City – 29 December 2010

City 29 December 2010 - watercolor and India Ink on paper - 6"x4"

I really like this one! I think it’s actually something kinda new for me. I’ve done lots of these urban scenes as sort of backdrops for portraits (examples here and here)… and I got it in my head that I should just try to do a city scene. I usually try to use at least a rough perspective – to make the background cityscape somewhat coherent… but lately I’ve been less invested in making the city make complete sense – probably starting with this earlier piece. Another way of putting that is that I’ve started to experiment in tweaking and distorting the city, in a similar way that I’ve worked to tweak and distort faces and figures.

Apocalyptic Landscape - painting by Ludwig Meidner, 1913 - click for larger image at LACMA website

It’s inspired by a half-zillion expressionist landscapes… which end up looking a bit cubist and quite chaotic – with no real perspective, hence the city apears to be a sort of jumble – almost as if an earthquake is occurring. The first example of these that comes to mind is Ludwig Meidner’s Apocalyptic Landscape – painted in 1913 in Germany. It’s an image I’ve seen more than a hundred times, because it’s at the nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Meidner’s is a good piece, but not necessarily my favorite of the genre.

Death of Poet Walter Rheiner - painting by Conrad Felixmüller, 1925 - click for larger image at imageshack.us

There are lots and lots of others – by George GroszLyonel Feininger (below), Conrad Felixmüller (right), Otto Dix, Max BeckmannChaim Soutine, even Egon Schiele and James Ensor… and the mysterious/funky perspective thing is done brilliantly by Giorgio de Chirico.

These are all great artists whose works I draw inspiration from -and whose success I aspire to.  Follow each of those links to cityscape images.

So it’s not as if I invented something terribly new… just a slightly new direction for me… just bringing something that was in the background into the foreground… but it’s the first time I’ve done it, and I think it works, and it’s something I will play with more. I am certainly a fan of, a student of cities and how they work and don’t – and how to make them healthier and more livable.

Gaberndorf ii - painting by Lyonel Feininger, 1924 - click to link to larger image at Wikipedia

My image also takes a lot from my neighborhood: Los Angeles Eco-Village, in Koreatown, Los Angeles. The main yellow building resembles the main Los Angeles Eco-Village building (atop the masthead here) at 117 Bimini Place, with the blue building resembling one of the fourplexes across the street – on White House Place. The large truck between them and the AUTO store area also features in the eco-village neighborhood.

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One response to “City – 29 December 2010

  1. Joe,
    If you have not already seen the show check out the Siquero’s landscapes at MOLAA in Long Beach.

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