Monday, July 21, 2008

The Show...

Lately I have been concentrating on painting two types of people: controversial Wall Streeters and artists who have influenced my work. My Wall Street portraits have generated wide-spread interest in the media, including coverage from The New York Times to Page Six; CNN to Fox Business News; and to I think my favorite moment was hitting the front page of The New York Sun...

The show consists of fifteen paintings grouped into these two categories. My dealer has chosen to title it (with, I can only assume, a good deal of tongue in cheek): "Geoffrey Raymond, The Most Distinguished Portrait Artist of the Century."

This (subject to last minute changes) is the show. If you double-click an image it will enlarge significantly.

The Annotated Spitzer, $12,000, (4'x5', acrylic on canvas with magic markers)

By coincidence I had almost completed this painting of Eliot Spitzer when the Spitzer/hooker scandal erupted. I finished it as quickly as I could and two days later, fifteen minutes after he resigned, I was standing with the painting across Broad Street from the New York Stock Exchange and people were grabbing the pens out of my hands. FYI--red means they worked in the financial industry. Black indicates the general public.

The Annotated Murdoch, NFS--on loan from Timothy Dean-Smith, (4'x5', acrylic on canvas with magic marker)

Big Rupert was the first of my annotated paintings. I propped him up outside the Wall Street Journal headquarters last fall during the week or so between when the Dow Jones board recommended that the Bancroft family accept Murdoch's offer for the company and when the family said yes. If you worked for Dow Jones you got a red pen.

My favorite annotation is right above the crown of Murdoch's head. It reads "News is sacred." No sooner had its author written the first "N" than he said, "Damn ... that's my editor!" He hid behind the Sabrette's stand until the coast was clear and finished what he had to say.

Big Maria 1 (Plane Too Many), NFS--on loan from J.D. O'Brien, (4'x5', acrylic on canvas)

This painting was inspired by the Todd Thompson/Maria Bartiromo CitiGroup private jet uproar (hence the painting's name) and originally featured the words "Todd...your boss is on the phone" repeated two or three times to create the arch. In the end I decided it was too mean-spirited and changed the inscription to what you see above.

The Annotated Fed, $9,000 (4'x5', acrylic on canvas with magic marker)

This work as you see it here is not yet done. I anticipate two or three more days of annotation before the show begins. That said, the idea of these annotated works is that they function as historical documents on equal footing with their traditional purpose of representing the subject. In this case, history is telling us that people are deeply dissatisfied with the state of the economy.

The Annotated Bear, NFS--On loan, (4'x5', acrylic on canvas with magic marker)

This is a portrait of former Bear Stearns CEO James Cayne. I stood outside the headquarters of Bear Stearns during the week the shareholders voted to accept the JPMorgan bail-out offer. People were actually walking out of the building with boxes full of their personal possessions, putting them down and annotating the painting. It was a pretty emotional time.

Black Warren, $8,000, (4'x5', acrylic on canvas)

Black Warren is an example of what I call my obscured box technique. So was the Rupert Murdoch painting above, although it's less obvious. You can see, if you look closely, that the picture is comprised of twenty boxes. Each box is painted completely, then obscured with newspaper and painter's tape. The result is that each square of the painting is executed without the benefit of knowing what is next to it. Dynamic disjunction ensues.

Michelle A., NFS, (5'x6', acrylic on canvas)

When I first started painting portraits using the drip technique, I was painting waitresses from a local restaurant. Michelle is one of them. After a couple of months, a friend of mine who worked at Bloomberg Markets told me I needed to start painting people with money. That's when I started painting Wall Streeters.

The reason I include Michelle in this group is that I was having trouble with the upper right corner of the painting until I went to the Gauguin show at the MFA in Boston. I came home and gave her a flower.

Close, But Not Quite, NFS, (5'x6', acrylic on canvas)

In addition to waitresses, I started painting portraits of artists who influenced me (or portraits of some of their famous works, which you will see below). I continue to do so, but this reinterpretation of a famous Chuck Close self-portrait remains one of my favorites.

Close, But No Cigar, $10,000, (5'x6', acrylic on canvas)

This, too, is a reinterpretation of a famous Close self-portrait. Part of my ongoing homage to Close is that I paint big heads using a grid. The red dots you see on the face of the painting are artifacts of a particular grid system I used here, and on a Schnabel painting below.

Big Fucking Julian 1, $10,000, (5'x6', acrylic on canvas)

To a greater or lesser degree, creating portraits by throwing paint off the end of a stick results in fractured images. The obscured box technique exaggerates the effect, but it's there with all of them. I remember Schnabel's plate (speaking of fractured images) portraits hitting me like a ton of bricks, so when I found out he would be having a show across the street from mine, I painted him. Twice.

BFJ 2, $10,000, (5'x6', acrylic on canvas)

For the record, I toyed with scrawling the words "Big Fucking Julian" across the surface of the first painting but, in the end, decided against.

Black Jackson, $8,000, (5'x4', acrylic on canvas)

The full title is "Black Jackson (Maybe I should try portraiture)".

It is, as you can imagine, an exploration of the moment of Jackson Pollock's reinvention of himself as a painter--where he decides to maintain his drip style of painting but rejigger his painterly calculus and begin executing representational portraits. A kind of Geoff Raymond/Chuck Close fusion, if you can envision that.

The moment is, of course, a fictional one. He plowed his Oldsmobile convertible (a pretty nice set of wheels in those days) into a tree in 1956, killing himself and a friend, and rendering moot his transfiguration.

Girl with the Pearl Earring (2003),
$5,000, (42" round, acrylic on canvas)

The hostess in the restaurant where Michelle worked looked exactly--I mean exactly--like Vermeer's "Girl" except that she was a woman of color. I asked her to help me rethink the original painting with a new millennium feel.

Portrait of the Portrait of Gertrude Stein, $4,000, (24"x30", acrylic on canvas)

Speaking of guys who like a fractured image... Sometimes people tell me my portraits don't completely resemble the subjects. My usual response is, "They will..." Which is just one more example of me stealing from Picasso.

The Boy Could Sure Eat Some Beets (Self-Portrait 2),
$3,000, (@22"x36", acrylic on two paper panels)

Every show needs a self-portrait.

Contact information:

You are welcome to contact me via email at
If you poke through the archives of my blog you can see all of these paintings at various stages of development.

Andes Art & Antiques is located at 173 Main Street in Andes, New York.
The phone is 845 676 3420.
The show runs from August 2 through Labor Day.


afiya said...

you and your "tongue-in-cheek" are funny--i happen to think you are the most distinguished...and it is not just because i do not know of any other portrait artists... So, when can we expect VIP passes to your show--or at least a visit by you? Best of Luck! natasha and arthur

tüpbebek said...

thanks Geoffrey. yr an inspiration.