On a trip to Vienna, I saw the paintings of Egon Schiele. While he's best known for his nude self portraits and intense sexuality, his house paintings are what sang out to me. I spent almost an hour just staring at House Wall on the River.
In a photograph, online, it doesn't grab you, does it? I've looked at many photos of this painting since my trip, and none of them capture the power of the original. Interesting - the museum in Vienna where I saw these also had several Gustav Klimt paintings. I've always loved Klimpt paintings, but I was disappointed when I saw the originals. The skin tones were ..off. Yet Schiele's paintings just visually danced off the walls, they were so alive. Which makes you wonder how much of an artist's reputation hinges on how well the work reproduces.
House Wall on the River made me go back to my Fossil Garment series. I just had to play with the idea of a building - a house - as a garment. This is an idea I've fought with - and failed at - many times. Again, I’m using vintage christening gowns. The almost-transparent cotton allows embedded objects to be seen clearly, and the deconstructed dress sections have a structural design element.
Here's a christening dress on my work wall, pinned to background red wool, with photos of my art and Schiele's next to it, helping me think. I took windows from Schiele's house, played with them, and printed them on cloth.
After I had embedded crochet under the dress, I added Schiele's windows. But I never worked out the shading, the color, the amazing visual complexity that made his work sing. No-o-o-o. I populated my piece with women. I just veered off on a tangent and obsessively worked on that side road until I was totally lost. Why did I do that? Here's the finished piece, and as you can see, it has none of Schiele's intensity. It does function as a house/garment/person, but not as a compelling piece of art.
The next post will show you just how far I went down that tangent.