Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Return to the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House

Kimberly and I returned to the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House this week. There were more paintings on display than the last time we visited in 2013, and many were hung in better locations for easier viewing.

Each one is inspirational. Nicolai Fechin was a truly incredible painter who avoided the pitfalls of tricks and gimmicks in his work, letting the texture of his brushstrokes speak loudly. Click through the photos below for more information about each one.

Nicolai Fechin, "Manicure Lady" (oil on canvas, 29"x27", 1917)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

This painting was the highlight of the visit for me. So much texture and yet the composition holds together beautifully. So many energetic strokes that effortlessly state so much. One could break this apart into a number of different paintings, and all would be a masterpiece. Just look at the expertly painted still life in the upper left.

Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
A close up of the face. No blending of strokes, just shapes of values and colors painted side by side without any worry about the differing textures.
 
Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.

A further closeup. Especially of note is the eye. No attempt to paint all the detail that is unnecessary to suggest the form.

Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Upon first viewing, I didn't even notice the scissors as I was so taken with the shapes of the hands. The outer shapes are more important than the details of the fingers.

Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Here's a close-up of the still life from the upper left. It could stand on its own as a painting. Notice the varying colors within the strokes, which suggests the swiftness with which Fechin painted. His brush picked up various colors from his palette at the same time.

Nicolai Fechin, "Birches [Aspens]" (oil on canvas, 14.5"x9.5", before 1923)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
This is a piece that I had not seen before. So simple, and yet so much depth. It is painted on a piece of unstretched canvas.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
In this closeup, you can see how Fechin was unconcerned with covering every bit of his surface. The raw canvas shows through on the edges of the trees. 

Nicolai Fechin, "Eya in Peasant Blouse" (oil on canvas, 24"x20", 1933)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
 This portrait has a wonderful variation of thick and thin paint.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
Notice the thicker paint on the face, where Fechin spent most of his time.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
The hands become a mix of thick and thin, although you can see raw canvas coming through around them.
 
Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
Sometimes Fechin allows the initial washes of paint to remain. If it's the right value and color, no need to mess with it further.
 
Nicolai Fechin, "Le Portrait de Ulle Kitaeve" (oil on linen, 35.5"x30", 1912)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Eya in Judo Gi" (oil on canvas, 26"x20", ca.1940's)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
 Gotta love the way the paint texture turns the form above the eye. 

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
 The paint texture is just as important to the form as the subtle value and color changes.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Eya with Cat" (oil on canvas, 24"x20")
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.

Photo by Patrick Saunders Fine Arts.
Great textures combined with vivid color create so much interest in the dress.
 
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
 The cat could have easily distracted from Eya's face, but it's so subtly painted, it is not even noticeable at first glance. 

Nicolai Fechin, "General MacArthur" (oil on canvas, 24"x20.25")
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
 Even commissioned portraits were painted in such a way that the face is handled no differently than the rest of the painting.

Nicolai Fechin, "Alexandra on the Volga" (oil on canvas, 32"x27", 1912)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Alexandra with Coral Beads" (oil on canvas, 26"x23", 1910)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Arroyo Hondo Mountains" (oil on canvas, 15"x24.5")
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Russian Singer with Fan" (oil on canvas, 48"x33.5", ca. 1923-24)
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Walter Clark" (oil on canvas, 47"x38.75")
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Nicolai Fechin, "Bearded Man" (Lithograph, 15"x11")
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.