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My first Top Comments diary! I figured you'd expect something intelligent and erudite from me, and I know I haven't written about everything that interests me at Daily Kos quite yet. This incorporates two of these interests: an interest in art (which I hope you've noticed in my US to 1865 diaries) and an interest in the nature of fame and celebrity (I actually taught a course in this in 2008 under the banner of Cultural History of the United States). It also speaks to something we've learned from Chrislove's contributions to the group: that history is often a recovery effort.  One recovery effort coming up.

So here's an American painter.  Born in 1890, he went to Paris in 1907 as part of the vanguard of Americans who wanted first-hand contact with European modernism. While there, he created an "ism" -- like Cubism and Fauvism, his was called "Synchromism" and it worked on a color wheel.  He came back to the United States, he painted, he exhibited, he taught, he was involved with the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal, and he died in 1973.

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We're talking here about Stanton Macdonald-Wright (for once, Wikipedia gets it mostly right). Macdonald-Wright, who was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, grew up in Santa Monica, went to study in Paris in 1907 and found himself in the orbit of the salon run by Gertrude and Leo Stein. In Paris, he and Morgan Russell, a fellow American painter, created a formal movement called “Synchromism,” which made them the first Americans to make a major contribution to European Modernism in Europe. Synchromism applied the methods of musical composition to painting by using a color wheel, which allowed the painters to construct “chords” of the chromatic circle by using tones separated by 120 degrees; it extended the idea of color as form to its ultimate functional position.  The two mounted formal exhibitions of synchromist art in Munich and Paris in 1913.  

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Conception Synchromy, 1914, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1981

The explanation for Macdonald-Wright's obscurity lies in where he ended up living when he returned to the United States. Although he returned to New York in 1916, and had his first one-man show at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 in 1917 (and this is a fairly big deal, as Steiglitz, the photographer, played a significant role in bringing European modernism and American art to the connoisseurs of Manhattan),

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Synchromy No.3, 1917, The Brooklyn Museum

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“Oriental”; Synchromy in Blue-Green, 1918, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

he came back to California the following year, where he continued to develop his synchromist principles.  In Los Angeles, he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute, directed the Art Students league, developed stage settings for the Santa Monica Theater Guild, and exhibited sporadically at various galleries.

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Synchromy in Purple Minor, 1918, The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin

Macdonald-Wright came back to a fairly conservative art scene. Arthur Millier, the art critic of the Los Angeles Times,  who was responsive to new artists and new forms in his criticism (and who used new forms in his own art), found the output of the painters of Southern California bland and observed that the blandness “matched the mood of the more comfortably placed inhabitants.”  Millier observed that Macdonald-Wright, who he identified with modernism, had begun to include figures in his artwork, although he continued to use Synchronist strategies, as you can see below:

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Still Life with Arum Lilies and Fruit, 1923, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Despite this conservatism, which also affected the curatorial staff of the newly established (in 1913) Los Angeles County Museum of Art, played host to a joint exhibition by Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell, the co-creator of synchromism, in 1927. Macdonald-Wright exhibited in New York at Stieglitz's gallery, now renamed "An American Place" and committed to the promotion of American Art, in 1930-31, and with Russell at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and at Earl Stendahl's gallery in Los Angeles (Stendahl, incidentally, showed Picasso's Guernica in August 1939, in case you are still thinking of Los Angeles as a backwater for art).

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Dragon Trail, 1930, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1981

From 1935 to 1942, Macdonald-Wright served as the director of the two major New Deal art projects, first the Public Works of Art Project of 1935, then of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. In 1937 he went to Japan for the first tine, where he developed an intense appreciation of Japanese technique, and in 1942 he joined the faculty of the art department at UCLA. He split his time between Kyoto and Los Angeles until his death.


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An Old Pond, A Frog leaps in the Sound of Water, woodcut, 1966-1967, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The first retrospective of his work was curated by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1967, so he knew his career had been appreciated.  Still, he's lapsed into obscurity. He's not the only creative person to be under-appreciated by his own country, and I'm sure you each have an artist in mind who has been equally neglected.  Please share them below the Tops!

And now for the Top Comments! A MAJOR thank you to brillig, who shepherds each of us new TCers through our first diaries and does it with great style, grace, and patience.

TOP COMMENTS  
August 8, 2012

Thanks to tonight's Top Comments contributors! Let us hear from YOU
when you find that proficient comment.

From bronte17

ivorybill notes the decades-long putrid vein of gangrene through the modern GOP and Romney's "deep, corrupting, horrible and un-American" business legacy in the diary post Huffington Post: Romney Started Bain with Blood Money by rem123.
From Siri
From Kos' You have your polls, Dick Morris has THE ONE TRUE poll,
this gem by NMDad still has me giggling.
From blue aardvark
In response to eXtina's diary, RedState in Panic: This May Be The Moment That Just Cost Romney The Election, ontheleftcoast sets it up and Smoh scores.
From Gentle Giant
Nina Katarina offers some dry wit in ThereHastoBeaWay's diary, "Rich Guy Doesn't Buy His Own McDonalds: Yes, Great Story, Mitt!"
From leu2500
Another day, another Romney flub, as diaried by Jed Lewison.  There are so many good comments, but I read Maximilien Robespierre's, cassandracarolina's, and yg17's first.
From your humble diarist Dave in Northridge
In the comment thread for Ministry of Truth's diary Limbaugh has a nipplefit over Romneyhood: "Robin Hood was a tea party activist!" FloydBlue had this to say. Also note the reply by ThrowTheBumsOut.

The Troubador diaried a great response to Chick-fil-A in Houston, and esquimaux found another one in Atlanta.

TOP MOJO
August 7, 2012


(excluding Tip Jars and first comments)

Got mik!

  1) I saw that too. by Killer of Sacred Cows — 332
  2) That's all that goddamned Romney cares about... by JeffW — 175
  3) A great argument for single payer! by ssmt — 155
  4) He has said that if he didn't take every single by theKgirls — 153
  5) Yes, but who endorses him is not within by Dartagnan — 146
  6) Reid just now gave a barn-burner of a speech by RLMiller — 136
  7) This diary about Mitt's Utah residence taxes.... by dweb8231 — 132
  8) Reid is kicking Romney ass.   by TomP — 129
  9) Can't Truthfully Make JFK's Religious Speech by I am a Patriot — 128
10) Everything she said about the patriarchal by karmsy — 122
11) Romney is simply amazing by Jed Lewison — 114
12) His comment at the hardware store by luckylizard — 114
13) Oh it may look the same. by DerAmi — 114
14) So he paid all taxes rquired by law! by DerAmi — 108
15) A whopping 14 cents per pizza by yet another liberal — 106
16) Eep by kestrel9000 — 105
17) I would like to say this is unbelievable, but by absdoggy — 103
18) He had to go with "hardware stuff" by theKgirls — 99
19) P.S. by TomP — 99
20) Romney's problem, in a nutshell by Leaves on the Current — 100
21) I'd say I won't eat their pizza any more but by DrTerwilliker — 96
22) There are female rabbis by dragonlady — 94
23) Wow.  Glad to hear this. by lineatus — 93
24) I'd like to see some investigation by pistolSO — 93
25) Thank you. by Flyswatterbanjo — 93
26) we have a 3-2 margin on county by RLMiller — 90
27) He should copy that letter word for word, by coquiero — 90
28) I liked one of the comments on Reddit by Chrislove — 89
29) The argument goes exactly the other way for by middleagedhousewife — 87
30) Or better yet, a Bain partner who by zenbassoon — 87

TOP PHOTOS
August 7, 2012


Enjoy jotter's wonderful PictureQuilt™ below. Just click on the picture and it will magically take you to the comment that features that photo.

(NOTE: Missing images in the Quilt were removed because either (a) they were from an unapproved source that somehow snuck through in the comments; or (b) it was an image from the DailyKos Image Library which did not have permissions set to allow others, ie Yours Truly, to use it.)


klompendanser's link

Originally posted to Top Comments on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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