Friday, March 6, 2009

Catlin Attack!

I have really been taken with the directness of Catlin's paintings. For the past week I have been spending some lunchtime with them. The smaller landscapes with figures look like really fast paintings and they have that upturned space that drives all the Modernists wild. It drives the Modernist in me wild, as well as the Post-Whatever-ist in me. Fortunately SAAM has a million of 'em. The noble portraits as well as unusual horsemanship, and so on. After the outright schmaltz of Cole and bombast of Bierstadt they are kind of refreshingly forthright with their motives. Describe, describe, describe ...but not too much.

My Dad and I were having a conversation about American painting and how he thought Benton was relevant to what I was up to. This in a funny way is true, but my roiling compositions are ratcheted down to a simmer. Maybe even a burble. It's funny how ideas lay dormant like that. In any case, originally being from Missouri, it only makes sense. As a kid walking into state buildings and not seeing a Benton meant that you were looking at you feet the whole time (guilty) or you were visually impaired. (not really, but I wear glasses) For the sake of balance though, as a kid I was also fanatical about this Cranach. Gee, I wonder why?

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