The Crucifix’s Motley Crew

motleybluesArchibald Motley’s most famous paintings jump and jive, then they wail. You might have seen Blues (1929) or Hot Rhythm (1961). There are a lot of people moving around on those two canvases.

There is music. There are fabulous outfits. The word “commotion” comes to mind when you look at a painting by the mature Motley (a retrospective of his work is currently on display at LACMA in Los Angeles).

Motley studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, he received a Guggenheim Grant to go to Paris. This was in the late 1920s. Looking at a painting like Hot Rhythm, you can see that Motley picked up lessons in composition by studying everyone from Rubens to Picasso.

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The Poetics of Painting

Part Four: Tradition
Guest Post

By Daniel Siedell

Today’s post concludes our occasional series on “The Poetics of Painting.”

While touring an exhibition of Frank Stella’s paintings in 1970, critic Rosalind Krauss asked the exhibition’s organizer, fellow critic Michael Fried, why Stella, a Minimalist, felt compelled to paint stripes, again and again.

Fried responded with this story: When Stella was a student at Princeton, he would take the train into Manhattan and go to the Met where he would sit for hours in front of the canvases of the Spanish master Diego Velázquez (1599-1660). Stella wanted more than anything else to paint like Velázquez. But he knew he couldn’t, so he returned to his studio, and painted stripes.  [Read more...]


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