Archive for November, 2008

Artists are going to be the metronome of this society.

November 20, 2008

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono Lennon (オノ・ヨーコ, Ono Yōko?, kanji: 小野 洋子), born in Tokyo on February 18, 1933, is a Japanese artist and musician. She is known for her work as an avant-garde artist and musician, and her marriage and works with musician John Lennon.

Ono was a reluctant member of Fluxus, a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists that developed in the early 1960s. Fluxus founder George Maciunas, a friend of Ono’s during the 60s, admired her work and promoted it with enthusiasm. Maciunas invited Ono to help him promote the Fluxus movement, but she declined because she did not necessarily consider Fluxus a movement and she wanted to remain an independent artist[2]. John Cage was one of the most important influences on Ono’s performance art. It was her relationship to Ichiyanagi Toshi, who was a pupil of John Cage’s legendary class of Experimental Composition at the New School, that would introduce her to the unconventional avant-garde, neo-Dadaism of John Cage and his protégés in New York City.

Almost immediately after John Cage finished teaching at the New School of Social Research in the Summer of 1960, Ono was determined to rent a place to present her works along with works of other New York avant-garde artists. She eventually found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street that she used as studio and a living space[3]. Composer La Monte Young urged Ono to let him organize concerts in the loft, and Ono acquiesced[3]. Both artists began organizing a series of events in Ono’s loft at 112 Chambers Street, and both Young and Ono claimed to have been the primary curator of these events[4], but Ono claims to have been eventually pushed into a subsidiary role by Young.[5] The Chambers Street series hosted some of Ono’s earliest conceptual artwork including Painting to Be Stepped On, which was a scrap of canvas on the floor that became a completed artwork upon the accrual of footprints. Participants faced a moral dilemma presented by Ono that a work of art no longer needed to be mounted on a wall, inaccessible, but an irregular piece of canvas as low and dirty as to have to be completed by being stepped on.

Ono was an explorer of conceptual art and performance art. An example of her performance art is “Cut Piece”, performed in 1964 at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. Cut Piece had one destructive verb as its instruction: “Cut.” Ono executed the performance in Tokyo by walking on stage and casually kneeling on the floor in a draped garment. Audience members were requested to come on stage and begin cutting until she was naked. Cut Piece was one of Ono’s many opportunities to outwardly communicate her internal suffering through her art. Ono had originally been exposed to Jean-Paul Sartre’s theories of existentialism in college, and in order to appease her own humanly suffering, Ono enlisted her viewers to complete her works of art in order to complete her identity as well. Besides a commentary on identity, Cut Piece was a commentary on the need for social unity and love. It was also a piece that touched on issues of gender and sexism as well as the greater, universal affliction of human suffering and loneliness. Ono performed this piece again in London and other venues, garnering drastically different attention dependent on the audience. In Japan, the audience was shy and cautious. In London, the audience participators became zealous to get a piece of her clothing and became violent to the point where she had to be protected by security. She did it again in 2003. An example of her conceptual art includes her book of instructions called Grapefruit. This book, first produced in 1964, includes surreal, Zen-like instructions that are to be completed in the mind of the reader, for example: “Hide and seek Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets about you. Hide until everybody dies.” The book, an example of Heuristic art, was published several times, most widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, and reprinted by them again in 2000. Many of the scenarios in the book would be enacted as performance pieces throughout Ono’s career and have formed the basis for her art exhibitions, including one highly publicized show at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York that was nearly closed by a fan riot.

Ono was also an experimental filmmaker who made sixteen films between 1964 and 1972, and gained particular renown for a 1966 film called simply No. 4, but often referred to as “Bottoms”. The film consists of a series of close-ups of human buttocks as the subject walks on a treadmill. The screen is divided into four almost equal sections by the elements of the gluteal cleft and the horizontal gluteal crease. The soundtrack consists of interviews with those who are being filmed as well as those considering joining the project. In 1996, the watch manufacturing company Swatch produced a limited edition watch that commemorates this film. (Ono also acted in an obscure exploitation film of the sixties, Satan’s Bed.)

John Lennon once described her as “the world’s most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does.”[6] Her friends and lovers in the New York art world have included Kate Millett, Nam June Paik, Dan Richter, Jonas Mekas, Merce Cunningham, Judith Malina, Erica Abeel, Fred DeAsis, Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Rollin, Shusaku Arakawa, Adrian Morris, Stefan Wolpe, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol, as well as Maciunas and Young.

In a lecture at Wesleyan University, January 1966, Ono explained the inspiration behind her conceptual art: “All of my work in fields other than music have an Event bent … event, to me, is not an assimilation of all the other arts as Happening seems to be, but an extrication from various sensory perceptions. It is not a get togetherness as most happenings are, but a dealing with oneself. Also it has no script as Happenings do, though it has something that starts it moving- the closest word for it may be a wish or hope … After unblocking one’s mind, by dispensing with visual, auditory and kinetic perception, what will come out of us? Would there be anything? I wonder. And my events are mostly spent in wonderment … The painting method derives as far back as the time of the Second World War, when we had no food to eat, and my brother and I exchanged menus in the air.”

In the past few years, Ono’s work has received recognition and acclaim. For example, Matthew Teitelbaum, director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, stated that “Yoko Ono is one of the world’s most original and inspirational visual artists.”[citation needed] Michael Kimmelman, the chief Art critic of the New York Times, wrote: “Yoko Ono’s art is a mirror—like her work ‘a Box of Smile,’ we see ourselves in our reaction to it—a tiny prod toward personal enlightenment, very Zen.”

In 2001, YES YOKO ONO, a forty-year retrospective of Ono’s work, received the prestigious International Association of Art Critics USA Award for Best Museum Show Originating in New York City. (This award is considered one of the highest accolades in the museum profession.) In 2002 Ono was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted media. And in 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Japan Society of New York.

Ono received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University in 2001; in 2002 she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Bard College. Scott MacDonald, visiting professor of film at Bard, said: “She is to be congratulated for the body of work she has made, and celebrated for what she has come to represent, within media history and throughout the world: courage, resilience, persistence, independence, and above all, imagination, and a belief that peace and love remain the way toward a brighter, ever-more-diverse human future.”

Colors in painting are as allurements for persuading the eyes, as the sweetness of meter is in poetry.

November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Nicholas Poussin

Nicolas Poussin, the greatest French artist of the 17th century, is considered one of the founders of European classicism, a movement in art, based on antique and Renaissance heritage.
Poussin was born in Normandy, in Les-Andelys, in 1594. The son of an impoverished family, Poussin received some early professional training at home. In 1612, Poussin left for Paris, where he entered the workshop of the mannerist painter J. Lallemald. The training was reinforced by independent study of, mainly, Italian art in the Royal Collections. By the end of the 1610s Poussin became an authoritative master, the evidence of this are his commissions for the decoration of the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, and the big altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin. Unfortunately from the works of the first Paris period (1612-23) only drawings based on Ovid’s Metamorphosis survived.
In 1623, the artist came to Italy, first to Venice, where he enriched his French training with the sensuous splendor of Venetian painting. And in 1624, he came to Rome, where he stayed all his life, except for his trip to Paris in 1640-42. Poussin’s new friends in Rome were mainly classical scholars, who played the main role in turning Poussin into a philosopher, erudite and intellectual. The 1620s in Italy were years of intensive learning for Poussin, and active creative work. Within four years he achieved a young painter’s highest aim, he was commissioned to paint an altarpiece for a chapel in St. Peter’s Cathedral Martyrdom of St. Erasmus (1628-29). At that period he acquired the dynamic style already dominant in Europe, the style that we now know as Baroque. It was at this time that he produced the most baroque of all his pictures, the altarpiece The Virgin of the Pillar Appearing to St. James the Greater, which was ordered for a church in the Spanish Netherlands. Eventually this work reached not the town of Valenciennes but the collection of Cardinal Richelieu and finally came to Louis XIII and to the Louvre. Poussin was evidently frustrated and disappointed by his lack of success in the intensely competitive field of baroque altarpiece painting. He never attempted this style again.
After a short crisis he chose the more restrained and intellectual direction of development, which appealed to the learned tastes of his Roman friends. In 1629, Poussin married his landlord’s daughter. The first Roman period (1624-30) on the whole is characterized by mythological themes, with sweet love, poetical inspiration, carefree happiness in harmony with nature.
In the next decade history became the main subject of Poussin’s work. The artist is attracted by situations, in which the moral qualities of people reveal themselves. In pictures of the 1630s the compositions are complex and compound with many characters, they remind of the classical tragedy on stage. Poussin used a special box and wax figures: first he built his compositions, then started to draw preliminary sketches, and only then painted. The best-known works of the period are – The Rescue of Pyrrhus (1634), The Noble Deed of Scipio (1640). Very popular in his time were the so-called bacchanal series, commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu. One of them, which survived, is Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite (1634). Those paintings were supposed to decorate the cardinal’s palace, and this fact indicates that the interest to Poussin in France grew. In the second half of the 1630s the young artists in Paris chose to follow Poussin’s style in historical genre. The King’s officials wanted to return the artist to France. Poussin did not hurry back. He came to France only in 1840, after they had passed him the King’s threat. In Paris Poussin was immediately appointed the person in charge of all art works in the King’s palaces. This caused violent jealousy on the part of other court artists; Vouet headed the opposition.
For about two years Poussin painted altarpieces, canvases for Richelieu and supervised the decorative works in the Big Gallery in Louvre. Surrounded by hatred and jealousy, Poussin did not finish the work and fled to Rome. His artistic and moral ideals stood in conflict with those of the monarch.
In the late Roman period (1642-65) Poussin continued to work mainly in historical genre. The most important work of that period is the series Seasons (1660-64).
Poussin’s work influenced the further development of European painting. His authoritative interpretations of ancient history and Greek and Roman mythology left their mark on European art down to the 19th century.

An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose

November 18, 2008

Langston Hughes

Born in Joplin, Missouri, James Langston Hughes was a member of an abolitionist family. He was the great-great-grandson of Charles Henry Langston, brother of John Mercer Langston, who was the first Black American to be elected to public office, in 1855. Hughes attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio, but began writing poetry in the eighth grade, and was selected as Class Poet. His father didn’t think he would be able to make a living at writing, and encouraged him to pursue a more practical career. He paid his son’s tuition to Columbia University on the grounds he study engineering. After a short time, Langston dropped out of the program with a B+ average; all the while he continued writing poetry. His first published poem was also one of his most famous, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, and it appeared in Brownie’s Book. Later, his poems, short plays, essays and short stories appeared in the NAACP publication Crisis Magazine and in Opportunity Magazine and other publications.


One of Hughes’ finest essays appeared in the Nation in 1926, entitled “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”. It spoke of Black writers and poets, “who would surrender racial pride in the name of a false integration,” where a talented Black writer would prefer to be considered a poet, not a Black poet, which to Hughes meant he subconsciously wanted to write like a white poet. Hughes argued, “no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.” He wrote in this essay, “We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren’t, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too… If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how and we stand on the top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

In 1923, Hughes traveled abroad on a freighter to the Senegal, Nigeria, the Cameroons, Belgium Congo, Angola, and Guinea in Africa, and later to Italy and France, Russia and Spain. One of his favorite pastimes whether abroad or in Washington, D.C. or Harlem, New York was sitting in the clubs listening to blues, jazz and writing poetry. Through these experiences a new rhythm emerged in his writing, and a series of poems such as “The Weary Blues” were penned. He returned to Harlem, in 1924, the period known as the Harlem Renaissance. During this period, his work was frequently published and his writing flourished. In 1925 he moved to Washington, D.C., still spending more time in blues and jazz clubs. He said, “I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street…(these songs) had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going.” At this same time, Hughes accepted a job with Dr. Carter G. Woodson, editor of the Journal of Negro Life and History and founder of Black History Week in 1926. He returned to his beloved Harlem later that year.

Langston Hughes received a scholarship to Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania, where he received his B.A. degree in 1929. In 1943, he was awarded an honorary Lit.D by his alma mater; a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935 and a Rosenwald Fellowship in 1940. Based on a conversation with a man he knew in a Harlem bar, he created a character know as My Simple Minded Friend in a series of essays in the form of a dialogue. In 1950, he named this lovable character Jess B. Simple, and authored a series of books on him.

Langston Hughes was a prolific writer. In the forty-odd years between his first book in 1926 and his death in 1967, he devoted his life to writing and lecturing. He wrote sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of “editorial” and “documentary” fiction, twenty plays, children’s poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts and dozens of magazine articles. In addition, he edited seven anthologies. The long and distinguished list of Hughes’ works includes: Not Without Laughter (1930); The Big Sea (1940); I Wonder As I Wander” (1956), his autobiographies. His collections of poetry include: The Weary Blues (1926); The Negro Mother and other Dramatic Recitations (1931); The Dream Keeper (1932); Shakespeare In Harlem (1942); Fields of Wonder (1947); One Way Ticket (1947); The First Book of Jazz (1955); Tambourines To Glory (1958); and Selected Poems (1959); The Best of Simple (1961). He edited several anthologies in an attempt to popularize black authors and their works. Some of these are: An African Treasury (1960); Poems from Black Africa (1963); New Negro Poets: USA (1964) and The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers (1967).

Published posthumously were: Five Plays By Langston Hughes (1968); The Panther and The Lash: Poems of Our Times (1969) and Good Morning Revolution: Uncollected Writings of Social Protest (1973); The Sweet Flypaper of Life with Roy DeCarava (1984).

Langston Hughes died of cancer on May 22, 1967. His residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission. His block of East 127th Street was renamed “Langston Hughes Place” .

Appreciate the moment.

November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi (pronounced as: sämoo nogooch)
was a sculptor, designer, architect, and craftsman.
he believed that through sculpture and architecture,
one could better understand the struggle with nature.

isamu noguchi was born in los angeles in 1904
to an irish-american teacher and editor,
and a japanese poet.
isamu noguchi was raised in japan until, at 13,
he was sent to the us to study.
after winning one of the first guggenheim fellowships
in 1927, noguchi travelled to paris where he worked
for six months as a studio assistant to the sculptor,
constantin brancusi.

returning to new york in 1932, he made his name as
a sculptor and portrait artist, as well as winning
commissions for memorials, monuments and
industrial designs.
with his long-time friend, the visionary engineer
buckminster fuller, he constructed models,
planned outdoor projects, and investigated the ways
in which people live and thrive in their environments.

his inventive work embraced alsosettings for the
martha graham dance company.

he is best known for his abstract sculptures designed
as adjuncts to architecture.
an example of his environmental work is his massive
red cube designed for the marine midland bank
building, new york city.

as a landscape architect, noguchi created a large
number of playgrounds, parks and gardens.
in the 1950s, he designed gardens for keio university
in tokyo, lever house in new york and unesco’s
headquarters in paris.
his 1960s projects include a sculpture garden for the
national museum in jerusalem and gardens surrounding
the connecticut general life insurance building designed
by skidmore, owings and merrill.
his entrance for the new museum of modern art,
tokyo, was completed in 1969.

during the 1980s, noguchi realized more public projects
and created his own museum in long island, new york,
where his large and varied collection of work is
exhibited today.
noguchi died in new york city in 1988.

the isamu noguchi foundation, inc. is dedicated to
maintaining and promoting the artistic legacy of
sculptor noguchi. the foundation operates the isamu
noguchi garden museum;
manages an extensive collection of noguchi sculpture,
models, furniture and drawings;
maintains records of the work of isamu noguchi
and an archive of correspondence, manuscripts and
photographs; organizes exhibitions of the work of
isamu noguchi; loans noguchi works to museums
and special exhibitions; monitors the condition of
noguchi’s works worldwide; encourages research and
publication on the life and work of isamu noguchi;
and manages the production and sale of noguchi’s
akari light sculptures.

The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.

November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Paul Strand

b. 1890 New York City, d. 1976 Orgival, France

Paul Strand began photographing in New York in the 1910s. During the early 1920s he received recognition for both his painting and his photography. He visited New Mexico in 1926 and, beginning in 1930, returned for three consecutive summers, making portraits of artist friends and acquaintances. It was there, amidst a community of visual artists and writers, that Strand began to develop his belief in the humanistic value of portraiture.

Strand subsequently traveled to Mexico, where he photographed the landscape, architecture, folk art, and people and in 1934 produced a film about fishermen for the Mexican government. Thirteen years earlier he had collaborated with Charles Sheeler on a film, Manhatta, a study of the urban high-rise environment. Having returned to New York late in 1934, Strand devoted his energies to theater and filmmaking cooperatives.

In 1943 Strand resumed his still photography, focusing on the people and surroundings of New England. In the early 1950s he moved to Europe, spending six weeks in the northern Italian agrarian community of Luzzara and later traveling to the Outer Hebrides, islands off the northwest coast of Scotland. He traveled and photographed in North and West Africa in the 1960s.

To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.

November 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe, one of America’s most admired modern painters, was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. At the age of seventeen, she entered the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but because of illness did not return the following year. In 1907 she moved to New York to study at the Art Students League, then in 1908 returned to Chicago, where she worked until 1910 as a freelance commercial artist with two fashion houses. After teaching briefly, she spent the summer of 1912 at the University of Virginia, studying under Alon Bement, who taught principles of composition and introduced her to the theories of Arthur Wesley Dow. After two years of teaching in Amarillo, Texas, she entered Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York City, to study directly under Dow for a year. Dow’s theories reflected the aesthetics of Japanese art as well as the principles of the arts and crafts movement, championed by William Morris. Dow’s manual, Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Students and Teachers, provided a framework for O’Keeffe’s style, particularly her simplification and isolation of forms within her compositions and her use of bold colors to express the essence of her subjects. This approach endured throughout her career.
In January 1916, while teaching at Columbia College, South Carolina, a friend, Anita Pollitzer, brought O’Keeffe’s abstract charcoal drawings to the attention of the photographer and impresario Alfred Stieglitz, who exhibited them in the late spring in New York at his Gallery 291. In the meantime, O’Keeffe had accepted a teaching position in West Texas, but by June 1918, she had joined Stieglitz in New York. They married in 1924.

Though O’Keeffe tended to veil her artistic sources, the cropping of her compositions reflects the influence of photography. Her monolithic, magnified forms are often associated with Stieglitz’s work and also that of the photographer Paul Strand, whose closely focused subjects were known by O’Keeffe from exhibitions at Gallery 291.

O’Keeffe began to travel to the American Southwest in 1929, and eventually established a home in New Mexico. In 1934 the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased its first O’Keeffe painting, and many major exhibitions and honorary degrees from colleges and universities soon followed. After Stieglitz’s death in 1946, O’Keeffe moved permanently to New Mexico. O’Keeffe painted and traveled extensively until her death in 1986.

In A Collection in the Making, Duncan Phillips wrote that “O’Keeffe is a technician of compelling fascination“ and that she “burns with a hard gem-like flame. She can be feminine and dainty, or she can be formal and austere. This makes her daring moments of flaming color and introspection all the more breathtaking.”



Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.

November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Claude Monet

Monet, Claude (b. Nov. 14, 1840, Paris, Fr.–d. Dec. 5, 1926, Giverny)
French painter, initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. He is regarded as the archetypal Impressionist in that his devotion to the ideals of the movement was unwavering throughout his long career, and it is fitting that one of his pictures–Impression: Sunrise (Musée Marmottan, Paris; 1872)–gave the group his name.

His youth was spent in Le Havre, where he first excelled as a caricaturist but was then converted to landscape painting by his early mentor Boudin, from whom he derived his firm predilection for painting out of doors. In 1859 he studied in Paris at the Atelier Suisse and formed a friendship with Pissarro. After two years’ military service in Algiers, he returned to Le Havre and met Jongkind, to whom he said he owed `the definitive education of my eye’. He then, in 1862, entered the studio of Gleyre in Paris and there met Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille, with whom he was to form the nucleus of the Impressionist group. Monet’s devotion to painting out of doors is illustrated by the famous story concerning one of his most ambitious early works, Women in the Garden (Musée d’Orsay, Paris; 1866-67). The picture is about 2.5 meters high and to enable him to paint all of it outside he had a trench dug in the garden so that the canvas could be raised or lowered by pulleys to the height he required. Courbet visited him when he was working on it and said Monet would not paint even the leaves in the background unless the lighting conditions were exactly right.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) he took refuge in England with Pissarro: he studied the work of Constable and Turner, painted the Thames and London parks, and met the dealer Durand-Ruel, who was to become one of the great champions of the Impressionists. From 1871 to 1878 Monet lived at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris, and here were painted some of the most joyous and famous works of the Impressionist movement, not only by Monet, but by his visitors Manet, Renoir and Sisley. In 1878 he moved to Vétheuil and in 1883 he settled at Giverny, also on the Seine, but about 40 miles from Paris. After having experienced extreme poverty, Monet began to prosper. By 1890 he was successful enough to buy the house at Giverny he had previously rented and in 1892 he married his mistress, with whom he had begun an affair in 1876, three years before the death of his first wife. From 1890 he concentrated on series of pictures in which he painted the same subject at different times of the day in different lights—Haystacks or Grainstacks (1890-91) and Rouen Cathedral (1891-95) are the best known. He continued to travel widely, visiting London and Venice several times (and also Norway as a guest of Queen Christiana), but increasingly his attention was focused on the celebrated water-garden he created at Giverny, which served as the theme for the series of paintings on Water-lilies that began in 1899 and grew to dominate his work completely (in 1914 he had a special studio built in the grounds of his house so he could work on the huge canvases).

In his final years he was troubled by failing eyesight, but he painted until the end. He was enormously prolific and many major galleries have examples of his work.

Art means something very rare, an extraordinary achievement.

November 13, 2008

Wayne Thiebaud

Born in Mesa, Arizona in 1920, Wayne Thiebaud started his career as a commercial artist. From 1938 to 1949, he worked as a sign painter, an illustrator, a cartoonist, a publicity manager and as an artist for Hollywood film studios. Thiebaud joined the Air Force in 1942, and spent two years there painting murals for the army. It is not difficult to detect the influence that this commercial experience had on his later paintings attributed to Pop Art; Thiebaud’s characteristic work displays consumer objects such as pies and cakes as they are seen in drug store windows. Executed during the fifties and sixties, these works slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists, suggesting that Thiebaud may have had a great influence on the movement.

From 1949 to 1950, Thiebaud studied at the San Jose State University and from 1950 to 1953 at the California State University in Sacramento. He had his first solo exhibition at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento, and between the years of 1954 and 1957, he produced eleven educational films for which he was awarded the Scholastic Art Prize in 1961. Thiebaud lectured at the Art Department of the Sacramento City College until 1959, when he became a professor at the University of California in Davis.

Wayne Thiebaud has been associated with Pop Art, but has also been seen, due to his true to life representations, as a predecessor of photorealism. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included. Objects are simplified into basic units but appear varied using seemingly minimal means; one influence on Thiebaud’s still life paintings may be Giorgio Morandi, whose contemplative, palpable and delicate works share many characteristics with those of Thiebaud. Today, Wayne Thiebaud lives and works in California.

The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.

November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin is considered to be one of the greatest and most prolific sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries. His artworks were so innovative and non-conventional that Parisian art critics had initially denounced them. Despite these rejections, Rodin’s works were well received outside of France and eventually won the recognition of his countrymen.

Born in Paris on November 12, 1840, Rodin expressed interests in art at an early age. When he was 14, he attended “la Petite Ecole”, a school for drawing and mathematics. However, devastated by the death of his beloved sister, Rodin turned towards religion and joined the Order of the Holy Sacrament in 1862. It was during this time that Rodin sculpted the bust of Father Piere-Julien Eynard. Realizing that religion was not his calling, he returned to Paris in 1963.

After a brief employment as a corporal in the French National Guard, Rodin traveled to Belgium and Italy, where he studied Michelangelo’s works. Rodin was greatly impressed and influenced by the Italian sculptor’s portrayal of muscles and human body. Contrary to artistic tradition of his time, Rodin believed that sculptures should reflect the subjects as they truly are, and not as the ideal that they should be.

In 1877, Rodin exhibited his nude masterpiece L’Age d’Airin (The Age of Bronze) in Brussels and Paris. Unfortunately, this realistic work of art was not well received. Critics accused Rodin of casting the statue directly from living models, instead of sculpting it. In time, Rodin’s true genius was recognized and the French government purchased The Age of Bronze as the first of many state acquisitions of his artworks.
The French government commissioned Rodin in 1880 to sculpt the entrance of the planned Museum of Decorative Arts. This project, called La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell), was inspired by The Inferno, the first chapter of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The museum site was later moved from the bank of Seine to Louvre, and Rodin’s commission was then canceled. Despite the setback, Rodin continued to work on this project and created one hundred and eighty-six figures. These statues represented mainly scenes and characters from the famous poem. Some of them, such as The Thinker (a portrayal of Dante himself), Adam and Eve, are among Rodin’s most famous artworks. The Kiss was originally part of The Gates of Hell until Rodin realized that the sculpture’s joyful nature conflicted with the theme of The Gates of Hell. Unfortunately, Rodin never finished the project and the statues were cast in bronze only after his death.

Rodin’s most controversial artwork, The Nude Balzac, was created under commission in 1891. This sculpture of the famous French writer drew criticisms and hateful comments from French papers for the next 10 years. Eventually, the commission was given to another sculptor and the resulting statue was installed at the Avenue Friedland in 1902. Rodin refused to sell his Nude Balzac despite numerous offers. It was not until years after his death that the sculpture was placed at the intersection of Boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse and viewed as the masterpiece that it truly is.

By early 20th century, Rodin had become so well know that the Paris World Exposition gave him his own pavilion. Rodin displayed 170 sculptures at the 1900 Exposition. Major museums and collectors from around the world sought after his artworks and brought him both fame and fortune.

In 1908 Rodin moved his studio to the ground floor of the Biron Hotel, which was established as the official Rodin Museum in 1919. Rodin died in the Hotel on November 17, 1917 at the age of 77.

I do not belong to any school, I simply want to do something that is personal to my self.

November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Edouard Vuillard

Edouard Vuillard was born in Cuiseax at the foot of the Jura Mountains. He lived most of his artistic life in Paris on the Square Vintimille, in a small apartment tended by his mother who had been a dressmaker. A student at the Académie Julian between 1888 and 1890, Vuillard was an early member of the Nabis. At the urging of Sérusier, their link with Gauguin, the group left the Académie. Vuillard shared a studio with Bonnard and Lugné-Poë, whose theater Vuillard helped decorate. It was as a theatrical designer that he learned to work in distemper (tempera paint mixed with sizing), a manner he applied for a considerable period to his own works, done on gray cardboard. Vuillard’s very early works show an affinity with those of Corot and Chardin, but in 1890 he began to work in an almost Fauve-like palette that reveals the influence of Gauguin and Japanese prints. He soon abandoned this brilliant color to work in a quiet, softly colored style. Between 1893 and 1914, Vuillard painted small interiors, portraits of his friends, decorations for theaters, and a set of paintings (Paris Gardens) for Thadée Natanson, publisher of La Revue Blanche, the publication to which both Vuillard and Bonnard contributed lithographs. From 1914 until his death, he devoted himself entirely to the subtly harmonious, decorative, and nostalgic domestic scenes of the Intimist style with which his name is most closely associated. His paintings have a special personal quality that stems from his love of order and his feeling for the peace of quiet domesticity, for he play of light within small areas, and for he interplay of patterns, objects, walls, and people who blend together in soft nuances of warm, subdued color. Vuillard presents a world in which no outside disturbance penetrates the peaceful continuity of an interior life, a world that vanished almost precisely at the moment of his death. Vuillard died just after the outbreak of World War II, at La Baule, near St. Nazaire on the Atlantic coast.