Archive for November 8th, 2011

Never heard of him.  Jozseph Rippl-Rónaї was a Hungarian artist, 1861-1927. He makes his appearance here because this painting of his reminds me of Elaine’s “Untitled” which I talked about in the last post.  Painted in 1897, it recently made it into the Art Institute galleries.  I have no other information on this, it’s not even on the AIC web site.

About six feet tall, it’s a striking painting.  It’s in the room with the decorative furniture from that period and, indeed, it is a decorative piece itself.  The artist is not struggling to express emotion, nor is he inventing new ways to handle the brush and the paint.  He is playing with form, with undulating line, very much the way his contemporaries in the Belle Epoche were, like Mucha and Guimard. What strikes me about the painting is the play of positive and negative space, the way the creamy white of the background pushes into the figure in black. The white becomes a powerful, assertive element in the composition.  This is clearly deliberate.  Notice how the arms are raised and all objects are way at the top of the image’s frame.  It’s a tour de force, a play on pure form with the so-called “negative space” taking the lead.

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