In a conversation at the Politics of Power reception, I was discussing how Crony (at left) was actually the third life of this canvas.
I can no longer recall what the first painting looked like, but Crony‘s prior incarnation was a painting titled Deluge (see below).
I created Deluge in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an elegy of sorts to the drowned city.
Deluge hung in my apartment for a while, but it was one of those paintings that quietly nagged at me. “I’m not finished yet, ” it would whisper as I would pass it in the hall.
“I know. But I don’t know how to finish you. Yet.”
Two years later I resumed working on Deluge. As it often happens, it was a rather spontaneous occurrence. I walked up to the painting and once again gave it the once over.
“I’m ready for you now.”
I had no fully conceived plan but I had a starting point in mind. I began by outlining the figure in the watery blue area at the bottom, a figure that echoed a news photo I had seen of a drowned body in the streets of New Orleans. Then I started working around the left and right edges. I liked the overlapping letters and textures, but I felt like they were distracting from the center. I began adding black to create focus.
As it often happens, I had planned to only do some minor tweaks. Somehow in the process, however, the painting changed from a vertical to its original horizontal format, and it acquired a new central element: an image of a Scooter Libby seated in the back of a limousine, post-resignation and indictment.
In some ways I suppose it seems like a long journey for the painting to have taken, from the deluge of a city to the exit of a White House crony. But these words just came to mind: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Perhaps the journey was not so far after all.
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“The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident. Inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.”
William S. Burroughs
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EDITED 03 JAN 2008:
I just came across a photo of the original (or at least earlier) state of this painting. Before Crony, there was Deluge, and before Deluge, there was this untitled work.
I think about the only visible remaining element is the standing figure that appears here inside the red house. Also, as noted above, Crony returned to this horizontal orientation.