Monday, September 28, 2020

Guy Anderson, Another Pacific Northwest "Mystic" Painter

Guy Anderson (1906-1998) was one of the four Seattle area painters famously (in Seattle, at least) featured in a 1953 Life Magazine article.  I wrote about them here.  More information regarding Anderson can be found in a fairly lengthy Wikipedia entry.

My post included the following:

"I should add that Guy Anderson was my art 'instructor' once upon a time. In retrospect, it was probably an example of Richard Fuller [head of the Seattle Art Museum] helping out an artist in need. What happened was that, during my senior year in high school, the Seattle Art Museum held an all-city art class wherein each of the eight public high schools sent two students to it one afternoon a week. For a reason I do not know, I was one of Roosevelt High's representatives. There actually wasn't much or any 'instruction' from Anderson. He'd mostly sit there in his turtle-neck sweater and tweed jacket and puff on a pipe while we students did whatever puttering around we did with our art supplies. The main things I got from the class were a crush on one of the girls and a date for my senior prom with another."

As it happens, I now live right outside the town of La Conner, Washington where Anderson spent a good deal of his life, including his final years.   The Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner has some of his paintings.

Anderson's works are usually large -- even huge -- with plenty of impasto.  Unless he used cheap paints, the monetary cost of some of his projects must have been considerable.  Although he incorporated stylized images of humans in his earlier works, he later tended to create abstractions.  Examples of each can be seen below.


Search for the Morning - c. 1951

Language Wheel - 1962

Deception Pass Through Indian Country - 1960
Washington State's Deception Pass is a narrow strait essentially separating Whidbey Island from the mainland.  There are Indian reservations nearby.  None of this seems very evident in the painting.

Storm over Skagit
La Conner is located in Skagit County, and there is a Skagit River there.

Man and Woman in Dark of Night - 1969

Place of Socrates - 1980

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Norman Mills Price, Stickler for Authenticity

Norman Mills Price (1877-1951) was a Canadian-born, Europe-trained illustrator known in his trade for taking pains to get correct details in his works.  His brief Wikipedia entry is here.   It notes: "At the time of his death Price was honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York."   So it seems he was respected by many of his peers.  The Society's page devoted to him is here, and it contains far more information than Wikipedia.

That said, images of his illustrations found on the Internet strike me as being competent, but not outstanding.  Some also seem stylistically derivative of better arises such as Howard Pyle (see the final image below).


Dancing to records

Distracted couple

Apparent cocoa advertising art - c.1918

Soldier and woman

Violinist and admiring women

Bathroom fixtures advertisement art - 1920s

Blackbeard Stood and Only Yellped as Each Bullet Hit Him - c.1928

Pirates entering room

Mary Read fighting a pirate - 1929

Monday, September 21, 2020

Portraits of Women by Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980) is known for her 1930-vintage paintings of people done in a slightly simplified, smoothed manner while featuring crisply defined costumes and geometrical backgrounds.  Retrospectively, her style can be considered High Art Deco in the context of a field that does not easily lend itself to Art Deco, which is fundamentally architectural-decorative.

Her lengthy Wikipedia entry can be linked here.

Lempicka did paint portraits of men, but mostly painted women.  Many of these women are anonymous or else identified by their first name.  Other works are commissioned portraits of (mostly) identifiable women.  Many of those can be seen below.  They are in chronological order.


Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) - 1929
This was commissioned as cover art for a German magazine.  It has been pointed out that Lempicka did not own a Bugatti and that all Bugattis were right-hand drive, unlike the one in the painting.  Nevertheless, this is probably her most famous works.  I viewed it many years ago at an Art Deco exhibit in San Francisco.

Mrs Bush - 1929
This portrait of Mrs Rufus Bush was auctioned at Christie's for $4.6 million.

Lady in Lace - Portrait of Mrs Allan Bott - 1930

Mme Boucard - c. 1931
This, and the two preceding paintings have skyscraper backgrounds that contribute to the Art Deco effect.  So do others shown below.

Mme M - 1932
Auctioned at Christie's for $6.1 million, the subject is essentially anonymous.

Marjorie Ferry - 1932
Auctioned at Christies for 16.4 million British pounds.

Suzy Solidor - 1933
She was a French actress and singer who I wrote about here.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Gallen-Kallela Paints the Kalevala

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931) is perhaps Findland's greatest painter.  I wrote about his portrait art here, and his Wikipedia entry is here.

At various times over his career he painted scenes from the epic Finnish poem, the Kalevala.  Some were easel paintings, some were murals, and his media were sometimes oil and sometimes tempera.

The Kalevala is an immense poem, but here is information regarding it and Gallen-Kallela's works.  For the images below, I follow the sequence found there. 

Kalevala paintings by Gallen-Kallela (along with many others of his works) can be seen in the Ateneum art museum in Helsinki.  If you happen to be in town, don't miss visiting it.


Aino Myth Triptych - 1891

Joukahainen's Revenge - 1897

Forging the Sampo - 1893

By the River of Tuonela - study - 1903

Lemminkäinen Came to the River - 1920

Lemmink√§inen’s Mother - 1897

Kullervo Cursing - 1899

The Abduction of Sampo - 1905

The Defense of the Sampo - 1896

Monday, September 14, 2020

Minneapolis' 1929 Foshay Tower

Eons ago when I was in my mid-teens our family took the Milwaukee line railroad to Chicago.  The train stopped briefly in Minneapolis where I noticed a tall, white, slightly obelisk-shaped office building.  Unusual, distinctive.  That was long before the recent architectural fashion of shaping buildings like tabletop sculptures.

That building was the Foshay Tower, completed in 1929, immediately before the stock market crash that set off the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Background information can be found here and here.

The Foshay Tower's shape was inspired by the Washington Monument in Washington, DC.  Obviously, a functioning office building required different proportions than those of the monument, so the concept was somewhat flawed.

Currently the structure houses a hotel.


An early photo.

The tower under construction seen from the same viewpoint.

An early color (or colorized) image.

An aerial view possibly taken when the Foshay was new.  Nowadays it is dwarfed by taller skyscrapers.

A later, closer aerial view of the tower.

Early image of a reception and waiting room.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Some of Morris Graves' Birds

Morris Graves (1910-2001) was one of the "Mystic" painteres of the Pacific Northwest featured in a 1953 issue of Life Magazine. I wrote about the group here.  A lengthy Wikipedia entry about Graves can be linked here.

As Wikipedia indicates, Graves checked off many boxes on the "artistic temperament" list.  One he didn't check was that of Starving Artist, because his works seemed to have sold well and he was able to buy property and houses in various places over his career.

Although he was a modernist, he did not embrace abstract art.  However, his subjects were subject to distortions and embellishments of modernism.  As for those subjects, they often were birds, and he is probably best known for his bird paintings.  Some examples are shown below.


Spirit Bird - 1954

Young Irish Bird - 1954
First, two paintings made a decade or so after his most characteristic bird images.

Wounded Seagull - 1943
This painting features brushwork that's much stronger than Graves' usual rather wispy style.

Bluebird - 1943
Here is a more classic Graves bird image.

Nestling - 1940
In New York's Museum of Modern Art collection.

Bird Singing in the Moonlight - 1938-39
The white calligraphy is similar to what his friend Mark Tobey would be doing in the 1940s.

Blind Bird - 1940
Another classic bird image, now in New York's MoMA.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Some Henry Raleigh 1920s Party Scenes

Henry Patrick Raleigh (1880-1944) was one of the most popular American illustrators during the 1920s and into the 1930s. Besides having nice touches in drawing style and composition, these were capped by his ability to capture his subjects' characters. He was really good.

I wrote about Raleigh here and here. Illustration maven David Apatoff has takes about him here and here that are worth reading for interesting background information.

Below are images of party scenes illustrated by Raleigh. Parties were a major topic of his.


This is from 1929 when Twenty's flapper fashions were starting to evolve into 1930s styles where women's hairdos were a little longer and open-back party dresses were common for young ladies.

Confrontation scene.

A European party from 1923.

Note the various facial expressions and the body language.

Masked ball.

Entry of a siren.

I suppose the main subject is the lounging woman in the foreground. But what interests me more is Raleigh' treatment of the face of the woman standing left-center.

Ivory Flakes (soap) illustration, 1930s.