Sunday, December 19, 2021

Artistic Talent

My father always said we were art dealers because we could not create art.

How true it is. I love singing but the only way I could get into my school glee club was to have an upper classman with perfect pitch stand behind me singing. In shop I wanted to make a car but could not cut a wheel. I used my allergies (which were for real) to get an excuse because of the sawdust. Paint? Draw? I could not draw a head or a circle without a compass!

For all these failings I respect and am in awe of those who have the ability and talent to work and be successful in more than one form of the arts.

The most famous multi-disciplinary artist was, of course, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). He is best known as a painter who worked through quite a number of the styles of the 20th century starting out grounded in reality in his blue period but the style in which he had the most influence was Cubism beginning in 1907 with his “Demoiselles d'Avignon”. Painting was not enough for him and he created sculpture and ceramics as well. While his greatest success was in painting his other work still brings good prices.

Have you ever seen a 65-page entry in Wikipedia? That is what I found when I tried to print the entry on the English rock and roll singer David Bowie (1947-20016). Born David Robert Jones, he always dreamed of being an entertainer and formed his first band at the age of 15. He studied art, music, and design, including layout and typesetting, so was ready for anything. While working with a tutor who came out of avant-garde theater, he became immersed in the creation of personae which went on to become icons of fashion. Their ever-changing wardrobe influenced some of the greatest designers such as Armani, Jean Paul Gautier and Katy Foreman. He developed a sexually ambiguous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, then killed off Ziggy Stardust to develop a new alter ego Aladdin Sane who he portrayed on a 1973 album cover with a red and blue lightning bolt painted on his face.

Between 1995 and 1997 he painted a series of portraits he called “Dead Heads” using models from his band, friends, and himself. In June of this year one of his paintings, “DHead XLVI” came up at auction in Toronto with an estimate of $9,00-$12,000. Instead, it sold for $108,120!

Other noted performers who painted were Paul McCartney of the Beetles, the great actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dennis Hopper actor and filmmaker, and Rosie O‘Donnell who created disparaging portraits of our former president with whom she had a vendetta predating his presidency. There are many more.

But believe it or not there may be an artist who today outshines them all and dare I say it, may be even better known than Picasso, -- that is Bob Dylan (1941-). I still think of him as the young man with a harmonica and guitar I saw on the stage at the CafĂ© Wha in Greenwich village in the early 1960’s. In 1963 I acquired his second album, which he titled “The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan” and I still have it today. Soon after he switched to the electric guitar and electronic music for which he took a lot of criticism from many including me. After all it is a totally different sound, as if Beethoven had suddenly switched to Jazz. Dylan was ahead of his time. He continued to write songs which today total over 500 that are sung by thousands of artists all over the world. For that he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016.

As if that was not enough, Dylan was a painter. Like everything else he has accomplished Dylan did it big. From the 1960’s when he used some of his drawings for album covers, he has gone on to paintings, sculpture and large-scale installations shown in gallery and museum exhibitions, and, most recently, a retrospective which is touring through 2022. Here is his mural in Minneapolis completed in 2015.

All of these performers are pigeonholed by the general public and the press for the activity for which they are best known. Their talents in the fine arts however, have offered them not only a form of escape and peace in their hectic lives, but also the opportunity to communicate through a one-on-one experience with the individuals who see the works of art they create.

No comments:

Post a Comment