Have you met…Ellen Letcher?

An introduction can be a wonderful thing. You can meet interesting people, and make new friends. You can be introduced to your new favorite foods, books, music, or artist.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite artists. Some of whom I’ve been familiar with for years, and other I’ve only recently been introduced to.

The person I’d like to introduce is the artist Ellen Letcher who was recommended to me by Austin Thomas.

Hotdog, 2012  25 x 19 ½  inches  Collaged magazine pages, color laser print and acrylic paint on paper

Hotdog, 2012 25 x 19 ½ inches Collaged magazine pages, color laser print and acrylic paint on paper

“Ellen Letcher has an individual and intensely innovative approach to art making in her use of many different media, from unprimed canvas and paint to photographs and laser-prints, to collaged magazine and book-pages.

Wresting images from glossy magazines and pasting them down with paint, Letcher creates a highly idiosyncratic collection of pictorial data. She replays this device of painting and pasting, maintaining a graphic energy while carefully editing, and anything might and does happen along the way (for instance, an impression of a leaf falls outside one of Letcher’s gridded, brushed blue-glue and pink strokes). Evidence of a cup of tea is plastered by active orange paint strokes while on another one of Letcher’s pages, Muslims pray within a lattice of painted pink, orange, and blue.

Letcher doesn’t take pictures — she jags their contours with color, abutting one against another, alongside yet another within a tableau of hidden transcriptions excavated with a red, blue, pink, or orange brush. She has many influences, including her years spent in production design and more recently co-directing the now shuttered Famous Accountants gallery, thereby illustrating how visual culture gets layered and loaned sometimes from the same sources without the fidelity of precise transcription.”

Muslims, 2012  20 x 16 inches  Collaged magazine pages and acrylic paint with on wood panel with shelf

Muslims, 2012 20 x 16 inches Collaged magazine pages and acrylic paint with on wood panel with shelf

Other material relating to Ellen Letcher.

Riot Of Perfume: Studio Visit: Ellen Letcher.

ArtSlant: Ellen Letcher.

Bushwick Daily: These Ten Artists…

Studio Vissit: Ellen Letcher is on her game.

ANABA: Ellen Letcher.

If you liked this introduction check out the Previous and Next.

Robert Rauschenberg Combines, An Artist’s Review.

An Artist's Bookshelf Review.

An Artist's Bookshelf Review.

I’ve had a long love of books, and some of my most prized books are art books. This is a review of books from my collection that can be found on shelves in my studio. I will provide links when possible.

Off The wall.

Off The wall.

If you are interested in learning more about the life and work of Robert Rauschenberg a good book to start with would be, Off the Wall: A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg by Calvin Tomkins. It is a very readable and informative book on the early life and work of Rauschenberg.

Robert Rauschenberg Combines.

Robert Rauschenberg Combines.

Other books that I highly recommend are, Robert Rauschenberg Combines, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Steidl Verlag (if you are interested in book design check out www.steidlville.com). It can only be described as a work of art in itself. The illustrations are in lavish full colour showing many details of important works, and the essays are readable and informative. It is simply a breathtaking work on one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Robert Rauschenberg, Cardboards and Related Pieces.

Robert Rauschenberg, Cardboards and Related Pieces.

Cardboards and Related Pieces focuses on a body of work Rauschenberg created in the early 1970’s. After he moved to Captiva Island he couldn’t find interesting scrape or junk that he used to create much of his work. He turned to the closest thing at hand which was the cardboard boxes that he found in his studio or on the street. He started breaking the boxes apart and gluing them back together, and eventually he started casting them in clay and bronze.

These are great books to explore the work and life of this unique, and great artist.

Artistic match up #4.

Have you ever played a game of comparisons where you match up persons or things and try to decide which you prefer? I know we can’t or won’t really say who is the better artist but it is fun to take two artists who are contemporaries and match them up.

I invite your comments on these two artists. I simply want to know who you prefer:

Robert Rauschenberg or Jasper Johns.

Robert Rauschenberg.

Robert Rauschenberg.

Robert Rauschenberg was born in 1925 and died in 2008 and is to many contemporary artists an infuriating figure. So many artists have been excited by some great breakthrough only to discover that Rauschenberg did it first. He was a painter, sculptor, photographer, printmaker, and performance artist. He is best known for his combines of the 1950s, and lesser known for many other works of art. He created so much and so many forms of art it is almost impossible to understand his achievements. It is sometimes said he stopped being an interesting artist after the early 1960s, yet his Cardboards and related pieces he created on Captiva Island in the early 1970s are an under known and exciting example of work by an artist who made use of everyday materials and junk that he found lying around on the street or in his studio.

Rauschenberg’s prolific output might have contributed to his later work being overlooked. Also the sheer brilliance of the combines overshadows the great work he created before and after. His use of silkscreen could be said to be derivative of Warhol though Rauschenberg’s subject matter and technique with silkscreen painting is very different from Warhol’s.

Jasper Johns.

Jasper Johns.

Jasper Johns was born in 1930 and is a painter, printmaker, and sometimes sculptor. He is most famous for his encaustic paintings, a medium that he helped to resurrect from the dead. His use of images such as the American flag, coffee cans, maps, and numbers has led him to be called a Pop artist though he could be better described as a Neo-Dadaist. Johns’s appropriation of popular iconography in his work was to be highly influential to later artists, particularly pop artists of the 1960s.

He was the lover of Robert Rauschenberg, and for a while they influenced each other’s work. Leo Castelli discovered Johns while visiting Rauschenberg’s studio, and Castelli gave him his first solo show. In some ways it could be said that Johns began to have a greater success than Rauschenberg at this time, and this might have led to a breakdown in their relationship.

Both of these artists are among the finest and most influential of American artists. Both have had long productive careers, and they inspired each other to great lengths. Johns’s flag paintings are stunning achievements, and Rauschenberg’s combines are brilliant. Johns’s influence on the American pop artists of the 1960s cannot be understated, but Rauschenberg’s influence on the art world is still a force to this day. If you are a performance artist, conceptual artist, street artist, minimalist, photographer, experimental printmaker, if you do theater sets, etc, etc, chances are Rauschenberg did it first, and for these reason I give this match up to Rauschenberg.