9.6.09

If Gauguin had lived in Hawaii.

Surf art is similar to marine art and seascapes but has the potential for a more intimate portrayal of man's connection to the sea.

The genre is in it's infancy. Surfing was introduced to the world only a century ago. It captured the imagination of the West and was depicted in art but usually for commercial and editorial illustration.

Hawaiians made the surf, a place of danger and toil, into place of play. At the turn of the century painters like Edward Potthast of New York captured happy bathers on the Long Island shore. But the athletic, naked, bronze Polynesians riding waves on wood planks was new and astonishing. If only Gauguin had lived on Waikiki we might have had a much earlier acceptance of surf art. 

Athleticism, soul and grace on translucent of waves. What more compelling subject for artists, photographers and collectors? The subject has not drawn many non-surfing marine painters and photographers. Maybe only full immersion is necessary to in order to capture all that beauty. 

As the art world was concerned, a surfer in a seascape was akin to inserting peasants in landscape paintings the eighteenth century. Too common for the establishment. But after 100 years the sport, the culture and the art are beginning to be fully appreciated.

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