McDermott & McGough

McDermott & McGough, “If You Had Been the Moon”, April 2009, 10:16, Directed by Peter Mc  Gough, Starring Michael  Kavalus, Bryan Deckhart, Claybourne Elder, Christopher Le Rude, Alex Michael Stoll, and Andrew Lord

The art collective McDermott & McGough consists of the contemporary artists David McDermott and Peter McGough who are known for their work in sculpture, painting, film and photography. Their work examines such issues as religion, popular culture and art, medicine, advertising, fashion, and sexual behavior. McDermott and McGough are best known for their gay-themed paintings and the use of historical processing techniques in their photographic work, which includes film development with palladium, gum bichromate, salt, platinum, and carbon black.

Born in Hollywood, California in 1952, David McDermott studied at Syracuse University in New York from 1970 to 1974. He moved to New York City where he became famous in the downtown area for his odd manners and outdated formalwear, such as detachable collars, cummerbunds, and top hats. Born in Syracuse in 1958, Peter McGough studied at Syracuse University in 1976. He relocated to New York City where he briefly studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After dropping out from the Institute, McGough was employed to sell tickets at Danceteria, a famous, albeit illegal, nightclub with several locations in the city.

Peter McGough met David McDermott in a Manhattan theater at the end of the 1970s. As David kept Peter company during the early club hours before sunrise, a strong relationship developed between them  that also included an artistic alliance which would last forty years. In the 1980s, the gay couple became known in New York’s East Village art scene for their immersion in the Victorian era. McDermott and McGough questioned the ideas of nostalgia; they pursued an art form and lifestyle narrative of reorienting the past for the future. Dressed and living as early 1900s dandies with an air of erudition and impertinence, their lives and art became an exploration of time and history, as well as, a challenge to the boundaries of art history and cultural identity.

McDermott and McGough’s collaborative output was expressed through a proliferation of drawings, paintings, film and photographs, and architectural interiors. Their photographs and films, which appropriated images and objects from the late 19th century to the style of the 1930s, explored contemporary cultural issues but produced them through vintage materials and techniques. McDermott and McGough’s obsession with the past is reflected in the styles and subjects they resurrect; many of their works are titled with fictional dates that reference the latter years of the 1800s. 

The later work of McDermott and McGough was inspired by advertising motifs, Hollywood cinema, and the comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. They reinvented major works of twentieth-century photography, Pop Art icon images, and produced photo-realistic paintings of vintage film stars. During the 1980s when their work was selling well, McDermott and McGough were a major part of the downtown New York scene, where the attended clubs and mingled with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. They bought three properties including a 1860s French Second Empire style bank, owned horses and vintage automobiles, hosted lavish baroque parties, and bestowed expensive gifts to friends.

 In 1992, the art market began to feel the effects of the stock market crash of October 1987. Out of all the paintings McDermott and McGough had on  exhibit at the Armory Show, only one small painting sold. Their debts, which included framing costs for their exhibitions, came due; many of these debts were paid through the transfer of their existing artwork to galleries and other debtors, among whom was the Internal Revenue Service. Eventually everything the couple had was auctioned off except for a few pieces they managed to save and later shipped to the docks of Dublin, Ireland. David McDermott relocated to a small  rental house near Ballsbridge, Ireland, and in 1995 McGough reunited with him. 

McDermott and McGough started painting and soon were able to rent a small art studio in Temple Bar in downtown Dublin. Through Swiss art dealer and gallery owner Bruno Bischofberger, they received many silhouette commissions. With the assistance of the gallery’s director Andrea Caratsch, McDermott and McGough had an exhibition in 1998 entitled “The Lust That Comes from Nothing” at Paris’s Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont.

McDermott and McGough’s previous exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995, and a mid-career retrospective at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium. In 2017, their work was the subject of the exhibition “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going’ held at the Dallas Contemporary Museum in Texas. Other solo and group exhibitions include such institutions as the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Centre Pompidou in Paris, New York City’s Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, and the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany. 

McDermott and McGough’s work is represented in numerous collections including the International Center of Photography in New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence; Tampa Museum of Art in Florida; Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center; and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others.

Notes: In 2017, David McDermott and Peter McGough opened the Oscar Wilde Temple, a non-secular sacred space for LGBTQ people in a chapel at the Church of the Village located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It is both an art exhibition space and a place for marriages; donations go to homeless LBGTQ youth. A second location at the gallery Studio Voltaire in London was opened in October of 2018.

In 2019, Peter McGough published his memoir “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going There” through Penquin Random House. Set in New York’s Lower East Side, the memoir chronicles his life withDavid McDermott during the 1980s and mid-1990s.

Top Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Portrait of the Artists, 1928, 1990”, Palladium Print on Paper, 35 x 26.5 cm, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Love is Gone- So What Can Matter? 1966, 2008”, Oil on Linen, 152.4 x 122.2 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Joel at Lower Baldonell House, Dublin, 1910, 2003”, Palladium Print on Paper, 50.8 x 40.6 cm, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “The Annointed”, 1991, Photographers and Friends Against AIDS Exhibition, Palladium Print on Paper, 16.5 x 11.8 cm, Private Collection

Fifth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, Title Unknown (Reading Comics), Image from the “Detroit, 1958” Series,  2007, Carbro Print, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Portrait of the Artist (With Top Hats) 1865”, 1991, Palladium Print on Paper, Collection of the Artists

Joseph Meehan

Illustrations by Joseph Meehan

Joseph Meehan is an American freelance illustrator and concept artist who currently lives and works in New York. He studied at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Toy Design. 

Meehan worked initially as an intern at Hasbro where he designed toys fo the GI Joe series, and also did preliminary work for “GI Joe: The Movie”. Beginning in September of 2011, he worked for three years at Mattel where he designed action figures, vehicles, and created new features and play patterns for its Batman action-figure line. 

In September of 2014, Joseph Meehan began working freelance at Volta Studio in New York, a design studio dedicated to creating high-end 2D and 3D visuals for video games, films and toys.  As a Senior Artist, he created illustrations and concept art for a wide range of products, such as mobil games, trading cards, and triple-A games. In October of 2020, Meehan became a full-time Senior Illustrator at Rockstar Games in New York City. 

Meehan is skilled in a multitude of software graphic systems including Keyshot, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, ZBrush, and Solidworks. Meehan has produced artwork for numerous leading names including Random House, Wizards of the Coast, Bioware, Bethesda, Ubisoft, NetherRealms, Hasbro, and Mattel. among others.

Joseph Meehan’s work and contact information can be found at his website:   https://www.josephmeehanart.com 

Note: Joseph Meehan designed many illustrations over the years for “Magic the Gathering”. He is currently creating a set of ten laser marked, ink washed anodized aluminum tokens to be used within “Magic the Gathering”. Examples of these can be seen on his Kickstarter site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/josephmeehanart/joseph-meehans-hand-made-metal-tokens?fbclid=IwAR3BwmS8ZDadXgWnvjj30ZKq-G_Rg9pC-Y4GZLInHStC8CdmHeGR_LkhlH8 

Bottom Insert Image: Joseph Meehan, “Barbarian Warchief”

Martin Wong

Paintings by Martin Wong

Born in Portland, Oregon in July of 1946, Martin Wong was an American painter of Chinese-Mexican ancestry whose work was a studious blend of visionary and social realism art styles. His work explored different ethnic and racial identities, and acknowledged his own queer sexuality.

Raised by a supportive family in the Chinatown district of San Francisco, Martin Wong began to express his artistic inclination at an early age. He entered California’s Humboldt State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Ceramics in 1968. Wong won a competitive ceramics exhibition held in 1970 at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.

Wong resided in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district from 1964 to 1978. While at home, he studied art history and became interested in subjects such as modern painting and Asian decorative objects. During this period, Wong was active in the art scene of the Bay Area, often painting portraits under the pseudonym of Human Instamatic. He also served as the set designer for the art performance group The Angels of Light, a social trope that was part of the emerging gay consciousness of the period.

Encouraged by his friends’ response to his art, Wong made the decision in 1978 to settle in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for a career as an artist. Largely self-taught, his work was inspired by his immediate surroundings and ranged from uncompromising renderings of the Lower East Side’s decay to colorful paintings of the Chinatowns of New York and San Francisco. Wong also painted a series of work entitled “Traffic Signs for the Hearing Impaired”, artworks identical in color and shape to standard city traffic signs that utilized sign-language of the deaf to express their message.

In 1982 at the group exhibition “Crime Show” held at the collective gallery ABC No Rio in the Lower East Side, Martin Wong met poet Miguel Piñero, a leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning play “Short Eyes”. Shortly after their meeting, Piñero moved into Wong’s apartment which began a relationship that would last until Piñero’s death in 1988. Through Piñero association, Wong became more integrated into the local Latino community; he began a series of collaborative work with Piñero that became entitled “Urban Landscapes”. This series of paintings combined Wong’s meticulous cityscapes and stylized sign-language with Piñero’s prose and poetry. Wong presented these paintings at a solo exhibition in 1984 at curator and recording artist Barry Blinderman’s Semaphore Gallery East.

In 1985 and 1986, Wong began a series of work entitled “The Last Picture Show”, a series of life-size images of shuttered storefronts. He amassed a large graffiti collection while living in New York and, in 1989, co-founded with friend Peter Broda the Museum of American Graffiti on the East Village’s Bond Street. By the 1990s, Wong’s work became quieter and more grim as gentrification took over the neighborhood and his peers were dying for drug addiction and AIDS.

In 1993, Matin Wong had a solo exhibition, “Chinatown Paintings”, at the San Francisco Art Institute. In these works based on his own memories and experiences, he presented an outsider’s view of Chinatown that lent itself more to myth than reality. Following complications in his health in 1994, Wong donated his graffiti collection to the Museum of the City of New York. In 1994, he was diagnosed with AIDS and, with declining health, moved back to San Francisco. He died under his parents’ care at the age of fifty-three from AIDS-related illness in August of 1999.

A retrospective of Martin Wong’s work was held at the Bronx Museum of Arts in 2015. His work can be found in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Syracuse University Collection, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

Note: Martin Wong’s 1984 painting, “My Secret World”, included in the above images, is an image of his first residence in Manhattan, a cheap hotel bedroom on the Lower East Side with a view to the South Street Seaport. The bedroom pictured is tidy with three of his earlier works on the walls. One depicts a series of hands sprouting from white cuff=links, The hands spell out in American Sign Language the words “Physiatrist Testify: Demon dogs drive man to murder”, which references the serial killer Son of Sam who stalked New York in 1983. Included in the books presented on the dresser are fictional works by Raymond Chandler and John Cheever.

Second Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Starry Night”, 1982, Oil on Canvas, 55.9 x 76.2 cm, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York

Third Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Crossing Sign”, Traffic Signs for the Hearing Impaired Series, 1990, DOT Aluminum Steel Signs

Fourth Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Angelito”, 1992, Acrylic on Canvas, 61 x 56.2 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Martin Wong, “Tell My Troubles to the Eight Ball”, 1978-1981, Acrylic on Canvas, 122 x 122 cm, Private Collection

Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi

Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi, “Subway Exit, 1946, Oil on Canvas, 76.2 x 66 cm, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University

Born in April of 1906 in Cairo, Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi was an American painter. He was the only son of Talmiro Guglielmi, a violinist and viola player with Arturo Toscanini’s orchestra, and Dometilla Secchi Guglielmi, who returned to her native Milan shortly after her son’s birth. Talmiro Guglielmi toured with Toscanini’s orchestra throughout Australia, Europe and the Americas. After a tour through Canada, Brazil and North America with Russian ballerina Anna Pavolova, he brought his family to New York City where the settled in the largely Italian immigrant community of East Harlem.

At a young age, Louis Guglielmi pursued an interest in sculpture and worked in a local bronze casting facility in the city. During his high school years,.he began in 1920 evening art classes at the National Academy of Design and studied sculpture at Manhattan’s Beaux Arts Institute. In 1923, Guglielmi  left high school to concentrate full-time on courses at the National Academy. At his life drawing class, Guglielmi met fellow student Gregorio Prestopino, who is known for his  social realist scenes of the urban working-class executed  in the style of the Ashcan School . Through their college years, the two men shared a studio space in the city. 

After his graduation in 1926, Guglielmi struggled financially for six years and took various inadequately-paid jobs to support his painting. In 1927 at the age of twenty-one, he was granted citizenship in the United States. Guglielmi relocated in 1932 to the New England area and, once again, began a serious period of intense painting. With the aid of a fellowship, he was able to spend eleven summers at the prestigious MacDowell Art Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The solitude of the scenery surrounding the colony and Guglielmi’s interactions with his fellow artists inspired him and focused a new  direction to his work: the plight of humanity caught in the midst of the Great Depression.

During the early 1930s as the Depression settled on the country, Louis Guglielmi applied for relief from the government. In 1934, he managed to secure meager wages as a painter for the Works Project Administration, the federal New Deal program the employed jobseekers, mostly men and not formally educated, for public works projects. This program subsidized many artists and craftsmen in the 1930s. Guglielmi worked with the WPA for five years during which time he traveled and painted both easel work and murals.

Having seen Guglielmi’s work for the WPA, prominent art dealer Edith Gregor Halpert invited him in 1936 to join the group of artists at her Downtown Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village. In 1938, Guglielmi showcased his paintings in his first solo exhibition which was held at Halpert’s gallery to major critical acclaim. On May 22nd in 1939, he married Anne Di Maggio, who seven years later gave birth to a son.

Louis Guglielmi’s work just before the Second World War were often bleak images of suffering. He spent 1943 through 1945 in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, a time in which he did not produce any paintings. Guglielmi’s existing work, though, was in included in the 1943 “American Realists and Magic Realists” exhibition held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. After his experiences in the war, Guglielmi’s work changed in style and content; he became more concerned with the formal issues of society: poverty, the living and working conditions of the poor, and the political issues of the time.

Guglielmi became influenced at this time by the work of Fauvist painters Joan Miró and Henri Matisse, and the bold, colorful paintings of his friend Stuart Davis. His paintings lightened in spirit and communicated to the viewer a sense of energy and optimism. Guglielmi’s body of work contains aspects of all the various movements of his time: surrealism, cubism, geometric abstraction, regionalism and social realism. His experiments with form, a major component of his work, set him apart from the prevailing American style of Abstract Expressionism, which in effect marginalized his status as a contemporary painter.

Louis Guglielmi was an instructor of art at Manhattan’s New School of Social Research from 1950 to 1951. Beginning in June of 1950, he taught at Louisiana State University, first as a visiting artist and later in the position of an associate professor which he held until 1953. In 1952, Guglielmi was presented a Temple Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Academy in recognition of his work.

With the intention of remaining in Europe for the summer, Guglielmi  traveled to Italy in the spring of 1956. However, after four days in Italy, he returned back to the United States. That summer, Guglielmi took his wife and ten-year old son to their new home in Amagansett, a small town located on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. On September 3rd of 1956, Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi died of a sudden heart attack. A retrospective of his work, entitled “O. Louis Guglielmi” The Complete Precisionist”, was held in February of 1961 at New York’s distinguished Nordness Gallery. 

Note: In January of 2014, Guglielmi’s works, including his 1946 “Subway Exit”, were presented as part of the Georgia Museum of Art’s exhibition “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy”. This show was a historical reproduction of the 1946 traveling exhibition “Advancing American Art” that was sponsored by LeRoy Davidson of the U.S. State Department. The  2014 “Art Interrupted” show reunited all the paintings of the original exhibition and scrutinized the U.S. State Department’s use of fine art as a tool in the Cold War. Works in the exhibition included paintings by such artists as Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley, Ben Shahn, and Stuart Davis.

LeRoy Davidson’s intent for the 1946 traveling collection was to exhibit the diversity of American art, demonstrate the power of democracy, and promote good will among the United States, Europe and Latin America. The exhibition, however, received intense criticism from the press. Provoked by the press, members of the U.S. Congress and President Harry Truman deemed the art in the show un-American. By 1948, all seventy-nine works in the show were auctioned off. Davidson was forced to resign, his position in the State Department was abolished, and the entire project ridiculed in the press.

Second Insert Image: O. Louis Guglielmi, “The Amrican Dream”, 1935, Oil on Masonite, 54.6 x 76.2 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: o. Louis Guglielmi, “One Third of a Nation”, 1939, Oil and Tempera on Wood, 76.2 x 61 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fifth Insert Image: Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi, “View in Chambers Street”, 1936, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: O. Louis Guglielmi, “Relief Blues”, circa 1938, Tempera on Fibreboard, 61.1 x 76.2 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC

 

Victor Brauner

Victor Brauner, “Le Surréaliste”, January 1947, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 45 cm, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Victor Brauner was a Romania painter and sculptor. He aided in the growth of Surrealist art by developing its vocabulary and drawing inspiration from new sources, including mythology, alchemy, Hinduism, Judaism, and both Aztec and Native American  belief systems. Brauner developed a private and very personal iconography and his pictorial presentations of the etheric body had a direct impact on other Surrealist painters.

Brauner was born in June of 1903 in the city of Piatra Neamț nestled in the Eastern Carpathian mountains, His family lived in Vienna for eleven years until they returned to Romania in 1914. Brauner’s father was involved in spiritualism and, in 1916, sent his son to an evangelical school in the city of Brăila, where Victor developed a strong interest in zoology. In 1921, Brauner briefly attended Bucharest’s National School of Fine Arts. He also studied at the private school of Romania director Horia Igiroşanu. 

After his studies, Victor Brauner visited the Moldavian city of Fălticeni and the coastal Bulgarian resort town of Balchik, where he painted landscapes in the manner of Cézanne. In September of 1924, he had his first solo exhibition of expressionist paintings at the Mozart Galleries in Bucharest. Brauner also participated in a November 1924 exhibition sponsored by the avant-garde art and literary magazine, Contimporanul. 

In 1925 Brauner travelled to Paris for the first time, where he stayed in the same building as Swiss sculptor and printmaker Alberto Giacometti and the French Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy, who introduced him to many of the Surrealists in Paris. Brauner also befriended Romanian sculptor and painter Constantin Brancusi, who taught him the methods of art photography. His circle of friends at that time included poet Benjamin Fondane and artists such as Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Robert and Sonia Duchamp. 

As Fascism began to take hold in 1930, Victor Brauner settled in Paris more permanently and married Margit Kosch, whom he would divorce nine years later. In 1931 he painted one his most famous images, “Self-Portrait with Plucked Eye”, a work that was eerily prophetic, as on August 28th in 1938 Brauner lost his left eye when he was hit by a glass during a violent argument between Spanish Surrealist painters Oscar Domínguez and Esteban Francés. 

Brauner had his first solo exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Pierre in 1934; the enthusiastic catalogue introduction was written by author and poet André Breton. However, the show was not well received and Brauner, disheartened and low on funds, returned  to Bucharest in the following year. During this period in Bucharest, he stopped painting and instead produced illustrations and caricatures, including his 1935 “Anatomy of Desire”. Financially more secure, Brauner moved back to Paris in 1938.

The German army’s advance into France in the middle of 1940 forced Victor Brauner, a Romanian Jew and former Communist, to flee to southern France. He continually moved throughout France, living for a short time with writer Robert Ruis, before finally settling in Saint Feliu d’Amont, a commune in the very southern tip of France. While living there, Brauner unsuccessfully tried to obtain a visa to travel to the United States, however, he managed to get official permission in 1941 to settle in Marseilles, a haven for many Surrealists. In Marseilles, the surrealists continued their work and created a number of collective projects, that included a deck of Tarot cards to which Brauner contributed two images. 

Near the end of the war, Victor Brauner moved to Switzerland to escape the increasing Nazi persecution of foreign Romanian nationals. There he discovered pioneer psychotherapist Marguerite Sèchehaye’s writings on schizophrenia, treatises which influenced his later paintings. In 1945, Brauner returned to Paris and placed his work at the Galerie Maeght for the 1947 International Exhibition of Surrealism. Not long after his return to Paris, Brauner was expelled in 1947 from the Surrealist group by André Breton for refusing to support the ouster of prominent member Roberto Matta. Brauner began to experiment in other genres and completely left Surrealism in 1948. 

Brauner returned to more personal and primitive themes in his work, in a more stylized and abstracted form, done in the mediums of paper, encaustic painting, and thin oils on board. He established a studio in 1959 at 72 Rue Lepic in the Montmartre district of Paris. After a trip to Italy in 1961, Brauner settled in Varengeville, a commune on the sea in Normandy. In the same year, his work was presented in a solo exhibition at New York City’s Bodley Gallery, a prominent art gallery that became the venue of choice for the Pop Art movement. In 1966, Brauner was selected to represent France and given an entire hall at the Venice Biennale for his work. 

After a period of prolonged illness, Victor Brauner died in Paris on March 12th of 1966. He is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery; the epitaph on his tomb reads: “Painting is Life, the Real Life, My Life”.

Note: In ” The Surréaliste”, Victor Brauner borrows motifs from the tarot to create a portrait of himself as a young man. The tarot was a subject of widespread interest to Brauner and other Surrealists. One tarot card, the Juggler (the first card in the Marseille tarot deck), provided Brauner with a key prototype for his self-portrait. The Surrealist’s large hat, medieval costume, and the position of his arms all derive from this figure who, like Brauner’s subject, stands behind a table displaying a knife, a goblet, and coins. In the Waite tarot deck, the first card is the Magician. A sign of infinity (the symbol of life) that appears above the Magician’s head is also depicted on the hat of Brauner’s Surrealist.

Second Insert Image: Victor Brauner, “Le Codex du Poète, Mythologie du Poète, Première Naissance”, 1947, Oil on Canvas, 91.7 x 72.9 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Victor brauner, “Prelude to a Civilization”, 1956, encaustic and Ink on Masonite, 129.5 x 202.6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fourth Insert Image: Victor Brauner, “La Couronnée”, May 1945, Oil and Wax with Black Ink on Board, 27 x 22 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Victor Brauner, Title Unknown, circa 1945, Encaustic on Board, Private Collection

Anselm Feuerbach

The Paintings of Anselm Feuerbach

Born in September of 1829 in Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities, Anselm Feuerbach was a painter and a leading member of the nineteenth-century German classical school. He was the son of archaeologist Joseph Anselm Feuerbach and the grandson of legal scholar Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, whose reformation of the Bavarian penal code led to the abolition of torture. 

Anselm Feuerbach studied between 1845 and 1848 at the Düsseldorf Academy under the tutelage of romantic painter Wilhelm von Schadow, landscape painter Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, and Carl Sohn, whose poetic and mythical subjects were executed in the idealistic manner of the Düsseldorf school of painting. Feuerbach studied for a year at the Munich Academy of Art; he however left Munich in 1850 to attend the Academy at Antwerp. There he studied under Belgian painter Gustaaf Wappers, an early exponent of the Romanic movement in Belgium.

Anselm Feuerbach relocated to Paris in 1851 and became a student at the atelier of history and genre painter Thomas Couture. Conture is best known for his 1847 masterpiece “Romans During the Decadence” which was  exhibited at Paris’s Salon a year before the revolution toppled the monarchy. In 1854, Feuerbach received funding from Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden which enabled him to visit Venice, accompanied by his friend, the writer Victor Scheffel. There he was influenced by the technique of layering and blending colors to achieve a glowing richness, a method deemed fundamental to the Venetian Colorist school.

 Feuerbach traveled to Florence and then onto Rome where he would remain until 1873, with only brief trips back to Germany. In 1861, he met Anna Risi who became his mistress and sat as his model for four years, a period during which he painted twenty portraits of her. She was succeeded as a model in 1866 by Lucia Brunacci, an innkeeper’s wife who posed for Feuerbach’s depictions of the Greek sorceress Medea. In 1862, literary and art historian Count Adolf Freidrich von Schack commissioned Feuerbach for several copies of Old Master paintings and introduced him to artists Hans von Marées and Arnold Böcklin. 

Interested in the Persian poet Hafia since his youth, Anselm Feuervach in 1866 painted his “Hafia at the Fountain” which was acquired two years later by art collector Joseph Benzino, Upon Benzino’s death, the painting was bequeathed to  the Kaiserslautern Art Museum. In 1873,  Feuerbach relocated to Vienna and took the position of professor of history painting at the Academy of Fine Arts.  Four years later, he resigned his post and moved back to Venice. where he passed away, at the age of fifty, in January of 1880. 

In remembrance of Feuerbach, his friend Johannes Brahms composed “Nänie (A Funeral Song)”,  a composition for full chorus and orchestra, of which the first sentence states “Even the beautiful must die”. Feuerbach was close to his step-mother Henriette Feuerbach. Throughout his lifetime of travels, he wrote roughly six-hundred letters to his step-mother describing his everyday life and problems, as well as his thoughts on art and his methods of painting. Following Feuerbach’s  death, his step-mother wrote a book entitled “Ein Vermächtnis (A Testament)” which included his autobiographical notes and many of his personal letters. Anselm Feuerbach’s works are housed in collections of the leading public German galleries.

Note: An article written by Candida Syndikus entitled “Far from the Modern World: Anselm Feuerbach’s Idea of Modernity” can be found at: https://www.academia.edu/31442931/Far_from_the_modern_world_Anselm_Feuerbach_s_Idea_of_Modernity_pp_63_103

Top Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, Selbetbildnis als Knabe (Self Portrait as a Boy)”, 1845-1846, Oil on Canvas, 15.5 x 12.5 cm, Alte Nationalgalerie

Middle Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, “Seated Male Nude”, 1860-1869, Black and white Chalk on Brown Paper, 60.4 x 40 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bottom Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, “Self Portrait”, 1852-1853, Oil on Canvas, 42 x 33 cm, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany

Patrick Mizumoto

The Artwork of Patrick Mizumoto

Born in Los Angeles, California, Patrick Mizumoto is a figurative painter whose work features male figures and landscapes. Self-taught, he also studied painting at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art under the mentorship of Mexican painter, muralist and printmaker Sergio Sanchez. Mizumoto currently resides and maintains a studio in California.

Mizumoto executes his work in oil paints or charcoal with a primary focus on themes of human nature and queer identity. His work, heightened by an understanding of light and shadow, portray figures in energetic and often suggestive poses which are set in backgrounds of swirling colors. In his work, he attempts to capture those moments of discord and harmony we experience in our daily lives.

Patrick Mizumoto has shown his work in multiple exhibitions in California and Hawaii, including the prestigious annual group exhibition, “Commitment to Excellence”, which is presented by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce through the Honolulu Museum of Art. He also presented several works at the Tom of Finland Foundation’s 2014 Emerging Artist Competition. Among these works were the oil on linen “Acceptance and Renewal” and the acrylic on canvas portrait “Sean”, both painted in 2014.

Mizumoto’s work was presented in a 2011 exhibition at Los Angeles’s The Hive Gallery & Studios and, in 2019, at the “My Youth” exhibition held at the Tag Gallery. In 2021, he exhibited work at the “Pow! Wow!” The First Decade: Hawaii to the World” exhibition held by the Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City, California.

Images of Patrick Mizumoto’s work, purchasable prints, and contact information for inquiries can be found at his site: https://patrickmizumoto.com

Bottom Insert Image: Patrick Mizumoto, Title Unknown, 2020, Oil on Panel, 22.9 x 30.5 cm-3

Ottilie Roederstein

The Paintings of Ottilie Roederstein

Born in 1859 to German parents in Zurich, Ottilie Wilhelmine  Roederstein was a painter who gained attention mostly in her homeland of Switzerland, but also in France and Germany. Her interest in painting began with the visit to her family home by Swiss painter Eduard Pfyffer who had been commissioned to do the family’s portraits. Beginning in 1876, Roederstein was allowed by her father, against her mother’s wishes and the prevailing social customs, to study painting under the tutelage of Eduard Pfyffer, so she would remain close to home

Three years later, Roederstein moved to the Berlin residence of her married sister Johanna and found a position in a special women’s class at the Grand-Ducal Saxon Art School under the tutelage of portrait painter Carl Gussow. Her first exhibition of paintings at a Zurich gallery in 1882 was well received. That same year, Roederstein followed her colleagues to Paris where she joined the women’s studio of portrait painters Charles Auguste Émile Durand and Jean-Jacques Henner. In addition to these classes, Roederstein also worked with academic painter Luc-Olivier Merson and painted nudes in special private evening classes.

In order to sustain herself as an artist, Ottilie Roederstein had chosen the genres of portraiture and still life, for which she used a dark-toned color palette. She soon departed from that traditional canon and began to paint religious imagery and nudes. By the very end of the 1890s, Roederstein had embraced the tempera medium which was in vogue among both traditional and avant-garde artists. She experimented with Symbolism and Impressionism in the latter part of her career before returning to her signature style in the 1920s.

Initially dependent on financial support from her family, Roederstein was able by 1887 to support herself with sales and commissions for her work. She returned to Zurich but continued to maintain her Paris studio on the Seine where she would work and exhibit several months of the year. Roederstein moved to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1891 to be with her partner, Elizabeth Winterhalter, a physician and one of the first female surgeons in Germany.

In 1891, Elisabeth Winterhalter had just  taken over a practice in Frankfurt am Main’s newly founded hospital, the Vaterländischer Frauenverein. She also set up the first gynecological polyclinic through a branch of the Red Cross organization. Although unable to obtain a German medical license despite her internships and Doctorate, she established a reputation as an obstetrician and gynecologist. In 1895, Winterhalter became the first female surgeon in Germany to perform a surgical procedure involving an incision through the abdominal wall. She also conducted research that led to the discovery of the ganglion cell of the ovary and published a major paper on the subject in 1896. 

Soon after her 1891 move to Berlin, Ottilie Roederstein quickly gained a wide circle of clients and, in 1892, began giving  women artists painting lessons at her  studio in the Städel Art School. She exhibited her paintings in Paris’s Salon and won a Silver Medal at the city’s 1889 Exposition Universelle. Her work was also shown at the Woman’s Building of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois. In 1902, Ottilie Roederstein’s application for Swiss citizenship was granted; however, Frankfurt remained at the center of her life. Five years later, she and Elisabeth settled in Hofheim am Taurus, a western Frankfurt suburb surrounded by forest. 

Roederstein was a member of the Frankfurt-Cronberg Artists’ Association, a group which was attempting to establish the Impressionist technique of open air painting in Germany. She was also the only female artist to exhibit at Cologne’s 1912 International Art Exhibition. In 1913, Roederstein became a member of Frankfurt’s Women’s Art Association which campaigned for women artists’ rights to equal training and admission to art academies. During the first World War as exhibition opportunities shrank, she gave up her Paris studio and withdrew into the privacy of her Hofheim estate. Beginning in 1920, Roederstein bequeathed her own collection of important French and Swiss paintings to Kunsthaus Zürich, one of the most important art collections in Switzerland. 

In 1929 on the occasion of Ottilie Roederstein’s seventieth birthday, a large anniversary exhibition of her work was held at Frankfurt’s Art Museum and the city declared both Roederstein and Winte halter as honorary citizens. The rise of the National Socialist Party to power in Germany and the persecution of her Jewish friends and colleagues deeply affected Roederstein. She herself, as an artist, became subject to the state and had to contend with the government’s increasing control over the arts. After the war, Roederstein continued her painting and did  a number of portraits of women widowed by the war. 

Ottilie Roederstein continued to exhibit regularly until 1931. She produced a large body of work, of which more than eighty were self-portraits. She usually staged herself in a self-confident pose with a stern gaze, a posture that signified her emancipation. On the 26th of November in 1937, Ottilie W. Roederstein died of a heart condition in Hofheim am Taunus. The first posthumous exhibitions of Roederstein’s work were presented in 1938 in Frankfurt, Zurich and Bern in recognition of her artistic legacy and tireless work as a mediator between Switzerland and Germany. After a long period of obscurity, a retrospective of seventy works by Roederstein was held at Kunsthaus Zürich in December of 2020.

After her partner’s  death, Elisabeth Winterhalter created a joint legacy, the Roederstein-Winterhalter-Stiftung. She died in February of 1952 in Hofheim am Taunus. Winterhalter was buried alongside Roederstein in an honorary grave cared for by the community. For her efforts in opening the medical profession to women, a street in the Niederursel district of Frankfurt is named after her. 

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, Ottilie Roederstein in Her Atelier, Date Unknown

Second Insert Image: Ottilie Foederstein, “Self Portrait with Keys”, 1936, 105.3 x 74.6 cm, Städel Museum

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, ” Ottilie roederstein and Elisabeth Winterhalter, Date Unknown

Fourth Insert Image: Ottilie W. Roederstein, “Self Portrait with Hat”, 1904, Oil on Canvas, 55.3 x 46.1 cm, Stäadel Museum

Bottom Insert Image: Photogapher Unknown, Ottilie Roederstein and Elisabeth Winterhalter, Date Unknown, Studio Portrait Print

Andreas Martin Andersen

Andreas Martin Andersen, “Hendrik Andersen and John Briggs Potter in Florence”, 1894, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions Unknown, Hendrik Andersen Museum, Rome

Born in August of 1869 in Bergen, the historic site of Norway’s first coronation, painter Andreas Martin Andersen was the first son of parents Anders Andersen and Helene Monsine Monsen. His younger brother, the sculptor Hendrik Christian Andersen, was born in April of 1872, also in Bergen. In 1873, the family emigrated to the United States and settled in Newport, Rhode Island. 

Beginning in 1889, Andreas Andersen studied at Cowles Art School in Boston. Three years later after receiving a scholarship, he studied painting at the Académie Julian in Paris under painter and sculptor Jean-Paul Laurens, a major exponent of the French Academic style, and  Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, painter and etcher known for his Oriental subjects and portraits. During his stay in Paris, Andersen shared the studio with his American friend Howard G. Cushing, the son of an illustrious and wealthy family with residences in Newport and Boston. 

Andersen also became good friends with the painter John Briggs Potter, another student at the Académie Julian. In 1894, Hendrik Andersen joined his brother in Paris. The three Americans traveled together through Europe and explored the many Italian cities, including Florence. “Hendrik Andersen and John Briggs Potter in Florence”, was painted in 1894 by Andreas Andersen during the last year of their grand European tour as a final proof to be sent back to Boston. He portrayed his brother and friend Potter as they woke up in the bohemian interior of the Florentine house in Via San Zanobi near Piazza Indipendenza where the three companions had taken up residence.

Early in his academic stay in Paris, Andreas Andersen began dating Olivia Cushing who was Howard’s sister and, at that time, residing in Paris. By 1892, they had developed a strong loving bond. Upon his return to the United States at the end of 1894, Andersen settled in the Boston area and began painting. A talented painter, his exceptional early success was partly influenced by Olivia Cushing’s friendships with many wealthy citizens of the area. One of Andersen’s most important patrons was Isabella Stewart Gardner. Born to a wealthy family and a collector of rare books. Gardner supported many artists, including John Singer Sargent and dancer Ruth St, Denis. Over his career, Andersen painted over thirty portraits and a dozen landscapes, as well as a series of drawings with academic studies of nudes.

Andreas Andersen married Olivia Cushing in January of 1902. Stricken with tuberculosis, he was ill at the time of their marriage and died a year later in February of 1902. Many of Andersen’s works are housed in private collections and in the Hendrik Andersen Museum in Rome. 

 In 1903, Olivia Cushing Andersen left Boston to join her brother-in-law Hendrik Andersen in Rome. A cultural woman of great sensitivity and author of allegorical dramas with historical and biblical themes, she was Hendrik’s muse and also in part the financier of his grandiose sculptural and urban projects. Until her death in Rome in December of 1917, she was the passionate expounder of Andreas and Hendrik’s work in her unpublished diaries. These diaries are now preserved in the historical archive of the Hendrik Andersen Museum in Rome. 

Top Insert Image: Andreas Martin Andersen, “Dionysus Torso at Fenway Court”, 1902, Oil on Canvas, 57 x 36 cm, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Bottom Insert Image: Andreas Martin Andersen, “Portrait of Olivia Cushing Andersen”, Circa 1895, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions Unknown

Larry Stanton

The Portrait Work of Larry Stanton

Born in June of 1947 in Rockville Center on the south shore of Long Island, Larry Stanton was a portrait painter who was lived and worked  in Manhattan, New York. His father, a graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School of Music, moved his family in 1948 to a dairy farm in New York’s Catskill Mountains to provide a country environment for the family and a source of income for his work as a freelance music arranger. Due to the foundering of both the farm and his musical aspirations, Stanton’s father often experienced periods of frustration and temper which affected the family. However, despite the familial tensions, both he and Stanton’s mother encouraged and supported Stanton’s early artwork. 

After graduating high school, Larry Stanton studied on an art scholarship at New York City’s Cooper Union for one semester. He worked in the following months at various odd jobs including mailrooms and an ice cream parlor. During this period, Stanton embraced his gay identity and gained some notoriety in New York City’s gay community. He became acquainted with banker Arthur Lambert in the summer of 1967 and the two were immediately drawn to each other. Upon returning from a trip with Lambert to London, Stanton followed him in the fall of that year to Los Angeles, where Stanton took a new financial position. 

In February of 1968, Stanton enrolled in Los Angeles’s Art Center College of Design where he received his first formal training in drawing and painting. After applying himself intensely to his studies, he became convinced it was possible to make a career in art. During his time at the college, Stanton met many people who would become lifelong friends, including Alice Sulit, an art student from the Philippines, and English painter David Hockney. In the fall of 1968, Stanton traveled with Lambert to Hockney’s residence in London where he met another major influence on his life, Henry Geldzahler, the Curator of Contemporary Art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

Upon the return to New York, Larry Stanton moved into a Manhattan rent-controlled apartment owned by his father, who was relocating to retire in Florida; Lambert returned to his financial work in California. With a scholarship from the New School, Stanton began  to study printmaking and drawing; his studies were further supported by a grant for printmaking from the Tiffany Foundation. In January of 1970, Stanton had his first exhibition of drawings at New York City’s Gotham Gallery. This show was followed by a period of travel, accompanied sometimes by Henry Geldzabler, to Italy, Tunisia and sub-Saharan Africa. Upon his return, Stanton found a basement studio space in the Italian section of Greenwich Village where he could continue his painting. 

In early 1972, Arthur Lambert moved back to New York and noticed a change in Stanton. Stanton had begun drinking alcohol more frequently and had become less committed to painting. He began to pursue filmmaking and produced a few films on David Hockney. Stanton also began bringing back to his place young men he met on his travels around the city. By late 1977, he was not socializing as much and complained of lingering feelings of anxiety. Stanton’s mother, with whom he had a close bond, succumbed from cancer in 1979 after a three year struggle. The loss of this bond, intensified by the depressive effects of his developed alcoholism, resulted in Stanton having a psychological collapse for which he needed hospitalization.

From this trauma, Larry Stanton emerged a sober, non-smoking artist with an intense commitment to his art. Stanton moved his studio to a larger location nearer his apartment which enabled him to work on larger canvases. By 1983, his studio was attracting young writers and artists who admired his work and sought his company. In his apartment and studio, Stanton created a series of portraits in charcoal, oil crayon, pencil, and pen, as well as paint, drawing friends, familial relations, and people he met while wandering the streets of New York. Many of the people who posed for him would later die from the AIDS epidemic.

Holly Solomon, a prominent art dealer, commissioned two portraits, one of herself and one of her son. She later placed two of Stanton’s oversized portraits in a group show at her Soho gallery. Following this show, Stanton’s work was given an exhibition at the Aaron Berman Gallery in Brooklyn. In 1984, his work was included in a major group exhibition at the Queens, New York, city-owned exhibition space, PS1, which focused on emerging new artists. Stanton’s work was also presented in a group exhibition at the East Village’s Magic Gallery. With these shows, his work was gaining increased attention as he developed a consistent quality and a mature personal style. 

Beginning in February of 1984, Larry Stanton began to have health problems, initially shingles and later periodic unpleasant skin rashes. After numerous tests, the doctors assured there were no signs of immunity problems; there were no specific AIDS testing at this time. In August, Stanton developed a persistent and sore throat and was diagnosed with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a fatal fungal infection of the lungs and major cause of death for people with HIV/AIDS. Larry Stanton died, at the age of thirty-seven, of AIDS-related illness on October 18th of 1984. 

After Larry Stanton’s  death, a collection of his work was shown at New York City’s Charles Cowles Gallery in 1987. From May through July of 2021, the Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery in the Chelsea area of New York City held “It Doesn’t Thunder Every Day”, an exhibition of twenty works on paper by Stanton that captured the faces of a generation of people lost in the early stages of the AIDS epidemic. Larry Stanton’s work is housed in the permanent collection of New York City’s  Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

Notes: A full collection of Larry Stanton’s paintings and drawings, as well as personal tributes and remembrances by friends such as Arthur Lambert,  Henry Geldzahler and David Hockney, can be found at: http://www.larrystanton.net

A recent collection of poems by gay poet Winthrop Smith entitled “Take Down Portraits: Drawings and Portraits by Larry Stanton” was published by Chiron Review Press. Bringing the portraits back to life, Smith’s poems imagine the encounters between Stanton and his sitters, which reconstruct the experience of New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Larry Stanton”, circa 1968

Second Insert Image: Larry Stanton, “Man in Jockstrap”, circa Early 1970s, Pencil on Paper, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Arry Stanton in His Village Basement Studio”, circa 1981

Fourth Insert Image: Larry Stanton, “Joey”, 1975, Pencil on Paper, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “larry Stanton, Fire Island Pines”, circa 1980

Alexandre Denis Abel de Pujol

Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujal, “Ixion Chained in Tartarus”, 1824, Oil on Canvas, 127 x 157 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris

Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol, “Sisyphus Eternally Rolling the Rock”, 1819, Oil on Canvas, 130 x 212 cm, Musée Henri Martin, Cahors, France

Born in January of 1785 in Valenciennes, a northern French city bordering Belgium, Alexandre Denis Abel de Pujol was a French painter. He was the illegitimate son and only child of nobleman Alexander-Denis-Joseph Mortry de Pujol, Baron de la Grave, who served as advisor to King Louis XVI Auguste and was the founder of the Académie de Peinture et Sculpture in Valenciennes. From the age of twelve, Abel de Pujol studied at the Academy and completed his training as a student of Neoclassical artist Jacques-Louis David, regarded in his time as the preeminent painter in France. 

Receiving little support from his father for his studies, Abel de Pujol earned a pension from the city of Valenciennes which allowed him to continue his studies at David’s studio. He also took classes in perspective, anatomy, and architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1806 at  the age of twenty-one, de Pujol won a first-class medal at the Académie and a second-class medal at the Salon of 1810 for his painting “Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph”; this painting placed second at the Prix de Rome competition in 1810. 

In 1811, Abel du Pujol won the Prix de Rome with his painting “Lycurgus Presenting the Heir to the Throne to the Lacedaemonians”. Having achieved this award, he was formally recognized by his father and was able to add the name Pujol to his own. Abel de Pujol suffered a period of poor health and depression during his stay in Italy, which allowed him only eight months of study in 1812. Restored to health, he returned to his career in Paris and successfully exhibited mainly history paintings at the Salons.

In 1814, Abel de Pujol won gold medals from both Louis XVIII and Napoleon Bonaparte for his monumental painting “The Death of Britannicus”. A compositional study for the 3.54 x 5.50 meters painting is currently housed in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. His grisaille (gray-monochrome) painting “The Preaching and Martyrdom of Saint Stephen”, intended for the church of Saint Etienne du Mont, was entered at the 1817 Paris Salon where it won the prize for history painting. These awards established his reputation as a history painter and muralist.

Abel de Pujol received several important official commissions, He executed three paintings and a ceiling mural for the royal palace at Versailles, as well as a large, allegorical ceiling mural, entitled “The Renaissance of the Arts”, for the Louvre’s grand staircase, later destroyed in 1855 during the joining of the Palais du Louvre to the Palais des Tuileries. Abel de Pujol also painted many mural decorations for public buildings, such as the Galerie de Diane at Fontainbeau and the Palais de Luxembourg. For the ceiling of the Bourse, Paris’s stock exchange, he executed a series of large-scale grisaille tromp-l’oeil decorations of architectural features and draped nudes.

Throughout his career, de Pujol produced altar pieces and designs for stained-glass windows for Parisian churches such as Saint-Roch, Saint Sulpice and Saint Thomas d’Acquin and the Madeleine. He also did work for the cathedral at Arras and the church of Saint-Pierre in Douai. Included among Abel de Pojul’s last major works are the 1846 “Valenciennes Encouraging the Arts”, a monumental canvas for the town hall of Valenciennes, and an 1852 mural for the ceiling of the staircase of the School of Mining at the Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris.

A successful teacher and draftsman, Abel de Pujol was a member of the Institut de France, a learned society composed of all the sciences and fine arts, and an Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor. Among his students were sculptor Alphonse Lami, painter Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, and Julien Hudson, an American painter and free man of color, thought to be the first African American by whom a self portrait is known. Abel de Pujol died in Paris, at the age of seventy-six, in September of 1861. 

Top Insert Image: Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol, “Self Portrait”, 1806, Oil on Canvas, 71 x 55 cm, Musée de Beaux-Arts, Paris

Middle Insert Image: Abel de Pujol, “La Colère d’Achille (The Fury of Achilles)”, 1810, Oil on Canvas, 112 x 146 cm, Snite Museum of Art, Campus of Notre Dame, Indiana

Bottom Insert Image: Alexandre_Abel_de_Pujol, “Self Portrait”, 1812, Oil on Canvas, 56.2 x 46 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Mario Mafai

Paintings by Mario Mafai

Born in Rome in February of 1902, Mario Mafai was an Italian painter. He and his wife, the sculptor Antonietta Raphaël, founded the Scuola Romana art movement. With its firm approach to European Expressionism, the Scuola Romana  sought to counter the orderly, neoclassical character of Novecento Italiano, the Italian art movement founded in 1922 which rejected European avant-garde movements and became associated with Fascism. 

Although Italian dictator Mussolini had little personal regard for the visual arts, he understood its value as propaganda. For years, his regime supported artists regardless of style, from the futurists who hated tradition to the classically inspired Novecento group which was initiated by art critic Margherita Sarfatti, Mussolini’s mistress. Artists of varying degrees of political commitment entered the official exhibitions and received awards given by the regime for their work. The regime decreed in 1927 that all exhibitions must be authorized by the government and published in the official journal of record, the Gazzette Ufficiale. While the state did not dictate art’s content, it established control over the structure that enabled the art to reach a wider audience. 

Mario Mafai left traditional education early in his training and, along with fellow student Gino Bonichi, chose to attend the free Scuola Libera di Nudo, a life drawing component of Rome’s Academy of Fine Art. Most of Mafai’s formative art training was gained through readings in the Fine Arts Library at Palazzo Venezia and by studying artwork at Rome’s many galleries and museums. Influenced by the style of modernist painter and printmaker Giorgio Morandi, Mafai focused on the tonal quality of his work; he represented everyday objects with subtle color graduations that lent a magical existence to the painted image. Mafai painted from reality and portrayed his many views of the city of Rome with a fresh sense of curiosity.

In 1925 during their studies at the Academy, Mafai met Antonietta Raphaël, a graduate in piano from London’s Royal Academy of Music, who was studying sculpture and painting. They began a lifelong relationship that encompassed both their private life and the arts. In 1927, they relocated into apartment number 325 on Via Cavour which soon became a meeting place for the literati of Rome, among which were the poets Giuseppe Ungaretti and Libero de Libero, and artists such as Corrado Cagli and Mafai’s friend Gino Bonichi, known in the art world as Scipione.

In 1927, Mario Mafai had his first exhibition, organized by the National Association of Artists, at a gallery in Via Margutta. His second show was held in the following year at the 94th  Exhibition of the Society of Amateurs and Connoisseurs of Fine Arts. Along with a collective group of young artists, Mafai exhibited his strong anti-impressionistic paintings at the 1929 Young Painters Convention held at the Palazzo Doria. He was deeply critical of Mussolini’s urban transformation of Rome, which razed many working-class housing districts. This criticism was particularly expressed in Mafai’s 1936-1939 “Demolition of the Suburbs”, a  series of city views illustrating the destruction of these districts.

In 1938, Italy passed and began enforcing its discriminatory Racial Laws, This was a series of separate bills, between 1938 and 1944, that excluded Italian Jews and native inhabitants of the colonies from school, academia, politics, finances, and the professional world. Civil rights and travel were restricted, books were banned, and assets and property eventually taken. Mario Mafai and his wife experienced the cruelty of Fascism personally, as Antonietta Raphaël was the daughter of a Lithuanian rabbi. He and his wife left Rome and relocated to Genova where they found help from friends and collectors of their art. 

Despite being declared a second-class citizen with no rights, Mafai was drafted into the reserve Italian forces during World War II. During the war years, he  painted his “Fantasies” series, violent war scenes inspired by Francisco de Goya’s engravings “Disasters of War”. Mafai’s brutal reflections on the war depicted soldiers as sinister, spectral forms committing brutal acts against civilians. Mafai returned to Rome in 1943 and continued working on his principal themes.

At the end of Mussolini’s dictatorship, the importance of Mafai’s work became widely recognized. Entered in exhibitions throughout Italy, his paintings won many awards. For a period starting in 1957, Mafai rejected his previous artistic path of figurative work and started using a bold smashing of colors and shapes in an abstract form. Thirty of these works, which reduced the image to its essence, were shown in an exhibition entitled “Ropes”. 

Mario Mafai died in Rome on the 31st of March in 1965. After his death, he was celebrated with an important retrospective of his work at Rome’s Ninth Quadrennial in 1965. Established as a widely exhibited sculptor, Antonietta Raphaël died ten years later in Rome. 

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Mario Mafai in His Studio”, 1938, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Mario Mafai, “Paesaggio (Lungara)”, 1948, Oil on Canvas, 38 x 41 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Mario Mafai, “Self-Portrait”, 1928, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Mario Mafai, “Osteria al Neon”, 1952, Oil on Canvas, 77 x 77 cm, Private collection, Rome 

Elisàr von Küpffer

The Paintings and Writings of Elisàr von Küpffer

Born in February of 1872 in Tallin, an industrial port city in Estonia, Elisàr August Emanuel von Küpffer was a Baltic-German artist, poet, historian and anthropologist who used the pseudonym Elisarion for most of his writings. The only son of an aristocratic family, he was in delicate health from an early age, having suffered from scarlet fever, meningitis, arthritis and measles. Von Küpffer was a good student throughout his formative years and wrote his first play, “Don Irsino”, at the age of nine. 

In 1891 at the age of nineteen, Elisàr von Küpffer entered Saint Petersburg’s German Annenschule, a school  in the Levashovo municipal area founded for its German citizens. During this time, he met historian and philosopher Eduard von Mayer, who would become his best friend, and his first partner Agnes von Hoyningen Huene. In 1894, von Küpffer relocated to Germany where he published, in the following year, his first poetry collection “Leben und Liebe (Life and Love)”. In the autumn of 1895, he entered the Berlin Art Academy and moved in with Eduard von Mayer; Von Küpffer  later left his partner Agnes in 1896. 

Von Küpffer wrote two dramas in 1896, “Irrlichter (Wisps)” and “Der Herr der Welt (Master of the World)”, as well as three one-act plays. He published his anthology “Ehrlos {Infamous)” in the following year. After Eduard von Mayer’s graduation at the University of Halle in 1897, the two men travelled throughout Italy, Southern France and Switzerland before returning to Berlin. In the early part of 1900, Adolf Brand, whose publishing firm produced the German homosexual periodical “Der Eigene (The Unique)”, published von Küpffer’s influential anthology of homoerotic literature “Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltiliteratur (Love of Favorites and Between Friends in World Literature). This anthology was created in part as a protest against the two-year imprisonment of Oscar Wilde in 1895.

In 1901, Elisàr von Küpffer published his first book of poems, “Auferstehung, Irdische Gedichte (Resurrection, Earthly Poems”. His book on one of the first High Renaissance painters Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known by the nickname Il Sodoma, was published in 1908.  Together in 1911, Von Küpffer and Eduard von Mayer founded the Munich publishing house Klaristische Verlag Akropolis, through which von Küpffer published three major works: “Hymns of the Holy Castle”, “A New Flight and a Holy Castle”, and a play entitled “Aino und Tio”. French novelist and poet Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen, who lived in self-exile in Capri with his lover Nino Cesarini, also reviewed and published von Küpffer’s work in his gay magazine “Akademos”, named after an Attic hero in Greek mythology.

In 1913, von Küpffer had the first exhibition of his artwork at the Brogi Gallery in Florence. With growing animosity towards Germans at the outbreak of World War I, he and von Mayer left Italy and moved to Ticino, one of the Swiss Cantons, where von Küpffer established himself as a muralist and painter. Both were granted citizenship in 1922 and settled in a villa with a large art collection in the Swiss municipality of Minusio. Also a photographer, von Küpffer shot many photographic studies of young men to use in the creation of his paintings, although, most of his works featured youthful self-portraits. 

In 1911, Elisàr von Küpffer and Eduard von Mayer established the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion, a small community in Weimar, Germany, based on a Neo-religious idea of Clarism, or clarity. In 1926, they established the second community at Minusio. During the 1930s, there was a large number of visitors; however, by the outbreak of World War II, the visitations had ceased. As von Küpffer’s health declined, he became increasingly reclusive until his death in late October of 1942, at the age of seventy. Elisàr von Küpffer’s ashes are interred in the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion in Minusio, alongside the ashes of Eduard von Mayer, who died in 1960.

After von Küpffer’s death, Eduard von Mayer, who was the main proponent of the Clarism communities, devoted his time to documenting and securing their communal achievements, which included letters, sketches, drawings, plans, and paintings. However, he also did a purging of the  homosexual aspect of his relationship with von Küpffer: the intimate correspondence between them, traces of their association with the “Der Eigene” magazine, any contributions to the work of German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, and proofs of his authorship to the 1923 “Das Mysterium der Geschiechter (The Mystery of the Sexes)” which expounded the Claristic theory of the sexes. 

In his will, Eduard von Mayer left the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion and all its contents to the Canton of Ticino and the property to the municipality of Minusio on condition that the gardens should be made accessible to the public. It was not until 1968 that the community decided to accept this gift. The material that is necessary for a better understanding of its pictorial and philosophical oeuvre was to be kept in a cupboard on the ground floor. The paintings, the urns with Elisàr von Kupffer and Eduard von Mayer’s ashes, and family heirlooms were to remain in the building. Furthermore, the gardens were to be maintained. 

Today the men’s legacy is distributed across different places in the community. Most of the surviving paintings, fragments of the former library, and the literary remains can be found in a room of the former sacred building. The inventory in its entirety has yet to be undertaken. The monumental cyclorama “Die Klarwelt der Seligen (The Clear World of the Blissful)” was saved from destruction and later installed at Monte Verità where it can be visited under provisional circumstances. The Centro Culturale Elisarion, whose program is dedicated to cultural projects in the community of Minusio, opened in 1981.

Notes: The website of the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion, which includes a life history of Elisàr von Küpffer, a collection of his artwork, and a history of the community project,  is located at: http://www.elisarion.ch/en/welcome.html

For those interested, I recently found an article written by gay American author and mathematician Hubert Kennedy,“Reviews of Seven Gay Classics”, which discusses seven historical publications on homosexuality among which is “The Riddle of ‘Man-Manly’ Love” written by German gay emancipation advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. This collection of  reviews can be found at: https://hubertkennedy.angelfire.com/Classic.pdf

Second Insert Image: Elisàr von Küpffer, “Self Portrait”, Date Unknown, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, The Entrance to the Cyclorama at the Sanctuarium Arts Elisarion

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Elisàr von Kupffer”, 1929-1930, Centro Culturale e Museo Elisarion, Minusio

Alireza Shojaian

The Artwork of Alireza Shojaian

Born in Tehran in September of 1988, Alireza Shojaian is an Iranian artist. Shojaian received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Tehran’s Islamic Azad University in 2014. Encouraged in his art studies by one of his professors, he began to explore his queer identity in his work through themes and narratives. Shojaian pursued his Masters of Fine Arts for two years at the Islamic Azad University; however, as his final thesis project was queer art, he was denied his degree.

In 2015, Shojaian’s artwork, the majority of which were prints,  appeared in several group exhibitions in Tehran including shows at Laleh Art Gallery and Vista Art Gallery. He also exhibited work at the 2015 Printmaking Exhibition held at the Cultural Section of the Embassy of Cote d’Ivoire.

The prevalent theme in Alireza Shojaian’s work is homosexuality in both identity and relationships. His work reflects on his own personal experiences as a queer person and the queer history of western Asia and its context in present society. Created with acrylics and color pencils, Shojaian’s images depict male figures, most often nude, in both portrait form and group presentations. His drawings present intimate relationships, often entwined and embracing, sometimes fighting; however, they all attempt to present real stories that are mutual to all human beings. Through his art, Shojaian attempts to fight societal prejudice against LGBTQ people and make space for non-heteronormative masculine identities.

Unable to exhibit work dealing with issues affecting the queer community in an open dialogue with the Iranian people, Shojaian relocated in 2016 to Beirut, Lebanon, as a place with more freedom to develop his art and identity. His university professor in Tehran, who knew of Shojaian’s sexual orientation, connected him with the owner of the ArtLab Gallery in Beirut, Antoine Haddad, who offered him a solo show. Shojaian entered the Beirut art scene with two solo exhibitions at the Artlab Gallery: the 2017 “Corpe à Corps” and “Sweet Blasphemy” held in 2018. 

The title for the “Sweet Blasphemy” exhibition was taken from Turkish writer Elif Shafak’s novel entitled “The Forty Rules of Love”. This exhibition was centered on the love story of Persian poet Jalai ad-Din Muhammed Rumi and fellow poet Shams-i-Tabrizi. After years living together in the Turkish city of Konya, Shams left Rumi, who after Sham’s untimely death dedicated his writings to his departed lover. The main image of the show consisted of a partially nude male figure, either asleep or dead, lying on a white blanket. Eight additional drawings, all modeled by Lebanese artist Mo Khansa, were included in the highly successful sold-out show. 

Alireza Shojaian exhibited his work at the Beirut Art Fair in 2017 and 2018. He relocated to Paris in 2019 after being offered by the French Embassy in Lebanon an art residency with the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Shojaian served as resident-in-art at La Villa les Pinsons in 2019 to 2020 and at Château de Lourmarin in 2021. His work was most recently presented in “Ombres D’Hommes” held at Nice’s Depardieu Gallery and in a group exhibition at Paris’s Lafalande Gallery, both in 2021.

Alireza Shojaian’s personal website, containing images, contact information and press coverage, can be found at: https://www.alirezashojaian.com

Note: A more extensive biography on Alireza Shojaian, including images of his work, can be found in the November 30th of 2018 issue of Queer Here located at: https://wearequeerhere.com/queerart

Middle Insert Image: Alireza Shojaian, “Remi”, 2021, Acrylic and Color Pencil, 60 x 60 cm, Private Collection

Denis Forkas

The Paintings of Denis Forkas

Born in 1977 in Kamyshin, a town on the Volga river, Denis Forkas Kostromitin is a Russian painter whose work explores religious and mythological symbolism in the tradition of ancient Mediterranean art. The son of a military officer, his childhood years were spent in various remote regions of the Soviet states. Forkas’s early nomadic existence with its isolation and lack of comforts led to self-education in artistic training and numerous sensory deprivation experiences, which later had a major impact on his artwork.

With little stimulus from the austere Soviet environment, Forkas eagerly consumed literature on the esoteric worlds of Egyptian and Greek mysticism and mythology. After the iron curtain’s collapse in 1991, new translations of literary works, including the esoteric writings of English occultist Aleister Crowley and French author Eliphas Levi, entered the Soviet states. Forkas studied these new volumes and the literature written by Western philosophers, which became available in the mid-1990s.

After the economic boom in the new century, Denis Forkas frequently visited China as a journalist, interpreter, and commercial representative. After meeting several painting masters in China, he was able to receive formal training for three years in traditional Eastern painting techniques, including those of the Xieyl and Gongbi art forms. 

Xieyl is a genre of Chinese traditional painting worked on xuan paper that uses either ink or layers of watercolor. This genre includes works of calligraphy, poem, painting and seal, of which freehand painting is the most influential and popular. Gongbi is a careful, realistic technique of Chinese painting, often highly-colored, that is worked  on xuan paper. This method uses highly-detailed brushstrokes that delineate details very precisely without interpretation or free expression on the part of the artist.

After leaving China, Forkas settled in Moscow to concentrate on his career path as a professional artist. His early work was inspired by German Expressionism and the late nineteenth-century Symbolist movement, which emphasized the reality of the created paint surface itself. These paintings by Forkas were influenced by the early abstract, experimental works of Wassily Kandinsky that, in an immediate way, were an expression of Kandinsky’s inner feelings.

Denis Forkas’s new work, still in the artistic traditions of ancient Near East civilizations, draw their inspiration from early Renaissance and  seventeenth-century Dutch paintings. Drifting away from the earlier predominant symbolist style, Forkas’s paintings became influenced by the works of Belgian painter Fernand Khnopff, who carried symbolism’s recurring themes into his portraits, and Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel, whose paintings in the latter portion of his life displayed a glowing, otherworldly mosaic effect that fit within the Byzantine tradition.

Since 2007, Forkas has privately taught the techniques of painting and drawing to students and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, including the October 2014 Image Show in London. Forkas has produced many drawings and paintings that have been featured as album covers for international music releases. Currently living and working in Moscow, he has contributed both work and an interview for the esoteric publisher Fulgur Press.

Contact information and a small gallery of work by Forkas can be found at his website located at: www.denisforkas.com

For those interested, a list of album cover art by Denis Forkas can be found at the Encyclopaedia Mettalum site located at: https://www.metal-archives.com/artists/Denis_Forkas_Kostromitin/436114

Second Insert Image: Denis Forkas, “The Hanged Man / Gift of Prometheus”, 2017, Acrylics and Gilding on Paper, 41.5 x 29.5 cm

Third Insert Image: Denis Forkas, “Saglokratlok II”, 2017, Ink and Gouache on Paper, 24.1 x 18.5 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Denis Forkas, “Between Two Worlds (Study for a Recurring Dream of Ichor Baptism Fashioned as a Portico Fresco Cartoon)”, 2016, Acrylics on Paper on Hardboard, 23.7 x 22.5 cm

Luchita Hurtado

The Artwork of Luchita Hurtado

Born in Maiquetia, Venezuela in November of 1920, Luchita Hurtado was a painter whose work, with its strong feminist and environmental themes, crossed many different cultures and art movements. Although her career spanned over eight decades, she only received wide recognition for her art towards the end of her life.

In her early years, Luchita Hurtado lived in New York City with her mother, older sister and aunts. She studied Fine Art at the Art Student League and volunteered at “La Prensa”, the largest and oldest daily Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, where she met her first husband, Chilean journalist Daniel de Solar. In 1938 at the age of eighteen, Hurtado married Daniel de Solar and had two children together. The family relocated to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic after an invitation with a request to start a newspaper arrived from Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic.

Returning to the United States, Hurtado and her family settled back in New York City where they associated with many artists and journalists, among whom were Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo, artist and landscape designer Isamu Noguchi, surrealist artist and collector Wolfgang Paalen, and Japanese-American dancer Ailes Gilmour, who was Noguchi’s half-sister. In 1942, Hurtado divorced de Solar and subsequently married Wolfgang Paalen. Beginning  in 1944, Luchita Hurtado produced window displays and painted murals for Bloomingdale’s, a luxury department store in New York City. She also did freelance work as an illustrator for the mass media company Condé Nast and worked as a muralist for the Lord and Taylor department store in the city. 

In 1946, Luchita Hurtado and husband Wolfgang Paalen traveled to Mexico to research pre-Columbian art. A research article by Paaalen, with photographs taken by Hurtado, was published in the 1952 edition of the French literary and artistic journal “Cahiers d’Art”. After her divorce from Wolfgang Paalen, Hurtado moved to Los Angeles in 1951 with fellow painter Lee Mullican, whom she married in the late 1950s. Lee Mullican would remain with her until his death in 1998.

In 1970, Hurtado founded the feminist group, Los Angeles Council of Women Artists. She participated in their first exhibition at the Long Beach Museum of Art, “Invisible/Visible”, which was organized by multi-media artist Judy Chicago and sculptress Dextra Frankel. In 1974, Hurtado had a solo exhibition at the Woman’s Building, a non-profit arts and education center which focused the women’s movement and feminist art.

Except for her two exhibitions and work produced for Bloomingdale’s and Conde Nast, Luchita Hurtado’s artwork was largely unknown until 2015. Ryan Good, who was cataloguing the estate of Hurtado’s deceased husband Lee Mullican, found paintings signed “LH” among others in the collection. He showed these paintings to Paul Soto, founder of Los Angeles’s Park View Gallery, who gave Hurtado her second ever solo exhibition, “Luchita Hurtado: Selected Works, 1942-1952”, a two-month show which opened in November of 2016. Hurtado was ninety-six years old at the opening of the show.

With the recognition generated by the solo exhibition, Luchita Hurtado’s career erupted. Her work was included in the Hammer Museum’s 2018  “Made in L. A.” exhibition and received a good review from the L.A. Times and favorable critical reception. Hurtado’s paintings caught the attention of Hans Ulrich Obrich, a Swiss art curator and the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, two prestigious galleries located in central London. He gave Hurtado her first international solo exhibition entitled “Luchita Hurtado: I Live I Die I Will Be Reborn”. 

Luchita Hurtado’s work contain elements from the avant-garde and modernist movements of the twentieth-century, including magical realism, abstraction, and surrealism. She used womb imagery in her works long before it appeared in the feminist art movement of the late 1970s. One of Hurtado’s  best known series of works is the “I Am” images of the 1960s, self-portraits painted by her looking down at her own body. Taking up the issue of climate change, Hurtado painted more specific environmental themes, some of which contained block-lettered texts such as “Mother Earth” and “We Are Just a Species”. 

Hurtado’s artwork depicting nude women contain loosely surrealistic forms that draw inspiration from pre-Columbian art, cave paintings, and abstraction in sculpture and paintings. Through her work, she focused attention on the edges of the body and the language used to bridge the gap between ourselves and others. Hurtado expressed this connection through images that coupled the intimate gestures of the body with the vastness of the sky and earth. 

In February of 2020, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held a retrospective of Luchita Hurtado’s work. She remained active in the arts until her death, at the age of ninety-nine, in August of 2020. Hurtado was named as one of ‘Time” magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2019. Her work is in many private collections and public collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. 

Note: An interesting article on the life of Luchita Hurtado, which includes early photographs and video of Hurtado discussing her life , can be found at the Whipple Russell Architects site located at: https://whipplerussell.com/blog/critically-acclaimed-in-her-90s-modernist-luchita-hurtado

Second Inser Image: Luchita Hurtado, “Birth”, 2019, Acrylic on Linen, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Luchita Hurtado, “Encounter”, 1971, Detail, Oil on Canvas, 12 x 243 cm, Hauser and Wirth Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Oresti Tsonopoulos, “Luchita Hurtado”,  2018

Sergio Cerchi

Paintings by Sergio Cerchi

Born in Florence in 1957, Sergio Cerchi is an Italian painter and musician. Beginning in his teenage years, he started to study in his two passions, the visual arts and music, by attending workshops held by Florence’s artists and playing in musical groups. Cerchi received his Bachelor of Arts from Florence’s Istituto D’Arte of Porta Romana and attended courses at the prestigious Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Music.

Sergio Cerchi worked through a process of experimentation with various art techniques to develop his own personal style. His influences range from primitive art to the masters of the Italian Renaissance. Cerchi’s figurative and still life works are set in flattened and realist tableaux, similar to theater sets, within which are contained references to popular culture, art history and personal experience.

In Cerchi’s paintings, the pictorial surface as a whole is fractured into multiple quadrants whose portion of the image is rendered with different coloring and lighting. Through this technique, figures and objects are segmented and reconstructed in collages composed from their angled fragments. The resulting canvas, with its shifting, peeling surface and fading horizon planes, presents a unique version of cubist art.

Sergio Cerchi’s paintings are mostly executed in different shades of a dominant hue. Depending on the angle of each fragmented quadrant, the tone of that part of the image may appear softer or bolder. The palette of Cerchi’s oil paints range from warm undertones of red carmine, mixed with shades of green, ocher and blues, to tones of brown and gray. A prominent feature of his work is the use of bold, dramatic shading in the compositions.

Since 2011, Sergio Cerchi has been represented by Galleria Gagliardi located in San Gimignano, Siena, Italy. He presented his work at a 2013 curated exhibition, entitled “Art in Therapy”, held at the Chiesa di Sant’Agala, a national archeological site in Spoleto, Italy.

Note: Images of Sergio Cerchi’s work and information on exhibitions can be found through Galleria Gagliardi’s website located at: https://www.galleriagagliardi.com/en/artist-works/cerchi-sergio

Bottom Insert Image: Sergio Cerchi, “Supereroe”, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 100 cm, Private Collection

Justin Liam O’Brien

Paintings by Justin Liam O’Brien

Born in Flushing, New York in 1991, Justin Liam O’Brien is a painter and digital artist. In his early years, he was interested in drawing concept art, graphic novels, and modeling video games, whose construction became a serious occupation until his early twenties. After attending Long Island’s Suffolk County Community College, O’Brien earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Arts and 3D Animation from the Pratt Institute in 2016.

In 2017, O’Brien started producing paintings with figurative elements and gradually developed a style which combined his skills at animation with his identity as a queer person. Impressed by the works of Diego Rivera and Leger, O’Brien strived to achieve their simplicity in his early figurative paintings; his focus gradually changed to more complex, narrative works which expressed his personal life and relationships. With his technical painting skill, O’Brien is able to express an exploration of issues centered on a very clear, delineated community of people.

Justin Liam O’Brien’s figurative paintings emerge from his experiences of queer affection, tenderness, longing, and loneliness. The male figures are archetypal, fashioned with soft edges and placed in carefully crafted tableaux, which reflect his technical training in the digital arts. While drawing on personal experiences, O’Brien portrays universal, relatable narratives, often tinged with tension or poignancy, that speak to our feelings of self-doubt and powerlessness. Through these visual communications, he hopes to clarify to its viewers our shared experiences and feelings, and in this way strengthen the communal bond.

In November of 2019, O’Brien had his debut solo exhibition, entitled “Losing in the Form of Darkness”, at New York’s Monya Rowe Gallery on West 30th Street. The figurative compositions in this show depicted unidentified male characters, with blurred features, engaged solitarily or entangled in moments of leisure and passion, as well as, boredom and loneliness. In conjunction with the exhibition, O’Brien developed a book of sketches, executed in the previous year, which contained a more personal side of his work. 

In May of 2020, Justin Liam O’Brien left his position as a 3D modeler for a real estate company and began to concentrate full time on his studio painting. He exhibited his paintings in two shows that year. The first was entitled “Damned by the Rainbow” and was held in July at the GNYP Gallery in Berlin; the title of this show was suggested by a verse from French poet Arthur Rimbaud. The exhibited work reflected O’Brien’s exploration of intimacy and the emotions that emerge in shared personal space. 

In November of 2020, O’Brien’s solo show “When Acting as a Wave” opened at Los Angeles’s Richard Heller Gallery. His paintings frequently examine the effects of being close to people, which can be wonderful or terrible depending on circumstances. O’Brien’s paintings in this show, executed during the period of covid quarantine and isolation,  showed these opposing feelings at their balance point. His 2020 “Bread on a Seder Plate” shows a gathering of friends with a lone figure almost blending into the wall.  Another painting in the show, “I’m Afraid of How This Ends”, shows a room, suggestive of a prison cell, with two figures together, each alone except for the other, with seemingly no means of escape.

In September of 2021, Justin Liam O’Brien returned to the Monya Rowe Gallery for an exhibition entitled “Dreams”, the centerpiece of which was a large canvas, “NYC Inferno”, an ode to a sex party in Brooklyn, New York. Other works in the exhibition derived from references in queer cinema and literature, and the religious art of Italian Early-Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca. O’Brien’s other 2021 shows at the gallery included “Me, Myself and I” and “Equal Affections”.

O’Brien’s works have been exhibited in many group exhibitions including presentations at Galerie LJ in Paris; Chart Gallery and the High Line Nine, both galleries in New York City; the contemporary Kapp Kapp Gallery in Philadelphia; and Galerie Tanja Wagner in Berlin, among others.

“I had been damned by the rainbow. Happiness was my fatality, my remorse, my worm: my life would forever be too immense to be devoted to strength and beauty.”

– Arthur Rimbaud, Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell), 1873

Notes: More images and information on Justin Liam O’Brien’s work can be found at the artist’s site located at: http://justinliamobrien.com

Justin Liam O’Brien’s sketchbook “Losing in the Form of Darkness”, which was published in conjunction of his exhibition of the same name, can be found at the online Raw Meat Collective located at: https://rawmeatcollective.com/shop/losing-in-the-form-of-darkness-by-justin-liam-obrien

Top Insert Image: Laura June Kirsch, “Justin Liam O’Brien”, 2020, Juxtapoz Magazine

Second Insert Image: James Liam O’Brien, “Fais Comme Si J’Avais Pris La Mer”, 2021, Oil on Linen, 175 x 139.7 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Justin Liam O’Brien, “Stay in My Arms, If You Dare?, 2018, Oil on Canvas, Monya Rowe Gallery

Bottom Insert Image: Justin Liam O’Brien, “Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves”, 2021, Oil on Linen, 152.4 x 152.4 cm, Monya Rowe Gallery

Corrado Cagli

The Artwork of Corrado Cagli

Born in the city of Ancona in February of 1910, Corrado Cagli was an Italian painter of Jewish heritage. Little information on his formative years is available; however, it is known that, at the age of five, his family relocated to Rome. Cagli grew up in a largely assimilated secular family, who had come to terms with its Jewish religion as antisemitism became more aggressive in Fascist Italy. His ties to his Italian heritage were always strong; even in his later years of exile from Italy, it was important for him to maintain a tie with his homeland. 

Corrado Cagli’s first commissioned work was a 1927 mural painted on a building in Via Sistina, the street at the top of  Rome’s Spanish Steps. In the following year, Cagli received another commission in Rome for a mural in Via Vantaggio. He had a remarkably early success in Italy; still in his twenties in the early 1930s, he was already famous nationally. Cagli had his first solo exhibition in 1932 at Rome’s Galleria d’Arte Moderna and showed at the Milan Triennale in 1936.

Along with other artists such as Emanuele Cavalli and Giuseppe Capogrossi, Cagli was a member of the Scuola Romana, an art movement of Expressionist painters in Rome who were active between 1928 and 1945. A rising star of the Scuola Romana, Cagli was supported by Italy’s Fascist regime despite being both Jewish and a homosexual.  He was chosen to represent Italy at the 1930 Paris Exposition, the Venice Biennale, and other prestigious expositions. 

In 1938, the Leggi Razzial were promulgated by the Fascist government; this series of laws enforced racial discrimination in Italy, directed mainly against Jewish Italians and inhabitants of Italy’s colonies. Two of Corrado Cagli’s murals were censored by the government as they did not fit with the regime’s rhetoric and stylistic preferences. With the enactment of the Racial Laws, Cagli was forced into exile, first to Paris, a place he had visited as a young star painter from Italy, and then to the United States, where he later became a citizen. His first showing was at the Julien Levy Gallery, a source for surrealist work. 

Corrado Cagli rarely had a proper studio during his exile years, which made painting difficult. Most of his work done in the United States is on paper. Cagli had always valued drawing as an art form; in his exile, they became the primary instrument of his artistic search. His use of paper as a medium was also the result of a crisis he went through with his idea of painting. In the 1930s, despite having been forced into exile, Cagli still retained the artistic ambitions of Italy and saw painting as a public art essential to constructing an Italian national identity.

Cagli enlisted in the United States Army and was recognized for his artistic talent. During his training he painted barracks, made his own drawings, and illustrated a military magazine. Later during the war, he worked as a military artist drawing scenes from the campaigns. Cagli fought at the 1944 Normandy landings and, later, in Belgium and Germany. Near the end of the war, he drew a series of dramatic drawings based on the liberation of the Buschenwald concentration camp. 

After the war, Cagli returned in 1948 to Rome and made it his permanent residence. Because of his past as a former regime-endorsed artist and a Jewish exile from Fascism, Cagli did not fit into any of the factions of Italy’s post-war heated cultural disputes. He arrived into Italy’s art world with a metaphysical route towards abstraction which was opposite to the Neo-Cubist trend that dominated postwar Italian painting. Settled in Italy, Cagli began a series of experimental works  in multiple mediums, including ceramics, mosaics, tapestries, architectural decoration, ballet scenery, and costumes. 

Corrado Cagli helped organize the Gallleria La Cometa in Rome and, along with poet Libero De Libero, created an artistic circle of musicians, writers, architects, painters and sculptors. He was involved with New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 1949 exhibition, “20th Century Italian Art” and facilitated the 1950 opening of the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York City. In August of 1972, Cagli was commissioned as the official banner painter for the Palio di Siena, the twice yearly equestrian competition held in Siena, Italy. 

Cagli was awarded the Guggenheim Prize in 1946 and, in 1954, the Marzotto Prize, given by the Marzotto fashion company for his contributions to the cultural rebirth of Italy after the war. Corrado Cagli died in Rome in 1976. 

Notes: An article on Corrado Cagli’s 1936 mural “The Battle of San Marino”, now housed in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery,  can be found in a previous posting on this site.

An interview between author Raffaele Bedarida and Alessandro Cassin, Director of Centro Primo Levi, entitled “Corrado Cagli, the American Years” can be found online at Printed_Matter located at: http://primolevicenter.org/printed-matter/corrado-cagli-the-american-years/

Top  Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Corrado Cagli”, Circa 1930s

Second Insert Image: Corrado Cagli, “Ritmi Cellulari in Chiave di Giallo, 1949, Mised Media on Canvas on Paper, 90 x 70 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Corrado Cagli, “narcissus”, Date Unknown, Silkscreen Print, Edition of 50,, Sheet Size 90 x 85 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Corrado Cagli in His Studio in Rome”, December 1969, Radiocorriere Magazine, Gelatin Silver Print

Corrado Cagli: “The Battle of San Marino”

Corrado Cagli, “The battle of San Marino”, 1936, Encaustic Tempera on Hollow-Core Wood, 545 x 651 cm,  Uffizi Gallery, Florence 

Born in the city of Ancona in February of 1910, Corrado Cagli was an Italian painter of Jewish heritage. Little information on his formative years is available; however, it is known that, at the age of five, his family relocated to Rome. Cagli grew up in a largely assimilated secular family, who had come to terms with its Jewish religion as antisemitism became more aggressive in Fascist Italy. His ties to his Italian heritage were always strong; even in his later years of exile from Italy, it was important for him to maintain a tie with his birth nation. 

Corrado Cagli helped organize the Gallleria La Cometa in Rome and, along with poet Libero De Libero, created an artistic circle of musicians, writers, architects, painters and sculptors. He was involved with New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 1949 exhibition, “20th Century Italian Art” and facilitated the 1950 opening of the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York City. Cagli was awarded the Guggenheim Prize in 1946 and, in 1954, the Marzotto Prize, given by the Marzotto fashion company for his contributions to the cultural rebirth of Italy after the war. Corrado Cagli died in Rome in 1976.

Corrado Cagli’s “Battle of San Marino” depicts the final battle of the Second War of Independence in which the Piedmont army, directed by King Vittorio Emanuele and supported by the French troops of Napoleon III, defeated in a fierce battle the Austrian forces commanded by Emperor Franz Joseph I. The battle is considered the founding moment of the Italian Risorgimento, the period leading to unification and the formation of the new state of Italy. 

The battle scene, depicted from a bird’s eye perspective, with the hectic confusion of weapons, horses, infantry and knights crushed together amid the surrounding hillsides, clearly highlights Cagli’s relationship with traditional painting styles, with influences ranging from Paolo Uccello to Piero della Francesca. Owned by Francesco Muzzi, secretary of the Cagli Foundation, and graciously loaned to the Uffizi in 1978, it was finally donated to the Uffizi Gallery in 2003.

Note: An interview between author Raffaele Bedarida and Alessandro Cassin, Director of Centro Primo Levi, entitled “Corrado Cagli, the American Years” can be found online at Printed_Matter located at: http://primolevicenter.org/printed-matter/corrado-cagli-the-american-years/