Thursday, August 22, 2013

a couple of things I have been reading

A few weeks ago at my open studio, a friend came by and gave me a book to read,  Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter, A life, by Patricia Albers.  It is a fat hardcover tome of a book and yesterday I set aside a few moments to sit down and begin.  I was so taken aback by the first paragraph of the introduction, I wanted share.  I don't think I have ever read such a beautiful and stirring account of paint on canvas.  Here it is from page 3:

"One rain-spitting February morning several years ago, I stood in a hallway at the Bibiotheque National Francois Mitterrand in Paris, frustrated by my efforts to locate a certain document.  The hallway had marble-smooth concrete walls, dim natural light, and a high ceiling.  For some reason I glanced up: above me hung a large, squarish oil painting tingling with a marvelous blue lavender, a blue lavender that washed over me as if, having never before seen-no, felt-blue lavender, I'd plunged into a bracing pool of it.  I sensed in the painting mingled sun and shade, meadow tangle, lurking dusk, yearning, and the touch of a human hand.  But most of all I was caught up in that tonic hydrangea color.  Breached by a loamy green black, it drifted upward, urged along by a burst of vivid yellow.  No color was block-solid:each felt airy, each sputtered with others.  And, like a river viewed through binoculars, the image was both tangible and otherworldly, stirring and still.  I felt as if I'd been whisked away from the Bibliotheque Nationale to a secular Sainte-Chappelle.  The radiant flicker of ecstasy hanging above me was Joan Mitchell's La Grande Vallée V, and its ambush that day sealed my decision to write this book."

I take it as a good sign when the first few sentences of a book take hold.  I am so looking forward to reading during my last few days of this busy summer!

Secondly I came across this article yesterday from the Guardian.  Sort of a timely read given that Ms Mitchell's presence in the painting scene of the 50's, 60's and 70's was clearly eclipsed by her male counterparts.  I have to say I am not exactly certain that Bridget Riley is in fact Britain's greatest painter, but the fact that an accomplished female painter has entered the dialogue of the critics is a step in the right direction.


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