Big Picture of Chicago Painting
I'm finally getting around to posting about a show I saw in August,
Big Picture : A New View of Painting in Chicago
that a couple of gallerists mounted
in the Chicago Historical Society.
I don't know why it's called a
except that it categorically excludes landscape painting
which was so dominant
in the period being surveyed
(late 19th through mid 20th Centuries)
This is no great loss to me,
since I'm already familiar
with so many of the landscape painters of that period,
but it might be misleading
to most people.
the show was very exciting
since I had not seen most of these painters before.
Including Roff Beman (shown above)
who seems to have been the
quintessential art bum,
as he depicts his humble home/studio above.
Maybe you have to be from Chicago to like
this little slice of gritty urban life.
Like most of the artists in this show,
his reputation is very limited,
but I find him charming
Miyoko Ito (1918-1983)
There's something so melancholy
about the work of this Japanese-American,
perhaps she felt exiled
from both of her native cultures.
Although this gallery site is showing her more upbeat work,
so maybe the better word for her is
James Bolivar Needham (1850-1931)
.. just as an African American laborer like Needham
must have felt exiled from mainstream America
in a lifetime that saw the end of slavery
and the Birth of a Nation
He meticulously studied, painted, and cataloged
the Chicago waterfront scenes where he had worked,
and was not recognized as an artist
until late in life.
Carl Hoeckner (1883-1972)
Not really painting you'd want to hang in your living room,
which is probably why this gritty artist
quit my art club, the Palette and Chisel,
back around the time this painting was made (1918)
Where would this painting belong ?
It's a memorial to the great disaster of WWI,
but who wants to remember such things ?
Harold Haydon (1909-1984)
Wow -- this painting is drenched in Chicago-ness
and I guess he's something of a local hero
as a long-time professor at the University of Chicago
as well art critic at the Sun Times.
He had also gotten a degree in philosophy
and his own pet theory of "binocular vision"
(I suspect his theories were just a way
for him to relate to his colleagues at the University of Chicago,
which is a problem that probably all artists have
as they try to build a career in academia.
They've got to put on a white lab coat,
and present their art work
as a kind of research)
Thankfully his family has made a website for him,
and it's quite an enjoyable trip through
the century that he nearly spanned,
though I like his earlier, regionalist paintings
(like the one shown above)
Edmund Giesbert (1893-1971)
Not much about this guy on the Internet,
except for a few illustrations that he did.
I think the above shows that he's one of his period's
best figure painters,
a Midwestern version of Eugene Speicher
Thomas Kapsalis (b. 1925)
A long-time teacher at the Art Institute,
I like his kinetic frenzy --
well, maybe not so frenetic,
more like stately -- classical
and a bit ... ummmm... academic.
(this one looks like a diagram
from an origami book)