Monday, May 16, 2016

Daniel Curiel's Review of "Wayne Thiebaud: Prints in Process" at the CSULB University Art Museum

Wayne Thiebaud Review

Wayne Thiebaud is a painter and printmaker from the Pop Art era who takes objects and ideas from popular culture, along with other known artists like Andy Warhol, and inverts them in his own way.  Though Wayne Thiebaud and other Pop artists like Warhol were contemporaries, their work draws very different visual experiences of often similar inspirations.  While Warhol sought to flatten objects with uniformity and a methodical detachment from his work, Thiebaud uses thick impasto in his paintings as well as different layers in his printing to create a feeling of depth and personal touch.
One piece that illustrates this point is Thiebaud’s Dark Cake from 1983.  Though many have believed otherwise, this work is actually a woodcut printed with water-based inks rather than traditional oil-based.  This gives the cake the appearance of a moist exterior, almost dripping down to the plate.  The cake’s layering of color and use of color to frame the shadows and edges helps create a strong three-dimensionality and a painterly feel.  In contrast, works by Warhol are often screen-printed using flat plains of color layered in flattening way.  Warhol and his followers sought to take away the human element and create a detachment between themselves and their works.   His workshop was even named “The Factory.”
Another work that highlights this difference is in how the two artists dealt with the iconic character of Mickey Mouse in their works.  While Thiebaud painted Mickey Mouse’s head onto one of his signature cakes with a thick impasto, Warhol made prints of Mickey Mouse with a cool detachment.  Thiebaud’s use of the Mickey character is not surprising since he had worked previously with Disney in production, but his painting depicts Mickey in a more personalized way, traditional to the character.  Warhol rendered Mickey in a flatter way, using blacks and greys to create a colder, unfeeling character.  Though he often said his work did not have meaning, the piece can be read as showing the coldness of the fame “industry” and how the character itself does not hold any physical substance, it is only an image on the surface of the canvas.   
This exhibition will continue at the University Art Museum until 5/29/16

Daniel Curiel's Review of a Presentation by Henry Klein

Henry Klein Presentation Synopsis

            Henry Klein is a printmaker and art dealer who represents many printmakers from Eastern Europe.  He is also a very good story teller and I found it quite interesting listening to him discuss printmaking during the turbulence of Eastern Europe and how their approach is different to that seen in America or Western Europe. 
Jiri Anderle etching

            In listening to Klein discuss art and his experiences, it is clear he has had a unique and more worldly perspective.  He was in the Czech Republic setting up a show during the time of the Velvet Revolution. The show had to be put off for a year due to these events. When Klein participated in previous Biennials, he noted that the winners were always from the Czech Republic. He attributes this to the fact that many Eastern Europeans read books, and the illustration of books was taken very seriously.  Czech printmakers would use these illustrations and their training from such projects to create large pieces that had an immense amount of detail throughout.
            I also really enjoyed seeing the collection of “funny money” prints by Oldrich Kulhanic. The fact that Klein has one of if not the only full set of these prints was quite impressive.  I liked the fact that the prints themselves were so ornately illustrated, and that they all had their own subtle criticism …the more you looked and the more Henry Klein explained, the more appeared. 
Oldrich Kulhanic lithographs

There were also other excellent contemporary prints.  Ingrid Ledent is a Belgium printmaker Klein represents with a more modern style.  She uses her own body as a measurement of time and does many prints based around her own body. 
print by Ingrid Ledent

           My own personal favorite was titled The Parable of Noah by the Russian artist Nikolai Batakov. He spent a year printing this large work full of detail.  This work is the style I find intriguing which shows how much detail and shading is really possible with the medium of etching.

            I would say the event was more than inspiring.  Not only did it leave me wanting to immediately go incise lines into my plate, but it contrasted sharply to the feeling of tedium I get when I listen to presentations about graphic design. I would say that seeing these prints and what was possible as possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me decide to switch fields of study.  

More information on these artists can be found at Henry Klein's website: