Under Construction

posted in: Painting | 4

Artists’ fascination depicting the dynamics of intersecting angles in architecture extends from ancient Rome through today. In the 18th and 19th centuries artists visited a pre-selected set of classical sites celebrated for their historic ruins. In the 18th century Piranesi grew so intoxicated with the inventive possibilities derived from linear perspective and these historic ruins that he created a category of architectural prints he called “invenzione”.  Example 1 demonstrates how he exploited linear perspective’s possibilities through invented architecture.

Example 1. Piranesi, Carceri (prisons).

The tradition continued into the 19th century as artists made plein air oil and watercolor sketches of historic ruins such as Jorgen Roed’s 1838 rendering of the temple of Poseidon at Paestum.  Observe the multiple converging diagonals.

Example 2. Jorgen Roed, temple of Poseidon, 1838.

In the Early 19th Century American Ash Can artists like George Bellows revealed their fascination with urban architecture that was both in decline and deconstruction as well as projects which were under-construction.  Examples 3 and 4 present designs of Bellows which were framed under receding bridges.

Example 3. Bellows, Bridge and Blackwell’s Island, 1909.

Example 4. Bellows, the Lone Tenement, 1909.

While Bellows explored his urban constructions Egon Schiele in Vienna was investigating the architectural rhythms of his neighborhoods.   He found a dramatic tension between the exploding expulsion of water versus the uncertain geometric construction of an old mill (example 5).

Example 5. Egon Schiele.

Chasing the inventive architectural themes of Piranesi but, using comic-book styled exaggerations of perspective, and layered imagery I offer examples 6, 7 and 8.

Example 8 continues my examination of the architecture and  the horizon of Milwaukee.  I conflated several similar views of Milwaukee to cook up example 6. Notice the dark blue triangle framing the left side while a spike of complementary orange secures the right side of the image.

Example 8. Milwaukee Skyline Confusion, oil on enameled aluminum, 36×36.

Examples 10 and 11 follow the theme of traveling under bridgework. Like Piranesi’s Carceri I  invented my architecture.  I did this with a variety of locations, combined into one then, added further gestures and geometric intersections.

Example 10, West Side Glass and Steel, oil on enameled aluminum, step one.

Example 10a. West Side Glass and Steel, step two.

Example 11. Port Authority Labyrinth, present state.

Using the principles of interlocking shapes, geometric tension, and complementary color I developed example 12, a landscape.  Notice the off-centered bright pink square serving as a bright squared key geometrically anchoring the composition.

Example 12, Audubon Preserve lake, oil on enameled aluminum, 36×36.

I invite you to join me in a two day workshop at the West Hartford Art League  on January 14 and 15, 2017.  The Workshop is: ”Techniques of the Masters, Past and Present”. Visit their website westhartfordart.org or call 860 231 8019.

Please join me in my classes at the Silvermine School of Art. Registration for the winter semester (Mid January through March) begins on December 15th.  Call the school at 203 966 6668 ext 2 to register. I look forward to working with you.

4 Responses

  1. Therese

    I’ve studied your work above closely on my little phone and the detail is quite extraordinary. I love your choice of color schemes but to be honest, I’m not sure about the pink square in ex. 12, but I do love the little pink pieces scattered in the blue.

  2. Jody Hawkins

    I love them all! The architecture inventions are fascinating, and the colors are beautiful!

  3. Jennifer Richard-Morrow

    David, you’re certainly the only person who can make the Port Authority look good! Happy Holidays!

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