Happy Birthday Horace Vernet!! French born in 1789 this painter was from a family of painters. He is best known for his battle and horse scenes. His primary work was the gigantic gallery of Battles at Versailles that was painted for Louis Philippe. One of these is pictured here, The Battle at the Bridge of Arcole. Doesn’t the dynamic composition as well as the expressive features on the figures capture your attention?
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Happy Birthday John Storrs!! American Modernist sculptor born in 1885, John Storrs was from Chicago. He traveled to Berlin to study singing, but switched to sculpture. He later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He went to Paris and studied with Rodin and the Academie Julien. Storrs was detained a couple of times in Germany by the occupied forces but returned to his studio in Mer greatly weakened and died in 1956. He is most well known for his machine like sculptures such as the one below.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Happy Birthday Peter Paul Rubens!! Born in 1577, the Flemish painter considered a Baroque painter, influenced by Renaissance artists, especially Titian and Michelangelo. He painted portraits, religious works, historical and mythological scenes, etc. Rubens was a court painter as well as a diplomat for the Spanish Netherlands. After the death of his first wife, Rubens, 53, married his second wife who was 16. She was a model for many of his subsequent paintings, including the one below, titled Helene Fourment in a Fur Wrap, said to model her after previous classical sculptures of Venus such as Medicci’s Venus.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Happy Birthday Philip Guston!! Born in Canada 1913, Philip Guston was an American painter, considered an Abstract Expressionist from the New York School. His family moved to California at an early age and he was a classmate and friend of Jackson Pollock. He only attended art school a short time so was largely self-taught. He worked with a muralist in Mexico and then went to New York to join Pollock. Guston participated in several mural projects there before settling into painting canvases. He worked with the opposing ideas of naturalism and abstraction in an attempt to meld the two. Guston taught at various universities including New York University and Pratt Institute. The image below is titled The Studio.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Happy Birthday Antoni Gaudi!! Born in Reus, Spain, in 1852, Antoni Gaudi is one of my favorites. His parents were coppersmiths. Gaudi was sick with rheumatic fever in his youth, causing him to be alone much of the time perhaps leading to his love of nature. Although he worked during the Art Nouveau period, he had his own style. Known primarily as an architect, Gaudi had an unusual organic approach to his structures. He was also incredibly adept at mosaic work with broken tiles, called trencadis. His most spectacular feat was the (unfinished) La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral in Barcelona. He worked with the Gothic structure and transformed it into a spectacular, natural wonder. It is still being worked on, with completion speculated for 2026. My husband and I were fortunate enough to visit this incredible vision in Barcelona as well as his Parc Guell, also never fully realized. Gaudi's patron, Eusebi Guell envisioned his property as a garden city for the rich with the land divided into 60 plots. Only 3 of the plots were sold, two to a family who still own them and the other to Gaudi himself. The idea was to have homes above in the natural surroundings with viaducts below creating an underground space for a marketplace. Gaudi worked with the existing land formation (a bald mountain) planting Mediterranean trees and vegetation. Rock rubble columns support the underground structure. A serpentine mosaic tile bench snakes around the top, creating a spectacular, panoramic view of the city below. You may have noticed in my blog portrait, I am sitting on that bench. Street musicians can be found playing in the cave-like area below ground, while artisans peddle their wares above. Many of Gaudi's plans were cut short with his untimely death in 1926 after being hit by a tram. A visit to Barcelona reveals several of his architectural visions and countless examples of his influence as his dreams live on. I have included two pictures of the park, one above and one underground.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Happy Birthday John Michael Rysbrack!! (Known as Michael) The Flemish sculptor was born in 1693. His father, Peter, was a landscape painter. Michael began as an architect assistant but then turned to sculpture, becoming England’s most highly regarded sculptor of the day. He created numerous busts and funerary works for prominent personalities. Perhaps his most well known work is his Hercules which exhibits the ideal male figure. It is said he used wrestlers and boxers as his models, taking the “best parts” for his final sculpture.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Happy Birthday Francisco Ribalta!! Spanish painter born in 1555, Ribalta was an artist of the Baroque period who began by studying Spanish painter in Madrid and developing a Mannerist style. He eventually settled in Valencia, where he remained for the rest of his life. His paintings exhibit a tenebrist style, featuring darkness and heavily modeled figures. A deeply spiritual man, he painted primarily religious subjects. The painting below is an excellent example of tenebroso, Deposed Christ Hugging St. Bernard.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Happy Birthday Kurt Schwitters!! Born in Germany in 1887, this collagist was incredibly innovative in advancing the idea of "found object collage". He was considered a forerunner of Dada in Hanover (he was not politically correct enough for Berlin at the time), and wanted to "free art from the tyranny of traditional materials. He used anything to create his constructions and collages, transforming everyday trash into organized, orderly art pieces. Schwitters did not attempt to hide the original meaning or purpose of the items, seeking only bits and pieces to serve his form, color and texture desires. Schwitters has been a great influence on my own practices in found object art, as I subscribe to many of his beliefs. His particular handling in found object art and poetry became known as Merz, the nonsensical title belonging to him alone, taken from a bit of headline from a collage of his, stating Kommerzbank (Commerce Bank). He eventually left Germany, seeking a quiet place (away from the Nazis) to create his art and went to Norway and finally England, where he died in 1948. Below is a collage of bits of paper, cork, wood, etc. titled Merz Pictures 32A, The Cherry Picture.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Happy Birthday Thomas Sully!! and my brother Brian Alan Crittenden! Thomas Sully was born in 1783 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a popular portrait painter, also working on landscapes and historical genre scenes. In Mother and Son, his talent at depicting romantic mood is quite apparent. The viewer's eye is led through the portrait with the opposing values of the mother's brilliant white dress and the inky black shadowing on the young boy. Their wistful expressions lend further to the peaceful mood.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Happy Birthday Jim Dine!! American Pop artist, Jim Dine, was born in 1935. He first gained attention with his performance series called Happenings. These were a light contrast to Expressionism, popular in New York at the time. In the 60’s he exhibited various with artists such as Claus Oldenburg, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstien, and helped establish Pop Art. He lived in London for a time, but returned to the US. His work has moved from the everyday objects of Pop Art to nature now and Dine continues to show drawings, paintings and sculpture. Pinocchio has been a favorite subject of Dine; he sees him as a metaphor for art; a walking, talking stick. The nine meter bronze sculpture was installed in Boras, Sweden in 2008.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Happy Birthday Christo!! Today is Christo's birthday, Bulgarian born in 1935, he worked with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, on land installations. Together they have created a new way of seeing familiar landscape. The two artists have stated that their work has no deeper meaning other than to create an aesthetic appeal. One obvious unique feature is that they do not have a physical artwork after the installation. They are left with only preliminary sketches, memories and photographs of the projects. Some familiar works are the Running Fence, Curtained Canyon, and The Umbrellas. His wife died in 2009, but Christo continues to plan future projects. In regard to his work he states, "I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain." Below is a selection of various projects.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Happy Birthday Anni Albers!! Wife of Josef Albers, Anni was born in Berlin, in 1899, an American textile designer. She studied at the Bauhaus and is considered one of the most influential textile artists of the 20th century. She taught at Black Mountain College and wrote several essays. Her work is said to bridge the gap between art and craft. She approached weaving almost as a sculpture, even using “found” items in her weaving such as rope, cellophane, etc. She took up printmaking late in life and soon was printing exclusively. Josef and Anni traveled extensively and she continued to do so after his death in 1976.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Happy Birthday Pieter Saenredam!! The Dutch painter was born on this day, in 1597. He specialized in church interiors, creating sunlit visions in “cool, silvery tones”. Following the Protestant Reformation churches were stripped of any Catholic symbols and were quite austere. Saenredam painted these interiors, first drawing them out with pencil and chalk in technical perspective, then value shading and adding pale tones of watercolor. It is speculated, however that he was more interested in the perspective and interpretation of the Gothic elements rather than religion. In his The Buurkerk at Utrecht (1654) a sense of vastness and light is created.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Happy Birthday Velasquez!! (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) One of the few Spanish painters known by just his surname, born in 1599, Velasquez was a painter for the Spanish court during the Baroque period. His portraits of various prominent figures of the court and historical scenes became quite well-known and he was an influence for such artists as Manet, Picasso and Dali. He traveled to Italy several times to view the work of the Italian masters. His greatest work is considered to be Las Meninas, a scene including one of the “infant” daughters of the queen’s, Velasquez, himself (painting), and other court figures. The intriguing quality is the various gazes and gestures of the figures, a “snapshot” of life; the characters beckon us into their presence. Note the faded image of, presumably, the queen and king in the background of the tableau. Are they Velasquez' models reflected in a mirror, is it a portrait of court life, or a foretelling of what is to become of Spain?
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Happy Birthday Thomas Chippendale!! Well-known for his cabinetry, Thomas Chippendale was born in Otley, England in 1718. His family was in the timber and woodworking trade, so he apprenticed with his father. He published a book of furniture designs entitled The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Directory in 1754, which became quite popular for new designs. Aside from designing furniture, Chippendale also designed interiors, even the wall color. The chair below is a design typical of Chippendale with Gothic splat design.
Splat-the central vertical element in the back of a chair. Chippendale’s chair splats were quite decorative.
Splat-the central vertical element in the back of a chair. Chippendale’s chair splats were quite decorative.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Happy Birthday Solomon Willard!! The American carver and architect was born in 1788. His father was a carpenter and Solomon followed in his footsteps. His greatest achievement may have been the designing and overseeing of the first “obelisk” (tall, narrow tapering monument ending in a pyramid) in Massachusetts: The Bunker Hill Monument. It is 221 foot tall, constructed of granite and commemorates the infamous Battle of Bunker Hill. It was constructed from 1827-43.