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Funny feller


Ah. This is where I went today. I went to see a Richard Dadd exhibition.

Do you know him? I think the picture above is the only one of him; it’s the only one I’ve ever seen, anyway.

He was born in 1817, the son of a chemist. He showed early promise in art, so he was sent off for a proper art education. It stressed him out. When he was 26, he was walking in the park with his father and, without much warning, turned on the old man and murdered him. Cut his throat.

Dadd spent the rest of his life in the loony bin, first in Bedlam, then in Broadmoor. He never really got better. He had lots and lots of time to paint.

Now, I don’t hold with worshipping artists just because they’re crazy. There are plenty of nutcakes of very indifferent talent. But Dadd really was a very good artist. Highly technically accomplished, though the crazy shines through, even in his early work.

By far his most famous painting is The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, which is, like, two feet by two feet and so crammed full of beautifully rendered crazy that it is almost always exhibited next to some kind of huge blowup (today, it was next to a slide show of extreme closeups).

I had seen some of his oils before, but this was the first time I’d ever seen his watercolors. Holy shit, they were uniquely beautiful but, well…bugfuck crazy. Made of tiny, tiny, tiny flecks of very pale color. Not at all like pointillism, though. Can’t describe it. Can’t find an example online.

Didn’t buy the show catalogue because it wasn’t a show catalogue, it was just a book about Dadd. Will have to search harder.

September 29, 2015 — 9:00 pm
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