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One Hundred Portraits

During his one-person show at the Saks Gallery in 1986, Gary painted a small portrait of gallery owner Lemmon Saks. Soon after that he did another of art critic Robert Hughes and looked forward to a future show in which he could exhibit these and one of his annual self-portraits side by side as “Art Seller,” “Art Writer,” and “Art Maker.”

But Gary didn’t stop there. He kept painting portraits of famous artists (painters, musicians, dancers, sculptors, architects) and writers. “It became a hobby,” says Gary. “Whenever I came across a black and white photo of an artist I admired, I painted him or her, guessing at the skin tones and eye color. That was the challenge and much of the fun.” Gary’s other criterion was that the person have an interesting face. “Why paint someone like Carl Jung, however much I admire him. He looks like a bank president.”

Gary calls the portraits a hobby because he has no illusions about their commercial value. “People may love Monet, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, and Tennessee Williams but aren’t eager to decorate their homes with these guys’ faces. I sell landscapes and still lifes but just keep accumulating portraits.” The accumulation reached one hundred with the completion of Peter Matthiessen in May of 2003. “He has a beautiful face, deeply lined with penetrating blue-gray eyes,” says Gary. “I got liberal with the paint and reckless with the color.”

In 2000, twenty of the portraits, including Robert Frost, Picasso, William Burroughs, Eudora Welty, Ayn Rand, Eugene Ionescu, and Luigi Pirandello, found their way onto the walls of Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art as part of a show called "Real To Surreal". Only a few others have ever gone on public exhibition. The artist did realize a small sum on the series when an art professor who saw the museum show invited him to give a slide presentation to her class. Michael jokes, “They paid me $40, my sole profit on the portraits so far. That’s ok; I enjoy having a hobby, especially one that keeps me at the easel.”

Allen Ginsberg
Ayn Rand
Albert Schweitzer
Anthony Burgess
Arthur Miller
Atget
Auden
B. Russell  
Balthus
Beardlsy
Berlioz
Bonnard
Alfred Brendel
C. Connolly
Camus  
Truman Capote
Clarence Darrow  
Dali
Degas
Dorothy Parker  
Duchamp
Edgar A. Poe
Emerson
Escher
F. Kahlo
Faulkner  
Flaubert
Francis Bacon
Frank Lloyd Wright
Franz Kafka
G. B. Shaw
G. K. Chesterton
Gorky
Harold Bloom  
Homer  
Ionesco
Isaiah Berlin
Jacob Epstein
James Baldwin
James Dickey
Jasper Johns
John Le Carre




   John Updike (2)
Karl Marx
Kitaj
Roy Lichtenstein
M. Cunningham
Mahler  
Mark Twain
Monet
N. Fechin
N. Mailer
Nietzsche
Nijinsky
Orozco
Oscar Wilde
Paul McCartney
Pete Seeger
Picasso  
Pirandello
Raphael Soyer
Richard Schmid
Robert Frost
Robert Hughes
Rodin  
Roman Polansky
S. Rushdie
Egon Schiele (2)
Schoenberg
Sherwood Anderson
Sibelius
Sigmund Freud
Stephen Spender
T. C. Boyle
Tennessee Williams
Tennyson
Thomas Mann  
Tolstoy
Vonnegut
W. B. Yeats  
Whistler
Walt Whitman
Willa Cather
Willem de Kooning
Wm. Burroughs




Einstein, oil

Ionescu, oil

Nijinsky, oil

Picasso, oil

Walt Whitman, oil

Samual Beckett, oil

Pirandello, oil

George Bernard Shaw, oil

Monet, oil

Georgia O'Keefe, oil

Mark Twain, oil

Tennessee Williams, oil

Egon Schiele, oil

Tolstoy, oil

Ludwig Wittgenstein, oil

Allen Ginsberg, oil

Pete Seeger, oil



Gary Michael
3009 East 10th Avenue ~ Denver, CO 80206
(303) 321-6607
artist.sublime@gmail.com
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