Archive for June, 2008

There is no must in art because art is free.

June 30, 2008

Wassily Kandinsky

 Russian painter, whose exploration of the possibilities of abstraction make him one of the most important innovators in modern art. Both as an artist and as a theorist he played a pivotal role in the development of abstract art.
Born in Moscow, December 4, 1866, Kandinsky studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany, from 1896 to 1900. His early paintings were executed in a naturalistic style, but in 1909, after a trip to Paris during which he was highly impressed by the works of the Fauves and postimpressionists, his paintings became more highly colored and loosely organized. Around 1913 he began working on paintings that came to be considered the first totally abstract works in modern art; they made no reference to objects of the physical world and derived their inspiration and titles from music.
In 1911, along with Franz Marc and other German expressionists, Kandinsky formed Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group (so called for Kandinsky’s love of blue and Marc’s love of horses). He produced both abstract and figurative works during this period, all of which were characterized by brilliant colors and complex patterns.
Kandinsky’s influence on the course of 20th-century art was further increased by his activities as a theorist and teacher. In 1912 he published Concerning the Spiritual in Art, the first theoretical treatise on abstraction, which spread his ideas through Europe. He also taught at the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts from 1918 to 1921 and at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, from 1922 to 1933.
After World War I (1914-1918), Kandinsky’s abstractions became increasingly geometric in form, as he abandoned his earlier fluid style in favor of sharply etched outlines and clear patterns. Composition VIII No. 260, for instance, is composed solely of lines, circles, arcs, and other simple geometric forms. In very late works such as Circle and Square, he refines this style into a more elegant, complex mode that resulted in beautifully balanced, jewel-like pictures.
He was one of the most influential artists of his generation. As one of the first explorers of the principles of nonrepresentational or “pure” abstraction, Kandinsky can be considered an artist who paved the way for abstract expressionism, the dominant school of painting since World War II (1939-1945). Kandinsky died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris, on December 13, 1944.

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

June 29, 2008

C.S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis, or Jack Lewis, as he preferred to be called, was born in Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland) on November 29, 1898. He was the second son of Albert Lewis, a lawyer, and Flora Hamilton Lewis. His older brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis, who was known as Warnie, had been born three years earlier in 1895.

C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis was brought up in a very strict, religious household. While he was quite young, his mother died of cancer but the “stiff upper lip” in favour at the time meant he wasn’t allowed to grieve. He became an Oxford don and led a sheltered life. He seriously questioned his religious beliefs and finally left the church. The death of his mother is reflected in “The Magician’s Nephew”. When an American fan Joy Gresham, came to visit him, they found they enjoyed each others company and she stayed. She was dying of cancer and he was afraid to express his emotions until she convinced him that it was OK to “allow” himself to love her even though it would shortly lead to heartbreak when she died. This was a great writer who dared to examine his emotions and beliefs and record them for the rest of us. Most famous for his childrens book (The Narnian Chronicles) he also wrote a very interesting Science Fiction Trilogy and some of the most intriguing Christian literature. He finally resolved his crisis of faith after tearing apart and fully examining the Christian (and other) religion and re-embraced Christianity. Mini Biography By: Steve Cook





My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings

June 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Peter Paul Rubens

Pieter Pauwel (Peter Paul) Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640) was a Flemish baroque painter.

He was born in Siegen, Westphalia, to a successful Protestant lawyer, who had fled Antwerp to escape religious persecution. After his father’s death, Rubens and his mother returned to Antwerp, where he had himself baptized a Catholic. Religion was to figure prominently in much of his later work.

In Antwerp, his mother apprenticed Rubens to some of the leading painters of the time.

In 1600, he went to Italy, where he worked as a court painter to the duke of Mantua. He studied ancient Roman art and learned by copying the works of the great Italian masters. His mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian.

Upon the death of his mother in 1608, Rubens returned to Antwerp. A year later, he married Isabella Brant, the daughter of Jan Brant, a leading Antwerp humanist. His altar pieces The Raising of the Cross (1610) and The Descent of the Cross (1611-1614) for the Cathedral of Our Lady established Rubens as Flanders’ leading religious painter.

He received numerous commissions from the French court, including a series of allegorical paintings on the life of Marie de’ Medici (now in the Louvre). He and his workshop executed many monumental religious paintings, e.g. the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral of Antwerp.

In the period between 1621 and 1630, Rubens was entrusted with a number of diplomatic missions by the Spanish Habsburg rulers. He was knighted by King Charles I of England for his diplomatic efforts to bring about a peace treaty between that country and Spain. He was also commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Banqueting House at the Palace of Whitehall.

In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, the 53-year-old painter married the 16-year-old Helen Fourment. Rubens had three children with Isabella and five with Helen; his youngest child was born eight months after his death. Helen’s charms recur in later works such as The Garden of Love, The Three Graces and The Jugdment of Paris, which he painted for the Spanish court and are now in the Prado.

Rubens died of gout, aged 63, and was interred in Saint James’ church, Antwerp, Belgium.

At a Sotheby’s auction on July 10, 2002, Rubens’ painting “The Massacre of the Innocents” was sold for £49.5million (US$76.2 million) to Lord Thomson.

Painting is an illusion, a piece of magic, so what you see is not what you see. I don’t know what a painting is; who knows what sets off even the desire to paint? It might be things, thoughts, a memory, sensations, which have nothing to do directly with painting itself. They can come from anything and anywhere.

June 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Philip Guston

American painter. He moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1919. He began to paint and draw in 1927 and attended the Otis Art Institute for three months (1930). At this stage he based his technique on a close study of the art of Giorgio de Chirico and painters of the Italian Renaissance such as Paolo Uccello, Andrea Mantegna and Piero della Francesca. He was attempting to integrate the modelled architectural space of Renaissance art with the contracted, reassembled space of Cubism, for example in paintings of sinister hooded figures reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan such as Conspirators (c. 1930; untraced, see Ashton, 1976, p. 10).

In the 1930s Guston became involved with the mural movement and the work of Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera. On his arrival in New York in 1935–6 he joined the group of artists that included Burgoyne Diller and James Brooks (ii) who worked for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Arts Project (WPA/FAP). Among the murals on which he worked are Maintaining America’s Skills (destr.; see 1982 exh. cat., p. 59) on the façade of the WPA Building at the World’s Fair of 1939, the Queensbridge Housing Project (1940) in New York and the Social Security Building (1942) in Washington, DC. The style of his mural work, particularly the organization of figures in space in the Queensbridge commission, owed much to Uccello, of whose Rout of San Romano he owned large colour reproductions. Another key influence was Picasso, whose major exhibition at MOMA in 1939 was an outstanding event for American painters. In 1940 Guston left the project and from autumn 1941 to 1945 was artist-in-residence at the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, before moving to St Louis, MO, as artist-in-residence at the School of Fine Arts, Washington University, a post that he left in 1947 when he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He continued to teach (mainly drawing) at New York University and at the Pratt Institute. He was awarded a grant from the Ford Foundation in 1959.

Like many of his contemporaries, Guston spent the years after World War II developing a personal style and vision out of the diverse range of realist and abstract influences that challenged American artists of his era. In the 1940s he constructed a private mythological world in paintings such as Martial Memory (1945; St Louis, MO, A. Mus.) and If this Be Not I (1945; St Louis, MO, Washington U., Gal. A.); in the latter a crowd of children, some masked or with faces partially covered, fill the columned porch of an old dilapidated Midwestern house. It is a night scene, predominantly blue in colour, richly and heavily painted. By 1947–8, when he painted The Tormentors (San Francisco, CA, MOMA), figures have almost disappeared, leaving behind only traces of floorboards, furniture and architecture. In the early 1950s he developed a lyrical abstract style in works such as Dial (1956; New York, Whitney), which towards the end of the decade evolved into single dark images embedded in a morass of grey paint, for example Painter I (1959; Atlanta, GA, High Mus. A.) and New Place (1964; San Francisco, CA, MOMA). His most radical shift came in the late 1960s with works such as Evidence (1970; San Francisco, CA, MOMA), when he confounded the art world with a new figurative style in which blunt cartoon shapes are used to create a personal iconography. Certain images recur in these paintings, such as the soles of shoes (as in Back View, 1977; San Francisco, CA, MOMA) and people’s heads (e.g. Painter in Bed, 1973; London, Saatchi Col.), inhabiting a sort of spare parts world in which the disembodied, separate items have a unique and surrealistic life of their own.

Christopher Brookeman
From Grove Art Online

Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing..then a work of art may happen.

June 26, 2008

Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth was born July 12, 1917 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of five children. Andrew was a sickly child and so his mother and father made the decision to pull him out of school after he contracted whooping cough. His parents home-schooled him in every subject including art education.

Newell Convers Wyeth (Andrew’s father) was a well known illustrator whose art was featured in many magazines, calendars, posters and murals. He even painted maps for the National Geographic Society.

Painting Style
Andrew had a vivid memory and fantastic imagination that led to a great fascination for art. His father recognized an obvious raw talent that had to be nurtured. While his father was teaching him the basics of traditional academic drawing Andrew began painting watercolour studies of the rocky coast and the sea in Port Clyde Maine.

He worked primarily in watercolours and egg tempera and often used shades of brown and grey. He held his first one-man show of watercolours painted around the family’s summer home at Port Clyde, Maine in 1937. It was a great success that would lead to plenty more.

He married at the age of twenty-two to a local girl named Betsey James and had two boys, Nicholas who became an art dealer, and James who became the third generation artist in his family. Interestingly, although James’ father was the most popular artist in his family history, he was greatly inspired by his grandfather’s illustrations.

He was featured on the cover of American Artist as well as many other famous magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post that displayed his painting “The Hunter.” His first solo museum exhibition was presented in 1951 at the Farnsworth Art Museum. Since then he has seen many more successes and is considered one of the most “collectable” living artist’s of our time.

Creation continues incessantly through the media of man.

June 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Antonio Gaudi

Antonio Gaudi was born in 1852 in Baix Camp, in the province of Tarragona. Antonia Cornet and Francisco Gaudi had five children, the last of which was Antonio. His family was mainly one of artisans. Antonio was the first Gaudi in over four generations to leave the family tradition of metalworking.

As a child and throughout his life, Gaudi suffered from arthritis. Because of this, Gaudi had difficulty keeping his attendance up at school. Instead, he spent much of his time walking and observing animals, plants and forms in nature. Later, Gaudi attended the Escola Pia in Reus. Here, he achieved very good grades in geometry, poetry and Greek. Also, his religious nature probably came from his schooling with the Escolapius Fathers. At this school, he came to recognize the “value of the divine history of the salvation of man through Christ incarnate, given to the world be the Virgin Mary.” Then, later in his life as he worked on the Sagrada Familia, he incorporated many of these beliefs into the architecture.

Gaudi moved to Barcelona in 1873 and began his architectural education at the Provincial School of Architecture. Although he did not have superior grades, he earned “excellent” marks in the courses of Trial drawings and Projects. His drawings in these two courses was seen as the work of an insane man or a genius. Forever after, the descriptions of “insane” and “genius” were used to describe Gaudi. In February of 1878, Antonio Gaudi finished his architectural schooling and finally attained the title of Architect.

As an architect, Antonio Gaudi was influenced by many things. He found inspiration for his work within medieval books, in gothic-style art, and from organic shapes in nature. For Gaudi these subjects contributed to the development of his own architectural style. Also, Gaudi visited and studied monuments such as Roussillon Mallorca, Montserrat, Toulouse, and the peals of the Pyrenees. His personal love and interest in music also contributed to his style. In addition, Gaudi gained further influence from the writings of an Englishman by the name of John Ruskin. Ruskin conveyed to Gaudi his belief that “ornament [is] the origin of architecture.” Furthermore, writings about architecture contributed to Gaudi’s style. Specifically, a book on medieval French architecture by Viollet-le-Duc was of great influence to Gaudi. Lastly, in order to fund his architectural education, Gaudi assisted various builders in Barcelona; his projects with these builders only amplified his education in architecture.

Antonio Gaudi’s first major project as a professional architect was worker’s housing in the Coopertiva Mataronese factory. This project was presented at the Paris World Fair in 1878 and was seen as the beginning of his fame. Thereafter, he worked with the architect Martorell on projects such as the Gilbert pharmacy in Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia. However, Gaudi took control over the building of the Sagrada Familia in 1883. He ended up spending 43 years of his life working on this project. In addition to the Sagrada Familia, a few of Gaudi’s other large projects were the Palau Guell and the Palacio de Astorga. He also began the Park Guell, which was initially built as a garden-city. Additionally, Gaudi worked on many other projects throughout Barcelona. Two of his more famous projects, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera are located on the Passeig de Gracia. Both of these projects had be introduced to Gaudi by Pere Mila, a member of the Spanish Parliament.

Before his death on June 7, 1926, Gaudi attained additional fame in 1910, when he was requested to build a New York Hotel. Gaudi received further recognition because photographs and plans of his lifetime achievements were occasionally displayed in architectural shows and exhibitions. However, most important to Antonio Gaudi was his 43 years of work on the Sagrada Familia. He continued to work on its construction until the day of his death.

Art appreciation, like love, cannot be done by proxy.

June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Robert Henri

Robert Henri.jpgRobert Henri was born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, in 1865, the son of a professional gambler and businessman. In 1881 he accompanied his family to Denver. When his father was indicted for manslaughter a year later the Cozads changed their name and fled to Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1886 Henri enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied under Thomas Anshutz, Thomas Hovenden, and James B. Kelly. In 1888 he went to Paris and enrolled at the Académie Julian under Adolphe-William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. During the summers he painted in Brittany and Barbizon, and visited Italy prior to being admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1891. He returned to Philadelphia late that year, and in 1892 resumed studying at the academy. He also began his long and influential career as an art teacher at the School of Design for Women, where he taught until 1895. During this period he met the young newspaper illustrators who would later achieve fame as members of The Eight: John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks, and Everett Shinn. He made regular trips to Paris where he was particularly influenced by Edouard Manet, Frans Hals, and Diego Velázquez. In 1899, one year after his marriage to Linda Craige, one of his paintings was purchased for the Musée National du Luxembourg.

In 1900 Henri settled in New York and taught at the New York School of Art from 1902 to 1908. He gradually began to reject the genteel traditions of academic painting and impressionism, and turned his attention to urban realist subjects executed in a bold, painterly style. In 1906 he was elected to the National Academy of Design, and that summer he taught in Spain. When the academy refused to exhibit works by Henri’s circle in its 1907 annual show, he resolved to organize an independent exhibition. The result was the famous show of The Eight held at the Macbeth Gallery in February 1908. That year he married his second wife, the illustrator Marjorie Organ. In 1910 he organized the first “Exhibition of Independent Artists,” between 1911 and 1919 he arranged jury-free exhibitions at the MacDowell Club, and in 1913 he helped the Association of American Painters and Sculptors organize the Armory Show. Henri’s influence began to wane after the ascent of European modernism, although he continued to win numerous awards. He taught at the Art Students League from 1915 until 1927.

Although Henri was an important portraitist and figure painter, he is best remembered as a progressive and influential teacher. His ideas on art were collected by former pupil Margery Ryerson and published as The Art Spirit (Philadelphia, 1923). He died in 1929 at the age of sixty-four.

Make things that carry with them the residue of where they have been.

June 23, 2008

Dennis Oppenheim

Dennis Oppenheim is an American conceptual artist, performance artist, earth artist, sculptor and photographer who was born in Electric City, Washington in 1938. In 1964, he earned his BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California and an MFA from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California in 1965. He moved to New York in 1966 where he first taught nursery school and then high school art while working toward his first one-person exhibition in New York, held in 1968 when he was 30 years old. Oppenheim’s early work tended to focus on human and animal performances. In the early 1970s, he was in the vanguard of artists using film and video in relation to performance. He was included in both the Venice Biennale and the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997. He lives and works in New York City.

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light

June 22, 2008

For Sylvia Lee….. you reap what you sow…trust me
George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the first President of the United States, (1789–1797) and led the Continental Army to victory over the Kingdom of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

Washington was chosen to be the commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces in 1775. The following year, he forced the British out of Boston, lost New York City, and crossed the Delaware River in New Jersey and defeated the surprised enemy units later that year. As a result of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured the two main British combat armies—Saratoga and Yorktown. Negotiating with Congress, the colonial states, and French allies, he held together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and failure. Following the end of the war in 1783, Washington retired to his plantation on Mount Vernon.

Unsatisfied with the Articles of Confederation, he presided over the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787. Washington became President of the United States in 1789 and established many of the customs and usages of the new government’s executive department. He sought to create a great nation capable of surviving in a world torn asunder by war between Britain and France. His unilateral Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793 provided a basis for avoiding any involvement in foreign conflicts. He supported plans to build a strong central government by funding the national debt, implementing an effective tax system, and creating a national bank. Washington avoided the temptation of war and began a decade of peace with Britain via the Jay Treaty in 1795; he used his prestige to get it ratified over intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although never officially joining the Federalist Party, he supported its programs and was its inspirational leader. Washington’s farewell address was a primer on republican virtue and a stern warning against involvement in foreign wars.

Washington is seen as a symbol of the United States and republicanism in practice. His devotion to civic virtue made him an exemplary figure among early American politicians. Washington died in 1799, and in his funeral oration, Henry Lee said that of all Americans, he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Washington has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

I will preach with my brush.

June 21, 2008

 Happy Birthday Henry Ossawa Tanner

  The son of a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Henry Ossawa Tanner was raised in an affluent, well educated African-American family. Although reluctant at first, Tanner’s parents eventually responded to their son’s unflagging desire to pursue an artistic career and encouraged his ambitions. In 1879, Tanner enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he joined Thomas Eakins’s coterie. Tanner moved to Atlanta in 1889 in an unsuccessful attempt to support himself as an artist and instructor among prosperous middle class African-Americans. Bishop and Mrs. Joseph C. Hartzell arranged for Tanner’s first solo exhibition, the proceeds from which enabled the struggling artist to move to Paris in 1891. Illness brought him back to the United States in 1893, and it was at this point in his career that Tanner turned his attention to genre subjects of his own race.
In 1893 most American artists painted African-American subjects either as grotesque caricatures or sentimental figures of rural poverty. Henry Ossawa Tanner, who sought to represent black subjects with dignity, wrote: “Many of the artists who have represented Negro life have seen only the comic, the ludicrous side of it, and have lacked sympathy with and appreciation for the warm big heart that dwells within such a rough exterior.” The banjo had become a symbol of derision, and caricatures of insipid, smiling African-Americans strumming the instrument were a cliche. In The Banjo Lesson, Tanner tackles this stereotype head on, portraying a man teaching his young protege to play the instrument – the large body of the older man lovingly envelops the boy as he patiently instructs him. If popular nineteenth-century imagery of the African-American male had divested him of authority and leadership, then Tanner in The Banjo Lesson recreated him in the role of father, mentor, and sage. The Banjo Lesson is about sharing knowledge and passing on wisdom.

The exposition-sized canvas was accepted into the Paris Salon of 1894. That year it was given by Robert Ogden of Philadelphia to Hampton Institute near Norfolk, Virginia, one of the first and most prestigious black colleges founded shortly after Emancipation. Hampton lent it the next year to Atlanta’s Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895, where it hung in the Negro Building. Contemporary critics largely ignored the work. Tanner painted another African American genre subject in 1894, The Thankful Poor, but then abandoned subjects of his own race in favor of biblical themes. When Tanner returned to Paris in 1895, he established a reputation as a salon artist and religious painter but never again painted genre subjects of African-Americans.

– From Rings: Five Passions in World Art, by J. Carter Brown