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Ken Susynski

born: 1965
born in: USA
lives in: Seattle
Kenneth Susynski is a Seattle-based artist in body yet a German-based painter in both heart and soul. He grew up primarily in southwestern Germany save for a few years each spent in Turkey, South Korea and the United Kingdom. A product... [more]

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posted on 06.04.09



Visual Arts
20th Century & Beyond



I follow these blogs from time to time for the depth and breadth of information, knowledge and candor. I recommend checking them out:

Arts and culture beat blog from the NY Times - not just for visual arts and an important source for current Big Apple flavah.

A little local shout-out to Regina Hackett's intensive and insightful blog for the Seattle Times/P-I. For a town where painting suffers against the popular trends of installation and raw art, it's a must read.

This LA-based blog was the first city-specific art forum to address the expansive, burgeoning art scene - voted top art blog by Art in America in 2004!




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posted on 06.03.09

I was raised in Germany to parents possessing no appreciation in the arts, much less in supporting my study and pursuit of it. One of the aspects of my background that I truly value when comparing to my present life in the USA is how a complete, distinctive culture and flavor can be just a one-hour flight or couple hours drive away.  I may not have had the opportunity to go to any of the fine art schools in Europe, yet I certainly wasted neither time nor effort educating myself in the corridors of Europe’s museums.

Of course, it was natural to drift with the current by exploring German art initially; anything from Dürer to Richter. To simultaneously see the cities that gave birth and inspiration to artists and artist cliques only added to the steep history of each painting. Like any other artist, there were works and painters that inspired me, others that I still wrangle with – there is no one favorite canvas or artist. 

Yet if you get struck by rich, contrasting color, well-constructed composition and brushstrokes that thrust and parry as if alive as I do, then I would offer an introduction to the artists of Die Brücke.

Die Brücke (or The Bridge, the name taken from a Nietzsche passage) was an expressionist group of Dresden artists formed in 1905 by Ernst Ludwig KirchnerKarl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel, to be joined later by such artists as Max Pechmann and Emil Nolde. Chief among their contributions to the art world would be the use of a technique that employed intentionally unsophisticated emphases and crude distortions towards a controlled composition, in addition to pioneering many new techniques in woodcuts, a long German tradition. 

The works covered both landscape compositions thickened with impasto applications and haunting studies of the figure, taking the baton set forward by the Fauves in their use of color and form, Van Gogh in his ideas on artists communities, and a keen interest in native art of Oceania and Africa. 

By all accounts, Kirchner fit the stereotypical portrait of the pretentious artist, at one point even insisting upon being called by the name “Gustav” to enhance his Bohemianess.  Yet it is through his work that we identify with Die Brücke more so than the other members – Kirchner's boundless energy is evident in studies of cabarets, streetwalkers of the time and his mortal fear of impending war. 

The artists of Die Brücke expressed their views and criticisms of the seedier side of modern life, in line with the revolutionary socialism of the time that permeated Europe.  They skillfully used color as a means of expressing emotion and impulsively pushed at its limits. Shapes and forms were stripped down to their most skeletal essentials in order to reveal the artists’ subjective feelings and inner experiences. Without trying to sound as pretentious as Kirchner (who remains one of my heroes despite his social flaws), this is essentially the roots of the movement and how well they works still resonate today as a major influential period for contemporary abstract expressionists.

“Excellent. Also, you might be interested in the following: German Expressionism: Documents from the End of the Wilhelmine Empire to the Rise of National Socialism by Rose-Carol Washton Long. It is an excellent collection of source documents on this period that provides perspective on both the artistic and political currents of the time that informed Die Brucke and Die Blaue Reiter. ”
Posted over 6 years ago
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Jasper Johns
Robert Rauschenberg
Richard Diebenkorn


American Regional Painting
Abstract Painting




Jasper Johns
Richard Diebenkorn
Robert Rauschenberg
Ed Ruscha


President & Mrs. Obama like art.  That they seem to have a wide breadth of knowledge and specific interest in 20th-century abstractionists was a more surprising revelation.

The president appears set to update the 19th-century focus by introducing bold, abstract works to the White House collection – including a lead relief sculpture by Jasper Johns, a large-scale Diebenkorn from his “ Berkeley ” series, and works from Robert Rauschenberg and Ed Ruscha.  The link below courtesy of the Wall Street Journal expands upon more specific additions as well as details on the distinctive curation of the White House Collection:



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Installation Art




John Palmer
Galelry Ima
Robert Rauschenberg


When one of my favorite bands comes out with a new album, 

I’m always quick to wonder if the new release 

will match the intensity or workmanship of past albums. 

Oftentimes I’m disappointed, other times just floored by 


So, putting aside the fact I’ve been a fan of John Palmer’s
energetic compositions and projects for some time, I think it’s a safe
bet to heave any trepidations in the rubbish bin and count his
new works in mixed media on display at Gallery IMA as a
forceful evolution of both style and emotional substance.

Maintaining emphasis on life and movement, Palmer has
always expressed himself through interplaying lines and
blocks of color that speak more to romance than
confrontation, yet stylistically he has bounced from
expressionist portraiture to innovative material
installations that make one immediately recall Rauschenberg
at his most innovative.

The works shown here scale backwards from the found objects
and non-traditional materials of previous efforts, instead
opting for a tightly cohesive series of 10 x 6 x 5” wood
boxes, each a study of his stated goal to “describe the
indescribable” and “escape the inescapable”. The physical characteristics

of the work lend a hand by jumping out at you from the wall, forcing

an immediate invitation to ponder where he is currently in this journey. It's 

definitely worth escaping reality to join him.


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Those who know me well are well aware of my background 

growing up in Germany; few are privy to the knowledge that
my first memories date back to an earlier point in my
toddler life in Turkey. There are fascinations
galore in my head as I recall those fuzzy moments, among
them a keen interest in Turkish history and culture.

As an artist with a decidedly abstract slant, Cy Twombly
has always offered me personal enjoyment, like a
crystallized glass of ice tea on a sticky August day. He
quenches another thirst with his vivid retelling of a
pivotal event in lore of the Ottoman Empire in his lush
series, “Lepanto”.

Inspired by the intense sea battle which freed a
Venetian-led Europe fleet from the Ottomans (during which
Cervantes lost an eye), Twombly’s series of 12 oils on
panel provide a descriptive narrative that add poetry and
vapid color to visible scenes of combustion.

One can see outlines of ships decimated by columns of drips
and scratches connoting fire and ordnance in the heat of
battle. Standing before these large panels is to bear
witness to first-hand combat, man and sword, cannonball and
fire, blood and honor. At times the paint blurs on intent
to create the smoke and gloom against contrasting cool hues
and one thinks of the heroism and cowardice of battle while
gazing at ghostly shapes of a fleet beautifully rendered in
its demise.

At the end of the series, I’m left as exhausted as those
who likely survived the real battle – these are truly great
works worthy of a master of the abstract oeuvre. If I were
not an artist looking for creative inspiration, I could
just as easily sit in the bathtub with toy boats to act out
the battle on my own.


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