Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2009

Department

Art; Interdisciplinary Studies

Abstract

Alison Goodwin’s painting Cantaloupe (2008) at first appears, perhaps naively, to depict a still life of fruit and flowers on a table: pomegranate, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and a drink. Beneath two rusty red and murky green lines, a diamond pattern demarcates the floor from the wall above. Next to the mottled green-and-red wall is a view through an open window. Three narrow houses lean precariously to the left; the windows are indicated, almost carelessly, by blocks of watery black paint. Two stylized trees with foliage shaped into bulbous spheres punctuate the row of buildings. Goodwin’s particular style, with its emphasis on a skewed perspective, flattened forms, and broadly applied colors, cannot—and should not—be read as unsophisticated or unknowing. Rather, Goodwin’s paintings reinterpret the work of some of the most important nineteenth- and early twentieth-century painters. She deliberately evokes the style and subjects of European modernists such as Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh. Each of her paintings recalls the implied formal tension between depicted three-dimensional space and the literal flatness of painted planes of color and stylized forms that her predecessors welcomed. Matisse, Cézanne, and others in the late nineteenth century rejected academic norms of picture making (painting realistically through modeling, shade, and one-point perspective). By revisiting these artists’ aesthetic, Goodwin complicates this historical progression and inserts her own mark onto the modernist (and particularly male-dominated) canon. [excerpt]

Required Publisher's Statement

Used with permission from The Gettysburg Review

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