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Reflecting Sadness - The Art of Richard Estes

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What's an artist to do, if he loved Manhattan in the 1960's and lived out the twentieth century there? Richard Estes kept on keeping on. Fortunately, even his earliest works had reflections which championed the down-and-outer, the common man, and the loner.

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Estes' oil paintings are remarkably good art, and they're displayed below in a sequence that illustrates the artist's early works in Manhattan and his later cityscapes in Europe. But Estes did not abandon Manhattan; his journeys were sojourns. And probably forty of his twenty-first century artworks at Artnet's Artist Works Catalogues are Manhattan cityscapes. As is this photograph of the artist, which can be viewed at its source by clicking here.

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The following 15 pictures document an artist's spiritual and spatial movement, begun in Manhattan in the 1960's, and moving to Europe and northern New England afterwards. But to read about the art of the artist, by the artist, it's clear he uses words to speak of technique and only technique. Which to my mind also speaks of sadness - for all of our lost youth, and his own loss of Manhattan of the 1960's.

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"I think the popular concept of the artist is a person who has this great passion and enthusiasm and super emotion. He just throws himself into this great masterpiece and collapses from exhaustion when it's finished. It's really not that way at all. Usually it's a pretty calculated, sustained, and slow process by which you develop something. The effect can be one of spontaneity, but that's part of the artistry. An actor can do a play on Broadway for three years. Every night he's expressing the same emotion in exactly the same way. He has developed a technique to convey those feelings so that he can get the ideas across. Or a musician may not want to play that damn music at all, but he has a booking and has to do it. I think the real test is to plan something and be able to carry it out to the very end. Not that you're always enthusiastic; it's just that you have to get this thing out. It's not done with one's emotions; it's done with the head." - Richard Estes, at Artnet's AWC



All the images and the text in quotation marks are courtesy of Artnet's Artist Work Catalogues, the artist, and Marlborough Gallery in NYC.



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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)

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