Fall 2013 Madonna and Angels

A break in the cycle, like taking a walk in the midst of writing a finals paper: this is what the end of summer was for me. Back in the swing of things, I crank out watercolor and gouache paintings which I tear or cut apart and collage back together. Subject matter varies but many are inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collections.  

 Why Fear When I Am Here?
Watercolor, goauche, pencil, collage on paper
10" x 8"  October 2013
Collection of Matthew Addison

 This is a portrait of Satya Sai Baba, a spiritual teacher in India. He asks his students to live by the five human values (think: five fingers on a hand) of Love, Truth, Peace, Non Violence and Right Conduct. Here is an example of one of Baba's teachings: "Perform your work as actors would in a play, keeping your identity separate and not getting too attached to your role. Remember that the whole thing is just a play and the Lord has assigned you a part. Act well your part; there all your duty ends. He designed the play and He enjoys it."

 "ZoĆ« mou sas agapo"
Watercolor, goauche, pencil, collage on paper
20" x 20"  October 2013

The title of this piece comes from the poem "Maid of Athens, Ere We Part," written in 1810 by George Gordon, aka Lord Byron, about a girl he loved in Athens. Terribly unfamiliar with classic poetry, I first learned of this poem while working in the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Zoe, Maid of Athens," in addition to Cameron's portraits of her nieces and Alice Liddell (Lewis Carroll's muse for "Alice and Wonderland"), is one of my favorite prints in the show. The title led me to Lord Byron's poem which is incorporated into the piece, along with a poem by Rumi. The round shape is based on Italian Renaissance tondo paintings.

Watercolor, goauche, pencil, collage on paper
17" x 12"  October 2013
collection of the Gardner family

The angels and figures for this piece derive from various Italian Renaissance painters featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some of my favorite angels line the ceiling of the nativity manger in Giotto di Bondone's "Adoration of the Magi" (c.1320). Expressive and full-bodied, the angels can almost be touched by the human hand. Searching on the Met's online collection, I came across Taddeo Gaddi's "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints" (c.1340), which may be mislabeled as it has the same title and acquisition number as another "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints" which I regularly see in the galleries. What gives? The image of Jesus crowning his mother comes from the aforementioned Gaddi.

I have always adored early Florentine Renaissance depictions of the Virgin, angels, saints, baby Jesus and the like. I am also drawn to the more secular quatrocento portraits painted by heavy-hitters such as Cosimo Rosselli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Biagio D'Antonio and Fra Filippo Lippi. The peacock is from a painting depicting the life of John the Baptist by the Netherlandish painter Bernard van Orley

The image of arms cradling a woman's heart is my own.

I Putti
Watercolor, goauche, pencil, collage on paper
15" x 20"  October 2013

Putti are mischievous! These beautiful bad babies fly in from Flemish artist Anthony Van Dyck's Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo (1624). According to the label, Saint Rosalie was a 12th century saint whose bones were opportunely discovered when a plague hit the city of Palermo in 1624. Van Dyck, who was traveling in Palermo at the time of the quarantine, painted the famous saint over a superb self-portrait. Van Dyck's putti remind me of Michelangelo's -  muscular, expressive, sublime. The floral designs come from a Moroccan wedding shawl found in the Islamic Wing.

Baba, Angels and Madonna (preliminary state 1)
Watercolor and goauche on paper
apx. 30" x 22" November 2013

States of progress: Lately my art-making process has been painting from drawings or images online, cutting the images and using collage to piece them back together. The following images document the life cycle of these pieces from the initial watercolor painting, to the first cutting, collage and eventually, to the finished piece. As of yet, these pieces are not complete, but I thought it would be interesting to track the progression of my artwork through photographs.

 Angels (preliminary state 1)
Watercolor and goauche on paper
18" x 18"  November 2013

 Sai Baba and Madonna (preliminary state)
Watercolor and goauche on paper
apx. 18" x 18" November 2013

 Studio Shot November 2013

Watercolor and goauche on paper
18" x 18"  November 2013

 Baba, Madonna and Child
Watercolor, goauche and collage on paper
13" x 15"  November 2013

The image of Mary and Child derives from
the great Netherlandish painter Gerard David's
 Rest on the Flight into Egypt (ca. 1512-15).

   Angels and Shapes
Watercolor and goauche on paper
14" x 18"  November 2013 

These angels in this painting are inspired by Spinello Aretino's

   The Annunciation
Watercolor and goauche on paper
13" x 21"  November 2013

This piece combines imagery from a charming little piece called The Annunciation by a South German Bavarian artist working in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, with William Blake's The Angel Appearing to Zacharias (1799-1800). Both pieces are in the Met's collection but the Blake piece has only recently been displayed in the galleries. Embarrassingly unfamiliar with Blake, I hope to better acquaint myself with his work, which seems to touch upon my own sensibility.

Archangel Gabriel (preliminary state)
Watercolor and goauche on paper
13" x 9"  November 2013 

Another rendition of the angel from William Blake's 

The following images are from Angels and Demons in Art by Rosa Giorgi 
(The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2003).

 Based on Paradise by Giusto de' Menabuoi (1375-76, Padua)
Watercolor and gouache on paper
12" x 12" November 2013

 Based on Ascent to the Empyrean by Hieronymus Bosch (1500-1504, Venice)
Watercolor and gouache on paper
28" x 12" November 2013

Based on Madonna and Child by Andrea Mantegna (1485, Milan)
Watercolor, gouache, pencil, oil pastel and collage on paper
18" x 13" November 2013

 Healing Myself (with Angels)
Watercolor, goauche, oil pastel and collage on paper
14" x 15" November 2013


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