Passage Of The Moon

Passage of the Moon was the culminating work in a series of paintings and drawings of the nude. Over the years, I had seen wonderful grouping of the nude by such diverse artists as Degas, Klimt, Schiele, Freud and Balthus. I was amazed by the vitality and ‘edge’ that they brought to the subject. Thus the humanity of the image intertwined with a modern, contemporary and pulsing aura and was therefore ‘remade’, so to speak.

After completing the drawing Passage my wife and I traveled to Italy where we had lived 18 years earlier at the American Academy in Rome. It was the first time we had returned to this beautiful city. At one point, walking down the Via Nazionale, I stopped in to see an exhibition of Japanese masterpieces which was on display at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. The show had an eye-catching display of Japanese screens, one of which in particular stopped me in my tracks. This screen, with its rich colors and design, dealt with the passing of the seasons. I imagined my recently completed nude reclining in front of it.

Because I wanted to recreate the richness of the screen, I learned how to use gold leaf, combining it with oil paint.  Burnishing, scratching and scraping the surface, I made use of the intense red/vermillion underpainting. I believe this painting is one of the strongest in the series. It brings together many layers of ideas, abstractions and sensualities, linking, in a very natural way, Western and Eastern themes and influences.