Loving a new book I bought while in Chicago recently, about Gustav Klimt. One of his paintings just sold at auction for $40.4 million, far exceeding the estimate of $25 million. A portrait of his sold for $135 million in 2006 and now hangs (yay!) in a gallery a 30-minute drive from my home in Manhattan’s Neue Galerie.
When I met my husband he was living in Brooklyn, in a brownstone, with a huge Klimt poster of The Kiss, over his bed. Oooh, I thought. Good signs: romantic, likes art, likes Klimt!
Klimt was one of the Viennese Secessionists, along with Egon Schiele, another of my favorites — who also died at a horribly young age (28, three days after the death of his wife), from the same influenza epidemic of 1918.
Schiele was a protege of Klimt and his work considered scandalous.
Odilon Redon worked in several media, one of them pastel, and his still lifes of flowers are some of my favorites.
I recently saw a show of Lyonel Feininger at the Whitney. Amazing! His early drawings, from 1909 to 1912, were an absolute revelation and prompted me to rush back to the art supply store and stock up on drawing pens. They’re playful, detailed, like a mini Tim Burton or Edward Gorey…and 100 years old.
I grew up, luckily, in a home filled with original art: paintings, sculpture, etchings, engravings, everything from Eskimo prints and soapstone owls to Japanese masks and scrolls. My father (a retired film-maker) himself works as an artist, well, in a variety of media: silver, etching, lithography, oils, so a life surrounded by visual beauty — which we made and owned — seemed completely normal to me.
One of our favorite wedding gifts is from a friend who’s a talented artist, three drawings of knots (!) Whenever I travel, I pack my pencils and watercolors and sketchbook, and some of my favorite images are those I drew: a pint of Guinness in an Irish pub, a shop in Bangkok, a cob of corn I painted in a class in Mexico City.
When I was revising my new book, I took a three-hour class every Friday morning, working with colored pencils and a tough teacher. It was fascinating to see what my fellow students produced. One, a subdued suburban matron, drew huge, gorgeous flowers bursting off the edges of the paper. I, the chatty, feisty girl, drew small, tight images. Go figure!
After each class, focused on capturing one object for all that time, I returned to my computer totally refreshed and happy, re-energized by one form of creativity to dip into the well of another.
If I don’t look carefully at something really beautiful every day (and it’s often in nature), I feel bereft.
Who are some of the artists whose work you love and why?