Thursday, 13 September 2012

American Revival

John Frederick Peto For the Track 1895
 Whilst in Washington DC this summer I was interested to come across some work by the late C19th American painter John Frederick Peto. It seems there was quite a lot of interest in the Dutch Fine Painters in the USA at this time, as Peto was just one of several artists working directly from their canon.
Peto is effectively trying to pay homage to Cornelius Gysbrechts, even down to employing the motif of the wooden panel, letter rack or door as a backdrop to a collection of objects presented in a trompe l'oeil style.
The obvious difference with Peto is his choice of objects that are particularly contemporary to American life of that era. I'm not sure if there is anything particularly conceptually interesting about this - Peto doesn't move the genre on particularly, but then again perhaps revivals are always de facto different from their references, just by dint of context. The paint work isn't as fine as Gysbrechts either, a little more gestural, not quite so painstaking.
John Frederick Peto Letter Rack 1894

Cornelius Gysbrechts Still Life with Portrait of a Soldier 1670

Cornelius Gysbrecths Letter Rack c.1670
 I keep coming back to these type of trompe l'oeil paintings for some reason - I think it is to do with the idea of making painted copies of things that are already artworks or secondary images - there's an ostensible pointlessness about this on one level, but actually the re-made image becomes something radically different. This is evident in the work of artists like Warhol, Harland Miller, Glenn Brown and Gerhard Richter.

Harland Miller Bridlington; Ninety Three Million Miles from the Sun  2002

In my own work I am currently exploring this idea - beginning to work from images of images, rather than objects, such as I have tended to do in the past, as in the recent example below.

Tom Helyar-Cardwell Urbis Aqua 2012