The Sporting Life: The Art of Joseph Sulkowski
Artist: Joseph Sulkowski
Dimensions: 11 1/4" x 12 1/4"
Published by Sporting Classics with a foreword by Lorian Peralta-Ramos and text by Brooke Chilvers. Hardcover, 240 pp. Edited by Chuck Wechsler and Taylor J. Pardue. Here is a beautifully designed and magnificently produced coffee table book of sporting art: 240 pages filled with high-quality color reproductions of more than 180 paintings and sketches by Joseph Sulkowski. The 12-1/4" x 11-1/4" hardbound volume was meticulously printed on fine quality coated stock so substantial I was tempted to measure the thickness with a wooden ruler. The book weighs in at five pounds. But here’s the thing. It’s not just a book of brilliant paintings; it’s a college-level course in art appreciation by a writer, Brooke Chilvers, who at age seventeen moved herself to Paris to study art history. Upon completing her studies, Chilvers embarked on a year-long camping trip, after which she married Rudy Lubin, a French professional hunter who operated in the French Republic of Africa for forty years. Chilvers has been the editor of African Hunting Gazette for twelve years and the art columnist for Gray’s Sporting Journal for fifteen years. She has filled high-level offices in international hunting organizations and won journalistic awards for her writing. Chilvers translates Sulkowski’s art, which leaps from the pages, in a lucid manner so the reader may understand just what the artist learned from studying the works of Michelangelo, Ruben, Rembrandt, and other Old Masters; why he grinds his own pigments to make his paint; how the paintings themselves seem to generate their own light (ground glass in the paint!); how contrast and texture are produced using a variety of brush stroke techniques—pulling, dragging, stabbing. Sulkowski’s sporting gene pool is strong. Count Alexander Sulkowski (1695– 1762) was Master of the hunt in the Grand Duchy of Wielkepolska. The first Jozef Sulkowski (1770–1790) served as an aide-de-camp to Napoleon. Killed in the uprising against French forces in Cairo, his name is inscribed in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Joseph’s father Robert was an avid fly and game fisherman. He was also a painter, sculptor, and an oral surgeon. Joseph’s passion for art was early awakened by his father’s collection of art books. By the age of five young Sulkowski had decided upon his life’s course. He began formal art study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1969, the oldest art school in the country. Needing a mentor to develop his natural affinity for the realism of the Old Masters, he was eventually forced to look elsewhere. He left home in 1974 to study at New York’s Art Student’s League and remained there for five years. It was there he found his mentor, Frank Mason, a foremost authority on the techniques of the Old Masters. Animals and landscapes captured him completely. He paints horses, hounds, and dogs in every manner of field sport all over the world: foxhunting, polo, racing, falconry, beagling, upland shooting, and quail plantation scenes. Landscapes figure prominently, especially in the natural wilderness where the wild creatures—moose, elk, pronghorn, bison, bear, and bighorn—thrive. He paints brilliant angling scenes—the sudden strike in a hidden pool and still lifes featuring well-worn tackle used by his father. Sulkowski’s work may be found in public and private collections worldwide. Two murals decorate the King Abdul Aziz Museum in Saudi Arabia. Other collectors include Rolex, the Duke of Bedford, Marshall Field IV, George Michael, and the Tennessee State Museum. This is a book to get lost in. - Review by Norman Fine, Foxhunting Life