When I was fifteen years old, my art instructor arranged for a visit the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts. As I walked through the galleries, nothing really interested me until I stood before Fume'e d'Ambre Gris by John Singer Sargent. I was mesmerized and couldn't move! To me, this painting was a miracle, and one that I would never forget. Since that time, many decades ago, I've traveled to the Clark to see this painting at least forty times. At this point, I understand Sargent's technical achievement, but remain in awe nevertheless. This painting made me fall in love with what I call "white on white" painting and so I began to study it. I realized that the illusion is achieved through temperature change and by predominantly using high-key values. The temperature change occurs by adding to white either "warm" colors (yellows, oranges, reds) or "cool" colors (blues, violets, blue greens). Here are some other "white on white" paintings that fascinate me:
Jasper Johns, White Flag (below)
Georgia O'Keeffe, Iris (below)
Greg Mort, River of Life (below)
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #54 (below)
It's logical to ask how these works have influenced my art. Honestly, I still don't know. My paintings are usually highly chromatic. Yet, the paintings that I love are just the opposite. Is it true that "opposites attract?"
What work made a first and lasting impression on you?