Further Explorations of Martha Dix’s Hair

OK, it was probably a mistake even to try this, but as Martha Dix’s hair continued to intrigue me, I wasn’t ready to leave well enough alone. Egon Schiele’s Mountain Torrent (1918) sets the stage for the collage at the head of this post, with Martha Dix’s hair rendered twice from John Perceval’s Ocean Beach, Sorrento (1957) and once more from van Gogh’s A Crab on its Back (1887) to round out the set of three.

An earlier collage attempt used “circle of” Blandford Fletcher’s The Old Mill Pond, Swanage, Dorset (c1883) as its foundation and twice styled Martha Dix’s hair from bits of Emile Claus’s Venice (1906). (It does seem, as a side note, that artists of every description over time have sought to paint Venice. A lot of these Venice paintings, or so it seems to me, are interchangeable. Claus’s is one I thought stood out from the crowd.)

The last collage attempt employed a leftover Martha Dix’s hair from The Old Mill Pond and another from Joan Eardley‘s Green Fields at Sunset, with Eardley’s work forming the backdrop. (I can no longer find a link to my source for this painting, so I have instead linked to a substantial selection of her work.)

To accompany you on your travels with Martha Dix’s hair, here is Bryce Dessner’s Mari (with thanks to friend Curt for noting this work).

I don’t know what you might think, should you have a listen, but, to me, the work seems very much in the lineage of John Coolidge Adams.

4 thoughts on “Further Explorations of Martha Dix’s Hair

  1. Curt Barnes

    Collage no. 3 of this post reminds me of a whole host of abstractions which have tantalizing “hidden agendas,” shapes or configurations that don’t answer to formal or apparent thematic explanations. Knowing your process is interesting to some, but maybe others like NOT knowing where your shapes came from, all the better to stimulate the imagination. The spatial play of no. 3 totally justifies the shapes, I think.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Curt: As always, it’s great to learn what your practiced eye might see. Ironically, in this case, I really debated about whether to include #3, as it only exists because I had some “leftovers.”

      I know what you mean about making process explicit. Particularly as not much of anyone is looking (that I know of), I am tending to use the blog at the moment as a “diary” of works and process. The Martha’s hair “series” posed particular challenges because of the shape of her hair–the very thing that intrigued me. In my own estimation, none of these worked as I wished them to, though collage 2 came the closest (perhaps because my “ambition” was more modest). OK, enough of that, as I’m now going on again about process! Anyway, thank you for commenting, and even more to the point, for noting the Dressner.

      1. Curt Barnes

        Damn, I didn’t express my thought quite well enough (not the first time). I meant that your process, like many if not most artistic processes, is interesting, but there’s a time when “not knowing” is even more intriguing to a viewer. Often I find (with others, probably) that a virginal first encounter can then be followed with background info that can only expand, not channel, a response.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          Curt: Au contraire, not only did I think you were clear, but also I think your observation is a good one. When I look at bona fide art (whatever that may mean), I like best to come at it without preconceptions, including what the artist says about the work, and see what resonates without “gloss.” Same with poetry. Music I do treat a little differently, but I don’t have a particularly thought-out reason for that.

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