Sunday, October 19, 2008

Susanna Coffey (Slater's Pick)

Susanna Coffey is an American artist who received a B.A. in fine arts from the University of Connecticut in 1977 and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Art in 1982.  Coffey is best known for her oil paintings of heads which are often self-portraits lit from behind and placed in the center of the canvas.  These self-portraits are often done fairly small and are heavily painted.  Susanna Coffey reports that much of her influence and inspiration for joining the art world come from her father who was a construction worker of roads.  Coffey states, "Its the love of materiality and constructions...being around when people who were making roads and bridges and mountains and was amazing to watch people doing stuff with their hands."  This love of materiality and energy carry over in Coffey's self-portraits.  Her self portraits often feel as those they were carved away of chiseled stones.  Each of the portraits appear as though they have exact blocks of color fitting together like parts of a building.

Through self-portraiture Coffey explores different facial expressions and emotions.  What is interesting about these self-portraits are their "unmediated quality of showing a self."  Coffey paints herself in several different ways with different backgrounds.  The paintings to do not strive to show a beautiful posed face, rather they evoke a rawness.  Many of the painting show each of Coffey's wrinkles and aged, pale skin. 

Susanna Coffey's work can be related to Janna's Pick Federico Erra through the common focus on portraiture.  Similar to Coffey, Erra also does frontal self-portraits, facing the viewer head-on.  
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1 comment:

slawler said...

I'm interested in the breakdown of form throughout Coffey's work. Her earlier work, 2003 and 2004, utilizes a tight sculptural style with a larger figure while her more recent work, 2005 on, uses a very loose impressionistic stroke with smaller figures in large negative space. There seems to be a trend for artists to move from literal representation to more abstracted or stylistic forms throughout their careers, with examples from J.M.W. Turner to Picasso.