In the late 1980s, David Hockney bought a house on the beach in Malibu, California and proceeded to paint interiors that showcased the incredible view of the sea from his picture window. “When you live this close to the sea,” he said, “when it literally comes up and splashes the windows, it is not the horizon line which dominates, but the close movement of the water itself. It’s like fire and smoke, endlessly changing, endlessly fascinating.” In Breakfast at Malibu, Sunday (1989) the Pacific Ocean is almost opalescent and seems to blend in with the horizon near the top edge of the canvas.
Part of a Private Collection, This Painting was Photographed While On Loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Trains play a prominent, reoccurring role in Paul Delvaux’s surrealist imagery, including this eerie depiction of two locomotives leaving their terminus at night. Unpopulated, the composition of Small Train Station at Night (1959) invites the viewer to imagine inhabiting the space, this evoking a sense of loneliness and vulnerability. An unnaturally large moon casts the scene in a cool, still light that produces protracted, ominous shadows. These features betray Delvaux’s debt to Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico, who likewise explored the train as both subject and symbol in his work.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
In 1978, Elizabeth Murray (1940 – 2007) made a series of irregular, star-shaped paintings with the aim, she said, of “trying to complicate and obfuscate the edges” of her medium. Indeed, the jostling contours and vivid colors of Onceappear to explode outward, as if pressing the very form on the canvas into new arrangements. Murray’s dynamic compositions, charged brush strokes, and radical disruption of the frame transform the picture plane into both surface and object. While these paintings appear purely abstract, hints of imagery and reference return in subsequent works. Drawing on Cubism, Surrealism and Minimalism, Murray’s fragmented geometries and biomorphic shapes reinvigorated formalist painting in the 1970s and 1980s.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Before attending the Royal College of Art in London, Peter Phillips (b. 1939) studied graphic design and technical draftsmanship. He applied his skills to establish a style marked by the juxtaposition of images, like the Pinup Model and Car Part in Custom Print I (1965), which were sourced from magazines and other mass media in montage-like compositions. The title of this print — the first in a series three — refers to custom auto-body shops where a polished enamel sheen is appleid to cars. Phillips worked with Chiron Press, a screenprinting studio that produced posters and greeting cards. The press encouraged him experiment with nontraditional materials such as silver foil and glossy inks, which complement the artist’s brash and vibrant style.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
A member of the “international set” in fin-de-siècle Europe, Baron Adolf de Meyer (1868–1946) was also a pioneering photographer, known for creating works that transformed reality into a beautiful fantasy. De Meyer likely acquired this tuxedo from the venerable tailor Wolf Kahan during a visit to Vienna. Kahan’s shop, designed by the modernist architect Adolf Loos, catered to the city’s leading artists. The tailor’s son Louis worked from 1925 to 1927 as a designer for the Paris couturier Paul Poiret, whose collections De Meyer photographed.
De Meyer was considered an arbiter of style; he wrote columns for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar that instructed American women on the latest European trends in fashion and interior decoration. His columns also offered tips on hostess etiquette and entertaining. For a time, De Meyer produced his own couture line, Gayne House, sold through his New York shop, Zarah.
Wolf Kahan Tuxedo Circa 1930. Jacket and Trousers: Black Wool Broadcloth and Silk Satin Vest: Black Wool Twill, Rayon Grosgrain, and Silk Plain Weave
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Quicksilver Brilliance: Adolf De Meyer Photographs, on View Through April 8th, 2018 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Paul Cadmus (December 17, 1904 – December 12, 1999) was an American artist, best known for his egg tempera paintings of gritty social interactions in urban settings. His paintings combine elements of eroticism and social critique in a style often called magic realism. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently reintroduced a series of his thematic paintings, The Seven Deadly Sins (1945 – 49), for exhibit in the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries, and they are amazingly graphic works of surrealist horror art that are really something to see.
Between 1945 and 1949, Paul Cadmus turned his dexterous hand and fertile imagination to rendering the Seven Deadly Sins, a subject with biblical antecedents that artists (including Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder) have explored since the Middle Ages.
Cadmus’s interpretation extends his predilection for social satire to surreal extremes of excess, vulgarity and gore. Of the series, Cadmus explained, “I don’t appear as myself, but I am all of the Deadly Sins in a way, as you all are, to.
David Hockney’s most famous paintings of Los Angeles, such as A Bigger Splash (1967), depict a commonplace aspect of the city: private swimming pools. This is the final and the largest of three versions on the same theme, all based on an image that the artist found in a book about home pools. Hockney took care to keep the backdrop as flat — almost abstract — as possible, using rollers to apply the acrylic of the azure sky. The splash, in contrast, meticulously rendered with small brushes, took the artist nearly two weeks to finish. “I loved the idea of painting this thing which lasts for two seconds,” he said. “The painting took much longer to make than the splash existed for.” The result is one of the most iconic depictions of a certain upscale California lifestyle; aspirational, and perhaps more Hollywood make-believe than real.
Photographed as Part of the David Hockney Career Retrospective, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC Through February 25th, 2018.