In this posting I am going to be considering Magic realism and dream theory which both Dickenson and Guglielmi both used in their Art work. Matthew Baigell introduces Dickenson as a real Revolutionary because that type of art had not been explored before.
” But no European movement quite accounts for the unprecedented art of Edwin Dickenson perhaps the first American artist about whom some knowledge of dream theory is essential for decoding his work”. .
” As early as 1916 he began to juxtapose and superimpose figures whose actions were not always understandable in odd spatial sequences”. .
Baigell explains the technical ability of Dickenson with his use of props and other devices to develop his dream theory technique.
” A brilliant technician who carefully controlled degrees of focal clarification Dickenson sometimes added props to indicate that a very private and overwhelming drama was taking place in his own unconsciousness that would never be allowed to struggle to consciousness or rational explanation”. .
” His self portraits more provocative and disturbing than any others in American art reveal Dickenson’s demon’s particularly when he painted himself as a dead man”. .
Commenting on the similarity between Dickenson and Hopper Baigell suggests that his psychological approach with its dreamy dark terrifying images were a step up from Hopper’s work.
” It as if he (Dickenson) took Hopper’s figures to the next level of psychological investigation trying to experience the contents of their minds rather than merely to observe their outward appearances”. .
” Since Hopper summered on Cape Cod and Dickenson lived there the year round the two might have known each other and profited from each others company in the manner of Ryder and Newman”. .
Baigell now goes on to consider Guglielmi’s art which is easy to decipher and there are certain differences as Baigell explains.
” In contrast to Dickenson’s personal symbolism other artists such as O Louis Guglielmi created images that are decipherable and that usually describe improbable but understandable events”. .
” Gugliemli’s painting of the 1930’s with their obvious political overtones might be designated social surrealism .His view in Chambers street a mordant comment about America during the depression also suggests the claustrophobic quality of life on the grim mean streets of lower Manhattan”..
Baigell now considers how Guglielmi stopped painting figurally but concentrated on psychological aspects as well as questioning their art after World war 2.
” Guglielmi stopped painting haunting urban themes in the 1940’s like Shahn, Evergood and others he found that neither current events or strong political themes offered artist’s viable subject matter”. .
” No doubt the psychological and emotional effects of World War 2 prompted these artist’s to question the assumption of their art -leading some such as Burchfield into a private world of Identification with natural forces or others like Shahn into a broad humanitarianism”. .
Baigell argues that figurative painting in this period lost out to abstraction and other types of artistic practice because painting had to have meaning.
” In a still not clearly understood way their painting of the 1940’s and even those of the 1930’s helped undercut the premise of realistic figurative art because of the artist’s wanted their work to carry meaning far beyond recorded visual experience”. .
What these painters wanted to reflect was pure Idealism because thoughts and consciousness are difficult to describe in an artistic way.
” The complex content of their work unlike that say of Sloan Bellows and Marsh often contained political , racial economic or intensely personal meaning which required non realistic dislocation of space , arbitrary colours and bizarre as well as disjointed figural arrangements”. .
I have used some nude images of more Modern artists like Lennart Anderson to compare them with Dickenson who painted a number of Nudes.
Baigell now comes on to describe the style of American Modernism as it developed.
” Whatever style American Modernism worked in or passed through virtually all dealt with major compositional problems – how to control the suggestion of depth”. .
” This might involve either indicating a slight oscillation between a form serving as a figure and the shapes serving as its background or presenting a more static relationship in which forms lay inert on the surface”. .
f course what Baigell is describing is Cubism which these Modernists were always influenced by as the first starting point of Modernism itself.
We come to Ann Lee Morgan offering her comments on both Dickenson and Gugliemli.
” His (Dickenson) romantic figural works sometimes recall magic realism or aspects of surrealism but generally they remain inward and private dedicated to personal experience”. .
” These painterly evocative images fuse memory and direct perception as well as abstraction and realism”. .
This concludes my first part exploration into the magic realism and surrealism of Edwin Dickenson and O Louis Gugliemli.
- A CONCISE HISTORY OF AMERICAN PAINTING AND SCULPTURE MATTHEW BAIGELL. PG.273
- THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ART AND ARTISTS . ANN LEE MORGAN .PG.121