Landscape with Snow (1888)

Landscape with Snow (1888)
Painted in February of 1888, Van Gogh painted the dreary furrowed fields of winter. A lone figure with his dog trudge toward home. Located in the Guggenheim, I was moved to view this painting this past weekend.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sir John Tenniel

Happy Birthday Sir John Tenniel!! Born in England, Tenniel studied for a time at the Royal Academy, but left dissatisfied with the teaching. He worked in painting, then turned to book illustration. Tenniel submitted cartoons to Punch Magazine, gradually became the political cartoonist for the publication. But the crowning achievement of Tenniel was to be the illustrator of Alice in Wonderland, originally to be illustrated by Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). Dodgson eventually sought out Tenniel for the task, after rejection by the publisher for his own attempts. I have included the famed Cheshire Cat below. I just love the grin!

Punch Magazine-published in England, beginning in 1841, presented articles and cartoons in support of the downtrodden. The cause of supporting the oppressed gradually shifted to a more conservative view in the 1850s with some key changes in leadership. The magazine continued until 1992.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

Happy Birthday Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida!! After deciding to become an artist at age 15, the Spanish painter, born in 1863, went to Madrid at age 18, copying Old Masters’ works. He won a grant to Rome four years later and studied painting. Sorolla is considered a Realist/Impressionist, and was expert at painting the effects of light. This expertise is evidenced in A Walk on the Beach; note the beautiful handling of sunlight on the women’s white garments and umbrellas. He was enamored with the sea and has many seascapes to his credit.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Honore Daumier

Happy Birthday Honore Daumier!! The Parisian lithographer and painter, born in 1808, created political commentaries for journals. He contributed over 4000 satirical lithographs as well as paintings. Daumier was an insightful draftsman into the human condition of the period. The work often raised the ire of the government he criticized. Consider the lithograph below, Rue Transnonain, which in graphic detail depicts fallen townspeople after soldiers have raided their quarters. Daumier keenly places us, the viewers of the horrific spectacle, on eye level, as if we are on the scene.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Happy Birthday to Pierre-Auguste Renoir!! Wow! How to write about such a master? I have been reading a book about Renoir (born 1841, in France) written by his son Jean Renoir. It is filled with wonderful anecdotes about Renoir’s life. One I particularly like is a quote about life, “You must let yourself go along in life like a cork in the current of a stream.” He did not believe in tempting fate. Renoir was known to walk extremely long distances; in fact he often walked with a fellow painter from Paris to a town 38 miles away, taking 2 days to do so. Renoir is known as an Impressionist painter of incredible talent. The painting I have chosen to include here, The Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81) is filled with friends and partners of Renoir, in fact Renoir himself. This painting is perhaps the last in his “Impressionistic” phase. Unlike typical Impressionist figures, these are clearer; the painting has more structure compositionally. The standing man on the left is Renoir with his future wife, Aline Charigot, in the foreground playing with the little dog. Well-known artist and patron Gustave Caillebotte is seated on the right with the straw hat. The women are painted in the style that Renoir was to become known for: plump, rosy faced, smiling and seemingly carefree. The friends party together, finding life and love. Following this painting, Renoir went through a dry spell, not painting for 4 years, then returned to paint, focusing on nudes. His son describes his technique of beginning with a white ground,  adding small curving strokes of pale blue and pink, gradually building up the figure, adding deep red madder and yellows last. Renoir was stricken with rheumatism in his later years, which horribly crippled his hands and fingers, but he painted until his last day in 1919, finally laying down his brush to say, “I think I am beginning to understand something about it”

While I am by no means famous, since it is my birthday today also, I thought I'd post some information about my art. I work in watercolor, collage, found object sculpture, ceramics and artist books. Currently I have been working on a series of garden scenes with portions of architecture. I have posted one below for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winslow Homer

Happy Birthday Winslow Homer!! American Realist painter, Winslow Homer was born on this day in 1836 began as an illustrator of the Civil War. He was born in Boston and was apprenticed to a lithographer. After abandoning his work as an illustrator in 1881, Homer began to paint his large paintings depicting man against the force of nature. Most are involved with fishermen and the sea. Breezing Up is one of these well-loved adventurous scenes. Homer took several trips throughout his career to the Caribbean, Canada, and the Adirondacks. While away he painted watercolors, establishing watercolor as a viable medium for American painters (rather than just a sketching method).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tom Wesselman

Happy Birthday Tom Wesselman!! Born in 1931, Tom Wesselman was an American Pop artist although he did not care for the label claiming he made aesthetic use of everyday objects rather that satirizing them. He concentrated on painting, found object collage and sculpture. The collage below entitled Still Life #20 was created in 1962. Note the reproduction of a Piet Mondrian painting hanging on the kitchen wall behind the table.

Pop Art developed just after World War II, making use of commonplace objects and items from everyday life. The artifacts of the masses are just as valid, if not more so, as “Fine Art” subjects. The reproduction of the art (comic strips, soup cans, etc.) of the popular culture was a commentary on the taste and ideals of the public. Some artists used materials from the environment in assemblage and collage; others used bright, vibrant colors in their expression of the world in which we live.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rembrandt Peale

Happy Birthday Rembrandt Peale!! We looked at this artists’ brother’s work a few days ago. Rembrandt Peale was born in 1774 to portrait artist Charles Peale. Rembrandt followed his father’s footsteps and became a portrait painter as well. In the portrait of Thomas Jefferson, we see a precursor of Romanticism in the gentle pose, even tone quality and expressive brushstrokes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hendrik Berlage

Happy birthday Hendrik Berlage!! The Father of Modern Architecture of theNetherlands was born in 1856, in Amsterdam. Berlage studied architecture under Gottfried Semper, then traveled Europe before forming a partnership with partner Theodore Sanders. They produced numerous projects. Berlage was greatly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright after a trip to the US in 1911. He in turn influenced several architectural groups in Holland, including De Stijl, The Amsterdam School and the New Objectivists. The building pictured below is Berlage’s Bourse or stock exchange in Art Deco style.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ansel Adams

Happy Birthday Ansel Adams!! Born in 1902, Adams was an innovative photographer who originally planned on becoming a pianist. A love for nature and a champion for the environment, Adams used the camera as an artistic tool. He captured the quiet beauty of nature with his lens and encouraged Americans to protect the environment. His words eloquently describe his aim: “The negative is the musical score. The print is the performance.” While surely, the pristine beauty of nature alone is evident in his photographs, the emotion he conveys push his work from simply recording nature to Art. Adams authored nearly four dozen books. He was quite instrumental in furthering the Sierra Club’s cause, serving as director for a time. Alfred Stieglitz hosted a one man show of Adams’ work in 1936, in the well-known New York gallery “An American Place”. Yosemite (1940) is presented below, and in Ansel’s words: “A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

William Hook

Happy Birthday William Hook!! William Hook was born in 1777, in Salisbury Massachusetts and a member of the famed Salem Cabinet-maker Society. His sons Elias and George went on to become organ builders in Salem. Hook's Chest, of bird’s eye maple and mahogany is one of his few pieces remaining. Note the distinctive curving front legs with ball. The use of two types of wood sets up a nice contrast in the details. This contrast is also evident in the Sideboard. The legs are referred to as “reeded” (the vertical grooves). As I researched this artist, I ran across a reference to the close bond cabinetmakers and shipbuilders during this time period. The ships had beautiful wood carving, requiring great skill. This skill was sometimes transferred to cabinetmaking and vice versa. Of course Salem was a shipbuilding town since the early 1600’s.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Happy Birthday Louis Comfort Tiffany!! Born in 1848, this American’s glasswork is still lovely to behold. Tiffany was a landscape painter, interior decorator, architect and decorative artist. He is best known, though, for his incredible glass. His designs combine texture, pattern, color and light to create beautiful stained glass. The fascination with light was taken a step further when he began to create stained glass lampshades in the late 1800s. The lamp pictured here is an example of the aesthetically balanced and pleasing forms Tiffany was able to create. Notice the irregular edge of the shade, the organic leaves (lily pads) at the base. The flowers seem to drip down in a lovely tumble.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Raphaelle Peale

Happy Birthday Raphaelle Peale!! Son of Charles Peale, this American painter was born in 1774. He and his brothers were given Artists’ namesakes: Raphael, Rembrandt and Titian. Following in their father’s footsteps, who was a portrait painter; both Raphaelle and Rembrandt were also painters. While Rembrandt was a “traditional” portrait painter, Raphael displays his talent in a more unusual painting entitled After the Bath. Behind the hanging towel or sheet, we can barely make out a bit of an arm and an ankle of a girl, probably nude, drying her hair. The towel is a startling contrast to the dark background and draped realistically on the line; resembling a caftan or kimono. Unfortunately Raphaelle did not pursue his art as much vigorously as his father and brother, a few still life paintings and the one mentioned here are all we have from him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Giambattista Bodoni

Happy Birthday Giambattista Bodoni!! Italian, born in 1740, Bodoni was an engraver, printer and typographer, who apprenticed for a time in the Vatican’s publishing house. He developed a technical typeface with strong thick stems and hairline thin contrasts. His font included flat, horizontal serifs and was considered ultra modern in his day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Henry Steinway

Happy Birthday Henry Steinway!! German, born in 1797, named Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg originally won a gold medal for his grand and square pianos exhibited at the Brunswick State Fair in 1839. But his childhood was marred by tragedy and misfortune. He was orphaned at age 15. He was apprenticed to an organ maker and began to secretly build instruments, starting with guitars. His first grand piano was built in his kitchen, hence the pet name “kitchen piano” and is exhibited at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York. In 1850 he and his four sons immigrated to the US, changing their family name to Steinway & Sons. They developed the seven-octave piano winning national favor. Their design incorporated a one-piece cast iron frame with overstringing which totally transformed the instrument.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Cameron Princep

Happy Birthday Valentine Cameron Princep!! I really had to search to find an artist for today! This British Pre-Raephelite painter was born in India, in 1838. His father was a member of the Council of India for many years. He later was brought up in a home run by his mother for artistic “types” such as Dickens, Tennyson, Browning, etc. in Britian. He became a professor of painting, concentrating on portraiture and genre paintings. The painting here is titled The Queen Was in Her Counting House.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Grant Wood

Happy Birthday Grant Wood!! Today we look at an American painter, born in 1891 on a farm in Iowa. He first became interested in pursuing art after winning third place in a contest for a crayon picture of oak leaves when he was 14. He had very little formal art training but did teach high school art. He traveled to Europe a couple of times, working with Impressionism and Post-impressionism. His most famous painting is American Gothic, a satire on the American farmer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Max Beckmann

Happy Birthday Max Beckmann!! Born in East Germany in 1884, Beckmann studied art at Weimar School of Art. He was a painter, printmaker, draftsman, and sculptor. He toured Europe, especially impressed with Post-Impressionists, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Beckmann became an Expressionist after falling into a depression following World War I, where he served as a medical corpsman. Immediately following the war, his paintings were especially gruesome, gradually developing a more dreamlike almost surreal quality. Beckmann and his wife fled Germany in 1939 to Amsterdam, where he lived and worked for a decade, finally moving to the US, living here for 3 years before his death in 1950. The painting below is titled Family Group.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kazimir Malevich

Happy Birthday Kazimir Malevich!! The Russian born (1878) artist turned away from Cubism to found Suprematism, an interest in pure abstraction. His White on White was the ultimate representation of “Non-Representational” art. Malevich taught for a time, and eventually returned to more figurative work. Unfortunately the socialist politics in his country turned against Modern Art and he died in poverty.

Suprematism founder Kazimir Malevich believed the Russian Revolution would give way to a new focus on spiritual freedom. He professed an aesthetic theory “the supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts.” Recognizable objects meant nothing to him. He disagreed with the use of art for political, social or moral commentary.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

James Wallace Black

Happy Birthday James Wallace Black!! This American photographer born 1825 began as a painter but moved into photography. Black was quite experimental in his subjects as well as vantage points. Black pioneered the slide projector with a candlelit projector. He was the first photographer to shoot an aerial view of a city, photographing Boston from a hot air balloon in 1860. The technology was quickly put to use by the Union Army on the Confederacy. Boston as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It is the resulting photo below, an albumen (coal) silver print from a glass negative.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Robert Morris

Happy Birthday Robert Morris!! Born in Kansas City in 1931, Morris is a Minimalist sculptor also interested in performance art as well as land art. He studied art at Kansas State University, the Kansas City Art Institute and Reed College. Morris began as a painter, but became after studying film of Pollock in “process” he became fascinated with conceptual art and the idea of the process of making art an art in itself. His minimalist sculpture began with industrial materials: plywood, steel, mesh, and gradually gave way to softer materials. By the 70’s Morris was immersed in experiments and installations of various mediums, etc. Social comment plays a part in Morris’ recent work as  evidenced in Tar Babies of the New World Order pictured below (This work has been referred to as Maximun Resistance to Separation, also) and is the title of a book Morris wrote as well.  I have searched for reviews of this book with no luck...anyone out there have a comment?

Monday, February 8, 2010

John Ruskin

Happy Birthday John Ruskin!! English author and art critic, John Ruskin, born in 1819, was the son of a wealthy wine merchant. He was first published at age 15, initially writing essays on art and architecture, becoming increasingly concerned with social reform and interested in the connections of art, morality and social justice. Being a teacher, an observation of Ruskin’s I am particularly fond of transfers to today’s society as well, “Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons.”He was a naturalist and especially appreciative of JMW Turner’s work. Ruskin was an artist in his own right, creating detailed nature studies such as the pen and ink on paper Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlas, below.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Henry Fuseli

Happy Birthday Henry Fuseli!! Born in Switzerland, in 1741, named Johann Heinrich Fussli, later changing his name to sound more Italian. Fuesli was the second of eighteen children, trained at Caroline College in Zurich, intending to go into the ministry. He was forced to leave Switzerland after helping a classmate expose a crooked magistrate. He traveled Europe for a time, settling in Italy, and began to work on his art in earnest. While he completed 200 paintings, his sketches numbered more than 800.Fuesli was interested in the supernatural, exaggerating his figures’ proportions, rarely painting portraits and never painted landscapes. “Damn Nature! she always puts me out!” He normally painted from antiquities or Michelangelo, seldom using models. I have included a mysterious figure entitled Silence. Note the attention to detail in the musculature, fingers and toes, reminiscent of Michelangelo.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Henry Hardenbergh

Happy Birthday Henry Hardenbergh!! New York architect was born in 1947 on this date. After apprenticing with New York architect firm, Hardenbergh set up his own practice, receiving contracts through family contacts before gaining recognition as one of our countries most innovative architects of the late 19th century. Hardenbergh designed the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels which were eventually torn down to make room for the Empire State Building. Hardenbergh designed the famed Plaza Hotel in New York, which still stands today adjacent Central Park. The building is characterized by its white, glazed brick and copper and slate roof.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Carl Spitzweg

Happy Birthday Carl Spitzweg!! Born in 1808 in Bavaria, Spitzweg studied pharmacy in Munich, but after suffering a long illness, turned to drawing and painting instead. He copied masters’ works, basically training himself. He was inducted as an honorary member of the Academy of Visual Arts even though he never attended formal art training. His paintings are of German middle class genre. He made many contributions to Fliegende Blatter, a weekly German publication of comics, poems and stories. The satirical painting below is one of Spitzweg’s more famous genre scenes. Entitled the Poor Poet, this painting is filled with symbolism, the starving artist foremost. The wretched soul shivering on a thin mattress, the cold (evidenced by the top hat resting there) stove holds some of his writing, the umbrella has been regarded a symbol of the common man. The window provides the only bright spot in the painting, perhaps beckoning the starving poet to greener pastures beyond…

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Happy Birthday Manuel Alvarez Bravo!! Mexican photographer was born today, in 1902. His grandfather was also a photographer; his father a patron of the arts. Bravo was self taught, purchasing his first camera in 1920, and went on to win an award in 1925. He was married for a time to Lola Alvarez Bravo a photographer in her own right. Both were involved in the “renaissance” following the Mexican Revolution. He photographed Mexican genre, folk art and burial rites and customs. The portrait below, shot in the artist's studio, is of well-known artist Frida Kahlo (married to Diego Rivera, also important in the post revolution Mexico politics).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Norman Rockwell

Happy Birthday Norman Rockwell!! This familiar American illustrator (1894) was an all time favorite of my Dad, Todd Crittenden. For as long as I can remember, Norman Rockwell was a fond and common figure of conversation around our home. My husband and I had the pleasure of viewing a Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Cover Exhibit in Phoenix, Arizona with my parents and children. One of the things I find interesting about Rockwell’s Post covers is they form a timeline, not only of history, but of Rockwell’s artistic evolution. The first was published in 1916, the last in 1963. His work provides a slice of America…an in depth look at 20th century life in the USA. The illustration I have chosen to feature is a personal favorite, one he did for Look in 1964, The Problem We All Live With. In it we see the dignified young girl escorted to school amidst evidence of racial scorn.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

George Loring Brown

Happy Birthday George Loring Brown!! American born in 1814, George Loring Brown was born in Boston, grew up in this country and is considered a member of the Hudson River School. (Remember we just read about Hudson River School founder Thomas Cole on February 1st.) Brown studied under portrait painter Washington Allston. He made the voyage to Europe twice, ultimately working for over 20 years in Italy, however, and Italian landscapes were his specialty. Brown was greatly influenced by Romanticism as evidenced in the painting Twilight-Lake Alabano, Rome. Brown was one of the first American artists to use watercolor.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thomas Cole

Happy Birthday Thomas Cole!! American landscape painter, born 1801, Cole came from England as a child, settling with his parents on the Ohio frontier. He was the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement who lived in and painted this area of our country. Cole was a self taught, wandering artist. His paintings had a mystical twist as evidenced in his The Voyage of Life, a series of panels on the theme. He paints in great detail, still managing to portray a huge sense of space.

Hudson River School-Landscape painters of the Hudson River Valley, where humans and nature coexist in harmony. This group was heavily influenced by Romanticism. Their paintings depicted three themes: discovery, exploration and settlement. They shared a reverence for America’s beauty, relating to writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau.