The idea for doing series of paintings is based on a famous artwork was inspired by two famous series of paintings: Claude Monet's Rouen Cathedral series, and Pablo Picasso's Las Meninas series. If you are not familiar with the Rouen Cathedral series, it was a series of paintings, more than 30 in all, that Monet painted of the Rouen Cathedral in France, in the mid 1890s. Most, but not all, are painted from the exact same vantage point on similar sized canvases, giving the effect of making the same painting over and over. But each was painted at different times of day, with different color pallettes, and in different sorts of light. The result was an exploration of how light and color changes through time.
Las Meninas was a 1656 painting by Diego Velazques that was copied and reinterpreted by Pablo Picasso in 1957. In total there were 58 paintings in the Picasso series, 45 of which feature a reinterpretation of the entire painting, and the others featuring a charcter in the painting (Infanta Margarita Maria ), some landscapes and a dove. Like the Monet series, each painting featuring the entire original work are distinct and unique works of art, as each painting shows variations from the original and from the others.
It is that spirit of both series, Monet's and Picasso's, that I am exploring. This idea has been on my mind for several years; but for so long I was not sure how I would want to approach it. Much of my painting (though not all) is about reinterpreting Pop Art and/or well known images. My "artist's statement" pretty much sums that up: "To create great Pop Art, you have to present something that has been seen before in a new way." But there is more than one way to present the same thing that has been "seen before." For an imaginative artist, there can be hundreds of variations.
In addition, my art is not merely about reinterpreting something that has been seen before. I have always been, first and foremost, a fine art painter. Most Pop artists are not that type of painter, and many are print makers, collage makers, etc. My Pop art, as exemplified in my "Original Brand," is actually about the act of painting, as embodied in the 20th century concept of modern art painting being about painting. In the modern concept of painting, one is not necessarily creating an image of something - one is making a painting that exists as nothing more than paint on a canvas.. By merging this concept with Pop Art and/or popular imagery, I am trying to bring together these two concepts, the image on the canvas as Pop Art, together wih the modern concept of the image being secondary to the creation of the painting itself, and the paint on the canvas as the actual subject, not the image.
Thus, the idea of doing a series of paintings of the same "Pop Art" image furthers the concept I am trying achieve. By making numerous paintings of the same image over and over, but with varied and disparate colors, styles and techniques, the modern concept of "paint on a canvas" becomes the subject of the series, not the image itself.
At the same time, the idea also embraces one of the central tenets of Pop Art, as embodied in the quote by the father of Pop Art (and some say the first Pop Artist), Richard Hamilton, when describing the essence of Pop Art. He stated Pop Art should be: "Popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business." While not all Pop Art embodies all of these qualities, most of it speaks to some, and this series would do so as well, especially the "popular" (as I will use popular images), and "mass-produced" (as i am obviously making numerous paintings of the same image, much like Warhol did with his prints).
For the first series, I chose Sandro Botticelli's figure of Venus from the famous Birth Of Venus painting, certainly one of the most popular images in history. I intend to make as many different and varied explorations of this image as I can. Like Monet and Picasso, I may vary the framing on some, or perhaps incorporate different aspects from the rest of the painting, but most will feature the exact same cropping of the face, so that the original area of the painting is like a "control group" (like in scientific testing), something to which most of my variations can be interpereted against. Additional series I have explored have included variations on Vermeer's "Girl With A Pearl Earring" and Gustav Klimt's "Tree Of Life." I believe the statement made and the resulting paintings will further the goal of what I am trying to achieve as a merger between the modern concept of fine art painting and Pop Art.
Variations On Botticelli's Venus
The Series So Far...