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Art
Dahlov Ipcar:   Seven Decades of Creativity

Illustrated. 60 pp.
Portland Museum of Art. US$?
ISBN-10: 0916857247 / ISBN-13: 978-0916857240

Dahlov Ipcar, a Maine artist born in 1917, is one of those artists whose work is not nearly as well known as it ought to be. Influenced by Fauvism and Cubism, as well as by Breughel, Ipcar’s talent takes her far beyond a simple combination of the three. This volume, titled Dahlov Ipcar: Seven Decades of Creativity, is a breathtaking showcase of the artist’s life and work.

Originally designed as an exhibition catalog, this volume is well worth owning. Ipcar’s canvasses are fabulously full. Paintings such as “Garden of Eden” (1961) shimmer with detail and texture that can at first dazzle viewers; only after the eye adjusts do we see the tree, snake, and people among fantastically patterned panoply of beasts and flowers. Adam is painted a tawny shade of brown that is textured with a leaf-and-flower pattern, whereas Eve is profiled in white, with a blue leaf on one knee and a green one on the other while golden tresses flow to her feet.

Ipcar is not just about art, however. It also includes a charming autobiography that gives readers a sense of real intimacy with this remarkable woman’s life and work. It details what it was like to grow up with artists as parents, moving between New York and the family-owned Maine farm to which she and her husband, Adolph, eventually moved when “Abstract Expressionism took over so completely that I gave up on the New York art scene…While Abstract Expressionism can be dramatic and emotional, it lacks form. There is something in my soul that requires sharp edges.” It is comments such as this one that make Ipcar’s work especially accessible. Readers might also be interested to learn about her children’s books, such as The Calico Jungle and The Little Fisherman.

Including reproductions of paintings such as "November Evening" (1953), "Sable Nyika" (1988) and "African Circle" (1993), this all-encompassing retrospective of Ipcar’s life and work will bear reading and rereading.

Elizabeth Breau, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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