Westermann and friends


Monday, August 9, 2010

Judging from Frank’s most recent posts, he’s spending this month swimming and drinking, which is the way to play it in August. Sadly, I have no pool and I get drunk really easily, so I went to art galleries instead. Lucky for me, though, I discovered a small show of lithographs, woodcuts, and linocuts by the great and massively influential H.C. Westermann at George Adams Gallery. In addition to a few superb color works, such as Red Deathship, from 1967 . . .

. . . the show includes his “Disasters in the Sky” series, small black-and-white linocuts that depict futuristic cities and horrific plane crashes.

The mask-like faces, like the one above, resemble Basil Wolverton’s grim, rubbery caricatures. Some from this series seem to suggest a narrative, and I thought of wordless novels, like Laurence Hyde’s Southern Cross and any one of Lynd Ward’s books. Westermann, Hyde, and Ward all wrote/drew tales with a political, antimilitary stance. The city’s undulating architecture and elevated, snaking roadways made me think of Jimbo‘s La Bufadora, which would be a great place to spend the summer—poolside clambakes, robot fights, special group rates.

I also saw Gosha Ostretsov’s huge comics-influenced paintings at Claire Oliver. Instead of referencing comic-book via enlarged Ben-Day dots à la Lichtenstein, Ostretsov uses splashes of color and and tonal washes and prototypical situations, expressions, and symbols to create a kind of immersive, thrilling, perplexing collage of panic and mayhem. I especially like that the paintings are called Action Packed Super Heroes, but he’s taken out the essential ingredient—super heroes—leaving just citizens and criminals.

Last one. Lee Krasner at Robert Miller Gallery. This doesn’t really have anything to do with comics, but, aside from being one of the finest artists ever, Krasner has a magnificent sense of color. I see similar bold, vibrant choices and juxtapositions in work by Dash Shaw, Frank Santoro, Paul Hornschemeier, and others. And then there’s this:

That’s Krasner on the left and Chippendale on the right. Coincidence? Well, yes. But what a great comparison.

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4 Responses to “Westermann and friends”
  1. vollsticks says:

    I’ll definitely investigate that “Disasters In The Sky” series, thanks for turning me on to such an interesting artist, Nicole.

  2. simon says:

    westerman’s “see america first” portolio is on display at the art institute of chicago right now as well (their collection of prints from chicago based artists is very impressive and definitely of interest to comics fans)

  3. Uland says:

    Man, I’d kill for a book of Westermanns’ work on paper. I love everything he did, but his drawing just blows me away.

  4. Nicole Rudick says:

    There is a book of his prints, published for his exhibition “See America First” in 2001 at the Smart Museum. It serves as a catalogue raisonne, so it’s thorough and complete.

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