Richmond Art Museum
Charles Warren Mundy: An American Impressionist
January 21 - March 4, 2001
This exhibition features C.W. Mundy's paintings from the past six years. In 1994, Mundy left his successful career as an illustrator of sports figures and events to the more personally satisfying and challenging demands of painting en plein-air.
Mundy immersed himself in the historic homeland of the Impressionists in his first painting trip to France in 1995. He captured the variable atmospherics of the traditional Impressionist haunts in an overcast morning, Pont Aven, Drizzling October Morning; the saturated sunset hues of Cote D'Azur, Port De Cannes, and the muted fog tones of Paris, Pont Neuf. These French works were the core of his first exhibition introducing his new style to the public and they were an unqualified success. (left: Paris, Pont Neuf, 1995, 16 x 20 inches)
Encouraged and exhilarated by the response Mundy spent the next two years painting locally in Indiana and in Italy. Evident in works from this period (1996-1997) is his increasing fascination with light and cropping of images. The brilliant Mediterranean sun of Italy has fascinated artists of all ages from the master Venetian painter, Canaletto (1697-1768) to the brilliant portrait painter and watercolorist, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). The close cropped view of boats leisurely moored at Santa Margherita display the brilliant chromatics of the Italian coast m their rich blues and reds. This use of close cropping is most effective in Holcomb Garden, Purple Iris & Peonies. The angular cropping invites the viewer into the abundance and variety of iris and surrounding one in their jewel tones. In Katherine, a portrait of a young girl, Mundy has placed her very close to the picture plane, a device that can often feel confrontational. But he emotionally spaces her from the viewer through the softened golden tones of the background. Her sleepy, pensive downcast eyes and the relaxed draping of the hair bow and tunic create an atmosphere of quiet observation for the viewer - as though we had spied her napping. (left: Holcomb Garden, Purple Iris & Peonies, 1996, 16 x 20 inches)
By 1997 Mundy's work was nationally recognized. He was awarded Best of Show in the Hoosier Salon and would be so honored in the 1998 and 2000 Salon. Art journals were taking critical notice of his work and he was the subject of major articles in Southwest Art and International Artist. His travels by 2000 included destinations in France, Italy, England, Spain, Eastern Europe and New England. Exhibitions of works from these travels continued to be very popular and more often than not were sell-outs. (right: Self Portrait, 2000, 12 x 9 inches)
Mundy's distinctive style of applying the paint to canvas continued to develop. His broader application of paint can be seen in the thick impasto and bravura brush strokes of Jeffersonville, Farm at Sterling Ridge and Steyr, View from the Café. Perhaps the hallmark of Mundy's style is the use of the palette knife that scumbles and livens the surface with slashes and sweeps creating a distinctive textured veil over the image. The technique can be pronounced as in Vienna, The Fiaker more subdued as in Pond Yachts m the Studio. (left: Pond Yachts m the Studio, 2000, 20 x 16 inches)
A series on ballet dancers moved Mundy into the studio creating a different set of challenges than those presented by the immediacy of painting en plein air. Rather than capturing a moment in time with the attendant atmospherics, he could now manipulate the composition and light. In the ballet series, Mundy effectively employs the use of reflective surfaces to add dimension, movement and altering perspectives to the dancers. With a nod to the ballet paintings of Edgar Degas, Mundy uses bottom-lit rooms to create interesting, deeply shadowed figures. This chiaroscuro simultaneously makes the dancers theatrically engaging and yet curiously isolating. Like his other figural works, Rebecca Resting, Self Portrait and Katherine, the viewer does not engage the sitter directly but rather as a passing unseen intruder. (right: Katherine, 1997, 20 x 16 inches)
C. W. Mundy continues to expand and explore his talent. He carries on the proud artistic heritage of Indiana into this new century and millennium.
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For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/23/11
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