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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Walter Sickert

Happy Birthday Walter Sickert!! Born in 1860, Sickert is regarded the most important British Impressionist painter. He was born in Germany; his father was an artist and the family relocated to Great Britain. Sickert was greatly influenced by Whistler and Degas, but developed his own Impressionistic style, using rather dark, somber tones with light bursting forth. Unlike most Impressionist artists, he had no interest in painting outdoors, concentrating instead on nudes and seedy night life. In fact he had an interest in Jack the Ripper and some have made outrageous claims implicating Sickert in the murders or at least an accomplice! Among his accusers is well-known author Patricia Cornwell, who actually bought up 31 of his paintings to search for clues. The painting below exemplifies his style.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peter Carl Faberge

Happy Birthday Peter Carl Faberge!! (or Carl Gustavovich Faberge in Russian) The Russian jeweler was born in 1846. His family was of French origin but had fled to Russia. His father was a jeweler before him and Carl studied to follow in his footsteps. He had one brother Agathon. He traveled Europe, visiting museums and studying goldsmithing and returned to St. Petersburg where he met his wife. He studied under his father’s chief jeweler and took over his position upon his death. Carl took over the company in 1882. His brother joined him and together they turned to “art jewelry” rather than commonplace jewelry traditional to 18th century France. The House of Faberge became quite successful, garnered the attention of the Russian Imperial Court and in 1885 was commissioned to create the first of the many well-known Faberge Eggs, for the Tsar's wife. The eggs became extremely elaborate, enameled art pieces, decked out with gold and gems.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Edme Bouchardon

Happy Birthday Edme Bouchardon!! The French sculptor was born in 1698, and worked under G. Coustou I until going to Rome in 1723. Although Bouchardon worked in Versailles, he is best known for his work in Paris. One of which I have included here: Cupid, which resides at the Louvre. The proper title is Cupid Fashioning a Bow Out of the Club of Hercules. I was fortunate enough to see this at the Louvre in 2006. His Cupid is sleek and slender; as always, Bouchardon’s figures are chaste and proper, his taste classical.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Carl Larsson

Happy Birthday Carl Larsson!! Born in 1853, this Swedish artist was an illustrator. He had an unhappy childhood, spent much of it crammed into one room with his Mother and brother, and 2 other families, after they were thrown out of their home. A teacher persuaded him to apply to the Royal Academy of Arts, and he was accepted at age 13. He became an illustrator for books, newspapers and various publications. He met and married artist Karin Bergoo, after which they had a family of their own, eight children! His family became one of Larsson's favorite subjects, rendered primarily in watercolor, although he painted several murals and frescoes for various commissions. Karin's father gave them a small house and together they decorated it with art and furniture in their taste. This became a famous artist house and led to a Swedish interior design style still popular today. The house is open to the public. The watercolor below called Christmas Morning shows 5 of his happy children on the most exciting morning of the year!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Georges Rouault

Happy Birthday Georges Rouault!! French painter, born in France in 1871, was quite poor and studied glass painting at an early age. Rouault was a student of Gustave Moreau. He underwent a spiritual crisis after which he became obsessed with evil. The derangement definitely shows in his paintings, some of which depict the plight of the world and Christ’s influence, as well as various noblemen. Testament to this is the painting titled The Old King, showing the dejected, worn out king. He painted in the Fauve tradition, with bold bright colors heavily outlined with black, sometimes resembling stained glass.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Edmond de Goncourt

Happy Birthday Edmond de Goncourt!! The French art critic was born in 1822. He collaborated with his brother Jules, writing about art and literature, as well as co-authoring 6 novels. It is said they did not spend more than a day apart in their entire adult life until Jules died in 1870. Though their criticism was intense, even caustic, they were a huge influence on French taste in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In fact they were the first to recognize the "sketch" and fragments as stand alone art works in their own right. Following his brother’s death, Edmond established the Academie Goncourt, a literary organization, in opposition to the existing Academie francaise, which awards the prix Goncourt to a deserving author each year.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Will Barnet

Happy Birthday Will Barnet!! The American, born in 1911, is known for painting, watercolor, and printmaking. He began planning for a career in art at an early age, went to school at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and then studied at the Art Student’s League of New York with Stuart Davis. His work chronicles his family life in flat, shallow space, using rather monochromatic color schemes. He worked for a time at abstract or semi-abstract depictions of Native American motifs with a movement called Indian Space Painting, but returned to figurative work. I’ve chosen to include one of his earlier works titled The Dream.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo

Happy Birthday Jacopo Pontormo!! Italian Mannerist painter, born in 1494, Pontormo was orphaned at an early age. He was apprenticed to various artists, including da Vinci. While influenced by Michelangelo, Pontormo's work has the exaggerated, dramatic atmosphere familiar with Mannerism. The Deposition from the Cross is considered by many to be his one remaining masterpiece, depicting his mature style. In it we see the familiar theatrical expressions on brightly clothed, seemingly weightless figures. The composition is oval, the space shallow. Some see the two boyish figures supporting Christ's body as angels prepared to take Him to Heaven. Note the empty space next to the Virgin Mary in the back, perhaps depicting her great loss.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Franz Kline

Happy Birthday Franz Kline!! The painter from Pennsylvania was born in 1910. Kline is linked to the group of Abstract Expressionists and his paintings are totally non-objective (meaning not realistic). If compared to his contemporary, Jackson Pollock, who used fine lines and splattered paint to textured canvases, Kline used dramatic rushing brushwork. Thick, dark, angry swathes slash his surfaces.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mary Cassatt

Happy Birthday Mary Cassatt!! One of the few women Impressionists, Cassatt was born in America in 1844. Her father was a banker and was not impressed with her desire to become a painter. She studied in Paris and became part of the circle of Impressionist artists including Manet, Monet, Degas and Renoir. She slowly went blind, an artist's nightmare, and was fully blind by her death in 1926. Cassatt, like other Impressionists was greatly influenced by Japanese prints as evidenced in the bold, flat shapes in the Boating Party.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Albrecht Durer

Happy Birthday Albrecht Durer!! German born, 1471, Renaissance artist Durer, was a watercolorist and printmaker. He had an incredible power to see minute detail and convey that realistically in his paintings and engravings. Durer also had the accute ability to convey ideas through use of symbols. An example of his attention to detail is pictured below in one of his watercolor nature studies, titled The Great Piece of Turf.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

William Thornton

Happy Birthday Dr. William Thornton!! The American architect, born in 1759, designed the US Capitol in Washington, DC. He was actually born in the West Indies, a Quaker, and brought up in England. He studied medicine, according to Quaker philosophy, to become a useful citizen, even though he wanted to pursue art at an early age. He enrolled in the Univerity of Edinburg as a medical student and was influenced by the great architecture there. He emigrated to America and became involved in various human rights issues. He continued to stay interested in the arts, submitting drawings for building endeavors, was rejected, but then submitted a design for the Capitol building that was accepted in 1793. He received $500 and a city lot for the winning design. Although changes were made, much of the design remained as he had envisioned, with the Congress first occupying in 1800. The original design is pictured below.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jacob Jordaens

Happy Birthday Jacob Jordaens!! The Flemish Baroque painter, born in 1593, along with Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck was a prominent figure in the Antwerp school of painting. Unlike his peers, however, Jordaens never traveled abroad, but remained in Antwerp. He painted portraits, altarpieces, and mythical as well as allegorical scenes. He also designed tapestries. Perhaps his influence is best reflected by his numerous students, over twenty recorded in various documents. He is most known for his genre paintings, one of which I will include here: As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young. This is said to be an illustration of a Flemish proverb, reminding us thta children immitate their parents.  

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walter Gropius

Happy Birthday Walter Gropius!! Born in Berlin, Walter Gropius is on of modern architecture’s pioneers. He was head of Saxon School of Arts and Crafts, which he transformed to the Bauhaus, with renowned members including Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Moholy Nagy among others. Gropius could not draw so relied on assistants to sketch his ideas and designs. He designed small items such as the door handles below, as well as large scale housing projects. The door handle is considered to be “an icon of 20th-century design and often listed as one of the most influential designs to emerge from Bauhaus”.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Alfred Joseph Casson

Happy Birthday Alfred Joseph Casson!! I don't believe I have written about a Canadian artist before. This painter was born in 1898. His father was an English Quaker and his mother was a Canadian. He apprenticed at an early age in a lithography company and went on to work as a commercial artist. He then apprenticed with Frank Johnston, a member of the Canadian painters known as the Group of Seven and later became a member of the group. Casson liked watercolor and even founded a group of watercolorists. His painting style was that of simple landscapes, clear colors and background spaces. The painting below is titled White Pine.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

John Sell Cotman

Happy Birthday John Sell Cotman!! English painter born in 1782, Cotman worked in watercolor and oils. He was considered one of the foremost landscape painters of the 19th century. Later in his career he began mixing rice paste with his watercolor to produce a rich, vibrant effect. Below is an example of Cotman’s watercolor: Doorway to the Refectory. It reminds me of doorways in Spain, when we walked through wine country...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jasper Johns

Happy Birthday Jasper Johns!! Contemporary painter, Johns is an American, born in 1930. Johns is described a “Pop” artist since he takes items from the popular culture and creates art from those objects. He worked in assemblage (found object sculpture) as well as painting, seeking to cross the boundary between object and image…that is the object as art. He worked with John Cage, composer, and artist, Robert Rauschenberg, in an avant-garde attempt to unify art with modern life. He is one of the few contemporary artists to work with the ancient medium of “encaustic” a suspension of pigment in hot beeswax, producing a rich luminescent effect that seems to last thousands of years. Targets and flags emerge as favorite images in John’s work. The assemblage of encaustic collage is called Target With Four Faces. Johns remains enigmatic regarding the meaning of much of his work, satisfied to let the viewer draw his/her own conclusions.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thomas Gainsborough

Happy Birthday to my Dad, Todd Crittenden!! and Happy Birthday Thomas Gainsborough!! This landscape painter was born in England in 1727. He worked under Gravelot and was greatly influenced by other artists including van Dyke and Rubens. Gainsborough was skilled at capturing a likeness as well as a master at handling paint. He often imitated other artists such as Rubens as demonstrated in the painting below titled The Watering Place. Note the rich color and depiction of quiet country charm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Georges Braque

Happy Birthday Georges Braque!! Born in France in 1882, Georges Braque was an apprentice in a decorator’s business and began painting with the Fauves in 1906. He met Picasso and together they developed a new way of seeing and painting; Cubism. The two artists worked so closely together, often painting the same subjects, that even they had a difficult time remembering who had painted which painting! He continued to work in this mode with Picasso until 1914 when WWI broke out and the collaboration came to an end when Braque went to fight in the war. Unsuccessful in pursuing the style, Braque turned to more traditional still life and figure compositions in the early 1920’s. He also worked a bit in sculpture. The painting below is Still Life with Violin.

Cubism-Art movement developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The artists attempted to show their subjects from all views by flattening the figures and objects into basic geometric shapes (hence the name Cubism). The palette was primarily browns, gold, grey, monochrome tones.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Edward Lear

Happy Birthday Edward Lear!! Born on this day in 1812, Lear is best known for his nonsense verse, but also was an illustrator. He was the 21st child and raised by his older sister. He was a sickly child, suffering from epilepsy, bronchitis and asthma, and later was partially blind. In those days, epilepsy was thought to be demonic possession, so Lear was quite embarrassed about the condition. He was described as brilliant and educated himself. He traveled extensively, making wash drawings that he later used to produce paintings in watercolor, oils and prints for his books. He published several volumes of illustrations and verse. His limericks are cleverly funny. Lear was a contemporary of Ogden Nash, another nonsensical verse and limerick writer and they in fact worked in collaboration at times. Perhaps his most famous story was The Owl and the Pussycat, included in his Book of Nonsense, which the illustration below is from.

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat:

They took some honey, and plenty of money

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

There Was an Old Man With a Beard

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!--
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have built all their nests in my beard!"

Limericks are five line verses like the one above, by Lear. His limericks often have the same word for the first and last lines rather than rhyming words. They are usually extremely funny and often deal with the pecularities of humanity and animals. This particular one was a favorite of my Dad's.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alfred Stevens

Happy Birthday Alfred Stevens!! The Belgian painter was born in 1823. He was from a family of artists; his brothers were painters, as well as his son. He began as a realist and historical painter. He was a contemporary and friend of Whistler. Stevens was influenced by Japanese culture and prints. He eventually painted genre scenes, usually of women in Parisian interiors. The painting below includes a Japanese doll, part of a collection Stevens is said to possess.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Leon Bakst

Happy Birthday Leon Bakst!! The Russian painter was born in 1866 and best known for being a scene, stage and costume designer. He was born Rosenberg but took his Mother’s maiden name, feeling his Father’s was too Jewish to sell his art. He worked for a time as a book illustrator and easel painter, turning to stage design in 1909. Hi designed sets and costumes for the Russian Ballet and other productions, including the Greek Tragedies and scenery for Cleopatra. An exhibition of his work will be presented late this year at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Francois Pompon

Happy Birthday Francois Pompon!! The French sculptor was born in 1855. His worked is largely stylized animal forms. Pompon is considered a forerunner of modern sculpture, influencing Brancusi among others. The Polar Bear pictured below is on display at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, France.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Emile Galle

Happy Birthday Emile Galle!! The French glassmaker was born in 1846 and a leading artist in the Art Nouveau movement. His work was naturalistic, original and experimental. He introduced metal foil, air bubbles and etching through two or more fused colors (cameo glass). Apart from his art, Galle has been termed a “humanist” who arranged evening schools for the average workingman; spoke out against genocide and prejudice. He founded a workshop employing 300 workers to produce his and other artists’ glasswork. The vases below lead us to understand why his work has been termed “poetry in glass”.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Richard Norman Shaw

Happy Birthday Richard Norman Shaw!!  Happy Birthday Richard Norman Shaw!! English architect was born in 1831 and known for his country houses and commercial buildings.  He was a member of the Royal Academy and is credited for breaking away from the Victorian style and bringing back a more "modern" version of the Queen Anne style. Shaw firmly believed that architecture was an Art. As his work developed his buildings became less conspicuous and were described as charming and homey. His designs were open in design, with a quiet, country feel.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Happy Birthday Ernst Ludwig Kirchner!! Born in 1880, Ernst Kirchner was the leader of Die Bruck (the Bridge), a group of contemporary expressionistic German painters. The bridge they attempted to create (perhaps unconsciously) was from “provincial Dresden to cosmopolitan Paris”. The bold use of color and lack of perspective principles linked them to the Fauves, however the awkward style set them apart. The group moved from Dresden to Berlin and Kirchner became fascinated with the seamy side of nightlife. The outbreak of World War I had a definite effect on the group, Kirchner volunteered for military service but was discharged a short time later due to mental stress. Kirchner became quite ill and in fact committed suicide at the onset of World War II, after much of his work was confiscated and destroyed or sold by the Nazis. The painting below is entitled Self Portrait as a Sick Person.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

Today I would like to honor Cinco de Mayo (Mexico’s victory over French forces)!! Many mistakenly think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day (actually September 16, 1821), others use this day as a day of eating scrumptious Mexican food, but even fewer realize it is actually a time to acknowledge the successful battle against the French by the greatly outnumbered Puebla army, in 1862. This marks the last time the Americas has been invaded by another continent. The date is primarily celebrated in the US and Puebla by eating Mexican food, enjoying folkloric music and dance. Here I would like to exhibit some incredible Mexican Folk Costumes, art in their own right!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Frederic Church

Happy Birthday Frederic E. Church!! Born in 1826, in Connecticut, Church was a large-scale landscape artist. He was student of Thomas Cole, a prominent figure in the Hudson River School and has been compared to Albert Bierstadt, who we looked at previously. He was able to create large panoramic vistas with incredible detail. Church did not limit his work to scenes from the US, but painted tropical, Arctic, European and Near Eastern scenes as well. A favorite of mine is Morning in the Tropics. The attention to detail in the foliage is phenomenal!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Richard Lippold!! Contemporary American sculptor born in 1903, Lippold worked in metal: steel, wire, brass, etc. He began as industrial designer, moving to sculpture in the 1940s, teaching at several colleges as well. Lippold saw his constructions as “philosophical statements about modern life”. Fire Bird, located in the Orange County Performing Arts Center is a magnificent work of painted steel and aluminum. Viewers are allowed close-up enjoyment from the balconies.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Humphry Repton

Happy Birthday Humphry Repton!! The English Landscape Architect was born in 1752. He originally set out to be a textile merchant but eventually combined his drawing and gardening skills to become a landscape gardener (his term). Repton was known for using monuments, architecture, and natural features such as mountains, that were planned into his designs and important elements viewed in the distance. He became quite proficient at sketching clients’ gardens and overlaying the sketch with his design for a new look. He produced a set of “Red Books” which had many designs with overlays. It caught on and he was quite successful. He created themed gardens, formal gardens, trellis work, etc. Below is an example of his before and after designs.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

George Inness

Happy Birthday George Inness!! From America, this painter was born in 1825. His father set him up to be a merchant but his did not suit the dreamer Inness, so he went abroad and was influenced by English landscape painters. Though it was slow going, he returned to America to become a painter. He was intent on creating paintings depicting harmony in nature through color and tone. His colors are cool, his forms soft.