The sitter of this arresting work, Portrait of a Young Man (1530s) remains unknown, but he was part of Bronzino’s close circle of literary friends in Florence, and probable holds a book of poetry. The artist was himself a poet, delighting as much in the beauty of language as he did in the witty and fanciful details of his paintings. Here, viewers would have appreciated the carved grotesque heads on the table and chair, and the almost hidden, mask-like face suggested in the folds of the youth’s breeches as comments unmasks and disguises. Bronzino has delineated a sophisticated visual identity for the sitter.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Morris Hirshfield (1872 – 1946) began to paint at the age of 65, after retiring from a career making women’s coats, suits and slippers. The flattened, decorative forms of Inseparable Friends (1941) echo his garment-making work. Without distinguishing between the floor and the wall, Hirshfield creates a room through thee planes of shapes and patterns: the women at their mirror, the tasseled curtain above them, and the plant and shoes at their feet. While Hirshfield’s compositions are simplified and stylized, he aimed for meticulous, realistic detail and believed that his figures represented the human body “better than the camera can do.”
Scope Art NY is a fantastic art fair that completely surprised me with its broad representation of pop surrealist art — my favorite! I discovered a bunch of cool new galleries including Haven Gallery, located in Northport, Long Island, whose represented artists reminded me fondly of all the amazing shows I used to go to at the late great Jonathan LeVine Gallery. While I was visiting their booth, I was naturally drawn to this very pink oil-on-wood painting of a fox and deer, engaged with each other in a sort of magical clearing. This stunning piece is entitled The Mischievous Heart Returned and it is by Jennybird Alcantara, a Contemporary Surrealist painter. Aside from being totally visually rad — because, pink — if you take a very close look at the heart (which has legs, interesting) being cradled by the fox, you can see that it has teeny, tiny . . . vagina.
Graffiti artist Kunle F. Martin AKA Earsnot, founder of the IRAK Crew, created this abstract rainbow mural in June of 2019 in celebration of NYC Pride Month. You can find near the corner of Suffolk and Delancey Streets in Manhattan. The mural was sponsored by the Lisa Project in partnership with The World Mural Project, which will be happening again this come June!
If you travel all the way to the back end of Freeman Alley (right by the city’s most secret restaurant) you may still be able to find this Astronaut floating amid a constellation of stickers, stencils and paste ups, accompanied by the phrase “Fly me to the moon!” spray painted in vibrant pink. How delightful. The artist, Poet (#poetwastaken on Instagram) offers that, “the astronaut is both an ode to Ol’ Blue Eyes‘ lyric of love, yet a modern nod to the Coachella Moon Man.” “After all,” he concludes, ” love is out of this world!” Amen to that!
Paul Feeley (1910 – 1966) has often been associated with Color Field painters, but his most recognized works, largely made between 1962 and 1965, stand apart from those of his peers for their economy of color and spare compositions. Formal Haut (1965), produced the year before Feeley’s death, features his signature forms, namely a single jack (inspired by the game of jacks) and repeated baluster shapes. Their convex and concave contours interlock in a symmetrical arrangement, centered within the square frame. The simple geometric design is highlighted by an equally uncomplicated palette, limited to just two contrasting colors on unprimed canvas.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, The Fullness of Color: 1960s Painting, On Through August 2nd, 2020 at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.
In 1960, Toshinobu Onosato reevaluated his approach to the circle, a form that for much of the previous decade he had presented as monochromatic surfaces whose simplicity was emphasized by surrounding webs of intersecting lines.
Painting A, Detail
According to the artist, dividing the circle through the “the piling up of color planes” allows for better understanding of the shape’s true dimensions. Born from a desire to capture brightness and harmony, works such as Painting A (1961 – 62) vibrate with energy that relates to — but remains separate from — the illusory effects sought by Op artists.
Photographed as part of the exhibit The Fullness of Color: 1960’s Paintings at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan
Poet is the name of a street artist whose work I discovered through his Pink Mail Box series, which is called Love Letters. I started following him on Instagram under the hashtag #poetwastaken and, over the weekend, I went out looking for a few of the works he’s been posting on his feed. This piece, which includes an image of Kurt Cobain alongside a spray painted quote, is located in Freeman’s Alley on the LES.
Once I found the piece in person (and if you’ve seen Freeman’s Alley, you know that’s no easy feat) I was disappointed to discover that the quote had already been pasted over by another artist’s work, even though Poet’s piece had only been up since January 28th. This kind of thing happens so often that Poet said he has learned not to let it bother him. Everything is a work in progress.
Poet, who is based in Los Angeles, told me a bit more about the Cobain piece in a chat via Instagram. “The Kurt Cobain piece was actually initially derived from his quote “Thank you for the trajedy (sic), I need it for my art.” I had spray painted that next to that paste up, but the very next day it was covered by another paste up. This lead me to a add a short and sweet message of “I’m so happy” over Kurt’s image. I’ve been painting that quote for about a year now, and with paste ups only for a few months.”
Watch for more street art by Poet to be featured here in the coming weeks!
Pablo Picasso created this work, Woman Dressing Her Hair (1940) in the months prior to the German occupation of Royan, France, where he fled from Paris as the Nazis advanced across Europe. He depicted a woman inside a boxlike room barley bigger than her body; her massive figure is awkwardly compressed and her contorted body juts this way and that. Transforming a familiar and typically serene subject in art history — a woman grooming herself — into a powerful grotesque, Picasso lent expression to the anxiety and confinement that attended this dark period.
In Remedios Varo’sThe Juggler (The Magician)1956, the titular juggler (or magician) stands on a platform of a carnivalesque cart filled with fantastical objects and animals. He performs before seemingly identical figures robed in a single gray cloak. To produce this composition, Varo worked in the manner of early Renaissance masters; she transposed preparatory drawings onto a a gesso-primed panel which had been scratched to give it texture. She also deployed decalomania, a technique favored by the Surrealists in which materials such as paper or aluminum foil are pressed onto wet paint to transfer a pattern that may be embellished. Its atmospheric effects can be seen in the magician’s garments and in the background trees.