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Philip Gladstone self-portraits (details)
Welcome to the authorized website of American fine artist Philip Gladstone. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the artist now lives and works in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
A prolific and uniquely gifted painter, draughtsman and sculptor with stories to tell, passions to share and sometimes a protest to make, Philip Gladstone's layered, complex body of work best reveals its secrets when the pictures are seen grouped together according to the several major themes that the artist has pursued and evolved over his brief, still-new career. You'll find a generous selection of his best work presented that way here.

As one pioneer among a generation of artists recognizing and embracing the new opportunities for artistic growth and self-empowerment brought about by the rapid evolution of the World Wide Web, since 2004 Philip Gladstone has independently created, exhibited and sold more than six thousand paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints directly to his collectors, exclusively online

Philip Gladstone's studio in Maine

The artist's studio
Philip Gladstone: A Mural of the Mind
Porter Anderson 

National Critics Institute Fellow Porter Anderson is a journalist whose venues have included Time Warner's CNN networks, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and many others. His roles in newspapers, magazines, network television, and online network news have included critic, reporter, news anchor, and senior producer. Mr. Anderson was among Philip Gladstone's earliest collectors, and in the summer of 2007 he wrote this thoughtful appreciation of the artist's achievement to that date.

If Philip Gladstone's many paintings and drawings were all brought together in a massive mural – Diego Rivera style – it would be clear, even to a newcomer to his work, that this is an artist's world of self-research, meditation, discovery and comment.
As in Rivera's 1934 Man at the Crossroads (Fresco Museo del Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico City), Gladstone is convening a career-wide throng of iconic figures, most of them absorbed in their own moments and plights. Rivera's workers of a world then bound by dreams of Marxist solidarity here are supplanted by elements of one personality, facets of Gladstone's inner vision of himself, of significant souls, of issues, pressures, quandaries.

Gladstone's people are characters rarely seen together, glimpsed in the crowded isolation of their respective loneliness. They are sometimes no farther away from each other than next door, or at the next seat at an outdoor table, or at arm's length in a grotto's pool of water. But in contact? Not frequently and never in the rows of patient, enthralled citizens who populate the audiences and rallies of Rivera's global town hall.

Nevertheless, just as clearly as Rivera pictured his farmers, scientists, political leaders and industrialists, Gladstone creates his own factory workers, letter readers, sons, fathers, staircase climbers, hotel guests and wakeful, watching young men in bathtubs, bedrooms, swimming holes, beside windows, tables, parrots, dogs, in beds and boats, on beaches and turrets, in chilly afternoon light and the glow of storybook-drippy candles.

Stylistically, Gladstone has created an idiomatic vocabulary as distinctive as the bent backs of Rivera's peasants.
Philip Gladstone's "The Cupola"
The Cupola
Philip Gladstone's "Unanticipated"
Unanticipated
Philip Gladstone's "The Homecoming"
The Homecoming
Almost always vested in the image of a nude young man, Gladstone's subject in any given piece may take the form of a teenager whose head is always turned sharply rightward, eyes downcast, chastened; or of a youth sitting alone at the top of a banistered landing; or of a figure curled behind a door, lying on its side, possibly unconscious. Interiors are often Hopper-empty. Wide floor planks and molded doorways stand behind clapboard exteriors, New England's relentless melancholy a constant ether pervading these personalities' spaces.

There are boys here who want to communicate and are dramatically thwarted, from the naked twenty-something who tries to place a call in a roadside phone booth to the one pressing his ear to a wall by his bed and the other one distraught beside a vase of flowers, a page of paper and an instrument that might be a knife and might be a letter opener.

Others have every opportunity to communicate and don't. The "navigators," as Gladstone names them, are young men whose toy ships don't bring them together as friends in the lagoon in which they stand. The naked young man behind many doors in many paintings remains invisible to the dozing fatherly figure in the armchair. The boy seated in a dinghy across from a glowering Buddha-like black man is terrified, not led to reaching out.

Seen as sexual by many viewers, the Gladstone canon is certainly accessible as an ongoing discussion in sensual self-discovery, identity debate and longing. But little here is pornographic, in that the characters' intents, like the artist's, are almost never titillation. Intellectual arousal seems harder for these male seekers to come by than the physical and they're likelier to be paralyzed than liberated by their solitude.

Political moments sometimes enter a canvas through images of bright televisions in dark rooms carrying presidential speeches, watched by lone, naked men.
The work of other artists – Picasso, Eakins, Caravaggio – occasionally surfaces, sometimes in direct, amusing confrontations between Gladstone's iconic figures and some of the artists'. And Gladstone at times appropriates a page of text and/or image from an author – Thurber is a favorite – on which a new line drawing, maybe some color, is sketched.

The son of a one-time Disney artist, caricature seems to be in Gladstone's genes. While in recent months a new interest in detailed and convincing figure work from excellent life models has become a welcome upgraded interest in his work, Gladstone's top-level view remains a mythic Americana, neither so domestically detailed as Rockwell's nor so painfully austere as Wyeth's, but usually tinged with pageantry. As carefully rendered as a thigh or shoulder might be, the bathtub is truncated like a tugboat's hull. As faithfully shadowed as a hand may be on one wall, the room's other wall may be angled into a line of perspective that isn't quite of our dimension, providing the unsettling potential of a world so long past Palladio's reach that we have new depths to discover, new points to watch vanish.

The speed at which Gladstone works is blistering. Both blessing and curse, the fact that eBay is his prime outlet for sales requires constantly replenished inventory and his most devoted collectors will buy originals only. A recent uptick in the number of drawings offered (sometimes with paint, sometimes with pastels) has coincided with the new attention to figurative modeling. A busy print-making sideline has developed so Gladstone can provide inexpensive but quality copies of many of the hundreds of paintings and drawings he has sold.

The blessing of this high demand and need to work fast is the incremental evolution and appearance of the Gladstone gathering of iconic figures. The letter writer, for example, has appeared in myriad formulations of what appear to be happy and sad letters, crouched and standing studies of them, thoughtful and despairing reactions to their contents.
Philip Gladstone's "Radical"
Radical
Philip Gladstone's "Studies of a Break Dancer"
Break Dancer
Philip Gladstone's "Harvest Moon"
Harvest Moon
Philip Gladstone's "Birches"
Birches
The curse, of course, is the challenge of keeping quality and specificity in place under such pressure to produce.

Gladstone handles it remarkably well, especially for a man with a family. His background in frame-making obviously helps on the shipping end of the job an eBay success entails. Collectors making a late-evening perusal will find on most evenings that Gladstone somehow has new works posting.

And the clever, gentle development of the images marches on. There's a striking entry, the kind of sudden arrival on the scene of a "new kid" that occurs in this fast-widening oeuvre: This one is a youth in a nighttime stand of birch trees, somehow walking right into one, unable, it seems to tell left from right. There will always be viewers of this work who, like that kid, can't see the forest for at least one tree. Gladstone's male nudity is unabashed and laid out in increasingly fine brush strokes, a technical evolution that succeeds a former style of thickly applied waves of paint. It's as startling for some to encounter this work for the first time as it is inevitable to the Gladstone language that these men will be naked. They are that way for a reason, maybe more than one reason. And while this factor can limit the appeal for some, it will free it for others.

You have only to imagine the contemporary males Gladstone conjures suddenly wearing jeans, scooting around on skateboards, MP3-ed for the street as we see them in reality, and you understand how impossible it would be to do this work with clothed figures. They are naked because they are lonely, confused, solitary – and they engage, indulge and shudder in being solitary, confused and lonely because they are naked.
Apparel is an armor as useful to the psyche as it is to the body. Taking it off always reveals something of both.

To Gladstone's credit, he gets the armor off, never sparing himself what he requires of his iconic subjects – watch for the many self-portraits that pepper his online store's offerings.

And if that mural ever is made, it will be a sight for smart eyes, a great and towering community of handsome privacy in huddled proximity to a world as baffled by the fearful moments as it is scared of power shifts.

Rivera's work at 30 Rockefeller Plaza was stopped and removed when it was decided that Vladimir Lenin was too kindly featured among workers of the world. Today, he's honored worldwide for his vision in symbolic grace, energy and political prescience.

Gladstone, whose work may disturb, scandalize or anger some viewers, has good "navigators," and a small army of associate, haunting archetypes who can get under the skin quickly, especially male skin.
Philip Gladstone's "Figures in an Interior"
Figures in an Interior (diptych, self-portraits)
Guys look at these images and may not feel like making any admissions in mixed company, but they find themselves here, their own unseen falterings and naked doubts, about themselves, about others, about the rooms in which they discover themselves.

As another Man at the Crossroads of social norm and personal expression, Gladstone is doing just fine.


"A Mural of the Mind" Copyright © Porter Anderson, 2007, All Rights Reserved. http://porteranderson.com/
   Philip Gladstone Fine Arts  |  PO Box 126, Dover-Foxcroft Maine 04426 USA  |  gladstone.studio@gmail.com
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