…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Friday, December 29, 2006

who paints your world?

In the Amy Correia song “Stranded” there’s a rhyming couplet that tends to reverberate in my head for hours after I’ve heard it:

“This town is on the rocks
Looks like a painting by Hieronymous Bosch”

It conjures such an arresting image—choose from any among Bosch’s many visions of hell—and I know exactly what she means, succinctly and elegantly, in the lines that immediately follow:

“All the souls are tied up in knots
Sometimes I think I’m gonna drown”

Whenever I hear that song I’m jealous that I didn’t write it, but I guess I’ll eventually get over it.

The song makes me think about which artists best express the world as I see it. Sometimes Bosch’s soulscapes are all too familiar, on those days when my psyche can’t see past the ugliness and cruelty of life. Maybe that mindset is better expressed by this charming 15th-century ditty, The Fall of the Damned, by Dieric Bouts the Elder.

It isn’t always so dark in there, though the beacon that is Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light® hasn’t yet found an exploitable breach in my grey matter.

I think the world I live in is best expressed by Edward Hopper: blunt, stark, realistic landscapes marked by melancholy. Behold Eleven a.m.

When I look at a Hopper painting I feel a psychic camaraderie, and even if the artist himself rose from the grave to deny it, I’d swear he was a fellow traveler: My ability to pick depressives out of a crowd is spot-on. Though when pressed I’d probably admit that I don’t much believe in reincarnation, it’s worth noting that Hopper died only a few months before I was born.

All of this reminds me of the “people’s art” created by Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, who in the mid 1990s set out to create America’s most wanted and least wanted paintings—based entirely on market research surveys. Respondents were asked dozens of questions concerning what they most liked and disliked in art. The resulting “most wanted” piece is a bit busy but not completely embarrassing, being a richly colored landscape with some deer, a family, and—of course—George Washington. Still, I don’t see anyone I know hanging it above their couch.

So I’m wondering, people I know, which artist or artists color your world? Or whom would you commission if you had your choice?


Blogger sporksforall said...

I knew you liked Hopper and could have guessed that in darker moments Bosch would appeal. Bouts the Elder? There's a name to conjure with. Impressive.

I'm a big fan of the Master of the Griselda Legend (!) and the unknown artist who did the "The Ideal City" (which is sometimes attributed to Fra Carnevale). In darker moments, I like Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi.

Post 1700? Hopper's the man.

Fun post, my love.

5:36 PM  
Blogger KMae said...


8:11 PM  
Blogger weese said...

hmm, well lets see.. from the masters - Rembrant is my fave. Tho I do so like Vermeer.
Ah then there are the Americans - Church... Cole from the Hudson River School; oh and then Sargent... just fantastic.. and also at the Met.
Newer artists... Vettriano, of course Ann Packard...
Ah... but I have already commissioned my first choice.
My masthead is one of several.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Jasper Johns all the way.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous hop said...

It depends on whether I'm looking at art to feel better or feel resonance. R. Crumb resonates. In the biographical movie, he says how someone once told him his characters were so CUTE. He was agast, since he considered them and life in general to be quite nightmarish and grotesque.

There is so much art that is uplifting or interesting and can help generate a better mood or a distraction from gloom. Of course, there's plenty that means to express some kind of horror. When I was young I used to think that was the only kind of "real" art. I gotta stay away from this stuff when I'm depressed.

Thanks for a great question and another fine blog. I've been thinking about it all week.

10:02 AM  
Blogger alice, uptown said...

In keeping with your choice of Hopper, I'd have to say Edvard Munch's The Scream sums up how I feel on a bad day. I'd like to be John Singer Sargent's Madame X -- to have that certainty and regalness about myself, but in real life? Much more Scream-oriented.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Slangred said...

I've been trying for a couple of weeks to think about your question, and I'm so mercurial?fickle?greedy? that I can't much narrow it down. I do love Maxfield Parrish because of the bright light and big sky open feelings in his paintings.

There's something eerie and sad and a little disturbing to me (in a good way!) in the work of Odilon Redon, someone I came across in a museum exhibit a few years ago and haven't forgotten. Check out his "Ophelia." If you dare, try "Eye Balloon" (which is a drawing of exactly what it sounds like, with a nice dark smudgy quality).

1:50 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

My favorite painting: Vincent Van Gogh's Wheat Field with Crows. I liked it deeply upon seeing it in person and it's been my favorite ever since. Reading about it today, I just learned that many consider it Van Gogh's suicide note which I'm hoping I promptly forget, since I find the painting really exhilarating. Another favorite artist (although it's sculpture): Henry Moore. Great post!

9:21 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

First off, let me say that I'm as ignorant of art as a hedgehog. That being said, I think only Picasso would do proper justice to my inner psyche. Bosch is a bit too lurid, really, and I'm not as seriously bent as Dali would make me seem. (Haw!) I'm also not all melty inside.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Shantelle said...

dude EDWARD HOPPER!!!! most definitly!!

10:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home