Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gregory Grenon - Alfred Maurer Wishes He Had Known You

Alfred Maurer (remember him from week 7) caught up with me at the Museum of Modern Art yesterday. Thousands of people were there since it was a Monday and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as many other museums are closed on Monday. As we walked through the galleries, it seemed as if half of Europe and everyone else who wanted to escape the rain was there. Maurer appeared much as Joan Kirsch, a docent from the Portland Art Museum, did on MoMA's sixth floor outside the Martin Kippenberger exhibit. 

Color and a different style of painting that's what Maurer likes about Gregory Grenon. He's been reading about Grenon all week. He's fascinated with the women and even more intrigued with the concept of painting on glass -- "If only I had thought to do this." He also understands Amy's comment about perhaps not wanting her portrait painted by Grenon. A number of Maurer's sitters were curious about how they could possibly look like what he and other modernists created from their beautiful faces (One of Maurer's portraits is on the left.). It took a special person to sit for Modigliani, Giacometti or Picasso. Even artists such as John Singer Sargeant who were known for their portraits were not immune from criticism when the final products might not have all of the features "air brushed". Lucien Freud (mentioned in week 5) paints his subjects with all of their blemishes as well as insights into who they are. So much so that Bernard Breslauer secretly destroyed the portrait Freud did of him because his double chin was predominant. Maurer continued to chuckle when he thought about Sir Winston Churchill's widow, Clementine, burning Graham Sutherland's portrait of her husband because she disliked it so much. Perhaps this is the reason John Singer Sargeant grew to dislike portrait painting so much. He is known to have said:  "Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend." "I hate to paint portraits!  I hope never to paint another portrait in my life." 

Maurer decided he wanted to watch me search on the internet and so tagged along while I worked on this post. Although he loves all of Grenon's women, he asked that I use "Making Me Think", today's lead image. Much like most of Grenon's other paintings we have no idea of the identity of this man. We do know he is relatively unique though since almost all of the images of Grenon's work available on the internet are of women. There are a few animals, but the number totals less than five. Maurer also asked that I include a link to an OPB video of Grenon. Oregon Art Beat provides more insight into Grenon and how he paints. Towards the end of the video there's a short sequence showing Grenon finishing a painting so we can see a little of his technique in action. Maurer just wishes he had known Grenon. Click here to watch the video.

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