Archive for January, 2009

Better murder an infant in its cradle than nurse an unacted desire.

January 31, 2009

William Blake

The Ancient of Days 1794

 Blake, William (b. Nov. 28, 1757, London–d. Aug. 12, 1827, London)
English poet, painter, engraver; one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism.
Blake was born on Nov. 28, 1757, in London. His father ran a hosiery shop. William, the third of five children, went to school only long enough to learn to read and write, and then he worked in the shop until he was 14. When he saw the boy’s talent for drawing, Blake’s father apprenticed him to an engraver.

At 25 Blake married Catherine Boucher. He taught her to read and write and to help him in his work. They had no children. They worked together to produce an edition of Blake’s poems and drawings, called Songs of Innocence. Blake engraved both words and pictures on copper printing plates. Catherine made the printing impressions, hand-colored the pictures, and bound the books. The books sold slowly, for a few shillings each. Today a single copy is worth many thousands of dollars.

Blake’s fame as an artist and engraver rests largely on a set of 21 copperplate etchings to illustrate the Book of Job in the Old Testament. However, he did much work for which other artists and engravers got the credit. Blake was a poor businessman, and he preferred to work on subjects of his own choice rather than on those that publishers assigned him.

 Blake died on Aug. 12, 1827.

Painting is a source of endless pleasure, but also of great anguish.

January 30, 2009


The Guitar Lesson 1934

Name at birth: Balthasar Klossowski de Rola

Balthus was a French painter in the second half of the 20th century, famous for his somewhat disturbing paintings of pubescent girls and for his association with some of the greats in modern art, including Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Balthus painted figures and landscapes in a more traditional style than his cubist and surrealist contemporaries, and throughout his career was supported primarily by other artists and dealers. He claimed to be a count, but he was also known to be a prankster who fabricated biographical details while keeping his real life story a mystery. In the 1970s the exhibition of The Guitar Lesson in New York caused a controversy (the painting depicts a suggestive act between a teacher and pupil) and became his most famous work as a result. In his later years he rarely granted interviews and lived in near isolation in Switzerland with his family.

In 1932 Balthus illustrated an edition of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

I go to make art as who I am as a person. The fact that I am a woman comes into play maybe in the kinds of things I’m interested in or in the way I structure a canvas.

January 29, 2009

Judy Chicago

The Dinner Party (1974-79)
Judy Chicago is a feminist artist who has been making work since the middle 1960s. Her earliest forays into art-making coincided with the rise of Minimalism, which she eventually abandoned in favor of art she believed to have greater content and relevancy. Major works include The Dinner Party and The Holocaust Project.

You’ve got to bumble forward into the unknown.

January 28, 2009

Frank Gehry

Dancing House Prague

Frank O. Gehry is one of the greatest living architects. Born in Toronto in 1930, Gehry studied at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles until 1954 before going on in 1955 to study architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, MA. Frank O. Gehry worked as an architect and urban planner in several architecture practices before opening his own, Frank O. Gehry & Associates, in Los Angeles in 1962. Ten years later, in 1972, Frank O. Gehry began to attract attention with his “Easy Edges” line in furniture. Comprising fourteen pieces made of layered, rough-textured corrugated cardboard, it was conceived as a low-cost line. “Easy Edges” was an immediate hit but Frank O. Gehry stopped production of it after only three months because he was afraid, if he became associated with furniture design, he would no longer be taken seriously as an architect. However, worldwide acclaim in architecture soon came to Frank O. Gehry for his Deconstructivist buildings, including the Mid-Atlantic Toyota office building in Glen Burnie (1978), Loyola Law School (1981-1984), and the California Aerospace Museum (1983/84). Other important buildings in Europe by Frank O. Gehry are the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein (1989), the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (1997), and the Neue Zollhof in Düsseldorf (2000). Frank O. Gehry’s buildings mark a transitional state somewhere between Postmodernism and Deconstructivism. In 1983/84 Frank O. Gehry collaborated with the artist Claes Oldenburg on an architecture project for the Venice Biennale. By the 1980s Frank O. Gehry no longer had any qualms about furniture design. He linked up with his early corrugated cardboard furniture. The Frank O. Gehry “Experimental Edges” (1980 for Vitra) seat furniture was produced in a limited edition. These pieces should be viewed more as art than as functional seating solutions. In 1992 Vitra also reissued four models from the early “Easy Edges” series. In 1992 Frank O. Gehry designed the “Powerplay” chair series for Knoll International. Made of interwoven strips of bentwood, these pieces were shown in an exhibition mounted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York even before they were launched commercially.

It may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self-deception.

January 27, 2009

Robert Motherwell

Two Figures 1958

Robert Motherwell was born in Aberdeen, Washington and began to study painting at the Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles in 1926 when he was only 11. Family money offered him a comprehensive education: a BA in philosophy at Stanford, a pre-war tour of Europe and PhD studies in philosophy at Harvard eventually abandoned to enrol on an art history course at Columbia run by art historian Meyer Schapiro. And it was Schapiro who persuaded Motherwell to take up painting professionally. He studied painting with the Chilean Surrealist Matta in Mexico in 1941.

His first solo exhibition was in 1944 at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art Of This Century Gallery. He was the youngest of the Abstract Expressionists, and was unusual in that he produced work which was abstract from the outset, although there is a suggestion of figuration in his paintings. Despite comprising only a fraction of his output,

Motherwell’s best known work is the ‘Spanish Elegies’ collection prompted by the Spanish Civil War, an event that moved him deeply but not begun until a decade later in 1949.

In 1948 Motherwell, together with other leading exponents of Abstract Expressionism, founded the Subjects of the Artist School. His earliest paintings contained ideas prompted by his friendship with a number of expatriate Surrealists, but by the late 1940s he turned to using bold slabs of paint, often ovals or upright rectangles in a very subdued palette reminiscent of the late Matisse cutouts. This technique, making dramatic use of black and white continued for some time. It can be seen to good effect in ‘Elegy to the Spanish Republic LXX’ (1961). In 1967 he changed tack, beginning a series of Colour Field paintings called ‘Open’. They featured large areas of dense colour broken by a few spare lines, a style chosen to convey both expansiveness and simplicity.

Motherwell was highly prolific both as an artist and as a critic and lecturer. His understanding of various different styles inform a lot of his art – Surrealism within his early work and his later collages such as ‘Unglueckliche Liebe’ (‘Unhappy Love’) (1975) and Abstract Expressionism clearly evident in ‘Elegies’. However, he always retains an understanding of the world around him, conveying a sense of humanity as opposed to cold intellectualism.

All good ideas arrive by chance.

January 26, 2009

Max Ernst

The Garden Of France 1962

Max Ernst (2 April 1891 – 1 April 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of Dada movement and Surrealism.

I have come to terms with a lot of things, because, when all’s said and done, there’s really very little one can do about a lot of things. You just accept them. The point is you just have to keep on working and you just have to keep on living.

January 25, 2009

Jim Dine

Car Crash #4

A leader of the Pop Art Movement, Jim Dine first studied at the University of Cincinnati, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and the University of Ohio. His first exhibition was with fellow artist and co-collaborator, Claes Oldenburg in 1959. In the Dadaist style, Dine used mixed media and the ready-made to produce his paintings. He began experimenting with performance art in the 1950’s. His later work is a return to traditional painting techniques incorporated with collage, printing, etching, and paper-making.

The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration

January 24, 2009

Frida Kahlo

Self-Portrait with Monkey, 1938
From 1926 until her death, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo created striking, often shocking, images that reflected her turbulent life. Kahlo was one of four daughters born to a Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish and Mexican Indian descent, in the Mexico City suburb of Coyoacán.

She did not originally plan to become an artist. A polio survivor, at 15 Kahlo entered the premedical program at the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. However, this training ended three years later when Kahlo was gravely hurt in a bus accident. She spent over a year in bed, recovering from fractures of her back, collarbone, and ribs, as well as a shattered pelvis and shoulder and foot injuries. Despite more than 30 subsequent operations, Kahlo spent the rest of her life in constant pain, finally succumbing to related complications at age 47.

During her convalescence Kahlo had begun to paint with oils. Her pictures, mostly self-portraits and still lifes, were deliberately naive, filled with the bright colors and flattened forms of the Mexican folk art she loved. At 21, Kahlo fell in love with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whose approach to art and politics suited her own. Although he was 20 years her senior, they were married in 1929; this stormy, passionate relationship survived infidelities, the pressures of Rivera’s career, a divorce and remarriage, and Kahlo’s poor health. The couple traveled to the United States and France, where Kahlo met luminaries from the worlds of art and politics; she had her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City in 1938. Kahlo enjoyed considerable success during the 1940s, but her reputation soared posthumously, beginning in the 1980s with the publication of numerous books about her work by feminist art historians and others. In the last two decades an explosion of Kahlo-inspired films, plays, calendars, and jewelry has transformed the artist into a veritable cult figure.

As long as I live I will have control over my being.

January 23, 2009

Artemesia Gentileschi

Judith Decapitating Holofernes, c. 1618

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1652/1653), daughter of well-known Roman artist, Orazio Gentileschi (1563 – 1639), was one of the first women artists to achieve recognition in the male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art. In an era when female artists were limited to portrait painting and imitative poses, she was the first woman to paint major historical and religious scenarios.

You shouldn’t be a prisoner of your own ideas.

January 22, 2009

Sol Le Witt


123454321+ (1993)

Sol LeWitt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1928, and attended Syracuse University. After serving in the Korean War as a graphic artist, he moved, in 1953, to New York, where he worked as a draftsman for the architect I. M. Pei. LeWitt had his first solo exhibition at the Daniels Gallery, New York, in 1965, and the following year Dwan Gallery, New York, mounted the first in a series of solo exhibitions. He participated, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, in several significant group exhibitions of Minimalist and Conceptual art, including “Primary Structures,” at the Jewish Museum, New York, in 1966, and “When Attitude Becomes Form,” at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, in 1969. His renowned text “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” was published in 1967. LeWitt’s work was included in Documentas 6 (1977) and 7 (1982) in Kassel, as well as the 1987 Skulptur Projekte in Münster and the 1989 Istanbul Biennial. Major retrospectives of his works were organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1978, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in 2000. “Drawing Series…” a presentation of LeWitt’s early wall drawings was installed at Dia:Beacon in 2006. Sol LeWitt died on April 8, 2007 in New York City.