Showing posts with label Self-portrait. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self-portrait. Show all posts

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Secret

 “I want to be inside your darkest everything.” -Frida Kahlo

The idea for making a painting of Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 6 July 1907 Р13 July 1954) came to me after I watched the movie of her life; simply called Frida. Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek played Frida and the movie is brisk, engaging and colorful. I watched it at home with my wife Amy Córdova.

Amy and I recently visited Mexico City and went to places that Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera left an indelible mark upon. Rivera has immense murals in various places in the city. Kahlo’s family home is now a museum.

One of the highlights for us was visiting Museo De Arte Moderno, and seeing a seminal work by Kahlo, called The Two Fridas. It is a big painting—almost six feet square. To stand in front of it is almost breathtaking. Kahlo’s fame grew rapidly after the 1960’s and now this artwork is iconic.

I researched Frida’s work and chose a painting she made early in her life, just before her terrible accident that left her crippled and in pain. It is called Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress. She made it in 1926 when nineteen years old. I copied it exactly and then put in the skeleton, as if embracing her and whispering in her ear, or about to kiss her cheek. It symbolizes death that speaks to her.

Just before she died at the age of 47, she wrote “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”

At the top:
 "The Secret" oil on linen, 24 x 30 inches, by Steven Boone
Limited edition print available. Click here: Frida

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Eager To Be There

Before Amy and I set foot in Madrid, Spain, I was already eager to be there. It is one of the great destination cities of the world for many reasons, but I hungered for the art in its museums.

I grew up in metropolitan areas, especially Washington DC where there is a plethora of world-class museums. Furthermore, my travels have taken me to wonderful art museums around the world. Usually I am in my hometown of Santa Fe, NM. It is an art mecca in its own right, but this is because of living artists that work and exhibit in its galleries. My gallery is in Santa Fe.

There are three fabulous museums in Madrid that are above the others: The Prado Museum, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
We went to all three during our week in Madrid. There are many highlights in each that would take pages to describe.

Center panel

Left panel
Right panel
The Prado Museum is the most famous and has the richest collection of art in Madrid. There are always lines of people outside the doors queued at the ticket booths. We bought our passes online and did not wait long to enter. The first room we went in was devoted to paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, ( Dutch, c. 1450 – 9 August 1516) described as a “hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity's desires and deepest fears." A crowd stood in front of perhaps his most famous work, The Garden of Earthly Delights. We were able to edge our way in front of it and stand mesmerized, studying its mysteries.  The painting is full of curious, magical and meticulously rendered imagery and to me, was worth the price of entry if only to stand in front of it. “The inner centerpiece is flanked by heavenly and hellish imagery. The scenes depicted in the triptych are thought to follow a chronological order: flowing from left-to-right they represent Eden, the garden of earthly delights, and Hell. God appears as the creator of humanity in the left hand wing, while the consequences of humanity's failure to follow his will are shown in the right.” -Wikipedia.

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza is a gem of a museum and incredibly, built upon the collection of one family. When we went, there was an in depth exhibit featuring the work of Max Beckman, one of Germany’s leading 20th-century artists and among those the Nazi’s mocked during the infamous Degenerate Art Exhibition (Munich, 19 July to 30 November 1937). But the knockout that was worth the price of admission was a gem by Rembrandt, Self-portrait wearing a hat and two Chains (ca. 1642 - 1643.) Rembrandt painted numerous self-portraits throughout his long career and this is among his finest. I was impressed by the excellent condition the work is in. Lushly painted in a style that many have copied since but none have achieved, the painting breathes—as though you stand in front of Rembrandt and are in conversation with him.

Another day, from our Madrid downtown apartment, we walked to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It is the “modern” art museum. There, we found one of Picasso’s most famous paintings; Guernica. He painted it in Paris in 1937 in response to a vicious bombardment on a Basque village in northern Spain just prior to the outbreak of WWII. Although the piece is immense, measuring 11 feet high x 25 feet wide (349.3cm × 776.6 cm (137.4 in × 305.5 in), a crowd stood in front. It is absent of color, but profound and absolutely daring—“regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.” — “for Picasso: ‘The women and children make Guernica the image of innocent, defenseless humanity victimized. Also, women and children have often been presented by Picasso as the very perfection of mankind. An assault on women and children is, in Picasso's view, directed at the core of mankind.’ (- See article)

Amy and I felt as though Picasso painted our emotions about conflict and its disastrous result.

While Picasso was living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, one German officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in his apartment, "Did you do that?" Picasso responded, "No, you did."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Whole Picture

Self-Portrait, Berlin 2008. Oil on linen, 24x18 inches.
Lately, I have spent time meditating on my life. It is amazing that our minds hold so much information . . . and we are only able to access bits of it through memory. Why do some episodes stand out more clearly than others? I am depending on long-term memory when I look back at the beginning of my life. The complexity is unfathomable. I imagine that every smell, touch, sound or even ray of light is encoded in my brain, yet I only access a fraction. Before I learned language, I was gathering information from my mother and father and surroundings. Has this formed me into who I am? Of course, my unique biology, what I am genetically, influences the way in which I perceive. I am of a sensitive nature, and learn especially through sensory experience.
So far, I have gone through my memories from birth to the beginning of college. I am trying to see who I am by looking at the movie of my life . . . and watching myself from the beginning. I don't want to censor anything either . . . but see the whole picture as it has emerged. I am an artist, and as I see the artwork that has been created thus far, I can take my brush in hand, and then more confidently paint the future as it is meant to be.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Art Of Portraits

When I had the idea to use The Steven Boone Gallery for a portrait exhibit, I almost simultaneously thought of Geoffrey Laurence as a possible curator. Geoff is the quintessential realist painter.and he has been around the block many times. He is talented, and so knowledgeable about art and painting techniques, that he is sought after as a highly respected instructor.

When I asked Geoffrey to consider curating a show of portraits, he was honored and thrilled. That was over four months ago, and now, in barely two weeks, our show, called HEADS UP, The Art Of Portraits, is about to commence. Geoff has gathered twenty-five highly respected artists and over sixty works of art.

I have been amazed at how much work our gallery has put forth, and also astonished how much effort Geoffrey has dedicated. As I write this article, Geoff is busy with a scale model he built of the gallery, and is placing small-scale prints of all the artwork in the model, to visualize the best presentation for exhibition.

From the start, we have planned, selected artists, communicated with them, selected art, made graphic art for advertising, written promotions, made contracts . . . the list goes on, and continues, probably until the hour of the show opening.

In the end, this will be a fantastic show, and leave its mark on the consciousness of Santa Fe.

To see all the artwork, click here: HEADS UP

Sunday, February 12, 2012


2012, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches
Self-Portrait, 2007
Many famous artists have made self-portraits. Vincent VanGogh (Dutch, 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) made 22 in just two years. The Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo  (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) produced over fifty. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when scholars began to study Rembrandt Van Rijn (Dutch, 15 July 1606[1] – 4 October 1669), they were surprised to discover that he had painted himself on at least forty occasions, and had etched himself thirty-one times, and made a handful of drawings.
Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

I love to look at self-portraits. They are always inquisitive, and take a bit of boldness. After all, how many people can look at themselves in the mirror for hours—even days on end. It can be daunting, looking at oneself so closely and honestly. My first attempt was when I was a student at The Maryland Institute, College of Art, and my painting class was given the assignment to do a self-portrait. I spent sixty hours trying to get it right before I finally succeeded.
Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat 1887

The history of mirrors is a fun subject, and is the outcome of man’s craving to see himself, and know how he looks on the outside. In early times, crude mirrors were made of flattened, polished metal that showed reflections. Then, in Venice, Italy, during the 16th century, a method of backing a plate of flat glass with a thin sheet of reflecting metal came into widespread production. The invention was so fantastic and special, that it was a closely guarded secret.

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait-1660

In the field of photography, the contemporary artist Cindy Sherman (American, born January 19, 1954) is famous for her series of self-portraits. In them, she assumes a wide range of roles. Her prints are among the highest paid for photographs.

Cindy Sherman

This past week, I found a few self-portraits in my studio that were done within the past five years. I have re-worked them, even though my face has changes somewhat.
Wikipedia has a great article including plenty of pictures about self-portraits:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bloom Where You Are Planted

At times in my present nomadic existence, I wonder, who am I now that I do not have a home? The thought might come as I am standing in a shopping line, and people around me are speaking in a language I do not entirely understand, and I realize I have no one but myself to turn to, or while on a bus as it is taking me somewhere in a city half a world away from my native land. Always, the answer comes back to me; I am comfortable in my own skin, and at home wherever I am. During my crazy teen-aged years, during the hippie revolution, I remember reading a slogan that a flower child had painted on a wall, and it has stayed in my consciousness all these years: Bloom where you are planted.

The combination of Frederique’s artistic encouragement and Granada’s creative atmosphere and bravado has resulted in my reaching for a new space in my painting. I am painting closer to my heart, and not thinking of marketability. My self-portrait came out with an edge to it: blurred borders, three hands, and an intense gaze. I have made three other paintings as well, and they all are different from my normal approach when I am painting landscapes.

As usual, I am walking a great deal. Thank God for my Clark shoes, which are holding up under brutal exercise from walking the streets and exploring. I remain intrigued by the graffiti I see splashed everywhere on the walls in Granada. The textures too, are like abstract paintings. I am amassing quite a collection of photographic images. So much, that my hard drive is becoming crowded. I have to burn pictures onto DVD’s for backup and then destroy most of them from off of my computer as I go along.

Frederique is coming to visit. We have such wonderful dialogue and I welcome her presence and willingness to share moments with a nomad, living in THE DREAM.