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Showing posts from April, 2019

Artists at Sea: Winslow Homer in Maine

After writing a 1,000 word piece about Winslow Homer's eighteen month stay at an English fishing village, I have been writing a series of primers about other artists who made similar journeys. Links to the series here: Gauguin; Manet; John Marin; JMW Turner; Monet. In the final post in this series, I rate Winslow Homer himself.

Who

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), American landscape and marine painter.


Coastal association

The coast of New England in the USA, and Cullercoats, in the north of England.


First coastal visit

Like several painters in this series, Homer was born near the sea (Boston, Massachussetts), spent much time inland or in big cities while building his career, then returned to the coast, this time that of Maine, in 1883.


Reasons for visiting

Homer had painted marine scenes before the 1880s, but it was his two year stay in Cullercoats, a tiny fishing cove on the northeast coast of England, that influenced his decision to move permanently to Maine. Historians say that disappoi…

Some Thoughts About The Burning of Notre Dame de Paris

January 2nd, 2019. Patty and I had just landed in Paris the day before, on New Year's day. This was taken on our first walk, at about midday. We strolled drowsily from our rented apartment in Montparnasse up the Blvd. St Michel, cutting slightly northeast at Cluny so we could approach the Shakespeare and Co. bookshop via the network of narrow, stone-paved streets that follow the medieval street plan even if many of the buildings now date from the 1800s. This was my first sight of Notre Dame -- on this trip. I'm posting it now for the same reason as everyone else around the globe: millions of Parisians walk past it or see it every day, 30,000 tourists visit(ed) it every day, yet it's one of those buildings that everyone who has seen it comes away with a deeply personal attachment to.

In this photo, at the moment I took it, I just wanted to capture the fact that you can walk around central Paris, on the way to somewhere quite different from Notre Dame, just noticing it for …

Ancient American Sculpture

I took this picture in the Portland Art Museum a few weeks ago. These are three terracotta figures made in southern Mexico or central America, some time between 200 BCE and 400 CE. Meso-American art is one of my favourite things to look at in museums. They could not be more different from the sculpture produced in Greece and Rome during the same time period, but to me they are the equal of classical sculpture in their expressiveness.

NB: It's probably inaccurate to call them sculptures, because the anonymous craftsmen who created them may have done so for religious reasons. That is, they were creating figures for ritual use, rather than works of art. Though just as in Western art, there's no reason why those should be mutually exclusive.

Another thing: having worked on making my own little figures in clay recently, I have a deep appreciation for the skill it takes to make figures like this -- particularly feet and hands!

Portrait of the Artist

Artfully shot black and white photo of me, taken by my wife Patricia Ann McNair, through the tunnel of holes in a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth.