Category Archives: Portrait

Elaine de Kooning: Portraits

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Elaine de Kooning (1918 – 1989) (born Elaine Marie Fried) works on a series of portraits of President John F. Kennedy in her studio, New York, New York, 1964. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

I am absolutely dying to visit The National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibition, Elaine de Kooning: Portraits, curated by Brandon Brame Fortune, the Portrait Gallery’s chief curator and senior curator of painting and sculpture. I have had an obsession with the portraits of Elaine de Kooning, specifically her male portraits, since graduate school. The expressive and immense figures of men, which emerge from the canvases of artist Elaine de Kooning, are a stunning snapshot of the male figures, famous and unknown, of the New York art scene of the early to mid-twentieth century.

Elaine de Kooning was a dynamic force in the New York School, known for her beauty, artistic talent, and confident nature. She quickly formed connections throughout the abstract expressionist circle, including with artist Willem (Bill) de Kooning, Elaine’s future teacher, husband and friend. Though a prominent figure within the New York artists’ circle, as well as a prolific writer, art critic and artist herself, Elaine was often overshadowed by her husband Bill, as well as the other male abstract expressionist who dominated the art world. Though Elaine explored numerous themes within her paintings, portraits of the male figure seemed to persist throughout her career, abetted by her access to numerous male figures in the New York art circle.

Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning was one of the few abstract expressionists, as well as one of the only women, who explored the subject of male portraiture during the mid-twentieth century. Yet, rather than allow portraiture to limit her artistic direction, ‘E de K’ used her subjects to reveal the inner characters of the important male figures of post-World War II America, and expand the subject matter of Abstract Expressionism.

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Girl Writing

Milton Avery, Girl Writing, 1941, Oil on canvas

After ringing in the New Year with a few close friends & plenty of champagne, I still had no idea what resolutions to set for the coming year. Though a bit late, I think I’ve finally established some goals for the coming year, with the help of Waiting on Martha’s lovely idea, of choosing a “word” for 2014:

I write my resolutions, and pick my “word” for 2014.  For those that haven’t ever picked a word before your word is supposed to encompass a desire, a want, a goal that you hope comes to fruition in the new year.

How I choose my word is really more instinctual than anything else.  I simply grow quiet and go through this list writing down every word that speaks to me.  Then from those chosen words I start crossing each word off until only one remains. – “GO” Waiting on Martha

So, this year, I want to ‘rise’. I want to rise in the mundane and daily sense, to rise each morning with intention, and start each day with my health in mind. I want to rise in the grand sense, to rise to my full potential, to meet challenges head on which I have procrastinated in the past.

I know myself well enough to know, that if I am truly going to complete my New Years resolutions, they need to be specific. Go to the gym more often? Not gonna happen without a specific goal to motivate me, and to work toward throughout the year. So, in line with my 2014 affirmation to ‘rise’, here we go:

1. This is the year I will finally run a marathon. The big 26.2 has always been on my long list of things to do in my lifetime, so why not this year? I’ve decided to work toward the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on October 5th, which means I’ll need to start training this April.

2. I would like to raise my confidence and self-expectations as a blogger. I didn’t publish as many blog posts as I would have liked in 2013, which was often a source of guilt for me. But I have come to realize, that though I love to blog, I also like to spend time unplugged. This year I hope to better plan ahead for blog posts, to find a balance that works for me, and to publish more blog posts than last year.

I hope you have all had a wonderful start to the New Year, and if not, it’s not too late to commit to making the most of 2014!

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Black Stockings

Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Young Woman in Black Stockings (Jeune femme aux bas noirs), 1893-94, Lithograph

Ready for brisk Fall air, cozy knit sweaters and stockings, and cool weather comfort food (dying to try absolutely all of these recipes). Happy first day of Autumn everyone!

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Tough Mudder

Naomi Wilkinson Illustration

Naomi Wilkinson Illustration

In celebration of his upcoming birthday, my father is taking on Wisconsin’s Tough Mudder today, a hardcore 11.8 mile “obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” Though my dad is an experienced triathlete, this is going to be a toughie, boasting obstacle titles such as the “Electric Eel” and “Firewalker.” Seeing as how the longest race I have ever participated in was a 15k, (and sans climbing walls and barbed wire laden mud pits), I am in total awe of my pops. I couldn’t ask for a more inspiring father! Happy birthday Dad, and good luck to all you Tough Mudders competing today!

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One Year Anniversary

Matt Haas Photography

Celebrating one year of marriage with this handsome guy! Happy anniversary Mr. xo

Photo by Matt Haas Photography

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Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity

My mom and I headed over to Chicago for the day, for a long overdue peek at the Art Institute’s latest exhibition, Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. The internationally celebrated exhibit explores the connection between art and fashion amidst the high-fashion realm of late 19th century Paris, captured by the Impressionist works of Renoir, Caillebotte, Monet, Degas and Seurat (amongst many others), as well as the leading fashion portraitists of the period. Although the exhibition is saturated with striking displays of fabrics, accessories and fashion plates, the star of the exhibit is most certainly the couplings of life-size figure paintings with the outfits which inspired them, STUNNING!

Albert Bartholomé, In the Conservatory, c. 1881, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Albert Bartholomé, In the Conservatory, c. 1881, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Summer dress worn by Madame Bartholomé in the painting In the Conservatory, French, 1880, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Summer dress worn by Madame Bartholomé in the painting In the Conservatory, French, 1880, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

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If you’re in the Chicago area, make sure to catch the fabulous exhibition, before its departure on September 29th! Stop by Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy as well, a beautiful counterpart to Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, displayed in the Jean and Steven Goldman Prints and Drawings Galleries in the Richard and Mary L. Gray Wing. I have such a weakness for small intimate works on paper, and this exhibit has some gems by Vallotton, Munch, Cassatt, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Edvard Munch, Boys Bathing, 1899, Color woodcut from two blocks (one sawn into two sections) on cream card

Félix Edouard Vallotton, Laziness, 1896, Woodcut printed in black on ivory wove paper

Mary Cassatt, Printed with Leroy, Woman Bathing, 1890-91, Color aquatint, with drypoint from three plates, on off-white laid paper

 

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