HENRY CASSELLI: Bird’s Nest (1987),watercolor on paper, 33 x 42 inches. Collection of New Orleans Museum of Art. Courtesy www.henrycasselli.com.
I saw this painting at the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1988 and it stopped me dead in my tracks. It is stunning. I was so taken with it that I even called the artist to talk about it. He was absolutely lovely.
Garshin is more than just a beautifully rendered head. In this painting I feel like I am seeing the whole story of a man’s life depicted in the eyes alone. When I first saw Garshin, I immediately did some research to discover who he was in real life. I learned he was an idealistic author who lived during the Russian revolution, and he committed suicide at a young age. I only know Garshin from a portrait, but I was not surprised to learn that his real life personal anguish was so similar to the sadness I had already seen in his face.