Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feb. 24,2011 Jackdaw!

What do you do when you wake up and cannot get back to sleep? I figured I would go to bed early..well, early for me is around 11:30pm. At 7am I am wide awake and I decided to get a look at a big art book I had borrowed from the library that has to be returned this weekend. It is about the Blue Rider group (Bleu Reiter)...Jawlensky, Klee, Kandinsky, and Feininger. I am a real Klee and Kandinsky fan. I love the color and freedom of form and line they incorporated. There is some wonderful history about the group who was better known in the USA after WWI when the original member Gelka Sheyer came over from Germany and convinced the others to come and share their art. She promoted them vigorously until her death in 1945. Jawlensky was born in Russia..close to where Chagall was born. He named gave Gelka her nickname that she used the rest of her life. It means Jackdaw in Russian. They knew and hobnobbed with the likes of Marlene Deitrich, Charlie Chaplin, John Cage...
As a group though they were ignored in Germany until the 90's when there have been some retrospectives. Franz Marc was a fringe member but he died at a young age and was not an essential participant. I also like the Leipsig painters who came along in the 80's. Saw a nice retrospective in Salt Lake City a few years ago. I also read a bio of Chagall recently. I cannot seem to get enough of these artists and their lives. I find them so interesting. I like to know why and when they painted. what influenced them in relationship to the history and political environment surrounding them at the time of their art making. DuChamp has interesting events that influenced his particular the suitcase art he did since he had to immigrate. Many of the artists I have read about had such harsh times and sadness. Dealing with wars, plagues, political turmoil and hatred.. It is hard enough to be an artist and then to have to create through such We are so lucky..many of us today who although feel political turmoil in our lives are not dealing with horrid deprivation, fear for our lives and loss. Maybe these factors made artists great. Maybe having to work with whatever they could find and slog around for funds, and take on commissions that consumed their lives in order to feed their children made them great. What do you think? Can you be a great artist with minimal suffering? Do we have to be starving to find meaning in our art, to break out and become new and interesting? I have had some financial hard times..but nothing like these artists have gone through. I have had loss and sickness and pain..but really I have felt fortunate to be alive and happy. So many of us define ourselves by our troubles and illnesses and I think they tend to make us weaker..using the problems as an excuse to just go along. I feel that any break through for me will have to be because of effort and will. I don't want suffering to be in my bio someday! I would prefer a story of happiness and color...did that sound naive? Anyway I am off to work..have a great day.


  1. Je suis d'accord avec vous... je prends beaucoup de plaisir à lire les biographies des peintres. La misère y était extrême... et à savoir si celle-ci permet ou pas d'avoir le véritable sens artistique pourrait être un sujet intéressant de philosophie...
    En ce qui me concerne, la peinture fut une amie douce et dure dans des moments très difficiles de ma vie où j'ai du faire face à la maladie.
    Gros bisous et bon courage pour cette journée de travail.

  2. So many of great artists have been plagued by tragedy through the years but that's not to say it helps you to be more artistic.

  3. Like you, I love to read about other artist and what influences them. I think we must FEEL very deeply to be good artist- whether that is pain or joy- I think we are better artist when we are able to express the extremes of those emotions. This was very thought-provoking.