When I have a grand drawing idea I usually pencil it out and then scan it so I can put more nuance into it than just inking allows. I sketched this lady so long ago, I am not sure what the grand idea was. Now it is colored.
I inherited a strange little picture from my grandmother of two horses frightened by a storm, perhaps, or running towards some lightening. I remember staring up at the horses’ pop eyes during nap time, and am terribly satisfied having it in my house. This terrible cell phone picture is of my dining room wall, horse picture included.
It never crossed my mind to find out more about it, even though I had never seen its like anywhere else. You can imagine my surprise when I saw it included in the gallery wall of interior designer Lauren Liess | Pure Style Home while flipping through a home decorating magazine. Liess’ style is much more polished and muted, but the horse picture has the same kind of punch, I think. It is an oddity: something banal enough to look past and yet odd enough to furrow the brow upon closer inspection.
After a little searching I found that it is called Spirited Horses by Henri LeRoy (1851- ) a still life painter in France (*05/11/2015 now in question, see link to continuing research below). LeRoy’s catalog, as far as I could find, revolved around prints of fruit and flowers with a few landscapes thrown in. All of his pictures have the same feel: a controlled and factual reproduction of the subject, but strange–like looking through a warped glass. They are just a little bit naive.
I wanted to find out more about Henri LeRoy, but have been unsuccessful. He, like several other Victorian chromolithograph artists, produced much in a new and flourishing world of consumer driven art. Many chromolithographs were known for their publishers over their artists. They found a champion in Harriet Beecher Stowe who lauded them as an asset to interior decoration (Rotskoff). Perhaps because of Stowe’s support, and perhaps because a new and thriving middle class had grown from industrialism, consumption of these prints soared between 1840-1900. They were so popular, as was using the technology for cards and advertisements, that the time period became known as the “chromo civilization” (according to Wikipedia). Like any pop-art, they were not made to last and the numbers of undamaged prints out there have dwindled over the years, which is probably why I’ve only just seen Henri LeRoy’s Spirited Horses on anyone else’s wall.
cited: Lori E. Rotskoff (1997) Decorating the Dining-Room: Still-Life Chromolithographs and Domestic Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America. Journal of American Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Apr., 1997), pp. 19-42
The Sketchbook Project 2013 is the most fabulous thing I have read about all year, maybe longer. A library in Brooklyn has a collection of artists sketchbooks. You can buy one of their specially made sketchbooks, fill it up, and they will keep it and tend it in true library tradition. It may even go on a gallery trip across the country. I finally have a terrible and driving reason to go to New York. I must see the sketchbooks. An article in the New York Times talks a little more about it.
There’s something that tickles me about bringing some fiction into reality, I want more of it. I want to live in the town where Fraley’s Robot Repair shop warms the window of a vacant store shop: Toby Atticus Fraley, Public Art Installation. And, of course, when I saw this I immediately thought of the Echo Park Time Travel Mart by 826LA — an equally fascinating idea by a non-profit writing and tutoring center.