Friday, March 18, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Albert Pinkham Ryder

This artist is another whose name isn't well-known these days, but in his own time he was considered to be one of the leaders among modern American painters. Many of his paintings, most of small to medium size, have deteriorated over time, due to his somewhat eccentric techniques. He didn't sign his work, which led to forgeries appearing on the market. His work now exhibited in galleries is often displayed under glass to preserve and protect what's left. In his later years Ryder became a recluse and, it is said, ever more eccentric.

Born on 19 March 1847 in New Bedford Massachusetts, Albert Pinkham Ryder later
"attended a public grammar school for boys and began to paint, but impaired vision, the result of a faulty vaccination, prevented him from continuing his education. After the Ryder family moved to New York in 1870, his application to the National Academy of Design was rejected, and he was admitted only after a period of study with the portraitist and engraver William E. Marshall (1837-1906), a former pupil of Thomas Couture.

[Later in his career he began to] paint dramatic and emotionally charged subjects based on classical mythology, biblical incidents, poetry, plays, and Wagnerian opera. He occasionally wrote poetry to accompany his paintings. This transformation was also brought about by his visits to the major art museums of Europe and an excursion to North Africa......By the middle 1880s Ryder had the support of influential critics, and attracted a number of important patrons....

Around 1900 the increasingly reclusive and eccentric Ryder ceased producing new compositions and began to rework and repair existing paintings. .....His work appealed to the new generation of American modernists.... After his health began to fail in 1915, Ryder moved to Elmhurst, Long Island, where he died in 1917.

One of the most enigmatic figures in the history of American art, Ryder was an imaginative and innovative painter who worked in the late nineteenth century visionary tradition. Long considered an isolated and uniquely American phenomenon, his personal idiosyncracies overemphasized, it has only recently been recognized that Ryder was keenly aware of European art and techniques. His chronological development is impossible to trace because he never dated his works, rarely signed them, and obsessively reworked his compositions after they had been exhibited or sold. His unorthodox technical procedures, by which he strove to achieve rich, dark colors and enamel-like surfaces through multiple layers of glazes and pigments, left his works unusually susceptible to changes and deterioration, so it is difficult to determine their original appearance. Although he produced only 160 pictures, his works were widely forged, and some authentic ones were altered by others after his death. Ryder never had any pupils, but he exerted a powerful influence on his contemporary Ralph Blakelock, and a generation of younger artists [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue] See HERE.

Chart set for 12 noon (no time of birth available) on 19 March 1847, New Bedford, Mass.

Unorthodoxy in his painting methods and modernist styling, as well as what seems to have been a growing general eccentricity, has to link to Uranus conjunct Mercury and Venus. Uranus also sextiles Jupiter.

There's a three-fold semi-sextile thing going on between his Pisces Sun, to Pisces' ruler Neptune in Aquarius, then to Mars in Capricorn. That mini chain also includes a sextile from Sun to Mars. This seems to me to be reflection of what was described as his enigmatic nature : kind of mystic, kind of eccentric, but kind of practical too.


mike said...

I knew of Ryder very superficially, more his name than his paintings. I enjoyed the first video that focused on "Jonah and the Whale"...the autoradiograph disclosure of the woman's face hidden below the layers of oil. He was obviously an artist, but it's clear that he was in essence a researcher of artistic techniques, working and reworking his creations, constantly experimenting. It doesn't seem that a finished product was an objective.

I'm not usually drawn to drab coloration, but I like his. Something rather calming about his pieces, even when depicting nature's (gawd's) fury.

You mentioned his string of semi-sextiles: Sun, Neptune, Mars. He also has another string: Jupiter, possibly Moon, Mercury-Uranus, Saturn. Two interwoven semi-sextile ---> sextile strings, heavily weighing into a condensed bowl formation. I'm inclined to think the area of his natal chart containing his planets from Taurus through Capricorn was approximately in his first through sixth houses, typical of an enhanced, inward, not very social, reclusive individuals.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Strange character. Thanks for spotting the extra semi-sextiles.
I had surmised that he might have had a cluster of planets in 12th - but your idea fits too.

The paintings are quite small, compared to most we're used to seeing in galleries. I read somewhere that he often used the tops or bottoms of cigar boxes because he liked the glow from...whatever wood that is - can't recall. I don't dislike most of them, they're interesting rather than arresting, I guess. :-)

mike (again) said...

A different type of art...hope it doesn't ruin your viewing experience:

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Amazing skills there. A bit like politics - you think one thing is happening, but in reality it's something else entirely going on! ;-/