American Art – Part I of III: Paul Cadmus
Artist Statement: “Well, I was always drawing. I mean, I was encouraged to draw. I was given crayons and all the usual things. The first encouragement I had other than my family, which always encouraged me, was in public school.”
Below (left to right) – “The Fleet’s In”; “Greenwich Village Cafeteria”; “See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Etc. (Homage to Kunisada) Version #3”; “Sailors and Floozies”; “Coney Island”; “Self-Portrait, Mallorca.”
“Laughter’s the nearest we ever get, or should get, to sainthood. It’s the state of grace that saves most of us from contempt.” – John Osborne, English playwright, screenwriter, actor, social critic,
and author of “Look Back in Anger,” who was born 12 December 1929.
Some quotes from the work of John Osborne:
“Why don’t we have a little game? Let’s pretend that we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive.”
“You’re hurt because everything is changed. Jimmy is hurt because everything is the same. And neither of you can face it. Something’s gone wrong somewhere, hasn’t it?”
“Jimmy: The injustice of it is almost perfect! The wrong people going
hungry, the wrong people being loved, the wrong people dying!”
“I must say it’s pretty dreary living in the American Age – unless you’re an American of course. Perhaps all our children will be Americans.”
“I suppose people of our generation aren’t able to die for good causes any longer. We had all that done for us, in the thirties and the forties, when we were still kids. …There aren’t any good, brave causes left.”
“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.” – Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and printmaker, who was born 12 December 1863.
Below (left to right) – “The Scream”; “Ashes”; “The Voice/Summer Night”; “The Dance of Life”; “Train Smoke”; “The Weeping Nude”; “Summer Night (Inger on the Shore)”; “Self-Portrait with Bottle of Wine.”
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Italian painter Luigi Boriotti (born 1943): “The oil paintings of Boriotti are tales of solitude and anxiety that arise from our metropolitan environment. The images of our existence are expressed with good painting skill and invite us to reflect about the value of our behaviors.”
“He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.” – Joseph Heller, American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and author of “Catch-22,” who died 12 December 1999.
Some quotes from the work of Joseph Heller:
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.”
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
“Insanity is contagious.”
“What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused, or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, and rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to bodyguards, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.”
“[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”
“The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.”
“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.”
“When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.”
“There’s nothing mysterious about it, He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”
“Mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.”
“Destiny is a good thing to accept when it’s going your way. When it isn’t, don’t call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.”
“There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to.”
American Art – Part II of III: Frederick Childe Hassam
Frederick Childe Hassam (1859 –1935) was a prolific American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes.
Below – “Late Afternoon, New York Winter”; “Washington Arch in Washington Square Park”; “Celia Thatcher’s Garden”; “August Afternoon, Appledore, 1900”; “The Avenue in the Rain”; “Summer Sunlight”; “A Back Road”; “Improvisation”; “Montauk.”
“Who hears music, feels his solitude
Peopled at once.” – Robert Browning, English poet, playwright, and master of the dramatic monologue, who died 12 December 1889.
“My Last Duchess”
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
American Art – Part III of III: Sydney Laurence
Sydney Mortimer Laurence (1865–1940) was an American Romantic landscape painter and is widely considered one of Alaska’s most important historical artists.
“To the Indians it seemed that these Europeans hated everything in nature – the living forests and their birds and beasts, the grassy grades, the water, the soil, the air itself.” – Dee Brown, American novelist, historian, and author of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” who died 12 December 2002.
Some quotes from the work of Dee Brown:
“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”
“The white people were as thick and numerous and aimless as grasshoppers, moving always in a hurry but never seeming to get to whatever place it was they were going to.”
“Nothing lives long
Only the earth and mountains”
“Treat all men alike…. give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. Let me be a free man…free to travel… free to stop…free to work…free to choose my own teachers…free to follow the religion of my Fathers…free to think and talk and act for myself.”
“The Indians knew that life was equated with the earth and its resources, that America was a paradise, and they could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself.”
American Art, Rocky Mountain School – part I of III:
While he was a painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School, Thomas Moran (1837-1926) often featured the Rocky Mountains in his work.
A Poem for Today
“A Coal Fire in Winter,”
By Thomas McGrath
Something old and tyrannical burning there,
(Not like a wood fire which is only
The end of summer, or a life)
But something of darkness, heat
From the time before there was fire
And I have come here
To warm that blackness into forms of light,
To set free a captive prince
From the sunken kingdom of the father coal.
A warming company of the cold-blooded–
These carbon serpents of bituminous gardens,
These inflammable tunnels of dead song from the black pit,
This sparkling end of the great beasts, these blazing
Stone flowers diamond fire incandescent fruit.
And out of all that death, now,
At midnight, my love and I are riding
Down the old high roads of inexhaustible light.
American Art, Rocky Mountain School – part II of III: Thomas Hill
Thomas Hill (1829-1908) produced many fine paintings of the California landscape, particularly in the Yosemite Valley.
Below – “Rocky Mountains: 1869”; “Grand Canyon of the Sierra”; “View of Yosemite Valley”; “Bow River Gap at Banff on Canadian Pacific Railroad”; “Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe”; “Yosemite Valley: 1867.” “Paiute Indians in Yosemite Valley: 1867”;
“Mount Shasta from Castle Lake”; “Chinese Man Tending Cattle.”
A Second Poem for Today
“For an Absence,”
By Wendell Berry
When I cannot be with you
I will send my love (so much
is allowed to human lovers)
to watch over you in the dark —
a winged small presence
who never sleeps, however long
the night. Perhaps it cannot
protect or help, I do not know,
but it watches always, and so
you will sleep within my love
within the room within the dark.
And when, restless, you wake
and see the room palely lit
by that watching, you will think,
“It is only dawn,” and go
quiet to sleep again.
American Art, Rocky Mountain School – part III of III: William Keith
William Keith (1838-1911) was famous for his California landscape paintings.
Below – “Mountain Landscape with Cattle”; “Mount Ritter (Crown of the Sierras)”; “Yosemite Valley”; “Hetch Hetchy Side Canyon”; “Sunset on Mount Diablo”; “Early Oakland, 7th and Adeline Streets, The Southern Pacific Depot, 1867”; “Cypress Point”; “Kings River Canyon”; “Sunset Glow on Mt Tamalpais.”