Friday, May 08, 2009

Great Gifts for Mom: THE ARTIST'S MOTHER

Nancy Davison pays tribute to The Artist's Mother on this Mother's Day weekend: "Lavishly illustrated with reproductions of paintings and drawings of their mothers by thirty-three artists, this book offers a quick overview of art history and a brief survey of women’s lives from Albrecht Dürer’s mother in 1490 to Andy Warhol’s mother in 1974 (pictured here: "Julia Warhola"). Judith Thurman, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of books about Isak Dineson and Collette, wrote the introduction “A Mother’s Gift, a Child’s Homage” dedicated to the idea that we are all mothers and that we are all artists. A combination of art history and social history, the book’s basic format is simple and effective—a brief essay about the artist and the artist’s mother on the left side, the picture of her on the right. The reproductions are crisp and uncropped. Regardless of style or medium, the artists all approached their mothers with an unsentimental, unsparing eye. Relationships between them jump off the page. The images are boldly executed in a wide variety of styles. Many of the male all-stars—Dürer, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso—are represented; they are joined by female artists such as Anguissola, Cassatt, and Kahlo, as well as artists of color—Motley and Tanner—and even some of the academic painters such as Købke and Blanche, who won fame and fortune in their time but are no longer in fashion. . . The mothers gaze at us from their canvases—wary, confident, or preoccupied. They are often the convenient subjects of their children’s earliest work, sometimes painted from life and sometimes from memory or from photographs. Many of the women actively supported their children’s careers as artists by sitting as models or providing financial and emotional security. Others died young or raised their children in hardship and want. The images are excellent and the relationships between the artists and their mothers are vivid and concrete."

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