Harold Matthews Brett, “Beach Patrol” (1907)
Roy Lichtenstein, Still Life with Goldfish, 1972
*** A Scarlet Evening, The Antelucan Hourglass
*** An annotated Q313 Retrospective, 25 - 27 Oct 2013
This canvas offers an interpretation of a painting close at hand to Lichtenstein: Matisse’s Goldfish, of 1914-15, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Matisse seems to have discovered for Western art the intriguing motif of the goldfish bowl, and since then it has become singularly identified with him and a favorite object of Lichtenstein’s appropriations. From Matisse’s painting, Lichtenstein borrowed the central element of the cylindrical bowl holding two swimming red fish, placed atop a small table. He also repeated the fruit beside it and the scrolled grillwork of the balcony beyond the open window. Extending Matisse’s penchant for inserting images of his previous paintings into new ones, Lichtenstein has slyly slipped in a drawing of a woman by Matisse completely unrelated toGoldfish. However, Lichtenstein’s painting eschews the sensuous color and texture of Matisse’s surfaces and the moodiness of Matisse’s hesitations and reworkings. The slick surface of Lichtenstein’s smooth acrylic paint and the flat sections of unmixed colors produce an image that is wholly confident and clear. source
Steeming Streets, George Wesley Bellows, 1908
Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), Felix Gonzales-Torres. 1991.
Gonzales-Torres’ installation, approximately 175 pounds of wrapped candies, represent the ideal weight of his partner, Ross Laycock. Visitors to the museums (there are several variations of this installation) were encouraged to take pieces of candy with them after visiting the art.
This is symbolic in a number of ways.
Most obviously, it represents Laycock’s deteriorating health. Laycock died of HIV in 1991. The steadily depleted pile of candy represented him wasting away. It also represents the way the American community ignored the AIDS epidemic that was particularly bad in the 1980’s.
It also represents the cycle of renewal, because after all of the candy was gone, it would be replenished. This way, although Laycock might be gone, his memory would live on through his lover’s art.
This is one of my most favorite contemporary pieces, because of how haunting it is. The bright, colorful candy is at once eye-catching and interesting, but as the pile shrinks, it becomes rather sloppy looking and displeasing to look at, until more is added to it. Sweetness becomes bitterness; bulk becomes emptiness. And yet, I think it is very inspiring. Gonzales-Torres died only five years later, in 1996, of another AIDS-related illness. But I think it’s safe to say that his art will continue to have a very powerful influence.