Who the heck painted these?
May 17, 2011 12:15 AM   Subscribe

Who painted these paintings from this movie?

Thomas Hoving is the man in this picture, but who painted the paintings in the background? Or know anything else about them? This shot is from the documentary movie "Who the fuck is Jackson Pollock?"
posted by Listener to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry I can't answer your question -- I've been futzing around trying to figure it out (they look weirdly familiar to me!) but have so far been unlucky. But a key to solving the puzzle might be in watching the full credits. Any identifiable works of art that are visible in the film should (theoretically, at least!) have had their permissions/copyrights cleared to be reproduced, and so would have been credited at the end.
posted by scody at 2:08 AM on May 17, 2011

Those really look like Wayne Thiebaud landscapes, just in terms of paint-handling and exaggeration of form, but I've never seen one with cars. So presuming this is Hoving's old office in the Met.... hmm, I'll keep working!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:11 AM on May 17, 2011

This is driving me crazy, so hey, you know what I would do? Send the photo to the Met's PR people and ask. Communications@metmuseum.org. They're very helpful in general.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:12 AM on May 17, 2011

They remind me ever so slightly of some of Grant Wood's paintings which can have roads and cars and vibrant landscapes and such but I can't find anything that matches them (and to be honest in my browsing I find just enough difference in the works to cast doubt on my own reaction). That said, here it would seem that Mr. Hoving thought quite highly of Grant Wood which is something I learned today. Count me among the curious to know how this resolves. Good luck!
posted by safetyfork at 7:33 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

(You've ruined my morning, by the way. Not Thomas Hart Benton! Pretty sure not Grant Wood. It's on the tip of my mind's tongue. Please update when you figure this out!)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:39 AM on May 17, 2011

Wow, this is driving me crazy too. My first guess is Milton Avery, but it's really just a guess.
posted by neroli at 8:22 AM on May 17, 2011

I don't know but Artnet has Hoving's complete biography, Artful Tom, here .
posted by Ideefixe at 8:23 AM on May 17, 2011

And that's not his office.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:24 AM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: Well, I've re-watched the credits, and paintings other than Pollock's in the film are not mentioned, but thanks for that idea.
posted by Listener at 9:40 AM on May 17, 2011

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one being driven crazy by these (or who first thought they might be Wayne Thiebaud, except for the exaggerated shape of the car). I'm going to forward the screenshot to one of the curators at LACMA and see if I can get some leads that way.
posted by scody at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2011

Wall art like that isn't like to have been credited--you don't always need to clear that sort of use. Hoving probably signed a location release, and that would cover decoration in place (in a feature, the art director would have had these works approved for this use, but not in a doc.)

They look at little like William Joyce, the writer and illustrator of children's books.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:42 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: I mailed the cmns dept art metmuseum as suggested. Will update here what I find out.
posted by Listener at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2011

*I'll just be sitting here waiting. Heh.*
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:48 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Confirmation that the painting is in his private collection and not MoMA's: this YouTube (on his personal channel! but posthumous) where he introduces an older bit of film about Andrew Wyeth painting him. He's in the same sofa in the same position, with the same painting behind him. The view, alas, is not a better one. He later notes that the Wyeth portrait hangs in "my country house", which other sources indicate is in Pawling, NY.

Perhaps his estate will be auctioned or donated?
posted by dhartung at 6:52 PM on May 17, 2011

Well, the landscape on the left looks to have been painted literally just up the road from where Grant Wood painted his 1936 landscape, Spring Turning, which is in the Reynolda collection at Wake Forest University.

Which means it could be a student or colleague of Wood, maybe from the Stone City Artist Colony Wood ran with Edward Rowan in Iowa in 1932-3.

But I looked through all the men listed in the photo here, paying particular attention to the younger, better-looking ones on the hunch that those are the ones Wood might take out into the fields to paint with. But no one's style even seems to come close. The only possible exception is Dan Rhodes, who at least did some slightly Precisionist-influenced murals for the WPA.

Anyway, this is probably Hoving's apartment on 73rd St, which was also the office for his museum consulting firm, Hoving Associates. Maybe Architectural Digest went to visit at some point, and credits the paintings? Though looking at the rest of the room, I doubt it.
posted by gregorg at 6:56 PM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

My money is on Peter Max for the artist. Same palette, could be one of his stylistic phases, the google did nothing for an image match.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:00 PM on May 17, 2011

gregorg, you're right, the jump cut suggests a different location, and the furniture is definitely UES rather than weekend retreat.
posted by dhartung at 7:40 PM on May 17, 2011

Best answer: Alright, I just called Mrs. Hoving and asked her. Which was a good thing, because someone had mentioned the thread here this morning, and she was wondering what to do to get in touch.

The artist is named Rez Williams, a contemporary painter in and around Martha's Vineyard. About the time of the Challenger space shuttle explosion, Williams painted a series of landscapes with Icarus in them somewhere or other.

The paintings had been shown in Oak Bluffs all that summer, and when they came down, the Hovings got them.

Williams' more recent work focuses on nautical and harbor scenes. I've emailed him to get the story on these paintings, but according to Mrs. Hoving, there is no particular Grant Wood connection or reference. Stay tuned.
posted by gregorg at 12:55 PM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

The artist is named Rez Williams, a contemporary painter in and around Martha's Vineyard. About the time of the Challenger space shuttle explosion, Williams painted a series of landscapes with Icarus in them somewhere or other.

Holy cow! I had considered briefly it might be Rez Williams based on the palette (I was put on his trail by Hoving's list of "artists to watch" here, on the theory that Hoving might have personally collected some of them himself), but since I could only find harbor scenes on his website I shrugged it off.

Between gregorg and me, you can tell which of us would make the real detective, and which one would get demoted back to making traffic stops.
posted by scody at 1:11 PM on May 18, 2011

Response by poster: PS the Met cmns dept got back to me today and said since it wasn't shot at the met, I should follow up with the filmmaker or whatever.
posted by Listener at 1:49 PM on May 18, 2011

posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2011

Best answer: I emailed Rez Williams and asked if he'd share some background info about his Fall of Icarus paintings and their relation, if any, to his work since then:
It was amusing to see the head scratching and bushwacking that was done in the art world that led to my door. The 5 Fall of Icarus paintings are oil/canvas, each 54 x 40" done in 1987 in my West Tisbury studio on Martha's Vineyard, not too long after I had moved from New York City to the Vineyard where I still live. They hung together on the wall of a restaurant in Oak Bluffs, where Tom saw them, videotaped them and to my great astonishment, bought them.

Inspiration, as Nancy indicated, was the shock of the Challenger disaster. Sources were, of course, the putative Pieter Breugel FALL OF ICARUS and-- as many people suspected, Grant Wood's DEATH ON THE RIDGE ROAD of 1935. Reproductions of both paintings are still stapled to my studio wall.

The Vineyard has a seductive and gnarly landscape, shaped by glacial till, wind and salt spray. This held my interest as subject for some time but when plein air types arrived to serve it up I decided to look elsewhere. The New Bedford and Fairhaven, MA steel fishing vessels have held my interest for the past 12 years or so for their "otherness", brutality, torqued shapes and high color...not to mention the sociological implications. I try to preserve the individual identity of the boats and in that sense I suppose they are portraits , but I also try to respect the flatness of the canvas in the way form and space is handled. I would hesitate to call them "harbor scenes", although there is some background "business" sometimes.
posted by gregorg at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Awesome. Thanks Greg.
posted by safetyfork at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2011

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