Sunday, December 25, 2022

Quotes from the World of Art

I collect quotes as many of you know. I am going back to that theme but from the artist’s point of view so I trust some will be new to you. I will let the artists speak for themselves and marvel at their insights. I believe that to be an artist you must be able to see yourself first, in order to understand others. In their own words ...

I always think that I need to search for another subject to write about, but in this case, I can walk in Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) shoes. He said “I don’t search, I find” the subjects are right there before you. All you have to do, is open your eyes.

Patrick McGrath Muniz (1975-), a painter born in Puerto Rico now working in Texas, uses traditional Spanish religious images to give social commentary on current and existential events. His work depicts the past as well as the present as he puts it, “Nothing is Really Lost until it is Forgotten”. We say this about history as well as friends and relatives we have lost. The artist illustrates those memories.

In 1932 Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was commissioned to create a mural for Rockefeller Center. Even though he was told what was expected of him he added elements of his own socialist views. According to David Rockefeller, “The picture of Lenin was on the right-hand side, and on the left, a picture of [my] father drinking martinis with a harlot and various other things that were unflattering to the family and clearly inappropriate to have as the center of Rockefeller Center". When Rivera refused to paint over the offending passages the mural was destroyed. Rivera revisited his vision replicating the commission for the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City saying, “I restored the murdered painting”.

I think we can agree that Georgia O’Keefe (1887-1986) was a great artist but what is it in her art that, as my father would have said, “gives us a heartbeat”. I think that a lady from the Philippines I was sitting next to on a long plane trip got it right. Out of the blue she said, “Georgia O’Keeffe reminds me how profound simplicity can be. It reminded me of a quote from Georgia, herself. In 1921 she was recorded as saying "I wish people were all trees and I think I could enjoy them then".

Robert Capa (1913-1954) was a famous war photographer, and he died as he lived. Shortly after his arrival in Hanoi to cover the war in Indochina for Life magazine he was killed when he stepped on a landmine. It is easy to understand his quote and its irony, "It is the War Photographer's fervent wish to be unemployed".

Being a portrait painter can be a comfortable profession if you have a clientele of important people and honor comes with the creating an iconic image like Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington. But it has its downside as well. Stuart (1755-1828) lamented this other side of the coin. "What a business this of a portrait painter - you bring him a potato and expect he will paint you a peach.”

I have so many more quotes I would like to share but I like to keep my Missives short in the hopes that they will be read! Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy 2023.

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