Title: WHISTLER AND ME, The Painted Path
Author: Windsor Innis
Publisher: Kyuryudo Art Publishing, Tokyo 【求龍堂】
Hardcover; 12 x 8.7 x 1.3 inches; 312 pages
Book info: Kinokuniya books 【紀伊國屋書店】
Introduction by Dr. Akiko Mabuchi, Director General of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo and Chair, the Society for the Study of Japonisme
Message by Dr. Lee Glazer, Curator of American art at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Currently the Founding Director of the Lunder Institute for American Art, Colby College Museum of Art)
That the ghost of Whistler is alive and well may not strike everyone as good news. Bright, affable, even funny as he was, almost anyone will tell you James McNeil Whistler was also brittle as cold toast, angry, certainly contentious. In short, he was an artist, a powerful one, if not everyone’s choice for a second act ...
Windsor has devoted much of his life living and showing abroad in the belief that contemporary art founded on the historic principles of figurative painting can be more widely used in linking diverse cultures East and West. His search for innocence and beauty is in the archeology of his oeuvre, derived from his half century as an artist. The vein of Windsor's discoveries on Jeju Island, his home for the past three years, runs rich and deep. It's in the young women and girls there, the tossing green seas ripping through jet black rocks at shore. You'll see the innocence in the searching gaze of a horse, or in the stance of an old cow with chiseled flanks anchored to a stand of blowing grass. As in all of his paintings, it is defined by his colors, and he freely admits owing Goethe for that, as his most recent novel, The Secrets of Young Lotte (Korean edition), attests.
"This, in paint, is as close as I can get to describing the subject. I worked with a mirror. After a while I set it down. Only then did I do what I saw. When it was finished I took up the mirror and looked at my face. It was a reasonable match. The vase, the colors that address it and the mood that surrounds it are all elements of a single thing."-WI
"Painting is dead, they tell us. Where silence and contemplation once reigned, they give us a circus, a house of horrors, an endless Warhol movie. Denying the artist painting is akin to denying the novelist the written word; the actor, the stage; the musician, his instrument; the sculptor, his clay; art, its history. -WI"
Donald Kuspit on Windsor
"... I read Girl with Fan as an ironically brilliant play on the Maja theme. Indeed, there is more than a little Goya in Windsor, as the very Spanish blackness of the girl's hair suggests. It occurs in many works, a stark black flat plane that dramatically jumps out of the picture, indicating that it is as much an abstract configuration as an observed scene. Girl in Sunlit Studio is a particularly eloquent synthesis of French Intimatism and Spanish blackness. Windsor does not so much appropriate past art as connote it.
"Windsor's sentimental journey with the mystical girl--a physically vulnerable yet emotionally invulnerable symbol of all that is pure, good, and wholesome in life--leads him to a prelapsarian realm of creative fantasy."
If anything goes, then the human figure goes more than anything else today, for what we need today--if art is not to become a sterile exercise in selfcongratulation--is art that acknowledges its own history, reminding us that the idea of the "advance" of art is a modern myth that has outlived its creative usefulness. Using a now traditional modernist aesthetic of touch and color ("touchy" color?) to render an untraditional--certainly rarely represented--human subject matter, Windsor shows us just how innovative sentimentality can be.
When an outsider comes to live in a land foreign to him, ignorance may be his greatest strength. In different ways Tocqueville in early America and Gauguin in Tahiti brought lasting insights about their borrowed worlds primarily because they didn't know any better. Turner brought us Venice, Cassatt--Paris, Picasso--France. They had the clear vision of innocents, strangers who saw the natives as they are, not as they are supposed to be. -WI
Art is an international event. There are no boundaries, limiting geographies. If it is any good it speaks of universal truths, calls up the human experience. If it is honest, the result of it will establish a kind of resonance between the one who paints it and the one who looks at it, whenever that may be and wherever they may meet. -WI
The selected paintings are from the Lotte Company collection in Korea (Seoul and Buyeo)
SECRETS OF YOUNG LOTTE (Korean edition)
RECOMMENDATIONS / SUPPORT includes:
The Cultural Minister of Korea
The German Embassy in Korea
The United States Embassy in Korea
This novel is based on the romantic 18th Century classic, The Sorrows of Young Werther, written by artist and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The viewpoint in this, Windsor's second Korean language book, shifts from Werther to his tragic love interest, the intensely beautiful Lotte.
The author illuminates the text with eighty-three works of art that amplify the novel in a more immediate dimension. In this way the artist/author combines his talents to pay witness to a new viewpoint.
Lovers are novelists. A lover sees in the one he loves an image of himself. From that he shapes a character that may or may not exist. She does the same. In this way we love strangers. Often it comes to disappointment. Occasionally it's the making of great love. This story is about both. - WI
Goethe's color theory may yet become what he believed to be his most important legacy. After a brief revival of the study among innovative 19th century painters like Whistler, Turner and Inness, the spark all but died. Painting today, so in need of a renaissance moment, could find it in his revolutionary -- some would say mystical -- approach to color. Applying it could change the face of contemporary art.
Understanding color this way could reinvigorate painting. At its best Goethe's theory, however scientifically faulty, is a tool that can illuminate aspects of humanity and its conditions in ways Newton's rigidly mathematical theory cannot.
When the language of color in art is ignored or forgotten, no longer learned or spoken, the means of communications between an artist and his spectator becomes frayed or broken. Without the empirical study this theory demands, the painter stands dumbstruck before his idea. Fumbling his attempts at execution subtleties are lost, subsumed by noise and cheap stunts.
In seeing the truth, Windsor has added another perspective on how to see beauty.