‘Two things about beauty: It’s not a thing and it doesn’t reside in things.’
By Grady Harp
October 2, 2015
Moving Toward the Light: Joseph Raffael (Hardcover)
MOVING TOWARD THE LIGHT - Joseph Raffael is one of the most elegant monographs on a practicing artist I have had the pleasure of reading. Yes, “reading” is an operative word here. Too often artist monographs are coffee table picture books, lush and lovely to look at, enlightening as to a chronological path of achievement, and even historically relevant - solely on the basis of the images: the written essays are seldom read and if they are read, they are merely perused. Such is not the case with this warmly informative and evocative collection of the works of this fine realist painter. Authors David Pagel (‘A Walk in Beauty’), Lanie Goodman (In the Studio Making Paradise’), and Betsy Dillard Stroud (Moving Toward the Light’ – a conversation with Joseph Raffael) write with courage about techniques (use of the photograph as the springboard, method of appropriation from the photo image to the paper or canvas, etc) that would frighten most of our painters today, so revealing of secrets and methods publically scorned as “copying” or NOT “representational”. But the real coups in this valuable volume is having the artist talk us through not only his techniques, but through his personal history and vulnerabilities.
As for the paintings, there are splendid reproductions of those paintings we all know and love (koi, water, water lilies, flowers) but there are also many examples of Raffael’s wildlife images, spiritual images, and those of his wife Lannis seeming to metamorphose out of her garden.
The images in this book - eighty-eight works of deep reflection, awe, and joy created in his home and garden in Cap D’Antibes, France - represent the collection that will be on tour throughout the country for the next year – in Nancy Hoffman Gallery, NYC, Canton Museum, Canton Ohio, Southern Ohio Museum, Portsmouth, Ohio and Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan. This book is a fine standard for art books that strive to inform as well as document an artist’s work. Even if you don’t know Raffael’s paintings, I would recommend your adding this volume to your library - for you eye’s AND your soul’s sake. Very Highly Recommended.