Showing posts with label print. Show all posts
Showing posts with label print. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A friend and an artist

John Lesnick was a close friend of mine.  We met felicitously in front of the loft building in Chelsea where I was visiting an ex-boyfriend at the time and where John lived.  I remember that he had just bought groceries and we greeted each other with the brown paper bag he was clutching acting as an annoying barrier between us.  We were immediately attracted to one another and had a brief affair which turned into a  lasting and deep friendship.  I was privileged to know him for the remainder of his life, through all of its ups and downs. He is in the collection at the Museum of Modern ArtVisual AIDS, and most of his art is now housed by the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation.

I bought this piece of art from him not too long after it was produced:


It is part of a series of full-figure male portraits that he did in a large format print.  This particular print (not titled) is number 7 of 10, is signed by John, and dated 1984.  These prints were produced at the Lower East Side Print Shop.  This organization became John's second home during the early '80s.  He was very productive at the time, but unfortunately not successful commercially as an artist.  

John discovered that he was HIV+ during this time, but he continued to work and travel and enjoy life as fully as possible.  He became an AIDS activist and was a case study in the advances in AIDS-related medicine during the '90s. I purchased one or two more pieces, and he gave me a couple of other pieces of his work as gifts.  When he passed away, I was able to complete this work:


As you can see it is quite large and fills one wall of the foyer to my apartment. (Apologies for the poor photography and the glare in both these photos.)  Each framed quarter measures 35.25"h x 43.5"w, so the full work is 70.5"w x 87" high.  It is number 7 of 12, signed and dated 1984.

Why I like this piece:

This piece puts me into a sort of meditative trance.  The pose of the swimmer's right hand appears to me as if it were a gesture of benevolence, but I can't quite figure out why that is.  I bought the original upper right quadrant because it stands as a piece on its own.  The reason it does that is because it encompasses that enigmatic gesture.

As a whole, the work partakes of photography and, to my mind, theater.  It is a set piece for some unwritten play, and it represents an aspect of one of the characters, perhaps the villain, that is decidedly unexpected.  I can imagine this portrait coming to the fore of the stage in the last act to symbolize the villain's attempt at redemption.  ("Angels in America" anyone?)

What this piece reminds me of:

This piece reminds me of loss and of peace with that loss.  John led a very full life, had many friends, and not too many enemies.  He was respected and loved.  John was the closest experience I could imagine of knowing Lazarus.  He very nearly died prior to the advent of protease inhibitors for the treatment of HIV.  When he came back to life, he lived as fully and as creatively without (too much) complaint that he had nearly been robbed of this second chance.  

The longer I live with this work, the more I appreciate it.  It is a comfort.  There is much more of John's work to show, and each will remind me of some other aspect of life during those times.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Terry's Art: Another Inheritance

Terry was a very visual person and had aspirations of an art career in New York.  It did not quite work out that way; he was very good at the software design he did for Intel.  He did produce some interesting work.  The four pieces here are, as far as I know, the only print project that he completed, and I believe it may have been done before he arrived in New York.

He also produced a series of photos of himself in drag which tell the story of a lonely woman's day and her ruminations on life.  That may come in a later post, but is rather heavy on the imagery and will take some time to organize. I apologize again for the quality of the photography; it doesn't quite capture the colors of these prints.

Terry created these four prints as a group:





The images are very saturated in color.  Each image measures 17"h x 14"w.  Each print is signed, not dated, and they are labeled in the artist's handwriting as Artist's Proof with a number for each copy and the number of proofs for the edition.

Why I like this piece:

These are idealized male torsos, and represent a type of art created by gay males during the post-Stonewall era to express their love of the male body.  The suppression of such images prior to the early 60s created a generation of artists to whom the image of the male body was the highest expression of their artistic skills.  Without a long-winded discourse on how the male of the human species, regardless of sexual orientation, became such a visual creature it is clear that the latter part of the 20th century may be remembered best for its mini-renaissance of male beauty.  From the physique photography of the '50s through the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues stretching into the early 21st century, there was never quite so much attention paid to the male and all the variations on the ideal of that human form.

On another level, because of the colors in play on these prints, they relate rather well to the Floc'h and Riviere work in this previous post.  They partake of the same simple background, with a single subject in each frame. 

What this piece reminds me of: 

Although this series of prints reminds me of the time I spent with Terry, one aspect that he spoke of nearly came true, but in a weird way.  These prints have traveled with me to several different abodes.  When I settled in my current apartment, I became familiar with a neighbor whose profession was that of a lead glass window designer.  One of Terry's ambitions for these prints was to have them transposed into leaded glass.

I hadn't thought of that for years before meeting this neighbor.  I told her I had something she might consider for a subject, but her face fell when she saw these prints.  I don't think she was quite ready to approach the subject matter objectively.   

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And speaking of Paris

In 1985 I took my first trip to Europe to visit a friend who had just moved back to Amsterdam after a career at the U.N. in New York.  He graciously agreed to accompany me by train to Paris.  It was a great trip, and I couldn't leave Paris without a serious souvenir.  I came upon a small frame and print shop and purchased a print and a poster.  The poster will show up in a future post.
I considered the print a real find at the time, as it references both Tintin and Andy Warhol.  The image was somewhat familiar to me, and I was excited to find an original print of it.  The cans of crab arose in a Tintin adventure entitled "The Crab with the Golden Claws."  I quote from the Wikipedia entry:  "Tintin had discovered a smuggling ring which used tins of crab meat in order to smuggle their opium."  The work is entitled "Quatre Boites de Crabe Extra" and was created by Floc'h et Riviere, who are a team of illustrators famous in France for their collaborative work.  The print is numbered and bears the signature of both artists.  It is dated 1983.

Please forgive the poor quality of the photograph, which has some annoying artifacts from the light in the kitchen.  I took the photo with all sorts of lights on and off, but this was the best I could come up with.

Why I like this piece:

Of course, this is as close to an Andy Warhol as I'm likely to own.  The whole piece references pop art and pop culture.  It is jokey and fun, and likely the most saturated with color of any art work I have.  This is in the kitchen, and works perfectly as kitchen art.  It seemed out of place anywhere else I put it in the apartment.  It is vibrant and alive, and yes, it makes me want to eat something.

What this piece reminds me of:

I cannot forget how I found this piece, just wandering near the Sorbonne.  It was a small shop and I went in as much to rest as to browse.  But mostly it reminds me of Warhol.  

I used to go to a gay bar on Avenue A called the Pyramid Club.  It was on my list of places to cruise on a Saturday night, starting in the East Village and ending up on the West side.  They used to run a show which was billed as the first gay soap opera.  On a little stage, which was difficult to see from the bar anyway, there would be practically incomprehensible goings on for about 15 minutes or so, starting around 10:00 p.m.  Then the music would start and the area became a dance floor.  I guess Andy and his entourage were there to see the show, but I didn't notice him until I decided to join in the dancing.  There he was with a few other friends surrounding him, sort of bouncing around the way we used to dance back in the late 70s and early 80s.  

I did see him one or two other times; once at Irving Place, another club and once just on the street in the West Village.  New York allows celebrities to live their lives without too much fear of interruption. 

I also remember showing this and the poster to my friend back at the hotel room.  He had become ill and wasn't able to squire me around Paris as he hoped, but I was getting along fairly well on my own.  When I spread them out for him to see I remember his reaction as less than enthusiastic. Chacun à son goût!