Sunday, January 15, 2017

the last book I ever read (Moonglow: A Novel by Michael Chabon, excerpt seven)

from Moonglow: A Novel by Michael Chabon:

There were a lot of painters living at Fontana Village. They painted detailed oil portraits of World War II aircraft, still lifes with seashells, nostalgia-brown scenes of shtetl weddings. They exhibited their work in the lobby of the Activity Center, at the annual holiday art fair.

Sally Sichel was not that kind of painter. She had studied at Pratt and taught painting at UC Davis with Arneson and Thiebaud. Joan Mitchell was the bridesmaid at her first wedding. Her work was not well known—my grandfather, whose idea of great painting began with Winslow Homer and ended with Analog magazine cover artist Kelly Freas, had never heard of her—but she was hardly unknown. Her canvases hung in museums and on the walls of collectors as far away as Japan. Back when SFMOMA was still in the War Memorial Veterans Building, they used to keep a small Sichel in a dim corner, where I paid it a visit once not long after my grandfather’s death. Like most of Sally’s work from the sixties, it seemed to be rooted in some dense and private mathematics. Its lacework of parabolas and angles—red-orange against titanium white—confused the eye. Retinal afterimages turned the white regions to jumping blue-green neon.

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