Inside the Artist’s Studio: Helen Frankenthaler

I love these stunning photographs of Helen Frankenthaler amongst her paintings in her New York City studio. Photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine ca. 1956:

Helen Frankenthaler sitting amidst her art in her New York City studio. Photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine ca. 1956 2Helen Frankenthaler sitting amidst her art in her New York City studio. Photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine ca. 1956for G - 28frankenthaler - UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1956: Painter Helen Frankenthaler sitting amidst her art. (Gordon Parks/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

And here she is at work, photographed by Ernst Haas in her studio in 1969

frankenthaler18

Helen Frankenthaler, New York, 1969 by Ernst Haas4

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TJENBWA: PROTEAN

By Vladimir Lucien

The moth that enters
your house at night is a grudge
that someone is holding
against you. It half-sits, bothered
by your light and the roof
over your head. It spreads
its small evening wherever
it lands over the things
you love most. A dark tent
of dark intentions.

Vladimir Lucien is a poet, screenwriter and actor from Saint Lucia, his first poetry collection,  Sounding Ground (Peepal Tree Press, 2014) won the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. 

Man Dressed as a Bat (Night), Peter Doig, 2007

Man Dressed as a Bat (Night), Peter Doig, 2007


Bathers on the Beach

On a Sunny Day…

Bathers, Pablo Picasso, 1920

Bathers, Pablo Picasso, 1920

On a Rainy Day…

Bologna, Luigi Ghirri, 1973

Bologna, Luigi Ghirri, 1973


The Life of Forms in Art

“Hokusai tried to paint without the use of his hands. It is said that one day, having unrolled his scroll in front of the shogun, he poured over it a pot of blue paint then, dipping the claws of a rooster in a pot of red paint, he made the bird run across the scroll and leave its tracks on it. Everyone present recognized in them the waters of the stream called Tatsouta carrying along maple leaves reddened by autumn.”

Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art (1934)

Spider, Alexander Calder, 1939

Spider, Alexander Calder, 1939


Tanned

Two summery prints by Tom Wesselmann:

Cut-out Nude from 11 Pop Artists, Volume I Tom Wesselmann 1965

Cut-out Nude, Tom Wesselmann, 1965

Tom Wesselmann Shiny Nude from the Rubber Stamp Portfolio 1977

Shiny Nude, Tom Wesselmann, 1977


Solar Breath

In Solar Breath (Northern Caryatids) (2002) Michael Snow records the movements of a curtain in his rural log cabin in Newfoundland, Canada, about an hour before sunset. In it we observe beautiful gentle flutters that occur alongside dramatic gusts which blow the fabric into large balloons only to slam it back into the glass, and out again. Snow says, “While on one level Solar Breath is merely a fixed-camera documentary recording, it is also the result of years of attention”


How to Be Both

How to Be Both by Ali Smith is a marvelous book –gorgeous language, innovative form, a moving story, and, best of all – it’s packed with art references! One of the main characters is Francesco del Cossa, an Italian Renaissance fresco painter of whom very little is known, but nevermind, Ali has created a story for him (her), and woven it together with the story of George, a teenage girl in modern day. There are discussions about art, love, gender and sexuality, death, and more, as well as a great cover (a photograph of Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy, an image which is referenced in the book) and inner cover images from Francesco del Cossa’s greatest masterpiece – an elaborate allegorical fresco in the Palazzo Schifanoia (meaning palace of escaping from boredom) in Ferrara, which also plays an important role in the novel.

Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy photo by Jean Marie Perier

Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy, photograph by Jean-Marie Périer

Smith’s prose is dazzling and clever. In the extract below Francesco talks about the gift of being a painter, and in the passage below that, he describes what he sees when he finds himself in modern day (the “votives” he speaks of are in fact our smart-phones and tablets):

“It is a feeling thing, to be a painter of things: cause every thing, even an imagined or gone thing or creature or person has essence: paint a rose or a coin or a duck or a brick and you’ll feel it as sure as if a coin had a mouth and told you what it was like to be a coin, as if a rose told you first-hand what petals are, their softness and wetness held in a pellicle of colour thinner and more feeling than an eyelid, as if a duck told you about the combined wet and underdry of its feathers, a brick about the rough kiss of its skin.” (p. 42)

“I am wondering where it is, grave of my father, wondering too where my own grave, when the boy sits up, faces the woman’s house, holds his holy votive tablet up in both hands as if to heaven, up at the level of his head like a priest raising the bread, cause this place is full of people who have eyes and choose to see nothing, who all talk into their hands as they peripatate and all carry these votives, some the size of a hand, some the size of a face or a whole head, dedicated to saints perhaps or holy folk, and they look or talk to or pray to these tablets or icons all the while by holding them next to their heads or stroking them with fingers and staring only at them, signifying they must be heavy in their despairs to be so consistently looking away from their world and so devoted to their icons.” (p. 43)

The book is split in two parts (both titled part one), one which is centred on Francesco and the other on George. One of Smith’s experiments with structure was to vary the order of these two parts randomly from book to book. My book started with Francesco’s story, and I must admit that, knowing nothing about the book beforehand, I found it hard to make head or tail of it to begin with. So after some research I decided to skip forward and start over with George’s story. This made all the difference, by the time I got to Francesco’s section I had no problem understanding it. So if you’re having trouble getting through, don’t give up – just try switching it around!

Here are some images of Francesco del Cossa’s frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara, Italy, executed c. 1469–70:

Francesco_del_Cossa_013 Francesco_del_Cossa_003  marzo-close-up-001 francesco_del_cossa_triumph-of-minerva-det
And now excuse me while I plan my trip to Ferrara.