Another collage series I’ve been doing on and off for years I call “Comments”–my interpretation of another artist’s work. It’s copying, but not exactly, because the media is different–I’m not going to copy in collage someone else’s collage–and the result, though it certainly usually resembles the original, reflects my own style and obsessions which are different from the artist I’m referencing.
I had done one based on the Gauguin carving “Be in Love and You Will Be Happy” (“Soyez amoureuses vous serez heureuses” in the original French), and when the work showed up in the current Gauguin show at MOMA I wanted to see it.
When you know something only from photos and then encounter the actual piece, the biggest shock to me is often scale–and “Be in Love” was no exception. It’s huge! at least compared to the picture of it in my mind–nearly 3 feet square. Also, no photo can do justice to a 3-dimensional work. I spent a long time examining and admiring it.
The rest of the show was revealing, too. Gauguin did a lot of carving, and often used the pieces as references in his prints and paintings. The “Head with Horns” haunts women in several drawings and was one of my favorites.
And–Gauguin frequently used other artists’ works as references for his own. Temple friezes, and paintings by Louis Cranach the Younger and Manet were among those noted as direct inspirations. He also borrowed from, revisited, and reworked his own compositions.
The show, as these things do, gave me a lot of ideas. How could I not love someone who titled one of his works “Be Mysterious”? More to come!