I feel like, in Eve’s paintings, there’s a special attention given to ideas of over, under, around, across, behind, and especially in between that gives the paintings a charge–Freud does something like it, and Titian does too, I think. It totally doesn’t show in a jpeg this size, but the space between the closer young woman’s toes wins some kind of prize for being the most engaging square inch of paint I think I saw in 2005.
With Eve’s it’s also that overall geometric pop, achieved with diagonals that stop making sense just past the paintings’ boundaries. You get a structure that’s forceful and also subtle, one of my personal faves.
Where we’re going with this, are we saying that Eve Mansdorf is essentially a formalist? I think I agree with that, but with the caveat that I don’t see the usual associations between ‘formalism’ and ‘cool’ (a la Richard Estes), or ‘formalism’ and ‘pure’ (a la Clement Greenberg). Those associations strike me as arbitrary anyway. Eve’s painting is definitely a post-cool, post-pure type of formalism.
Mm…’formalist’ is such a loaded word. Obviously she has a concern for form, in the way that a writer similarly would be concerned with grammar and word choices. You want to be articulate and tasteful in what you convey. When narratives are subtle or seemingly minimal, formal choices often wind up on the front burner, and anything else must be sought out actively by the viewer. This would be similar with Fairfield Porter, for example, or others from Eve’s own camp. The best of it usually has a lot more to offer than sound composition and color.
I’m still not quite ready to give up the ghost on formalism. I just feel like there is still new ground to be explored, battles to be fought. Just the fact that it is a loaded word gives it value as an artistic strategy, doesn’t it? It’s an image-saturated world and there’s got to be some value in being hyper-aware of how images appeal.
Plus, I mean, Beauty, how else are you going to deal with it really?
But I’ll curtail the discussion on that topic for this particular post unless you’ve got more to put in.
Fairfield Porter. I love Fairfield Porter. It’s mostly for the paintings of his family, especially the ones with teenagers. I can’t think of anyone else who handles the teenage years as well in paint. It’s his real contribution in my mind, and, the only time his painting gets beyond ‘articulate and tasteful.’
Eve’s subject matter these days is much the same, but I read the paintings as very different somehow. I’m having a hard time saying exactly the why.
I’d never thought about Porter and teenagers before. I’ve heard New Englanders are generally more comfortable with awkwardness. Maybe that had something to do with it.
With Eve’s being different, it might just be as simple as hired models vs non-hired models. I’d be hard-pressed to fully explain, but I will say there’s a strangeness about that…or maybe about ‘realism’ in general. The ‘real’ fact of those paintings is there’s a house, with people in it, but it’s not Eve or her friends/family, and it’s not actually the house she or anyone else lives in. It’s a set with actors. Whereas Porter would’ve been working from people directly out of his circle, which is, in one way, more documentary or autobiographical.
Hello, WWWWWWWWWWWow! I have fallen in love.
Eve’s paintings are superb. I can’t wait to come to NY and see one for real. I love the heroic size and I bet the paint is very lush. Most of my work lately has been landscape but I too, have been trying, albeit, unsuccessfully to integrate the figure and interior in an intimate setting that is somewhat autobiographical.
I found it unusual at first to find that these paintings which depict such intimate scenes which in some cases made me feel like a “voyeur”, were of models and not members of family or neccessarily friends, although there must have been some kind of dialog. And yet, like Cassatt who painted her family but all of the mother/child themes were models who were not even neccesarily mothers. Eve has chosen a specific archetype that says something to her and allows the intimacy to happen.
Yes, Fairfield Porter, Lucien Freud, little Valasquez and for some strange reason Paolo Ucello popped in my head when looking at her work. It has something to do with the patterning.
I am very inspired and excited and am so glad to have found her. What an inspiration.
p.s. I enjoyed both of your comments. Thank you. Jeanean Songco Martin