When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Susan Siegel

"Solitary Goat (Blue)"  30" x 24"  oil on canvas 2011

"Solitary Goat (blue)" detail

untitled  12" x 12"  oil on linen  2011

untitled - detail

"Cow Swing"  30" x 24"  oil on canvas  2011

Jean-Honoré Fragonard The Swing (French: L'escarpolette), 1767, Wallace Collection, London

Susan Siegel clearly has a lot of fun with her work, playing around with the conventions of 18th century rococo painting and portraiture. The rococo style flourished especially under the opulent reign of Louis XIV in France as a kind of reaction to the rigid formality of the baroque style. It gave way to neo-classicism and ever since has been seen by many as the representing height of frivolous extravagance. Siegel replaces the courtiers and royal figures with half human animal headed figures and paints her work with an ethereal expressionism. There is something about the combination that strikes me as both humorous and plaintive. It can be difficult to relate to the figures in actual rococo art. The excesses and selfishness of the fortunate, born into a life of leisure and luxury, not bothering to look beyond the causes of their circumstances, can easily evoke a sense of moral indignation. But through Siegel's lens we are reminded of their all too human frailty. People in such times and places (and they're with us still) may not be so callous as we imagine. Just silly. Foolish and all too human. It's a pretty good trick considering she gives them animal faces. And that being said, those faces, executed with such simplicity and flourish, are wonderfully expressive. Part of what is at work here is a reminder that what separates mankind from the animals is really nothing but an indistinct shading of grays. So let's try not to take ourselves too seriously, OK?
You can see more at the artist's website: susanlsiegel.com
...and congratulations to Ms. Siegel on being included in New American Paintings 98


  1. Hi Susan, I saw one of your paintings in PETA and think them beautiful and whimsical. I wonder if your little white dogs are Maltese or Bolognese? I have both and wonder how much your paintings are. I also wanted to ask if I could post one on my FB page which is about animal advocacy and environmental issues only. My name is Lexi Preisser so you can check it out.

    1. Alexis, Susan Siegel is not responsible for this blog post and will probably not see your message. However there is contact info for her on her website: http://susanlsiegel.com/