeious (1911-2010) was an artist who dabbled in many looks - usually with an organic orientation. I like her surrealistic Femme Maison paintings. (I also like her gigantic cast spider).

___________________ Louise Bourgeious Femme-Maison___________________

From the Tate Modern site:

Femme Maison means ‘housewife’: literally, ‘woman house’. In these paintings, as in so much of her work, Bourgeois shows the home as an essentially female place, in which she can explore ideas about female identity. She said the Femme Maison ‘does not know that she is half naked, and she does not know that she is trying to hide. That is to say, she is totally self-defeating because she shows herself at the very moment that she thinks she is hiding’.

___________________Louise Bourgeious Femme-Maison___________________ (from 1945-6 - when her children were little. she also did a later version in marble)

Unlike Fini and Carrington, Bourgeious' images of the Femme Maison (as well as much of her other art) seem to deal more with life than the supernatural.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Art Seen in NYC - 2010

Ceramic shapes in a Japanese Gallery in Chelsea.


These are from various galleries in Chelsea - June 2010. I especially liked to see the abstract textured paintings - some of which suggested landscapes. There were, interestingly, a lot of drips... and expressionism.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"The Death of Nature"

"The Death of Nature" is a book by Carolyn Merchant (1980).

The book is about people turning toward a mechanistic view of nature - esp. in the 1600s. The founding of the microscope was one element. People gaining more of an understanding of how nature works. Prior to the microscope - the general idea in the West was that in reproduction women contributed matter, while men (supposedly being superior) contributed "spirit" or "energy". It might have partly been a result of men falling off the pedestal they created for themselves that contributed to the shift.

Prior to that - nature was thought of in more anthropomorphical terms - as "Mother Nature", "Mother Earth". And people had more concern over the consequences of extracting resources. As if it would hurt the earth. Ecological concerns go way back hundreds of years to when people were polluting rivers from iron making and one thing or another. There have always been those who were disturbed by damage to natural environment.

In the 1600s - one of the main power sources was lumber - turned into ships that then could travel around the world in trade or in aids to war. The toll on the trees in England and in France became a concern and conservation measures had to be implemented.

Also - industries were polluting England so much that some were sent over to New England - much like Americans have sent industries to Mexico or China.

But the main idea was the problem of a mechanized world view and the subsequent lack of concern for the environment. It became easier for people to think of the earth as resources to extract, to make money from. The idea that people could have control over nature - that order and power could be imposed. The more people thought of nature in those terms - the easier it was to exploit.

There were some who wanted to hold on to ideas that matter was one thing - but spirit and God were another. Even Newton - with his scientific understanding didn't want to let go of God completely. There seemed to be a sort of balance that people wanted to adopt - the mechanistic world - that God WANTED people to exploit - to control. This allowed people to feel OK about what they were doing with their capitalistic endeavors.

Even today - the concept that this world is a temporary world on one's way to paradise is a way to allow people to muck up the earth - because it doesn't really matter - it's "Fallen", anyway.

If people can realize that this world is absolutely awesome - those who live here now (or at any time) should feel compelled to keep it that way for future generations. No generation of people should ever figure that THEY have the right to live in luxury while destroying the planet for the future. That would be a big step. It doesn't require that people believe or don't believe in God - it just requires that everyone realizes how awesome the world is - and that nobody would want to screw it up for others alive now or later.

Everyone should be able to accept that global warming, pollution, etc. will affect everyone. While it will hurt some more than others - no-one should figure that they can stay above the fray. We are all in this together.