You may (or may not) have noticed I have not been posting to this blog site as frequently in the past several months as I have in the past. That’s because my painting studio has held me a delighted prisoner. I have been immersed in my “Cities” series of paintings, and in particular I have been working from wonderful reference I gained this past snowy winter to NYC.
One of my favorite museums is MOMA, The Museum of Modern Art, in New York. I find constant inspiration there from the art, but also, now that I have come to work on this gallery series of museum scenes, I can spend hours watching the art lovers move through the space and react to the art.
I go back to the galleries again and again during a single visit, waiting for the right configuration of characters, with interesting poses creating interesting shapes. This woman in front of Robert Rauschenberg’s “Rebus” was fascinating to me, especially with the long black bench in the foreground catching the reflection of light and colors from the painting, as well as her shadow.
For this particular piece I wanted a lot of contrast so that the figures would appear like chess pieces moving in the space. In my black & white check for tone, I can see these figures’ relationships even more clearly.
The title of Rauschenberg’s art “Rebus” is where I got my title for this painting “Not By Words”. A rebus is a picture puzzle, where the names of pictured objects have a literal meaning in a sentence…like “(Picture of an eye) I (picture of a heart) love NY”.
Rauschenberg wanted his collage to be a true picture of the reality of his immediate environment. And isn’t that what many artists want to accomplish, including me? By anchoring the main figure in front of the painting, and having the three other gallery visitors move around her, it focuses even more on her intense contemplation of the painting in the moment.
When I look for these scenarios in art museums, I often wonder what the security guards posted in the galleries think. I come back again and again to the same spot and wait until the other visitors create a scene that attracts my interest. If I don’t find it at that moment, I’ll move to another gallery and come back later. It is not until I get my digital camera back to the studio that I truly know if I have gotten it or not. The variety of possibilities is endless.