Saturday, November 23, 2013
Art I'm Looking At: Anders Zorn at The Legion of Honor (November 23, 2013)
Zorn was immensely successful as a society portrait painter, both in Europe and on his trips to the United States. Looking at Zorn's work in the genre, the paintings of nearly contemporary painters John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and Valentin Serov (1865-1905) immediately come to mind. These painters all had an uncanny ability to capture something about sitters that make their portraits look absolutely authentic while using brushstrokes that call great attention to themselves if viewed from too close to the canvas. An entire room in the Legion of Honor show is devoted to portraits like this one of Elizabeth Sherman Cameron (1900).
This work and the other nudes in the show (there are many, mostly oils) makes apparent the artist's love of the female form. He appears to have been especially fond of rear ends, and in the Legion of Honor show are some of the most lovingly rendered backsides you're ever likely to see in paint. Look for the one Zorn slashed to pieces and discarded because he was dissatisfied with it (a fellow artist rescued the pieces and sewed it back together).
Zorn retired to his home town of Mora and spent his last years mainly painting the country life of Sweden's Dalarna region--paintings that appealed to me less than some of the other pieces in the show (although everything was worth looking at). Here I've posted just a few impressions based on a single viewing of a selection of Zorn's work, but Zorn is a painter I'm now interested in learning more about.