The Art of Looking: Through the Eyes of Painter Bradley Stevens
THE ART OF LOOKING:
Through the Eyes of Painter Bradley Stevens
September 17, 2021 – January 19, 2022
At THE COSMOS CLUB
2121 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
All works are available for purchase through Zenith Gallery.
All works will stay at the Cosmos Club until the exhibit closes in January.
If you are not a Cosmos member, call to make appointment to see the show.
Oil on linen, 38" x 48" framed
Time seems to be in suspended animation during quarantine. Days are indistinguishable from one another. This current condition affords us ample time to reflect back on one’s life and the choices that were made. Here is an older man in the National Gallery of Art, seemingly deep in thought, surrounded by women from the 19th century.
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (L-R):
1. Édouard Manet, Madame Michel-Lévy, 1882
2. William Merritt Chase, Study of Flesh Color and Gold, 1888
3. Mary Cassatt, The Black Hat, 1890
4. Edgar Degas, Young Woman Dressing herself, 1885
Oil on linen, 24" x 32" framed
There are many reasons people go to art museums. One of them is to escape from the “real” world and the stresses of everyday life. Especially now with the constant drumbeat of bad news. [Symbolized by the man holding a folded-up newspaper]. I’m trying to convey the feeling of being alone in a room full of art. But is he really alone?
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA in the Paul and Bunny Mellon Collection of Small French paintings (L-R):
1. Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Oysters, 1876,
2. Alfred Sisley, The Watering Pond at Marly with Hoarfrost, 1876
3. Camille Pissaro, Le Quai du Pothuis a Pontoise, 1872
4. Alfred Sisley, Wildflowers, 1875
5. Claude Monet, Camille at the Window, Argenteuil, 1873
6. Claude Monet, Field of Poppies, 1885
7. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pensive, 1875
8. Aristide Maillol, Nymph, 1931 (sculpture)
Oil on linen, 30 x 36 inches
This painting is my homage to Degas, the master of capturing human movement. It was completed last year during the worst of the pandemic and lockdown, when it was often impossible to visit family and loved ones. Pictured is my mother in her hometown Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts, gesticulating her thoughts about the painting to my wife Patricia.
After Degas’ death, his heirs discovered in his studio dozens of small wax and clay figures, never before seen or exhibited. Many were restored and later cast in bronze. Today they are highly prized, three-dimensional studies of people in motion, often with the extreme or exaggerated gestures that Degas so loved.
Oil on Linen, 26” x 26” Framed
Frederic Remington is one of many 19th century eastern-based artists who became enamored with the West. Lured by the breathtaking grandeur of the landscape or the romantic notion of rugged cowboys battling a wild frontier, these artists set out to chronicle a rapidly changing geography.
Bronco Buster was the first of only a handful of sculptures that Remington ever produced. An immediate success, it symbolizes the unbridled energy and spirit of the West. In addition to this version in the Metropolitan Museum, a cast is prominently displayed in the Oval Office of the White House.
Oil on linen, 24” x 30” framed
In the Phillips Collection a woman stops to observe a painting on the stairwell connecting the original Phillips home with the newer Goh Annex. I was struck by how her gesture echoed those of the dancers in Degas’ painting. I’ve always loved this late Degas. With its more free and abstract brushwork, it heralds the transition from 19th to 20th century art.
Justice For All
Oil on linen, 31" x 37" framed
I was intrigued by this young guard in the Phillips Collection and looked for an opportunity to include him in a painting. On my mind were the Black Lives Matter movement and the countless tragic instances of injustice across the country. Then I came across Honoré Daumier’s, Three Lawyers, and thought it was the perfect work to spotlight some the current issues facing the African American community. Daumier revealed his disgust for the judicial system in mid-19th century France by depicting three haughty and corrupt attorneys conspiring with each other outside the courtroom.
Daumier spent much of his career drawing, painting and sculpting political satires and caricatures of prominent figures of the day. You might say Daumier was one of the very first political cartoonists. His activities even landed him in jail for six months in 1832, after he was accused of sedition for lampooning King Louis-Philippe.
Oil on Linen, 26” x 26” Framed
In Metropolitan Museum of Art, a mother carries her young son while studying Consuelo Vanderbilt’s son, Ivor Spencer-Churchill (a cousin of Winston Churchill), in Boldini’s dashing double portrait. Consuelo, who was of Cuban ancestry, married the 9th Duke of Marlborough. Edith Wharton’s novel, The Buccaneers, is supposedly modeled on the life of Ms. Vanderbilt and the Gilded Age, when marriages were often based on titles and fortunes, not love. In the distance, the great Spanish artist, Joaquin Sorolla, depicts children frolicking in the Mediterranean surf, near Valencia.
It’s never too early to introduce children to the arts. I am fortunate to have grown up in Westport, CT––a vibrant, art-loving community that has long been a haven for New York-based artists, musicians, writers, illustrators and actors.
The American School (Study)
Oil on linen (Private Collection, NFS)
This is a study for what became a large painting commissioned for the lobby of an office building on 7th Street, two blocks from the National Gallery of Art. My goal was to entice office workers to visit the museum during their lunch breaks or off-hours. The gentleman, with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, looking at art, symbolizes this idea.
The Blue Room
Oil on panel, 36” x 50” framed
This painting was inspired by the bold, blue of the walls playing off the warm sienna of the wood floors. I’m attracted to the concept of rooms within rooms, or portals, that draw the viewer’s eye back into space. The compositions in the paintings are all very geometric in nature. The vertical, horizontal and diagonal divisions of the canvas are all carefully calibrated for balance and pictorial dynamics.
Phillips Collection - L-R:
Paul Delvaux - Gare de l’Est - 1947
Pablo Picasso - The Blue Room - 1901
Henri Matisse - Studio, Quai Saint-Michel -1916
Jules Olitzki - Adriadne: Orange - 2002
The subject features various paintings of nudes as interpreted by two powerhouse figures in art history, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, along with lesser-known artists, Paul Delvaux and Jules Olitzki.
The Prodigal Son
Oil on linen, 44” x 56” framed
For years, I had in my files this great image of a father and son, walking hand-in-hand and wearing matching casquettes, through the National Gallery of Art. I always wanted to somehow incorporate them in a painting but I couldn’t find the appropriate painting as their complement. Then I stumbled across Puvis de Chavannes’ The Prodigal Son from 1879. This biblical story of redemption, forgiveness and familial bond resonated in a deeply personal way.
You're Not Alone
Oil on linen, 38” x 48” framed
While attending an event one evening at the grand Kogod courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery, my wife Patricia and I learned the upstairs galleries were open for guests. We took advantage of this rare opportunity to visit some of our favorite paintings.
Smithsonian American Art Museum - L-R:
Cecilia Beaux - Man with the Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker), 1898
Abbott Handerson Thayer - Roses, 1890
John Singer Sargent - Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler (Mrs. John Jay Chapman), 1893
The Art of Looking: Through the Eyes of Painter Bradley Stevens features select oil paintings from Bradley Stevens’ series of museum interiors. In exquisite depictions of museum spaces, Stevens explores the psychological intersection between the viewer and the work of art. With his mastery of color, composition and gesture, Stevens lures us into quiet, contemplative moments of museum visitors absorbed in paintings. These superbly rendered works are Stevens’ homage to the master painters who have influenced him and the museums that are a constant source of inspiration.