Friday, 16 December 2016

Jon Schueler
The American painter Jon Schueler's centennial year has been extremely well celebrated with over a dozen exhibitions worldwide. It culminates in Women in the Sky, currently at Berry Campbell, New York.
 Schueler is best known as an abstract expressionist with a particular focus on cloud forms and the sky.
In World War 2 he flew as a navigator in B17 bombers, and a turning point after the war was 1957 when he sailed for Scotland and set up his studio in Mallaig, 
a tiny fishing port on the west coast right opposite the Isle of Skye.
His Scottish connections continue to play a big role, both personally and artistically. In 1976 he married - for the 5th time! - Magda Salvesen, then working in Edinburgh at the Scottish Arts Council.  She was always very involved in helping his career & after his death in 1992 she has continued to work hard on his archive. 
This annus mirabilis has also involved a major conference held on Skye.  
The current show is unusual in that if contains some images of women painted between 1962-7. 
But very soon these sensuous female figures were subsumed in abstractions of mist and cloud, rain and wind, emerging through gray veils or glimpsed as they recede into Skye's watery pools of light. 
The catalogue brochure accompanying this show is particularly helpful. 
near the studio, Mallaig
I first met Jon in 1981 or 82 when he had a big show at the Talbot Rice Gallery during the Edinburgh Festival. Last year for the first time I eventually went to Skye   in search of the places Jon had lived and painted. 
To experience the vast ocean and the ever changing light on the exact views that he has spent so long absorbing and recreating on canvas.
Of course I was hugely helped by Magda's detailed notes on how to find his various studios and locations. I even found the harsh, desolate steep hillside, (see below) where he first located, overlooking the harbour.
  Kelvingrove Art Gallery, and Paisley too, have exhibited his paintings this year. 
Above is the view from his studio.   Schueler was very fond of Scotland in general, loved the landscape and was passionate about its skies! 
The many shows there this year vouch for his secure place in his adopted home. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

PICASSO's PICASSOS, Gagosian Gallery, Madison Ave, New York

FAMILY PICTURES? 
We all have them. But what if you are a Picasso descendant?  What to do if your grandfather was PICASSO??
1938 detail of Maya + toys
MAYA Ruiz-Picasso is Picasso's daughter, one of his 4 children. She was born in 1935 to his iconic muse, Marie-THERESE Walter. In turn Maya's daughter,  art historian Diana Widmaier Picasso, is now an active curator, for her grandfather's work at Gagosian and at art fairs like Basel Miami.  
 Picasso & Maya 
This exhibition, A SELECTION from the Collection of MAYA, covers 40 years from 1931-1971. These pictures, still in the family, provide an intimate, personal look at the famous family, as portrayed by this demanding, egoistic genius of a father. 
It presents a wide range of styles and periods. 
Now aged 81, Maya continues to live among her favourite pictures. She has already donated many works to museums over the years including the Picasso Museum in Paris, but keeps these for herself. 
Her mother MARIE-THERESE was a young blonde beauty, only 17 when they met. He was 45 and still lived with his first wife Olga and their son Paulo. Several portraits capture her joie de vivre. Marie & her red Beret 1937 painted when Maya was 2 is especially jaunty. 
The earliest is a profile of her in grey dated 1931, while Le Baiser a voracious, angry kiss, also 1931 dates from the years when their affair was carried on in secret. 

Picasso was quite happy with his arrangement and even moved Marie-Therese into a flat in the same street as his home. 
Maria Therese 
Things went well - Picasso bought his castle, where Marie-Therese visited to pose, until she became pregnant and a neighbo told Olga, where upon Olga left him.  
 Maria-Therese with Garland gives us the young pretty, bright, blonde haired model, the detail of her hair involving pencil among the paint. A large pencil drawing on ply, shows a family composition grouped around a squalling baby.




The famous painting from 1938 of Maya as a small child holding her doll and her toy horse is perhaps the star of the show, pattern & vivid colour used to great effect from her shoes to her pigtails. Maya is shown again in 1938 aged 3 in a check apron.  
Picasso's 9 year liason with Marie-Therese lasted from 1927-1936 when he moved on to his next mistress, falling in love with the artist Dora Maar. 
Picasso continued to support Marie-Therese but they never married.  She committed suicide in 1977 4 years after Picasso's death. 
Picasso's pictures inspired by Maar are of a darker mein, with her often shown in tears, as the weeping woman. This ended in 1943. Picasso bought her a house in Menerbes in Provence, where she lived alone. 
The painting PALOMA with Tadpoles (Tetards) from 1954 was painted when Paloma, Picasso's youngest daughter was 4 or 5 . It is the most endearing of all these family paintings.  Her mother was Francoise  Gilot, whom he met in 1944 when she was 21 and he 61. 

They lived together for a decade. The sole sculpture here shows the pregnant Gilot.  
By 1954 Picasso was in another relationship, which lasted the rest of his life. Jacqueline in a hat 1961 shows his last love. He did 400 paintings of her, and she remains the most featured of women. 
The only ugly child here is El Bobo 1959, a contorted pix of a street urchin cooking eggs inspired by the Spanish old master Murillo.   
The Gagosian shop has been turned over to a plethora of Picasso stuff - books, ceramics, photographs etc etc. All a bit too commercial.