Fine Art Connoisseur
by Jeffrey Carlson Reporting
A Contemporary Take on a Zurbaran Still Life
Jeffrey Carlson Reporting
Contributing Editor, Fine Art Today
With his smart still life painting, Guy Diehl pays homage to Corot, Picasso, and a host of other important artists in a thoughtful way.
In his still life paintings Diehl prominently places reproductions of works by the past and present artists who inspire him. Interestingly for an artist who has committed to realism, Diehl frequently references pioneering figures in Modernism, like Picasso, Mondrian, and Robert Delaunay. Several works included in the present exhibition celebrate the centennial of the Armory Show, which effectively marks the establishment of Modern art in America. Francisco de Zurbarán, a Spanish master celebrated for his dark and heavily sculptural painting, receives mention, as does 19th-century landscape artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Some of the artists Diehl chooses to engage in dialogue are less a part of the established canon, such as Bill Traylor, a former slave and self-taught artist who did not begin painting until his mid-80s.
Whatever artist features in the center of his compositions, Diehl encourages thoughtful consideration of that artist's achievement in addition to Diehl's own. Often accompanying the reproduction are books on the lives of the artist or the movement of which they were a part. In this way, Diehl draws intellectual connections between each of the objects within the painting and suggests a conceptual link between his own practice and that of the artist featured.
Surrounding the reproductions and print volumes that distinguish Diehl's paintings, the artist has placed groups of bottles and geometric objects, such as boxes and spheres. The illusionistic detail Diehl achieves is remarkable, and the formal interaction among the objects pictured piques visual interest. Carefully placed highlights and shadows, playing across the surfaces of objects, foreground, and background, enhance the sense of realism.
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