kip_w: (hands)
Arthur Kraft - Soldier with Death before a Carousel

Arthur Kraft — Private First Class Arthur Kraft, at the time — painted this during World War II. It was part of an exhibition called "Soldier Art," from which came one of those oblong GI paperbacks of the same title. In fifth or sixth grade, I saw the small, black and white photo of the picture and was struck by the technique and the infinitely sad subject matter. I looked online and couldn't find a color copy of it. I know now that it is probably because the picture is now known as "Soldier with Death before Carousel" instead of the Oscar Wilde quote that was with it in the book.

Kraft, who died in 1977 at age 55, lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and according to a website dedicated to his life and work, Kansas City has many examples of his work to be found, including several murals. This painting hangs in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, which I'd like to visit some day.

I pride myself on having gotten the best scan I could from the halftone picture in the book, but this color version (which I've adjusted slightly to correct for a yellow cast) has shown me much more detail. Interestingly, my mental image has been off all along — the color choices I'd imagined, such as a rich purple robe on Death (and I didn't know that was Death!), turn out to have been mistaken. Soon, I probably won't even remember what they were.

Also, the canopy of the carousel is interesting to me for personal reasons: I drew a graphite scene with an awning that was similarly striped, and viewed closely, it's a lot like the one in this picture. Was that unconscious inspiration? Or just the best way to draw a striped awning? No idea. At the risk of comparison, here's my drawing (graphite on copy paper):

Window Shopper

Well, they're not that much alike after all. I've been flattering myself. Anyway, I'm putting it there for my audience to enjoy. Last one out turns off the lights.

Originally posted at the New Pals Club Web-Log, where the pictures are shown larger than here. I don't want to break your friends page.

case 1

Apr. 27th, 2012 09:26 am
kip_w: (Default)
I go looking for these online. Yesterday I found this at The Vangobot Project. Or maybe Project Vangobot. Anyway, it's at a legible size, ripe for enjoyment:

Case 1

I've added it to my Tricky Cad photoset at flickr, which I've tried to make into the most complete collection I could find of these astonishing collages. He did some number of them and then went on to other collages and artworks. If he'd kept industriously doing the same thing, and lived a while longer, he'd be a bigger Pop Art icon than the clumsy swiper Lichtenstein. Click the image to get to a size big enough to read (and big enough to cause problems for some LJ readers, alas).
kip_w: (hands)
It seemed like every picture of the Mona Lisa has a strong greenish-ochre tinge, probably due to centuries of glazes and the sometimes idiosyncratic pigments used by Leonardo. I got to wondering how she'd look with regular skin tone, and used Photoshop to see if I could find out.

Mona Lisa re-adjusted

larger one behind the cut )

It was all a matter of adjusting curves, but then I thought her eyes shouldn't be the same color as her skin and fixed those separately.


Mar. 29th, 2011 09:41 pm
kip_w: (company)
The Subway

One of my favorite (if not my #1 favorite) American painters has left us. George Tooker, whose painstaking egg temperas showed us a sterile world of isolation and anxiety, lasted to the age of 90, somewhat secluded. A few years ago I knew he was still alive. For a while, I didn't know one way or the other: Schrödinger's Artist!

Government Bureau

I first saw his painting, "The Subway" (top example) in the 70s and was fascinated by his creepy vision of a nightmare populated by strangers who didn't look happy about it either. On my first visit to New York City, I made a special trip to the Whitney to see it and was disappointed to learn that they didn't keep it on display most of the time. I bought a poster, though.

Landscape with Figures

People in his paintings seem haunted. Like strangers on the street, they look at you (perhaps momentarily) with no joy or flicker of recognition. Each is isolated in his or her concerns. I wrote a paper on him for art history, almost thirty years ago, drawing on images from Raymond Chandler and dissecting "The Subway" on layers of clear plastic like animation cels.


He painted in the difficult medium of egg tempera, mixing his paints as he went along. He could make a mix last another day by putting it in the refrigerator. He was influenced by Reginald Marsh and Paul Cadmus. He and his lifetime partner, William Christopher, were active in the Civil Rights movement. I have a book about him, but I don't know an awful lot about him. Here is his self-portrait, from 1947:

George Tooker

More pictures can be found here..

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