Visión de túnel
(En guerra contra la mediocridad) Cuaderno de imágenes encontradas por Antonio Trashorras
Wagon Lits Cook. 1934.
"Un buen cartel es un telegrama visual". A. M. Cassandre.
Con vosotros uno de los pilares del cartelismo e impulsor decisivo del Art Decó a nivel popular. De las estilizadas obras de A.M. Cassandre me sigue maravillando su abrumadora capacidad de síntesis, su certera diagramación, su radicalidad a la hora de llevar lo más lejos posible un concepto de partida, y ese modelado cromático, denso y bidimensional al mismo tiempo, tantas veces imitado desde entonces. Os dejo con su obra.
Muchísima información sobre él, incluídos estos textos que a continuación incluyó, puede encontrarse en la página web: www.cassandre.fr.
Adolphe Jean-Marie Edouard Mouron, known as A.M. Cassandre, was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, on January 24, 1901. His parents were French. After a childhood spent shuttling back and forth between Russia and France, he settled in Paris with his family in 1915 and completed his schooling there. In 1918, after attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts very briefly, he enrolled in Lucien Simon’s independent studio and later at the Académie Julian.
Soon obliged to earn his own living, Mouron designed several posters, possibly as early as 1921; they were done in a caricatural style which was probably derived from the German School. Almost all of these early works have been lost. In 1922 he moved to his first studio in Paris, on the Rue du Moulin-Vert in Montparnasse. He decided to sign his advertising designs with the pseudonym Cassandre, which was sometimes combined (up to 1928) with the name Mouron.
He produced his first poster Au Bucheron at 22. His inspiration for this piece and others that followed, came from the fine arts active in Paris at the time. There is evidence of influence from the works of Picasso and Braque. His poster works celebrate architectonic structure and the machine. His attraction and use of the steamboat and locomotive elements were close to embracing the poetic spirit of friend Le Corbusier. Close inspection of his works reveal a knowledge of the Purist principles and the use of grid structures.
Vin Tonique Quinquina.
In 1924 he created the great L’Intransigeant truck poster. Cassandre’s work was seen as a bridge between the modern fine arts and the commercial arts. Despite his affinity to the fine arts he always believed there should be a separateness between disciplines. The success of his posters probably lies in his philosophy that his posters were meant to be seen by people who do not try to see them.
In 1924, Cassandre married his first wife, Madeleine Cauvet, who was the niece of Georges Richard, one of the pioneers of France’s automobile industry. He commissioned Auguste Perret to design a house for him in Versailles and settled there after its completion in 1925. That same year, Cassandre signed an exclusive contract with Hachard & Cie, the firm which was to publish his posters up to 1927. After meeting Maurice Moyrand (in 1926), who was at that time the head agent for the printers L. Danel in Lille and who soon became a close friend, he quit Hachard and began to design for the Lille firm. Simultaneously, he designed his advertising typeface, Bifur, which was cast in the spring of 1929 by Deberny & Peignot.
Toward the end of 1933, he made his debut as a painter for the theater, thanks to Louis Jouvet who was first to put his gifts in this field to use. That same year, Cassandre was given a teaching position at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs; however, the graphic advertising studio he taught in soon had to close its doors for lack of funds. Between 1934 and 1935 he taught at a graphic arts school on the Rue Férou in Paris.
In 1935, Cassandre signed an exclusive contract with the firm of Draeger Fréres for the French editions of his posters. Between 1935 and 1936 he also produced work for Säuberlin & Pfeiffer S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland, and the Officina Grafica Coen in Milan, Italy. He also completed his first all-purpose typeface, Peignot, which was cast in time to be exhibited at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.
In 1936 he traveled to America to work on several projects. While there he designed several surrealistic covers for Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar. In addition, he created for NW Ayers, the classic eye of the Ford billboard and several pieces for the Container Corporation of America. His career as a poster designer ended in 1939 when he changed disciplines and became a stage, set and theatrical designer.
On his return from New York, Cassandre settled in Paris again. He divorced his first wife and, shortly afterward, joined the army when World War II was declared. He was demobilized in the fall of 1940, and resumed work on his painting. An exhibition of his easel paintings was held at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris in 1942. A year earlier, while working on several decorative panels in Lyon for the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, he had met Nadine Robinson, a dress designer for Lucien Lelong, whom he was to marry in 1947.
Nicolas, Verre et Bouteille. 1935.
Up to 1944, painting remained Cassandre’s main activity, though he devoted a good deal of time to designing sets and costumes for the theater, a creative field which allowed him to combine his interests in painting and architecture. His theater work included designs for the Paris Opera, the Comédie des Champs-Elysées in Paris and the Monte Carlo Opera. At the end of the war he resumed his activities as a graphic artist (advertisements, magazine covers, illustrations, playing cards, posters and layouts).
Dole Pineapple. 1938.
Cassandre spent six months in Italy in 1948; he designed several posters for his publisher in Milan, Augusto Coen (Calcografia & Cartevalori), and experimented with the technique of polychrome copperplate engraving used in printing bank notes. He continued his theatrical work, designed the maquettes for the sets for Monsieur de Pourceaugnac, which opened in Paris toward the end of the year. After returning to Paris in the fall of 1948, Cassandre was approached by the organizers of the International Music Festival at Aix-en-Provence, who asked him to design an Italian-style open-air stage in the courtyard of the Archbishop’s palace in that town, as well as the décors and costumes for Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which was to inaugurate the theater. This production was internationally successful. Cassandre, at the height of his reputation as a theater designer, was awarded the French Legion of Honor in the same year.
Dole Pineapple. 1936.
In 1950, a major retrospective exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs revealed to the public Cassandre’s richly diverse work in the graphic and plastic arts over the previous twenty-five years.
Cassandre divorced his second wife in 1954. After designing sets for the Comédie-Française, the May Festival de l’Œuvre du Xxe Siècle in Paris, among others, he rounded off his theatrical œuvre by designing the settings and costumes for Racine’s tragedies at the Comédie-Française in 1959. Time consuming as they were, however, these activities did not prevent him from carrying on his graphic, typographical and pictorial work; he designed several posters, logotypes, record jackets and typefaces for Olivetti typewriters.
In 1959-60, after declining André Malraux’s offer to appoint him director of the French arts academy at the Villa Medici in Rome, Cassandre gave up his apartment and studio on the Rue de Bellechasse, where he had lived for almost twenty years, and moved to a town house which had once belonged to Meissonier on the Place Malesherbes. He painted a series of “decorative” compositions there, and one of his last canvases, La Frontière. In 1962, he was promoted to officer of the Legion of Honor.
The following year, however, Cassandre decided to retire to the country, close to his friend Françoise Michel, near Belley in the Bugey region east of Lyon. He flirted with the idea of founding an internationational art institute, dreamed of building his own house (and actually designed plans for it) and tried to grow roots in the Bugey landscape. But the two years he spent there were filled with uncertainty for him and, discouraged, he returned to Paris in 1965. Back in the city, he designed his last poster, 24 Heures, for a newspaper which folded before it could even begin publishing, and prepared his work for a series of retrospective poster exhibitions at the Galerie Motte in Geneva (1966), the Galerie Janine Hao in Paris (1966) and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (1967). He began work on several canvases, but, except for a last Bugey landscape painted from memory, never completed them. Professionally, Cassandre’s final years were distinguished by the creation of his last typeface, Cassandre, specially designed for photo-composition, which was to remain unpublished until after his death and its epigraphic version, Metop. After a first suicide attempt in 1967, Cassandre took his life in his apartment on the Avenue René-Coty in Paris on June 17, 1968
A genius of poster and type design, Adolphe Mouron was born in Ukraine in 1901, but the political situation at the time moved his family to migrate to Paris. Ironically for one of the most celebrated designers of all times, Adolphe had decided to become a painter upon graduating from high school. He only turned to the art of poster, under the name Cassandre, in the hopes that it would make him self-supportive enough to soon drop it and dedicate himself to painting.
Instead, poster design started exerting an irresistible fascination on him: he saw it as an art that "gave the painter a golden opportunity to communicate with the large public". His words herald the role he would eventually assume, that of a translator of the fine arts into design. At25 he wrote with great lucidity that "the poster is not meant to be a unique specimen conceived to satisfy a single art lover, but a mass-produced object that must have a commercial function. Designing a poster means solving a technical and commercial problem... in a language that can be understood by the common man." Because of this need for clarity, and because he wanted very large posters but had to face the risk of them being distorted by the enlargement process, Cassandre turned to architecture and geometry as means to design them.
The poster done for the newspaper L'Intransigeant in 1925, is one of his best-known works exemplifying his geometrical tendencies. The flatness of the colours, very clear shapes, perspective lines, restrained palette and striking uppercase typography are all characteristic Cassandre elements. The composition is based on three circles -- the eye, ear and mouth. This poster's message is strengthened by conceptual wit. The telegraph lines connected straight to the ear of the figure are a straightforward way of conveying the newspaper's unbiased efficiency. The paper's slogan, "Le plus fort tirage de journaux du soir" (The best-selling evening paper") is cropped to "Le plus fort" ("the Strongest"), and even its name is cut off as if it was impossible for anyone not to instantly recognize it. Braque, Picasso and the collage medium cna all be said to have influenced this work.
New Statendam For Real Comfort. 1929.
This dramatic poster by Cassandre is the perfect expression of the Art Deco style. Power and speed are the message of the streamlined, geometric design of ventilation cowls and smoke stacks. Even the wavy smoke trail evokes the rhythmic, abstract designs of the Jazz Age.
Cassandre burst on the Paris scene in the mid-‘20s and was soon recognized as the father of a new, Machine Age poster style. Strongly influenced by modern art developments in Paris, his posters shocked the public with their dynamic spatial arrangements and abstract geometry. His travel posters for the Normandie, Étoile du Nord and Nord Express, all created in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, are among the most recognized posters ever. In 1936 he was honored with a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art.
Here, a later poster where Cassandre's growing mastery of geometric composition is visible. The monumental ship is nothing but a large rectangle to which a few elements have been appended. The rectangle even continues into the water to become the ships' reflection. Along with strong, centered type, the result is an image of unsinkable strength.
Wagon Bar shows off Cassandre's mastery of compositional theory and his cubism/collage influences. The visual elements are flat and layered on different planes; the photography of the wagon wheel emphasizes their flatness. Four carefully placed circles tie the composition together; the result is a complex assemblage where the eye is lead to and fro.
l'Etoile du Nord. 1927.
Trains and ships were a large part of his posters' subject matter. For l'Etoile du Nord (1927), in a characteristic freedom of vision, he doesn't even show a train, only the railroad tracks composing a nearly abstract picture. The image's main element is a star, literally intrpreting the name of the train with means "the Northern Star". Notice the brilliant way in which the problematic size of the "O"s is solved in the type: by letting them overlap the other letters with a transparency effect he saves them from looking awkwardly large relative to the rest. Moreover, the two Os form a compositional triangle with the star that bring the eye back from the vanishing point. Secondary text creates a frame, almost as if this scene was seen through an abstracted train window.
L.M.S. Bestway. 1929.
The mood of the industial age can be felt in this very unusual approach to a poster. After creating a poster about trains without trains, Cassandre frames the very wheels of that train in a monumental close-up. L.M.S. Bestway (1929) again depends on the circle for its compositonal control; the wheels are drawn abstractly with a speed effect that was quite new at the time. The typography is no less unusual: it is created solely thanks to a fine outline flight. The picture is very minimal, and nearly overwhelming.
Nord Express is different in that the composition is for once triangular,t he circles reduced to ellipses because of the perspective. The abstracted shape of the train is presented in a fish-eye view as it speeds towards a vanishing point situated in a dramatic spot: the lower right corner of the picture. Notice the telegraphic lines that are exact reproductions of what we saw in L'Intransigeant. Cassandre puridied his motifs to the extent of reducing them to icons.
Poster design at the time usually left the lettering for last, placing it at random on the illustration or squeezing it in a convenient corner. Cassandre radically changed that approach: "the design should be based on the text and not inversely". In Cassandre's work it is the text that sets the creation process in motion. An example is the famed Pivolo poster: in French the product name, Pivolo, sounds like "Pie vole haut" ("magpie fly high"), and from this pun the image of the magpie was born. The type used is Bifur, designed by cassandre himself (more on that later). This was the first time he used letters for their visual impact, as a way of echoing the illustration, rather than for their semantic values or architectural qualities. By treating them as surfaces, gradating them from black to dark blue and filling them with shdes of grey, he transformed them into active plastic elements. Thus he turned the text into a rhythmical interplay of lines, surfaces and connecting spaces, as well as achieving an unexpected synthesis of upper and lowercase.
Cassandre would often resort to the kind of pun that created Pivolo's magpie, but the wittiest and most lauded of these examples is what he came up with for Dubonnet. The entire message of the campaign is conveyed by a simple play on the type, highlighting parts of the word in a progression leading to the brand name, while the image illustrates what the copy says. The first vignette reads DUBO, which read like "Du beau" ("something beautiful"). A man gazing at a glass of wine, highlighted only in the face and the arm carrying the glass, confirms that this is the way we are meant to read the text. In the second vignette, we read DUBON ("something good"), and our character is now tasting the drink, the colour reaching down to his stomach. Finally the full brand name, DUBONNET is revealed as the now-complete man helps himself to a second serving.
For his typography, Cassandre used almost nothing but sanserif capitals, which owing to their simplicity were particularly well-suited to the modular construction method he favoured (he clearly aspired to be an architect as well as a painter). Another advantage they presented was that they could be deformed and remain legible. Cassandre was unfailingly loyal to the uppercase because he considered the lowercase to be a manual distortion of the monumental letter. He wanted the primitive letter, a product of T-square and compass, the only letter to be truly monumental, because he hoped to restore the large-scale monumental painting of the finest periods of art history. Such was his state of mind about type when he started designing fonts himself in 1927.
A few years later, Cassandre took a new direction in the search for the calligraphic values of the written letter. This is particularly reflected in his study for Peignot, intended to be an all-purpose typeface with upper and lowercase (which are really small caps). Bifur had been a commercial failure, but Cassandre remained convinced that the only way to restore the dignity of the written word was to return to the Roman alphabet and remove the "decorations" that had accumulated on letterforms. Peignot was not born as a decorative variant on a theme: it was the creation of a new theme that would be the point of departure for decorative experiments. Cassandre thought of it as a new step in the natural evolution of the letter. He believed that lowercase letters came into existence because they were easier to write, but that now, in the printing era, there was no reason why typographers could not return to the noble classical shapes of the alphabet and discard the archaic lowercase. The problem raised by this choice would have been that of legibility: a text in capitals is less legible than a text in lowercase. This is caused by the fact an uppercase word tends to assume a monotonous rectangular appearance with no familiar distinguishing feature to assist the eye, so that the eye grasps only its outline and can't break it down into letters. To solve this, the Peignot small caps preserve ascenders and descenders, which are aids to rapid reading. The only letter to keep its lowercase form was the d. Cassandre conceded to this because he realized that we cannot change our reading habits. All the other letters are capitals, some of which are atrophied (B, L, F), turned into lances (H, K) or dropped from the baseline (P, Q, Y).
Container Corporation of America, 1937
In 1937, after an extended stay in the United states, he turned to his original vocation again: painting. This practice would influence all his late posters and types. In 1958 Olivetti commissioned him several typefaces for typewriters. He then developed a style of letter in which the hand, influenced by painting, is now freed from the geometrical constraints of his pre-war work, and seems to flow with a rhythm inspired by the Roman proportions. The bold vertical strokes are balanced by ample curves, and there is an elegant slope to the letters -- yet they have also an incisive quality that recalls stone cutting. This font, used for the well-known Yves Saint-Laurent logo, was Cassandre's last typographic style.
Container Corporation of America. 1940.
A text of that period expresses his renewed view of letterforms and a new understanding of lowercase letters: "I now view the letter as being born of an expression of gesture, and its natural state is to be drawn rapidly. But it became with printing a sign slowly engraved in steel like the romans engraved on stone, and the temptation to imitate the Roman's monumental inscription, giving the page the severe orderly appearance of architecture, is great. It is a dangerous pitfall for it threatens to deprive the line of its essential movement, This is why we prefer Old Style characters -- they have succeeded in preserving the movement and rhythm of Roman and medieval cursives."
Container Corporation of America. 1938.
Cassandre occupies an important position in the history of graphic design, as a pioneer of poster communication, typographic treatment and the translation of complex visual subjects into symbolic form. The visual themes he tackled became part of the program at the Bauhaus school, among other things. He used the organic techniques of the fine arts and without losing their dynamism, tamed them into the controlled precision of the machine age. By showing the way to a new visual vocabulary more adapted to mass communication, he had a hand in widening the rift between fine arts and graphic design.
posted by ANTONIO TRASHORRAS."
De este ilustrador me interesa, sobre todo, su registro más grotesco, satírico-expresionista y, digamos, europeo. Me atraen menos sus detalladísimos dibujos de pescados y animales diversos, aunque no dejo de reconocer que son fabulosos. Más información sobre él en su página web: www.jackunruh.com
A native of Pretty Prairie, Kansas and the son of an Air Force pilot, Jack lived in a variety of places while growing up. After graduating from Washington University in St Louis he settled and stayed put in Dallas, Texas.
He has been recognized with gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators and has appeared in every Communication Arts illustration annual, American Illustration, Graphis, AIGA, Print and the New York Art Directors Club have also exhibited his illustrations. In 1998 the New York Society of Illustrators awarded Unruh the Hamilton King Award. Jack was featured in the 2002 Sept/Oct issue of Graphis 341, "Jack Unruh, Quick on the Draw."
Much of his work parallels an interest in the outdoors, while some of the more conceptual illustrations are a result of waiting for the hatch or watching the sun set over West Texas quail country.
The results have been published in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Time, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, GQ, Road and Track Men's Journal, and Texas Monthly to name a few.
I draw fairly well and I design fairly well," said Mr. Jack Unruh as he modestly described his artistic talent in a nutshell. Unruh is an Illustrator whose work has been sought after by companies such as Citigroup, Exxon, Neiman Marcus, and most recently, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Unruh was hired by WCS to design graphic illustrations for the Bronx Zoo's newest exhibit, Congo Gorilla Forest.
Unruh designs "value forms in black and white, and adds color [sparingly] to enhance" his art. The graphic illustrations featured on the panels one sees throughout the 6.5 acre exhibit were done by Unruh. Pen, ink and brush were the materials he used to create the serene wildlife image shown below.
"Positive and negative shapes," says Unruh, are visible throughout his artwork. By finding a balance between the two forces, his work evokes harmony. According to Unruh, obtaining that balance is a "fairly intuitive type of thing." Oriental and far eastern art has greatly influenced Unruh, because of the strong design sense and motion featured in their drawings. Legendary artists who have inspired him are Audrey Beardsley, Peter Breughel, Henry Clay, Albert Durr, and Hans Holbein.
In 1958, Unruh earned a B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. Unruh's work has been featured in The New York Society of Illustrators since 1967. The NY Society of Illustrators and the Dallas Society of Visual Communications have presented him with numerous medals, and awards in recognition of his work. In addition, in 1998 he was the recipient of the Hamilton King Award from the NY Society of Illustrators for lifetime achievement.
posted by ANTONIO TRASHORRAS.
Book burners, 1951.
Vamos con uno de los grandes: Rockwell Kent. Este talento multifacético (periodista y ensayista, además de pintor y agitador social) hizo de su activísima y viajera existencia su mejor obra. Además, enriqueció el arte estadounidense con una cantidad ingente de grabados, lienzos, dibujos y litografías a caballo entre el simbolismo a lo William Blake y el paisajismo reconcentrado de ecos místico-románticos (porqué no, Friedrich... no en cuanto a técnica, pero sí en aliento). Un monstruo cuyo legado, obviamente, excede el limitado espacio que aquí puedo otorgarle, pero que, aun así, trataré de presentaros lo mejor posible con la siguiente selección gráfica.
"If to the viewer's eyes, my world appears less beautiful than his, I'm to be pitied and the viewer praised".
Mother and Child. 1919.
Esta biografía la he extraído de la página web de la Plattsburgh State University de New York (www.organizations.plattsburgh.edu/museum/kentkent.htm)
Artist, author, and political activist, Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) had a long and varied career. During his lifetime, he worked as an architectural draftsman, illustrator, printmaker, painter, lobsterman, ship's carpenter, and dairy farmer. He was born in Tarrytown, New York, was well educated in art. He did his first significant work at Monhegan Island, Maine. Later he traveled widely, doing other landscape work. He also did a great deal of work illustrating working people, serving as an illustrator for The Masses, a popular left-wing magazine.
At Peace. 1940.
Kent had an unusually long and thorough training as an artist. He was a student at the Horace Mann School in New York City and subsequently studied architecture at Columbia University, toward the end of which he felt a strong inclination toward painting and took up the study of art under William Merritt Chase at the Shinnecock Hills School.
Starry Night. 1933.
He studied later at the New York School, under Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, and finally as an apprentice to Abbott Thayer at Dublin, New Hampshire. Henri encouraged him to go to Monhegan Island where Kent painted on his own. He was absorbed in the awesome power of the environment; nature's timeless energy and contrasting forces influenced his work throughout his lifetime. His early and lasting relationship with the sea was portrayed again and again in his work.
In 1902, he entered Chase’s on a scholarship and by 1908 he had his first one man art show and had married Kathleen Whiting. Together they explored Monhegan Island, MA, Newfoundland, Vermont and the Adirondacks, NY.
Approach in 1926 by publisher R. R. Donnelley to produce an illustrated edition of Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, Kent suggested Moby Dick instead. Published in 1930, the deluxe edition sold out immediately; a lower-priced Random House edition became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. A previously obscure book, Moby Dick was rediscovered by critics in the 1920s. The success of the Rockwell Kent illustrated edition was a factor in its becoming the recognized classic it is today.
Kent both wrote and illustrated several books; Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska was published in 1920. Among his other works were Voyaging Southward from the Strait of Magellan (1924); Salamina (1934) about Greenland; and two autobiographies, This is My Own (1940) and It's me O Lord (1955).
And women must weep. 1927-28.
A political activist, Rockwell Kent championed social causes from the 1930's until his death. Although Kent insisted that he never belonged to the Communist party, his consistent support of radical causes contributed to a decline in his artistic popularity during the 1940s and 1950s. In the latter decade, the State Department revoked his passport.
Twilight of Man. 1926.
Kent sued for its reinstatement and emerged victorious in landmark Supreme Court case. He became very popular in the Soviet Union, and in 1957, half a million Russians attended an exhibition of his work. Subsequently, he donated eighty paintings and eight hundred prints and drawings to the Russian people. In 1967, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.
The graphic art tradition in which Rockwell Kent worked was not that of the Post-Impressionist or abstract International style, but rather an older and somewhat English style. Hogarth, Blake, Constable, the Pre-Raphaelites, and the British illustrators were his artistic antecedents. His work is most frequently identified with that of the American Social Realists and the great muralists of the 1920s and 1930s.
Kent's figure-studies show with what perseverance he worked to perfect his draftsmanship and his ability to portray the human form in any pose or manner; his architectural training enabled him to draw objects accurately and convincingly.
His experience as a carpenter and builder and his familiarity with tools served him well when he took up the graphic process. His blocks were marvels of beautiful cutting, every line deliberate and under perfect control. The tones and lines in his lithography were solidly built up, subtle, and full of color.
He usually made preliminary studies- old-mater style- for composition or detail before starting on a print. Nothing was vague or accidental about his work; his expression was clear and deliberate. Neither misty tonalities nor suggestiveness were to his taste. He was a highly objectified art - clean, athletic, sometimes almost austere and cold. He either recorded adventures concretely, or dealt in ideas. His studio was a model of the efficient workshop: neat, orderly, with everything in its place. His handwriting, the fruit of his architectural training, was beautiful and precise.
Venus and Adonis. 1936.
Kent stands out in American art in his use of symbolism. Humanity was the hero in most of his prints, which are symbolic representations of certain intuitions about life's destiny and the meaning of existence. Many of the prints seem to depict humanity in a struggle to capture ultimate reality, to penetrate into the mystery of the dark night of the universe, and to discover the reasons for existence. Over the Ultimate is a tragic but, at the same time, heroic conception. Consider the mood of wonder in Starlight, of terror in The End, the exultation of Pinnacle.
Ex Libris. 1923.
The fact that Rockwell Kent never worked in the tradition of the Post-Impressionists had considerable effect on critical and public response to his work. In the 1920s, he was a rising young printmaker; and in the 1930s, he reached his greatest popularity.
In 1936, the magazine Prints conducted an extensive and elaborate survey on the practitioners of graphic art in the United States. Kent came out far ahead of all others as the most widely known and successful printmaker in the country. Few artists have experienced such fluctuations in the public esteem of their work as has Kent, from extravagant praise to fanatic denunciation, usually based on nonaesthetic considerations or on a misunderstanding of the real import of his prints and paintings.
Come,come, Be patient; we must bring you to our captain. 1936.
He was a victim of McCarthyism during the 1950s. As a devotee of realistic art, he had also fallen from popular favor. When abstract modern art became better known and accepted in the 1940s, Kent's popularity suffered a commensurate decline. This fall from grace was compounded when he began to espouse unpopular leftist causes; his work was denounced for political reasons. Only now do we have the perspective to look at his work with a receptive and unprejudiced eye.
Clover Fields—Asgaard. 1939-40.
Few artists become legends in their own time, but Rockwell Kent has been acclaimed as such and remains one of the great twentieth-century American artists. Persuaded against an art career by his family, he enrolled in the Columbia University School of Architecture in 1900. Still motivated by an interest in art, Kent took summer and night courses at Chase’s New York School and the New York School of Art.
Wayside Madonna. 1927.
A great artist-adventurer, Kent’s travels took him throughout America and to countries around the world including Ireland, Cape Horn, Labrador, Greenland, Denmark, Sweden and Russia. Kent was particularly interested in Russia and his outspoken socialist politics caused controversy throughout his life and cost him his passport in the 1950’s. A court battle restored his right to travel, and he eventually gave his own collection of his paintings, drawings and graphic works to the Soviet Union.
American Export Lines.
In 1967 he received the Lenin Peace Prize and donated part of the award to North Vietnam. In testimony to his greatness as an American artist, his obituary appeared on the front page of the New York Times in 1971.
Sea and Sky. 1931.
posted by ANTONIO TRASHORRAS.
Ya que empecé "Visión de túnel" poniendo imágenes de Alex Gross (elección caprichosa, sin motivo concreto), aquí va un "post" dedicado a él.
Y no dejéis de visitar su página web: www.alexgross.com.
"His highly crafted and detailed works include both nostalgic imagery of a lost era and a disturbing vision of the modern age. Gross' work reflect such diverse influences as Japanese Woodblock prints, Victorian Advertising Imagery, German 'Degenerate' painting and Gothic Flemish Art".
Fragmento del texto incluído en el catálogo de la exposición "The Decay of The Angel" (2000), en la galería Eral McGrath de Nueva York.
The Decay of the Angel
A continuación, unos fragmentos de la entrevista con Alex Gross aparecida en la excelente revista electrónica Pixelsurgeon.
* Your paintings and illustrations are quite apocalyptic, some of them remind me of tarot cards; do these images you use betray your own vision of the world, of the 21st century – or are they fictions, dark musings?
Some paintings tend to be more about personal issues and experiences than about society or the world around me. For example, “Arrival” and “Departure” are quite autobiographical, dealing with my father’s unexpected death.
In many of my other paintings, I am simply playing with images and ideas that fascinate me, much like a child does when you give him paper and a pencil, in a very unconscious way. This type of piece evolves as I work on it and I like to keep the process free from being too consciously manipulated, or too literal. This is one reason that a lot of contemporary art does not really do it for me. Work that clearly has some political agenda, and relies on a detailed explanation of the exact meaning of the piece, often leaves me cold.
Is my work fiction? No, I would definitely say not. For me, fiction would be a pretty painting of a mountain stream, with some birds and trees – a fantasy piece. Paintings like that hold little interest for me. The world that I live in is both spiritually profound and culturally vapid. It is extremely violent but can also be extremely beautiful. Globalization and technology are responsible for wonderfully positive changes in the world as well as terrible tragedy and homogeneity. This dichotomy fascinates me, and naturally influences much of my work.
* You received a fellowship from the Japan Foundation in 2000, tell us a bit about that and your interest in Japanese art.
Going to Japan for my first time, on vacation in 1998, was a life changing experience for me, in a completely unexpected way. Before that, I was only doing illustration, and not at all happy with that whole scene. My creative energies were directed towards music, but that was proving very frustrating as well. So, I took this trip, without really knowing what I was getting into, and Tokyo just blew my mind. The ‘Blade Runner’ vision of the future was smacking me over the head, and I was not prepared for it. I thought everything had rice paper doors over there. I think I was pretty naïve...
This is a city that has absolutely cornered the market on commercialization of everything. For starters, there are pictures and advertisements for sex and sex clubs wherever you go. It is not an exaggeration to say that on virtually every street in urban city areas, there are these guys holding signs for sex clubs, phone booths with pictures of girls you can call, and assorted sex business imagery. And in areas like Shinjuku you have these long boulevards with enough neon signage to power a small nation. Most baseball teams are named for companies, not cities. Many shops blast announcements out speakers in competition with one another for your eardrums. The list is really endless. It is both fascinating and revolting all at once.
Meanwhile, there is this history of art there that is astonishing. Not only the old woodblock print stuff (which I love) but their commercial art history too. Movie poster design and magazine advertisements there just floored me. And the culture and people are so wonderful. Their attitudes towards others and towards work are pretty much the polar opposite to most Americans’, and I found that really wonderful and energizing. When I came back from my trip, I brought with me some books on movie posters and medicine packaging that were just the coolest things. The combination of those materials and the whole experience from my trip had inspired me massively to start doing some personal work, just for fun really, based on what I had seen and where I had been.
For the next year I painted constantly, and this whole idea of freely mixing imagery that doesn’t normally go together was really exciting to me. There’s no question that that idea came from seeing the ridiculously random mixture of influences in Japan. It was creatively very freeing to me. And I was using all kinds of Japanese imagery in the work. Since this material was really critically important to creating new paintings, I applied for some grants and fellowships that would allow me to go back to Japan and spend additional time there collecting more of this great stuff. I was very fortunate to receive them, and I ended up spending about 9 weeks there on my fellowship. I must have shipped 6 really big boxes of books and other stuff back to the USA. It was a wonderful experience for me and my work certainly benefited as well.
* You seem to be very aware of your genealogy, of where you have come from, your website actually contains a genealogy page – what role does your personal history play in your art?
Well, there’s a couple of reasons why I wanted to do that. First, I think it’s really interesting when I see other artist’s photos of their parents, siblings or childhood. It makes me feel more of a connection to them and their work. It’s just a really cool experience and I thought people would enjoy seeing where I come from, and who I come from too. Another reason is that I absolutely love old photos and vintage pictures. In fact, my whole website is designed to more or less ape an advertisement from 120 years ago.
The Victorian Era is the time when I would have liked to live. The photos on my site of my parents and grandparents are obviously not that old, but they still really reflect the times that they lived, and I find it interesting. And since, out of all my grandparents and parents, only my mother is still alive, it is a loving tribute to the rest of them.
* You are a teacher of art – tell us a bit about that and also how important do you think the role of the educator is in furthering the appreciation of contemporary art.
Yes, I have been teaching at Art Center, my alma mater, for over ten years now. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me. The small income that it provides has always been helpful, but the main benefit of being a teacher is the inspiration that I get from being around so much talent on a daily basis. I have been fortunate enough to have such gifted people as Jeff Soto, Justin Wood, Saelee Oh, Daniel Lim, Erik Sandberg and many many others. I got to watch their work develop and was fortunate to be a part of the process. Being a teacher, I learn so much, about art in general, and about myself. And it is an important way to keep in touch with a lot of what’s going on in the art world currently, as well as on the streets.
It would be very easy for me to lose touch with most of that if I weren’t teaching at Art Center, since I am a little bit hermetic. Students bring in books, magazines, comic ‘zines and other stuff to show me what they are into and what’s going on today. They invite me to their shows and let me know about artists and events that I probably wouldn’t otherwise know about. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and I plan to continue teaching as long as I can. Regarding the second part of your question, I don’t think that education is in any way necessary to appreciate good art. I hope that my work will appeal to anyone with an imagination, regardless of whether or not they have ever studied art. In general, I feel that most fine art educations are pompous and loaded with lots of jargon and doublespeak. The best instructors at Art Center teach how to make exciting and interesting work, and how to think more creatively.
* How did you get into illustration for magazines. And what advice, if any, would you offer to illustrators who are seeking to break into the market?
Well, I went to Art Center as an Illustration major, and that is the department in which I am teaching, along with other gallery artists like the Clayton Brothers and Aaron Smith. At Art Center, most figurative painting is done in our department because the smaller Fine Art department focuses mostly on installation work and on concept in general, but not really on representational painting too much. I did lots of commercial work for over a decade, but now I have really phased that out. I only do a handful of illustrations anymore. My focus is on my own personal work. I don’t really have advice for illustrators other than to say ‘develop your own personal voice as best you can, and people will be drawn to it if it is real, it is you, and it is creative.’ It seems to me that most interesting illustrators wind up pursuing gallery work sooner or later, since their work is often much more compelling and accessible to people than a lot of the “high” art that we read about in magazines.
* In your painting Matasaburo of The Wind the now very familiar site of aeroplanes crashing appears, but in this case they seem to be falling out of the sky against a blackened sun – I love this painting, I find it fascinating – although I understand that some artists hate people asking them to explain their work can you tell us anything about this painting – what inspired it?
I don’t hate being asked about meanings in my work. I absolutely understand the urge to do it and as an art lover I have also wanted to know about other people’s intentions in their work. However, I do feel that it is better to let the viewer bring his/her own ideas when they look at a painting. Too much info from me would rob them of the chance to feel what this painting says to them. What I will say about this piece, is that I owe a great deal of it to the great Japanese artist and designer Shinohara Katsuyuki. He is one of my favorite artists ever. He was an illustrator who did several incredible posters for Japanese underground theater in the 60s and 70s. Matasaburo of The Wind is the name of a traditional Japanese fable, and also was the name of a play for which he did the poster. The main character in that poster is the same woman that I painted in my painting. Often, the genesis of a painting for me will be finding an image like that one, which really inspires me to take it and do something with it. I have borrowed imagery from gothic artists like Rogier Van der Weyden all the way to modern artists like Shinohara, Yokoo Tadanoori and George Tooker, to name a few. Shinohara is still alive and goes by the name KUMA now. He does not do posters anymore, but is a well known sculptor in Japan and often appears on television. And as a postscript, I want to mention that both Matasaburo and Ascent/Descent are paintings of mine that have crashing planes. Both pieces were completed long before 9/11 and therefore are not referencing that subject whatsoever. Of course, It would be impossible today to paint the same image without conjuring up that infamous and tragic event.
* The juxtaposition you achieve between that old world renaissance feeling and the stark post-modern reality we are living in is very effective – to what degree does you choice of medium mirror this – for example, do you use both brush and computers.
All of my gallery work is either Oils or mixed media, which include oils, acrylics and some collage. I do use the computer quite a lot in the sketch phase. But in the finished product it is not really being used. Artists like Justin Wood and Erik Sandberg use a lot of 3D computer generated imagery in their final product, combining it collage-style with painting and other tangible processes that I admire. This has certainly influenced me and here and there I have used the computer in a similar manner from time to time. A few of my paintings where I used the computer extensively in the development phase and actually tried to retain that flat graphic look in the finish can be found on the previous works pages on my site. My Own Death, Arrival and Departure are three in particular that come to mind.
posted by ANTONIO TRASHORRAS.
Beat Baby. 2001.
Biografía de este artista californiano incluída en su página web (www.timbiskup.com):
Tim Biskup was raised on Disneyland, Rat Fink, badly dubbed Japanese Sci-Fi flicks, punk rock, skateboarding and underground comics. In the mid-eighties he left Otis/Parsons School of Design to seek his fortune in the world of illustration. His career included designing for skateboard companies and record labels. (a highlight being his work for Ralph Records and his heroes the Residents).
Black Helium. 2004.
His obsession with the art of Mary Blair led him to a career in animation. This career has involved him in countless cartoons, including his own short "Freddy Seymore's Amazing Life" for Nickelodeon and background supervisor for Cartoon Network's "Time Squad." In 1998, Biskup began hosting and curating the Burning Brush auctions, has been in a vast array of exhibitions and has currently launched a line of tee shirts and gift items under the GAMA-GO label.
posted by ANTONIO TRASHORRAS.
"Visión de túnel" pretende ser un "blog" dedicado a las Artes Visuales, pero concebido del modo más austero posible: mucha imagen, poco texto.
Mi idea es convertir este espacio en un escaparate "on line" en el que, por un lado, pueda ir reuniendo cuantas pinturas, dibujos, fotografías o simplemente imágenes atractivas me vaya encontrando en mi deriva por la Red; y, por otro, descansar un poco de mi labor diaria, que no es otra que escribir, escribir y escribir.
¿Qué tipo de ilustraciones iré incluyendo aquí? Pues sirvan como primeros ejemplos las imágenes que rodean este texto, pertenecientes todas ellas a un artista llamado Alex Gross, de quien iré colocando aquí bastantes más obras en días sucesivos.
De momento, eso es todo. Suficiente para un primer "post" en el cual me había propuesto no escribir apenas. De hecho, insisto, con esa intención nace "Visión de túnel", el de convertirse en una pura galería virtual, de visión agradable (si se comparten mis gustos estéticos, claro) y con los apenas comentarios. Ya veremos si un escritor compulsivo como yo es capaz de cumplir tal objetivo. Se trata de dar algo de descanso al cerebro mediante el placer de las retinas. A gozarlo...
posted by ANTONIO TRASHORRAS.