John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925)

Fumée d'Ambre Gris - 1880

Smoke of Ambergris was the product of John Singer Sargent’s trip to North Africa in the winter of 1879–80. One of two paintings that he sent to the Paris Salon of 1880, it is his own interpretation of orientalism, a common theme at that time in which artists sought out exotic subjects. The painting depicts a heavily draped woman inhaling the smoke of ambergris—a resinous substance found in tropical seawater and believed to come from whales. It was thought in the Near East to be an aphrodisiac, as well as a safeguard from evil spirits. The model, of whom Sargent made several sketches, probably lived in cosmopolitan Tangier. In a society that forced women to be intensely private, working as a model would have relegated her to its outer fringes. Her robes and mantle are of a type worn by both men and women throughout North Africa, but the details of the costume and setting come from different regions and social classes. The painting is a mélange of Moroccan objects and customs that Sargent encountered in Tangier and Tétouan. Clark Art

infra:REAL - The Art of Imaginative Realism
 // Group Exhibition at Jonathan LeVine Gallery 
 // 529 West 20th Street & 557C West 23rd Street
, NYC// Aug 5 — Aug 22, 2015
 // Opening Reception Wednesday Evening, August 5th

One of two paintings selected for the group exhibition, “Cliff Dweller” (above) is a modern fury, urgent and teetering upon the precipice of her apartment building. This painting evolved as a comment on anxieties of contemporary urban life.

Neil Gaiman called it “heartbreakingly beautiful”. 

“Cross Over” an expressive figure in transition, will also be shown.

Join Rick for the opening reception August 5th!