Recorders and Keepers

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Portrait of Mrs. Clare K. Mendel
Frederick S. Mendel
figure; portrait; woman; Mendel, Clare K. Mendel, Mrs. Fred Mendel, oil painting, art commission, art patron,abstract expressionism, portraiture,bronze sculpture, bronze bust, art commission, art patron, commemorative artwork, realism, bronze casting,, art commission, female portrait, abstract expressionism, cubism, art patron, portraiture,
description

These two portraits depicting Frederick S. Mendel and his wife, Clare K. Mendel, were created by Leo Mol and George Csato, respectively. While they were both made in the spirit of commemorating the couple whose generosity built the Mendel Art Gallery, they were produced by very different artists. Together, they offer insights into how artists with different practices choose divergent methods to resolve the same task.

Sculpture

Leo Mol’s depiction of Frederick S. Mendel is a  bronzeAny of various alloys of copper and tin, sometimes with tin or other metals. It has commonly been used in casting. A work cast in bronze is sometimes referred to as a bronze. It may also refer to the color of bronze, a moderate yellowish to olive brown.(Artlex.com)   bustA portrait sculpture or a painting representing a person's head, neck, shoulders and upper chest, and perhaps the upper arms.  (Artlex.com)  sculpture. As a realistic representation of the Mendel Art Gallery founder’s head, it has precedent within European art history, as well as within Roman sculpture and bronzes. Leaders, politicians, and the wealthy of Britain and continental Europe were often depicted this way; after all, only the most powerful people could afford to  commissionA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  an artist to recreate their entire body as sculpture. Mol has clearly chosen to focus on Mendel’s expression, investing his efforts not only in the physical accuracy of the representation, but also in imbuing the sculpture with character. As depicted here, Fred Mendel is gazing forward but is unthreatening. We see a gentle expression on his face, both in his eyes and on his mouth, as a soft smile brings up the corners of his mouth slightly.

The high  realismThe realistic and natural representation of people, places, and/or things in a work of art. The opposite of idealization. One of the common themes of postmodernism is that this popular notion of an unmediated presentation is not possible. This sense of realism is sometimes considered synonymous with naturalism. (artlex.com)  that Mol demonstrates in this work is uncharacteristic of his artistic practice, as much of his  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  has an illustrative quality that relies more on suggestion and interpretation than on exact duplication of a subject. This shift towards realism is also the case in the  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  of Clare K. Mendel, done by George Csato. While it is far from an exact representation, it is much more of an attempt at a recognizable depiction than is  foundAn image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, that is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The cubists, dadaists, and surrealists originated the use of found images / materials / objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image / material / object, the term readymade refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé. (Artlex.com)  in Csato’s other work--very  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (Artlex.com)  realism and cubist expressionism. (For some examples of Csato’s abstract work, go to ArtNet) Csato here depicts his  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  with some accuracy, but also manages to incorporate some of his more common tendencies toward the abstract and cubist expressionism. The lines forming Mrs. Mendel’s back are geometric, the shading of her clothing is simplistic and flattened; notice how the room’s corners behind her are angular and disregard the western rules of perspective. And yet for her face, the artist has used more complex shading, and a greater range of tones and details, in order to render his  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  recognizable.

While these are two different ways of depicting patrons of the arts, they are both examples of how the artists have accommodated their styles slightly to produce more recognizable or particular images of their subjects. In this way, they act as records not just of the presence of the artists, but of the presence of their subjects.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Find out some more about either or both of the artists included here (Leo Mol and Georges Csato), including other work they have done (see the Links section for web site information on both artists). How do the portraits here differ from their other pieces? How are they similar? Are there ways other than those discussed above?
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Mendel Art Gallery

Many art museums around the world, including the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, were started through the support of people who had a passion for collecting beautiful art objects. Mr and Mrs. Mendel were two such people who wanted to share some of their  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  and build a gallery as a way to thank the citizens of Saskatoon for helping them prosper in their adopted country of Canada.

We often think that only wealthy people can collect art, but ordinary people can also collect what they like in a smaller way, over a long period of time.  Collecting often becomes a hobby, and sometimes an obsession. But the public can end up benefitting because collectors very often donate their collections to public galleries, so eventually everyone can enjoy the artworks. After all, you can only hang up so many pictures in your home!

Imagine you have decided to become an art collector. Write and draw about the following (you can also draw as an alternative to writing, or illustrate your writing with small  thumbnailA very small and loose drawing. In digital imaging, a small image usually derived from a larger one, also known as a browse image.  (Artlex.com)  sketches.)

  • Decide what kind of objects you would like to collect and why.
  • Choose objects from the category of fine art, which might include the kind of objects you see on display in art galleries.
  • Where would you need to go to find these items (you might try auctions, other galleries, other collectors, etc.)  You can search the ARTSask website for works to collect, but also here is a starter list of a few major Canadian and world museum sites, and some other web sites about collecting, to get you started:
  • If you were to build a museum to house your collection, where in Saskatchewan would you build it and why?
References

Shone, Richard. Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection. London, UK: Hayward Publishing, 1998.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning