January 18, 2006
I remembered this portrait of Mark Ryden when reading this essay on artist portraits in the Village Voice. I've seen Ryden in person a couple of times and he was always somewhat non-descript. The portrait tries to create mythology... and perhaps it is successful because now when I see a Ryden image I instantly picture of him in his studio by that portrait of Lincoln... Similarly while reading the article I could only think of one or two iconic images for each artist mentioned. For me the same is true for musicians whether they be Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, or the Cramps. For each, one photograph eclipsed all others creating an indelible image in my head. This holds true in the personal sphere... My Tia Elva will forever be in her flowing wedding dress, her stern rancher husband standing uncomfortably behind her... I wonder if, in this age where digital images are so cheap, where so much of our lives are catalogued, whether this phenomenon still holds true... Perhaps our own personal iconic images are just that, the pixel icons we use onscreen to represent ourselves... Sad really. They seem so small.