Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
This brooding, moody canvas was created by one of the most haunted souls in the history of American art. Ralph Blakelock, a man diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and placed in a sanitarium for fifteen years, painted some of the most mysterious, expressive and poetic paintings in 19th century America. Indeed, his interest in and exploration of the unknown and the expressive were deeply admired by such radical 20th century abstract painters as Willem deKooning, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline.
Afternoon Light is a subjective, solitary and suggestive landscape—more the marking of an inner realm than a delineation of a specific locale. Indeed, the visual equivalent to the mysterious world found in the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.
The dominating tones of browns and blacks express this somber, brooding mood; the vigorously painted surfaces convey both restlessness and agitation. Blakelock builds up thin layers of pigment—rubbing, scarring, scraping, varnishing and glazing the surface until he distills the landscape to its essence. This is the world of a romantic visionary—an inner vision of deep shadow, haunting light and an energetic, almost hallucinatory sky.
A joy to read is Paul Auster’s 1990 novel Moon Palace in which the protagonist is sent to the Brooklyn Museum to see, to visually absorb, one of Blakelock’s “moonlight” paintings. Auster takes six successive pages to place us, the reader, within one of Blakelock’s visionary landscapes. It’s a worthwhile reading experience as this is a worthwhile visual one.
Your current search criteria is: Object is "Afternoon Light".