Wedding Cake, Oil on linen over panel
Tea and cake, on the pristine tabletops of Barbara Kassel’s interiors, are this week’s food special from The Clark Gallery. After I posted last week’s Clark Gallery share, I realized both week’s I’d somehow included tea in the recipes, and here it is again, this time in the paint.
Tea and Fortune Cookie, Oil on linen over panel, 12″ x 18″
Look at that glass cup of Chinese tea. The painting has the positioning and patterning of a Chinese screen with Park Slope sensibility. As for patterns, I see Matisse’s interiors, also borrowed from the east, in Kassel’s varied surfaces and planes. Even Matisse’s famous goldfish bowl slips into a Kassel room. Since I’m playing Art Historian, I’ll mention that I see Bonnard’s tabletops before an open window, intimate interiors safely close but referencing a larger world beyond.
But Kassel’s paint feels quiet and calm, thinly veneered, almost like delicate shell surfaces, unlike the rippling wallpapered rooms of Matisse and Bonnard. So nice that she’s serving tea and cake here.
Here are some more thoughts on Kassel’s work and a bio from The Clark Gallery:
Barbara Kassel”s evocative paintings explore the passage of time. From her loft in New York City, she paints interior and exterior views, creating a visual diary of daily life. Her autobiographical interiors incorporate personal objects inhabiting her surroundings with expanding views outside the windows. The interplay between interior and exterior, or, the yin yang in her work, draws the viewer’s eye across the surface of each painting and into every corner of the composition. Residing and working in spaces that change with the seasons, Kassel’s loft in Tribeca and retreats in Maine and on Martha’s Vineyard play significant roles. Carefully exploring the world around her, she mixes observation and invention as she captures fleeting moments in time that are coated with symbolism and universally accessible. Kassel’s paintings are meditative, meticulously rendered, and resonate with imagery and meaning.
Barbara Kassel received her MFA from Yale University and BFA from Slade School of Fine Art, London. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at the University of New Mexico’s Art Gallery, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Harvard University’s Carpenter Center, and in exhibitions at Clark Gallery since 1997. Kassel’s work is represented in numerous corporate and private collections and has been featured in American Artist, ART NEWS, and Artforum.
The Start, Oil on linen over panel, 24″ x 54″
Two is for Joy, Oil on linen over panel, 36″ x 60″
History of Beauty, Oil on linen over panel, 36″ x 42″
Since we’re serving cake today, here’s a personal favorite from Anne Willan’s La Varenne:
Breton Butter Cake
6 egg yolks
1 ¾ cups flour
1 cup butter
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
9 to 10-inch tart pan with removable base
Set the oven to 375°F/190°C. Thoroughly butter the cake pan. Set aside a teaspoon of the egg yolks for glazing.
Sift the flour onto a marble slab or board and make a large well in the center. Cut the butter in small pieces and put it in the well with the sugar and egg yolks; work them together with your fingertips until the mixture is smooth. Gradually incorporate the flour using the fingers and heel of your hand, and then work the dough gently until smooth. It will be sticky at this point and must be mixed with the help of a metal pastry scraper.
Transfer the dough to the buttered pan and smooth it to an even layer, flouring the back of your hand to prevent sticking. Brush the surface of the gâteau with the reserved egg yolk and mark a lattice design with a fork.
Bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F/180°C and continue baking for 30 more minutes or until the cake is golden and firm to the touch. Leave it to cool then unmold carefully on a rack. Cut it in wedges for serving.