Watercolor on paper, 9 x 6 inches
J. Theodore (Ted) Diamond (American 1938-1985)
Ted Diamond studied at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, but neither completed his education nor enjoyed a career as an artist. In 1965 Ted visited my first gallery at 128 Newbury Street, Boston–I immediately bought two self-portraits; I treasure them to this day. We have acquired a substantial group of intimate gouaches that had been housed in notebooks found in his room in the Charles River Hospital’s psych ward immediately after his suicide; a supporter/caregiver friend kept them safe for nearly 30 years.
The energy of the paintings, ranging from only 3 x 4 inches to 18 x 24 inches, results from deft handling and powerful scale beyond their humble size. They recall James Ensor’s visions and Francis Bacon’s painterliness; their emotional content, expressed with keen draughtsmanship and coloristic mastery reflect a neurotic personality–single heads or figures, fragmented and ghostly images, multiple heads, and multiple figures in compressed interiors, self-portraits and portraits of fellow patients. A few sheets seem to be almost complete abstractions; but even these betray madness. To my eye they evoke James Ensor and Francis Bacon, and have what curator emeritus of the Achenbach Foundation, Robert Flynn Johnson, calls a “Jazz” spirit, a mid-60s bohemianism, an “Outsider’s’” vision in the deepest sense.