May 13, 2000
Waiting to get in to see the Porter show. Night before last was Rackstraw's opening at Miller. A strange scene- huge, cold space, he shared it with a photographer. The paintings were tough- my favorites were the World Trade center ones and the expressway, also the small ones of the square building in the Hudson. Party later at Miller's turned into a bit of a zoo with the younger crowd behaving like vandals- a number of crashers We leave for Vermont on Friday- can't wait to see all the plants, the pond.
Finishing up the Bahama journal- rereading the one from the Caribbean I expressed much more pleasure and enthusiasm, even though the journals are really quite similar, down to the apercu's and the menus.
And since the last page was written the World Trade Center was destroyed and everything grew clearer or less clear. "We all felt" "Everything has changed" But now I realize that the lineaments of reality were obscured for us by our attitudes, our confidence, our obliviousness.
Tonight Jim and I are on our way to an exhibit and dinner at MOMA, the Russian Avant Gard Book. And I'm bringing this book to write down anything interesting or useful.
If you had no mirror
February 23, 2001
Hard at work on "Embarkation to Cythera". Keep hearing that wonderful line in my head "y la reina del cielo Embarear quiere." Ken Johnson said in the Times guide after my first show at Pelavin that I had a dry but sensuous touch. This winter, in two small paintings leading up to Wautteau, I consciously made the medium fatter- feel like I am discovering the secrets of "oil" painting. The moss, the greek head, the "skin" of the head, were a pleasure to paint. Also, the painting of the plate I borrowed from C.B., with moss and quail egges. I fell in love with the swallows on the plate at a party at C.B.'s house. She invited me over a few weeks later to look at the entire collection of arts and crafts movement brown and white ware. I still loved the swallows best, in some way they are atypical. Most of the patterns were set into geometric shaps.
I realized that my favorite patterns have a representational space- that is, the plate becomes the space for a scene.
I set to with enthusiasm- convinced myself that C.B. would buy the painting, allthough Jim assured me that she would not.
Again, the painting went well, and C.B.'s face literally lit up when she saw it. We had port and Stilton and talked about Iraq, but there was no talk of buying a painting.
What is the allure of Watteau's Embarkation? I literally woke up one day with the painting on my mind.
October 5, 2002
Starting a monotype of the classical head I borrowed from Jim Bergeson and didn't use in the "Dream of the Window" paintings, although it appears in several monotype studies for those paintings.
"The Dream of the Window" 2002 22 by 30 inches monotype
"Walk in the Window" 2002 22 by 30 inches monotype
December 29, 2002
New idea for painting. Reflecting Watteau's Pilgrimage to Cythera with mossy foreground and some kind of topiary fantasy or picnic remains or both. People-filled holidays.
Show at CP opened the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. LK bought Remembering the Perseids at Pagosa, the Bradley's bought Verisimilitude.
Now getting back to work. Melissa will print out the backdrop tomorrow I hope.
Ruth got me a history of great American Gardens. Seems there was a sculptor named Harriet Frishmuth whose sculpture "The Vine" stood in "a green enclave of sheered retinosporas, (q'est-ce-que c'est?) tossing her hair back and ecstatically throwing her grapes in the air." Perfect!, Harriet the sculptor and then apparently there was a "rose specialist" Mrs. Harriet Foote.
April 26, 2007
Acela Express en route to Bill's 65th birthday. Uptown Spring Street Platform closed, downtown to Canal, A train to Penn Station, plenty of time, couldn't see the board, lined up for the Washington Acela instead of Boston!
"The story of a painting, or me and Matisse and Proust. Several years ago, ten or even more, I came across a black and white photograph taken by Matisse for Louis Aragon's book "Matisse. A Novel;" a deadpan arrangement of rows of objects. The photograph was titled "Objects that have been of use to me almost all my life."
I have used several objects over and over again, and in a book I wrote about my work I proposed that I was trying to "get it right" each time. Every rendition of objects I painted over and over for the past 35 years or so is different.
In the summer of 2006 I returned to three familiar props, a pink cup and saucer which were similar to an often painted but now broken pair, a majolica dish, and a blue and white bowl.The composition included broken lengths of birch, another motif. After the painting was nearly finished I was struck by a possible interpretation of its personal meanings. The pink cup and saucer were me, and the majolica dish and patterned bowl which flanked the cup on either side were my guardians, and more; they were my financial guardians since they had been successful in the marketplace. Retiring from teaching I had embarked on an insecure life without a salary.
(The title of the painting "La Tasse Rose c'est moi") was a nod to Flaubert's remark "Madame Bovary C'est Moi."
I had just finished reading Hilary Spurling's 2 volume biography of Matisse which reminded me that in my youth I had loved Matisse, but as I developed my ideas about painting he no longer was a direct mentor, but an equally powerful figure replaced him, Marcel Proust, whom I sometimes thought of as my aesthetic brother. Although not an ardent francophile by any means, these two radical and innovative artists seened to me to be guardians of another sort, of sensibility. When I returned to my NY studio I completed "La Tasse" and another painting I had left on the easel, "After Ensor", based on a strange composition by the Norwegian painter. It included the often painted conch shell I found in the Bahamas' Exuma Banks.
It was high time to start the painting inspired by the Matisse photograph. I set up: Quan Yin, The Virgin Mary, the Tang groom, the two horses, the glass birds, the vases- yellow, black, green, striped, blue, red glass, the oyster plate, the panther, the swan, the mirror, the floral wreath, several figurines from the Cythera cast, the black rimmed cup and saucer, and more.
I began to work on 9" x 12" watercolor paper, adding on as the image developed. After the large watercolor and ink-jet print I developed from it, I worked on a small commission for Bill Hochhausen- a tea pot that was part of a set of dishes, all that his parents were able to salvage after their possessions were confiscated as they waited to escape Europe.
September 23, 2007
The last day of summer; Jim in the city. This past week has been glorious; almost finished a large watercolor; worked every day; got a third coat of gesso on the canvas I stretched. I will start the painting tomorrow since J got his all clean CAT+PET scans, I had a surge of energy, and felt happy really for the first time since February.
The leaf color is beautiful this season, now that the reds are so much brighter than last season, I find myself loveing the yellow-oranges more. It is also a relief not to be called out of the studio for gardening, although I will have to do some cutting back and transplanting, plant the bulbs from the gift tulips,which surely froze in the refrigerator.
"Dad's" poppies, from the seeeds I planted in July, are extraordinary; myriad petals, deep orange; pink reading Volume II of Hilary Spurling's biography of Matisse- she highlights his "oriental" and Russian influences, he was thrilled with the icons he saw in Moscow.
The book raises more questions than it answers, but it is utterly engrossing.
I am the little pink cup, guarded by the majolica compote and the blue and white bowl on the left + right respectively; their commercial success as subjects, guarantor of "hixe, calme et volupte"; country life is purposeful; weeding vegeatbles, picking flowers, long walks; what is the purpose? Making the practical pleasurable? It delights me to survey each day the changes in the landscape; how the rather comical lambs graze in the field.
Olga Melison, student of Matisse when he taught pupils in the convent building of Sacre Coeur where he also had his studio and family (1909). She had been the class monitor for Kandinsky's school.
Matisse in an interview published by Les Nouvelles, April 12, 1909, explained that the invention of photography released painting from the need to copy nature; penetrate rather than reporduce reality "present emotion as directly as possible and by the simplest means".
Spurling is not very convincing in her protestations of Matisse's fidelity to Amelie, allthough he was apparently not the typical French sexist.
I don't think I will hike today, I "want to be alone." I will try to do a study down by the gazebo of the swimming hole; the yellow orange leaves are outlining the edge as they get lodged against the black rocks, like the tide pools on Buckle Island picking out an edge of white barnackles like a necklace- correspondence, abound.
Decided to call the new painting " La tasse rose, C'est moi" after Flaubert's famous quote or confession "Madame Bovary c'est moi."
My slow return, in my head to France; the Matisse biography, but also I suppose by setting up the still ife "objects that have been of use to me almost all my life" loosely based, or inspired by the Matisse photo of the same name, has made me consider that in the years before I went to college and then art school, Matisse as my first love; the art news cover of the lemmons on the pink ground- and the much later when we moved to NY- Proust was my soulmate it seemed, or brother.
(Now I had a flash about how to get unstuck with Uncle Willy, start it after his suicide or make Helen the make character)
October 17, 2008
Riding Amtrack, left the car at a shed in Groton, five minutes from Altoon who drove us to Montpelier. Glorious foilage.
In the light,