Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's better in person

I finally went and saw the Celia Beaux show at the Tacoma Art museum.
You may remember that I mentioned here in this post-- I'm so glad I went! I'm kicking myself for not having gone sooner, so I could have gone multiple times. If you get a chance, go.
Words fail to describe how blown away I was. The reproductions of her work in no way do it justice. It is not hyperbole to say that Beaux is on par with Sargent in terms of mastery, especially in regards to temperature changes to model form. The idea that she is not held in such high esteem today is criminal. I recommend this book, but it's a pale shadow in comparison to the real thing.

Oddly enough, her show helped me connect more deeply with another artist whose work looks better in person: Dan Gerhartz. Dan has made a proper study of Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, et al, and his work shows it to great effect. His video demonstrations very clearly analyze some of the effects used by Beaux and the aforementioned male artists (like halation).

Here's a few other artists whose work I've seen in person-- work I've liked before, but was enraptured by when I got to see it up close.

J.C. Leyendecker
He used to do tons of studies for paintings then piece together a final image. His work is always gorgeous. I am privileged to have a small scrap of one of those studies (most of the canvases were cut up and each sketch sold piecemeal), for the second piece (the two fellers holding the flag) shown on this blog.

That little scrap reveals the poetry of his brush work.

Bo Bartlett
His reproductions are very nice, but it's hard to beat seeing his work in person. The scale is so much larger than you think. It's a different experience.

The drawings of Egon Schiele
I saw a huge exhibit of his drawings at the Met in New York, and I was hooked. The character and patina in the works themselves add a deeper relationship to the subject than is first apparent in a reproduction. That was part of an ongoing lesson for me about the importance of surface.

Kim English
I cannot emphasize how much seeing his work in person adds to the experience.


Steven said...

Great links, Jason. Thanks for sharing. :)

Stacey Peterson said...

Call me jealous - Celia Beaux is one of my favorite painters. Her work is hard to find. I've only seen 2 or 3 of her paintings in person, and I think they had to have been at the Met or in Chicago - they were stunners! Now, they just need to bring that show to Denver =)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see her work in person, the Portrait Society of America has the Celia Beaux Forum and it is true, I never heard of her until I joined.

Jason Waskey said...

My pleasure. Happy New Year!

Seeing the collection as a cohesive whole was frankly pretty stunning. Enough so, that I actually took notes-- and I hate to take notes.

Some things I wrote down:

Growth in her career: she got looser through the years, she wasn't afraid of change (or of taking risks). More than that, the quality was high throughout her career.

Each painting had solutions that were applied in a unique fashion. She didn't rely on the same toolset (tricks) for each painting. Go and take a look at Sargent's last 20 years or so--there is a great deal of uniformity in how he painted each portrait.

Her whites rocked.

She used brush size to great effect.

Thin color on much of the canvas-- not overworked.

Her pastel piece (there was just one) was phenomenal.

Great stuff. I wish that I knew where it was headed next. It kind of crept into Tacoma...

Highly recommended if you get the chance...

donnaprizzi said...

Jason, just recently viewed your blog for the first time and I'm so happy to have found you! Your work is wonderful. Also, great informative posts and commentaries.

Jason Waskey said...


Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the kind words...