Saturday, August 8, 2009
C. S. Price ~ The Willow Tree
When you walk into the gallery where C. S. Price's The Willow Tree hangs you'll find it next to Raymond Jonson's City Perspectives (image on left below). Completed in 1932 Jonson had graduated from the art museum's school and just returned from a trip to New York. It has elements of cubism and futurism and shows a fascination with the Industrial Age. Price's painting of The Willow Tree was done after he had moved to Monterey, California. He was no longer working on the ranch lands of the Western United States and Canada where he had spent the majority of the first thirty years of his life. Unlike Jonson Price had only one year of formal art training in Saint Louis, but had resolved after that year to spend the rest of his life as an artist. Since the two paintings share a corner of the gallery, you can think about the two views of the world, the two approaches to art. One thing I always do is find the yellows, lavendars,greens and blues in both pieces, what they share in common. The brushstrokes are different also. Jonson's are invisible to the eye while Price's have a layering - you can almost feel the strokes as he put the paint on the canvas. Price painted The Willow Tree after he had seen the works of Derain and Matisse. He left the very realistic style he had used when he was sketching while working as a cowhand and then later as an illustrator for magazines. His journey in abstraction will take him further until there is no representation is some of his later paintings.
Explore the gallery where these two paintings hang and you'll find another painting to compare and contrast with Price's. Bror Nordfeldt painted his Willow Tree in 1931 (image on the right below) – a landscape like Price's but from a less intimate perspective. Look for a willow tree, as well as a number of other different varieties of trees. Not many of us would be able to identify that one on the left as a willow either but the choice of title allows a person to think about willows and trees in general. It also gives us the opportunity to think about what were these artists thinking about when they titled their paintings.