James Ensor, Selfportrait with Flowered Hat, 1883
Oil on canvas, 76.5 x 61.5 cm
Photo MuZee (c) - Art in Flanders vzw. Photography: Hugo Maertens / (c) DACS 2016
In this issue of The Art Section we have three articles that all address artists’ thinking about and referencing other artists or specific works of art. I have written about Yinka Shonibare and his use of the Henry Wallis painting The Death of Chatterton (1856), which he has recreated as a color photograph exchanging the poet Chatterton for Admiral Nelson, who was one of the heroes of the British Empire.
Floriana Piqué has written about the Ensor Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Luc Tuymans, perhaps Belgium’s best-known contemporary artist, curated this exhibition. This is a great opportunity to see how one artist views another. In an interview on the Royal Academy webpage, Tuymans points out that Ensor also was thinking about another artist in his work: “His work was informed and deliberate and responded to art history. . . .The moment he portrays himself with the flower hat, he makes a clear connotation with Rubens’ ‘The Straw Hat’, ironic or not. There are elements of respect and admiration in Ensor’s painting but also disgust and mockery. He was trying to shake things up, because Rubens was – and is – an icon in Belgium.”
Aimee Rubensteen writes about the English Artist Cornelia Parker who was recently commissioned to create a work for the fourth annual installation of site-specific works for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. In her essay on Parker’s Transitional Object (PsychoBarn), Aimee writes about Parker’s use of both the architectural iconography of Edward Hopper and the mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho. Hitchcock greatly appreciated Hopper and modeled the famous Bates house on the painting House by the Railroad (1925).
These references and appropriations signal more than just a neo postmodern moment. Rather, they are part of the long history of artists looking at and repurposing elements found in the art of those from whom they take inspiration.
All my best,
The Art Section
Deanna Sirlin is an artist. Her recent book is She's Got What It Takes: American Women Artists In Dialogue was Published by Charta Art Books 2013.
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