Saturday, March 14, 2009

Other Artists, Other Rooms

Food images enliven the arts, even authenticate them as part of our human experience.

But above all, they offer immediate access to the affective essence of expression. Within this matrix of forces, food has played a sustained aesthetic role, commanding documentation and synthesis. Having, then, examined a range of food images in the arts, this exercise on a single theme may lead us forward to an appreciation of the artist's entire oeuvre.

Richard Diebenkorn (Portland,OR, 1922-1993) Coffee, 1959
He was the most successful and imaginative of the West Coast Abstract Expressionist painters in the 1950s but eschewed the New York scene and Clement Greenberg's dictatorial definitions. His influences came from Cezanne, Klee and others, especially in his handling of the human figure, and Matisse and Mondrian in his landscapes (below, Cityscape 1, 1963)

and other non-figurative works, which were strongly dependent upon structure and laying-out color panels as in both Coffee (left) and Ocean Park #83, 1975 (right).

George Segal, (1924-2000) The Diner, 1964-66

One of the early avant-garde artists at Rutgers University in the 1950s. He began there as a night school student while also running the family chicken farm some fifteen minutes away. Later, he became a leader in Pop sculpture with works like The Diner, complete with coffee urn. I graduated Rutgers in June 1954. I just missed him.

By 1970, his appreciation for subtler abstract forms began to show as in Girl on a Chair, 1970, left. In Five Apples on Blue Drapery he toys with Cezanne's famous table tops with apples, and then extends the idea in Helen with Apples,
1981, below.

Porter (190701975) Iced Coffee, 1966

Very traditional realist, capturing the gentle suburban or rural upper middle class life in New England. He was also a respected art critic and wrote many incisive reviews. His Breakfast Still Life, 1975, is particularly evocative of the regional life style. He was a great admirer the French painter of similar scenes, Edouard Vuilllard.

Bettag (UK, BA (honors) 1991, Camberwell College of Arts and Crafts, London, England) Coffee Pot, 2001

Well-known for her painting and installation art, she resides and works in San Francisco. Her work is shown at the Frey Norris Gallery, 456 Geary Street.

Identified with EAT ME (Emerging Artists on Consumption), Coffee Pot (and other similar images) are part of a series painted on brown paper lunch bags, exploring our consumer culture. Bettag comments on the stereotypical roles assigned women in American life, shorthanded here as food service and sexual pleasure.

Bettag, Vanitas Baby, 2007 (Installation, below)

Statement from Frey Norris Gallery:
Although this is not "feminist" per se, it is definitely woman-based: all the drawings taken from hardcore porn are of women, and the overlaying patterns, at least according to the artist, are meant to reference the intricate repetitiveness of "women's handicrafts."

These images are a more sophisticated input on feminist issues. As intriguing and strong as her Coffee Pot (with nude images) is, her work five years later is amazing. She pulls abreast of color field artists and flirts with Matisse, manipulating spoor-like embellishment and colors that make us stand still. The semi-erotic line drawings are more subtle now and well-integrated into the over-all surface.

Vanitas is a term for 15th-16th century Dutch paintings that warned us about the losses we face at death and our pointless human vanity. Emphasis here on piety.
Pieter Claesz, Vanitas, 1630

1 comment:

monaluna said...

i LOVE diebenkorn's cityscape 1!