Monday, March 23, 2020

Meltzoff Paints Avati and Family Sharing the Studio

Today, some of us begin a new week of coronavirus confinement. Workers face the prospect of doing labor in their domestic settings (if they can), with kids underfoot as they try to get their schoolwork finished there, too. And let's not forget the work that has always happened in the home, such as cooking and cleaning. Somehow, we manage.

Stanley Meltzoff, James Avati in his Studio, oil on mounted canvas (21.5" x 26")
Picture-maker Stanley Meltzoff (1917-2006) shared a studio with paperback cover artist James Avati in Red Bank, New Jersey. Deploying some gentle humor and a lot of art history savvy, Meltzoff painted his good friend at the easel. Avati is shown using his divine talent (notice his feet don't touch the ground), baby on floor illuminated by the cool foil-fringed light. On the far sofa, a visiting reverend lends spiritual guidance while a son crouches with his toy pistol. The Avati daughters are absorbed by their own inner worlds of art or dance. Outside the window of this chaotic little utopia, the world gleams with eerie purple light.

The Illustrated Press has just released a brand new edition of Stanley Meltzoff: Picture Maker, featuring both his illustrations and his paintings of wild ocean fish.

I've just received a copy and have taken a quick look at it. The quality of the art is excellent as always. One of the treasures of the book is that Meltzoff tells his own story and describes how he makes his pictures.

The text was published in a previous big art book on Melzoff (now out of print), so I asked publisher Dan Zimmer how this one is different. He said, "I really wanted to emphasize a lot of his earlier illustration work that wasn’t shown in the first book, or was shown in very small reproductions." 
Wikipedia: Stanley Meltzoff 


tolbertm said...

Is that an iceberg coming out of the light in the ceiling?

James Gurney said...

I'd guess it's a big piece of heavy aluminum foil extending the reflector effect from an electric light fixture on the ceiling.

Lou said...

And there's a lot more going on in this painting than just that. Descriptions of artists and their thoughts, ideas, interests, etc, just never live up to reality. Here being a case in point. What's with the flames/fire thru the left door? I can't see it all well enough to know what the daughter is doing and what is with the books/games surrounding her.
Always enjoyed Meltzoff's art, particularly the fish. This may have to be a book added to the library.

James Gurney said...

Lou, there's always more. That's Meltzoff himself in the chair beyond, looking up at his pal in admiration. I wasn't sure if the seated girl was a person or a doll, or if the flamelike rectangle was a mirror or a door, so I didn't speculate there. SM kept this painting close, never sold it, all through his long life.