Sunday, January 27, 2008

To convey the feeling of the dying sunflower

I've had an itch ever since Alice lent me Lawrence Weschler's excellent collection of brief biographic articles, A Wanderer in The Perfect City. The opening piece is the nearly book-length true story of Harold Shapinsky, an eccentric and previously unknown abstract expressionist painter toiling away in obscurity in New York. Shapinsky is discovered by an even more remarkable character, Akumal Ramachander, an English professor from India, who makes it his mission to force a revision of the canon to include Shapinsky.

Through the story, art professionals are repeatedly blown away by seeing Shapinsky's work, and as I read, I felt sorry that the book didn't include a few pictures of his work. So I finally called some up online. Here are four:

I think I can see what's fun and exciting about them, but they're not what I was hoping for when reading of the unleashed glory of Shapinsky's talent.

All of this is a lead-in to my real topic: Joan Mitchell. Wikipedia nutshell: born in 1925, lived most of her adult life in France, died in 1992, painted in the "second generation" of abstract expressionists; wanted her paintings "to convey the feeling of the dying sunflower."

I found her paintings on some of the same web pages as Shapinsky's, and I like her stuff much more. Here's a bunch of it, ordered with no regard to date and stripped of titles.

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