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Inner Worlds

Art and Artists
 Arthur Dove
 Anthony Green
 Richard Hunt
 Cheryl Laemmle
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Anthony Green
Anthony Green, The Beautiful Dream Click to larger image

Anthony Green
The Beautiful Dream, 1978
oil on canvas
84 x 72 in.
Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation

About the Art

For more than 20 years, Anthony Green has continued to paint stories from his personal life. His memories, dreams, and actual events are all included in his work. He said,

"My concerns are universal, sometimes tasteless, frequently artless, but never dulling. I wanted to paint adolescence, bicycles, carpets, dog, Eric, failure, Greens, hair, irritation, Joscelyne [his step-father], kisses, Mary [his wife], nasturtiums, optimism, .... quiet, roses, sexuality, tenderness, undies, vice, walls, x-shapes, Yvonne [his aunt], and much, much more."

He passionately believes in figurative, or realistic art, because he wants to have his art be understandable to both the art expert and the everyday person. His favorite kinds of art are styles from history, such as the very realistic paintings of 13th-century Flemish painters. In the 1960s and early 70s, this set him quite apart from most contemporary artists who were primarily abstract or Pop artists. Anthony Green's approach is labor-intensive--it takes him one or two months, painting every day, to complete a picture. He calls himself a "compulsive painter."

One interesting aspect of Anthony Green's own style is his technique of showing interior space. In his paintings it seems as if the viewer is looking through the roof of a room and at the same time seeing all four walls, the floor and ceiling. The effects of this are even more emphasized by the unusual shapes of his canvases. This strange "fish eye" view resembles the experiments in showing space and distance utilized by Medieval and Early Renaissance painters, such as Jan Van Eyck, before perspective drawing systems were invented. At the same time, Green's technique also seems to provide a skewed point of view such as we experience in dreams or nightmares, which ties his work to some Surrealist painter techniques.

It is easy to describe what is seen in this painting, The Beautiful Dream. It shows an elaborately decorated pink bathroom in which a woman in a bathtub is being watched by a man in a white tuxedo jacket. However, understanding why this strange scene is taking place and what it may mean is more difficult. We know that the woman is Anthony Green's mother, Marie-Madeleine. Green also tells us that after his mother's second marriage to Stanley Joscelyne, she moved into her "dream house" in North London. In describing this painting, Green says, "A few years ago, Mum redecorated and chose a new bathroom suite."

Even knowing all this leaves many questions unanswered. The reference to a "beautiful dream" probably refers to a dream had by Green himself that he is reinterpreting in a painted image--the same source of subject matter used by many Surrealist artists earlier in the 20th century. However, it also seems that his mother in the bathtub is lost in a dream of her own.

The subtitle for this work is given as "Madeleine Joscelyne Alone, Bathing." However, she clearly is not alone. So we wonder who is the person sitting on the chair? Is it Green himself or is it his stepfather, Joscelyne? Is it a real person, or maybe a symbol referring to a fantasy or dream?

Anthony Green describes himself as a "private person" who has chosen as an artist to display in publicart works chronicling his personal, inner life. He says that this has "exorcised some of his demons. [Now] there are only a few secrets left..."

Vocabulary Terms

Abstract--Art that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic forms from the physical world. Focus on formal elements such as colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often "abstract" objects by changing, simplifying, or exaggerating what they see.

Early Renaissance--The first decades of the Renaissance, which began in Italy about 1400-1450, in which a revival or "rebirth" of learning from Classical Greece and Rome took place in the arts, literature, and sciences.

Flemish--From a region in northwestern Europe including parts of southern Netherlands, northern France and western Belgium. Beginning with the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries, Flemish culture was at a peak and Flemish painters achieved a high degree of skill especially in depicting realistic landscapes using aerial perspective.

Medieval--Related to the Middle Ages--a period in history between the last emperor of Rome, 475 A.D., and the Renaissance, about 1450. Art production during this period was dominated by the Catholic Church.

Pop Art--An art movement associated with the 1960s in the United States in which artists incorporated imagery and/or media from popular culture such as advertisements, mass produced objects, movies, and comics.

Surrealist--Movement in art and literature from 1924 to 1945 where artists attempted to give visual representation to dreams, fantasies, and the unconscious mind. Emphasized real objects in unreal situations, surprise, contradiction and shock.

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Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons