In conjunction with recently opened Karel Appel: A Gesture of Color, Marketing and Communications Intern Olivia Bensimon responds to one of the works of art featured in the exhibition.
Karel Appel, Floating like the Wind, 1975. Oil on canvas, 78 3/4 x 102 3/4 in. Private Collection
What struck me first when I saw this painting was how much it reminded me of two people bickering. The yellow Pac-Man-like shape on the right has its mouth open, as if it was yelling, whereas the red Pac-Man-like shape on the left seems scared or disgruntled. The surrounding shapes might be identified as legs and arms, but I see these “faces” as the focal point. Letting my mind wander, I begin to imagine a more full story for these two characters: the red shape has been taking a nap in some sort of suit, with a blue shirt, white pants, and black shoes. The yellow shape walks in to see the the other lounging around and begins to yell and shake its arms above its head. That’s when the red shape wakes up, confused and also very sleepy.
The title of this painting, Floating like the Wind, could be interpreted in many different ways, but what comes to my mind is that the emotions articulated in the painting are floating like the wind—the dark blue representing sleepiness, the black and red pouring out of the yellow shape’s mouth representing anger and frustration.
Olivia Bensimon, Marketing & Communications Intern
William Merritt Chase, The Big Bayberry Bush, c. 1895. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 33 1/8 in. Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, Littlejohn Collection
A true plein-air artist, William Merritt Chase painted right out “under the sky,” working directly on the canvas to capture his immediate impressions of the area surrounding his home in Shinnecock Hills, where he taught annually from 1891 to 1902. Completed about midway through his Shinnecock years, The Big Bayberry Bush is a singular example of how Chase distilled “the harmony which I see in nature.” With an eye for color and spatial arrangement, Chase positions his three eldest daughters in bright white frocks with colored accessories playing near a bayberry bush in a flat, open terrain of brush and sand dunes near their summer home. Their varying poses and placements in the scene create a dynamic, triangular movement that leads the viewer’s eye in a zig-zag line from the foreground to the distant Stanford White-designed shingle-style home on the distant horizon before resting on the serene blue sky above. The warm burnt umber tones against the cool grays and pale azure sky suggest the passing of summer into early autumn. A critic later praised the work for “its admirable atmospheric effect, and for the deft description of summer sunshine.”
Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator
Karel Appel, Flower Still Life, 2004. Photo: Liza Strelka
Manager of Exhibitions Liza Strelka snapped these photos during the installation of Karel Appel: A Gesture of Color, opening this Saturday.
Karel Appel, Flower Still Life (detail), 2004. Photo: Liza Strelka
Karel Appel, Roman Infantryman, 2000. Found objects and oil on wood, 78 x 41 x 59 in. Gift of the Karel Appel Foundation, 2016. Photo: Liza Strelka