Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Aunt Wrote A Book

On January 1st, not one child in Flanders, the Western half of Belgium, escapes reading New Year's Letters to its parents, grandparents, godmother and godfather. These are moments that stay carved in each one's memory: decked out in best clothes, trembling voice, sweating hands, all eyes fixed on the reader.
New Year's Letters are part of a unique Flemish tradition that has been traced back to the 16th Century. During the course of several centuries superb treasures have been created with splendid draftsmanship, fine calligraphy and nostalgic verses. Popular themes recur but these illustrated letters are often also a mirror of their time through layout and topic.
Abundant flower bouquets enhanced with goldleaf and glitter replaced religious images. Snowy landscapes are reminiscent of a Flanders that no longer exists. Fear and poverty during both World Wars are profound in the texts from those periods. During the 60's and 70's creative crafts are introduced. Typical also are the decorations of the Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau. Each New Year's Letter tells a story filled with hope, in each verse hides the dream of a child.

For this book, Nelly Haelterman made a widespread selection out of her collection of more than 7000 New Year's Letters. To learn more or order, visit the English version of her website.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Rocks

These are the last in an expanded series. My paintings are created by numerous layers of thin glazes, providing very subtle color gradations. The properties of these glazes, combined with the application method that I use, do not translate well in digital photograpy and their effect can only be fully appreciated by seeing the original work.
I have to begin a commissioned painting now and then will probably be ready to change the subject for a while.

Enchanted Silence oil on canvas 36" X 36"

Enchanted Rocks XII oil on canvas 48" X 48"

Enchanted Rocks XIII oil on canvas 48" X 48"

Enchanted Rocks II oil on linen 36" X 36"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This painting was finished about 10 yeas ago. It shares the subject with my new work in the previous post. It is always interesting to see how someone's style evolves with time.

Enchanted Rocks   oil on canvas   48" X 48"   Chris De Dier
available from the artist. call for pricing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Enchanted Paintings

The following paintings share a common theme. Details of the Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg, TX served as inspiration. Click on the images to see them enlarged.

Enchanted Rocks X oil on canvas 60" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks XI oil on canvas 60" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks VII oil on canvas 48" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks VIII oil on canvas 48" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks IV oil on canvas 48" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks VI oil on canvas 48" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks III oil on canvas 48" X 48" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks IX oil on canvas 48" X 72" Chris De Dier

Enchanted Rocks V oil on canvas 48" X 48" Chris De Dier

All images copyright Chris De Dier

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Studio Gallery

It's not exactly a suitable space to serve as art gallery. It wasn't bad either.

Last Thursday's Open Studio was an event that I hope to be able to repeat annually. It was a pleasure meeting people, making new connections and showing friends what I have been working on during the last few months. It took several days of intensive labor to get the house in exhibition mode. Far from ideal, it was well worth the effort and I think it looked acceptable.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Open Studio Invitation

Architectural Frivolity

The Paris Opera makes me think of a fancy chocolate box... totally unnessary but always pleasing that certain people thought about creating it and leaving it as a fancy gift to future generations.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rooftops In The Snow

This painting by Gustave Caillebotte, captures the spirit of Paris so well. From the tower of the Notre Dame, similar rooftop scenes abound in any direction.

Master Monet

Claude Monet had his good days and his bad days, just like the rest of us. That means some of his paintings barely reach mediocrity and some of his work is simply outstanding. Here are some details of what I mean with "outstanding" from his series of phantomlike portrayals of the Cathedrale de Rouen of which 5 paintings are in the collection of the Musee d'Orsay. I am deeply impressed and inspired by them. Like some of his later - much larger -waterlilies paintings, the surface buildup of these paintings is mysteriously complex. It is work like this that sets certain artists apart and above their contemporairies and beyond.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

French For Despair

Beaux-Arts sculptures cause me mixed feelings. I appreciate the Classical ideals that served as inspiration for depicting the human form and the use of physical pose to convey a mental or emotional attitude.
A lot of it is too dramatic or sentimental to my taste. Cultivated positions can easily look contrived when the artist does not use the correct amount of restraint to keep it subtle. When done with skill, it leaves some outstanding works of art. One sculpture that stopped me in my tracks is the above, and below, titled Le Desespoir (I forgot the name of the artist). I wished I could have taken it home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

La Gare d'Orsay

One of the highlights of this trip was our visit to the Musee d'Orsay. I knew already very well the collection of paintings it houses, and I was strongly anticipating to see them in real.... again. Some of these paintings I had seen already in 1978 in the Musee du Jeu de Paume, which held the impressionist paintings until 1986. Others I had seen before at some of the important exhibitions of Europalia in Brussels.

The interior of the museum itself remained for the most part a mystery because I had never seen images of the building itself. I knew it was a restored former train station from the Beaux-Arts period. However, that did not prepare me for the spectacular view of the main hall and how this vast space has been divided into exhibition rooms. Wow! It surpassed my wildest expectations.

Serra In The Tuileries

See that barrier of rusty steel in the distance, behind the people, forming a gate toward the Place de la Concorde? That is another Richard Serra sculpture. You will see it better by clicking on the picture to enlarge it.
Now I regret not having walked closer to be near it but on that afternoon my feet were whining relentlessly to walk back to our room and change to a horizontal position for a while. It's one of the things I miss so much from Europe, the ability to walk a lot on a daily basis. I am not used to it anymore!

Grand Serra

Another favorite contemporary sculptor is Richard Serra. I have seen some his work at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, in New York City (see Massive Curves, 09/02/2007), and now in Paris. Seems like every city with cultural ambitions needs to have a Richard Serra. One of his sculptures is partially blocking the view of the Place de la Concorde, at the end of the Jardin des Tuileries (I'll search if I have a picture of it).
Here his work is on display at the Grand Palais. It seems as if he made these monumental plates specifically for this space. His work always leaves quite an impression on me. Does that make me a junkie of minimalism?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bronze Spider

A huge poster on the facade of the Centre Pompidou announced an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois' work. I admire her work a lot. She is one of the great sculptors of our era. However, I chose not to go see it because of the long lines in front of the ticket booths ... and because I do not like that building at all. Instead, I took a picture of one of her giant Spiders that found a home in the Jardin des Tuileries. It looks like an alien invader.

Inspiring Attraction

Paris is filled with interesting architecture and it reminds me a lot of New York City in that aspect, be it that Paris is a lot more user friendly, better proportioned to fit humans. The architecture appears at the same time diverse and coordinated. It is an attractive city that is a candy box for the eyes, very livable and inspiring.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I had a great time at the Louvre and learned a lot, despite the crowd. I remember when museums were less visited ... at least on weekday mornings. I remember walking through the halls at the Louvre and only occasionally encountering other living souls. That could be a guard, or a couple of visitors, or here and there an art student, sitting at his easel in front of a painting that he/she was meticulously copying. In my earliest recollection, these art copiers were older men, some wearing a beret, indicating they must have been French. In later years they were younger and mostly Asian. And now there are none because museums became appealing to the general public and are busy as department stores on sales days. It's a great development, to see art is being appreciated by so many, but it also makes me feel nostalgic to quieter times.