Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've been in a funk for a couple of days, I don't know why. Whenever I get in a dark mood like this I find that looking at picture books helps. Here's some of the stuff I was perusing, all Russian.

The nude at the top is by Kustodiev, one of my favorite Russian painters. It looks like he was influenced by Renoir, but he made the subject his own. This picture actually makes me feel good. You get the feeling that all must be right with the world because this jolly, sexy, fat girl is snug in her comforter and lace pillows. It's also funny to imagine artists in a cold and overcast country like Russia trying to come to grips with light and color the way the French did.

Some Russian painters worked in what we would call an illustration style. Here's (above) one by Vasnetzov. The colors are very muted. The silo of the horse looks a little like a Chinese dragon. There's that Eastern influence again.

Did Matisse and the fauves influence the Russians, or did the Russians influence them? Probably both. This is a great theatrical backdrop, though I bet the dancers were hard to read against the pattern.

Benois (sounds French, but I think he's Russian) did the Matisse-style painting I just referred to as well this set design above showing a Chinese-style pleasure pavilion in Venice. This is another picture that just makes me feel good. It shows a beautiful little lantern of a building, glowing on still night water. It's a structure that only exists for pleasure.

Another Benois. I think it shows a statue coming to life.

One last Bernois (above), a scene from Stravinsky's "Petrouchka." Royal blue, vermilion, yellow, white and black...a nice palette for this scene.

Here's (above) another theater backdrop, this time by Anisfeld...another Russian with an un-Russian name? Here color erupts violently from pin points in the dark, and acquires a life of its own. About a year and a half ago I blogged about the frightening and mysterious nature of color released this way.

Here's (above) another Anisfeld showing brilliant color harnessed by pattern and the similarity of the colors. This looks like the kind of color you see on some Russian tapestries and textiles. Russia's one of the few countries where textile design is held in such esteem that it actually influences the painting and architecture.


Hans Flagon said...

Those are beautiful Eddie. The Russians palette still reminds me of the pre-raphaelites. But what do I know about art? Thems pritty, thas all.

cwyatt said...

I LOVE Russian paintings and prints. I use them for reference a lot because of the use of vibrant and complimentary colors. Two of my favorite combinations are red & green, and brilliant blue with golden yellow. Hard to make work in backgrounds, but they're gorgeous!!
Another great post Eddie.

Michael Sporn said...

The Kustodiev nude is an eye opener. I have to find out more about this artist. Thanks for sharing it. The Anisfeld flowers are also stunning. That's quite a picture book you have there.

Anonymous said...

This is really fascinating, I love looking at art from outside "where the action" was at the time cause people were more free to create their own styles rather than going with fashion. I cant imagine why any aspiring artist would want to move to New York

Its kind of like how Australia was cut off from the rest of the world when most of its animals evolved and came up with Kangaroos koala bears and duckbilled platypuses

trevor thompson said...

Hey Eddie,

semi-off-topic, but what are your thoughts of Jackson Pollack?

- trevor.

Amy & Jay said...

Ive been reading your blog for a while! Thanks for making me laugh and sharing some great art!


pappy d said...

Thanks, Eddie! They sure cheered me up.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Michael: Glad you like that painting! If I ever come across a good quality print, I'll put it on my wall.

Trevor: Pollack: Good question! I like his best work, but I still have lingering doubts. I feel that way about a number of artists from that period.

trevor thompson said...


I asked about Pollack only because I just watched an interesting documentary called 'Who The !#$@&* Is Jackson Pollack?' and in it, this lady had purchased an alleged Pollack original in a garage sale for five bucks.

Pollack was fresh on the brain, and it amazed me that there are folks out there who devote their lives to spotting fakes for a style of painting which is very easy to fake.... or so I say.

- trevor.

Aaron said...

Lovely. Hope you feel better soon.

Rudy Tenebre said...

Thanks for this meditation on artists unknown to me, yet works which follow very familiar registers.

New York is merely a market hub anymore. Trends in contemporary art are global in application now. (re: anon)

It isn't surprising that the more theoretical and conceptual painting became it would lose those grounded in it's elementary principles (copyright John K.). Pollack was taught by Thomas Hart Benton, who drilled those principles into Jackson, so let's just say he could draw before he spewed. And Eddie, you gotta love DeKooning's Women!!

Deniseletter said...

I love the structures like this pavilion of the 4th image.Do you remenber Gaudi's organical designs?.The paintings have Good themes and stunning color schemes!!They have have the mysterious and fantasy of Russia traditions.

Deniseletter said...

About healing,some time passed: Eddie,How do you feel now?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Denise: Thanks for asking! Believe it or not, I'm still recovering, though I get noticably better every day. I'm up and about though, getting the day's work done.

For a few weeks after the cut I had some kind of graphic impairment that prevented me from conceiving even of original photography for the site. That caught me totally unaware. I didn't know that things like that happen.

Thankfully, that's completely over now and I'm back to normal. My advice to artists who've been under the knife: draw every day to speed up the visual and mental recovery.

Rudy: I love DeKooning's women!

Deniseletter said...

Eddie,I'm happy to hear this and also your advice:)

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Denise: Oh, I forgot to say that i'm not taking medication now, so my libido's returned. I'm back to having sex at the back of my mind all the time and struting around like a rooster, just like every other guy. I had two or three mild months, which seem very distant to me now, but I got the poet character out of the experience, so it wasn't wasted.

Deniseletter said...

Wow!Now you're animated artist.Do you ever know some of the Gaudi art?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Denise: Gaudi's great! He worked with concrete, which is a medium that's wasted on modern, Bauhaus-type ideas. Concrete allows for organic, non-linear shapes, but we're still building boxes with it.