Five Favorite Artists

Yoshi, Mark Ryden, 2007.

The previous post about synesthesia got me into an artistic frame of mind. That tends to happen when I post art. I’ve talked about favorite films, books and music, but I don’t think I’ve talked about my favorite artists before. It’s time to change that.

My favorite works of art tend to be compositions I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself. I am (or was) a realistic artist. Here’s one of mine:

I’ll eat your soul.

As you can see, I took my subjects literally. There’s no emotion in my art, just technical prowess. I always wanted to just let go and make a mess, but I could never really get there. I managed a few times, but I was never pleased with the results. That’s really why I don’t paint anymore. I find that I can let go much more easily in my writing. Plus, I type faster than I paint.

When I view other people’s art, I look for what I don’t find in my own. I look for passion, reckless abandon, drawing outside the lines. I look for something that makes me feel. I’m looking for classical music in art. My own failure just makes what I do like when I find it that much more apparent.

Salvador Dalí

I know, it’s such cliché to say you like Dalí, but I do. Not only was he a very technically skilled painter, but he had that wild abandon I so wanted to find in my own art, but couldn’t. And I don’t mean that Persistence of Memory nonsense you find on refrigerator magnets. If a melting clock is the only Dalí that you can call to mind, you need to look at more Dalí.

This piece looks like a big blue mess until you see the pair of feet and then the whole body. Nobody had a sense of perspective like Dalí. The man could foreshorten like a motherfucker.

Et posuerunt eum in monumento (Mark 15:46), Salvador Dalí, 1964.
Untitled (first study for ‘The Three Glorious Enigmas of Dalí’), Salvador Dali, 1982.
Warrior, Salvador Dalí, 1982.

This one is my favorite and is hanging on my wall:

“Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, which at 30 meters becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln”, Salvador Dali, 1976.

Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden has an imagination that won’t quit. Like Dalí, he’s also an amazing technical artist. Put those two things together and you’ve got one of my favorite artists. The universe he has created is a mixture of equal parts cute and creepy, sometimes a little heavy on the creepy. Ryden makes his own frames. They’re sometimes as intricate than the paintings themselves.

Long Yak, Mark Ryden, 2008.
Yoshi, Mark Ryden, 2007.
California Brown Bear, Mark Ryden, 2006.

Like Dalí, Ryden also seems to have a thing for painting Abraham Lincoln.

The Ringmaster, Mark Ryden, 2001.

This is not my favorite, but I have a print of it hanging on my wall:

The Birth, Mark Ryden, 1994.

Octavio Ocampo

I have been fascinated by Trompe-l’œil for as long as I can remember. Octavio Ocampo excels at it. I can’t stop looking at his work.

Ecstacy Of The Lillies, Octavio Ocampo, date unknown.
Absents Of The Mermaid, Octavio Ocampo, date unknown.
Visions Of Don Quixote, Octavio Ocampo,1989.
Marlena, Octavio Ocampo,1983.

Jacek Yerka

Oh, how I love everything in Yerkaland. Yerka has somehow managed to find my childhood brain, dig out all the visions I had in my head of secret hideaways under tables, dream staircases that led to faraway places and unreal creatures that house entire civilizations. Sometimes, I wish I could live in his art.

Fever, Jacek Yerka, 1982.
Please Don’t Slam The Door, Jacek Yerka, 1993.
Strawberry Tree, Jacek Yerka, 1995.
A Door, Jacek Yerka, date unknown.
Learning Walk, Jacek Yerka, 2005.
Dream, Jacek Yerka, 2011.

Wassily Kandinksy

Anyone who read my last post about Synesthesia probably saw this coming. To me, Kandinsky is as complicated and beautiful as a Beethoven symphony. They actually go hand in hand.

Composition IV, Wassily Kandinsky, 1911.
Composition V, Wassily Kandinsky, 1911.
Composition VI, Wassily Kandinsky, 1913.
Moscow I, Wassily Kandinsky, 1916.

Honorable Mentions

Robert Rauschenberg

I’m very fond of his early starving artist days when he added anything and everything to his paintings that he had on hand. He was like a black hole of art supplies:

Pilgrim, Robert Rauschenberg, 1960.

He also had one of the best quotes ever: “You’re not going anywhere unless there’s wall in front of you.” My brain has kept that quote filed away for twenty years.

MC Escher

I nearly posted Escher as one of the top five, but he’s more like the Patron Saint of Graphic Design than a proper artist.

Up And Down, MC Escher, 1947.

Thomas Hart Benton

I absolutely love his style. Everything looks so smooth you want to reach out and touch it.

Bootleggers, Thomas Hart Benton, 1927.

Max Ernst

I love his surrealist works, but this one is my favorite. It’s an explosion of color and the title just says it all.

Max Ernst, 33 Girls Chasing Butterflies, 1958.

I really could go on forever, but I have to end it somewhere. If anyone would like to buy me an original of any of these fine works of art, I’d be much obliged.

All images in this post (except the first one which was drawn by me) are from