The Columbus Museum of Art holds one of the premier art collections in the midwest. It isn't a large facility, but many major artists have places in the permanent collection. It had been ages since I last visited, and what better time to go but on a Sunday morning when admission is free.
One of the current exhibits is "Shared Intelligence: American Painting and the Photograph". It sounded intriguing. Do you take so many digital photos that, after a while, you no longer look at the composition? Do you no longer experience the moment, because you are too busy focusing and snapping and recording history? Shared Intelligence invites us to "counter this numbing ubiquity and resist the growing homogenization of the image".
Many modern artists use photographs as the basis for their paintings. It is fairly well known that Norman Rockwell planned his paintings with elaborately staged photos of each character represented. And, of course, Andy Warhol projected black and white photos directly onto the canvas and then added color with oils, but I had no idea that it went as far back as the mid-to-late 1800's. Such esteemed artists as Edgar Degas, Thomas Eakins, Fredric Remington, and Georgia O'Keefe worked from photographs. O'Keefe used mostly the work of her lover Alfred Stieglitz.
There is Robert Bechtle, whose paintings look so much like the photographs from which he worked that one has to look very closely to tell the difference. And Chuck Close who superimposes a grid over the photograph and, among other methods, uses his fingerprints to "paint" the picture. Their art is known as photorealism.
One of the most interesting things to me was the way that artists like Degas and Eakins composed their photographs exactly as they would the painting, with light being the most important factor. Eadweard Muybridge, whose pioneering work in animal locomotion photography, was essential in Remington getting a galloping horse "right".
More modern artists used photographs, but didn't want their paintings to look photographic. They are sometimes known as "magic realists", or the subversion of reality. Artists such as Henry Koerner created paintings of his family and his hometown in Austria from photos of the destruction after World War II. They are quite moving in their symbolism. Honoré Sharrer and Ben Shahn also are included in this category. (There is no Wiki page for Henry Koerner.)
An extreme use of photography in modern art is employed by Sherrie Levine, who uses highly pixelated photos of famous photographs and famous paintings to create her works. To me, they just look like blocks of color, but I've never considered myself to be visionary when it comes to modern art.
This was one of the better exhibits I have seen. I'm thinking of going again, because I'm sure I will learn more from the wealth of material covered there. I wasn't allowed to photograph the show, but I did take a few photos of the permanent collection. Well, 126 to be exact. Don't worry, I only chose the best ones. Whew!
|Inside the grand salon, or Derby Room|
|Inside the hallway off the grand salon|
|One of the statuary halls|
|Dale Chihuly hand-blown glass sculpture|
This fabulous painting, titled Sunflowers in the Windstorm, is by Emil Nolde, a German artist, whose works were declared "degenerate" by Adolph Hitler and was forbidden to paint. He painted in secret in his home in Seebüll, Germany, mostly working in watercolors, because the oils could be detected by the smell of the linseed oil. This work is in oils, because sometimes the subject just demanded that he risk his life for his art.
|Boy with Cattle by Pablo Picasso, 1906|
|Schokko with Red Hat by Alexej Jawlensky, |
1909 (Russian artist)
(So named because the model loved sipping hot schokolade [chocolate] while posing in the artist's studio.)
|Weeping Willow by Claude Monet, 1918|
The museum has several Monets in its permanent collection. This is a new acquisition from his later Giverny years, when he was losing his sight. I was fortunate to have seen an exhibit of his later works in the New Orleans Museum of Art in the mid-1990's. It was one of only two showings in the United States. His paintings from that period were dark and angry, reflecting his feelings about his encroaching blindness. Compare it to the following painting from his earlier years.
|View of Bennecourt by Claude Monet, 1887|
|Houses at the Foot of a Cliff|
(Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme), by Edgar Degas
|Bathsheba by Artemisia Gentileschi, about 1636-37|
|Endeavor by Lino Tagliapietra|
|Autumn Leaves--Lake George, N.Y. by Georgia O'Keefe, 1924|
|Summer Night, Riverside Drive by George Bellows , 1909|
|A Stag at Sharkey's by George Bellows, 1917|
One of his many lithographs depicting fight scenes.
|Polo at Lakewood by George Bellows, 1910|
Bellows was an accomplished baseball player and often painted scenes of sporting events.
If you would like to see the rest of my photos, please visit here.