Mark Tucker : Journal

Art History: Can-Opener for the Mind

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 20, 2012

Quick frame of the window light falling on my basement floor. My own private Joan Miro.

So I’m taking some night classes at Watkins, just for fun, and to open up my head. The main class is this excellent class taught by Tom Williams, called Contemporary Art History, and then soon, begins a bookmaking class, and then a silkscreen and drypoint class. I’m just on fire with it all. Especially Art History, because of the way Tom sets up the context for how all these painters were influenced by WWII, and by the painters that came before them. Here is the textbook; a great resource.

Anyway, so I’m gutting my basement, to set up a printmaking area, and I came down the steps the other day and was reminded of these bizarre red/green blocks that are all over my 1930’s old house. Most of them are faded away, but the frame above shows them. Maybe another artist lived here at one time; maybe just some children, but I love these faded grid blocks. I also love the scratched floor in the basement.

Here are some Google Image links to some of the painters we’ve studied so far. Google Images does a pretty good job, but there’s no guarantee that every painting is accurate; who knows how the metadata is coded. The links to each artist are in bold type below.

Jean Dubuffet

© Arshile Gorky

Arshile Gorky

Hans Prinzhorn

Hans Prinzhorn

© Asger Jorn

Asger Jorn

Jean Fautrier

Alberto Burri

Michel Tapie

Willem de Kooning

Joan Miro

2 Responses

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  1. Forrest MacCormack said, on January 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Hey Mark,

    Awesome that you are doing this. It will help your photography vision even more – and just well.. like you say.. open your mind. I’m a big fan of print making. Did etching and some of Keith Howard’s safe photo etching (very similar to photogravure). Go for it! Silkscreening is lots of fun and you can make the positive matrixes with an inkjet printer using red/orange ink (for more spectral density than black). Use Pictorico transparency film. You might need a power washer to clean the screens.. I’ve made trips to the car wash and sprayed them out at $2.50 a wash!

  2. Tom said, on January 21, 2012 at 10:12 am


    I’m a big fan of that period in art. FYI, here are a few other resources you might consider.

    I’m not sure if you’ve ever watched the documentary film “Painters Painting” by by Emile de Antonio. There are some great interviews with some of the artists from the period (who, sadly are dying off at a pretty rapid clip — Helen Frakenthaler just passed away a couple of weeks ago). Well worth the time if you can find the full film.

    There is another film “Who Gets to Call it Art” about Henry Geldzahler that uses some of the same footage from the Antonio documentary but has a slightly different perspective.

    There’s a good book about Josef Albers that gives a good overview of the Bauhaus, and later Black Mountain College, that is very interesting (more about Albers in a second, let me get the references out of the way first).

    Albers “Interaction of Color” is pricey, but well worth it. The original version (which cost about $8K when you can find them) is a work of art unto itself. This version is pretty good.

    There’s also a pretty cool iPad app called “Art Authority for iPad” that’s also worth the investment.

    I’m sure there are many other worthwhile references, those are a few that came to mind.

    Okay, Albers. About a year ago I signed up for a weekend workshop at the deCordova Museum here in Massachusetts called “Bauhaus Design Principles” or something like that. I pretty much signed up on a whim and had no idea what I was getting into. The course was part of a three-pronged version of the Bauhaus basic course, later the foundation course at Black Mountain College. The course instructor was Ati Gropius Johanssen. Ati is now, I think, 86-years-old and studied under Albers at Black Mountain. She’s also the daughter of Walter Gropius and an absolute hoot. I had a a blast. The course was very hands-on and was a weekend spent just being creative, cutting up stuff with an X-acto knife and pasting it on paper (the glue sniffing alone was probably worth the price of admission). I took the 3-D part of this same course this past fall and plan to do the color course in March. I think it’s important to do things like this just to keep your mind open and thinking outside the lines (literally in the case of photography where our world always has to fit into either a rectangle or a square).

    The 3D course involved a lunchtime field trip to the Gropius house (which is about a mile from the deCordova).

    I had toured the Gropius house before, but to do a walkthrough with someone who actually lived there was an amazing experience.

    Ati’s bio

    Anyway, sorry to drone on, I’m procrastinating on cleaning the house. But I think courses like this are well worth the effort and vital to keeping your creative mind working. Let us know how the print course goes. I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing. The deCordova courses, which I’m sure would be excellent, all seem to be scheduled during the day — kind of hard to schedule.

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