Saturday, November 21, 2009

Florine Stettheimer ~ Portrait of My Teacher

Yesterday's post was to honor Jeanne-Claude, wife and partner to Christo and all of their mutual works. Those works are not housed in museums but in the collective memory of us all and to some extent so is the work of Florine Stettheimer. Unlike Jeanne-Claude whose work will always remain in the memories of those who saw it on site or are looking at in print or more probably on-line, some of Stettheimer's works are hung in museums. This was not always the case. Born into a family of money and privilege, Stettheimher pursued art, studied art in Europe and upon her return to the United States at the outbreak of World War I, mounted a solo exhibition that did not meet with financial or critical favor. Stung by rejection, you might imagine that she would have put away her brushes and gone to her room, but no she continued to paint, changed her style – painting in a unique modern and some would say feminine motif and only showing in select small group exhibitions. Her instructions upon her death were for her heirs and assigns to destroy her ouevre. Fortunately for all of us they ignored that instruction. As a result the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as countless other museums have any number of Stettheimers on exhibit.

Stettheimer paints with bright full colors as you can see in Portrait of My Teacher, Fraulein Sophie von Prieser. She has a calligraphic use of line that shows itself in this painting with the inclusion of Fraulein Preiser's name in the fence. Looking closer at the painting and you'll see a portrait of Stettheimer as a young girl above the mantel, sitting next to a Hellenic bust. That bust comes down through the ages looks timeless compared to the aged look of Fraulein Prieser. And on the small table is a framed portrait that some say is Stettheimer herself. The colors in the painting range from deep blues and greens to bright reds oranges and yellows. Stettheimer paints an optimistic view in 1929 that continued through the Great Depression and on into WW II. She died in 1944 before the end of the great conflict. Her paintings live on though and are the favorites of many including Matthew Stadler who wrote about her in the online zine Doppelganger back in 2006.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Florine's perspective is more important than the representational it is unique and can teach as a artifact, architects, illustrators, graphics, product design, etc...