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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ignacio Merino


Reading Don Quixote
1861
oil on canvas
130.5 x 162.0 cm    
Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Ignacio Merino Munoz (1817-1876) was a Peruvian painter who spent much of his life in Paris. He specialized in historical works and costumbrista.

His father was a judge, district administrator and military commander. His mother was from an aristocratic family. At the age of ten, he was sent to study in Paris, where he earned his Bachelor's degree and became interested in art. He tended to focus on history painting themes from European history.

Back in Peru, he became Director of the Academy of Drawing and Painting, where he influenced the careers of other prominent painters. During the 1840s, he created a series of portraits devoted to Peruvian saints. In 1850, he had an opportunity to study with Eugene Delacroix, and returned to Paris. He remained there for the rest of his life. He was later inspired by European literature and created works based on the writings of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott and Cervantes. He died in 1876 and he left his estate to the City of Lima. This included 33 paintings.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Francisco Laso


The Three Races or Equality before the Law
c.1859
oil on canvas
81 x 105 cm
Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Jose Francisco Domingo Laso de la Vega y de los Rios (1823-1869) was a Peruvian painter and politician. During his lifetime he was mostly known for his portraits, but is now better known for creating works that were precursors to indigenismo in art.

He was born to an aristocratic colonial family. His father was one of Peru's founding fathers and, later, a government Minister. His mother was the sister of the "Marquis de Villahermosa de San Jose". He attended the public schools, then went to Lima to study law, but quit after only a short time and enrolled at the "Academy of Drawing and Painting".

He went to Paris in 1842 to study painting. On visits to Rome and Venice he was influenced by Titian and Veronese. In 1847 he returned to Peru and traveled throughout the countryside, sketching Indians. During a second trip to Europe he studied with a genre painter in Paris. Shortly after his return, he was a participant in the Battle of Callao, where he served as a firefighter.

An epidemic of yellow fever struck Lima in 1868, and he worked closely with the Red Cross in their campaign to eradicate it. His health was not up to the effort, however, and he caught the disease in 1869. He died near the village of San Mateo while being transferred to a mountain resort for treatment.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jose Gil de Castro


Mariano Alejo Alvarez y su hijo (Mariano Alejo Alvarez and his son)
c.1834
oil on canvas
221 x 151 cm
Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Jose Gil de Castro y Morales (1785- c.1840/41),  familiarly known as El Mulato Gil, was an Afro-Peruvian portrait painter, cartographer and soldier who spent many years in Chile. He rendered the heroes of Peruvian independence in a precise but boldly flattened and brightly coloured documentary style with little emotional expression.

In 1816, he was appointed Grand Master of the Guild of Painters. That same year, he enlisted in the Army of the Andes and was appointed an officer in the Corps of Engineers. He was placed in charge of making maps, a trade he had practiced earlier in Peru. Thanks to his reputation as a portrait painter, he travelled extensively throughout Chile and Argentina, working on commissions from notable public figures. A distinguishing characteristic of his work is the text relating to his subject, placed on a banner, plaque or other device, that he included on many of his canvases. In 1820, he became a cartographer for the new Chilean government, but returned to Peru, and was appointed an official government painter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Master of Calamarca


Angel Holding a Firearm (Angel Letiel Dei)
angel armed with an arquebus, a motif that arose in the Viceroyalty of Peru (which includes modern-day Bolivia, where Calamarca lies) in the second half of 17th century.
other details unknown

Master of Calamarca (approximately 1680-around 1750) was the unnamed Bolivian baroque painter who created two series of angels painted on the walls of a catholic church in Calamarca, Bolivia in the Department of La Paz. Exact identity of the artist is unknown.

The Calamarca church contains two sets of angels, most likely created by the same person. The first contains militant Angel arcabuceros wielding firearms, with each angel's name written clearly at the bottom. The second set depicts androgynous angels wearing billowing capes, elaborate short European-style female dresses and Roman military boots. They are unsigned, but each is carrying an object uniquely identifying the subject as one of Archangels of Palermo. According to a tradition stemming from medieval Palermo, these were seven archangels, venerated in Spain, although only three were recognized by the Church.

(summary from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma


Fez boy
1890
oil on canvas
28 x 20 cm
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile

Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma (1856-1909) was a Chilean painter, painting nudes pioneer in country. He is considered one of the great pioneers of contemporary Chilean painting. He starred in a troubled life due to his controversial personality and artist noted mainly in the genres of portraiture and the nude, which cultivated under the stylistic criteria fully classics.

During his youth, he combined career in medicine with his artistic vocation, until he finally decided to devote itself to the latter, although in a sense, his nudes have some anatomical study. Trained at the Academy of fine arts of Santiago, in 1881 he moved to Europe on a scholarship to complete studies in Paris, then the world centre of art. After a two year stay in Chile, in 1887 he returned to Paris, where he was already an appreciated artist, then traveled to Spain, and in 1890 he returned to his native country.

He is described by contemporary historians as a misunderstood artist temperamental character, anticlerical tendencies and politically contentious, what in life earned him many problems.
Its recognition as an artist came only in the old continent Chile since his most famous works were criticized by the more conservative members of society as well as the church and women's groups.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alberto Valenzuela Llanos


Paisaje con Manzanillas (Manzanillas en flor)
year unknown
oil on canvas
80 x 200 cm   
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Chile

Alberto Valenzuela Llanos (1869-1925), born in the city of San Fernando, Chile, was one of Chile's greatest painters and one of the four Great Chilean Masters, along with Pedro Lira, Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma and Juan Francisco Gonzalez. He was a landscape painter and left an estimated 1,000 paintings.

He was the son of a formerly wealthy family in decline. In his youth, he was always interested in nature and enjoyed strolling through the grounds and admiring the countryside. He often made sketches of trees and colours and was known as respectable young gentleman.

As the financial situation of his family got steadily worse, he decided to work in the local textile store. At the age of 17, he started drawing lilies on a piece of fabric. The textile store owner saw the drawings and, annoyed but impressed, showed the ruined fabric to the boy's father. His father was amazed at Alberto’s talent and decided that the boy was born to be an artist.

He produced textured, subtle and simple landscapes using pinks and greens. His paintings of the spring are a faithful record of the morning light. The size of his canvases is particularly notable and is well above the average for the period. Experience of financial difficulties taught him to produce many paintings in a short time, so his work ended up being widely distributed around Chile.

In 1891, he won an award at an exhibition in the United States and the Chilean government gave him a scholarship to study in Paris in exchange for some years of teaching. There, he learned about impressionism and expressionism and had an extremely productive period, producing many paintings of Paris at dawn. Finally, in 1906, he returned home to Chile. After that he was hired as professor of painting at the School of Fine Arts, where he taught for a couple of years.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thomas Somerscales


Naval Combat at Iquique
oil on canvas
details unknown

Thomas Jacques Somerscales (1842-1927) was an English marine painter, but he is also considered a Chilean painter as he began his career there and many of his landscapes evoke the region.

He had no formal training as an artist and originally became a teacher in the Royal Navy. He also traveled around the Pacific and while teaching in Valparaiso he started working as a professional painter. 

Influenced early on by the beauty of J.M.W. Turner’s compositions, Somerscales’ work possesses his accurate sense for the world’s creative nature, and the deep strength of its challenging oceans. Once acclimated, he excelled as a local and national artist of the rising South American nation. His climb started with awards in an 1872 international exposition in Santiago.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Antonio Smith


River Cachapoal
1870
oil on canvas
146 x 100 cm
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile

Miguel Antonio Smith Irisarri, better known as Antonio Smith (1832-1877) was a Chilean landscape painter, engraver, caricaturist and art teacher. His father was a native of Scotland and served as the consul in Santiago.

His family wanted him to be a lawyer. In 1849, his family allowed him to study at the new "Academia de Pintura" founded by President Manuel Bulnes. The school tried to instill the Academic style in its students, though he wanted to paint landscapes instead of mythological subjects. So, in 1851, he left the school to paint on his own. A year later, unsuccessful, he enlisted in a squadron of mounted grenadiers. He was stationed in Chillan, and abandoned his military career at the end of his five-year enlistment. On his return to Santiago, he became an employee of a savings bank. After only a year, he quit and became an illustrator for the political daily El Correo Literario, which was critical of the Conservative Republic. He created a huge number of portrait caricatures of notable people.

The failure of the Revolution of 1859 forced him to emigrate. He decided to go to France and, after a short time, became reasonably successful. However, the Bohemian lifestyle he had adopted caused him to squander his money, so he had to go to the United States to seek financial assistance from his grandfather, who at that time was a diplomat in New York. He then went to Italy, where he spent a year working with a landscape painter. After that, he decided to return to Chile, despite the dangers involved in sea travel during the Chincha Islands War. In 1866, following a difficult six-month voyage, he landed at San Antonio and joined a group of firefighters from Santiago, although he did not remain with them for long.

Serious cultural reforms were sweeping the country, but he was amazed to see how little had changed at the Academy. So he established his own teaching workshop, later on sharing students with the Academy. Some of his best-known students include Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma, Pedro Lira, Alberto Orrego Luco, Onofre Jarpa and Cosme San Martin.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Roberto Matta


Three Figures
c.1958
oil on burlap
139.7 x 188 cm
M.T. Abraham Foundation, Paris, France
Fair use

Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren (1911-2002), better known as Roberto Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art.

He was of Spanish, Basque and French descent. Born in Santiago, Chile, he completed an architecture degree at the Catholic University in Santiago (1931) and moved to Paris in 1933 to work for the influential architect and city planner Le Corbusier. While working in the architect’s studio, he became increasingly interested in painting. Further, his friendships with the avant-garde artists such as Gertrude Stein, Marcel Duchamp, Walter Gropius, Salvador Dali, Federico Garcia Lorca, Andre Breton, and others stimulated his interest in the Surrealist movement, and by 1936 he had abandoned architecture as a career. He produced illustrations and articles for Surrealist journals such as Minotaure.

His stylistic development was rapid. By the time he moved to New York City at age 28, he had created a distinctive and visionary vocabulary of biomorphic forms swirling about an eerie and angst-ridden setting. His multidimensional imaginary world was fraught with violent conflict and agitated movement; throughout his life he combined the Surrealists’ interest in psychic automatism with a predilection for vaguely figural elements caught in states of flux and crisis. In later years, political activism occupied much of his energies.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Alberto Orrego Luco


Sunset in Venice (Atardecer en Venecia)
oil on canvas
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Chile
other detail unknown

Alberto Orrego Luco (1854-1931) was a Chilean Impressionist landscape painter and diplomat. He was born to a family of wealthy farmers. His younger brother also became a diplomat and was a popular novelist, among other achievements. In 1873, with the support of his mother, he went to Europe. Originally, it was intended that he would study medicine at the Sorbonne, but he chose to pursue painting instead. His work was recognized by the Chilean government and he was granted a stipend that enabled him to participate in the Salon of 1877 and travel to Italy, where he remained for almost ten years, painting landscapes and cityscapes. He got married there in 1883 and, five years later, was appointed consul in Venice. He returned to Chile in 1890 then, two years later, accepted an appointment as consul in Seville. In 1897, he was offered the position of Consul General for Italy, with his headquarters in Genoa.

By 1914, he was once again living in Rome. Despite the problems caused by World War I, he wanted to stay, but his wife became ill and could not be treated properly there, so they returned to Chile. The improved medical care was of no avail, however, and she died soon after. This, together with the premature death of one of his daughters, resulted in a severe depression that made him increasingly isolated and unsociable. He died peacefully at home, a virtual hermit, and was buried next to his wife.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pedro Lira


Fundacion de Santiago
1888
oil on cloth
other detail unknown

The painting, dating from 1888, was exhibited at the 1889 Paris Universial Exposition, where it won a 2nd medal. It was purchased by the government for $4,000. The moment depicted is Pedro de Valdivia's founding of the city in 1541 onto of the Cerro de Santa Lucia.

Pedro Francisco Lira Rencoret (1845-1912) was a Chilean painter and art critic, who organized exhibitions that led to the establishment of the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts. He is best known for his eclectic portraits of women.

He was born into a wealthy family and his father was a Minister of the Court of Appeals. In 1867, he graduated the University of Chile (specializing in Law), but gave up his plans for a legal career to pursue painting instead. In 1872, he won a medal at a competition celebrating the establishment of the Mercado Central de Santiago. Encouraged by this, he was able to obtain a grant to study in Europe, going there with his wife. He lived in France from 1873 to 1884 and was influenced by Eugene Delacroix. Later, he received an "honorable mention" at the Salon, where little recognition was generally given to Latin American artists. But, despite his successes, he decided to return to Chile, as the time appeared ripe to create an artistic milieu comparable to that in Paris.

Soon after his arrival, he organized the first exposition devoted exclusively to Chilean painters. He also created a Salon, similar to the one in Paris, and helped establish a museum. In 1892, he was appointed Director of the "Escuela de Bellas Artes" (formerly the "Academia de Pintura"), a position he held until his death. While there, he was a mentor for promising new artists. Several historical paintings of his have been used on Chilean banknotes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Manuel Antonio Caro


La Zamacueca
1872
85 x 120 cm
oil on canvas
Presidency of the Republic

Manuel Antonio Caro (c.1835-1903) was a Chilean painter and is classed among Chile's best-loved artists.
He was the first Chilean student to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His work included portraits and scenes of everyday life, and earned high honors and international recognition. One of his famous paintings is his 1872 work La Zamacueca, a colorful folk dance scene that for a time was lost during the Pinochet regime, but eventually became an icon of Chilean identity. That painting was one among several that earned him high honors at the Paris Salon of 1872 and at la Exposicion del Mercado Central (the Central Market Exhibition). La Zamacueca is the Summit of Chilean folk painting of the 19th century.

Born in a wealthy family in central coastal Chile, he received his first notions of painting at the College of the French parents of his hometown, and in 1859, at age 23, he moved to Paris, where he obtained admission to the Imperial School of fine arts, becoming the first Chilean to do so in this prestigious Center of the time. This French stage decisively marked his pictorial style, characterized by the accuracy of the representation and with the portrait and the historical episode as recurring themes. In 1865 he returned to Valparaiso, where he founded his own workshop, preferably dedicated to the portraits commissioned. He worked in an academic style in portrait painting, rather than in the more experimental styles then gaining a foothold in Europe. His subject matter often involved genre scenes of folklife, historical and 'costumbrista' subjects (subjects in costume acting out an historical event), and urban society of the 19th century.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Jose de Ibarra


Virgin of the Apocalypse
18th century
oil on canvas
Pinacoteca Profesa, Mexico

Jose de Ibarra (1688-1756) was a Mexican painter. He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was a student of painter Juan Correa. Many of his pieces are preserved in Mexican museums and the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. He was one of the most prolific painters of his day, producing mainly religious paintings for the cathedrals of Mexico. His career was marked with support of initiatives to protect the intellectual integrity of painting as an art form. His remains are interred at the Church of Santa Ines in Mexico City.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Jose Maria Velasco Gomez


The Valley of Mexico from the Santa Isabel Mountain Range
1875
oil on canvas
137.5 x 226 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Jose Maria Velasco Gomez (1840-1912) was a 19th-century Mexican painter who made Mexican geography a symbol of national identity through his paintings. He was one of the most popular artists of the time and received many distinctions such as gold medals including the gold medal of the Philadelphia International Exposition in 1876 and the medal of the Paris' Universal Exposition in 1889. The Jose Maria Velasco Museum was opened in 1992 in Toluca City with the task of preserving and promoting his paintings.

He was also interested in science. In 1879, he described a new species of salamander found in a lake, north of Mexico City, and published his observations in the Mexican scientific journal.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Juan Rodriguez Juarez


The Virgin of the Carmen with Saint Theresa and Saint John of the Cross
oil on canvas
281 x 238 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico
other detail unknown

Juan Rodriguez Juarez (1675-1728) was an artist in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Like many artists in New Spain during the late Baroque period, he followed the trend of painting portraits of the local nobility. These works followed European models, with symbols of rank and titles either displayed unattached in the outer portions or worked into another element of the paintings such as curtains.

He was a member of a Spanish family long noted for their accomplishments in the world of painting. He was the son of Antonio Rodriguez, a notable Spanish painter. His brother Nicolas, was also a famous contemporary artist in the Spanish colony. His maternal grandfather and maternal great great grandfather were also notable painters in Spanish history and prominent in the Baroque era.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nancy Glenn-Nieto


Mother & Son, with a Fish
other details unknown
fair use
"In the ancient Mexican tradition where the worship of death involved the worship of new life: the skull - symbol of death - was a promise to resurrection."

Nancy Glenn-Nieto (1944~) is an Mexican American actress, model, and Fine art painter. Perhaps best known as a model and an actress in Mexico City, however, her art work has become highly collectable. She is the widow of the late Mexican Oaxacan painter Rodolfo Nieto. Her major themes are mystical animals, colorful flowers, and powerful saints; she explains “I have developed my own style.” That has become a combination of Mexican folklore, realism, and American pop art where rich colors saturate the canvass evoking Picassoesque images placed on firm construction lines.

Born in Oklahoma; when a child she moved with her family to Southern California. During her girlhood she spent a good deal of time with her maternal grandmother who was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico. She became enchanted with her grandmother’s stories that created colorful contrasting views of a country full of culture, music, and ar. Growing up in a family of two cultures, she integrated both with equal value into her personal perspective. While she liked to paint and draw, she also liked the attention she got when she won the Miss Los Angeles beauty contest. That same year at 23 years old she entered the Queen of the Pacific Beauty Pageant held in Melbourne, Australia as the representative from California.

After graduating University of California, Santa Barbara, with a degree in Fine art, her identification with her grandmother motivated her to get to know her grandmother’s Mexican roots. After traveling throughout Mexico, she decided to establish herself in Mexico City. While visiting an art gallery in Mexico City, she was spotted by a publicity director of the Mexico City office of the international publicity company. Impressed with her shapely legs, the director offered her a contract to model in commercials. From that national exposure, her modeling career blossomed. Soon she became one of Mexico’s top models. Large international companies used her image to advertise their product. She appeared on billboards, TV commercials, magazines such as Vanity, in major newspapers, and she modeled in Haute couture fashion shows for Catalina Swimwear, Chanel, Dior, and El Palacio de Hierro.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jorge Figueroa Acosta


Feline
acrylic on canvas
private collection
other details unknown
fair use

Jorge Figueroa Acosta (1942~) is a Mexican painter and sculptor born in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. His father was mestizo blooded, with Yaqui ascendancy. He studied at the National School of Plastic Arts Academy of San Carlos, regarded as the best school of arts in Mexico, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Because his works, predominantly figurative, he's considered one of the representatives of the neofigurative tendency that in Mexico and some Latin American countries contributed to the rescue of the iconographic role of the figure, in a historical moment in which the abstraction has offered possibilities for artistic expression, albeit residual, to developers who saw in modernism an inexhaustible source of possibilities for the creation of theoretical frameworks to argue their artistic proposals.

The topic of women in the paintings and sculpture by him has been developed from the postulates neofigurative who revitalized the role of the figure as a basis to expand the conceptual context of modernist painting in the second half of the twentieth century. Much of the pictorial work of him has been created in the stand and from forms that are generated from the morphological structure of the female body, according to which the overall composition of the pictorial space emanates as an appendix to the form. So, Jorge Figueroa determined in his work a new property for the female figure humanist, contributing to modern humanism new meaning in a social environment characterized by the repeated use of images. Using techniques such as oil, acrylic, and watercolor, he addresses several aesthetic categories around the perception of women as a central theme and semantic features that determine its nature. Within these categories, the exaltation of the beauty of the female body is the source to introduce the public to their work in living other qualities such as the sublime, fantastic, and even the enigmatic in the hieratic face of women represented.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Siqueiros, David Alfaro


Peasants
c.1913
Pastel on paper
100.0 x 187.0 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) was a Mexican social realist painter and muralist whose work reflected his Marxist ideology. He was one of the three founders of the modern school of Mexican mural painting, along with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. He was a Stalinist and member of the Mexican Communist Party who participated in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Leon Trotsky in May 1940.

A political activist since his youth, Siqueiros, the son of a bourgeois family, studied at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts, Mexico City, before leaving in 1913 to fight in the army of Venustiano Carranza, eventually attaining the rank of captain, during the Mexican Revolution. Later he continued his art studies in Europe.

In 1922, after returning to Mexico, Siqueiros painted frescoes on the walls of the National Preparatory School and began organizing and leading unions of artists and workingmen. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), he commanded several brigades for the Republicans. In 1959 the Mexican government sentenced Siqueiros to five years in jail for supporting a railroad workers' union. After he was released in 1964, he continued to show his fiery passion for left-wing causes. He strongly backed the new Cuban government and its leader, Fidel Castro, and came out swinging against the U.S. and its war in Vietnam. Over four decades, his labor-union work and his communist political activities led to numerous jailings and periods of exile.

Most of his large murals are in government buildings in Mexico. His murals are distinguished by great dynamism and compositional movement, monumental size and vigor, sculptural treatment of forms, and a limited color range that is subordinated to dramatic effects of light and shadow. He produced thousands of square feet of vivid wall paintings in which numerous social, political and industrial changes were portrayed from a left-wing perspective. For him, art and politics blended seamlessly together. He wasn't afraid to bring art to his political work.

He commonly used synthetic lacquer colors sprayed from paint guns in order to speed up the process of decorating large public buildings. He also did many easel paintings. In 1974 he died in Cuernavaca, his home for the last decade of his life.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tamayo, Rufino


Animals
1941
0il on canvas
76.5 x 101.6 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA

Painted on the eve of America's entry into World War II, while Tamayo was living in New York, this pair of snarling dogs captures, in the words of fellow Mexican painter Juan Soriano, "that horror before a world that was turning to stone before our eyes." Set against an eerily vacant yellow backdrop bathed in a red glow, the dogs, with their fangs bared, strike an anxious note, while the pale-blue bones near their paws suggest death or carnage. The subject matter was likely inspired not only by contemporary events but by pre-Columbian terracotta burial sculptures. In Aztec and Maya mythology, dogs were considered guides to the underworld, and statues of them were often buried with members of the ruling class. (MoMA)

"Art is a way of expression that has to be understood by everyone, everywhere."

Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) is a Mexican painter of Zapotec descent. He was born in Oaxaca but following the death of his parents in 1911, he went to live with his aunt in Mexico City. He studied at the Escuela des Artes Plasticas, and in 1921 was appointed head of the Department of Ethnographic Drawing at the Archaeological Museum, which introduced him to folk art.

His paintings and graphics have acquired a decisive importance in contemporary art in terms both of its high quality, maintained throughout a long, intense life, and its special significance. He was very clearly one of the greatest of American creators and, at the same time, one of the artists who managed to penetrate deepest into the reality of today's Man, going beyond his historical dimension.

His own paintings draw on Mexican folk art and ceramics for their themes and in their rich use of color and texture, but their sophisticated compositions are more closely indebted to Cubism. In the 1930s he painted tropical fruits, perhaps influenced by his experiences as a child working for his aunt's wholesale fruit business. Later his imagery became more grotesque, dominated by animals. From the mid 1940s onwards, he moved towards abstraction and placed greater emphasis on his use of strong colors.

His knowledge of the great pre-Columbian cultures allowed him to make an extraordinary synthesis which forms part of a universalist conception of art. He sought the essential, which he expressed through a deliberately limited range of colors in order to give the freest possible rein to tonal interplay. His subject matter tends to be simple - figures of men and women, animals -, almost sketchy, although charged with content. He was an outsider in post Revolutionary Mexico, politically neutral and opposing the muralists' commitment to a public, popular art.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jose Clemente Orozco


Omnisciencia 
1925
fresco
Casa de los Azulejos, Mexico city, Mexico

Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) was a Mexican painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. With Diego Rivera, he was a leader of the artist movement known as Mexican Muralism. An important distinction he had from Rivera was his critical view of the Mexican Revolution. While Rivera was a bold, optimistic figure, touting the glory of the revolution, Orozco was less comfortable with the bloody toll the social movement was taking.

He was known for being a politically committed artist. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers. His life is a tale of tragedy, adversity and outstanding achievement. When he was still a young boy, his parents moved to Mexico City in hopes of making a better life for their three children. His father was a businessman, and his mother worked as a homemaker and sometimes sang for extra income. Despite his parents’ efforts, they often lived on the edge of poverty. The Mexican Revolution was heating up, and being a highly sensitive child, he began noticing the many hardships people around him faced. He was fond of the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kahlo, Frida


Portrait of Alicia Galant
1927
oil on canvas
107 x 93 cm
Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico City, Mexico

Alicia Galant is a friend of Frida Kahlo. When Frida first began painting, she painted portraits, mostly of close friends and members of her immediate family. Portrait of Alicia Galant is painted in the style of a 16th century Italian Renaissance portrait, similar to the style use by Bronzino and Botticelli, two artists that Frida greatly admired. The dark gloomy background in this painting shows signs of the Art Nouveau style that was popular at the time.

"I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality. 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." (Frida) "She lived dying", said one of Frida's friend.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (1907-1954) 's life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. The iconic Mexican painter's biography is riddled with sadness. At the age of six, she developed polio, leaving her right leg thinner than the left, which she disguised by wearing long, colorful skirts. Following a traffic accident in her teenage years (a tram collided with the bus on which she was travelling home from school), she went on to suffer further health problems until her death in 1954. The traffic accident was life changing. She suffered a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, a dislocated shoulder and other complications which affected her reproductive ability. During three months recovering in a full body cast, she studied the natural sciences, with the eventual aim of becoming a medical doctor... and began to paint, encouraged by her mother.

As a child, she lived through the Mexican Revolution, and from a young age she was interested in politics. She is believed to have joined the Young Communist League, and attended rallies and meetings. In 1928, when she was 21, Kahlo embarked on a relationship with Diego Rivera. Rivera, then aged 41, was Mexico’s most celebrated artist, famed for politically motivated murals that adorned the walls of numerous public buildings. Encouraged by Rivera, who used aspects of Mexican folk art in his mural schemes, Kahlo began to paint in a more vernacular style.

Mexican culture and Amerindian cultural tradition are important in her work, which has been sometimes characterized as Naive art or folk art. Her work has also been described as "surrealist", and in 1938 Andre Breton, principal initiator of the surrealist movement, described Frida's art as a "ribbon around a bomb".
Frida later stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter". She channeled her energy and emotion into her artworks and her many pets - Amazon parrots, spider monkeys, Aztecs dogs, hens, sparrows and a fawn - which lived at her home.

During the 1950s, her health deteriorated steadily. She went through a series of operations on her spine, all to no avail. Eventually, she was confined to a wheel chair, then permanently consigned to bed. She was forced to take painkillers almost constantly, and the technical execution of her work deteriorated visibly. In the summer of 1954, she contracted pneumonia and died soon after turning 47, in the Blue House, the place where she had been born. A few days before her death she wrote in her diary, "I hope the exit is joyful ... and I hope never to return ... Frida".

In accordance with Frida's wishes, her body was cremated. The urn was placed in the Blue House, which was converted into a gallery of her work. She produced only about 200 paintings - primarily still life and portrait of herself, family and friends. "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best." "My painting carries with it the message of pain."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rivera, Diego


Agrarian Leader Zapata
1931
fresco on reinforced cement in galvanized-steel framework
238.1 x 188 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

“An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core. If the artist can’t feel everything that humanity feels, if the artist isn’t capable of loving until he forgets himself and sacrifices himself if necessary, if he won’t put down his magic brush and head the fight against the oppressor, then he isn’t a great artist.” (Diego Rivera)

Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodriguez, known as Diego Rivera (1886-1957)  was a prominent Mexican painter and the husband of Frida Kahlo (famous painter).
He was still married when he met the art student Frida Kahlo. They married in 1929 when he was 42 and she was 22. Their mutual infidelities and his violent temper led to divorce in 1939, but they remarried in 1940 in San Francisco and lived together until Frida Kahlo's death in 1954.

His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, he painted murals among others in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City. His political views were communist and his Marxist-Leninist social revolutionary philosophies prevailed in his art. He used art to create hope and provide a vision of a better world.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Alfredo Ramos Martinez


Portrait of Belinda Palavicini
1915
Pastel on paper
187.0 x 87.0 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Alfredo Ramos Martinez (c.1872-1946) was born in Monterrey, in the State of Nuevo Leon, in Mexico. He was considered by many to be the founding father of Modern Mexican Art.

His father, a middle-class storekeeper, and his mother were strongly supportive of artistic endeavors of young Alfredo. At the impressionable age of only nine years old, he sent a portrait he had painted of the  governor of the State of Nuevo Leon to a competition in San Antonio, Texas and was awarded first prize. He spent eight years at the prestigious Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, an experience that left him resentful as he believed the system devalued any sense of individuality in an artist.

His work caught the attention of American Phoebe Hearst, who arranged to financially support his studies abroad. In 1897, he arrived in Paris and continued his studies in the streets of the city embracing the style of the Post-Impressionists. He returned to Mexico in 1910 and three years later he was appointed the Director of the National Academy. Taking its cue from the Impressionist concept of painting in the outdoors, the revolutionary program initiated changes in both the theoretical and practical approaches to painting in Mexico bringing arts education within the reach of people of all walks of life. Modernist painter Rufino Tamayo, who studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes from 1917 through 1921, credited Ramos Martinez for directing him "toward Impressionism."

He married in 1928 and a year later his daughter was born with a crippling bone disease. His left Mexico in 1930 seeking medical attention for her in the United States. He settled in Los Angeles where her condition was successfully treated. The works produced in California by him at this time are abruptly modern, yet they focus on prevailing themes of the Mexican renaissance. He was commissioned to paint numerous murals throughout the United States and Mexico including, many celebrity homes.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cristobal de Villalpando


La lactacion de Santo Domingo
1685
oil on canvas
361 x 481 cm
Templo de Santo Domingo, Mexico

Cristobal de Villalpando (c.1645-1714) was a Mexican painter, arts administrator and captain of the guard. He was born in Mexico City to an influential family, and he assumed duties in the local militia as an ensign, as well as painting in a workshop. He painted prolifically and produced many Baroque works visible in several Mexican cathedrals, including the cathedrals in Queretaro and Mexico City, as well as a famous 1695 picture of the main square or Zocalo of Mexico City, showing the damage of the 1692 riot to the viceregal palace.

Rather than pursue the severe tenebrist Baroque of Spanish painters, he produced luminous images that were a two-dimensional equivalent to the Ultrabaroque architecture of buildings like the church of Santa Prisca in Taxco. The paintings he made for the sacristy of the Cathedral of Mexico are widely regarded as the high point of his career, although he fulfilled many other commissions for churches in Mexico City and in Puebla. He also enjoyed success as a portrait painter. Although he looked to the work of Rubens for inspiration, his painting reflects the development of a local Mexican style. His painterly brushwork, anatomical irregularities, and use of expressive gestures and poses drawn from Mannerism were all elements of this style.

In 1686 he was named a director (one of the three) of the painters’ guild in Mexico, a sign of the esteem in which other painters held him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jonas Carl Linnerhielm


View over Hallsnas mansion - Smaland
oil on canvas
49 × 69 cm
other details unknown

Jonas Carl Linnerhielm (1758-1829) was a Swedish nobleman, State Herald of Sweden, artist and writer. He is arguably most well known for his accounts of his travels within Sweden, which he illustrated himself and published in three volumes between 1797 and 1816. He has been called "the first Swedish tourist".

He studied at the University of Lund and graduated in 1776. He pursued a career as a civil servant from 1776 through 1796, and, during this time, he was taught drawing. In 1795 his wife published a short collection of poems to which he made illustrations. It has been described as one of the best examples of Swedish book art during the 18th century.

In 1794, he inherited his father's manorial estate in Smaland. In 1796, he resigned from his official duties to concentrate his efforts on the running of the estate. Between 1797 and 1809 he published three volumes of travel accounts from Sweden, illustrated by himself. These books are considered to be the first examples of purely recreational travel writing in Swedish.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ferdinand Fagerlin


Girl in front of a mirror
1871
oil on canvas
47 × 47 cm
location unknown

Ferdinand Julius Fagerlin (1825-1907) was a Swedish-German genre painter. Born in Stockholm, he first apprenticed as a shipbuilder before attending the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. He joined the army (1850-1854) and practiced painting, particularly portraits. From 1854 on he dedicated himself completely to painting. He spent time in Paris (1856-1858), where he worked in the shop of Thomas Couture. On his return to Dusseldorf he settled as a painter and, from 1862 to 1902 he was a member of a Dusseldorf art society. After 1863 he traveled frequently to the Netherlands, and the imagery he acquired there, particularly of the Dutch coast and the life of its sailors and inhabitants became formative in his genre painting.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hoca Ali Riza


Istanbul, Istanbul
1919
oil on canvas
61 x 43.5 cm
location unknown


Hoca Ali Riza (1858-1930) was a Turkish painter and art teacher, known primarily for his Impressionist landscapes and architectural paintings.

His father was a cavalry major and an amateur calligrapher. After completing his basic education, he attended a Military High School, continuing to the Turkish Military Academy where he studied art. In 1881, he received an award from Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Three years later, he graduated with the rank of Lieutenant. In 1891, he became part of a government commission examining Turkish-Islamic artifacts. Four years later, he was promoted to a Senior Captain and he began working as a designer at the new Imperial Porcelain Factory. During the Greco-Turkish War, he was a battle painter in Ionia.

In 1903, he served on a commission to create the Museum of Antiquities. Six years later, he became head of the Military Publications Office and served for two years. During those years, he was also chairman of the Ottoman Painter's Association. In 1911, he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Osman Hamdi Bey


The Tortoise Trainer
1906
oil on canvas
221.5 × 120 cm
Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) was a  prominent and pioneering painter, Ottoman statesman, administrator, intellectual and art expert who put forth legislation aimed at regulating finds made by various archaeological enterprises in the Ottoman Empire and preventing the antiquities from being smuggled abroad.

He was also an accomplished archaeologist, and is considered as the pioneer of the museum curator's profession in Turkey. He was the founder of Istanbul Archaeology Museums and of ?stanbul Academy of Fine Arts, known today as the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.

He went to primary school in a popular Istanbul quarter, after which he studied Law, first in Istanbul and then in Paris. However, he decided to pursue his interest in painting instead, left the Law program, and trained under French orientalist painters. During his nine-year stay in Paris, he showed a keen interest for the artistic events of his day.

His taste and energy did much to establish the reputation of the museum and its impressive collection of Greco-Roman antiquities. Included among the treasures that he secured for the museum are the famous Greek sarcophagi found in the royal necropolis at Sidon (now in Lebanon) in 1887. These are outstanding examples of Greek art of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. and are perfectly preserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Benjamin Block


Portrait of Henriette Luise von Wurttemberg
1643
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Benjamin Block (1631-1690) was a seventeenth-century German - Hungarian Baroque painter. He is known for his portrait paintings. He was born into an artistic family in Lubeck. His father and brothers were also painters. He travelled to Italy in 1659 and was commissioned to paint the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher who later served as intermediary in a deal resulting in an order for a portrait of Pope Alexander VII. After working as a portrait painter in Siena, Florence and Venice, in 1664 he returned to Germany. He made portraits for the military commanders and the Vienna court.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sandor Bihari


Before the Magistrate (In Front of the Judge)
1886
oil on canvas
111.2 x 167 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

Sandor Bihari (1855-1906) was one of the greatest Hungarian genre painters. Born to a Jewish family, he spent his childhood in Nagyvarad. Originally, he worked with his father as a decorative painter.

After studying in Vienna and travelling in Paris, he scored the first big success of his life in 1866. The painting "In Front of the Judge" won the grand prize of the Hungarian National Fine Art Society and was purchased by Emperor Franz Joseph. In Paris, he studied at the Academie Julian and improved his technique by copying the Old Masters at the Louvre.

Upon returning to Hungary, he settled in Szolnok, a popular artist Colony at the Great Hungarian Plains. Later in his life, his style changed in the direction of plein-air painting. He continued to travel, making lengthy visits to Italy especially, until his health began to fail in 1893. During his final years, he lived in Budapest but continued to spend his summers in Szolnok. In 1896, he was awarded the Order of Franz Joseph.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pal Balkay


The Sister and Brother
oil on canvas
143 x 120 cm
private collection
other detain unknown

Pal Balkay (1785-1846) was a Hungarian painter and teacher best known for his portrait of "The Sister and Brother". He was born in Tiszaors. Following his studies in Vienna, he returned in 1808 to Hungary, where he taught art in the town of Eger from 1817. He painted many altar pictures and allegorical compositions on mythological figures and themes.