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, October 31, 2010

Johannes Vermeer

Happy Birthday Johannes Vermeer!! The Dutch Baroque painter, born in 1632, was known for his rich, brilliant blue attributed to the use of ground lapis lazuli. I was fortunate enough to see The Milkmaid at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, famous for its incredible collection of works by Dutch masters. Vermeer was known for his domestic interiors. The warm, rich, oppulence of the maiden's dress invites you into her kitchen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alfred Sisley

Happy Birthday Alfred Sisley!! In 1839, today, painter Alfred Sisley was born in France. After being sent to England to immerse himself in the English language, he entered Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he met Monet and Renoir. He became a purist Impressionist, painting landscapes. His best-known contribution to the Impressionist movement is his delicate handling of cloud effects. Hoar frost—An Indian Summer displays a frosty fall morning with Impressionistic atmosphere evident. Note the crisp fall morning light reflecting on the frost. The autumn colors, furrowed farmland and figures pulled in from the chill lend to the seasonal feel of the work painted in fall 1874. Sisley was quite determined in the compositional layout of this painting to lead the our eye from the field back to the figures, up to the rigid edge of the building, freeing us finally to lose ourselves in his spectacular sky.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Niki de Saint Phalle

Happy Birthday Niki de Saint Phalle!! This French woman was born in 1930, originally Catherine Marie Agnes Fal de Saint Phalle, and was a sculptor, painter, and film maker. Her family moved to the US when she was three years old. At age eighteen she eloped, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she began to paint. After a trip to Spain, Saint Phalle became enthralled with Antonio Gaudi’s work, especially his Park Guell, and was inspired to design a sculpture garden influenced by his fascinating, organic forms. Located in Tuscany, Italy, I am including Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden), a mosaic tile covered menagerie of fantasy creatures, in my blog today.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Francis Bacon

Happy Birthday Francis Bacon!! This English painter was born today in 1909, and was a figure painter. Before devoting his time to painting he was an interior decorator and furniture designer. He generally painted in series and is best known for his grotesque heads, Heads in a Room. With Halloween close at hand, it seems like the picture I have chosen for today is quite appropriate.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roy Lichenstein

Happy Birthday Roy Lichenstein!! American born in Manhattan in 1923, Lichenstein studied at the Arts Students’ League and Ohio State University on the GI Bill, after a stint in the US Army in WWII. He worked as a commercial artist and then began on his own art in earnest in the Abstract Expressionist Style. Lichenstein then became a popular Pop artist and was credited with the creative use of benday dots. His commercial art background is evident in his large, hard-edged cartoon style and parody of the comic strip. Whaam! is most likely his most famous work, a diptych (two panel) recreating a 1962 DC Comic All-American Men of War issue of an American fighter plane destroying the enemy. There are two views on the purpose of Lichenstein's use of cartoon as the vehicle for his art: was it to point out that comic books have items of import for us to seriously consider? or does the size of his scenes and characters use irony to minimize them in our (the viewers' ) eyes? In Lichenstein's own words, "One of the things a cartoon does is to express violent emotion in a completely mechanical and removed style."

Benday dots-A printing process invented by Benjamin Day, which uses two color dots, juxtaposed to create the illusion of one color. In the days when comic books were popular, the technique was used for flesh tones, as they could be created with two or three primary colors creating one secondary skin color.

Parody-a work created to make fun of or mock an original work or event.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Happy Birthday Vasily Vereshchagin!! Russian born painter, in 1842, was a well-known battle scene painter. His father was a noble landowner and Vasily entered the cadet corps at age eight, later serving in the navy. After leaving the navy he studied drawing and painting.  His graphic approach to his art prevented some of his paintings from being shown. The Apotheosis of War was dedicated to “all conquerors, past, present, and to come”. The daunting pyramid of skulls beckons the viewer to consider the atrocities associated with war.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pablo Picasso

Happy Birthday Pablo Picasso!! Born in Malaga, Spain in 1881 to an art teacher, Picasso displayed talent early on. After a visit to Paris in his early twenties, he launched into his “blue period” to be followed by his “rose period”, both of which exhibit color dominated depictions of harlequins and street people. Meeting George Braque led to a discovery that the two artists were seeking the same truth: how to define volumetric objects and figures on the flat picture plane. Why should the painter be restricted to displaying only one viewpoint?  These ideas led to faceted, fragmented items and the evolution of Cubism. Initially the color palette was restricted to monochromatic greys, browns, olive green, and yellow ochre gradually other colors were introduced. Picasso’s career took another detour when he created the first collage (French for paste) in Still Life with Chair Caning. Bits of brown paper, newspaper, twine, etc. found their way into his work. Painting dancers, nudes and bullfights, gave way for his masterpiece Guernica, a statement in opposition to the horrors of war, specifically the Spanish Civil War. I am including this incredible work in my blog today. Although there is no graphic war scene included, the terror displayed in the mother holding her dead son, the screaming animals, the dread displayed through the bullfighting icons, clearly conveys Picasso’s abhorrence for the violence of war. The tonal black, white and grey serve to heighten the drama. The latter part of Picasso’s life was devoted to mural painting as well as ceramics. Perhaps no other artist in history has contributed such a dazzlingly wide array of influential art than Pablo Picasso.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Happy Birthday Mainbocher!! The American couturier was born Main Rousseau Bocher in 1890. The Chicagoan studied music and art at University of Chicago and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, served in the Army during WWI, and then remained in Paris, working as a fashion illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar. He became a couturier, designing high fashion, eventually establishing his own label: Mainbocher.  Some of his creations include the short evening gown, beaded evening sweaters, and strapless evening gowns. The creation below is black lace over two layers of silk organdy in mint and sage green.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jean Louis Forain

Happy Birthday Jean Louis Forain!! French Impressionist was born in 1852 and at age eight his family moved to Paris. He started his career in art as a caricaturist for several Paris magazines. He became friends with Edgar Degas, who was a great influence on his work. In the later years of Forain’s life he was made a member of the Royal Academy of Art, in London. The oil painting included here is titled Can-Can Dancers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Robert Rauschenberg

Happy Birthday Robert Rauschenberg!! American painter born in 1925, Rauschenberg was a Pop Artist. He was born in Port Arthur, Texas and after serving in the Navy for 3 years he happened into an art museum and suddenly realized art was a viable career. He went to Kansas City Art Institute, traveled to Paris and eventually met Jasper Johns at Black Mountain College, in North Carolina. The two of them founded the movement called Pop Art and since then he has spent his energy on juxtaposing the popular culture, everyday life, with his art.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Katsushika Hokusai

Happy Birthday Katsushika Hokusai!! The Japanese printmaker was born in 1760, in Edo (now Tokyo), Japan, and his father was a mirror maker for the shogun. Katsushika began painting at the early age of 6. Later, he initially worked in a bookstore, but then apprenticed to a woodcarver, then finally began studies with an artist of ukiyo-e and painting. He was also an expert on Chinese painting. His greatest known work is the ukiyo-e painting of The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1830), the first of his series The Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji.

Shogun-Military rank and historical title for military dictator of Japan.

Ukiyo-e- The Japanese artistic genre of woodblock printing featuring historical tales, idyllic landscapes, and pleasure quarters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aelbert Cuyp

Happy Birthday Aelbert Cuyp!! Dutch painter, born in 1620, was the son of portrait and landscape painter, Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp. Aelbert was a pupil of his father’s and was also influenced by Dutch painters van Goyen and Salomen van Ruysdale. He was quite versatile, painting not only portraits and landscapes, but also animals and still life. He was interested in light effects and especially the “golden glow” achieved by the Italians. This particular painting, Cows in the Water, exemplifies his specialities, animals and landscapes. I love the play of images and light reflected in the standing water.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Umberto Boccioni

Happy Birthday Umberto Boccioni!! The Italian painter/sculptor was born on this day in 1882, in Reggio Calabria. After graduating from a technical school, he traveled a bit and began to paint and experiment with engravings. He became associated with the Futurists and issued the Futurist Manifesto of Sculpture in 1912. He wrote a book on the subject as well. The writings urged young painters to “pursue living, dynamic and original forms of art.” Boccioni’s most well known sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space conveys the feeling of motion as we view the man in mid-stride, with molten metal flowing out behind the him. Portions of the calves, and feet seem to streak behind the moving figure, while the chest caves in with the momentum. Unfortunately, Boccioni died prematurely of injuries sustained in World War I, in 1917.

Futurism-Art movement originating outside of Paris, in 1909, ending with World War I. Artists were involved with depicting transformations of the world as a result of science primarily representation of figures and machines in motion. Boccioni, Carra, Russolo, Balla, and Severini signed the Manifestos.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Happy Birthday Canaletto!! Antonio Canal, born in Venice, in 1697, was better known as Canaletto and came from a family of scene painters. He was influenced by a trip to Rome where he met Panini, who painted scenes of Rome, and he returned to paint Venice similarly. Through his painting he wished to recreate the magical aspects of Venice, with its architecture, canals, and lagoon. Although painters like Giorgione and Titian had already explored the beauty of Venice, Canaletto’s work brought a distinctive look at the delicate beauty of Venice. He worked directly on the spot at first, graduating to making detailed drawings to work from or even the camera obscura. He traveled to England where he remained for ten years (with short visits back to Venice) painting scenes of London and other sites in England as well as capricci. Remember capricci are small scenes of recognizable monuments, architecture, etc. in idealized settings. His work was purchased primarily by wealthy tourists and sadly his sensitive touch began to evolve into a hard almost mechanical approach.

Camera Obscura-Early primitive camera made by creating a shoebox sized box, with a pinhole to admit light, with a piece of film on the other side. The problem with this camera is, it lets in so little light the exposure has to be quite long. If the hole is enlarged the image becomes quite blurred, therefore the lens was created much later, evolving into the cameras we know today.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Childe Hassam

Happy Birthday Childe Hassam!! American Impressionist painter, born in 1859, Hassam was from Boston. He began his career in art as a wood engraver, providing commercial material for newspapers, eventually moving into oil painting. He continued in commercial illustration and children’s books in black and white, but after a tour of Europe he was impressed with Turner’s watercolors and this became his  preferred medium. He was a founder of The Ten and remained in the US while other American Impressionists settled in Europe. Impressionism did not rise in popularity in America until the dawn of the modern period in Europe. Hassam was most famous for his series of thirty Flag paintings late in his career, in support of American involvement in World War I. The one I have included here is The Avenue in the Rain, 1917.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Paul Strand

Happy Birthday Paul Strand!! American modernist photographer Paul Strand was born in 1890, in New York City. He was featured in Alfred Stieglitz's last issue of Camera Work, who recognized Strand as having an innovative, creative approach to photography as "art". He believed in straight photography methods without manipulation. Later in his career he also worked in film. The White Fence, photographed in 1916, demonstrates his technique, "Look at the things around you, the immediate world around you.  If you are alive it will mean something to you..."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ralph Blakelock

Happy Birthday Ralph Blakelock!! This painter was born in New York in 1847 and originally began studying medicine, but after a few years quit and traveled west. Self taught, he began to paint landscapes as well as scenes of Native American life. Blakelock married and had nine children and although he was considered an artistic genius, providing for his large family proved too much for him and he was institutionalized after suffering a mental breakdown. His art increased in popularity and value and eventually he was released from the institution and he painted for the remainder of his life. The painting included below is titled Moonlight and was painted in 1885.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Giovanni Battista Natali III

Happy Birthday Giovanni Battista Natali III !! Born in Pontremoli, Italy in 1698, the Baroque artist was a sculptor and painter.  His father, Frances was a painter. Natali left Pontremoli for Parma where he worked, and was highly regarded. Natali was also art director of Teatro Regio, in Parma. He later moved to Piacenza continuing theater work as well as painting. I love the emotion depicted in the ship in distress below, (note the crocodiles in the lower center and the oncoming storm) typical of the Baroque style.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mariotto Albertinelli

Happy Birthday Mariotto Albertinelli!! Born in Florence, Italy, in 1474, this High Renaissance artist apprenticed to Cosimo Rosselli at age 12. He was closely associated with fellow painter, Bartolomeo, the two shared a studio for a time and continued to live and paint in Florence after the primary Renaissance figures had moved on to Rome. Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael influenced him and he adopted the sculptural style of Raphael and the monumental quality of da Vinci. Considered his masterpiece, The Visitation was painted in 1503 and is located in Florence.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Al Held

Happy Birthday Al Held!! Born in America in 1928, Al Held was an Abstract Expressionist painter. After serving in the Navy, he studied art first at the Art Students League in New York City, then in Paris at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Held struggled to find his niche, but did become known for his large hard-edge canvases. Following a brief period where he painted in only black and white, he returned to more colorful work. The painting below was painted in 1982.

Monday, October 11, 2010

James Barry

Happy Birthday James Barry!! Irish painter, born today in 1741, relocated to London in his early 20’s. He studied the masterpieces of Michelangelo and Raphael in Italy, 1766-71 and upon returning to London became a member of the Royal Academy, later named professor of painting. He created historical paintings on a grand scale and is best known for The Progress of Human Culture and Knowledge. This was a huge undertaking, a series of six paintings, to decorate the Great Hall of the Society of Arts (known now as the Royal Society of Arts). This was described by Andrew Graham Dixon as “Britain’s late great answer to the Sistine Chapel. The second in the series "A Grecian Harvest Home" is below. Barry became professor of painting at the Royal Academy but was later expelled from the Academy after a disagreement and died in poverty in 1806.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Benjamin West

Happy Birthday Benjamin West!! Born in America in 1738, West was raised a Quaker in Pennsylvania. He traveled to Italy at age 22 and remained there for 3 years. He had very little formal schooling and could hardly read or write. He settled in England where he was something of a novelty since American painters were somewhat unknown. He devised a new approach to historical scenes, painting classical figures and compositions with contemporary dress. The practice caught on and he became quite popular. He was appointed King George’s official historical painter and was known for his epic historical representations. He helped found the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 and became the second president 1792-1805. The painting included here is The Death of Nelson, for Horatio Nelson, who had seen a painting earlier commemorating the death of General Wolfe. He expressed his desire to be the subject of such a remembrance and West painted him upon the occasion of his death in the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1806. The rendering is not totally accurate, but an idealization of the event.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

John Winston Ono Lennon

Happy Birthday John Lennon!! I cannot resist writing about John Lennon on his 70th birthday today. He was born and raised in Liverpool in 1940, becoming involved at an early age in the skiffle craze. This was a jazz music style, the basis of his first band, The Quarrymen that evolved into The Beatles in 1960. He and Paul McCartney were to form one of the most successful songwriting duos of the century. When the Beatles broke up in the late 60’s, Lennon went on to establish his solo career. But what many do not realize is that he was incredible at drawing and sketching as well, actually began as a visual artist long before he ever picked up a guitar. The self portrait below is titled 9 Portraits.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Max Slevogt

Happy Birthday Max Slevogt!! The German Impressionist painter was born on this day, in 1868, in Landshut. After studying art at the Munich Academy, Slevogt also attended the Academie at Julian in Paris. He was a member of Germany’s plein air landscape painters, turning out bright landscapes after trips to Paris, Holland, Egypt and Italy. His work reveals a traditional interest in the relationship between light and color of the impressionists. Slevogt was an official painter for World War I, returning horrifying images. The sun-dappled lane pictured below, Road at Gogramstein, 1909, is typical of his Impressionist landscapes.

Plein air-practice of painting outdoors, which rose in popularity after 1870, with Impressionist painters, after the invention of paint in toothpaste style tubes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rosalba Carriera

Happy Birthday Rosalba Carriera!! Born in 1675, this Italian painter was one of the few women painters of the time. She was the daughter of a lacemaker (mother) and began with lace patterns, but she became a portrait painter and a painter of miniatures on ivory snuff boxes. She is highly regarded for her finished pastel work. Although she traveled Europe, Carriera was a Venitian and a student of her brother-in-law Pellegrini. Her work was quite popular amongst the aristocratic society of the 18th century, exhibiting modern Rococo details. The self-portrait below shows Carriera painting a portrait of her sister.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Le Corbusier

Happy Birthday Le Corbusier!! Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, the Swiss architect preferred to be called Le Corbusier, meaning the “raven-like one”. He was born in 1887 and is famous for being a pioneer of Modern Architecture. In his twenties Le Corbusier relocated to Paris and became a French citizen. His first architectural vision was the Dom-ino House and the open design utilizing modern materials became the basis for much of his work to follow. His buildings are found in Europe, India, Russian and North and South America. In addition to architectural design, he was also an influential urban planner, predicting the rise in automobile use; Le Corbusier envisioned apartment complexes set amidst small parks with roadways circling around. He wanted to avoid the over–crowding and filth involved in housing large groups of people in one spot. Notre Dame Du Haut (Le Corbusier’s Chapel) is located in Ronchamp. France. The unique building has a sculptural quality, made of rough white masonry, dark wood roof with windows randomly scattered throughout.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Francesco Guardi

Happy Birthday Francesco Guardi!! Italian veduta painter, Guardi was born in 1712. His paintings of Venice were primarily sold as tourists’ souvenirs. His work explored atmospheric conditions similar to the Impressionists one hundred years later. Guardi worked with fellow vedutiste Canaletto as well as in collaboration with his brother Giovanni Antonio, on some religious works.

Veduta-a painting or drawing of an imaginary view of a particular place, usually Venice or Rome in this case.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Frederic Remington

Happy Birthday Frederic Remington!! American painter of the west, Remington was born in New York in 1861. He studied art at Yale but ventured to the west to become a cowboy and ranch cook at 19. He was enthralled with western life and soon immersed himself in recording the rough lifestyle through sketching and painting. He had a unique knack for capturing the moment and the public quickly latched onto his work. His rugged scenes were filled with the drama of the new frontier.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pierre Bonnard

Happy Birthday Pierre Bonnard!! Born in France in 1867, this Impressionist painter was a member of Les Nabis, a "semi-secret" group of French artists concerned with organized harmony of the pictorial whole. He worked in the intimisme style along with Vuillard. Their interiors were filled with wonderfully flowered, patterned furniture coverings, delicate tea sets, and tablecloths. Gaily curtained windows let in streams of sun, illuminating the entire scene with light. Bonnard's relocation to the south of France further inspired his depiction of sun filled canvases. His wife, Marthe, appears in much of his work, whether after a meal seated at the table or reclining in the tub in relaxation.

Intimisme-a style of Impressionism that deal with intricate, intimate, interior spaces rather than the sun speckled landscapes of traditional Impressionistic painters.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jacob van Strij

Happy Birthday Jacob van Strij!! Born in the Netherlands in 1756, Jacob van Strij, the son of a painter, studied in Antwerp Academy, as did his brother Abraham. He became a landscape painter and also created several wall hangings for clients. His painting was hindered by health problems including gout. The Landscape with Cattle (1850) below is an oil painting on wood and hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Claes Berchem

Happy Birthday Claes Berchem!! Born in Haarlem, in 1620, this Dutch painter studied under several masters including his father who was a still life painter. Claes initially painted portraits, Biblical scenes and Dutch landscapes, but really developed his style after traveling to Italy in 1642. There he created a technique through a gorgeous golden haze for Italian landscapes. His works were dotted with vague ruins and buildings as well as travelers and shepherds. In addition to painting his own, he also inserted figures in other painters’ works. Berchem was quite productive, creating some 850 paintings as well as hundreds of drawings and etchings, allowing him to be one of the best-paid artists of his time. I particularly like the landscape below for its unusual vantage point from below the arch. The simplistic blocking of color in the rocks lends a majestic air to the work.