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Monday, November 14, 2011

Anders Zorn

I believe we have to look back sometimes... There are lots of good things done before us. It is good to know something about those...

Anders Zorn was a Swedish painter and printmaker in etching.

Anders Zorn. Self-portrait.

Zorn was born in Mora, Dalarna. He studied at Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden from 1875-1880. He became an international success as one of the most acclaimed portrait painters of his era. His sitters included three American Presidents, one of whom was Grover Cleveland in 1899. After his success in US the artist came back to Sweden.

Anders Zorn. Misses Salomon. 88x101, 1888

Anders Zorn (1860-1920) was probably the foremost swedish painter when it comes to the skills that needs to capture the light and colors. He didn`t limit himself working in many genre like landscape, portraits, figurative painting. He was equally skillful in watercolor, oil and etching. Before the 1890-s he painted more with watercolors, then he payed more attention to oil medium.

 Anders Zorn. Pier.

Zorn's Process and Materials
Many artists mention the concept of the "Zorn palette," especially in regard to portraiture. This warm palette, which is often said to include simply a yellow, black, red, and a white—but no blue—may be a very useful tool, but it is a mistake to attribute it to Anders Zorn. A few portraits and other paintings by Zorn seem to show a definite warmth and a lack of tube blues and greens—and Sandström confirms that the painter was proud of saying he mixed all of the hues on a canvas from just a handful of colors—but many Zorn paintings utilize blues. In fact, in Sweden Zorn is celebrated for his depictions of water, which required blue paint. Sandström had difficulty even comprehending the assumption that Zorn worked with the specialized palette associated with him. She reports that 17 tubes of cobalt alone are represented among the 243 tubes of paint left by Zorn in his studio in Mora. Laine, of Stockholm's Nationalmuseum, concurs that the notion of a Zorn palette is a bit of a misnomer. Still, portraits such as Miss Constance Morris show that he was adept at using grays to suggest blues. Many of Zorn's portraits—and his nudes—exhibit a compelling warmth, providing inspiration for today's painters regardless of what the Swedish artist may have actually squeezed onto his palette.

Zorn favored paints formulated by a now-defunct manufacturer in Berlin. He used brushes of all sizes and shapes, and all the brushes with manufacturer markings are of Swedish origin. In etching, he experimented with various acids that he understood Rembrandt to use, but his etching materials were essentially standard—executed on copper and occasionally zinc. Zorn created a few notable sculptures, including a well-known sculpture in Mora of King Gustav Vasa, who united Sweden in 1520 against the occupying Danes. But this early medium was pushed aside by painting. "He considered painting his work; etching and sculpting were his hobbies," says Sandström. "At night, when it was too dark to paint, he carved. During the day he didn't have time to continue sculpting." More than with other media, Zorn's etchings were informed by photography. An avid sailor, he would take models onto his boat and sail in Stockholm's archipelago, painting them on wooded islands and photographing them for etchings he would cut the following winter. Etchings also allowed him to replicate his popular paintings and thus generate more money from a composition.

Some of the detail in Zorn's early watercolors betray the hours of work he put into them—the 1885 watercolor Love Nymph reportedly took him two years to complete and required two versions in watercolor, one oil sketch, and more than 60 drawings, grisailles, and color sketches—but Emma Zorn wrote in 1887 that one watercolor constituted "a morning's work" for her husband. Zorn's method was to fix the composition clearly in mind before beginning, then get it on the page quickly. His oils suggest the same spontaneity, but Sandström says there's evidence that he occasionally would build up layers to achieve the effect he desired.

His portraits earned him worldwide fame, and his depictions of Swedish peasant life endeared him to his countrymen, but it is his landscapes—punctuated by figures—that inspire many of today's painters. Zorn disliked painting models in the artificial atmosphere of a studio. "His ability to capture the mood of a place with such subtle color and value only came from his countless hours painting outdoors from life," asserts Frank Serrano, a California plein air painter. "You can't convey in a painting that mood if you are using a photograph. He painted outdoors quite a bit. It's what helps you become acute and helps you learn how to capture something naturally.

"He had guts," adds Larson. "Any artist looks at Zorn's work and sees that he put a note down and left it. He was not timid and he did not try to please anyone but himself."

From the article by Bob Bahr "Sweden`s Sargent"

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