Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Florine Stettheimer

Ms. Settheimer (1871-1944), an early Modernist artist and poet, was born in Rochester, N.Y., to a wealthy German - Jewish family. Her paintings' witty, eccentric and dreamy take on life befuddled critics, who found her work difficult to categorize. 
The career of Florine Stettheimer, painter, poet and designer, disproves the myth of the artist as a lonely and misunderstood genius, struggling to product works that transcend his (and less frequently, her) own historical time and place," writes the Jewish Women's Archive. "Stettheimer's paintings are lively, diary like accounts of her life, but also acute examinations of upper-class ways in New York between the wars. Her decorative, figurative style, often characterized as feminine, offers an alternative to prevailing modes of contemporary modernist painting."
Stehttheimer's paintings are deeply personal - her main subject matter was her family and friends and the greater dreamy world of pleasure they inhabited. In her dazzling and eccentric paintings, with their bold and openly feminine sensibility, Stettheimer created a unique synthesis of things she studied and loved - one catches glimpses of medieval portraiture, Persian miniatures, Brughel, early Renaissance paining, Velasquez, children's art, theatre design, Matisse, Surrealism, Symbolism, folk art, fashion illustration, decorative art and interior design. She combined high / low elements in vivid constructions that depict scenes in a non-sequential, dream-like way - she played with perspective and her people and objects often float languidly through a complex universe of multiple narratives that have allegorical quality. Her use of color was extraordinary, very American, and a complete break with the naturalistic earth tones of European painting. She favored deep reds, blacks, vivid pinks, vibrant blues and deep yellows, often in contract to strong whites or soft pastels. Her portraits of family and friends in sitting rooms, salons and summer houses; at picnics, luncheons and soirees - emphasized and immortalized their individual talents and interests. 
Ms. Stettheimer struggled to receive recognition and eventually chose to show her work only privately. With her sisters, she hosted a Manhattan salon from 1915-1935 for fellow creative types such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Virgil Thompson and Marcel Duchamp.

A poem written by Florin Stettheimer about her artwork & inspiration
For a long time
I gave myself
To the arrested moment
To the unfulfilled moment
To the moment of quiet expectation
I painted the trance moment
The promise moment
The moment in the balance
In mellow golden tones . . .
Then I saw
Outside me
Around me
Knocking me
Jarring me
Hurting me
Rousing me
Forcing me in joy to paint them . . .

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