Point of Exquisite Suspension

Thoughts & life experiences of a Chicago area graphic artist

24 May 2015

"Abstract Art" before Abstract Art

Entrance to the 19th Century American Art, Sculpture Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago


Before Picasso, Pollack, Klee and other artists of the Modern/Abstract Art era, artist dealt with abstract concepts by using the human figure. An example is the sculpture "Truth" by Daniel Chester French, the phenomenal 19th Century sculptor who also created the famous seated portrait of Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Truth, Plaster, 1900


The following text is from the info plaque next to a plaster working model of the statue at the Art Institute of Chicago:

_________________

Daniel Chester French, American, 1850-1931 was commissioned to create six allegorical figures, representing Bounty, Courage, Integrity, Prudence, Truth, and Wisdom, for the facade of the Minnesota State Capitol, in Saint Paul. This plaster statue is a working model and is half the size of the marble figure that appears, paired with Integrity, on the building. In this portrayal of Truth, French used symbols drawn from Classical and Renaissance sources. The mirror she holds reflects life without illusions; her partial nudity alludes to the nature of truth.

_________________

If the term "abstract" is taken to refer to such intangible concepts as "Truth", "Beauty", "Wisdom", etc., then I think artists have been making "Abstract Art" long before modern times.

06 May 2015

Schizoid Pop Stars

Twenty One Pilots lead singer Tyler Joseph

I realize I'm always a bit late on stuff like this. But I've recently discovered music by the band Twenty One Pilots. I happened to catch one of their newer songs, Tear In My Heart, on the radio and then looked it up on You Tube.

What attracted me was the rhythm, sound and lyrics of the band which consists of two dudes -a singer/keyboardist/ukelele-player guy and a drummer.

Wikipedia says they have been classified by some fans as being in a subgenre called  "Schizoid pop" due to the mash-up of rap, alternative, ballad and other styles. I guess that's why I like them. I'm crazy about mash-ups.

And I like the intensity of they're performances. Both musicians go all out, although lead singer Tyler is the most vocal in interviews. Josh Dun is less animated only when he is not playing the drums. With his sticks, on the skins and cymbals, he's compelling to watch.

And I'd say this is a band to watch. With their sensitive, poetry-based songs, I think they are breaking new ground musically and lyrically.




As I dug around I also found this other song of theirs, Stressed Out:


Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun

27 April 2015

Octopus Days

Sketch book pages from the time a few years ago when I was obsessed with the octopus.

Sporadically over a few months in 2010 I was fixated on drawing the octopus in various poses and configurations. To this day I remain intrigued by that amazing creature, "a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda" according to our friends at Wikipedia.

I checked out lots of children's books about the octopus from my local library. Children's books are a great way to start reading about a subject. They reduce most any matter to it's essence and have lots of pictures!

Youtube videos showing the eight-legged denizen of the deep were also valuable in my quest to absorb information on them. I eventually got my fill. But not before I learned how intelligent they are (at least as smart as a cat). The octopus is also a curious, playful creature. Unfortunately they only live 3-5 years.

In 2014, I created a painting based on one of my octopus-themed sketchbook pages. It was very fun to give the subject a fantasy treatment. 


You can see more of my sketches inspired by the octopus at my flickr site.

Art and text © 2015 by O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.

16 April 2015

The Devotee

Photo by O. Douglas Jennings © 2015. Taken at the Art Institute of Chicago
I love this photo for several reasons. The gallery was not crowded that day and this young man was free to take in the painting, Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Latrec at his leisure. His kneeling posture connotes devotion. I'm guessing that he is writing a paper about the painting for school.

Another aspect of the photo is that it juxtaposes modern technology with 19th Century artistic legacy.

I cropped the photo but in the original version, it's plain to see the student is alone. Yet he has also isolated himself through his intense and solitary focus. 

This will be my last Gallery Patron Watch post for a while.

14 April 2015

Art Gallery Patrons Pics (Again)

The photos below were taken as I walked from the main European Painting Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago to that museums Impressionism section. As I entered the room where Seurat's famous painting, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, was on display, I encountered the scene in the first photo. The viewers looked like wealthy patrons. They had staked out their positions before the masterpiece.



As I made my way through the room, I couldn't help but take another photo of the couple. The man, who reminded me of Daddy Warbucks from the classic Orphan Annie comic strip, seemed much more interested in the painting than the woman on his arm.




Scenes like this fascinate me. You can see my previous entry and photo of gallery patrons here.



08 April 2015

Didja' ever?...


This originally appeared in black and white in my Tigrikorn Zine (I forgot which issue), in the 90s.

Color version © 2014 by O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.