People who know me, know that I will travel great distances to see a “Great Nude”. Yesterday, all I had to do was travel to Park Slope, Brooklyn on a lovely Spring day to meet Simon Dinnerstein at his charming brownstone home where he works and lives with his family. Simon and I had recently begun chatting online, and he invited me to come out and view the Nudes that have been in residence in his home.
Like many figurative art lovers, I am quite familiar with Simon’s iconic and quite famous work The Fulbright Triptych and a handful of drawings and prints produced by him in that intensely detailed style of his. They hold together as a body of work, and the products of his hand are unmistakeable. The reason for MY visit however, was to gaze at the large, luxurious drawings of reclining Female Nudes that Simon has produced over the last few decades.
Viewing these large Nudes, one after another over a period of several hours, was like listening to a symphony performing Debussy’s La Mer. Simon repeatedly works a form, and his use of the same female figure, often in the same pose, in multiple “ambient” settings, produces what felt like a rich, entrancing musical experience.
Among his very large figurative Nudes (see Slideshow) Simon has presented us with several female muses repeatedly over his career. We see the same women over and over again, like familiar, beautiful notes played by a master, recorded on enormous sheets of silky white paper.
I’ve included the best digital reproductions here, but there’s nothing quite like seeing these luscious drawings up close. There are marks made in color and tone by the human hand that are so light and subtle, that only the human eye can appreciate it. Music lovers will nod their heads in agreement. Simon’s drawings are ethereal and filled with light. His female Nudes are angels, floating in silken beds made of vapor. (I was in heaven.)
My tour went from the basement all the way to the top floor, where Simon works in what looks like a turn-of-the-last century artist’s studio. The floor boards were worn, with decades of paint and graphite smudges. But the space was filled with floating angels, none-the-less.
My afternoon journey was made complete over coffee and artsy talk – face to face for several hours like artists used to do. We compared our thoughts about the business of Art, where The Nude seems headed, and what was needed to keep The Nude alive and useful in the 21st century. No real answers, folks. But Simon promised to continue the conversation, which was just the inspiration I was looking for.
The Birth of Spring!