Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chinese Painting AIC September 2014

 Chen Daofu, (1483-1544), Flowering Lotus, 1543

It looks like lotus will be the theme of  the September installation in the alcove of Chinese painting - but so far only two pieces have been installed.  The museum showed another painting by this artist last winter.

My friend, John Putnam, has own lotus pond that recently came under attack by a local raccoon.

But these lotus are better protected -and I could look at them all day

It's a subject matter  that seems to offer the opportunity to express hilarity.


Li Huasheng (b. 1944), "Ten Thousand Acres of Lotus", 1991

This contemporary piece also feels hilarious - as hilarious as a small child's birthday party.

An artist of the Peoples Republic,  Li seems to looking at contemporary ABX artists like Cy Twombly as much as he's followed traditional Chinese brush painting.

Li Huasheng, 2001 (not on view)

In the 1990's, he stopped painting recognizable imagery, and began compulsively putting marks on the paper.

Hopefully, he'll eventually find this kind of work as tedious as I do, and will return to a more lyrical practice.


.Returning two weeks later, I discovered that only one additional painting had been added - while half the cases are still filled with the botanicals that were put on exhibit last Spring.

Qing Dynasty, Bamboo and Rocks

This piece was impossible to photograph - and it's not yet listed in the online catalog. (1988.173)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Reginald Mars at the Oak Park Public Library

 In 1963, the Village of Oak Park commissioned Reginald Mars (1901 - 1973) to depict 10 seasonal recreational activities to adorn a newly built fieldhouse.  They went into storage twenty years later, and now have been cleaned and put on temporary display in the library.

This scene,  appearing in the Chicago Tribune last week,  caught my attention.   First, because it  reminded me that if you want to see lots of attractive, half-dressed young women, just go to a public swimming pool in the morning when they bring their young children to play.

Second, because it was obviously done by a talented, experienced illustrator who could draw figures and design with them too.

Unfortunately, these surfaces got pretty dirty in their public location, and the cleaning left them feeling as thin and faded as a fresco from the 14th Century.

But the drawing and basic design has survived -- to effectively depict happy, prosperous, suburban American life in the early 1960's  (back when I might have been a kid in the pool)

Though you might notice one thing that's missing: ethnic diversity -- which would have been a sensitive issue back in the 50's- especially regarding public swimming pools. (in Cincinnati, where I grew up, they were segregated )

 Here's my favorite -- I think the artist may have spent some time in the Buckingham Japanese print gallery at the Art Institute.


 As often happens with the work of professional illustrators, these pieces look better in reproduction than they do in the original.

 Another nice composition.

 I'm sure that every village has a storeroom containing dark,old, forgotten paintings.

Some art lover must have stumbled upon  these and correctly guessed how good they once looked.