Monday, January 24, 2011

Artist Birthdays in January

 There are a whole slew, in fact. This post features mini-tributes to Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and Barbara Hepworth.

Robert Motherwell (January 24, 1915 – July 16, 1991) was an American abstract expressionist painter and printmaker

Motherwell in his studio

Robert Motherwell, 
Elegy to the Spanish Republic (Basque Elegy)
Oil on canvas 82 ¼ x 138 inches, Private Collection.
Location: 2nd floor, JCMCA Portland Art Museum

Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE (10 January 1903 – 20 May 1975) was an English sculptor.

Photo from NewArtCentre 
(see link below)

Jackson Pollock
(January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956) 
American abstract expressionist

 Photo by Martha Holmes

 Sources linked for this post:


  1. I am not familiar with Motherwell. I must investigate. As for Babara Hepworth I spent a pleasant number of minutes walking around one of her larger sculptures today at an exhibition of modern British sculpture. I loved how the work changed as you moved round it.

  2. Hey Pagan Sphinx, I'm thoroughly captivated here, listening to Dazed and Confused as I wander your most intriguing blog. I've never seen that movie Pollock with Ed Harris but I'm putting it on my list. these photos of him at work are rather awesome, no? I'm loving that you pay tribute to artist's born in January and artists in general. Elegy to the Spanish Republic is, well, WOW. The first thing that comes to mind is how phallic I find it, but I wonder if I'm way off base with that? well, that's what's so great about art. it can mean anything to anyone. I especially like your post on Georgia, and I really like this blog. and thanks for visiting my blog, I appreciate honest, real feedback.

  3. Jams! Today?? Wow. Wish I had been there! Did you take any snapshots?

    Miss Becky. Where have you been all this time! I'm so glad to meet you. I can tell we are like-minded. You have made my day. Yes on phalic (to me everything is these days) and Hepworth decidedly feminine. That was a good accident. A bit of blogging alchemy, if you will. :-)
    Thank you. Again.

  4. Sadly not Sphinx photography is banned at the Royal Academy

  5. I'm shocked that the Art Nazis allow that Motherwell to be exhibited! I mean, from left to right, it's ass, ball, dick and other ball... positively obscene!!


    Really, the value to me of all this is that it's so far beyond me, which is humbling and worth being cognizant of.

    Although I really do appreciate the Dame Hepworth works - their lines are elegant and comforting to me.

  6. I like all three of these artists, though I can't spend too much time with a Pollock. They're interesting, but they don't hold my attention. I like Hepworth in ways similar to the ways I like Henry Moore.

    But Motherwell... Regardless of the phallic shapes...

    I have spent a lot of time (and walked an hour or more just to spend more time) in front of the very large Motherwell in the modern wing of the National Gallery on the Mall in Washington DC. The shapes will not simply inhabit that painting. They won't stay still, and they are larger than what you can see. Morris Louis' paintings do that to me, as well. We have a wonderful example of one of his poured works in the Ackland, a small but exceptional collection connected to UNC-CH, my alma mater, and close enough that I can visit often. In both cases I have stood for long moments in front of these paintings and tried to figure out how the simple non-representational shapes manage to clearly be about things larger than the canvases that attempt to hold portions of them. One day as I stood in front of the Louis I was quite certain how many tens of feet taller than the canvas the shape was that he had captured in the negative space. It would never have fit in the building, much less on that canvas. I have never had any such certainty about the Motherwell - just chills up my spine and feelings similar to those I get seeing a very powerful animal up close and controlled by a cage.

  7. I love the photographs that you have chosen, today, as they show the work and the artist working. I find that this takes me into what they were creating and gives me the sense of their 'doing' as opposed to just viewing the work. the combination is intriguing - and I had never a photograph of Barbara Hepworth.

    Great reflections.

  8. I just love Barbara Hepworths Garden in St Ives Cornwall, now we have visited there twice.I could spend hours in there.

  9. I love love love the Abstract Expressionists. I feel an affinity to them, for some reason.

    One of my favorite books of all time is a fictional account of the movement, and I've read it so many times the pages are falling out. 'Bluebeard' is not Vonnegut's most notable work, but I've loved it since I first bought it 25 years ago and re-read it at least once a year.

    And Steve's description of the Motherwell? DC is only a nine-hour drive...might have to make that trip.

  10. CR - I can't ignore the phallic shapes, how could one? But what I really like about the particular painting I posted by Motherwell are those bands of spaces that are painted blue and green. My eye keeps going back to them.

    Steeeeeeeeeeve! Commenter extraordinaire. I see what you mean about the shapes moving around! I'm so excited you said that because I've experienced it but I for whatever reason, didn't really have time to think about it with words. Though I don't believe I've seen this particular Motherwell, the large, black phallic shapes seem to fuzz out for me and my eye doesn't want to look at them anymore, in favor of the bands with the blue and green and black. Does that make sense?

    You know, I've never been to the National Gallery in DC and it sooooooooo on my list of places to go. I could go to DC and do nothing for two days but hang out in the museum, eat and sleep.

    Pollock doesn't do much for me either and this segues into my response to Aguja...

    Aguja: that is precisely what I DO appreciate about Pollock - literally the way he worked. The footage of him splashing paint is amazing and even in the movie where Ed Harris portrays Pollock, it is mesmerizing to watch; absolutely fascinating. Yet the end result does just about nothing for me.

    mac: have I seen those photos on your blog? I'll have to scour!

    Elliott - I should read Bluebeard, then! I have a thing or two to say about Vonnegut, whom I read as a teen and early 20-something. I actually met him once, as well as his brother Bernard, who was a scientist - an expert on thunder.

    As far as visiting DC - you should do it! :-)

  11. Elliott, if you do make that drive do not miss the Matisse paper cuts in that same gallery. Nor the Calder mobiles and stabiles in a small gallery all to themselves in the back of the back of the back... Sit for a while there (on the floor if necessary) and watch the changing shadows of the wire mobiles on the walls. These are my regular pilgrimages when I get a moment on the Mall in DC.

    Dear Pagan - thanks again for posting these (and all your posts). You make it so easy to get my art fix - and to see things I have not seen before, even by familiar artists.

  12. Yet another wonderful collection and amazing all three have January birthdays. Thanks for helping me keep my eyes wide open.

  13. I love the Motherwell painting. I haven't seen anything by that artist before.


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