Thursday, June 19, 2014

Walton Ford at Paul Kasmin - amazing!

     There are a handful of artists whose work I've seen in the flesh that IMHO, are under-appreciated. Don't misunderstand me, they're not unknown by any means. Some have very impressive resum├ęs, are in demand,  have been written about by important folks in important publications, and so on. I mean that their work is so unique, well-crafted, and intriguing that they should be getting more mainstream attention, even just a smidgeon of the Koons, Hirst, Sherman etc publicity train.

     Walton Ford is one such artist. When you see his work, you don't forget it. Large scale paintings of animals, real and mythic, looking like a page from an Audobon book with a funky twist. By big I  mean "epic" proportions, like 10+ feet, but it's not just the size that counts. Ford does them in (wait for it) watercolor!! If you have ever worked in that medium, you know how tricky and unforgiving it can be. The majority of watercolors done are sketch pad size, maybe going up to 18x24ish. Yes, there are some brave souls and talented artists that work larger with watercolor. But you have to see Ford's work in person! It's astounding! When you get close you can see the brush work and the daubs of white highlights but when you step back, all that blends into - well, look at the photos here.

     The big hit and image that got the most press is the striking, "Rhyndacus," clocking in at 119 1/4 x 60 1/4 inches. Yeah. Huge. This one's based on a Roman account (from Aelian's De Natura Animalium) of a 60' snake in Turkey.

The Graf Zeppelin - 41x59
Windsor - 41x60

     Less fearsome and more humorous are "The Graf Zeppelin" and "Windsor." Ford takes a different approach by having text on these pieces written from the point of view of their central characters, a gorilla and a mandrill.

The Tigress - 60x120"

     I usually don't post every image from a show, but in this instance I have (except Gleipnir, I have a detail of the head of the beast as the delicate hand of a young reaches into its formidable maw to touch its tongue. (NOTE: Click on any image to see a larger version!) Sadly the show ends this weekend, but if you are able to get there, I highly recommend it.
Detail from "Gleipner" - 69x119"

     Don't get the impression from the beginning of this post that Mr. Ford is toiling away in anonymity. He has work in the collections of the Smithsonian and the Whitney, a mid-career (he's 54) survey at the Brooklyn Museum that travelled in the US and Europe, and Taschen Books has issued three editions of his coffee table sized monograph, Pancha Tantra. Impressive for sure. Not as much mainstream media attention as a giant shiny balloon rabbit sculpture, but hey, Duck Dynasty gets huge ratings while PBS struggles with fund-raising.

Calvaire - 60x41

Bosse-de-Nage 1898 "HA HA!" - 60x41

 Paul Kasmin Gallery is at 293 Tenth Ave and 27th in NYC,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sigmar Polke at MoMA

Interesting article from the New Republic about the Sigmar Polke show at MoMA. 
Recommended reading, it goes much deeper than just a show review.