Categories
4: Portrait Self-portrait

Frida Kahlo

Ill paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best.

Frida Kahlo portraits Google

Tate Modern exhibition 2005

Feel My Pain by Natasha Walters

Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition 2018 video

Wikipedia

 

Frida Kahlo de Rivera ( 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican artist.  She used a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.

Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. She was disabled by polio as a child. Then at age eighteen a traffic accident caused lifelong pain and medical problems. It was during her recovery that she decided to leave her earlier ambitions to study medicine and become an artist.

In 1927, she joined the Mexican Communist Party. Here she met the  muralist Diego Rivera and they married in 1928. The relationship was volatile and included a year-long divorce; both had extramarital affairs.  Throughout her life Kahlo was mainly known as Rivera’s wife. From the 1930s Kahlo’s always fragile health began to decline. She had her first and only solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, shortly before her death in 1954 at the age of 47.

In the late 1970s her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. Kahlo’s work has been celebrated by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history and the Feminism movement, but also an icon for Chicanos and the LGBTQ movement.

Categories
4: Portrait 5: Memory Drypoint Etching Self-portrait

Louise Bourgeois

Google images for Louise Bourgeois drypoints

See MoMA catalogue of Bourgeois drypoints

Google images for Louise Bourgeois self-portraits

Louise Bourgeois was the main source of inspiration for my series of abstract self-portraits: Assignment 4:  Life in Red White Black

Life and sources of inspiration

Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911. Her parents  ran a tapestry restoration business where she  helped out by drawing missing elements in the scenes depicted on the tapestries.

Bourgeois’s work is based, more or less overtly, on memory. Much of her work probes  themes of loneliness, jealousy, anger, and fear. Many of these emotions originate in her vivid memories and sense of betrayal by her father who carried on an affair with Sadie Gordon Richmond, the English tutor who lived in the family house. This led her to seek psychoanalysis – a subject she wrote about a lot in her diaries. Through her work she is able to access and analyse hidden (but uncomfortable) feelings, resulting in cathartic release from them. She has said:

Some of us are so obsessed with the past that we die of it. It is the attitude of the poet who never finds the lost heaven and it is really the situation of artists who work for a reason that nobody can quite grasp. They might want to reconstruct something of the past to exorcise it. It is that the past for certain people has such a hold and such a beauty … Everything I do was inspired by my early life.
(Destruction of the Father, p.133.)

Bourgeois started printmaking in 1938, the year she moved to New York with her husband Robert Goldwater (1907-73). She experimented widely with techniques and effects, producing an important portfolio of etchings titled He Disappeared into Complete Silence (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) in the 1940s.

She used drypoint more frequently than any other technique. She produced around 1,500 prints that use only drypoint, or in combination with other intaglio techniques. She liked the fact that the drypoint needle was easy to manipulate and that no acid or special equipment was required. She referred to the scratching as an “endearing” gesture, a kind of “stroking.” While it could not “convert antagonism,” something she admired in engraving, she liked the immediacy of drypoint’s effects, with its soft, irregular line and tentative qualities. She used drypoint in some her most iconic print projects, such as the Sainte Sébastienne series,  the portfolio Anatomy, and the illustrated book Ode à Ma Mère, which presents a range of her celebrated spider imagery.(https://www.moma.org/explore/collection/lb/techniques/drypoint)

Bibliography

Malbert, R., (2016) Louise Bourgeois: Autobiographical prints, London: Hayward Publishing.

Muller-Westermann, I. (ed.) (2015) Louise Bourgeois: I Have Been to Hell and Back, Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

Wye, D., (2017) Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, New York: MoMA.

See MoMA Catalogue for Louise Bourgeois work

See Tate catalogue of works by Bourgeois

Videos and interviews on her life and work

 

Categories
4: Portrait 5: Memory Artists Inspiration Self-portrait

Tracey Emin

See:

Google images for Tracey Emin Self Portrait

Tate page on Tracey Emin Self

Categories
1: Landscape 3: Chiaroscuro 4: Portrait Media Self-portrait Urban

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt’s was a key inspiration for:

Sources and references

  • Bikker, J. and G. J. M. Weber (2015). Rembrandt: The Late Works. London: National Gallery.
  • Royalton-Kisch, M. (2006). Rembrandt as Printmaker. London: Hayward Gallery Touring.

Goldmark exhibition (has a loupe to see the detail of markmaking)

CD of Rembrandt etchings purchased from Rembrandthuis.

https://www.rembrandthuis.nl/en/rembrandt-2/collection/etchings/

Christie’s exhibition

Rembrandt as printmaker

Rembrandt (1606-1669) was a Dutch  painter, draughtsman and printmaker. His works cover a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies.

Rembrandt’s fame while he lived was greater as an etcher than as a painter (he did no engravings or woodcuts). He experimented with different etching and drypoint techniques. He used different mark-making tools to create different types of line – in contrast to the much more mechanical engraving techniques. Rembrandt sometimes employed even the V-shaped engraver’s burin in his etchings, combining it with the fine etching needle and thicker dry point needle, as in the work opposite, for richer pictorial effects.

Landscape

Rembrandt The Three Trees Etching and Drypoint
Rembrandt The Three Trees Etching and Drypoint

See also Google images

Rembrandt’s landscape etchings and drypoints are in the classic Dutch ink and watercolour tradition with broody skies over low horizon and dark, cold foreground.

Portrait prints

He makes the subjects look alive through the way he uses tone to draw the eye to visual features.

Rembrandt Old Bearded Man
Rembrandt Old Bearded Man
Rembrandt with Saskia etching
Rembrandt with Saskia etching

Chiaroscuro

He also experimented with different inking variations for chiaroscuro, producing very different interpretations of the same plate. Etching allows a lot of correction and burnishing to change the image. In some instances his etching were explorations of light and shade that he then transferred into his paintings.

Rembrandt The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, 1634, etching, engraving and drypoint printed in black ink on cream paper.
Rembrandt The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, 1634, etching, engraving and drypoint printed in black ink on cream paper.

Technique

Detailed discussion of Rembrandt’s techniques and the background to his etchings.

Portrait paintings

‘Warts and all’

Rembrandt’s self portraits

Rembrandt The Late Works

Categories
2: Abstraction 4: Portrait 5: Memory InProcess Self-portrait

Francis Bacon

!!to be further elaborated as I finalise Assignments 4 and 5

Francis Bacon’s edgy, visceral paintings tapping the unconscious a key source of inspiration for:

Quotations from the videos below:

We do with our lives what we can. And then we die. What else is there?

If anything ever does work in my case chance, and what I call ‘accident’ takes over.

Gamble everything on the next brush stroke…different strokes trying to do something else then develop themselves

How are you going to trap reality? How are you going to trap an appearance without making an illustration of it?

  • Colour of meat is beautiful

Issues for my printmaking:

  • Feeling the form as it emerges – particularly with monoprint or inking collagraph plates. One thing can turn into another.
  • Can work from photographs for portraits. But observe – Bacon could not draw.
  • Shadows do not need to relate to a subject – making them different can create considerable tension
  • his tryptichs ‘don’t relate to each other, but they play off one another…the balance seems better with three’

 

Key images

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944 The work’s exhibition in April 1945 coincided with the release of the first photographs and film footage of the Nazi concentration camps. (Tate Modern website)
Triptych August 1972. This work is generally considered one in a series of Black Triptychs which followed the suicide of Bacon’s lover, George Dyer. Dyer appears on the left and Bacon is on the right. The central group is derived from a photograph of wrestlers by Edward Muybridge, but also suggests a more sexual encounter. The seated figures and their coupling are set against black voids and the central flurry has been seen as ‘a life-and death struggle’. (Tate Modern website)
Study for a self-portrait. Also known as Businessman I 1952 or Man’s Head 1952

Other paintings

 1940s

Man in a Cap

Videos

BBC documentary

Tate Gallery Retrospective with words from Francis Bacon spoken by John Hurt

BBC Archive film

His last interview

Works set to music

Resources and references

Categories
1: Landscape 2: Abstraction 3: Chiaroscuro 4: Portrait Etching Inspiration Lithograph Media Monoprint Natural Self-portrait

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas has been influential in my work for:

Degas produced many prints as well as paintings, and often worked in pastels over prints.

Lithographs

He produced lithographs from some of his paintings – some of these have a beautiful dreamy quality, benefiting from a monochrome treatment to enhance the total contrasts.

Degas After the Bath 1891–92 Lithograph, transfer, and crayon on laid paper; fifth (final) state
Degas After the Bath 1891–92 Lithograph, transfer, and crayon on laid paper; fifth (final) state
Degas La-Chanteuse-1888-89 lithograph

Etching

His etching uses a range of styles, often based on drawings of intimate scenes that have a . In ‘The laundress’ his energetic lines echo the frenzy of work in the laundry, and the ink tone on the plate conveys the steam and mist. His ‘whorehouse scenes’, some based on monoprints have an immediacy and poignancy not found in his painting.

Degas The laundress, 1879-80. Etching on copper plate.
Degas The laundress, 1879-80. Etching on copper plate.
Degas Whorehouse scene 'The drunk prostitutes'
Degas Whorehouse scene ‘The drunk prostitutes’

Monoprints

Degas (1834-1917) took up monotype printing in 1874-75. In his lifetime Degas produced more than 250 subjects and 400 separate impressions in monotype, far exceeding his etchings or lithographs. He used ghost prints as a basis for pastels. Between 1876-1881 nearly 70% of his works in colour were monoprints enhanced with pastel, sometimes drawing with them, sometimes wetting them for watercolour effects to give different moods, and to add and take away figures.

Degas Le Sommeil c 1885 Courtesy of British Museum
Degas Le Sommeil c 1885 Courtesy of British Museum

Degas found monotype gave him greater freedom to improvise and be spontaneous than drawing on paper allowed. The ability to wipe and smear ink on the plate, and the darkness of tone from the ink, allow a range of mark=making and tone very difficult to achieve with charcoal. It was ideal for capturing secret and intimate scenes, such as women engaged in their toilet or in brothel scenes. He was influenced by Japanese woodblock prints and was interested in the ways shapes and lines can be organised on paper to indicate figures in movement. From 1870s he started to have problems with his eyesight, so he was more sensitive to light/dark contrasts and created dramatic chiaroscuro effects.

He was introduced to the process by his friend the amateur etcher Vicomte Ludovic Napoléon Lepic (1839-1889).  Lepic enjoyed experimenting tonal wiping (l’eau forte mobile or variable etching) to create many variations on a basic landscape composition. He used one etched plate and  wiped off this plate, and also ‘retroussage’,  a way of adding ink to previously wiped plates to produce much richer tones on the prints.

Degas adopted this  ‘dark-field’ method. He covered the entire surface of the printing plate in oily, slow-drying ink and then removed it as necessary to create the image. He scratched and brushed it, wiped it with a rag and manipulated it with his fingers to create the composition, before fixing it by printing it onto paper. He worked and reworked his plates, wiping off and adding ink with rags, fingers and brushes. Later he began to draw on the plate with Indian ink, often diluting it with turpentine and working directly on the plate with a paintbrush.

Degas usually printed two impressions of each monotype subject, one strong, the other weak. He would keep untouched the first impressions (this is a first impression), but he would rework the second with pastel or gouache.

A Strange New Beauty: Monoprint Landscapes

His monoprint landscapes, included in a MoMA exhibition in 2016, are particularly beautiful and innovative. These use oil based ink and solvents to produce misty effects with strong abstraction.

 

Edgar Degas, Factory Smoke, 1877–79, monotype on paper, 4¾ x 6¼ inches

Sources

Hauptman, J. (2016). Degas: A Strange New Beauty, New York: MoMA.

Google images for Degas chiaroscuro

Degas Creative Commons site for paintings only.