Monday, September 3, 2012

an' i've got a nickel

These are details of a new oil painting on canvas, 36"x36" square in its entirety. Most often I work from my own photographs combined with stuff I make up, but I also use found photos/materials, or pictures offered to me by friends. Rarely have I used, as direct reference, photographs that are intended themselves to be art, part of a larger body of work by a renowned photographer. This black/white/grey painting is an exception, because I wanted to do a painting based on on one of Rudy Burckhardt's photos; this one is from 1938. He depicted the city (and nature) as it appeared in his time (1930s-60s particularly), with his unique eye towards patterns, cinematic light and shadow, text, subtle humor and conscious framing. He also made films, collaborating on several with Joseph Cornell. I've liked him for years and could write far more, but there is a great monograph on Burckhardt by Phillip Lopate which details his life and work.
I wondered if this particular shot would make as effective a painting. I shuffled its elements slightly for my composition and incorporated part of another photo, but it is mostly faithful to the original, and I see it as a sort of tribute to a particular artist's eye. People will look at a painting differently than they will look at a photograph, and I hoped my treatment would convey what I saw in his work- in turn, what he saw through his lens. It is no secret that I also like signage, earnest graphics and ice cream. I had to paint it to see if & how it would translate to another format. The black & white tiled expanse of wall and all the banal words. You start to wonder if it's worth the time spent even looking, let alone painting- that's one of the questions I think about, in a world of images flashing past.


No comments:

Post a Comment