My impressions of E.E. Cummings paintings

Essay by SuseUniversity, Bachelor's June 2005

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My impressions about E. E. Cummings` paintings

        E. E. Cummings gained tremendous popularity throughout the 20th century. His poetry was widely hailed for its experimental form, typography, grammar and word coinages, as well as for the subtlety and sensitivity of its perceptions and feeling. His non-fiction prose was praised for its bitter wit and for the clarity and forcefulness of its expression, revealing Cummings as an intelligent, critical observer and chronicler of the modern, who, bound to no school of writing, expresses himself as an idiosyncratic individualist.

        However, less well-known are Cummings` achievements as a visual artist and the extent to which they express in an entirely different medium the same aesthetic principles and precise artistic intelligence that inform his poetry. Cummings viewed himself as much as a painter as a poet.

        Cummings spent a greater portion of his time painting than writing; he also produced thousands of pages of carefully thought-out notes concerning his own aesthetics of painting: color - theory, analysis of the human form, the "intelligence" of painting, reflections on the Masters, etc.

        While achieving substantial acclaim as an American cubist and abstract, avant-garde painter in the years between the wars, he later viewed the artistic establishment as hopelessly anti-intellectual and dropped out of the New York gallery scene, devoting the remainder of his life to painting representational work: landscapes, nudes, still lives and portraits.

        When I investigated Cummings` paintings, I noticed that many of the paintings in his collection display wild, exuberant, and sometimes nearly fantastic use of color. His landscapes yield the greatest variety of experimentation regarding technique and approach to the subject. Many of the landscapes are rather weirdly surreal and muted or else bursting with mad swirls of brilliant colors. The dominant subject among landscapes are mountains, but in still lifes - flowers.