Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Fine Art of Madeline von Foerster

I have recently become a convert to Pinterest, and one of my first boards is on "cabinets of curiosity." (I've been thinking of doing a painting, or series of paintings, on that venerable way of displaying collections.)

Ex Mare  |  Madeline von Forester
In my Pinterest surfing, I've discovered the great artwork of Madeline von Foerster, and I wanted to share it with you. The piece above, Ex Mare (from the sea, in Latin), is a prime example of von Foerster's craftsmanship and delightful vision. Now look at the bottom shelf and the beautiful rendition of litter, the litter that often kills sea life. Von Foerster has regularly contributed her artwork to the cause of conservation.

Ebony Cabinet  |  Madeline von Forester

Frog Cabinet  |  Madeline von Forester
Donne Unica  |  Madeline von Forester
Madeline von Foerster works in a technique of oil mixed with egg tempera, achieving a look of the Flemish masters. Her work recalls the Northern Renaissance, but incorporates a surrealism that is often a commentary on modern life. (Donna Unica translates as "Women Only.")

Pangolin  |  Madeline von Forester
Collection Cabinet  |  Madeline von Forester
Valentine  |  Madeline von Forester
I hope you have enjoyed these images as much as I have. You can access Madeline von Foerster's own site and see more of von Foerster's art by clicking on the photo of her, below. Be sure to check out her page on technique.



  1. Dear Mark - I dare not become a convert to Pinterest but can see why you have.
    Thank you for the introduction to Madeline von Foerster's work - how fitting her name is.
    Everything you have shown on this post is lovely and I covert much of it.
    I like the surrealist elements, the tilt to the Flemish and Dutch still life painters but with a contemporary twist, and the touches of symbolism.
    I am now her latest fan.

    1. Dear Rosemary - I guess that makes me her next-to-latest fan! Foerster is obviously well steeped in art history. And on top of all the qualities you've mentioned, there's an underlying humor that is most captivating.

  2. Dear Mark, What a fabulous artist Madeline von Foerster is. Besides her considerable skill as an artist she also has a wonderful sense of humor. Of course, I liked her art right away...she uses (and maybe owns)those wonderful maioliche pieces which she incorporates into almost all of her paintings.
    Like Rosemary, I have not seen the need to join Pinterest. I am constantly urged to do so and it probably would be
    a good way to advertise my ceramics. What I don't like about Pinterest is that sooner or later the originator gets lost in the many repins.
    It's exciting that you are thinking about doing a series of paintings. Happy 4th of July, Gina

    1. Happy 4th of July, Gina! I was thinking of you as I chose the paintings that included maioliche!

      I agree with you that a downside of Pinterest is that the originator gets lost in the many repins, and I would not want that to happen with any of my original art. My own interest in the site is in collecting and storing reference for future projects, rather than projecting my own tastes per se.

      I think another concern regarding Pinterest, particularly in boards that promote commercial interests, is that it's one more way to track people.

  3. Hello Mark, There is so much in these paintings that a quick perusal is hardly adequate to make a serious comment. I love the combination of quality, wit and perception inherent in her work.

    The Pangolin painting resonated with me, as these animals are popular and well known in Taiwan, yet are still trapped and killed to the point of endangerment.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Hello, Jim,

      I must addmit that I know very little about pangolins,but I do know that many rare animals are killed for products that might be considered quackery. I note in the painting of the pangolin that one detail is a jar with Chinese characters.

    2. I think that this painting says that about the Pangolin trade.

      Ebony Cabinet features an Australian Sugar glider ..the small grey animal at centre

  4. Dear Mark,
    Thank you for introducing us to Madeline von Foerster! What a great talent she is... I'm in line with you and everyone else here in coveting these paintings...! I can't wait to see more of her work-- but I wanted to leave a comment before I got lost in the exploration! Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.
    Warm regards,

    1. Dear Erika,

      I hope you discovered Madeline's page on technique — it's fascinating to see her paintings evolve in layers of glazes. We got rained out on the 4th, but I'm enjoying the weekend nonetheless — with indoor celebrations. Have an enjoyable holiday weekend.

      Best wishes,


  5. I love all the references in this artist's work. Beautiful! thanks for bringing Ms von Foerster to my attention!

    1. Hi, Lynne,

      I enjoy how von Foerster utilizes architectural and cabinetry detail in her compositions. I also especially like how she alternates between a modulation of realism and graphic flatness.

  6. Hi Mark,

    I lingered a long time on each image. My eyes touched all the objects and surfaces. Some areas puzzled me, while other things made me smile. I wonder what she dreams at night? Great images. Thanks for sharing this artist with us.

    1. Hi, Mrs. D.,

      I like that Madeline von Foerster makes us wonder. I wonder what her house looks like, what she has gathered around herself to make herself happy?

  7. Hello Mark,
    This post leaves me with mixte feelings, total admiration for this artist yet so jealous of her talent. We are not all born equal (sigh). Inspiring and motivating none the less, thank you for the intro.

    1. Hi, Anyes,

      I hope you had a chance to visit Madeline's site. It seems that she works on quite a large scale, which one would not expect from all the fine detail. At a glance, we would assume these are all small gems . . .

  8. Just gorgeous, gorgeous work. Thank you for introducing me to Madeline's work, Mark. I'm going to add some of the paintings to my Pinterest art boards.

    Where are you on Pinterest? I kind of knew you'd enjoy it.

    I've been spending way too much time pinning away when I should be doing other things. But for me it's like a vacation - I find the whole Pinterest thing VERY RELAXING.
    Too relaxing probably.

    My boards are under my first name, plain and simple: Yvette.

    For me, Pinterest is a way of collecting without having to make more room or spend the money. It's also a great place to 'store' ideas and/or visual references.

    1. Hello, Yvette,

      I am on Pinterest under "Mark Ruffner." I was initially resistant to the site because there's so much tracking going on EVERYWHERE!, but I also know that as a blogger, my life is pretty much an open book anyway.

      I store a lot of visual reference on my HD, but I see the value of Pinterest as both a source of ideas and a memory saver. You'll see on one of my boards Curiosity Cabinet; it's a subject I've been considering painting.

      I'll look forward to visiting your boards.