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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Francesco Primaticcio

Happy Birthday Francesco Primaticcio!! Italian born (1504) is known as an impresario or master painter, sculptor, architect, and interior decorator. He was head of the school of Fountainbleau (palace near Paris) and helped found that style which proved to be a great influence on French art. He worked with Rosso (an emotional French painter of the time). One of his “duties” was to make casts of famous sculptures (including Michelangelo’s) and decorate the palace with castings from the molds. His work can be termed Mannerist and a great example is Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and John the Baptist below.

Mannerism: period of European art following the High Renaissance. When compared to the Renaissance Mannerism is less naturalistic and more artificial. The term can also be related to literature and music.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

David Cox

Happy Birthday David Cox!! The English painter was born in 1783. He was a watercolorist and preferred painting in North Wales, although he made painting trips to Holland, Belgium and France. He wrote several books on the topic, the most well known was Treatise on Landscape Painting and Effect on Water-colours. Purely by accident he found a heavy absorbent wrapping paper suited his needs for watercolor and he eventually marketed it as Cox Paper (still available today!). The painting below is titled In the Hayfield.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yves Klein

Happy Birthday Yves Klein!! The French born artist (1928) attempted to create art that would so engage the viewer that no picture, no book, no sculpture was needed; that the imprint of the work would be enough. As a result, he created voids…or pictures that were solid (mostly) blue. He also worked with performance art, torso sculptures, live nudes painted (blue) etc. He was on a quest to find just the right blue…so as to convey his concepts accurately. Needless to say his art was largely misunderstood and he died at an early age in 1962 from a heart attack, with his work never really accepted until after his death.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Samuel B. Morse

Happy Birthday Samuel F. B. Morse!! Many people may not realize Morse, born in 1791, was an American portrait artist since his invention of the telegraph overshadows his artistic ability. He disdained painting portraits, although that is how he earned a living for a time. He dreamed of a Renaissance in America and wished to emulate Raphael or Michelangelo. However the ability was simply not there, although he was a passable realist. One large genre painting The Old House Of Representatives is rich in color and dramatically accurate in detail.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dorthea Lange!!

...but first I have to post yesterday's birthday! I got caught up in other things on the computer yesterday and simply forgot that I had not posted my daily artist birthday...sorry about that! Happy Birthday Cy Twombly!! This contemporary American artist was born on April 25, 1920 and paints large scale graffiti style paintings. His work is solid light fields with scribbled drawn and painted images, some scrawled words and phrases. Twombly is 81 years old and exhibits worldwide.

Happy Birthday Dorthea Lange!! American photographer born in 1895, Dorthea Lange was a prominent artist of the Great Depression era. She had a knack of capturing the moment and making a statement with her images. She was part of an effort on behalf of the Resettlement Administration (later known as the Farm Security Administration) to document the plight of the American farmer. Her photographs are poignant and truly tug at your heart strings. An anonymous blurred child in the background gazes at the pitiful family group below.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Willem de Kooning

Happy Birthday Willem de Kooning!! This Dutch painter was born in 1904 and an Abstract Expressionist, known as a leader in action painting, meaning he painted with furious abandon. He immigrated to the US at age 22, where he remained for the rest of his life. He painted houses and worked in commercial art and stage design for a time before becoming a muralist and finally a painter. He shared studio space with Gorky and the two were inspiration for one another. He is best known for his series of various “woman” poses and situations…Woman and Bicycle, Woman I, etc. His works are abstractions on the subject with frantic lines and streaks from which the figure emerges. He is said to be almost fanatical in his obsession to paint constantly! The image below is from his Woman series.

Friday, April 23, 2010

J. M. W. Turner

Happy Birthday J. M. W. Turner!! English landscape painter born in 1775, artist Turner initially painted in watercolor, exhibiting his first oil in 1796. He worked primarily from engravings and drawings from his contemporaries. He traveled to France, Switzerland and Italy for sketching trips. He was acclaimed for his atmospheric conditions and light much like the Impressionists later, but did not paint directly from nature. The painting below is titled The Fighting Temeraire, and in 2005 was voted in Britain as the best painting in any British art gallery.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Odilon Redon

Happy Birthday Odilon Redon!! Born today in 1840 in France, Redon was a painter and a printmaker. Known as a symbolist, Redon’s work was imaginative fantasies using subjects from nature: flowers, plants, rocks as well as rather mysterious figures. The magical image below is called Ophelia Among the Flowers and is a pastel from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia seems in deep contemplation before the flowers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jean Helion

Happy Birthday Jean Helion!! French born painter (1904), Helion’s first love was poetry with chemistry a close second. He was enthralled with the shapes, crystals, and colors of inorganic chemistry. He studied chemistry for a time, worked as an architectural apprentice and wrote poetry. He began to paint after spending time at the Louvre and was greatly influenced by the Cubists. Helion became known as an abstract painter, but then moved to simplified figure painting. He enlisted in the armed services in World War II, was taken prisoner for 2 years, finally escaping and making his way to the US. He wrote a book about his experiences “They Shall Not Have Me”. He continued to paint for the rest of his life, until his eyesight went and he was unable to anymore. His later work was simplified forms such as the Sliced Squash pictured below.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Joan Miro

Happy Birthday Joan Miro!! Abstract Surrealist was born in 1893 and along with Salvadore Dali, was known as the foremost Spanish Surrealist. He was part of the first Surrealist exhibition in 1925. His ideas came from childhood memories and his work became quite childlike. The spread of Fascism as well as the Spanish Civil War changed the face of Surrealism with some artists (including Miro) wishing to gain the independence of Picasso and others believed in imagination above reason. Miro also created sculpture, one I’ve seen is in Barcelona, Spain, near the waterfront. Some of his work has also been reproduced in mosaic tile, along the famed boulevard La Rambla in Barcelona. Miro’s work has been described as playful. The painting below called Person Throwing a Stone at a Bird demonstrates his lighthearted play.

Monday, April 19, 2010

John Taylor Arms

Happy Birthday John Taylor Arms!! The American printmaker was born in 1887. He wrote Handbook of Print Making and Print Makers in 1939. His work is primarily etchings of medieval architectural structures, revealing extreme expertise in attention to fine detail. The etching below titled In Memoriam and is from the International Business Machines Collection. Isn’t it hard to believe it is an etching…and not a photograph?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wynn Bullock

Happy Birthday Wynn Bullock!! Born in 1902, American photographer Wynn Bullock began as a concert tenor, but while studying in Paris in the 1920s became fascinated by artists such as Cezanne, Man Ray and Maholy-Nagy. Upon his return to the US, Bullock turned to photography, working closely with Edward Weston. He was aligned with a small group of photographers who worked in the west coast style of “straight” or “pure” photography. They were interested in photo images without manipulation rather than pictorial photography. Bullock was especially interested in the mystical, surrealist aspects of his subjects and was known for his nudes as well as landscapes. He also was interested in commercial photography. The photo below is the cover of his book: Master of Photography.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

G. P. Cauvet

Happy Birthday G. P. Cauvet!! French sculptor, architect and ornament designer was born in 1732. He designed and sculpted pieces for the Royal Family of France. It has been difficult locating information about this artist, but apparently he helped organize and exhibited at the Exposition of 1774. The hand painted architectural engraving for an ornamental panel, below, is attributed to Cauvet.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun

Happy Birthday Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun!! Born in 1755 in France, she was recognized as the most accomplished woman painter of the eighteenth century. She was the daughter of a portrait painter with whom she first trained and followed in his footsteps. She painted in the Rococo style. She studied with various masters of the period and was painting portraits professionally by the time she was in her early teens. Vigee married Jean-Baptiste Pierre le Brun who was also a painter and an art dealer. As her career progressed, she was smiled upon by Queen Marie Antionette and painted her portrait many times. Following the arrest of the royal family, she fled France with her daughter Julie (pictured below in Self Portrait in Turban with Daughter Julie) and lived in Italy, Austria and Russia before finally returning to France, where she lived until her death.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci

Happy Birthday Leonardo da Vinci!! One of the most important figures in the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo was born this day in 1452, an illegitimate son to a lawyer in Vinci, Italy. Da Vinci contributed much to the art world, but also was an architect, an engineer, an anatomist, and so much more. In his voluminous collection of notes were plans for the first bicycle quite like the bicycle of today (three centuries before actually built), various schemes for water diversions, architectural drawings and notes (is credited with perspective drawing) and even designs for flying machines! It is even said that he came close to discovering the phenomenom of blood circulation. Leonardo studied with Verrocchio, who turned to focus on sculpture after realizing Leonardo's genius at painting. Perhaps da Vinci's fascination with anatomy and how to express emotions through their features led to his amazing success at figure drawing and painting. Leonardo lived primarily in Milan and Florence. He began many paintings that were never seen to completion, but also left numerous drawings By the time of his death, da Vinci had amassed a large collection of notebooks and journals that he left to his student. Sadly these were gradually sold off and lost, but some remain, a few of which I have had the pleasure of examining at various museum exhibits. Of course most recognize his works The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, but I am posting my personal favorite Virgin of the Rocks that I was able to see (be in the presence of) at the Louvre. This is an altarpiece for a church in Milan. There are two versions of the painting, one in the National Gallery in London and one in the Louvre. It is rather large, you almost feel as if you could walk into the painting since it is hung at the viewer's level. It is said that the columbine to the side of the Virgin's face represents the Holy Spirit, heart shaped leaves perhaps represent love, while the palms are a symbol of victory.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gabriel de Saint-Aubins

Happy Birthday Gabriel de Saint-Aubins!! Born in France in 1724, Saint-Aubins focus was painting genre or scenes of everyday life in Paris. His livelihood was barely supported by his engravings but he longed to be a true painter and studied painting all his life. He failed to gain much recognition during his lifetime and was quite poor. His scenes have a genteel, calm quality to them as exhibited in the painting below.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

James Ensor

Happy Birthday James Ensor!! Born in Belgium in 1860, Ensor was a painter who trained with 2 artists beginning at age 15. He was greatly influenced by carnivals, skeletons and masks, and his paintings revolve around allegorical statements through these themes. His work during the period from 1888 to the early 1900's was the most prolific as well as the most aggressive in terms of his use of sarcasm and satire. The most prominent work from this period is Entry of Christ into Brussels, which was created from numerous sketches and etchings. Ensor was an atheist who identified with Christ as the downtrodden and painted him as such, almost unnoticeable amongst the throng of surrounding people.  (Christ is in the center, note the halo, sitting on a donkey) An ugly mob assails the viewer in the parade scene.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Robert Delaunay

Happy Birthday Robert Delaunay!! Okay, I am home again and will attempt to get this blog up to date and back on track with today's artist, Robert Delaunay. Born on April 12, in Paris, France in 1885, Delaunay worked in Orphism, (Abstract Expressionism combined with Cubism). He is known for his brilliant color, greatly influenced by Paul Klee. The painting below is titled Tall Portuguese Woman, look closely, you can see the figure of his woman on the right).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gustav Vigiland

Happy Birthday Gustav Vigiland!! Today, Vigiland was born in Norway in 1869. He took his name (Vigiland) from a small town where he lived for a time with his grandparents. He studied to be a wood carver and later determined to become a sculptor, studied with Bryunjulf Bergslien. In 1921, the home he lived in was demolished by the city, but they built a new one for him, including a studio space and grounds for his sculpture garden. He lived there until his death in 1943.

Still in Hawaii...I'll have to post a picture later!

Hello, I am home! The sculpture I decided to post for Gustav Vigiland is Going Round the Mulberry Bush, located in his sculpture garden in Oslo, Norway.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Kenneth Noland

Happy Birthday Kenneth Noland!! I am posting this early, as we are still in Hawaii, and today is my daughter's birthday as well! Born on April 10, 1924, Noland was an American abstract painter. His work in known as "color field" and is quite similar to Josef Albers, whom we looked at earlier, in fact he studied under Albers at the Bauhaus. He worked with targets, shaped like circles, chevrons or triangles. He also incorporated the edges of his canvases in the picture, and pioneered the shaped canvas.

Charles E. Burchfield

Happy Birthday Charles Burchfield!! Born in Ohio in 1893, Burchfield was a watercolorist. He used color in a way similar to the Fauves (Fauves means wild beasts and is a branch of Impressionists who used brilliant, expressive color). He was in the army for a time and was assigned to camouflage, so worked his painting technique into disguising trucks and tanks! He sketched and painted constantly, especially during the years 1915-1917. He also wrote about his nature fantasies, thinking back to a time when gods and spirits were visible to man. He once said, "An artist must paint not what he sees in nature, but what is there. To do so he must invent symbols, which, if properly used, make his work seem even more real than what is in front of him." The night scene pictured below, Orion in December, demonstrates his use of symbol and shorthand for nature.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Clarence White

Happy Birthday Clarence White!! (Still in Hawaii…so I’ll post a day ahead…Born on April 8th, 1871, American photographer was aligned with Alfred Stieglitz and helped found the Photo Secession Gallery, but moved toward “pictorialism” using effects to attempt to imitate the painting techniques of the time. A favorite subject was women and children. The image below is Ring Toss.

Gerard Dou

Happy Birthday Gerard Dou!! Dutch painter born in 1613, Dou was a pupil of Rembrandt. He painted small genre scenes filled with activity. His work was totally dissimilar however, when compared to Rembrandt’s dark, rather heavy portraits. Dou was said to use a concave mirror to aid in creating the finely intricate work, using a grid of silk thread. He painted subjects in candlelight with incredible clarity. One of his most famous portraits is the Dutch Housewife.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Happy Birthday Raphael!! April 6 (I am in Hawaii and having a slightly tough time getting computer access, so I will post a couple of days in the future). Italian born in 1483, he was one of the three instrumental artists of the Renaissance. To put it into perspective, he was 17 when Leonardo was 48 and Michelangelo was 25. He was greatly influenced by Leonardo’s portraiture, specifically the dark background emphasizing the chiaroscuro in the Mona Lisa. In just 10 years he attained the status of Leonardo and Michelangelo. Raphael moved up quickly not only in the eyes of the art world but those of Pope Julius II as well. He was commissioned for several large projects including the Papal apartments. Sadly, Raphael’s life was cut short with his death at 37, imagine what he could have accomplished if he’d lived twice that long! Below is Raphael's most famous vatican fresco, The School of Athens, in it are representations of nearly all the Greek philosophers. It is a great example of perspective painting as well!


Happy Birthday Nadar!! This French photographer, illustrator and balloonist was born in 1820. Nadar is a pseudonym for Gaspard-FĂ©lix Tournachon. He was the first to do aerial photography. He began as a caracturist, then moved into photography, using the catacombs as his dark room. He built his own balloon around 1863, using it to pioneer aerial photography. He is credited as the one to open his studio for the first Impressionist exhibit in 1874. The photo I have selected to show is of the Catacombs in 1861.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Grinling Gibbons

Happy Birthday Grinling Gibbons!! You will have to excuse me, but I am in Hawaii for one of my second daughters' weddings: Celeste Cline, and I have been slightly preoccupied with Easter Sunday (He is Risen!) and all...But, anyway...Gibbons was born on this day in Holland in 1648....A woodcarver, some even say the best in the world, ever, and I tend to agree...especially after seeing some if his work!! Wow! Gorgeously intricate!! It is said that the flowers in one of his carvings were so finely carved that they would sway in the breeze. He was a carver for the king...and no wonder! His work could be found in St Paul's Cathedral, the Palace of Windsor, and the Earl of Essex's house. Below is an exquisitely delicate carving by Grinling Gibbons.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Henri van de Velde

Happy Birthday Henri van de Velde!! Belgian architect, born in 1863, van de Velde was an instrumental artist in the Belgian Art Nouveau style. He worked primarily in Germany and helped found the School of Arts and Crafts , which would later become the Bauhaus. Van de Velde worked in furniture, craft, and architecture. The School of Arts and Crafts (1907)is pictured below.

Bauhaus-German school founded by architect Walter Gropius. The main principle was that art was meant to be a total picture encompassing art, architecture, interior design, and furniture. The school moved to three different German cities, with the focus shifting slightly from each city. It was closed after pressure from the Nazis in 1933.

Max Ernst

Happy Birthday Max Ernst!! Ernst was born in 1891 in Germany. He is best known for his collages and use of frottage. He began as a Dada activist but relocated to Paris and aligned himself with Andre Breton and the Surrealist movement in 1924. Both groups stressed not “letting the artist get in the way of the art”. Ernst was influential in introducing collage and frottage techniques to the artworld. The image below is his Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale. The open gate beckons us into the dreamlike vision. Ernst did not believe in imposing a title upon a work, simply let the picture suggest the title, or in this case, the title came first, from a line of his own poetry.

Collage-picture made up of many materials, snippets of quotation and poetry, frottage.

Frottage-Rubbing soft medium over a thin paper placed over a textured surface to create an approximate image of the texture.

Surrealism-Began in 1924 by Andre Breton, Surrealism was an attempt to free artists’ minds to allow for creation from the irrational wanderings of one’s subconscience. Breton wrote the Surrealist Manifesto, among his circle were Ernst, DeChirico, Duchamp, Klee and later joined by Magritte, Tanguy and Dali. Breton described Surrealism as being “based on the belief in the superior reality of…the dream, in the disinterested play of thought.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Edwin Austin Abbey

Happy Birthday Edwin Austin Abbey!! The American painter and illustrator was born on April Fool’s Day in 1852. His training was at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. Early in his career he had illustrations published in Harper’s Weekly. He moved to England in 1878 and was made an official member of the Royal Academy. He did eventually return to the US. His illustrations of Victorian and Shakespeare images are well known. Below is an illustration for Hamlet.