Monday, March 19, 2007

Albert Pinkham Ryder Turns 160

One of my favorite painters, Albert Pinkham Ryder, celebrates his 160th birthday today. Born in 1847, Ryder was largely unknown to the public of his time but was influential among contemporaries and future modernists. The mixture of Romanticism plus Expressionism and Symbolism in his works always draws me in. Above is Ryder's Boat in Moonlight.

I'll never forget the first time I saw a Ryder painting in person. It was displayed laying flat down on a table because Ryder was so untrained in painting techniques that he painted on top of still wet paint, creating layers of never dried paint beneath the finished work. Over time, as the painting was displayed on a wall, the top layer of paint cracked and began to slide down on the river of pasty paint beneath. The odd, unintended effect of the painting actually moving by itself has always stuck in my mind.

I also have to grin when I think of Ryder's cameo in Caleb Carr's novel, The Alienist.

1 comment:

Heallowkewsterob said...

Ryder is the quuintessential genius on American soil. His life is typical of most such (rare) geniuses: frought with poverty, misunderstanding, lack of recognition, and even lack of sufficient later recognition. But let us not fault human frailty. That is ever the backdrop. Modern artists never mention Ryder, as they will not, and cannot, play on his open and welcoming field. I seriously doubt that Ryder's genius can or will ever be matched on this soil. Sometimes the rare artist, such as Rembrandt on Dutch soil, defines for all time the standard, and are never approached again. Let us take joy that our land sufficed to even produce this visionary, and take heart in his vision.