Archive for May, 2009

The only real influence I’ve ever had was myself.

May 21, 2009

Edward Hopper

Rooms by the Sea  1951

Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967) was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching. In both his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Hopper

The position of the artist if humble. He is essentially a channel.

May 20, 2009

Piet Mondrian

 

Broadway Boogie 1942/43

Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondriaan, after 1912 Mondrian,(March 7, 1872–February 1, 1944) was a Dutch painter.

He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism. This consisted of a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the use of the three primary colours.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet_Mondrian

Art to me is a humanitarian act and I believe that there is a responsibility that art should somehow be able to effect mankind, to make the word a better place.

May 19, 2009

Jeff Koons

Elephant 2003

Jeff Koons (born January 21, 1955) is an American artist well known for his giant reproductions of banal objects such as balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces, often brightly colored. Koons’ work has sold for huge amounts including at least one world record auction price for a work by a living artist. Critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some see his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as crass and based on cynical self-merchandizing. Koons himself has stated that there is no hidden meaning in his works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Koons

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.

May 18, 2009

Leonardo daVinci

 Lady with an Ermine 1483-90

 The illegitimate son of a 25-year-old notary, Ser Piero, and a peasant girl, Caterina, Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, just outside Florence. His father took custody of the little fellow shortly after his birth, while his mother married someone else and moved to a neighboring town. They kept on having kids, although not with each other, and they eventually supplied him with a total of 17 half sisters and brothers..

Growing up in his father’s Vinci home, Leonardo had access to scholarly texts owned by family and friends. He was also exposed to Vinci’s longstanding painting tradition, and when he was about 15 his father apprenticed him to the renowned workshop of Andrea del Verrochio in Florence. Even as an apprentice, Leonardo demonstrated his colossal talent. Indeed, his genius seems to have seeped into a number of pieces produced by the Verrocchio’s workshop from the period 1470 to 1475. For example, one of Leonardo’s first big breaks was to paint an angel in Verrochio’s “Baptism of Christ,” and Leonardo was so much better than his master’s that Verrochio allegedly resolved never to paint again. Leonardo stayed in the Verrocchio workshop until 1477 when he set up a shingle for himself.

In search of new challenges and the big bucks, he entered the service of the Duke of Milan in 1482, abandoning his first commission in Florence, “The Adoration of the Magi”. He spent 17 years in Milan, leaving only after Duke Ludovico Sforza’s fall from power in 1499. It was during these years that Leonardo hit his stride, reaching new heights of scientific and artistic achievement.

The Duke kept Leonardo busy painting and sculpting and designing elaborate court festivals, but he also put Leonardo to work designing weapons, buildings and machinery. From 1485 to 1490, Leonardo produced a studies on loads of subjects, including nature, flying machines, geometry, mechanics, municipal construction, canals and architecture (designing everything from churches to fortresses). His studies from this period contain designs for advanced weapons, including a tank and other war vehicles, various combat devices, and submarines. Also during this period, Leonardo produced his first anatomical studies. His Milan workshop was a veritable hive of activity, buzzing with apprentices and students.

Alas, Leonardo’s interests were so broad, and he was so often compelled by new subjects, that he usually failed to finish what he started. This lack of “stick-to-it-ness” resulted in his completing only about six works in these 17 years, including “The Last Supper” and “The Virgin on the Rocks,” and he left dozens of paintings and projects unfinished or unrealized (see “Big Horse” in sidebar). He spent most of his time studying science, either by going out into nature and observing things or by locking himself away in his workshop cutting up bodies or pondering universal truths.

Between 1490 and 1495 he developed his habit of recording his studies in meticulously illustrated notebooks. His work covered four main themes: painting, architecture, the elements of mechanics, and human anatomy. These studies and sketches were collected into various codices and manuscripts, which are now hungrily collected by museums and individuals (Bill Gates recently plunked down $30 million for the Codex Leicester!).

Back to Milan… after the invasion by the French and Ludovico Sforza’s fall from power in 1499, Leonardo was left to search for a new patron. Over the next 16 years, Leonardo worked and traveled throughout Italy for a number of employers, including the dastardly Cesare Borgia. He traveled for a year with Borgia’s army as a military engineer and even met Niccolo Machiavelli, author of “The Prince.” Leonardo also designed a bridge to span the “golden horn” in Constantinople during this period and received a commission, with the help of Machiavelli, to paint the “Battle of Anghiari.”

About 1503, Leonardo reportedly began work on the “Mona Lisa.” On July 9, 1504, he received notice of the death of his father, Ser Piero. Through the contrivances of his meddling half brothers and sisters, Leonardo was deprived of any inheritance. The death of a beloved uncle also resulted in a scuffle over inheritance, but this time Leonardo beat out his scheming siblings and wound up with use of the uncle’s land and money.

From 1513 to 1516, he worked in Rome, maintaining a workshop and undertaking a variety of projects for the Pope. He continued his studies of human anatomy and physiology, but the Pope forbade him from dissecting cadavers, which truly cramped his style.

Following the death of his patron Giuliano de’ Medici in March of 1516, he was offered the title of Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect of the King by Francis I in France. His last and perhaps most generous patron, Francis I provided Leonardo with a cushy job, including a stipend and manor house near the royal chateau at Amboise.

Although suffering from a paralysis of the right hand, Leonardo was still able to draw and teach. He produced studies for the Virgin Mary from “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne”, studies of cats, horses, dragons, St. George, anatomical studies, studies on the nature of water, drawings of the Deluge, and of various machines.

Leonardo died on May 2, 1519 in Cloux, France. Legend has it that King Francis was at his side when he died, cradling Leonardo’s head in his arms.

http://www.mos.org/leonardo/bio.html

The creation continues incessantly through the media of man.

May 17, 2009

Antonio Gaudi

 

Casa Batllo 1905-07

The son of a coppersmith, Antoni Gaudi was born in Reus, Spain in 1852. He studied at the Escola Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona and designed his first major commission for the Casa Vincens in Barcelona using a Gothic Revival style that set a precedent for his future work.

Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. With little regard for formal order, he juxtaposed unrelated systems and altered established visual order. Gaudi’s characteristically warped form of Gothic architecture drew admiration from other avant-garde artists.

Although categorized with the Art Nouveau, Gaudi created an entirely original style. He died in Barcelona in 1926.

http://www.greatbuildings.com/architects/Antonio_Gaudi.html

The goal of art was the vital expression of self.

May 16, 2009

Alfred Stieglitz

Hands and Thimble – Georgia O’Keeffe 1920

Alfred Stieglitz (January 1, 1864 – July 13, 1946) was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form. In addition to his photography, Stieglitz is known for the New York art galleries that he ran in the early part of the 20th century, where he introduced many avant-garde European artists to the U.S. He was married for most of his life to painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Stieglitz

You’ve got to bumble forward into the unknown.

May 15, 2009

Frank Gehry

Hotel Marqués 2006

Frank Owen Gehry, CC (born Ephraim Owen Goldberg, February 28, 1929) is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles.

His buildings, including his private residence, have become tourist attractions. Many museums, companies, and cities seek Gehry’s services as a badge of distinction, beyond the product he delivers.

His best-known works include the titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, Experience Music Project in Seattle, Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic and the MARTa Museum in Herford, Germany. However, it was his private residence in Santa Monica, California, which jump-started his career, lifting it from the status of “paper architecture,” a phenomenon that many famous architects have experienced in their formative decades through experimentation almost exclusively on paper before receiving their first major commission in later years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Gehry

There is no must in art because art is free.

May 14, 2009

Wassily Kandinsky

 

Fragment 2 for Composition VII 1913

Born in Moscow in 1866, Kandinsky spent his early childhood in Odessa. His parents played the piano and the zither and Kandinsky himself learned the piano and cello at an early age. The influence of music in his paintings cannot be overstated, down to the names of his paintings Improvisations, Impressions, and Compositions. In 1886, he enrolled at the University of Moscow, chose to study law and economics, and after passing his examinations, lectured at the Moscow Faculty of Law. He enjoyed success not only as a teacher but also wrote extensively on spirituality, a subject that remained of great interest and ultimately exerted substantial influence in his work. In 1895 Kandinsky attended a French Impressionist exhibition where he saw Monet’s Haystacks at Giverny. He stated, “It was from the catalog I learned this was a haystack. I was upset I had not recognized it. I also thought the painter had no right to paint in such an imprecise fashion. Dimly I was aware too that the object did not appear in the picture…” Soon thereafter, at the age of thirty, Kandinsky left Moscow and went to Munich to study life-drawing, sketching and anatomy, regarded then as basic for an artistic education.

Ironically, Kandinsky’s work moved in a direction that was of much greater abstraction than that which was pioneered by the Impressionists. It was not long before his talent surpassed the constraints of art school and he began exploring his own ideas of painting – “I applied streaks and blobs of colors onto the canvas with a palette knife and I made them sing with all the intensity I could…” Now considered to be the founder of abstract art, his work was exhibited throughout Europe from 1903 onwards, and often caused controversy among the public, the art critics, and his contemporaries. An active participant in several of the most influential and controversial art movements of the 20th century, among them the Blue Rider which he founded along with Franz Marc and the Bauhaus which also attracted Klee, Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956), and Schonberg, Kandinsky continued to further express and define his form of art, both on canvas and in his theoretical writings. His reputation became firmly established in the United State s through numerous exhbitions and his work was introduced to Solomon Guggenheim, who became one of his most enthusiastic supporters.

In 1933, Kandinsky left Germany and settled near Paris, in Neuilly. The paintings from these later years were again the subject of controversy. Though out of favor with many of the patriarchs of Paris’s artistic community, younger artists admired Kandinsky. His studio was visited regularly by Miro, Arp, Magnelli and Sophie Tauber.

Kandinsky continued painting almost until his death in June, 1944. his unrelenting quest for new forms which carried him to the very extremes of geometric abstraction have provided us with an unparalleled collection of abstract art.

 

http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/kandinsky/

I prefer to leave the paintings to speak for themselves.

May 13, 2009

Barnett Newman

 

Voice of Fire 1967

Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.

Newman was born in New York City, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He studied philosophy at the City College of New York and worked in his father’s business manufacturing clothing. From the 1930s he made paintings, said to be in an expressionist style, but eventually destroyed all these works.

In the 1940s he first worked in a surrealist mode before developing his mature style. This is characterised by areas of color separated by thin vertical lines, or “zips” as Newman called them. In the first works featuring zips, the color fields are variegated, but later the colors are pure and flat. Newman himself thought that he reached his fully mature style with the Onement series (from 1948).

The zip remained a constant feature of Newman’s work throughout his life. In some paintings of the 1950s, such as The Wild, which is eight feet tall by one and a half inches wide, the zip is all there is to the work. Newman also made a few sculptures which are essentially three-dimensional zips.

Although Newman’s paintings appear to be purely abstract, and many of them were originally untitled, the names he later gave them hinted at specific subjects being addressed, often with a Jewish theme. Two paintings from the early 1950s, for example, are called Adam and Eve (see Adam and Eve), and there is also Uriel (1954) and Abraham (1949), a very dark painting, which as well as being the name of a biblical patriach, was also the name of Newman’s father, who had died in 1947.

The Stations of the Cross series of black and white paintings (1958-64), begun shortly after Newman had recovered from a heart attack, is usually regarded as the peak of his achievement. The series is subtitled “Lema sabachthani” – “why have you forsaken me” – words spoken by Christ on the cross. Newman saw these words as having universal significance in his own time. The series has also been seen an a memorial to the victims of the holocaust.

Newman’s late works, such as the Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue series, use vibrant, pure colors, often on very large canvases – Anna’s Light (1968), named in memory of his mother who had died in 1965, is his largest work, twenty-eight feet wide by nine feet tall. Newman also worked on shaped canvases late in life, with Chartres (1969), for example, being triangular, and returned to sculpture, making a small number of sleek pieces in steel. These later works are executed in acrylic paint rather than the oil paint of earlier pieces. Of his sculptures, Broken Obelisk is the most monumental and perhaps best-known, depicting an inverted obelisk whose point balances on the apex of a pyramid.

Newman also made a series of lithographs, the 18 Cantos (1963-64) which, according to Newman, are meant to be evocotive of music. He also made a small number of etchings.

Newman is generally classified as an abstract expressionist on account of his working in New York City in the 1950s, associating with other artists of the group and developing an abstract style which owed little or nothing to European art. However, his rejection of the expressive brushwork employed by other abstract expressionists such as Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko, and his use of hard-edged areas of flat color, can be seen as a precursor to post painterly abstraction and the minimalist works of artists such as Frank Stella.

Newman was unappreciated as an artist for much of his life, being overlooked in favour of more colorful characters such as Jackson Pollock. The influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote enthusiastically about him, but it was not until the end of his life that he began to be taken really seriously. He was, however, an important influence on many younger painters.

Newman died in New York City of a heart attack in 1970.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/BarnettNewman.html

I don’t like to say I have given my life to art. I prefer to say art has given me my life.

May 12, 2009

Frank Stella

Color Maze 1966

(b Malden, MA, 12 May 1936). American painter and printmaker. In his career he was an innovator, rather than responding to the innovations of others, and he often confounded his peers. He suggested that his painting was significantly shaped by the fact that he was among the first generation of artists for whom the rightful existence of abstraction was assumed, and he steadfastly maintained that it was the only post-war idiom capable of sustaining the highest ambitions for painting.

http://www.answers.com/topic/frank-stella