At a time when beauty is much out of favor in the art world, Joseph Raffael has taken what some would consider the highly radical step of daring to paint beautiful pictures. Long one of contemporary art's most highly regarded painters, Raffael transforms intense observations of nature into color-drenched, deeply felt works of art. He often works on a very large scale, using either watercolor, oil, or acrylic to achieve the painstaking detail of his dazzling images.
Amei Wallach's warmly perceptive introduction, inspired by a visit to the artist's home and studio in the south of France, explores Raffael's life history, his sources, and his ideas about art. Her individual chapter openers address the predominant subjects within the artist's work, including water and shore scenes, flowers, animals, fish and lilies, sacred symbols, and Raffael's wife, Lannis. A thought-provoking essay by Donald Kuspit places Raffael's painting within the larger context of twentieth-century art, psychology, and philosophy. Complementing these texts are the paintings themselves-sun-dappled carp, luminous iris, tumultuous rivers, and other wonders of nature captured in radiant visual meditations.
The artist has also contributed two engaging written pieces, both of which illuminate the pleasures and occasional terrors of the creative process. His "Diary of a Painting" traces the evolution of one major work over several months, from the original slide to the finished wall-size watercolor, providing insight into the emotional and technical demands of creating a work of art. His informative and revealing "Autobiographical Chronology" provides a personal look back, from his Brooklyn childhood to his art-making career in New York, California, and the south of France, where Joseph Raffael lives and works today.