A tribute to John Hunter, American Artist

There is quite a lot of amazing art by John Hunter on my pages because I have collected his work for many years. I have my favorites. Of course the individual prints, of all sizes, are treasures, and the suites (two of them) I have enjoyed for a long time. John is still working. This past Christmas I was lucky to get a little spiral bound book titled, “Life is Good” (A King and A Queen) 1998. What a Marvel! There are reproductions of some of the latest works, and the first painting is “Blossom Garden” (Adam and Eve), and you can guess who posed for Adam. It’s a full-length self-portrait with a march larger Eve, of course, in a bikini. This has all the humor and whimsy typical of my favorite living artist who poses in a very brief Speedo, leaning against a tree with a blue bird in his hand. I am not doing the piece justice; the old thing about a picture being worth a thousand words just doesn’t work backwards. There are the iconic figures from the lexicon, cowboys, clowns, animals, and my favorite, “Six of the 1 Percent.” Oops, there is a woman who could easily be interpreted as a nun representing the church? She carries a purse. Ouch. The satire is heightened by five other figures equally morbid in color and expression. It is my favorite of them all. Another is “Sixteen of The 99 Percent”(2011) and again, the icons: a ballerina, a brown bear, a pair of monkeys dressed in colonial garb. At least it seems so, but I venture too far into unknown territory, Hunter’s personal autobiography. AND, OMG here is another little book, also spiral bound, Phung And John And Friends. Phung is the artist’s lovely wife. The first page reads: “When somebody told Degas that, After all, art really is a bit of a luxury, he responded “For you, perhaps, but for me its an absolute bodily necessity.” An art tour follows. First, Phung standing beside a huge 19th Century Buddha from Burma. A rare photo of the artist in the flesh holding a suite of lithographs by German Expressionist Max Beckmann, published In Munich in 1920. Next page, the artist (looking like Monet) again holding an original Toulouse-Lautrec, Divan Japoinai from 1893 showing Jane Avril and Yvette Guilbert. The little book continues with works in the Hunters’ personal collection, Picasso, Renee Hermann-Paul, Lawson Wood. Spanish colonial art and new paintings by Hunter depicting San Francisco’s Chinatown, and more.

All in all, these two books are not going anywhere but in my permanent collection, hopefully, for some time.

Now. What started me on this post: I was lying down on a hot day, 101 degrees, and my eyes began to look again at one of my favorite Hunter lithographs, Childhood. Interesting that God knows I love it and He wants me to have it because twenty some odd years ago a thief stole it from me, but when he eventually sold it to a Northern California gallery I bought it back. Well, looking at any work of John Hunter’s is going to be an excursion for the eyes. The looking goes on and on. I mean, no matter how many times I look at this, I see things I never noticed before. This is the inimitable thing about all his art. His pencil never rests and the mind behind the work is more engaging than the sometimes almost hidden self-portraits you will find in everything if you really look! My “childhood” is not for sale- yet. But do take a look again through my gallery to see what I mean about the art of John Hunter.

I have a little Hunter acrylic (painting) I have not posted, and more lithographs too, but those will be the last to go. When I feel it is time to retire to my small footprint dwelling, my tiny house in Taos or Big Bear, then I will be forced to sell the rest of my art since I will not have the wall space to gaze for long spells at a great artist’s oeuvre anymore in this life. But not quite yet.

Poke around the gallery and you will find a nice picture of “Childhood” and you can “see” for yourself what I mean by “the eye never rests because the more you look the more you see!” And it is done in the most beautiful colors, a happy time of life!