Thursday, February 11, 2010

Two similar Gruppes

A savvy reader e-mailed me another version of this bridge, painted by Emile Gruppe. I am happy to have it to make a point. Gruppe arranged things in his painting to improve his design. You may remember my suggestion for a neck tattoo,


If you take anything away from this blog, that would be a good lesson. Besides using his broad handling, and simplified way of presenting things, Emile has obviously changed a few things to make this picture work. Look at the line of hills above the second covered bridge. Those hills are running in opposite directions. They can't both be right, therefore one has to be a rearrangement.

The window has disappeared from the side of the bridge and in the upper image there is a missing board above the entrance to the bridge. I have painted pictures of bridges bearing this same injury. It must be what happens when a truck too tall for the doorway tries to enter. I wonder if it was there or he imported it? I too have added that affliction to a bridge that seemed too pristine.

These similar but different"takes" on the same scene show that Emile was not painting what he saw, he was making an arrangement based on what he saw. He probably painted more pictures of that bridge, and I'll bet they are all different from these. When he stood in front of the scene he asked himself not only "what does it look like" but "what can I do to it?"

Both of these were painted on location and in one shot. That was Gruppe's modus operandi.
Here are some links to a couple of classic books by Gruppe with Charles Movalli. They show his techniques and tell how he thought about what he did.


Frank Gardner said...

Any idea which of these he painted first? I would guess the top one was. I think the bottom has a stronger design for the reasons that you talked about in the last post.
I have all three of the Gruppe books and like On Color the best.

Unknown said...

good post stape....i was looking at gruppe yesterday and marveling at his confident painting strokes..... such clear and decisive decisions ... when its that cold i guess you better think well!

Unknown said...

I'm still grieving over having to miss Snow Camp. But, I got to see and touch a Gruppe this weekend. A friend owns it, and showed it to us at a get-together after our local art auction. Winter scene, just fabulous.

I think the last few posts have been tremendously informative. My favorite was seeing the photo of the Vermont farm and then comparing to your design.

When are you going to do a painting video, Stape? You could even blast some classic rock for the background music.

Robert J. Simone said...

I,too, am a Gruppe groupie. I like "Gruppe On Painting" the best. Painting was and is a Gruppe family tradition. I have seen his son, Robert Gruppe's, work in galleries around Florida. Expressive and nautical, like the old man. said...

Now this IS very interesting; a take one and a take two. I also prefer the bottom design.

A had an instructor who always had us do two takes of every set up. It's a valuable lesson. And here is Gruppe doing it as well, for whatever reason. Is this something that you have day shot at a landscape design that was promising and going back and starting all over again?

(I can hear you answer "sometimes.")

Philip Koch said...

Thanks for posting the two different versions of the bridge Stape. They make your point about designing in the painting well. Gruppe seems to think of nature as his launching pad to see which new place he can go in each new painting.

I just flew back to Baltimore from Washington State in time for the second of our two back to back blizzards. Despite my very sore trapezius from way too much shoveling, it is spectacular to behold. It's even possible I'll unearth the remains of several over eager plein air painters who failed to pack up their easels in time as the snow deepened.

barbara b. land of boz said...

Stapleton, It looks like Gruppe knew that he was the "Master of his Brush". I also prefer the bottom painting. It is alive with color. Prehaps it was a more vibrant day. Or...he had oatmeal and toast for breakfast and his tummy felt warm!!

Are you rested up from Snow Camp W?
I am looking forward to Rolling Fork. And, I did not know that Muddy Waters was from there.
barbara b.

Gary Keimig said...

Great insight and lesson Stapleton. Thanks for posting.
I will agree the second painting has the strongest design and just to show how folks interests are I would take the first over the second to hang in my house. Just because I feel it is more restive.

Carol Nelson said...

I, too, like the lower Gruppe. Values are much stronger, and I like the way he moved the mountains.

willek said...

The pictures are so different it puzzles me. Sunny day, overcast day? Forgot some pigments at home? Ran out? Active, passive? maybe a long period between events?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know which one was first. They may not even be from the same year. He returned to scenes many times to produce another painting like the one he sold. He was relentlessly productive and sold a lot of art.

Stapleton Kearns said...

He could really simplify things.Even in the summer.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know, maybe someday. I would have to lose some weight, and grow some hair.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have met Robert Gruppe, once. He paints a lot like his father. I guess there is a family style. He is real good.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes , sometimes.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Congratulations on all of that lovely snow. We need a little more here. Ours is getting thin. Why don't you just drive a stake with a flag in where you find those painters and retrieve them in the spring?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I too am looking forward to Rolling Fork. I am bringing music.

Stapleton Kearns said...

And that is how Emile sold them both!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I agree.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think different day, for sure. Maybe different year, or decade.