Tag Archive | Portrait

Modern Art Monday Presents: Lee Krasner, Self Portrait

Lee Krasner Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

A powerful rendering by the artist in her twenties, this picture was made with a practical purpose; it was painted as a reception piece for admission to the life-drawing course at the National Academy of Design. While Lee Krasner (19081984) is best known for the personal style that she developed within the movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 19540s, this self portrait (c. 1930) is a rare example of her early work, using the thick brushwork and high color of the Impressionists and Realists of the previous generation. Strikingly, Krasner depicts herself at work in nature. She eyes the viewer, who stands on the spot where, presumably, a mirror hangs on a tree. Her expression and strong handling of light and shade evoke the resolve of a young woman rising to the challenge of her artistic vocation.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Amedeo Modigliani, The Jewess

The Jewess
Photo By Gail

In titling this painting The Jewess (1908), one of the first that Modigliani exhibited, the artist declared that the sitter’s cultural identity was more important than her name. The model was most likely Modigliani’s lover, Maud Abrantes. Beyond her pallor, she is depicted with a withdrawn, languid demeanor, her cheeks and deeply set eyes touched with startling tabs of green, a streak of which also highlights the ridge of the patrician, aquiline nose. A curious pale mark obscures the area between her eyes, further isolating and drawing attention to her nose

This emphasis on the nose recurs throughout Modigliani’s work and is a focal point of his sculpture. It is s self-referential facet of his own Jewishness — an identity that his daughter later recalled as being deeply important to him. Modigliani’s exploration of his Jewish identity, as a central aspect of his portraiture, has been little noticed.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC as part of the Exhibit Modigliani Unmasked, which Continues Through February 4th, 2018.

Modern Art Monday Present: Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother

Arshile Gorky The Artist and His Mother
Photo By Gail

Arshile Gorky (1904 – 1948) based this portrait of himself and his mother on a photograph taken in his native Armenia in 1912, when he was eight years old. Three years later, during the Ottoman Turk campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Armenians, Gorky, his mother and his younger sister all survived a death march. Tragically, his mother never recovered her health. She died in 1919 from starvation — one of the estimated one million to one and a half million victims of what is now widely referred to as the Armenian genocide.  The following year, at the age of fifteen Gorky emigrated to the United States with his sister. As Gorky established his career as an artist, he became preoccupied with the photograph. The Artist and His Mother, made over the span of ten years (1926 – 1936) does not attempt to reproduce the camera’s image precisely, but instead reduces it to broad areas of muted, softly brushed color. The mask-like faces and undefined hands of the figures at once suggest their loss of physical connection and the difficulty of accessing memories over time.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait of Manuel Humbert

Portrait of Manuel Humbert
Photo By Gail

Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920) immortalized the Spanish landscape painter Manuel Humbert Esteve, a struggling artist whom he met in the ethnically diverse environment of Mantparnasse, in Portrait of Manuel Humbert (1916). In such paintings, he continued to question portraiture’s claim to truth, presenting the genre as ever-ambiguous. Here, he renders the sitter’s head as mask-like, with a narrow, triangular face and stylized arched brows connected to a thin. straight nose. He distinguishes personal features as well — pursed mouth, parted hair — constantly altering the counterpoise of individuality and formal abstraction.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC as part of the Exhibit Modigliani Unmasked, which Continues Through February 4th, 2018.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater

Jeanne Hebuterne with Yellow Sweater
Photo By Gail

Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920) met Jeanne Hébuterne in 1917, when she was 19 and a student in Paris. That same year, they moved into a studio and remained together until their deaths in 1920 (Hébuterne committed suicide the day after Modigliani died of tuberculosis). Hébuterne was the subject of more than 20 portraits that embody the artist’s signature depiction: a dramatically elongated figure with almond-shaped eyes and sensual but firmly closed lips. Hébuterne looks straight ahead, but her eyes are empty, as if caught in a reverie. African masks and early Sienese masters, as well as the concurrent styles of Constantin Brancusi and Pablo Picasso, influenced Modigliani’s work.

Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater (1919) was photographed as part of the exhibit, Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Charles Demuth, My Egypt

My Egypt
Photo By Gail

In the 1920s, Charles Demuth (1883 – 1935) painted a remarkable series of “Poster Portraits” depicting friends and fellow artists. Rather than capturing a physical likeness, these works conveyed the subject’s character through arrangements of commonplace objects rendered in the crisp style of advertisements. While Demuth did not include a self-portrait in the series, My Egypt (1927), produced during the same period, suggests a parallel effort to distill his personal and artistic concerns in symbolic terms. This depiction of a newly built grain elevator in the artist’s native Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the apex of his quest to develop a dynamic geometric style that would herald America’s industrial prowess. By titling the painting My Egypt, Demuth equates the grain elevator with the ancient pyramids, but he also invites a more poignant, intimate reading. When he made this work, Demuth was confined by debilitating illness to his home in Lancaster. Calling the image his Egypt links his hometown to the Biblical narrative of Egypt as a site of involuntary bondage.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Modern Art Monday Presents: John Wilde’s Work Reconsidered #1

Work Reconsidered #1
Photo By Gail

The “Work Reconsidered” in the title is John Wilde’s own drawing. This painting from 1950 is based on a “bridal” portrait that Wilde had made of his wife, Helen, in 1943. Its exacting realism and compressed perspective, as well as the subject’s pose and inscrutable expression, recall the Northern and Italian Renaissance portraits that inspired Wilde. He added surrealist details to these traditions: the butterflies on the woman’s body and head, the isolated food items on the table, and the moody landscape background create and otherworldly effect.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC.