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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adriaen van de Velde

Happy Birthday Adriaen van de Velde!! Dutch painter, born in 1636, van de Velde was the son of painter Willem. His brothers were also painters. He trained under his father and Wynants, specializing in landscapes and Italian motifs, although he probably never visited Italy. Van de Velde also added figures into other painters’ works, including his brother, Wynants, Hobbema, and van der Heyden. His untimely death at age 36 cut short this brilliant painter’s career. Amusement on the Ice is the painting I am including here today...

Monday, November 29, 2010

James Rosenquist

Happy Birthday James Rosenquist!! Born in North Dakota in 1933, Pop Art painter Rosenquist’s family relocated to Minneapolis in 1942. He studied art at the University of Minnesota and went on to work in advertising, painting billboards and signs. As he emerged onto the Pop Art scene, he created scenes or stories on canvas with recognizable images overlapping and combined with seemingly unrelated items. Although he has been compared to Lichenstein and Warhol, the artists did not work in collaboration or even know each other as they “arrived” on the Pop Art scene. I am including his F-111 here, a large, long and narrow work displayed in The Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Painted during the Vietnam War, F-111 has obvious anti-military overtones. Rosenquist continues to work on large-scale commissions.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Morris Louis

Happy Birthday Morris Louis!! Abstract Expressionist painter, Louis was born in America in 1912. He was focused on color in what is termed “color field” painting. He studied at Maryland Institute College of Art, leaving before his degree was completed to begin his fine art career. He lived in New York for a time, but retuned to his native Baltimore. The Color Field painters left large areas of canvas raw or with very thin paint, staining sections or stripes with color. They were unconcerned with brushwork, gesture, expression, more in tune with pure effects and juxtaposition of color. His Unfurled series was one of his most influential and popular.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tsugouhara Foujita

Happy Birthday Tsugouharu Foujita!! Japanese painter, of the Samurai class, was born in 1886.  He studied art at the Tokyo School of Art and was mentored by Kuroda Seiki. He traveled to and settled in Paris, where he met many artists including Diego Rivera, Picasso and Rousseau. Foujita fell into the Parisian artist circle right away and achieved financial success early on. His work varied from landscapes to portraits and nudes, watercolors and oil paintings to lithographs and etchings.

Friday, November 26, 2010

George Segal

Happy Birthday George Segal!! American born in 1924, not to be confused with the actor, was a painter and sculptor associated with the Pop movement. He is best known for his life-sized figures created from plaster gauze bandages. Segal used human models, wrapping them in sections with plaster bandages, allowing the gauze to harden and removed them, putting the forms back together. He then created scenes with the ghostly figures, at first leaving them white and later began painting them with bright colors. Segal eventually began casting the figures in bronze. I am including a plaster tableau here, Street Crossing, Montclair State University. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Maurice Denis

Happy Birthday Maurice Denis!! French painter, born in 1870 and part of the Nabis group, Denis was also a writer and a Symbolist, He knew at an early age that his work was to be religious. Nabis means “prophet” and the painters involved in the movement believed they would create new ways of expression. Denis believed that a picture was meant to be first and foremost a flat plane with images painted upon it. This led the way for modernism. We have been walking in Central Park today and the image below reminds me a bit of that...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Henri Toulouse Lautrec

Happy Birthday Henri Toulouse Lautrec!! Born in 1864, Lautrec was from France. He suffered 2 broken legs in childhood that severely stunted his growth. He studied art in Paris and was first successful with posters, moving into painting. He preferred painting Parisian nightlife as well as scenes outdoors. He traveled throughout Europe, including Brussels, England, Holland, Spain and Portugal. Unfortunately he had problems with alcohol, which would ultimately lead to his death.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jose Orozco

Happy Birthday Jose Orozco!! Mexican muralist, Orozco was born in 1883 in Jalisco, Mexico. He lost his left hand in a gunpowder accident as a youth, but this was not a deterrent to the determined young man. He often stopped to watch Jose Guadalupe Posada work on engravings, on his way home from school. Together with Diego Rivera and others, Orozco helped spearhead the Mexican Mural Renaissance. He used symbolism and social realism to get across his political and often controversial messages. He was a great proponent of the Mexican peasants and working class. He lived in the USA for a time, painting murals here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ignaz Gunther

Happy Birthday Ignaz Gunther!! Born in 1725, Ignaz Gunther was a Rococo sculptor from Bavaria. Gunther was a wood carver, working in religious themes, later his sculptures were painted by others. He settled in Munich where most of his work was completed. His figures are light with elongated limbs and rather angular fabric, finished in polychrome paint. The Guardian Angel is shown here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rene Magritte

Happy Birthday Rene Magritte!! Born in Belgium in 1898, Magritte was a well-known Surrealist painter. His father was a tailor, his mother a milliner, whose instability lead her to suicide when Magritte was just 13. Beginning as an Impressionist, Magritte first switched to Futurism for a time, and then exhibited his initial Surrealist painting in 1927. Uniting with Andre Breton, the two explored their own realities through Surrealism. Magritte’s aim was to challenge the viewer to look closely and solve the riddle he put forth. Commonplace objects are juxtaposed with fantastical, hallucinatory realities: "visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, 'What does that mean?' It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable." The easel reiterating reality is a recurrent theme in his work, as viewed in The Human Condition, below.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Paulus Potter

Happy Birthday Paulus Potter!! Born in 1625, Potter is perhaps Holland's most famous animal painter. The son of a painter, he changed the way animals were depicted, treating them as the focus in their portraits rather than background information. The story is told that Potter meandered about Holland sketching and getting in tune with nature. He was as well known as Rembrandt, and in fact Rembrandt's benefactor was his as well. Unfortunately the art world lost Potter at the early of age 28 to tuberculosis. The portrait I have included today is The Young Bull (1647).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eustache Le Sueur

Happy Birthday Eustache Le Sueur!! French painter born in 1616, in Paris, whose father was a sculptor. He was a pupil of Voulet and also greatly influenced by Poussin and Raphael. Early on Le Sueur turned from sculpting to drawing and painting and became known as the "French Raphael". Considered his greatest work, St. Paul Preaching at Ephesus is reminiscent of Raphael's School of Athens. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LJM Daguerre

Happy Birthday LJM Daguerre!! Known for his photographic process which carries his name (daguerreotype) this artist was born in 1787 in France. He began as a scene painter for the opera. Following experiments with the camera obscura to create a diorama display, Daguerre worked with Joseph Niepce who had previously experimented with preserving projected images on pewter. Niepce died before the pair could perfect what Daguerre ultimately finished: a luminous image on silver, a daguerreotype. This process was quickly accepted by the public and daguerreotype studios were established across the US. However with time it fell out of favor due to the glaring effect of the silver, the poisonous mercury required for the process and the inability to reproduce the images. The Louvre From the Left Bank of the Seine (1839) is the daguerreotype below.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Isamu Noguchi

Happy Birthday Isamu Noguchi!! American born sculptor, Isamu Noguchi was born to Japanese poet (father) and American writer (mother) in 1904. At age three he moved with his mother to Japan where he lived until he was 14. He was sent alone back to the US and was placed with Dr. Samuel Mack, graduating from high school and received a summer apprenticeship with sculptor, Gutzon Borglum. He entered Columbia University to study pre-med, but when his mother returned to the US and encouraged him to pursue sculpture, he took her advice, attended a night course in sculptor and shortly thereafter quit the University. He expressed his reverence for sculpture, "The essence of sculpture is for me the perception of space, the continuum of our existence."  Noguchi began with classical figurative sculpture, traveled to Paris on the John Guggenheim Fellowship, and embarked on his abstract work. I was especially taken with his “voids” where he explores Zen and Buddhist concepts of emptiness with the “use of empty space as a positive formal element.” The one included today is called Energy Void and I love the idea of containing a landscape within its center.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Francis Danby

Happy Birthday Francis Danby!! The Irish landscape painter of the Romantic period was born in 1793, known for his dramatic style. He was born in southern Ireland, moved with his family to Dublin following his father’s death. He and two other young artists went to London seeking success, but soon left and ended up in Bristol. There he had some success with watercolors, so remained there for a while, developing his style. He worked with a group of artists called the Bristol School, sketching and painting together in the evenings. He eventually returned to London, became a member of the Royal Academy, showing his large oil paintings. Both of Danby’s sons went on to become painters as well. The painting below is titled The Deluge and is a great example of the Romantic style.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe

Happy Birthday Georgia O’Keeffe!! One of my absolute favorite influences is Georgia O’Keeffe, born in a farmhouse, in Wisconsin, in 1887. She determined in eighth grade that she would become an artist, but it was not until after she taught elementary art for a time in Texas that she was “discovered” by Alfred Stieglitz (who was to become her husband) and began to realize her dream. Always seemingly connected to the Earth and nature, O’Keeffe painted the wide-open spaces of rural America in combination with the intimate details of flowers, rocks and bones. She divided her time between New York and New Mexico, finally moving to New Mexico fulltime in 1940, but still traveling to New York to be with Stieglitz until his death in 1946. Her work combines large scale figurative with abstraction and can be quite emotional and sensitive. In the last ten years of her life, her eyesight failing, young potter, Juan Hamilton, showed up at her ranch looking for work and was to become O’Keeffe’s confidante, pottery teacher and companion for the remainder of her years. This past summer I had the chance to spend some delightful time in The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico enjoying an exhibit of some of her lesser-known abstractions. Then just this past weekend I was able to see a very obscure painting in the exhibit Sensory Crossovers at the Albuquerque Art and History Museum, Cow, which I am including here. In it the cow, resembling one of her geat flower close-ups, tips her head to lick an apple from the tree.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Claude Monet

Happy Birthday Claude Monet!! Considered the quintessential Impressionist, Claude Monet was born in 1840 in Paris, France. His father was a grocer and Claude was one of five children. His artistic career began as a caricaturist, but after studying formal painting for two years with Charles Gleyre and meeting Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley his career took a turn toward plein-air painting. Monet became the most adept at capturing the fleeting moment in the Impressionistic style. Monet and his wife Camille became close friends with Ernest and Alice Hoschede and following the death of first Camille and then Ernest, Claude and Alice married. As Monet gained wealth and stature he moved his combined family of eight into the house at Giverny where he was to spend the rest of his days. His construction of the famed Japanese water gardens was to be a major artistic endeavor that is still enjoyed by many today. Our family had the joy of touring his home and gardens in 2006. The garden is a virtual maze of day lilies, iris, grasses and water lilies. His work includes haystacks, Japanese water gardens and the Rouen Cathedral facade. Today I will include a favorite painting as well as memorable spot for me, the Japanese Footbridge (1899) in his beloved garden.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Today we celebrate Robert Louis Stevenson's 160th birthday, an author who has created many vivid pictures in my mind over the years! also...Happy Birthday Bertel Thorvaldsen!! Denmark born, in 1768, Bertel Thorvaldsen was a sculptor. For much of his life he lived in Rome, working in Neo-classical figures. He was the only Danish artist thus far to achieve international recognition and fame. His works are described as “calm and noble”. Thorvaldsen also created many copies of antiques that have an importance in their own right. Living in Rome at the time when Pompeii and Herculaneum were excavated, he and other artists were inspired to depict ancient mythology images such as the one below, Ganymede and the Eagle. The recounts a prince visited by Zeus in the form of an eagle, preparing to carry him off to Mount Olympus to be the cupbearer of the gods.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Auguste Rodin

Happy Birthday Auguste Rodin!!  French Impressionist sculptor, born in 1840 who is best known, perhaps for his sculpture, The Thinker. His work bridged the 19th and 20th centuries and created a new language for sculpture. In contrast to Michelangelo, whose partial figures struggled to appear from the medium, Rodin used the human body in fragmented form to explore and express a conscious aesthetic construction. Rodin combined symbolism with impressionism and allowed sculpture to take its rightful place in the art world. La Cathedrale, sculpture of two hands (the hands are of two, not one person) in prayer; reiterate Rodin’s belief that spirituality can only exist with the joining of two people in relationship, creating the ideal.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Edouard Vuillard

Happy Birthday Edouard Vuillard!! The French Post-Impressionist, born in 1868, was a close contemporary of Pierre Bonnard. The two artists came from “bourgeois” backgrounds and were reluctant to abandon that luxury. Both were enamored with intimate interiors, filled with intricate floral patterns. Vuillard’s mother was a seamstress and is the influence and subject of many of his paintings. He is said to claim he does not paint portraits, but “paints people at home”. His domestic scenes have an almost claustrophobic feel, crowded with fabrics, patterns, and detail. Woman in a Striped Dress is included here as an example.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

El Lissitzky

Happy Birthday El Lissitzky!! This Russian painter was born in 1890 and originally studied engineering. In 1916, he became part of a group of Jewish artists interested in establishing national Jewish art in Russia. After meeting Kasimir Malevich in 1919, Lissitzky switched his focus to Constructivism. The propaganda poster included in my blog today is titled Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. It is symbolic of the superior Communist Bolsheviks (sharp red wedge) defeating the Capitalist Whites (defenseless white circle). The color has meaning as well, the white a sign of defeat while red represents danger, power, and passion.

Constructivism-An abstract art movement desiring to create a new art for the new society the Communists were forming in the USSR. The idea was to use a simple vocabulary of geometric shapes familiar to all people to bring art into the lives of everyone.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stanford White

Happy Birthday Stanford White!! The Gilded Age architect born in 1853, in America, to wealthy parents, began his career as the assistant to the greatest architect of the times, Henry Hobson Richardson. After spending a year and a half in Europe, White returned to join with architects Charles Follen McKim and William Rutherford Mead to establish the firm McKim, Mead and White. Together they designed numerous buildings, many of which still stand today. Unfortunately a feud between White and Harry Kendall Thaw, involving a previous affair of White and Thaw’s wife, ended with White’s highly publicized, sensational murder at Thaw’s hand in 1906. The building pictured below is indicative of the Gilded Age, the mansion Rosecliff, while smaller, styled after the Grand Trianon, in Versailles.

Gilded Age-term referring to a period of economic growth and rise in population in late 1800’s America. It was a time of great wealth and opulence of the upper class, but also a rise in philanthropy as well, with money poured into universities, opera houses, museums, colleges, charities, etc.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Charles Demuth

Happy Birthday Charles Demuth!! The American painter, born in 1883, lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania his whole life. He worked in watercolor and oils in the Precisionist style. He studied in Paris where he met Marsden Hartley, leading to a tight group of friends including Hartley, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keefe, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Gertrude Stein, among others. He exhibited at Stieglitz’ gallery in New York City and upon his untimely death at age 51, left many of his paintings to O’Keefe. She was responsible for strategically placing them in various galleries, ultimately establishing Demuth as one of America’s most prominent artists.

Precisionism-American art movement during the 1920-30’s based on combining Cubism and Realism. Artists were concerned with industry and modernization of the landscape and created paintings in crisp, precise geometric shapes. Prominent figures of the movement include Demuth, O’Keefe, and Charles Sheeler.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Francisco de Zurbaran

Happy Birthday Francisco de Zurbaran!! Born in 1598, this Spanish painter was known primarily for his religious works. As a child he experimented with charcoal.  He studied in Seville at Juan de Las Roelas’ school where he developed his style employing fine chiaroscuro naturalism. During his career he completed many paintings for various commissions for cathedrals and monasteries.  St. Luke as a Painter Before Christ on the Cross is an unusual depiction of the Crucifixion.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Adolphe Sax

Happy Birthday Adolphe Sax!! Belgian born, Sax was a musical instrument designer who also played the clarinet and flute. His father was an instrument designer too, and renovated the French horn. Adolphe began his own designs when he was just a youngster and won awards for his flute and clarinet designs at age 15. He later went on to make changes on the bass clarinet and bugle, finally invented the saxophone and patented it in 1846.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Happy Birthday Raymond Duchamp-Villon!! French sculptor born today in 1876, Raymond Duchamp-Villon was one of six children, four of whom were artists. Marcel Duchamp is one of his brothers. He studied medicine in Paris but contracted rheumatic fever and pursued sculpture instead. Largely self-taught, he began with small statuettes, graduating to larger full sized sculptures. He and his brothers Marcel and Jacques Villon exhibited together at the Armory Show in New York, and are credited for helping establish modern art in America. Serving in World War I as a medic, Raymond succumbed to typhoid fever and died in 1916 as his career was taking off. His cubist sculpture The Horse is considered his greatest work.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guido Reni

Happy Birthday Guido Reni!! Italian Baroque painter born in 1575, Reni came from a musical family. He apprenticed at age 9 to a Bolognese studio, eventually relocating in Rome with Carracci, creating altarpieces in a famous workshop. Considered his best work, the ceiling fresco Aurora is located in Rome. It depicts Apollo commanding the chariot of the Sun with Dawn preceding him. The complementary colors of blue and orange lend a dynamic air to the majestic scene. His figures exhibit the influence of Raphael. Reni does not employ the traditional perspective normally used in ceiling frescoes to take into account viewing from below.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walker Evans

Happy Birthday Walker Evans!! The American photographer was born in 1903, in St. Louis, Missouri to a wealthy family. Evans studied French Literature before leaving school, traveled to Paris and then went on to pursue photography. He was a photographer hired by the Resettlement Administration, to document farm families of the Great Depression. His work is sensitive and insightful; his characters tug at our heartstrings.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jean Baptiste Chardin

Happy Birthday Jean Baptiste Chardin!! French painter, born in 1699, Chardin specialized in still life and genre scenes. He was born in Paris and the son of a cabinetmaker. A member of the Royal Academy, he exhibited with them for 20 years. Comprised of simple items and modest interiors, his still life and genre scenes alike concentrate on realistic, truthful visions. Lady Taking Tea is one such example; strong compositional elements in the red chest, ladder-back chair, and contrasting stripes, counter-balanced with the woman’s billowy dress and her curls echoed in the wispy steam of the soft genteel scene.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Benvenuto Cellini

Happy Birthday Benvenuto Cellini!! The Florentine goldsmith and sculptor was born in 1500. As many artists of the time, he idolized Michelangelo. He was a fine craftsman trained as a goldsmith. He left Florence under questionable circumstances for Rome, and then to France after murder allegations caused him to flee. In the then popular Mannerist style, Cellini created the Nymph of Fontainebleau, which resides in the Louvre today. A masterpiece created in the style of Michelangelo is his Perseus group, located in Rome, the head of which I am including here.