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Composition in Blue and Orange
| Image Notes
A recent review of an art book complains that "Copley and Homer appear in pistachio green ... the arrangement of the plates makes little sense in terms of subject, contrast, or chronology; and worse still, there is no indication of size ..." The great tradition of painting is most familiar now under these circumstances, with "visually offensive colours, which for the most part bear little relation to the originals". George Deem paints from just such inadequate reproductions of paintings, so that his work, in oil on canvas, bears a double relation to art of the museums. Working from reproductions and copying other paintings are both acts which are marginal to the tradition of figurative painting, so that it is ironic and anti-idealistic to elevate paintings of reproductions of paintings to the level of fine art. The irony is obvious in Arrangement in Blue and Orange, in which Whistler's Arrangement in Blue and Gray is transposed into blue and orange. But even as Deem's paintings bear an obviously ironic relation to the tradition, they still pay homage to it, and offer some of the traditional satisfactions of oil paint on flat canvas in a style consistent with modern reality. Those older paintings represent a theory of reality which it is impossible to commit oneself to in 1969 without sentimentality. To paint like Courbet one must believe like Courbet. Deem paints the quality of his commitment to art in an accurate and contemporary measure. A work of art has, at least in reproduction, no intrinsic scale. So Deem varies the scale of images, and allows an internally consistent space to dwell next to a space which is inconsistent with it. Each image is allowed its own geometry. The paintings are placed on the canvas in relations which are merely possible, not necessary, organic, or metaphorical. (William S. Wilson,"Operational Images," Critical Essay, catalogue of exhibition Aspects of a New Realism, The Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee , Wisconsin, June 21 - August 10, 1969; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Texas, September 17 - October 19, 1969; Akron Art Institute, Akron, Ohio,November 9 - December 14, 1969)
NOTE: The artist's title for this painting is " Composition in Blue and Orange."
| Artist's Notes
On the reverse of the black-and-white photo print of the painting the artist (mistakenly) dated the painting February 1969.
I have just completed two large paintings: one zodiac like, called Landscape with Border georgedeem.org/works/browse/search-Landscape with Border/ and another stacked with copies of many different masterpieces, but all reduced down in color until each is the same blue and orange. This one I'm very excited about. (George Deem, letter to Sheridan and Lindy Dufferin, July 11, 1968).
Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana
Allan Stone Gallery, New York