Monday, June 22, 2015

Painters on the Beat Street

Greenwich Village, 1958.

After last week’s post, you’re all asking me who the BEAT painters are, because all I talked about was Chagall. So who do I see when I’m at a gallery? Who do I take Ruby to see?

1.       Elaine de Kooning - my favorite of hers is called Sunday Afternoon. It’s an abstract, based on a bullfight in Juarez Mexico. Check it out!

 2.      Willem de Kooningher husband, who gets all the attention. His most famous painting is called Woman. I like that she doesn’t look pretty or shy or ideal – and you have to take her measure and take stock of her.

 3.      Phillip Gustonand his painting Zone inspired mine called “Life” (which Ruby talks about in The Beat on Ruby’s Street). Zone (1953-54) It’s abstract, small brush strokes, layered but clean. It draws you in and says what it has to say. Quickly.

 4.      Hans HofmanI like The Wind because it seems so simple – but it captures the feeling you get completely, standing in the wind! The drips on the painting are like Jackson Pollock but… who inspired whom?

 5.      Barnet Newman – and his painting The Wild is, I don’t know, just fun? It’s eight feel high and one and half inches wide! Focusing on the zip. Ruby asked me, what does it mean?” And I say, it’s art, honey. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

 6.      Jackson Pollock’s painting Blue Poles has shoe pieces and footprints and shards of glass – and what I love about it is that it feels like he threw all these pieces up in the air and let them come down into his painting. Though of course, he worked hours and hours on it, and yet you don’t realize that. Because it’s “artful” – in the best of all possible ways.

7.   Lee Krasner (married to Jackson, but a great painter in her own right); Milkweed makes you think of the monarch butterflies feeding on milkweed, and it has scraps of Krasner’s earlier work under a new layer of oil. It’s nature, abstracted, which is more of how you feel nature, rather than see it.

I like that.

8. Mark Rothko – what don’t I like about Rothko? But right now I’m crazy about Four Darks in Red, four rectangles in all my favorite shades. Stare at it long enough and you’ll have a religious experience. I dare you.

9. Clyfford Still’s 1957D is an abstract of black and yellow. That was last year for me – a year of contrasts. It could almost be a mural – and on any given day, I can tell my mood by whether I’m drawn to the yellow or the black.

To learn more about all these artists and more, visit