I spy, with my little eye

Kenneth Stubbs, Sunbathers. 1962

Kenneth Stubbs, Sunbathers. 1962

Lets keep exploring the diverse use of pattern by artists this week.  Matisse used power of pattern to echo and repeat, giving motion, harmony and vibrance to his compositions. Here, Stubbs uses pattern as actual building blocks for the bodies themselves. This is no “Where’s Waldo” people, but still lots of fun.

The flat colored shapes contruct the forms of the legs, arms and faces, but also merge and flow together as your eye runs over the painting. A kaleidoscopic whirl of pinwheels and curves. The golden sand, a large anchor for the smaller patterns that comprise the bathers. The blue columns marching behind the forms also lend a strong vertical backdrop for the patterns to play.

I like that each body is created from many colors, like a totem. Which belies a deeper wisdom. We aren’t monolithic at all; we are comprised of various personalities and emotions that join in a patterned dance to make a multifaceted “one.”

I see a clear, almost academic, sense of proportion (Stubbs loved the Golden Ratio) and a strong cubist bent using color to define form and perspective. Can you find the sleeping mother and baby? A menage-a-trios with men in curvy beards? How about the squirrely the children at the right of the painting? A boy in aqua trunks ready to make a break for waves, and a tow headed girl wrangling what might possibly be.  . .  is that a monkey?