Thursday, May 31, 2007

Luckiest Man

As the Philadelphia Phillies’ season begins its annual, slow, torturous death spiral out of playoff ncontention, I find it harder and harder to satisfy my baseball cravings. Thanks to a New York Times profile of young artist Graig Kreindler, I found an oasis of baseball lore in his beautiful paintings of old time baseball, such as Gehrig’s Farewell (above), which depicts the day Lou Gehrig bade farewell to the New York Yankees’ fans and declared himself, despite the ALS that would soon claim his life and garner his name, “The luckiest man on the face of the earth.” To have the ability to take your passion for the game and marry it to your wonderful artistic talent makes Graig Kreindler a very lucky man as well.

Kreindler takes an almost obsessive approach to detail in his paintings, making sure that the colors of the uniforms, stadiums, and advertising is correct—no easy task considering how little color photography and film there is of some of his older subjects. His obsessiveness reminds me of Thomas Eakins’ approach to his rowing pictures and his own depictions of Philadelphia Athletics players before the turn of the century. Kreindler himself shows 1920s Philadelphia A’s star Jimmie Foxx in a homerun trot nearing home plate and Mickey Cochrane in Cochrane Greets Foxx at the Plate.

Perhaps my favorite of Kreindler’s paintings is his World Series Time in Brooklyn (above), which shows historic Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, circa 1952. Kreindler takes a less photorealist approach to this scene, perhaps trying to recreate the mythic glow that Ebbets Field and the Jackie Robinson Dodgers still have for so many baseball addicts, even those too young to remember the real thing, like me.

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