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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Delvaux, Paul


The Tunnel
1978
oil on canvas
150 x 240 cm
Fondation Paul Delvau, Belgium

Paul Delvaux (1897-1994) was a Belgian painter and printmaker. He was, with Rene Magritte, one of the major exponents of Surrealism in Belgium, although he never officially joined. He was the son of a lawyer. The young Delvaux took music lessons, studied Greek and Latin, and absorbed the fiction of Jules Verne and the poetry of Homer. All of his work was to be influenced by these readings, starting with his earliest drawings showing mythological scenes.

He began his training in 1920 at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, albeit in the architecture department owing to his parents' disapproval of his ambition to be a painter. Nevertheless, he pursued his goal, attending painting classes.
In his earliest works, he was strongly influenced by the Flemish Expressionism of painters. In the mid-1930s, however, he turned decisively to Surrealism, not as an orthodox member of the movement but to a large extent under the influence of Giorgio De Chirico. His paintings are primarily nostalgic scenes in which women often appear in the nude. The painstakingly detailed nature of his works manages to convey an unreality, a world of his own imagination. His combination of photographic realism with unusual juxtapositions and a sense of mystery, places him in the same surrealistic category as Rene Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. He is considered an important contributor to modern art of the mid 20th century.

Delvaux acknowledged his influences, saying of de Chirico, "with him I realized what was possible, the climate that had to be developed, the climate of silent streets with shadows of people who can't be seen, I've never asked myself if it's surrealist or not." He did not consider himself "a Surrealist in the scholastic sense of the word." "Delvaux ... always maintained an intimate and privileged relationship to his childhood, which is the underlying motivation for his work and always manages to surface there. This 'childhood,' existing within him, led him to the poetic dimension in art."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Carl Bloch


The Annunciation
ca before 1890
oil on copper plate
41 x 23 in.
King's Oratory within the Frederiksborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark

In 1865, Carl Bloch was commissioned to create twenty-three paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ. The works, rendered in oil on copper, took fourteen years to complete. They were installed in the King's Oratory within the Frederiksborg Castle in Copenhagen, and still reside there today. The Annunciation was the first painting completed for the oratory. As the Christian saga unfolds, the angel Gabriel proclaims to the Virgin Mary that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the World.

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), born in Copenhagen, Denmark, as the son of a merchant was a celebrated Danish painter. His parents wanted him to enter a respectable profession - an officer in the Navy. However, this was not what he wanted. His only interest was drawing and painting, and he was consumed by the idea of becoming an artist.

In 1855, he joined the Royal Danish Academy of Art. His early work featured rural scenes from everyday life. In 1859 he received a travel grant. He used this grant to go to Holland, France and Italy. From 1859 to 1866, he lived in Italy, and this period was important for the development of his historical style. In this period, his love and admiration for Rembrandt developed. During his stay in Rome, he met his beloved wife and married her in 1868. They had a very happy and prosperous life together until her early death in 1886. The sorrow over losing his wife weighed heavily on him, and being left alone with their eight children after her death was very difficult for him.

His first great success was the exhibition of his "Prometheus Unbound" in Copenhagen in 1865. He was then commissioned to produce 23 paintings for the Chapel at Frederiksborg Palace. These were all scenes from the life of Christ which have become very popular as illustrations. The originals, painted between 1865 and 1879, are still at Frederiksborg Palace. When he died of cancer, it was reported that "Denmark has lost the artist that indisputably was the greatest among the living."

Now, more than a hundred years after his death, young artists from all over the world, attempting to illustrate the life and death of Christ, make pilgrimage to Frederiksborg Castle to study the great Master. Today, some have recognized him as perhaps the greatest artist ever to interpret the life and death of Christ.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wilhelm Marstrand


Italian Osteria Scene, Girl welcoming a Person entering
1847
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Nicolai Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873), born in Copenhagen, Denmark, is one of the most renowned artists belonging to the Golden Age of Danish Painting. He ranked among Denmark's great painters of all time, to some authorities perhaps as the very greatest. Certainly, he was vastly productive and mastered a remarkable variety of genres - his disinterest for landscape art being a notable exception.

He was enchanted with Italy, where he stayed for more than four years in total, and with the ways of life of the Italian people. He portrayed a colorful, joyous, and romantic view of them, infused with a newfound ideal of beauty. He returned to Denmark at the end of 1841, and in Denmark he strove to bring back that which he learned in Italy, and allow it to develop in his home culture.

He became a member of the art Academy in 1843, and became a professor in 1848. He was named Director of the art Academy during two periods: the first period from 1853-1857, the second from 1863 until his death. In 1867 he was awarded the rank of State Councillor. In 1871 he was struck with a brain hemorrhage and partially paralysed, losing much of his work capacity.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Johan Lundbye


A Danish Coast. View from Kitnas by the Roskilde Fjord
1843
oil on canvas
188.5 × 255.5 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark

Johan Thomas Lundbye  (1818-1848), born in Kalundborg, Denmark, sickly as a child, was a promising young painter and graphic artist, known for his animal and landscape paintings who died at the age of 29.

He studied privately under an animal painter, and at the age of 14 he became a student of the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, where he finished in 1842. He received a travel grant from the Academy in 1845, which was renewed a year later. In June, 1845 he left Denmark and traveled through Germany, over the Rhine to Switzerland to France, and then to Italy. He returned to Denmark in July 1846 after a year and half. Then, he announced that he was going to live in the country for a year, and took a little farm near Helsingor. However, the First War of Schleswig, known in Denmark as the Three Years' War, broke out, and in the spring of 1848 he enlisted in the army like many other young artists. Eight days later on 26 April 1848, he died. There is some question as to whether he died from an accidental shot, or whether the chronically depressed artist took his own life.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Christen Kobke


A View from Dosseringen near the Sortedam Lake Looking towards the Suburb Norrebro outside Copenhagen
1838
oil on canvas
53 x 71.5 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen

On the brink of the Sortedam Lake near the painter's home just outside Copenhagen, he has depicted a quiet summer’s evening shortly before sunset. The painting is infused with a highly Romantic atmosphere, but the study for the painting shows that he actually observed the motif in the middle of the day. He has, then, radically changed the light of the scene. He made numerous additions to the motif, such as the woman on the bridge and the boat on the water.

Christen Schiellerup Kobke (1810-48), born in Copenhagen, Denmark, was a pre-eminent painter in his country and arguably one of the greatest talents of Denmark’s Golden Age. He was little appreciated in his lifetime, but he began to win recognition at the end of the 19th century and is now considered the outstanding Danish painter of his period.

With the exception of one journey to Italy, he spent almost his entire life in and around the Citadel in Copenhagen, where he found the principal themes of his art. He concentrated on everyday scenes in and around Copenhagen and on portraits of family and friends, displaying great sensitivity in his treatment of colour and light and a warm intimacy of characterization. His landscape paintings are usually based on plein air studies.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Peder Kroyer


Hip Hip Hurray
1888
oil on canvas
134.5 x 165.5 cm
Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden

Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909),  born in Stavanger, Norway, later moved to Copenhagen, known as P. S. Kroyer, was a Danish painter. He was one of the best known and beloved, and undeniably the most colorful of the Skagen Painters, a community of Danish and Nordic artists who lived, gathered or worked in Skagen, Denmark, especially during the final decades of the 19th century. He was the unofficial leader of the group.

He began his art education at nine years of age under private tutelage, and in 1870 at the age of 19, he completed his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. In 1873 he was awarded the gold medal and a scholarship.

Between 1877-1881, he travelled extensively in Europe, meeting artists, studying art, and developing his skills and outlook. He stayed in Paris and came under the influence of contemporary impressionists - Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edouard Manet.

In 1882 returning to Denmark he spent summer season at Skagen, then a remote fishing village at the northern tip of Denmark, painting themes from the local life, as well as depictions of the other artistic and influential people who lived in and visited Skagen during those times.

He continued travelling extensively throughout his life, constantly drawing inspiration from foreign artists and cultures. His eyesight failed him gradually over the last ten years of his life until he was totally blind. He painted almost to the end of his life in spite of all these health obstacles. He painted some of his last masterpieces while half blind. He died at 58 years of age after several years of declining health from advanced syphilis.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Viggo Johansen


Kitchen interior. The artist's wife arranging flowers
1884
oil on canvas
64.4 x 84.7 cm
Skagens Museum, Skagen, Denmark

Viggo Johansen (1851-1935), born in Copenhagen, was a Danish painter and active member of the group of Skagen Painters who met every summer in the north of Jutland. He was one of Denmark's most prominent painters in the 1890s. Specializing particularly in genre scenes and in scenes of mealtimes, he made a successful career in the art world.

He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1868 to 1875, specializing in figure painting, at that time figure painting was regarded as the finest, but did not pass the graduation examination. He first came to Skagen in the summer of 1875 at the request of Michael Ancher (they knew each other from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts).

From 1885, he exhibited in Paris; there he was inspired by Claude Monet, particularly in his use of colour. After his return from Paris, his paintings took on lighter tones; he had noted the absence of black in the works of the French artists and considered his own earlier works too dark by comparison. Nevertheless, he is remembered particularly for the subdued lighting effects of his interiors and his scenes of domestic family life, but he also painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits.

From 1888 to 1906, he taught at the Artists Academy's School for Women. He then became a professor there until 1920 and, for a time, was one of its directors. His works today are exhibited in many museums around the world, but it is particularly well known in Scandinavia and in the country of his birth, Denmark.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vilhelm Hammershoi


Interior with young woman seen from behind
1904
oil on canvas
60.5 x 50.5 cm
Randers Kunstmuseum, Denmark

Vilhelm Hammershoi, in English Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916), was a Danish painter. He is known for his poetic, low-key paintings. He painted portraits, landscapes and many room interiors which frequently contained a single figure that was seated or standing. He married Ida in 1891 and she provided the inspiration for many of his future works and is often the lone figure seen in his paintings. They lived a quiet life, apart from Ida's reported fiery temperament, and had no children.

Hammershoi worked mainly in his native city Copenhagen. Hammershoi and his wife also often travelled together throughout Europe. They journeyed to the surrounding countryside and locations beyond, where he painted rolling hills, stands of trees, farm houses, and other landscapes. Later in his life he lived in the old merchant house in Copenhagen with his wife, and he painted the interior of this house more than sixty times. He died of throat cancer in Copenhagen at the age of 52.

He is now one of the best-known artists in Scandinavia, and comprehensive retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wilhelm Bendz


The Waagepetersen Family
1830
oil on canvas
99.5 x 88.5 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark

The head of the family shown in the painting is the wine merchant Christian Waagepetersen. He was one of the men who clearly marked that the middle classes had become the dominant group within Danish society after the aristocracy's centuries of dominance. He was keenly interested in art and music. He held regular musical events at his home, where the leading Danish composers and musicians took part along with some of the artists.

Wilhelm Ferdinand Bendz (1804-1832), born in Odense on the island of Funen, Denmark, is a painter mainly known for genre works and portraits. He often portrayed his artist colleagues and their daily lives.

He was one of the most talented artists in the successful generation of painters, but died early and has therefore left a relatively small oeuvre. Today he is mainly remembered for his many technically accomplished portraits,. His technical virtuosity is particularly visible in his depictions of the play of light cast from an obscured source and the resulting shadows. He died from a lung infection.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Anna Ancher


evening prayer
1888
oil on canvas
68 x 60 cm
location unknown

Anna Ancher (1859-1935), born in Skagen, Denmark, was considered one of Denmark's great pictorial artists. She along with her contemporaries oversaw a shift in the artistic landscape of Denmark. She enjoyed a unique artistic career, not least considering that she was a woman in an age where it was uncommon for women to get an artistic education. They were not even granted access to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

Her personal and professional life almost went hand in hand because of her marriage to a fellow painter Michael Ancher whom she met in Skagen. She became part of the Skagen Painters, a group who were dedicated to capturing the natural beauty and life of this fishing town. She painted the lives of the people of Skagen. She was indeed one of the most accomplished of the painters and left behind a lasting legacy for more reasons than one. She went against conventions and social constrains when she pursued her artistic career even after her marriage, no easy task taking in to account that she lived in a period when women, especially those who were married stayed at home and took care of household chores. She was the face of the women in a group that was pre-dominantly male.

Although an accomplished painter, she is more remembered as the chronicler of the womenfolk of Skagen. While most of the male artists tended to draw the outdoor beauty of Skagen, mostly fishermen in various chores, she set most of her paintings within four walls, that is to paint a woman in the house doing small chores like knitting or reading.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Michael Ancher


Children and young girls picking flowers in a field north of Skagen
1887
oil on canvas
79 x 63 cm
Skagens Museum, Skagen, Denmark

Michael Peter Ancher (1849-1927), Danish impressionist artist, was a master artist best known for his portrayals of Skagen's heroic fishermen and for his dramatic paintings of the fishermen's work at sea. His paintings are classics and he is probably one of Denmark's most popular artists. In his large figure paintings he combines the classic compositional principles of historic paintings with a fascinating realism.

In 1880, he married his fellow Skagen painter Anna Brondum. Michael Ancher along with his wife Anna contributed greatly to the art of Denmark. His works faithfully depict the lives of the fisher folk of Skagen. He went about with great dedication to his art and combined the old-school thoughts with those of the emerging perspectives. In the early 20th century, he took an active part in the founding of Skagens Museum, but he died in the year before its official opening.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Nicolai Abildgaard


Culmin's Ghost Appears to his Mother
c. 1794
Oil on canvas, 62 x 78 cm
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden

Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard (1743-1809), born in Copenhagen, Denmark, was a neoclassical and royal history painter, sculptor, architect, and professor of painting, mythology, and anatomy at the New Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, Denmark. Many of his works were in the royal Christiansborg Palace, Fredensborg Palace, and Levetzau Palace at Amalienborg.

He studied and won a series of medallions at the Academy for his brillianc, then worked there as apprentice, and moved to Rome, where he studied sculpture, architecture, decoration, frescoes murals, and the paintings of Rafael, Titian, and Michelangelo. In addition he studied sculpture, architecture, decoration, wall paintings and developed his knowledge of mythology, antiquities, anatomy, and perspective. He developed an appreciation for the literature of Shakespeare, Homer, and Ossian. He worked with themes from Greek as well as Norse mythology, which placed him at the forefront of Nordic romanticism. He returned to the Academy in Copenhagen, promoted to professor in 1778, where he taught painting, mythology, and anatomy. He was elected as Academy Director and was also assigned as a royal artist/decorator.

He was also known as a religious freethinker and an advocate of political reform. In spite of his service to the government, he was hardly a great supporter of the monarchy or of the state church. He supported the emancipation of the farmers. He was inspired by the French Revolution, and he tried to incorporate these revolutionary ideals into the Knights' Room at Christiansborg Palace. However, the King rejected his designs. He was politically isolated and cut out of the public debate by censors.

Though he won immense fame in his own generation and helped lead the way to the period of art known as the Golden Age of Danish Painting, his works are scarcely known outside of Denmark. He was a cold theorist, inspired not by nature but by art. His style was classical, though with a romantic trend.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vjekoslav Karas


Roman Woman Playing a Lute
c.1847
oil on canvas
98.5 x 74 cm
The Croatian History Museum, Zagreb, Croatia

Vjekoslav Karas (1821-1858) was a Croatian painter, considered a pioneer of a new era of Croatian painting and art in general. He mostly painted biblical and religious themes but he was best known for his work on portraits. In addition to painting, he also played the flute and the guitar.

Born in Karlovac, Croatia, he was educated in Italy. In 1848 he returned to Croatia and taught at the Institute of Fine Arts in Zagreb. By then, he was suffering from depression and attempted to commit suicide after which he spent some time living under the protection of a bishop. In 1858, still suffering from depression and living in poverty, he committed suicide by drowning in the Korana river in his native Karlovac.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Miroslav Kraljevic


Self-portrait with a dog
1910
oil on canvas
110 × 85 cm
Modern Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia

Miroslav Kraljevic (1885-1913) was a Croatian painter, printmaker and sculptor, active in the early part of the 20th century. He is one of the founders of modern art in Croatia.

He loved poetry and music. In 1904, he left for Vienna. There, in addition to studying law, he took painting lessons privately. After two years he gave up the study of law and devoted himself to painting. He studied painting at the prestigious Academy of Arts.

He painted in many different styles, including Impressionism, Pointillism and Expressionism. He also became known for his drawings of grotesque or erotic characters, in a similar way to Aubrey Beardsley, and for his sculptures. Working in a variety of media, he used almost every painting and drawing technique in his portraits, figures, still lifes, animals and landscapes.

In 1912, he went to Zagreb and rented a studio, where he continued to paint until the end of 1913. Then he went to a sanatorium in Berstovca for treatment of tuberculosis. After two months, he left the hospital to return to Zagreb, where he died two days later. He was only 27 years old.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Slava Raskaj


The deer on the front
1897
other detail unknown

Slava Raskaj (1877-1906) was a painter considered to be the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1890s her works were exhibited around Europe, including at the 1900 Expo in Paris. In her twenties she was diagnosed with acute depression and was institutionalised for the last three years of her life before dying in 1906 from tuberculosis in Zagreb.

She was born in the family of the local administrator, and her name Slava means Glory in Croatian. Being deaf ever since her birth, due to the difficulties in communication, she gradually withdrew from people, but not before her talent was noticed. Until the age of fifteen, she lived in an institution for deaf children in Vienna, Austria. Back home, in 1895, persuaded by a local teacher, she left for Zagreb to attend the art school.  Under the influence of an art instructor she kept developing in the area of painting and drawing. Old abandoned mills, depth of the canyon of Kupa river, ruins started to be the focus of her mind. Soon, unfortunate first symptoms of the disease started to show up - loneliness, alienation, need for privacy and nature. In 1902, due to chronic depression, aggression and other psychological symptoms she was institutionalised. She died March 29, 1906. The value of her work was largely overlooked by art historians in the following decades, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s interest in her work was revived.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Emanuel Vidovic


Vranjic
1898
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Vranjic is a settlement, closely north of Split, Croatia, near the mouth of Jadro River. Because of its beauty it was nicknamed "Little Venice".

Emanuel Vidovic (1870-1953) was a painter and graphic artist from Split, Croatia. His landscapes, and especially his later interiors of churches around Split and Trogir were well received by critics and the public.

In 1887, at age 17, he enrolled as a student of sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. He transferred to the painting department, but was dissatisfied with the conservatism of the teaching, and in 1890 gave up his formal studies. He struggled for a time to support himself, painting scenes around Venice. He painted plein air landscapes, and more stylized, larger canvases back in his studio. For many years he was Professor of Drawing at the High School, and at the School of Crafts in Split.

In 1986, the Emanuel Vidovic Gallery was opened in Split, featuring the life and works of the artist. Part of the City Museum in Split, it contains a collection of paintings, photographs, and the artists's studio.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oton Ivekovic


Death of the last Croatian king Petar Svacic near Gvozd
other detail unknown

King Petar Svacic died in 1097 and was the last native king of Croatia (reigned 1093-1097).

Oton Ivekovic (1869-1939) was a Croatian painter, born in Klanjec, who largely concerned himself with historical topics as well as some religious themes. Many of his paintings remain the chief representations of Croatian history. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th he was the most important history painter working in Croatia and the most prolific. He adopted a palette of plein-air colours and skilfully incorporated them into his historical genre paintings.

He attended high school for three and a half years in Zagreb where, except for history and drawing, he neglected other subjects. He wanted to enter the Art Academy in Vienna. His family couldn't afford it, so he began his studies with a painter of French descent, in Zagreb. He didn't abandon his plans, however, and earned enough money to go to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He graduated from the Academy, and he later taught at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts.

After the outbreak of the First World War he went to the front as a war correspondent. From June 1915 to September 1918, he was at the battlefields in Sochi, Galicia and Serbia, recording scenes from military life. After the war, he sold his house in Zagreb and bought the castle of Veliki Tabor. He lived there until 1935.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vlaho Bukovac


Gundulic's Dream
1894
oil on canvas
185 x 310 cm
Private collection

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922), a Croatian painter. He was born in the town of Cavtat south of Dubrovnik in Dalmatia. His father was an Italian from Genoa, while his mother was of Croatian descent. He painted casual pictures, using liberated strokes of the brush, in the pointillist technique. His life and work were eclectic, for the artist pursued his career in a variety of locales and his style changed greatly over the course of that career.

He showed inclination to drawing in his early childhood, but because of his family's poverty he could not continue his education. At the age of eleven his uncle took him to the United States, where he spent four hard years. His uncle soon died. In 1871, he returned to Dubrovnik and embarked as an apprentice on a merchant ship that sailed on regular line Istanbul- Odessa-Liverpool. In 1873 he went to Latin America, where he worked as a letter drawer in a coach factory in Peru. Three years later he returned to Cavtat. He found a sponsor in the person of Medo Pucic, a poet who recommended him to the archbishop Strossmayer, a very famous and influential Croatian at that time. Thanks to Strossmayer's financial support and his own savings he could begin his career in France, where he entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts. His fashionable paintings achieved great success at the Paris Salon.

He became a significant representative of fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia from 1893 to 1897, bringing with him the spirit of French art. He introduced pointillism to the Prague Academy, and earned his historical reputation as an excellent pedagogue. In his time in Zagreb, he became a leader at many important cultural and artistic events. He founded the Zagreb multicoloured school, helped initiate the construction of the Art Pavilion, and organized the first artistic exhibition in the Academy Palace in 1893. He died in Prague. His work comprises about 400 portraits, and more than 150 other paintings and compositions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Vladimir Becic


Figure of a girl
1907
oil on canvas
61.4 x 46.5 cm
other detail unknown

Vladimir Becic (1886-1954) was a Croatian painter, born in Slavonski Brod, best known for his early work in Munich, which had a strong influence on the direction of modern art in Croatia.

He initially studied law in Zagreb. In 1905, he gave up his law studies for art, moving to Munich where he studied painting at the prestigious Academy of Arts. After Munich, he spent 2 years studying and working in Paris before returning to Zagreb in 1910.

During the First World War, he was a war correspondent and artist for the magazine "L'Illustration" on the Salonika front, creating a series of images of the soldiers and the wounded. Following the end of the war, from 1919 to 1923, he spent time in a village near Sarajevo, producing a series of oils and watercolours of landscapes, peasants and shepherds that show an increasingly mature style of tonal painting using colour forms for rounded volume and space. He then moved back to Zagreb, where he taught as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. He became a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts from 1934.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vladimir Dimitrov


woman in front of flowers and fruit
other detail unknown
Fair use

Vladimir Dimitrov (1882-1960), was a Bulgarian painter, draughtsman and teacher. He is considered one of the most talented 20th century Bulgarian painters and probably the most remarkable stylist in Bulgarian painting in the post Russo-Turkish War era. The main topic which he explores is the relation between Man and Nature. Although he does not consider himself religious, he regards Nature as governed by a supreme spirit. He shares that the main purpose of his paintings is to elevate man and humanity, to bring it closer to harmony, represented by this omnipresent spirit.

He is famous not solely because of his paintings but also because of his lifestyle. His family was poor but even after he became famous, he was trying to give away all of his possessions and money, living in poverty and asceticism, wearing old clothes, never shaving and eating only vegetarian food. This is the reason why even while alive, many people believed that he was a saint and showed great affection for him.

He was born in Frolosh, near Kyustendil and started his career as a clerk. In 1903 he enrolled in the School of Drawing in Sofia where he had been called the Master (Maystora) for the first time. In the period before and after the First World War he travelled extensively, visited Russia, Italy, France, Germany and the USA. After that he spent almost all of his life in the village of Shishkovtzi.

He was an outstanding artist who included bright colors within his art and today we consider his artwork a fauvist type rather than an expressionist set. He uses as well a wide range of post-impressionist techniques, but his works always keep a strong bound with reality and he tries to simplify many of the figures and compositions to make them accessible for a wider public. The main expressive strength does not come from the clarity of the images but from the colors. His portraits and compositions have expressive and vivid color, idealistic quality of the image, profound symbolic strength and originality.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

George Grosz


Eclipse of the Sun
1926
oil on canvas
207.3 x 182.6 cm
The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntingdon, New York, USA

The painting is a scathing indictment of the military-industrial complex and of materialism, featuring an industrialist, a general, and four headless members of the bourgeoisie, all under a sun that is obscured by a dollar sign.

George Grosz (1893-1959), born in Berlin, was a leading member of the Dada movement. He is known for his fiercely satirical drawings and caricatures. He studied art at the Royal Academy, Dresden, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, and the Academie Colarossi, Paris, and served in the army in World War I.

An uncompromising opponent of militarism and National Socialism, he was one of the first German artists to attack Adolf Hitler. He painted many caustic works criticizing the rise of Nazism. Like many artists who fled Europe, he immigrated to the United States in 1932, settling in Bayside, Queens and teaching at the Art Students League in New York. He became a citizen in 1938. From about 1936 he began to work also in oils and turned to less biting themes, depicting nudes, still lifes and street scenes. With the approach of World War II his art became increasingly despairing. He returned to Germany in May 1959 to live out his days, but died from a fall down a flight of stairs within weeks of his return.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Max Klinger


The Siren
1895
oil on canvas
100 x 185 cm
Villa Romana, Florenz, Italy

Max Klinger (1857-1920) was a German painter, sculptor, engraver, and printmaker. He was born in Leipzig, Germany. He was one of the last great "artist princes" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He is known for his use of symbol, fantasy, and dream imagery. His art of symbol, fantasy, and dreamlike situations belonged to the growing late 19th-century awareness of the subtleties of the mind. His visionary art has been linked with that of Arnold Bocklin; the expression of his vivid, frequently morbid imaginings. He is best known for a series of pen-and-ink drawings called Series upon the Theme of Christ and Fantasies upon the Finding of a Glove. In his painting he aimed at neither classic beauty nor modern truth but at an impressive grimness with overtones of mysticism. His leanings toward the gruesome and grotesque found further expression in his series of etchings inspired by the work of Francisco de Goya. In his use of the etching needle he achieved a unique form of expressiveness. His work had a deep influence on Edvard Munch, Max Ernst, and Giorgio de Chirico. His late work was primarily sculpture. Interested in materials and colour, he executed polychromed nudes possessing a distinctly eerie quality, as well as statues made of varicoloured materials in the manner of Greek chryselephantine sculpture.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Friedrich Ludwig


Portrait
oil on canvas
other detail unknown
Fair use

Friedrich Ludwig (1895-1970) was a German expressionist painter. He was born the ninth of seventeen children of a farming family in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany. After attending elementary school and artistic instruction he worked from 1913 to 1917 as a decorator in Zurich, Switzerland. Although he identified politically as a pacifist, he presented himself unwillingly in 1917 to the German military service.

He traveled to Italy in 1922 and came into contact with the work of Piero della Francesca, whose work impressed him lastingly. Then in 1926 he was accepted at the Academie Julian in Paris, which is famous for their training, and discovering and promoting artists such as Cezanne, Gaugin, Emil Bernaed and Pierre Bonnard. The time from 1928 to 1930, while surrounded and affected by those Parisian artists, is considered his most creative period.

His first official exhibition in 1934 in Munich was forbidden by the Nazi official Adolf Wagner, who described it as "in an un-German manner" and threatened: "If the paintings tomorrow not are off the walls, I let it depend, pour over with gasoline and set it on fire!" Despite this setback, a gallery in Zurich offered to him an exhibition of his work in 1935. After this successful exhibition he rejected an offer to remain in Switzerland and traveled to the Adria, to Paris and back to Bad Reichenhall, where he established himself in 1940. Some first concerns over his psychological condition were expressed by his wife in a letter to an art historian, in which she reported that he seemed to be occasionally confused and emotionally absent. In 1968 he was admitted to the mental hospital. His son Michael committed suicide at the age of thirteen.

Later in his life, he gave his pictures to be burned, and therefore was almost forgotten in the world of art. After rediscovered about 2000 paintings in 1984, they were made accessible in 1999 to the public through the Friedrich Ludwig museum, at his place of residence in Wieslet.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Michael Sowa


His Master's Voice
oil on canvas
other detail unknown
Fair use

Michael Sowa (1945-) was born in Berlin and is one of the most well-known painters and illustrators in Germany. He studied at the Berlin State School of Fine Arts for seven years and worked briefly as an art teacher before focusing entirely on his career as a painter and illustrator. He is known mainly for his paintings, which are variously whimsical, surreal, or stunning. His paintings often feature animals and are titled in English and German. He received numerous awards, including the Olaf Gulbransson Prize in 1995 and the Berlin Book Prize in the category of children’s literature in 2004. He lives in Berlin.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Max Liebermann


Samson and Delilah (Simson und Delila)
1901
oil on canvas
151.2 x 212.0 cm
Stadel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Max Liebermann (1847-1935) was a German-Jewish painter, printmaker, etcher, and lithographer, active principally in Berlin. He is known for his naturalistic studies of the life and labour of the poor. He was also the foremost proponent of Impressionism in Germany. After 1890 his style was influenced by the French Impressionist painters Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas.

From 1873 to 1878 he lived mainly in Paris, and together with Corinth and Slevogt he came to be considered one of the leading German representatives of Impressionism. In 1878 he returned to Germany, living at first in Munich and finally settling in Berlin in 1884. From 1875 to 1913 he spent summers painting in the Netherlands. During this period he found his painting subjects in the orphanages and asylums for the elderly in Amsterdam and among the peasants and urban labourers of Germany and the Netherlands.

In 1899 he became first president of the Berlin Sezession, but he did not keep abreast of developments and a decade later he was regarded as a pillar of the traditionalism against which the German Expressionists were in revolt. He was one of the dominant figures in the German art world and in the later part of his career he accumulated many honours. When the Nazis came to power, however, he was required to resign as president of the Prussian Academy and from his other prestigious positions.

He died in 1935, at his home on Berlin's Pariser Platz, near the Brandenburg Gate. Although he had been famous, his death was not reported in the media, now controlled by the Nazis. However, despite official strictures by the Gestapo, more than 100 friends and relatives attended the funeral. His widow committed suicide in 1943 rather than suffer at the hands of the Gestapo.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lovis Corinth


Morning Sun
1910
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Lovis Corinth (1858-1925) was a German painter and printmaker whose mature work realized a synthesis of impressionism and expressionism. He studied in Paris and Munich, joined the Berlin Secession group. His early work was naturalistic in approach. He was initially antagonistic towards the expressionist movement, but after a stroke in 1911 his style loosened and took on many expressionistic qualities. His use of color became more vibrant, and he created portraits and landscapes of extraordinary vitality and power. His subject matter also included nudes and biblical scenes.
    
He was born in Tapiau, in Prussia as a son of a tanner. He displayed a talent for drawing as a child. At the Academy of Fine Art in Munich, which rivaled Paris as the avant-garde art center in Europe at the time, he was influenced by Courbet and the Barbizon school.

In 1902 at the age of 43, he opened a school of painting for women and married his first student, Charlotte Berend, some 20 years his junior. Charlotte was his youthful muse, his spiritual partner, and the mother of his two children. She had a profound influence on him, and family life became a major theme in his art.

In 1911, he suffered a stroke, and was partially paralyzed on his left side. Thereafter he walked with a limp, and his hands displayed a chronic tremor. With the help of his wife, within a year he was painting again with his right hand. His disability inspired in him an intense interest in the simple, intimate things of daily life. It was at this time that landscapes became a significant part of his oeuvre.

He was quite prolific, and in the last 15 years of his life he produced more than 900 graphic works, including 60 self-portraits. He painted numerous self-portraits, and made a habit of painting one every year on his birthday as a means of self-examination. He was perhaps better known for his ability to drink large amounts of red wine and champagne.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joseph Karl Stieler


Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis
1820
oil on canvas
62 × 50 cm
Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, Germany

Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858) was a German painter. Born in Mainz to a family of engravers and die-cutters, he received some artistic training from his father. From 1820 until 1855 he worked as royal court painter of the Bavarian kings. He is known for his Neoclassical portraits, especially for the Gallery of Beauties at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.

Born in the city of Mainz to a long-established family of engravers, punchcutters and die makers, he received some artistic training from his father. After the early death of his father, he autodidactically completed his apprenticeship and began his career as a painter of miniatures, which were increasingly sought after by bourgeois circles after Mainz had been occupied by French revolutionary troops in 1792. From 1802 to 1805 he attended the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. In 1808, he established himself as an independent portraitist in the city of Frankfurt. From 1812 he worked at the court of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. In 1816, he again travelled to Vienna to paint the portrait of Emperor Francis I of Austria. Between February and April 1820, he worked on his portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, which is probably the most well-known representation of the composer today.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hans Thoma


Cornfield in Oberursel, Summer
1902
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Hans Thoma (1839-1924) was born in Bernau in the Black Forest, Germany. Having started life as a painter of clock-faces, he entered the Karlsruhe academy in 1859. He subsequently studied and worked in Dusseldorf, Paris, Italy, Munich, and Frankfurt, until his reputation became firmly established as the result of an exhibition of his paintings in Munich.

In spite of his studies under various masters, his art has little in common with modern ideas, and is formed partly by his early impressions of the simple idyllic life of his native district, partly by his sympathy with the early German masters, particularly with Cranach. In his love of the details of nature, in his precise drawing of outline, and in his predilection for local coloring, he has distinct affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites.

In 1899 he was made director of a gallery in Karlsruhe and was appointed professor at the art academy there. In the years that followed he received many honours, including an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University and 1917 the "Pour le Merite". On his seventieth birthday, the Hans Thoma Museum was opened as an annexe of the Karlsruhe Kunsthalle.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Johann Zoffany


The Family of Sir William Young
c.1769
oil on canvas
114.5 x 167.5 cm
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) was a German neoclassical painter, active mainly in England. He was a Freemason, and was known primarily as a painter of portraits, conversation pieces and theatrical subjects. His works appear in many prominent British national galleries such as the National Gallery, London, the Tate Gallery and in the Royal Collection.

He was born Johannes Josephus Zauffaly, in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. The son of an architect and court cabinet maker, he was brought up at the court of Alexander Ferdinand, Prince von Thurn und Taxis, and enjoyed court patronage throughout his career. He arrived in England around 1760 but, hindered in part by his poor English, initially was obliged to take work for a clockmaker, painting scenes for clock-faces, and as a drapery painter. His career in England was established when an actor-manager became his first major English patron. He painted numerous theatrical pictures which brought him to the attention of the public and, more importantly, Queen Charlotte, who became his patron. He was nominated by George III for membership in the Royal Academy in 1769. In the later part of his life, he was especially noted for producing huge paintings with large casts of people and works of art, all readily recognizable to their contemporaries. He died at his home at Strand-on-the-Green and is buried in the churchyard of St Anne's Church, Kew. The painter Thomas Gainsborough was, by that artist's own request, later buried nearby.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Johann Tischbein


Goethe in the Roman Campagna
1787
oil on canvas
164 × 206 cm
Stadelsches Kunstinstitut und Stadtische Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751-1829), was a German portraitist and friend of the writer J.W. von Goethe. He was a descendant of the Tischbein family of painters that produced more than 20 artists in three generations. He painted landscapes, historical scenes and still lifes.

He was born at Haina, in what is now Hesse. He began his career painting portraits at the Prussian court in Berlin. In 1779 he went to Italy and in 1789 was appointed director of the art academy in Naples. Forced to leave in 1799 because of war, he retired to northern Germany.

He met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe there in 1786, made friends with him and accompanied him to Naples in 1787. Later, Goethe recounted this travel in his Italian Journey. Also in 1787, he painted his most famous work, a portrait of Goethe as a traveler in the Roman Campagna. From 1808, he was a painter at the court of the Duke of Oldenburg in Northern Germany.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Arp, Jean


Lion
1916
India Ink and Pencil on Paper
Illustrated Tristan Tzara's poetry book De Nos Oiseaux, published in 1923

Jean Arp / Hans Arp (1886-1966) was a German-French abstract sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as "Hans", and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as "Jean". Many people believe that he was born Hans and later changed his name to Jean, but this is not the case.

Arp was born in Strasbourg as the son of a French mother and a German father, during the period following the Franco-Prussian War when the area was known as Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen in German) after France had ceded it to Germany in 1871. Following the return of Alsace to France at the end of World War I, French law determined that his name become Jean.

In 1904, after leaving the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Strasbourg, he went to Paris where he published his poetry for the first time. From 1905 to 1907, Arp studied at the Kunstschule in Weimar, Germany and in 1908 went back to Paris, where he attended the Academie Julian. In 1912, he went to Munich, called on Kandinsky, was encouraged by him in his researches and exhibited with the Der Blaue Reiter group. Later that year, he took part in a major exhibition in Zurich, along with Henri Matisse and Kandinsky. In 1915 he moved to Switzerland to take advantage of Swiss neutrality. Arp later told the story of how, when he was notified to report to the German consulate, he avoided being drafted into the German Army: he took the paperwork he had been given and, in the first blank, wrote the date. He then wrote the date in every other space as well, then drew a line beneath them and carefully added them up. He then took off all his clothes and went to hand in his paperwork.

Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zurich in 1916. In 1920, he, along with Max Ernst set up the Cologne Dada group. In 1926, Arp moved to the Paris suburb of Meudon. In 1931, he broke with the Surrealist movement to found Abstraction-Creation. Beginning in the 1930s, Arp expanded his efforts from collage and bas-relief to include bronze and stone sculptures. Throughout the 1930s and until the end of his life, he wrote and published essays and poetry. In 1942, he fled from his home in Meudon to escape German occupation and lived in Zurich until the war ended. He died in 1966, in Basel, Switzerland.