Eighty Painted Souls for a Thursday

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Alphabetical presentation of artists in slideshow: Anguissola, Arcimboldo, Arikha, Bacon, Bashkirtseff, Basquiat, Beccafumi, Boccioni, Bocklin, Caravaggio, Carracci, Cassat, Cezanne, Chagall, Chardin, Corot, Courbet, Dali, David, De Chirico, Degas, Delacroix, Del Sarto, Derain, Dickinson, Durer, Ellenreider, Falat, Fragonard, Freud, Gauguin, Gentilleschi, Giordano, Goya, Hopper, Ingres, Jessen, John, Kahlo, Kauffman, Kikuchi, Kokoschka, Lebrun, Leyster, Lippi, Malczewski, Malevich, Manet, Masaccio, Matisse, Modigliani, Mondrian, Monet, Morandi, Morisot, Munch, Murillo, Musashi, Norinaga, Picasso, Pirandello, Pissarro, Raphael, Redon, Rembrandt, Reni, Renoir, Reynolds, Rossetti, Rubens, Schiele, Sorolla, van Hemessen, Van Dyck, Van Gogh, Velazquez, Villers, Xiong, Zorn

Last night I returned home from Jerusalem, ate supper, attended to a barrage of emails, did some translations and began a compilation of self-portraits for a post I needed to get out this morning. The group is in no way exhaustive or exclusive, but merely what I was able to collect by about 11 pm, after which I decided to head to bed with Fairfield Porter’s discussion of Contemporary Painting in Art in Its Own Terms. Not that the slideshow was necessary or requested, I just felt it would be a nice thing to do and share (my life would probably be less busy if I stopped thinking like this, but I can’t help it, and in the end, interesting things come out of it). As I added new images to the group, my mind noted the differences between multiple earlier and later self-portraits done by the same artist. One can see in the earlier versions the influence of their training, as well as an intent to plunge ahead rigorously, and in the later ones perhaps a different kind of concern for the formal parts of the painting, a changing of the ego, and some of what I was to read after, in Porter’s words, of that “thinking that what one does is what one is; that a past origin is no more than its present derivative, and that the significance of future ends is contained in present means. From this it follows that art does not stand for something outside itself.” Lines later he writes that “painting reveals, like handwriting, the state of the artist’s soul.”

These words by Porter and this reflection on these portraits came after the last few days with time spent at the easel in spurts, but spurts that I have decided to consider in a new way. Rather than ache for a 3 hour or more stint at the easel, and then lament when I can’t find that time, I have decided to approach the reality of my current situation as a new, interesting set of challenges which is what it is, so appreciate it. As my reality is in spurts all day, every day, and as the reality around me changes in the same way, why not paint it just like that? So back to the easel I go, my moment is now. I have at least an hour of daylight yet.

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