Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jeffry Cudlin's Fave Artwork

Jeffry Cudlin is a talented painter, the hard-to-please award-winning art critic for the Washington City Paper, a fellow blogger, and the curator at the Arlington Arts Center and he responds to my request for readers' favorite artworks. Jeffry writes:

None of the that answers I come up with seem sufficient. Maybe Bonnard's The Open Window at the Phillips -- or, really, any Diebenkorn that's handy. Bonnard's sense of light and temperature, the way he leans on saturated colors and analogous/complementary harmonies instead of tonal contrast --very tasty. Diebenkorn's compositions and ways of massing in color are just perfect -- he only makes a handful of decisions in every piece, and they're all correct.

At the NGA: El Greco's Laocoon, or maybe a Chardin -- Soap Bubbles? I always liked thinking of that Mannerist strategy of modelling your figures in clay before you paint them. I don't know if that's what El Greco did here, but his bodies have that strangely compelling unreality -- like lumpy, lighted figurines in a diorama. Chardin's just exquisite, period.

Wait, wait, maybe I want a Cezanne from the NGA instead -- I'll take either House in Provence or Chateau Noir.

And for purely sentimental reasons, a creepy painting from the Hirshhorn: The Golden Days, by Balthus. Wait, wait; maybe that painting of Leigh Bowery by Freud instead. Or those two studies for a portrait of Van Gogh by Bacon. None of those have anything to do with what I like about painting now, but when I first saw them, many years ago as an art undergrad, they made quite an impact on me.

Well, there you have it: ten paintings I can't really decide between, for wildly divergent and/or irrational reasons.

El greco - Laocoon
Laoco├Ân, early 1610s, El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek-Spanish, 1541–1614)

Bonnard - The Open Window
The Open Window, 1921, Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947)

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