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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lucien Levy Dhurmer

First and foremost I want to remember my son Shane today, this day of his birth…miss you Buddy…and then, Happy Birthday Lucien Levy Dhurmer!! Born in 1853, Dhurmer was from Algiers. He was a symbolist who also worked in the Art Nouveau style, studying in Paris. He began his career in ceramics, first exhibiting a ceramic plaque at the Salon in 1882. He gradually became more interested in painting, creating contemplative figures with Impressionistic color. The painting below seemed a fitting image for this day in early autumn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Francois Boucher

Happy Birthday Francois Boucher!! Born in Paris in 1703, Boucher was a decorator and painter in the Rococo style, the son of a lace maker. He originally trained and worked as an engraver and won accolades at the Academy in 1723, allowing him to study in Rome. Boucher finally traveled to Italy in 1727 to take advantage of that offer, returning in 1731 to eventually become a professor and then the highest honor as “First Painter of the King”. His work was idyllic nature and genre scenes (sometimes quite passionate) as well as several series of tapestries. The painting I have included today is titled The Interrupted Sleep (1750) and hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Happy Birthday Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio!! (best known as Caravaggio) Italian painter from 1573, Caravaggio was born near Milan. After a four year apprenticeship in 1584 with little known Simone Peterzano, Caravaggio went to Rome where he painted small, insignificant portraits and still life before receiving his first major commission in 1597, to decorate a chapel in Rome. In this project Caravaggio met many obstacles as his work was repainted several times due to the rejection of the paintings. His work is described as extreme realism with heavy chiaroscuro (contrasting lights and darks). His peasants have dirty feet, his onlookers show great emotion and often his figures are out of proportion. The latter is due, in large, to the practice he developed early on, of painting directly on his large canvases (or walls) with little preparation beforehand. Caravaggio is said to have been a volatile man with a quick temper and is even accused of murder. His life was dramatic, with him fleeing the authorities on more than one occasion. His later works are quite dark. Rubens and Rembrandt are the most well known of his influences. The painting I have decided to include here is Supper at Emmaus; in it you can observe the portraiture as well as still life skills of the artist. (Note the foreshortening of the hands in the figure on the right.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

George Cruikshank

Happy Birthday George Cruikshank!! English caricaturist, born in London in 1792, Cruikshank began as an apprentice to his father. His association with friend Charles Dickenson helped further his career in book illustration. He illustrated Oliver Twist, among others and was an actor in the amateur theater belonging to Dickens. After controversy surrounding the authorship of Oliver Twist (Cruikshank claimed to have played a role in the writing) Dickens and he fell out of favor. His career turned to political stance on drinking (he was a staunch non-drinker) and he did less and less book illustration. The illustration below shows orphan Oliver in the familiar scene asking for more food…”I want some more, sir”. It has been observed that Cruikshank did not create beautiful women, nor did his children look like children, but rather small adults, with adult-like features on shorter bodies. The book was first published in monthly installments, beginning in 1837.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Arthur Davies

Happy Birthday Arthur Davies!! Born in 1862, today we look at another totally contrasting artist to yesterday’s Rothko. He studied at the Chicago Academy of Design, Art Institute of Chicago, and Art Students League. Although a member of The Eight or The Ash Can School, Davies’ work is quite contrasting to the others in the group. His work is very traditional painting, but he was impressed with the “moderns” of Europe so helped put together the Armory Show of 1913. He worked to gain recognition for artists of all media and persuasion, not just those who adhered to strict guidelines set up by the Salon. His paintings are peaceful outdoor settings with dreamlike qualities. Serene figures grace the canvas, such as in the one below titled: Nymphs in a Landscape.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mark Rothko

Happy Birthday Mark Rothko!! (Marcus Rothkowitz) Russian born American contemporary artist, (1903), Rothko immigrated to the US with his family in 1913. After attending Yale on scholarship for a time, he eventually found work in the Garment District in New York City. He was visiting a friend who was a student at the Artist Students League and saw other students sketching from models. Rothko attributes this experience to where his interest in art began. His early paintings were of dark and dreary interiors, but he gradually moved toward abstraction. His most well known works are rather like enlarged Mondrian geometric studies. His canvases are quite large blocks of solid colors. He felt “art transports us to an unknown world”, and indeed it is quite easy to lose yourself in his immense canvases. The one pictured here is titled White Center (Yellow, Pink and lavender on Rose) and hit the record mark at auction in 2007, selling for $72.84 million, the most a painting has sold post-war.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Horace Walpole

Happy Birthday Horace Walpole!! This English Connoisseur was born in 1717 and quite an impressive art historian as well as an antiquarian. His revival of Gothic architecture with the building of Strawberry Hill began a new trend, a precursor for the Victorian era. The building was constructed from an existing structure, rebuilt in the Gothic style according to actual historical records. It is located in the affluent area of Twickenham in London. The photo below shows a view of the tower.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Frantisek Kupka

Happy Birthday Frantisek Kupka!! This painter was born in what is now the Czech Republic, in 1871. He studied at the Prague Art Academy, where he concentrated on patriotic themes. From there he enrolled in a school in Vienna and began to work in symbolism. Later Kupka settled in Paris and worked as an illustrator, contributing satirical work to newspapers, magazines, books and posters. He gradually moved away from realism and settled into abstract art with Cubist influences. He was also quite interested in color and developed theories for its use, desiring to “free colors from descriptive associations”. The painting below is titled Planes by Color.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Joseph Siffred Duplessis

Happy Birthday Joseph Siffred Duplessis!! In 1725, this French portrait painter was born into an artistic family. His first instructor was his father who was a surgeon, as well as a talented amateur painter. After a few exhibitions, he finally received recognition with his showing of ten paintings at the Paris salon in 1769. He considered the social status of his sitter when composing his portraits. His work was known for its clarity and immediacy. Unlike any other, his portrait of Ben Franklin became the lasting impression for posterity of the former statesman.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pavel Tchelitchev

Happy Birthday Pavel Tchelitchev!! Russian painter, born in 1898, this artist was a Surrealist. After leaving Russia in 1934, he first lived in Berlin, then Paris and finally the US, becoming a US citizen in 1952. His first show of drawings was in the just opened Museum of Modern Art in 1930. Hide and Seek is said to be his most significant painting, completed in 1942.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Theodore Chasseriau

Happy Birthday especially to my husband Craig…and also Theodore Chasseriau!! Born today in 1819, this French painter of the Romantic period was a student of Ingres and also inspired by Delacroix. He borrowed subject matter from both artists, including Shakespearean figures, Biblical scenes, historical information from North Africa, portraits, etc. In addition to paintings, Chasseriau also drew with lead pencil, as Ingres did. The Angel (below) was painted in 1840.

I will also include a picture of one of my husband's sculptures in honor of his birthday...Off a Beach in Hawaii

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arthur Rackham

Happy Birthday Arthur Rackham!! English book illustrator, born in 1867, Rackham was one of 12 children. He studied art at Lambeth School of Art. After working for Westminster Budget as a reporter and illustrator, he went on to illustrate books, first publishing in 1893 with To the other Side by Thomas Rhodes. His characters are lovely whimsical beings endearing to children of all ages. The Wind in the Willows is his most well known work today, published after his death, in 1940.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mark di Suvero

Happy Birthday Mark di Suvero!! Born in China in 1933 to Italian parents, Mark di Suvero is an Abstract Expressionist sculptor. He and his family relocated to San Francisco in 1942 where he went on to study philosophy at University of California, Berkeley. After sustaining a critical injury while working construction in New York City, he turned to sculpture. His work began as industrial pieces with found items such as tires, railroad ties, scrap metal, evolving to I-beams and heavy gauge metal. Despite the obvious bulk and weight of his pieces, they seem to defy gravity as they shoot off into space. He currently lives in New York City with his wife and has 3 studios, one in Long Island City, another in Petaluma, California, and one on a river barge in France. He has over 100 large-scale sculptures in public places all over the world. Di Suvero recently published Dreambook, a collection of poems, sculptures and theories.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Samuel Prout

Happy Birthday Samuel Prout!! English painter, born in 1783, Prout was best known for his watercolor. Born in Plymouth, he began his artistic experience painting rustic scenes of English countryside and architecture. His career took a turning point in 1818 when he began to paint street scenes. He earned the favor of King George IV and then Queen Victoria.  The watercolor painting below, Ratisbon Cathedral, was created in the late 1800s.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jean Arp

Happy Birthday Jean Arp!! The French sculptor was born Hans Arp,  in 1887, nearly 100 years after Antoine Barye, who we researched yesterday. Although he was born in Strasbourg (Alsace), German territory returned by the French at the end of World War One, he lived much of his life in Switzerland. Following the war and the return of Alsace to France, he was forced to change his name to Jean by French authorities. Arp worked in the Dada persuasion, was a founder of the Zurich branch, in fact, but also exhibited in Surrealist exhibits. He created contemporary, organic sculpture. He was preoccupied with the role of accident in art. The small 7-8 inch polished brass sculpture represented below, Head and Shell, is not to be taken too literally, rather in Arp’s words:  “Each of these bodies has a definite significance, but it is only when I feel there is nothing more to change that I decide what each means, and it is only then that I give it a name.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Antoine Louis Barye

Happy Birthday Antoine Louis Barye!! French sculptor, born in 1795, Barye was known for his animal sculptures.  He began as a goldsmith in the Romantic period, but then realized his fascination with animals and began to sketch them. Eventually he turned to sculpture, sculpting large sculpture as well as those on a small scale. A prime example of his larger work is the enormous relief: Lion of the Column July which was cast in bronze from a plaster model in 1839. It commemorates the 504 citizens who fell in the revolution 100 years earlier. The Lion is a representation of the astrological sign Leo, symbolizing strength. It is situated at the base of the July Column at the Place de la Bastille, Paris.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Charles Dana Gibson

Happy Birthday Charles Dana Gibson!! Graphic illustrator Gibson was born in America in 1867. He attended the Arts Students League in Manhattan for 2 years. He sold his first pen and ink drawing to Life Magazine, beginning what was to be a weekly appearance for 30 years. His work also was shown in Harper’s Weekly, Colliers and Scribner’s. He created the Gibson Girl, a symbol of the gorgeous, independent American woman of the turn of the century. His wife Irene Langhorne and her sisters were the inspiration for the Gibson Girls. Gibson became the editor and owner of Life Magazine after the death of John Ames Mitchell.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Robert Indiana

Happy Birthday Robert Indiana!! The American painter was born in 1928, and named Robert Clark. He took his surname from his home state, Indiana. He graduated from Arsenal Technical High School and approached his art through his commercial art background. He eventually made sculptures he terms “sculptural poems”. Many of these works originate from his iconic LOVE piece pictured below. Indiana has also worked as a theatrical set and costume designer and currently lives in Maine.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ben Shahn

Happy Birthday Ben Shahn!! Lithuanian born American Ben Shahn was born in 1898. His family immigrated to the US when he was small. He trained as a graphic designer in lithography, but turned to social commentary painting, using egg tempera. Shahn traveled to Europe, studying the art of masters such as Matisse, Rouault, Klee and Picasso. Diego Rivera was also a powerful influence on Shahn. His work dealt with social issues including labor struggles and immigration. In the famous Jersey Homesteads Mural (part of which is pictured below) we see immigrants entering Ellis Island as garment workers are hard at work on the right, perhaps a foreshadowing of their future to come. Albert Einstein, who came to America in 1933, is clearly recognizable in the center

Saturday, September 11, 2010

William Holabird

Birthday William Holabird!! This American architect was from New York, born in 1854. Holabird studied at the United States Military Academy, West Point, for a time then moved to Chicago to begin his career as an architect. He helped establish the architectural style known as the “Chicago School”. The Marquette Building in Chicago features Chicago windows or “sash” windows where a large window is flanked by narrower windows on either side that open to let in air. He was a pioneer in creating the skyscraper as well.

Friday, September 10, 2010

John Soane

Happy Birthday Sir John Soane!! The English architect was born in 1753 and specialized in Neo-Classical designs. He was the son of a bricklayer and studied at the Royal Academy. After traveling and developing his style in Italy, he settled in England and set up his architectural studio. The Bank of England was his most well-known work and unfortunately it was destroyed and rebuilt by a later architect. In addition to the bank building, Soane also designed and remodeled country homes for various English gentlemen. He built a home for himself which is now the Soane Museum in London.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Happy Birthday Brassai!! (or Guyla Halasz) The Hungarian photographer was born in 1899. After studying art at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, he served in World War I and then went to Berlin to work as a journalist. There he met several other Hungarian writers and artists and they moved to Paris and became part of the art world there. He became enamored with photography and began to photograph city life. He went by the name “Brassai” which means of Brasso, where he was from in Hungary. He wrote numerous books toward the latter part of his life. The photo below is titled Paris in the 30’s, showing a view of the city from the River Seine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jacques Fath

Happy Birthday Jacques Fath!! Born in France in 1912, Fath was a top fashion designer. Although his father was an insurance agent, his grandparents were quite creative; paternal grandmother a fashion illustrator, her husband a writer and maternal grandfather a landscape painter. Fath was self-taught and presented his first design collection at age 25. He was known for use of experimental materials such as hemp sacking, natural elements like seed shells and pods. His designs often resembled flower blooms. Well-known clients included Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo and Rita Hayworth. One of his ultra chic designs is shown below.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Grandma Moses

Happy Birthday Grandma Moses!! (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) Born in 1860, Grandma Moses was a well-known Folk Artist. She had no formal training in art. Her husband was a farmer and she spent her adult years raising 5 children and helping on their farm. It is said that she painted her first painting when she ran out of wallpaper in her dining room, so put up a large sheet of white paper and painted a scene on it! She began to paint in earnest at the age of 76 when her hands became arthritic and made her embroidery difficult. Most of her work was on cardboard and she painted from memory her life experiences. She was inspired by Currier and Ives prints. Grandma Moses was quite prolific, creating over 3600 paintings. She lived to be 101. The painting below, a favorite, is entitled Over the River to Grandma’s House on Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Frank Fidler

Happy Birthday Frank Fidler!! Born in 1910 this self-taught artist is from Britain. He began as an Abstract Expressionist, further fueled by meeting Jackson Pollock. Fidler took part is several major exhibitions. He wrote about the unfolding of his work, “Even when a painting is physically finished the growth seems to continue, providing humus for seeds to come.” Clay became an interest for him in the 1960’sand he created two ceramic tile murals for St. Albans Civic Center. Fidler eventually turned to representational work and painted the landscape around his home in England for the remainder of his life. Unfortunately I was unable to locate any images of the ceramic murals, but the abstract painting below is an earlier work of Fidler's.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

O. W. Albert Roelofs

Happy Birthday O. W. Albert Roelofs!! The Dutch painter was born in Brussels, in1877, the son of famed painter Willem Roelofs. Portrait painter, Albert Roelofs followed in his father’s footsteps, working in the Hague as well as Brussels. He was known to be quite an extravagant dresser and it is even said the Queen (Willhelmina) took painting lessons from him. The painting below is The Baby is Asleep, and exhibits a wonderful handling of “white” in the bassinet, quilts, curtains and mother’s costume.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Oskar Schlemmer

Happy Birthday Oskar Schlemmer!! German born, in 1888, this painter and sculptor was connected with the Bauhaus, where he was hired as Master of Form. Schlemmer worked with the Bauhaus for 9 years, running the sculpture and stage workshop until the Nazis determined he was unfit and he was dismissed. He created performance art focusing on the figure in space as well as painting, dealing with primarily stylized female form. In the final year before his death, in virtual seclusion, Schlemmer painted 18 small paintings from his window titled Fensterbilder (Window Pictures) one of which is found below.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Louis Sullivan

Happy Birthday Louis Sullivan!! In 1856 this American architect was born in Massachusetts. He became fascinated with buildings and structures before he entered high school and decided he would become an engineer/architect. After graduating early from high school and passing exams for MIT (Massachusetts Technical Institute) he entered school there at age 16. He only studied at MIT for one year, and then went to work with architect Frank Furness in Philadelphia. Sullivan eventually moved on to Chicago where he became a partner with Adler and took part in the re-building after the great Chicago fire. He is credited for building the first modern skyscraper or steel high rise. He was influenced by the Renaissance, though, and his buildings’ ornamentation reflect that inspiration. He punctuated his structures with Art Nouveau decorative elements, organic twisting vines and ivy, and terra cotta and cast iron relief. Sullivan was a mentor to architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The structure below is the Prudential Building in Buffalo, New York, also known as the Guaranty Building, built in 1894.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Romare Bearden

Happy Birthday Romare Bearden!! This American artist was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1911, He worked in cartoon, oils, and collage. He also was a writer, co-writing the jazz classic Sea Breeze. He originally began painting Southern scenes with an influence by famed muralist Diego Rivera. Bearden served in World War II and then using his GI bill, studied in Sorbonne, France. His outlook changed and he began to create abstractions of the human form, social issues and religious commentary, relying heavily on collage. In fact he has been deemed one of the nation’s foremost collagists. He and his wife established the Bearden Foundation to assist young artists. The collage example below is titled Falling Star.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Yasuo Kuniyoshi

Happy Birthday Yasuo Kuniyoshi!! Born in Japan 1893, this artist was a painter who migrated to the US in 1906 to Los Angeles where he studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. Kuniyoshi was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935, and later taught in New York City at The Arts Students League and in Woodstock, New York. He was known for his still life paintings as well as circus performers and nudes. The image below is Girl with Fish Kite, 1950.

The Guggenheim Fellowship-An American grant designed to give the artists blocks of time to create their work. The fellowships have awarded each year since 1925, and up to 220 grants are awarded each year.