This item is only available as the following downloads:
Metropolitan Twilight By Rachel Warzeski A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Fine Arts New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Kim Anderson Sarasota, Florida May, 2009
ii Dedicated toThe Crescent City
iii Table of Contents List of Illustrations ---pg. iv Abstract ---pg. v Introduction ---pg. 1 Context ---pg. 3 Content ---pg. 6 Process ---pg. 11 Analysis ---pg. 15 Conclusion ---pg. 24 Appendix ---pg. 25 Reference Picture Credits ---pg. 34 Bibliography ---pg. 35
iv List of Illustrations Fig.1 Night Shadows, Edward Hopper Fig.2 Early Morning, Paris Everett Shinn Fig. 3 Le Mans Cathedral: Virgin and Apostles Witness Ascension of Christ : Det. Fig. 4 Two Women, Max Beckman Fig.5 Nocturn in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, James Whistler, Fig.6 London Bridge Andr Derain Fig.7 Le Bonheur de vivre (The Joy of Life), Henri Matisse Fig.8 The Opera, Paris, Raoul Dufy Fig.9 Paris Through the Window Marc Chagall Fig.10 O Loge La Folie A, from LHonni Aveuglant Cycle Roberto Matta
v Abstract N.O. is more than the city, it is a vibe a current, a heartbeat. It is strong enough that I know that even after th e physical city itself is gone, the rhythms and colors of the place will echo through the world in the footstep s of her people. In my personification of New Orleans in oil paintings I tried to invest with a sense of mystery, nostalgia, and warmth, I used the deep colors and bright fant astic feel I associate with the place to turn a quiet and dark landscape into a glowing dreamla nd of color. This series of paintings is inspired by the architecture, feel, and current disposition of the port c ity of Louisiana. In heavy and expressive lines like the outlining of stained glass, the repetitive linear forms that make up the structure of the city height en the drama of the color and the sparkling lights inherent in my perception of the pl ace. The fantastic commercial colors of New Orleans give the paintings vibrance and life, while the lights that stand in for the human life of the city glow with welcome. The city, since Katrina, has become more concentrated and intense in its hues and humors; the shadows are darker, the music sweeter, the colors mo re intense, etc. The fate that threatens to engulf the city both literally and figuratively as the coast crumbles into the gulf, which was exacerbated by the storm but not caused by it, has made me aware of the glowing and passionate life of the city. The people there live more intensely now, and I become a part of that every time I go ho me. My paintings are about my perception of what is unique, vibrant, a nd dramatic in my hometown.
1 Introduction This series of darkly vibrant paintings is inspired by the ar chitecture, feel, and current disposition of New Orleans, the port city of Louisiana. I have depicted the city in the twilight of its existence; corridors empty but for the glowi ng lights, streets falling into shadow except where lights strike brilliant color from the walls. Seemingly abandoned, isolated from the world, still it draws the vi ewer in with sparkling lights obscured in the distance. With a heavy emphasizing line like Max Beckman or even the leaded outlining of pieces of colored glass in stained glass windows, the repetitive linear forms that become the bones of the city heighten the drama of both the flashes of color and the sparkling lights inherent in my perception of the place. The color sits in vibrant patches like the work of Matisse, but th e particular hues were inspired by the brilliant and subtle palette of Chagall and the fantastic co mmercial colors of New Orleans. The expressionistic light is a part of the feeling I want to conve y, the warm and mysteriously romantic air of New Orleans that is very diffic ult to capture in the forms of realism, or in journalistic photography. The light and color ar e meant to give the paintings a sense of welcoming, like a candle in the window or a light-house. People seem to think that New Orleans is inherently different since Katrina hit, but the feel of the city has not changed in my perception except to become more concentrated and intense in its hues and humors; the shadows are darker, the music sweeter, the colors more intense. Life is ha rder there, but people are living harder in contrast to that, they continue living there lives just the same in spite of increasingly difficult circumstances. The fate that thre atens to engulf the c ity both literally and figuratively as the coast crumbles into the gulf, which was exacerbated by the storm but
2 not caused by it, has made me more aware of the intense feeling of community and the equally passionate lust for life exhibited by the citys inhabitants. In my paintings I have shown no physical signs of damage or attempte d to insert an overt narrative of hardship and suffering, but through intense and drama tic contrast and vibrant colors I hope to convey the sense of a very colorful place that exists as a collection of extremes. My paintings are about my perception of what is unique, vibrant, and dramatic in my hometown, surrounded by a muddy future and dark and difficult times.
3 Context New Orleans has changed since Katrin a, but the economic instability and environmental problems havent changed, and th e strength of spirit and persistent sense community hasnt changed. The problems are a ll still the same and the strengths are still the same but as if through a lense. Ever ything is more intense, the good things emphasized by the problems surrounding the situa tion in the city. The slow death the city faces due to unstable coastlines and cha nging weather patterns cannot be stopped by anything the inhabitants can do, but they can live their lives passionately and make these years the best and brightest the city has ever seen. New Orleans is at a point when it is frozen in time between what is ha s been, what it could be, and not being at all. I want to portray a New Orleans that, while not unaffected by Katrina, is still an incredible place everyone should experience. I want to move visually beyond the bleak circumstances and focus on what makes New Orleans a place th at should be treasured and remembered. Katrina was just the most recent and worst of a string of natural disasters plaguing the place. The gist of the problem: in orde r to make New Orleans livable the swamp it used to be was repeatedly drained. Dry dirt and sand were then dumped on top of it (making it heavier and denser). This was done for the first time by the Spanish governor Francisco Carondelet in 1794. Author of History of New Orleans John Smith Kendall writes about the drainage issues. In any historical consideration of the subject, then, it is necessary to begin with dr ainage (Kendall 565). Almost 100 years later, in 1890, the Orleans Levee Board offered a $2,500 prize for the best plan to drain the city. To this day the problem does not have a completely satisfactory solution (Kendall 573). That, combined with the ships going to and from the ocean in man-made canals killing the
4 plants in the swamps that were left (whi ch were what was holding the ground together) by moving salt water into fresh water areas and vice versa, and for years New Orleans has been slowly sinking and crumbling into the Gulf of Mexico. Having your house start to sink is actually a very common problem there. These are all old problems, and maybe th ats why the artwork displayed in the Prospect One exhibition felt like a reiteration of bad things fr om the past. More difficult than feeling sadness and loss is moving beyond t hose feelings and finding hope while still surrounded by piles of rubble Most of the exhibits mentioned in Art in Americas February article on Prospect One utilized them es of memory and hist ory and the layers of existence that had been destroyed by the stor m, but the art was about Katrina, not about New Orleans. Steven Stern, author of an article on Prospect one in Frieze Magazine says, The idea that the cityin terrible shape long before the st ormhosted a biennial is almost as absurd as the city itself. If that was his impression of it, obviously the project did not paint a very appealing picture of the city. There was the past, everything that had been lost, the tentative reaching for the idea of a future but there was not enough hope, even the things that tried for hope did it without trying to create feeling and empathy. The empathy or catharsis involved in a work of ar t has to do with the intention of the artist, whether or not it comes through being anothe r matter. The works I saw were all very interestingly put together, but didnt seem to say anything new about New Orleans, instead simply pointing at pieces of what happened in different ways. The pieces I saw that didnt do this that I saw seemed very st atic and didnt really se em to connect to the viewer, most notably a diamond shaped meta l installation in a wood-paneled church, which was filled with shiny new exercise equipment.
5 The whole point of the exhibit was to en courage tourism, and raise money to help the city, but Lilly Wei, writer of the Art in America article says that they managed to escape from the sentimentality that threaten ed to swamp the whole thing (Wei 52). Hope comes from sorrow and despair, from hard ship, from hitting the bottom and realizing theres nowhere to go but up. Pretending it isn' t that bad, that everything will be fine, trying to remove the sentimentality from the situation is wrong. People from New Orleans have reasons to not give up, but those reas ons involve feeling a nd not logic, so to outsiders those reasons will not mean very much in the face of such destruction, they are not quantifiable. To overly-se ntimentalize the situation might make it seem trivial to some, but to do anything positive for the city, the art has to create feeling in the viewer, the art needs to be about New Orleans and he r people alongside and in spite of Katrina, not about how the place was c onquered by a weather pattern. New Orleans is a place full of color and life, but without a chance to immerse oneself in the culture and community, the ha rsh current circumstan ces of the place can occlude that brilliance. The only way you can experience New Orleans is to go there, but with these colors and shadows and glowing gol den lights, I hope to hint at the intense sparkle and drama of the place fo r people who have never been there, so that maybe they will want to go.
6 Content The city is more than buildings, streetli ghts and signs, all the urban patterns and linear rhythms that make up everything city dw ellers are accustomed to seeing serve as a backdrop for the life of the city and a sort of treasure box that contains said life. The buildings contain and surround the city life; they are the forms around which the life flows around and through. The contrast is inhere nt, hard dense buildings, and life. This is where all the layers of color, light, shadow, grit, and glitter collide. In my paintings I use light to symbolize the warmth and goodness that I see in people that is, I feel, what holds what is left of New Orleans in place in the worl d in spite of the things that threaten her -the desire that some people ha ve to help one another maintain firm footing in the world, the love and kindness and passion in the world. To me the city is a living organism, the buildings provide bones and structure, and the people create the energy. Light is the most obvious visual evidence of that energy, and the colors and hues it takes are the colors and hues of the energy and lives of the cities inhabi tants. In my paintings the light and color represent this life force, and stand in for th e figures that would normally fill these spaces so that the impression of that unique energy a nd quality will be stronger. The people in a city are what bring it to li fe, but I wanted to depict the life of the city itself. The power-outages that lasted for months after the storm and the darkness that came with them have become for me a symbol of what threatens th e city, and the lights that slowly spread and stood out against the darkness a symbol for the vibrant life contained therein. After Katrina, every tim e I went home more of the city was lit. Crossing the High Rise bridge into town, the sprawl of lights that becomes visible grew and grew. The lights will be th e last sign of life to disappear from New Orleans. The light
7 is the focus of the paintings, while the dept h and the atmosphere are created by the dark shapes making up the structure of the city. The br ight, colorful, translucent light of life in the city shines so brightly because it is surrounded by towering masses and dense shadow. Through exploring the heavier side of the contrasting relationships between shadow, light, color, saturation and hue, and the combination of the familiar linear format of rectangular buildings and the more abstr act and instinctive form s of light and rough shadows, I wish to express my perception of New Orleans as a glowing point of brilliance in the face of fear and doubt and overwhelming odds; a symbol of tenuous and precious hope, shimmering alone in the darkness. I use light and color to re present passi on and life and hope, a lot of pinks, reds, and warm gol den yellows lighting th e interiors of my spaces. The rest of my palette is muted and very dark to make the buildings feel heavy and imply the oppressive nature of the fate of the place. I use a lo t more shadow than light, but I make the shadows hazy and I k eep the lights very bright and the colors saturated, the lights are isolated enough to feel special and precious, but bright enough to draw the eye. The high-contrast relationships of bright points of light and swaths of color surrounded by shadows are what I want to fo cus on visually. The tension between the contrasting elements creates a heightened sens e of drama for the viewer. The lights in my paintings have become symbolic for life, for people. They represent friends and strangers and family, and connections between people, so I want them to be bright and infused with warm color. I want them to feel almost supernatural, to jump out of the dark and shadowy background, especially since they are ef fectively standing in for any figures. My memories of the city consist mostly of the feelings and sensations of walking
around in it, impressions of flashes of color and light and vertical forms sliding past. Little details will pop out more at night or in the late afternoon, as the shadows get longer and add drama to everything, and the lights get brighter in contrast. The sparkling commercial colors of New Orleans and the heav y architectural silhouette of the buildings against the sky are both things I associate with the place, and a big part of what defines my memories of it. I want the formal elements of my paintings to give the city in them life, to personify it for the viewer, and to e xpress the fragile but still warmly glittering atmosphere I remember. Edward Hopper creates the kind of intense atmosphere I am looking for. He expressed the loneliness he felt in New York in his work, the colors and spaces are bleak, but are also pos sessed of a lot of very heavy contrast. Unlike his work, Night Shadows I try to infuse my work with warmth and color to express a less stark atmosphere. However the quiet spaces he created have a lot in common with the colorful but empty str eets in my paintings. His works are lonelier than mine are, and I use color and light to give my paintings a warmer tone. I try to take the same of spaces he created and make them vibran t and interesting, places to be explored. Whatever the formal elements are, that fe kinds eling, the atmosphere, is what is important to e. e, m The feeling I am striving for has to do with the people and the community ther8
9 f r fy the city in the paintings with all of these contrasting but complementary lemen in nto in the face of difficult circumstances. The different groups of people in New Orleans overlap everywhere, just like the architecture, and their co llective sense of community actually gets stronger any time the citizens ar e under duress. They hold on to the hope they find in each other when everything else is dark. I admire them greatly, and it makes me proud that I have been a part of that comm unity. New Orleans is what it is because o these kinds of people, and they are what gi ve the city its warmth. The place is wet and muddy and sinking, but it can be friendly and warm too. The li ghts give me a focal point from which to build layers of color and contrast, and they assure that the works will neve be bleak. By using the light to express this rather than using figur es, I hope to personi and enliven ets. Since the subject of the work is the c ity itself, each painting is inhabited with color and light and motion repres enting that spirit, there are no actual figures portrayed the compositions to keep the focus on the city and not on its inhabitants I use a loose, gestural stroke and glitteri ng color and light that bounce around off of everything. The crayon box of colors that are a part of the tour ist oriented image of New Orleans become meaningful in an almost spiritual sense. This is meant to personify the city and give it a sense of life that is linked to, but not dependent on, the citys human occupants. It is to give the lights a presence the feeling of beacons. People in these paintings would catch light from every angle, but I am taking a part of what I see in peopl e and isolating it i a visual representation of light, warmth, and goodness. Light affects every surface it touches with luminescence. Oil paint has always been my medium of choice because of the deeply intense, saturated colors that can be achieved, and the mediums' aptness for
10 of the paintings to feel persona eel and a ut ey, with my own take on the atmosphere of a place that is poignant and familiar to me. use in the depiction of light, wh ich I use to affect this inner luminosity of the structures the city itself. I use warm tones and a lot of pinks and reds; I want l, like a treasure. I want to inspire empathy in the viewer. The Ashcan School of early American Ne w York personified the streets of New York in ways that were at once poignant a nd familiar to me, though the palette and f are different than what I want to achieve. Their works focused on the narrative and aesthetic of New York in landscape and figure. Each piece has a place and a story tone, everything feels very real and there is a great deal of attention paid to the composition. Everette Shinns Early Morning, Paris uses subtle colors and shapes to constructs a narrative about New York in which everything seems to me to have a life of its own. Without de-humanizing the people, th e paintings of the Ashcan School are abo the place, the people are an integral part of the landscape and not in any way separate from the aesthetic of the whol e (Perlman 17, 85). That is what my paintings attempt to conv
Process My impressions of the city are transmuted in my work into line, form, and hue. I pull colors from my memory for their vibrancy or their warmth. Architecture and shadow become line and give the space a sculptural feel, and flashes of light anchor the gestural marks and swaths of color in patterns along the center of the work and lead into the heart of the city. The translation is not direct, I am not painting realistically. Like the romantics, through atmosphere and organization, I look fo r a more dreamlike quali ty than a realistic one. Romantic painters relied on indefini te atmospherecoloristic effects more appropriate to the expression of the inner im agination than the clear light of reason (Arnason 6). There are things about the place th at are too intense to be expressed in the lines and tones of realism. The biggest influences on the way my lines and colored spaces interact are stained glass windows in Gothic Cathedrals like the Chartres and Amiens Cathedrals in France. I saw some of this in person when I visited The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in Greece and Istanbul. The narrative lines of the st ructure of the windows, paired with the glowing qualities of the glass were a great inspiration to me, and reminded me of the theatrical and dramatic atmosphere of home. The forms of the glass taught me about the ways that heavy and dense architectural forms can complement and enhance spaces of light and color. This is a window in Le Mans Cathedral in France. This form is 11
12 also part of why I outline all of my buildings in black. I prefer oil paint because of its wide ra nge of deep and saturated colors, and the ability to work with thick layers of paint or thin glazes. It lends very naturally to working in layers. I usually start with a sketch on pa per in ink or charcoal, loosely copied onto a painting surface. The pieces in this collection are begun with a sketch of the footprint, or at least the line of the buildings and th e horizon, which I pull from studies loosely referencing photographs. I then give the s ky a color and an ap propriate level of brightness, usually pretty dim so as not to di stract from the buildings I add spots of color where the lights will be, and then black outli ning to the buildings. Lastly I add the splashes of the lights themselves and any accents or added definition. Edges are hard in the foreground and soft in the background. Lastly, I step back and pick a color from the city to echo in the sky and reflect off of the street that stretches acr oss the center of most of the paintings. This brings the foregr ound into the background and vice-versa, and creates hues that pull the eyes and lead th e viewer into the world of the painting by putting muted tones next to saturated ones. The lights in the city and the shadows a nd lines and reflections of those lights off of walls and edges, pull everything together and is exaggerated in my paintings. The sparkling lights complement the spectral quali ties of things that are receding into the distance, where the lights are more like will-o'-the-wisps than anything else. The lights make these dark paintings welcoming in spit e of the shadow. They do not reference the light from pictures even if they are used as references for perspective. The lights in my paintings are a bit fantastic with some of the distortion of lights exposed to the naked eye or through a lens. I am more interested in th e aesthetic and symbolic depiction of light
13 than a naturalistic one. The vibrant feeling of the works is more important than any resemblance they might bear toward the real place. Matisse to ld his students not to tie themselves down to reality too much. Even the landscapes of th e Romantics willingly play with color and form towards their own aesthetic purposes. Romantic art has a message to convey about man's relationship with, and response to, Nature To intensify the force of this message any heightening of colour, distortion of form, unusual viewpoint, exaggerated perspective, or eccentric method of facture is justified... (Yorke 19). This series references the factual New Orleans, but the atmosphere of the place, th e spirit of the city, is something that goes beyond what the eye sees. A balance between the heavy and rigid shapes of the buildings and a fuzzier, textural, atmospheric aesthetic was achi eved by moving between abstract or nonrepresentational forms, and representational ones, and pa inting structures possessing elements of both. By letting go of the realis tic aspects, and focusing on the layering of heavy shapes over lighter and more faded one s, the buildings acquired a heavy but still loose form. The sky moves into the background shapes, and a rougher brush stroke paired with a soft brush stroke to lend the pillare d shapes character and depth. Color creates movement and life, and harmonizes with the lights. My layers bleed into each-other where possible to show that a ll of the parts are pieces of each other. This made it possible to find a point of abstraction at which the structures and familiarity I want underlying everything are still present, but everything flows freely with light and motion. The heavy and more stable building shapes and square windows from my earlier works give way to splashes of light and shadow that still contai ns the shapes of the c ity but moves with its
14 own fluidity. This process of painting in layers of li ght and dark and color, with hard shapes contrasting with and emphasizi ng soft ones, is significant be cause the separate elements of my work are very diverse and could possibl y be jarring when used in conjunction with one another. This is also true of the divers e elements that make up New Orleans, and the method feels appropriate to the subject matter. Painting in layers allows me to obscure or emphasize any of the elements in my paintings at any time during the process. The result is that my painting process is actually very organic and the overall effect is dictated by my choices of what to soften and mute or what to highlight or bring forward. The hard buildings dont overwhelm the lights, the lights dont distract too much from the whole, and the colors shimmer and sp arkle at any point to which I want to draw attention.
15 Analysis The visual basis of this series involves a combinati on of geometric and organic forms, and the high-contrast relationships be tween the dark shadows and the bright lights and colors. The bones are the heavy black outlines of buildings, which are then filled with color. The color and light give the pieces thei r energy, and the tension between the lights and the shadows gives the works life. A loose stroke and attent ion to where light falls and creates shapes as it is absorbed into co lored walls is complemented by the glittering overlay of streetlights, balconies, and power -lines. The architectural foundation of the paintings is layers of patterns and rhythms. On top of that foundati on, the organic textures of the city; swaths and smears of color, light and shadow instead of rigid forms; become both vibrant and sensuous. Every piece in my thesis has an underlying structure, a repetition of patterns and the familiar rectangular shapes of buildings. Its the structure that anyone will recognize as belonging to an urban setting, made up of stacked buildings and windows and long shadows. The structure is inherently part of the subject and it give s a sense of proportion and perspective. These shapes, even in places where the culturally specific architecture is vastly different from our own, are a visual way of linking people to people; vertical rectangles will universally be associated w ith buildings. My work is about New Orleans because that is the corner of the world in which I experien ced these things. My hope is that my paintings will inspire people to think about places that are precious to them in a new and deeper light. Tending towards abstract ion brings a sense of immediacy to my work by being more an expression of a place, ba rely a snapshot rather than an accurate record for posterity, but I also I want the setting to feel familiar in some way to everyone
who looks at it, the feeling that wherever the painting is set, it could have been their city, is a part of their world. This structure visually takes the form of heavy black lines outlining shapes and emphasizing light and color. The German Expressionist Max Beckman's extreme focus on expressive line gives a graphical quality to his work that is bold and direct, a nd gives his figures great emotional depth and a sense of whimsical freedom of paint, like in this piece, Two Women. He uses intense swatches of color and uses a heavy black line for emphasis. His representation of his figures and his architectural shapes are just far enough from r eality that he achieves a very illustrative but still highly expressive aesthetic (Selz 13-24). I want to give my buildings character and depth as Beckman gives weight to his figures. The buildings of New Orleans often feel to me like they are weighted down, by time as well as gravity. I use thick clumps of black shadows to convey that heaviness as we ll as to give a sense of sculptural space to the buildings. I want a pattern of different blacks to su ggest a sense of texture and add to the deep velvety feel, like that achieved by Impressionist James McNeil Whistler in his sparkling image; Nocturne in Black and Gold : The Falling Rocket. In my work the black 16
takes on more angular and less organic forms than Whistler, to give the buildings and streets a sense of depth and movement. Unlik e Monets flowers and water, which defined Impressionism, in Nocturne Whistler focused on light ag ainst a black background. The piece is purely about the light a nd not really about the place at all. He actually received some harsh criticism from John Ruskin, the art critic to whom the work seemed impossibly abstract. He accused Whistler of f linging a pot of paint in the publics face. To me the quality of the delicate golden bursts of the fireworks represented in The Falling Rocket are far more intriguing with the interplay of black and shadow behind them (Arnason 28). My rough execution I owe to the Fauves, a nd a sense of occasionally an almost acidic intensity of color intende d to express strong emotion or feeling. They developed a certain crudeness of style and execution that allows for a more visceral and emotive exploration of traditional subject matter not tied to a realistic or naturalistic interpretation. Like them, I have sacrificed realism for an em otive and perceptual depiction rather than a naturalistic one, reducing the complexity of my images to heighten their impact. The Fauves wanted to convey emotional shocks with the aid of forms reduced to their essentials and with pure color (Crespelle 29). They sacrificed naturalism and realistic complexities for a simplified conception of a piece, broad areas of unmodeled color, and expressive and bold mark-making. It gives everything a vibrant graphic feel, like Andr Derains London Bridge 17
18 sed urist always associa By removing a lot of the planning, delic acy and realism from the process, the Fauves were able to pack more intensity into whatever message the artist was trying to convey. Their style, like mine, used color to portray emotive rather th an realistic content. Fauvism was essentially the untrammeled expression of the artist's personality (Crespelle 29). Matisse, leader of the Fauves, said, These were the ideas we had then: construction by means of colored surfaces. A de sire for a greater in tensity of colour... Light was not suppressed, rather it was expres sed by a conjunction of intensely coloured surfaces (Crespelle 30). This is reflected in Matisses work, The Joy of Life While I utilize these principals to give my images character and a certain graphical quality, (planes of color blended around the edges into each other instead of shapes of a particular colors lined up) there is a degree of subtlety, an 'obscured' piece of New Orlean s character that cannot be expressed in the harsh tones and flattened planes of Fauvism. My color is not as blatant as the color u by the Fauves, Instead, it is drawn from the prevalence of bright and commercial colors in things that have surrounded me all my lif e, the colors of Mardi Gras and the to shops on every corner, the colors of the Ch ristmas lights that never come down and the rich and theatrical colors loved by the city s inhabitants-colors which I will te with New Orleans.
19 me ge dark gray s and deep blues in the shadows are all ity. kes ral ng I attended my first Mardi Gras when I was a 1-year-old baby wrapped in my mothers coat. My mother dumped Mardi Gras Beads in my lap every time we got so (which happens a lot), and we had costum e stuff for dressing up for parades and for Halloween, and masks and face paint and colore d lights in the house. I want a full ran of colors, and generally will not consider a pi ece finished until it has a little of every color in it. This could look very busy with the black lines around everything, but with delicate modulation of tones a nd subtle shading of colors into the shapes and colors around them keeps everything flowing together. The dark and deep jewel tones, the rich greens and moldy golden yellows, the part of the aesthetic of New Orleans. Raoul Dufy, a student of Matisse, also used the principals of Fauvism to a new expressive and somehow still and meditative qual The color is more subtly expressed and while still painfully bright, somehow not as harsh. Dufy ma his colors glow. The colouring is light a nd varied and has a kind of acid freshness far removed from the heavy, blatant tones favoured by certain of the Fauves (Crespelle 23). This piece is of the Opera house in Paris. By modulating his tones in an almost sculptu fashion, he gives the same intense color a gr eater expressive depth and a softer, more inviting feel rather than the almost painfully strong tones associated with Fauvism. His color use showed me how to make my colors almost painfully intense while remaini
20 easing to the eye, and how to modulate color and tone to add the feeling e nce with ce and al y s possessed of a subtlety and depth that imbues life into even the mples s I t rns. soft and warmly pl of depth. While my work is clearly influenced by the Fauves style, my aim is to seduc rather than shock my audie color. I aspire to the brillian depth of the palette of Marc Chagall, a twentieth-century Russian Metaphysical painter, whose work, like mine, is deeply rooted in drawing, like in Paris Through the Window shown here. His subjects were never realistic or realistically depicted, and we re often inspired by his re pertoire of Russian-Jewish folktales. They have a pictorial quality that is flat and has depth all at once, and is ide for depicting the dream-like scenes in his paintings. (Arnason 236) His use of richl saturated colors i sit sketch. Aside from the architectural, atmospheri c, and emotive qualities of the image am creating, the lights and the reflections thereof represent the warmth and light in people's hearts, alongside all the shadows therein. It is the repr esentation of the spirit tha animates the city. The lights are the bright est points, and cast wa rm pools of color onto the walls of the buildings and the pavement, a nd snag edges of balconi es in gilt patte They are what hold these images together, without them the city would be made of
21 er stands and into the heart of the space, giving depth and ady em eet is olic life of the place contained in lor sterile, vacant spaces and swaths of flat bl ack paint. The lights also move through the works from where the view space to the composition. The composition leads the viewer into the paintings, perspective drawing the buildings toward the horizon while reflected lig ht illuminates the street leading forward. The horizon is generally somewhere in the mi ddle of the paintings, both sides containing some empty space in the street and sky, a fo rmat of triangles complementing the alre geometric format. The street moves toward and then away from the viewer, and the clustered buildings feel like puzzle pieces, but the flow created by the street leads one through it and into the heart of the space, hidden in the distance. Heavy shadow and splashes of light give the buildings volume and mass, and the bright spaces between th welcome visitors and explorers, even locals on their way home from work. You could lose yourself there. The rhythm and repetition of shapes is balanced by the space of str and sky, and by the loose textures of atmos pheric light effects. The human element subordinated to emphasize the spiritual and symb shadowed corridors and exuding light and color. I take the things in my memories, rhythms and forms and patterns, light and co and shadow, and my memories of the people which translate into color and light, and hope to create, out of all of these, something that teases the eye. The composition always positions the distant, sparkling, glowingly myster ious part of the city near the middle of the canvas. This is a result of the point-of-view one actually sees a city from when one is in it. My eye is drawn into the center of the city, and through the nearest empty space, the street, so that colliding point for all of t hose lines and forms always winds up somewhere
22 run t ict ew Orleans along w ith a sense of mystery and a feeling of welcom re cast uiet nd near the center of my vision. Va rious grates and stone drains and fences and balconies through it all and visually mesh all the sepa rate elements into a sometimes less-thancohesive whole, but a unit nonetheless. I want my work to feel like a whole rather than a collection of parts, like the city, so color a nd value and line unify th e design and create an intriguing flow of textured ins and outs. I want it to feel like a place you the viewer migh want to explore. The pieces are big enough to feel spacious, but generally small enough that a viewer would not have to stand back to view it, it still allows for a more personal perusal. I want my paintings to feel precious and dark and vibrant, and I hope to dep the density inherent in N ing hospitality. I want to use the brilliant color and mark making of the Fauves and the mo subtle techniques and tones of more modern artists like Merlin James and Oscar Bluemmer to warmth and vibrancy over the q streets in my paintings. I want a certain stillness so there is something almost expectant hovering in the walls and street lamps. If Chagall has the color, a the Fauves the harsh lines, and the Ashcan school has the emotiona l content, then Chilean arti st Roberto Sabastiano Antonio Matta Eucharen, or Matta, has the feel. The Pa ris-trained Surrealists paintings are at once
23 a ments in a balanced and appealing composition are all things Matta excels at. organic and full of fractals, dark and deep a nd scintillating and brillia nt all at once, this work is called O Loge la Folie A His work is sharp and subtle, and fulfills exquisitely all of the visual contradictions I have b een struggling with. Matta of all the artists mentioned, is the most successful at combining the diverse elements of his painting into scintillating and complete work of art. A directional composition and harmonious colors broken occasionally by jarring ones, hard shapes and loose atmospheri c textures wrapped appealingly around each-other, and generally co mbining diverse ele
24 Conclusion New Orleans is more than my home to wn; the multi-cultural and much bereaved city is a hodge-podge collecti on of the extremes of the hum an condition. Aside from the tattered elegance of the city itself, the people of New Orleans have come through the tragedy of Katrina harder and sadder than before, but with a passion for life and eachother that shines like sequins on velvet. The pe rsonality of the city is more intense now, as if the inevitability of her eventual demi se has made her lights and humors (atmosphere and feeling) burn more brightly in defiance of the destruction and despair. Each time I go home this brightness spills out at me fr om open doorways and windows along with the smells of food and the sounds of laughter and community. I take the expressionistic qualities of Whistler that render light and shadow expressively to the near ex clusion of the human element, the emotive content of the Ashcan school, the color sens e of Chagall and Dufy and Matta, and the heavy lines of Beckman and stained glass, and with them cons truct an image of my hometown that is at once vibrant and subtle. In oil paintings which I tried to invest with mystery, nostalgia, and warmth, I used the deep colors and bright fantastic feel I associate with my childhood to turn a quiet and dark landscape into a glowing dreamland of color. The world will always be an uncertain place, and it may ofte n be terrible and harsh and full of sadness, but it is also full of light and color and passion and joy, none of which would mean anything without the difficult parts. Contrast, sharp and subtle, is what makes the world interesting.
Appendix Metropolitan Twilight~ Boulevard Ink and Watercolor 25
Crescent City Connection Oil Paint 26
The Corner of Bourbon Street Oil Paint 27
The road goes on Oil Paint 28
Take the long way home Oil Paint 29
NightLife Oil Paint 30
Follow Me Oil Paint 31
MidCity Oil Paint 32
Glamour Oil Paint 33 Glitz Oil Paint Lagniappe Oil Paint
34 Reference Picture Credits Fig.1 Night Shadows Edward Hopper, 1921, The Carnegie Arts of the United States Collection. (artstor) Fig.2 Early Morning, Paris Everett Shinn, 1901, The Carnegie Arts of the United States Collection. (artstor) Fig. 3 Le Mans Cathedral: Virgin and Apostles Witness Ascension of Christ : Det. France --13th C. A.D. (artstor) Fig.4 Two Women Max Beckman, 20th C., The Image Gallery. (artstor) Fig. 5 Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket James Whistler, 1874, Detr oit Institute of Arts. (Artstor) Fig.6 London Bridge Andr Derain, 1906, Museum of Modern Art, New York. (Arnason) Fig.7 Le Bonheur de vivre (The Joy of Life) Henri Matisse, 1905-6, The Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania. (Arnason) Fig.8 The Opera, Paris Raoul Dufy, early 1930, The Philips Collection. (artstor) Fig.9 Paris Through the Window Marc Chagall, 1913, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. (Arnason) Fig.10 O Loge La Folie A, from LHonni Aveuglant Cycle Roberto Matta, 1966, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. (artstor)
35 Bibliography Arnason, H.H. History of Modern Art 5th edition. Kalb, Peterrevising author. Prentice Hall Inc. 2004 Crespelle, Jean-Paul. The Fauves New York Graphic Society. Greenwich, Connecticut. 1962 Dorra, Henri. The Symbolism of Paul Gauguin: Erotica, Exotica, and the Great Dilemmas of Humanity University of California Press. Berkely, LA, London. 2007 Kendall, John Smith. History of New Orleans The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1922 Perlman, Bennard B. Painters of the Ashcan School: The Immortal Eight Dover Publications Inc. New York. 1988 Selz, Peter. Max Beckman Doubleday and Company. Garden City, New York Stern, Steven. Prospect.1: New Orleans. Frieze Magazine Issue 120, Jan-Feb 2009.