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Sat Dec 30, 2017, 09:50 AM

The Mirror of Life

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Henry Koerner (1915-1991), (Austrian, American) Mirror of Life, 1946. Oil on composition board, 36 42in. (91.4 106.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Dec 30, 2017, 09:55 AM

1. I would love to see this in real life.

When I went to the Dali Museum, I was in heaven for hours and hours.

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Response to Ferrets are Cool (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 30, 2017, 10:29 AM

3. I saw it yesterday; I was at the Whitney.

This painting is incredible live, really unbelievable.

I'd never heard of Henry Koerner. The back story is this: He was born in 1915 to Jewish parents and after the union of Germany and Austria under the Nazi government, he was able to flee to Italy in 1939, leaving his parents behind. Sponsored by a great uncle, he managed to emigrate to the United States, where in 1943, he enlisted in the American army, and served in London in the Office of War Information. He was enlisted to do portrayals of the captured Nazi war criminals, and returned to Vienna, where he learned that is whole family had been murdered in the Holocaust.

His first exhibition was in Germany in 1947, the first retrospective of an American artist post war.

Some of this is covered in the notes beside the painting.

He went on to paint many of the portraits on the cover of Time Magazine. His son is a major art critic at Harvard University.

Here's a brief Biography of Koerner, from which I took my remarks above: Caldwell Gallery Henry Koerner Biography

My son, the art student, has been trying to get me to go to the Whitney for a long time, so my whole family went yesterday.

We took the train into the city, walked down tenth avenue and toured the galleries that were open - many were closed.

Finally we approached the Whitney and as it was bitter cold, and my son had no trouble convincing us to go in.

It's a great museum; I can't believe I never went to it over all these years.

I would say for all the great art in the museum, this was this painting where my family lingered the longest. I went back by myself several times to it. The details cannot really be captured in an internet post. It's a remarkable work, especially in context of his life.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 30, 2017, 11:36 AM

4. Thank you for context. nm

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Response to NNadir (Original post)


Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Dec 30, 2017, 09:56 PM

5. That is a really cool painting!

I love all the details...

I bet it was really neat to see up close!

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Dec 30, 2017, 10:44 PM

6. It's one of those pieces you could look at for hours and still not catch it all. nt

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Response to Laffy Kat (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 31, 2017, 01:53 PM

8. This is very true. Each time I went back to it, I saw something different. The amazing detail...

...that was really startling and disconcerting, was the two naked men in the green clearing, one stomping the other. The man under assault is bleeding in a way you cannot see here.

I would imagine that Koerner painting this in 1946, when the murder of his family must have been very raw, was powerfully horrified by human brutality.

That detail blew my mind, along with the obvious shock on the face of the man looking out in profile; it may be the artist himself. It does seem to me that more than anything else, he is focused on those two naked men, one stomping the other to death.

I don't know whether the Whitney keeps this painting on permanent display. I hope they do, since I hope to go back to see it again.

The Modern often takes Max Beckmann's triptych Departure off display - another German painting about human horror - which bugs me to no end.

I last saw it at the wonderful Beckmann retrospective across town at the Met last Christmas. It's another painting at which one could spend hours. I have spent hours at it.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Dec 30, 2017, 11:23 PM

7. A big, fat K&R to you and this amazing painting, my dear NNadir! n/t

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