Friday, September 10, 2010

Artists I Love: Kurt Kauper

One of my favorite contemporary portrait artists is Kurt Kauper.  I remember reading about him in school in the painting book that was our new bible in the mid 2000's, Vitamin P.  Mr. Kauper, along with some other highly skilled draftsmen such as Will Cotton and John Currin, inspired me to continue my path towards realism and beauty.  Kauper shows at ACME Gallery in Los Angeles and Deitch Projects in NY (although, I'm not sure what's going on with Deitch- is it still a gallery now that it's gone from NY and Deitch is at MoCA?), and was a professor at Yale.  I did some research on his new work and there doesn't seem to be much out there.  Maybe he has taken a break?  I did find some work on the Obamas at ACME but that was disappointing... I'm not one for the political.  Nevertheless, his skill as a painter is exciting and his desire for beauty is satisfying.  

There are two main bodies of work I'm familiar with; Kauper paints dudes with a syrupy knack for color and attention to fine details.  They are also funny- most are either glorious, strangely homoerotic and unexpected portraits of hockey players from his childhood or naked Cary Grants.

His more well-known series, The Fictional Diva series, are a group of imagined opera stars who strut and pose as if they are challenging you to question their reality.  They are composed of made-up elements of Kauper's imagination, so many of them look slightly masculine, or androgynous because of his tendency to revert to male proportions.  The dresses are borrowed from high fashion magazines and are simply luscious in their painted forms.  

I hope you are doing well and making more amazing art, Kurt Kauper.

Cary Grant

Diva 1
Diva 4
Diva 14
Diva 14 (detail)
Diva 13
Diva 5

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