Sunday, October 18, 2015

Arcadia in Brooklyn

Lennart Anderson recent photo courtesy Huffington Post
at home in Brooklyn

Reading the notice that Lennart Anderson passed away yesterday has left me with a great sadness.  I followed his work from the time I was a kid after seeing his paintings in an art magazine.  He was an influential teacher at a time when everyone was gaga over abstract expressionism and then it took lots of guts and determination to paint as a perceptual realist.  In some ways Lennart continued in the spirit of Edwin Dickinson, and in fact Lennart kept a marvelous Dickinson painting in his living room when I would visit him in the 1980's.

Lennart Anderson portrait of Barbara S.

I interviewed him for the Prospect Press and he was very generous with his time and had me come upstairs to look over his studio where we had a chance to talk.  He was working on one of the big figure compositions that occupied him for years at a time.  His Arcadian bacchanals cling to the tradition of painting's golden years - that of Giorgione, Titian, Poussin and Veronese.  This is a tough act to follow, made even more difficult by our current skittishness, and lack of a central core of belief when it comes to Fine Art.

Painting in Lennart Anderson's studio when I visited

The passing of a painter like Lennart Anderson, not only makes me recall my past, but also calls into question where we are today, and how far afield mainstream art has moved in the past 30 years or so when I lived in Brooklyn and visited his Union Street home and studio.  Lennart said of his attempt to follow in the footsteps of Poussin, "The subject is not just classical, it is air, flesh, and sky; the stuff of great art.  I want people who stand in front of my paintings to feel joyful."