Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Artist of the Day, October 31, 2023: Carmi Grau, a German lettering artist, typographer, designer. (#1945)

The home and studio of visual artist Carmen Maria Traud, better known as Carmi or “Frau Grau” is nestled up in the eaves of a typical Berlin apartment building. While she’s lived all over Berlin, it’s Kreuzberg, with its endearing contrasts, that has her heart.

Carmi grew up in a small town in Hesse and first came to Berlin in 2002. “My mom always says that whenever she wanted me to be well behaved as a child, all she’d have to do was give me a pen and paper.” She went on to study industrial design and in her years after graduation involved herself in graphic design and illustration in a range of mediums.

Carmi’s work is decorative—nature is a strong motif, as are geometric shapes. She doesn’t overcomplicate it, “My leaf drawings are more illustrative rather than artistic. When people ask, ‘Oh but what do you mean by them?’ I tend to say, ‘Well, you need to work out what it says to you.’ For her, drawing the lines and leaves is therapeutic. Her memorable plates, meanwhile, started out as a present for a friend, and grew from there. “Painting plates is very old-school, but this is my kind of new interpretation. My granny always bought plates back from her holidays. And my mother was like, ‘Really? Another plate.’ Now it’s my turn, I guess!”

These colors run riot in her studio—every surface is laden with a full spectrum—tubes of paint, markers, pencils. “I shared a studio a while ago, but I really like to work alone. I find it difficult if others can see the process of my work, I like to keep it private.” The artist, however, has a cheery antidote to her solitary work practice, “Making art and drawing a lot is a very lonely business since my studio is at home and I thought, ‘I really need something social.’ Two of my friends work at a kindergarten nearby, so sometimes I do a bit of graphic stuff for them, activities or go along on trips.”

While Carmi loves to work quietly from her Kreuzberg space, her main source of inspiration comes from stints further away from the city. “In 2013, I was invited for a year’s residency on the island of Sylt, so I would be back and forth between here and there every month. I was so inspired by the stones everywhere and the lines in the sand at the beach,” she enthuses. “I need to always be changing locations, and then come back to ‘my little castle’ with new experiences!” Carmi leafs through a stack of works, showing us the watercolour series that arose from this with their special coloring. In addition to her home is also an archive—she pulls out works to show us: records designed in San Francisco, canvases for Alfa Romeo and the hand-painted unu scooter, adorned with graphic vines, parked in her cosy studio—“My knees are blue from painting it!”

© 2023. All content on this blog is protected by international copyright laws All images are copyrighted © by Carmi Grau or assignee. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, the use of any image from this site is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained. All images used for illustrative purposes only 

Ms. Carmi Grau


Monday, October 30, 2023

Artist of the Day, October 30, 2023: Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian artist and writer (#1944)

Giuseppe Maria Alberto Giorgio de Chirico (1888 – 1978) was an Italian artist and writer born in Greece. In the years before World War I, he founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. His best-known works often feature Roman arcades, long shadows, mannequins, trains, and illogical perspective. His imagery reflects his affinity for the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and of Friedrich Nietzsche, and for the mythology of his birthplace. After 1919, he became a critic of modern art, studied traditional painting techniques, and worked in a neoclassical or neo-Baroque style, while frequently revisiting the metaphysical themes of his earlier work.

Arriving in Paris in 1911, de Chirico immersed himself in the city’s avant-garde circles. Guillaume Apollinaire, the experimental poet and defender of Cubism, soon became the artist’s champion, writing in an early review of a small exhibition de Chirico staged in his studio, “The art of this young painter is an interior and cerebral art which bears no relation to that of the painters of recent years.” (De Chirico would later encourage this perception of himself as an outsider.) Apollinaire also noted that de Chirico’s “very sharp and very modern sensations” often assumed an “architectural form,” perhaps in reference to The Anxious Journey, with its overlapping colonnades, which was included in that exhibition.

In The Enigma of a Day, painted a year after The Anxious Journey, in 1914, de Chirico took up the motifs of his previous composition and expanded them. The sharply delineated shadows and sun-bleached arcades now framed a piazza, deserted but for a towering marble statue, a partially obscured moving carriage, and two human figures casting exaggerated shadows in the distance. One of de Chirico’s great innovations was to marry these vaguely classical, if highly simplified, architectural elements with the recently developed pictorial language of Cubism, typified by flattened spatial structures, shapes reduced to bold and simple planes, muted tones with little modeling, and compressed space. Another hallmark of his style was a seemingly effortless conjunction of incompatible spatial systems into a single, coherent scene. In The Enigma of a Day, he plays with both shallow and steep spaces and employs numerous vanishing points. These spatial inconsistencies only reveal themselves on close examination, undermining any initial impression of stability.

In 1917, recently returned to Italy, de Chirico founded the Scuola Metafisica (or Metaphysical School), formulating its principles with his brother Alberto Savinio and the Futurist artist Carlo Carrà. De Chirico compared the metaphysical work of art to “the flat surface of a perfectly calm ocean,” which “disturbs us…by all the unknown that is hidden in the depth.” 3 The term would come to encompass all his work produced between roughly 1911 and 1917; it is this “metaphysical” period that would prove highly influential to the Surrealists in the following decade.

Led by André Breton, himself inspired by the writings of Sigmund Freud, Surrealism sought to give greater license to the irrational forces of the unconscious and to represent this artistically through what Breton described as the poetic “juxtaposition of two realities.” 4 In paintings like The Song of Love, with its incongruous combination of familiar objects, the Surrealists saw an important precedent; indeed, Breton later called de Chirico a “sentry.” 5 But even as the Surrealists collected and exhibited de Chirico’s paintings from the 1910s, the artist himself had left that work behind, calling for a return to skilled drawing in an apparent about-face that provoked their scorn.

© 2023. All content on this blog is protected by international copyright laws All images are copyrighted © by Giorgio de Chirico, or assignee. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, the use of any image from this site is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained. All images used for illustrative purposes only 

Giorgio de Chirico
Self-portrait (Autoritratto),  ca. 1920
Self-portrait,  ca. 1911
The Enigma of the Hour,   ca. 1911
 The Enigma of the Arrival and the Afternoon,  ca. 1912
 Ariadne,  ca. 1913
The Nostalgia of the Infinite,  ca. 1913
 The Red Tower,  ca. 1913
 The Soothsayer's Recompense,  ca. 1913
 The Uncertainty of the Poet,  ca. 1913
 Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure)  ca. 1914
 Mystery and Melancholy of a Street,  ca. 1914
 The Philosopher's Conquest,  ca. 1914
 The Song of Love,  ca. 1914
 Turin Spring,  ca. 1914
The Evil Genius of a King)  ca. 1914–15
 The Double Dream of Spring,  ca. 1915
The Melancholy of Departure,  ca. 1916
Great Metaphysical Interior,  ca. 1917
The Grand Metaphysician,  ca. 1917
 The Poet and His Muse,  ca. 1925
 Cavalli in riva al mare (Les deux chevaux)  ca. 1926
The painter's family,  ca. 1926
The Two Masks,  ca. 1926
The Archaeologists,  ca. 1927
 The Mysterious Bath,  ca. 1938
 Autoritratto delle nuvole,  ca. 1948
The Troubadour,  ca. 1950-55
 Piazza d'Italia,  ca. 1952
 The Disquieting Muses,  ca. 1960
The Great Metaphysician,  ca. 1971