Thursday, May 12, 2011

The End of the Beginning

In this evolving inside-the-studio/outside-the-studio distinction, I feel we have spent a little too much time lately outside the studio, and I apologize for that. I will write more from inside the studio soon. But in the meantime, this being an art blog and all, let me draw your attention to the Second Battle of El Alamein. The "Battle of Egypt" was an 18-day confrontation during which Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery, leading the British Eighth Army, decisively routed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and broke the back of the Axis's Afrika Korps.

Monty brings the pain, November 1942

The salient point in our context is that this first significant Allied* victory resulted in a speech from the irreplaceable Winston Churchill, during which he commented, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

As you may know, I am a member of Saatchi Online, a site where an overwhelming number of artists post their work. I am lucky enough to have been selected from the talent pool there to show a painting at Gallery Mess, the restaurant of the Saatchi Gallery in London. This is the painting:

Hands #1, oil on canvas, 24"x24"

I am incredibly grateful to the people responsible for this decision at Saatchi Online and the Saatchi Gallery.

Many art people are better informed than I am - I am operating inside a complex system the elements and processes of which remain largely opaque to me. So any conclusions I reach about myself or anyone else are highly suspect. Nonetheless, I think I know enough to conclude that this Saatchi thing is rather a big deal - a big enough deal, that there is some chance Churchill's words apply. I have been working on my work in earnest for 13 years, and I continue to work on it today. As far as the second part goes, the part outside the studio - I hope that this is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

*Not Allied, British - thanks for the catch, Casey.


  1. Congratulations, Daniel! Looks like a grand venue. The no commission surprised me. May not be the end of the beginning but it's at least the middle of the start of the beginning of the ..... :-)

  2. Thanks Jim! I think the commission on pieces in the restaurant would amount to a rounding error on the selling prices of work in the gallery itself... I worry that it is not so much the end of the beginning, as the end of the 2-page translator's introduction and the start of the 70-page scholarly introduction with all the biographical and thematic analysis and spoilers, before you get to the actual book.

  3. Son of a gun, Blogger's tech problems seem to have killed Jim in Alaska's comment. Jim, I'm sorry. I know you put a lot of time and thought into that comment.

  4. Best wishes on your exhibit in London, Daniel. Your painting of hands is awesome, and I do think you are on your way.

    I will quibble with your WW II history, however. El Alamein may have been the first significant British victory against the Nazis, but the first significant Allied victory was at Midway in June.

    Your ever loyal (history-buff) fan.

  5. Casey - I am *so* embarrassed. I'm not a WWII buff at all, so pretty much everything I know about El Alamein I learned the day I wrote this post - I just wanted to know what the hell prompted Churchill to say that thing. I was completely sloppy in using British and Allied as interchangeable terms, and I apologize.

    I'm glad you like the painting though! And thanks for the good prognostication...

  6. Yes, it is a "big deal"! Soooo happy for you Daniel!! Yay for you, yay for Saatchi, and, heck, yay for Churchill!

    Congratulations dear friend. You deserve it :-)


  7. Thank you so much, Claudia! I can't wait to catch up with you!

  8. Congratulations on your work being chosen for that Allied restaurant gallery!

    Dani that is so very awesome and well deserved. I'm curious about two things. How long does it get to stay there (and is it for sale while there)? And how do you package and ship a painting that is traveling to London?

  9. Hi Ed! Thanks! I would not show in the gallery of the Axis, so I'm glad I was not asked.


    1. Dunno.
    1a. Yes.
    2. The carpenter who makes my crates makes a crate and then I call my shipper, which is actually a subsidiary of a global shipper which, pray with me here, I hope has the same reasonable rates as their domestic arm.

  10. Hey they wanted the painting, send it C.O.D.!

    Yeah that Axis gallery blows.

  11. Ed -

    1. I don't think that's how it works.

    2. The Axis is well known for its crappy artwork.

  12. Congrats, Daniel. Great painting. Did your model actually put her hands like that? Seems extremely difficult (at least for me).

    And allow me to quibble with the Quibbler: How was Midway an "Allied" victory and El Alamein not? I don't think there were anyone other than Americans and Japanese at Midway. Or was there?

  13. Chris -

    Thanks! And yes, she did - she's a dancer, they can do magic things like that. She even nailed the position of the hands after each break. I was pretty impressed myself.

    I think Casey's point was that they're both Allied victories, and Midway happened first, so I misidentified El Alamein as the first significant Allied victory.