Saturday, June 30, 2012

Louis, Morris

Beta Zeta
Acrylic on canvas
255 x 439 cm
State Museums of Berlin

Morris Louis (1912 - 1962), original name Morris Bernstein, was an American painter Living in Washington, DC. Louis, along with other Washington painters formed an art movement that is known today as the Washington Color School. During the 1950s he became one of the earliest exponents of Color Field painting who is notable for his distinctly personal use of color, often in brilliant bands or stripes.

He studied painting at the Maryland Institute, Baltimore, and from 1937 to 1940 he worked as an easel painter in the Works Projects Administration (WPA) Federal Art program. His early work was Cubistic, but his style changed abruptly in 1952 following his exposure to the Abstract Expressionist paintings of Jackson Pollock.
Louis began his experiments with this technique by carefully pouring paint. He used thin washes of acrylic paint to create translucent curtains of color on the canvas, sometimes in parallel rows, sometimes overlapping so that the effect is of an ink wash or a dye. The precedent is Jackson Pollock's poured works of the late 1940's. But in Pollock, the poured line and planes are textured and material and stay on top of the canvas, whereas in a Louis, the area of color fuses with the flat canvas. In a Louis painting, there is no reference to nature, to architecture or to a human presence. They are non-referential abstract works, fundamentally expressive and extremely decorative.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1962 and soon after, died at his home in Washington, D.C., on September 7, 1962. The cause of his illness was attributed to prolonged exposure to paint vapors.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Redon, Odilon

The Boat With Two Figures
pastel on paper
61 x 51 cm
private Collection

Bertrand-Jean Redon, better known as Odilon Redon (1840 - 1916), French, was one of the outstanding figures of Symbolism.
Much of his early life had been unhappy, but after undergoing a religious crisis and a serious illness, he was transformed into a much more buoyant and cheerful personality, expressing himself in radiant colors in mythological scenes and flower paintings.

He had a retiring life, first in his native Bordeaux, then in Paris, and until he was in his fifties he worked almost exclusively in black and white, in charcoal drawings and lithographs. In these he developed a highly distinctive repertoire of strange creatures, insects, and plants with human heads, etc., influenced by the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. He remained virtually unknown to the public until the publication of J.K. Huysmans's novel A Rebours in 1884; the book's hero who lives in a private world of perverse delights, collects Redon's drawings, and with his mention in this classic expression of decadence, Redon too became associated with the movement.

His aim was to represent pictorially the ghosts of his own mind. His work represents an exploration of his internal feelings and psyche. He himself wanted to place the visible at the service of the invisible. "My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined." He showed equal facility in oils and pastel. The flower pieces, in particular, were much admired by Matisse, and the Surrealists regarded Redon as one of their precursors.
He was a distinguished figure by the end of his life, although still a very private person.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ozenfant, Amédée

The Vases
Oil on canvas
130.5 x 97.5 cm (51 3/8 x 38 3/8")
MoMA, New York

"We must endeavour to introduce a little order into this business, or at least sense into a great deal of it. But what is sense without order? We must try to find some method of arriving at some sort of order—one that will at least enable us to escape from this vagueness in the design of color." (Ozenfant)

Amédée Ozenfant,  (1886 - 1966), French painter and theoretician, who cofounded the 20th-century art movement known as Purism.
He was born into a bourgeois family in Saint-Quentin, Aisne and studied art in France at Saint-Quentin before moving to Paris in 1905. By 1917 Ozenfant was disillusioned with Cubism, feeling that it had sacrificed its original purity and rigour and had become a mere decorative vehicle. He formulated and published a book—Après le Cubisme (1918; “After Cubism”)—in which he outlined the aesthetic approach called Purism. Emphasizing the principles of order, rationality, and precision, the Purist style called for a new Classicism based upon the aesthetic of modern technology. In Ozenfant’s own paintings, he stressed clarity, serenity, and economy of means, typically creating still lifes in which he reduced objects to flat planes of neutral color within a rigid architectonic framework.

In 1919 Ozenfant and Le Corbusier founded the avant-garde review L’Esprit Nouveau, in which they explored the sources and directions of contemporary art. In 1932 Ozenfant established his own art school in Paris, Académie Ozenfant. He moved to London in 1935 and founded the Ozenfant School of Fine Arts. In 1939 he moved to New York City, where he served as the head of the Ozenfant School of Fine Arts until he returned to France in 1955.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Toorop, Jan

The Sea at Katwijk
Oil on canvas
86 x 96 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Jean Theodoor Toorop (1858 - 1928), better known as Jan Toorop, was an Indo (Javanese Dutch) painter, whose works straddle the space between the Symbolist painters and Art Nouveau. He was born in Purworejo, Java, Dutch East Indies. He was a descendant of an Asian lady and a so-called orang Belanda Hitam - i.e. one of the black soldiers recruited from the Gold Coast - what is now called Ghana. Those soldiers served in the Dutch colonial army. In 1872, he moved with his family to the Netherlands, where he studied in Delft and Amsterdam.

Jan Toorop painted the sea at Katwijk on the Dutch coast in an original way. You can only see the water with the waves rolling in, the foaming surf and a small piece of sky. No boat or bird distracts our attention from the main subject: the sea itself, rendered in wonderful nuances of color, from mauve and light green to yellow and blue-grey. Toorop painted an almost abstract image which leads the spectator's eye across the restless waves to the peaceful horizon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Léger, Fernand

Maud Dale
oil on canvas
100.4 x 79.7 cm (39 1/2 x 31 3/8 in.)
National Art Gallery Washington, DC

Leger, Fernand (1881 – 1955), French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker.
Among the most prominent artists in Paris in the first half of the 20th century, he was prolific in many media and articulated a consistent position on the role of art in society in his many lectures and writings.

In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style. After his experiences in the First World War, Léger became convinced that art should be accessible to all. He moved away from pure abstraction towards the stylised depiction of real objects, laying great emphasis on order, clarity and harmony. Léger attracted numerous students to his various schools, and his ideas and philosophy were disseminated by modern artists throughout Europe and the Americas.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Besnard, Paul-Albert

Madame Roger Jourdain
Oil on canvas
200 x 153 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Paul-Albert Besnard (1849-1934) was born in Paris to parents who were both artists;  his mother was a distinguished miniaturist.
He began his art studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at age 17. In 1874, he was awarded the Grand Prix of Rome. Until about 1880 he followed the academic tradition, but then broke away completely. He began developing his own unique style departing from the methodologies learned at the Academy, devoting himself to the study of color and light as conceived by the Impressionists.
Besnard went on to a successful career and was appointed Member of the Academy des Beaux-Arts, the Acadamie Francaise, Grand-Croix de la Legion d'Honneaur.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lehmann, Henri

Portrait of Franz Liszt
oil on canvas
140 x 87 cm
Musee Carnavalet, Paris

Henri Lehmann (1814 - 1882) was a German-born French historical painter and portraitist.
In 1831, at the age of 17, he travelled to Paris to study art under Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, becoming one of his most accomplished pupils and a close associate for many years. His first exhibition was at the Salon in 1835 where he won a second-class medal. Thereafter he exhibited regularly at the Salon, winning first-class medals in 1840, 1848 and 1855.
Lehmann lived in Rome from 1838-41, where he continued his artistic education with Ingres (who was by then Director of the Academie de France there), and collaborated with him on some works. In Rome he befriended Franz Liszt and his lover, the author Marie d'Agoult, corresponding with them for many years and painting portraits of them. He settled permanently in Paris in 1842. He was awarded many commissions for large-scale public works. He went on to paint portraits of many well-known and distinguished people of the day including Charles Gounod, Victor Cousin, Liszt, Chopin, Stendhal, the Princess Christina Belgiojoso and many others.

In 1846 Lehmann received the Legion d'honneur and in 1847 became a French citizen. In 1861 he became a teacher at the famous Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was appointed Professor in 1875. He founded the Lehmann Prize to recognize academic excellence in art. In 1864 he was elected a member of the Institut de France.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Moore, Albert Joseph

oil on canvas
size unknown
Private Collection

Albert Joseph Moore (1841 - 1893) was an English painter, known for his depictions of langorous female figures set against the luxury and decadence of the classical world. He was born in the city of York, the fourteenth child of a portrait painter, William Moore. In his childhood he showed an extraordinary love of art, and as he was encouraged in his tastes by his father and brothers, two of whom afterwards became famous as artists, John Collingham Moore and Henry Moore.

Renowned for his pictures of classically draped women harmoniously posed in decorative settings, he was a major exponent of late-19th-century Aestheticism, which cultivated formal beauty at the expense of moral or narrative content.
He worked with many well-known Pre-Raphaelite painters, including Whistler. With Whistler, he developed a special relationship, they worked together in a studio for some time.
He died in 1893, at his studio in Spenser Street, Westminster.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chirico, Giorgio de

Oil and graphite on canvas
135.6 x 180.3 cm (53 3/8 x 71 in.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Born in Greece to Italian parents, Giorgio de Chirico (1888 - 1978) received his first drawing lessons in Athens in 1900. In 1906, the family moved to Munich, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, becoming acquainted with the magic realism of Swiss-German painter Arnold Bocklin and the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who encouraged the artist to "refute reality." In the years before World War I, he founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. After 1919 he became interested in traditional painting techniques, and worked in a neoclassical or neo-Baroque style, while frequently revisiting the metaphysical themes of his earlier work.

This composition presents one of the artist's famous deserted public squares rendered in simple broad forms. Somber monolithic arches on the right cast a heavy geometric shadow filling two-thirds of the right foreground. On the left, seen slightly from above and in a vertical perspective, is the statue of the sleeping Ariadne. The background is sealed by a brick wall, beyond which rises a squat white tower. A distant train approaches from the left, a sailing ship from the right. The palette consists of ocher, deep brown, white, and green.

"Ariadne" is part of a series of five paintings, all of 1913, in which the statue of Ariadne plays a major iconographic role. This statue is a Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture of Ariadne asleep on the island of Naxos, where she had been abandoned by Theseus. The sculpture of Ariadne had great symbolic meaning for de Chirico, perhaps evoking the classical past to which he had been exposed during his childhood in Greece. In these works Ariadne is seen from various angles, horizontally, vertically, and in partial close-up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Krasner, Lee

Oil on canvas
175.3 x 318.8 cm (69" x 10' 5 1/2")
MoMA, New York

Lee Krasner (1908 - 1984) was an influential American abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. On October 25, 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the abstract expressionism movement. She was born to an immigrant Russian-Jewish couple. Her early art training was at The Cooper Union, Art Students League, and the National Academy of Design in New York. Her headstrong, independent character often set Krasner at odds with her instructors at the conservative academy, where she nevertheless received a thorough grounding in drawing, painting, and design.

Krasner and Pollock gave each other reassurance and support during a period when neither's work was well-appreciated. Like Picasso during the brief period of his interaction with Braque, the daily give-and-take of Pollock and Krasner stimulated both artists. Pollock and Krasner fought a battle for legitimacy, impulsiveness and individual expression. They opposed an old-fashioned, conformist, and repressed culture unreceptive to these values, which was put off by the intricacy of Modernism in general.

Lee Krasner died in 1984, age 75, from natural causes. Six months after her death, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City held a retrospective exhibition of her work. A review of the exhibition in the New York Times noted that it "clearly defines Krasner's place in the New York School" and that she "is a major, independent artist of the pioneer Abstract Expressionist generation, whose stirring work ranks high among that produced here in the last half-century."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stael, Nicolas de

Composition d'après
year unknown
acrylique sur toile
30 x 30 cm
location unknown

Nicolas de Staël (1914 - 1955) was a painter known for his use of a thick impasto and his highly abstract landscape painting.
He was considered a French painter of Russian birth, born in the family of a Russian Lieutenant General, Baron Vladimir Stael von Holstein. De Staël's family was forced  into exile in 1919 in Poland as a result of the Russian Revolution. In 1922, orphaned, he and his two sisters were sent to Brussels. He studied in Brussels, at the Académie de St Gilles and at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts.

His painting career spans roughly 15 years (from 1940) and produced more than a thousand paintings. His work shows the influence of Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso (especially Picasso in his Blue and Rose periods), Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and Chaim Soutine, as well as of the Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hercules Seghers. His work was quickly recognized within the post-war art world, and he became one of the most influential artists of the 1950s. However, he moved away from abstraction in his later paintings, seeking a more "French" lyrical style, returning to representation (seascapes, footballers, jazz musicians, seagulls) at the end of his life. His painting style is characterized by a thick impasto showing traces of the brush and the palette knife, and by a division of the canvas into numerous zones of color (especially blues, reds and whites). His most well-known late paintings of beaches and landscapes are dominated by the sky and effects of light.

By 1953, de Staël's depression led him to seek isolation in Antibes, in the south of France. He suffered from exhaustion, insomnia and depression. In the wake of a disappointing meeting with a disparaging art critic on March 16, 1955 he committed suicide. He leapt to his death from his eleventh story studio terrace, in Antibes. He was 41 years old.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Klee, Paul

In the Magic Mirror
oil on canvas, on board
66 x 50 cm (26 x 19 3/4 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Paul Klee (1879 - 1940) was born in Switzerland, into a family of musicians, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His childhood love of music was always to remain profoundly important in his life and work.

His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered color theory, and wrote extensively about it; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory, published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are considered so important for modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo da Vinci's A Treatise on Painting had for Renaissance. He and his colleague, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the German Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humour and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.

In the Magic Mirror reflects the disillusionment that colored much of Klee's work following the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 and the artist's subsequent move to his native Switzerland. Klee went to Dusseldorf to teach at the Akademie in 1931, shortly before the Nazis closed the Bauhaus. Forced by the Nazis to leave his position in Dusseldorf in 1933, Klee settled in Bern the following year. Klee died on June 29, 1940, in Muralto-Locarno, Switzerland.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Renoir, Pierre-Auguste

A Girl With a Watering Can
Oil on canvas
100 x 73 cm (39 1/2 x 28 3/4 in)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

"The pain passes, but the beauty remains." (Renoir)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 - 1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau.

In 1854 he began work as a painter in a porcelain factory in Paris, gaining experience with the light, fresh colors that were to distinguish his Impressionist work and also learning the importance of good craftsmanship. His early works were typically Impressionist snapshots of real life, full of sparkling color and light. By the mid-1880s, however, he had broken with the Impressionist movement to apply a more disciplined, formal technique to portraits and figure paintings, particularly of women.

He is perhaps the best-loved of all the Impressionists, for his subjects - pretty children, flowers, beautiful scenes, above all lovely women - have instant appeal. His paintings present a vision of a forgotten world, full of sparkling color and light.
Renoir once said: "Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Corot, Jean-Baptiste Camille

Morning, Fog Effect
oil on canvas
Musée Fabre (Agglomération de Montpellier)

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796 – 1875) was a French landscape painter.
He was arguably the most respected & influential of all French landscape painters, a complete  generation before the birth of Impressionism. He developed, through painting on the spot, his sensitive treatment of light, form and distance in terms of tonal values rather than by color and drawing.

“What there is to see in painting, or rather what I am looking for, is the form, the whole, the value of the tones…That is why for me the color comes after, because I love more than anything else the overall effect, the harmony of the tones, while color gives you a kind of shock that I don’t like. Perhaps it is the excess of this principal that makes people say I have leaden tones.” In his aversion to shocking color, Corot sharply diverged from the up-and-coming Impressionists, who embraced experimentation with vivid hues. "Corot is not a simple landscapist—he is a painter, a true painter; he is a rare and exceptional genius." (Delacroix)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hopper, Edward

Oil on canvas
74 x 111.8 cm
Gift of Dora Sexton Brown, 1962
Delaware Art Museum, USA

Hopper, Edward (1882-1967). American painter.
He painted American landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, expressing the world around him as a chilling, alienating, and often vacuous place. Everybody in a Hopper picture appears terribly alone. Hopper soon gained a widespread reputation as the artist who gave visual form to the loneliness and boredom of life in the big city.

Summertime conveys the feeling of a sweltering day in New York City.  The curtain on the window seems set in motion by an interior fan, emphasizing the lack of air.  The strong verticals and horizontals of the architecture and sidewalk give the illusion of space horizontally and vertically extended beyond the picture plane.  A solitary female figure in a clinging dress, based on preparatory drawings of the artist’s wife, Jo, creates a counterpoint to the compositional, almost abstract, starkness of the background architecture and the play of light and cast shadows.  Hopper’s artistic manipulation of the scene to convey a mood of eerie loneliness within the formally balanced backdrop of an impersonal city block is most readily evident in the lack of eye pupils and the incorrectly formed shadow of the female figure.  Devoid of any specific narrative, the painting as a whole projects the vast emptiness of modern urban existence.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Balthus ; (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola)

Oil on canvas
63 1/2 x 64 3/8 in. (161.3 x 163.5 cm)
The Art Institute of Chicago

Count Balthasar Klossowski (or Kłossowski) de Rola (1908 – 2001), best known as Balthus, was an esteemed but controversial Polish-French modern artist. His mother engaged, under the name of Baladine, in a long-lasting relationship with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who acted as Balthus’s mentor, providing etchings to accompany many of his poems.

Many of Balthus's paintings show young girls in an erotic context. Balthus insisted that his work was not erotic but that it recognized the discomforting facts of children's sexuality. His work shows numerous influences, including the writings of Emily Brontë, the writings and photography of Lewis Carroll, and the paintings of Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Poussin, Ingres, Goya, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Courbet, Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne, etc.

Throughout his career, Balthus rejected the usual conventions of the art world. He insisted that his paintings should be seen and not read about, and he resisted any attempts made to build a biographical profile. A telegram sent to the Tate Gallery as it prepared for its 1968 retrospective of his works read: "NO BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS. BEGIN: BALTHUS IS A PAINTER OF WHOM NOTHING IS KNOWN. NOW LET US LOOK AT THE PICTURES. REGARDS. B."

Appreciated for many years by only a handful of collectors, and ostensibly out of step with the modern movement, Balthus’s classically inspired work won the recognition and admiration of a wider public only late in his career.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Courbet, Gustave

Portrait of Juliette Courbet as a Sleeping Child
Graphite on paper
Musee d'Orsay

 "I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom. Let me end my life free. When I am dead let this be said of me: He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty."

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. He occupies an important place in 19th century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social commentary in his work. He was born to a prosperous farming family in Ornans, France. He went to Paris in 1841, supposedly to study law, but he soon decided to study painting and learned by copying the pictures of master artists. In 1844 his self-portrait, Courbet with a Black Dog, was accepted by the Salon.

He was always at odds with vested authority, aesthetic or political. For his choice of subjects from ordinary life, and more especially for his obstinacy and audacity, his work was reviled as offensive to prevailing politics and aesthetic taste. Enjoying the drama, Courbet rose to defend his work as the expression of his newfound political radicalism. While he continued to provoke the establishment by submitting works to the Salon that were twice rejected in the mid-1860s, within that decade he triumphed as the leader of the realist school. His influence became enormous, reaching its height with his rejection of the cross of the Legion of Honor offered him by Napoleon III in 1870. Under the Commune of Paris (1871), Courbet was president of the artists' federation and initially active in the Commune; he was later unfairly held responsible, fined, and imprisoned for the destruction of the Vendôme column. In 1873 he fled to Switzerland, where he spent his few remaining years in poverty. Although his aesthetic theories were not destined to prevail, his painting is greatly admired for its frankness, vigor, and solid construction.

Courbet died, at the age of 58 in Switzerland, of a liver disease aggravated by heavy drinking.
“Painting”, in Courbet's view, “should consist solely of the reproduction of things the artist can see and touch.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Signac, Paul

Grand Canal, Venice
Oil on canvas
28 7/8 x 36 1/4 in. (73.5 x 92.1 cm)
Signac, Paul (1863–1935)
The Toledo Museum of Art

Paul Signac (1863 - 1935) was a French neo-impressionist painter.He is one of the principal neoimpressionist painters worked with Georges Seurat in creating pointillism (or divisionism). He followed a course of training in architecture before deciding at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a painter after attending an exhibit of Monet's work.

Unlike Seurat, he had virtually no formal training; he taught himself to paint by studying the works of Claude Monet and others. After he and Seurat met in 1884, they developed their technique of painting with dots (points) of color, which led to the name pointillism. As Signac explained, they used the pure impressionist palette but applied it in dots that were to be blended by the viewer's eye. What Signac called "muddy mixtures" were to be banished from painting and replaced by luminous, intense colors. Many of Signac's paintings are of the French coast. He loved to paint the water. He left the capital each summer, to stay in the south of France in the village of Collioure or at St. Tropez, where he bought a house and invited his friends.
 As president of the annual Salon des Independants (1908-34), Signac encouraged younger artists by exhibiting the controversial works of the Fauves and the Cubists.

At the age of seventy-two, he died on 15 August 1935 in Paris from septicemia. His body was cremated and buried three days later, on August 18, at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dali, Salvador

Leda Atomica
Oil on canvas
61.1 cm × 45.3 cm (24.1 in × 17.8 in)
Dalí Theatre and Museum, Figueres

Salvador Domènec Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol (1904 – 1989), commonly known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres, Spain. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement.

Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. Dalí's expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media. Dalí attributed his "love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes" to a self-styled "Arab lineage", claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.

He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life.

Leda Atomica is made in 1949. The picture depicts Leda, the mythological queen of Sparta, with the swan. Leda is a frontal portrait of Dalí's wife, Gala, who is seated on a pedestal with a swan suspended behind and to her left.
Leda Atomica is organized according to a rigid mathematical framework, following the "divine proportion". Leda and the swan are set in a pentagon inside which has been inserted a five-point star of which Dalí made several sketches. The five points of the star symbolize the seeds of perfection: love, order, light (truth), willpower and word (action).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Durer, Albrecht

A Young Hare
Watercolor and gouache on paper
25 x 23 cm
Durer, Albrecht (1471-1528)
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) was a German painter.
Dürer's introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, have secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions.

Dürer exerted a huge influence on the artists of succeeding generations, especially in printmaking, the medium through which his contemporaries mostly experienced his art, as his paintings were predominately in private collections located in only a few cities. His success in spreading his reputation across Europe through prints were undoubtedly an inspiration for major artists such as Raphael, Titian, and Parmigianino, all of whom collaborated with printmakers in order to promote and distribute their work.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Corot, Jean-Baptiste Camille

View from the Farnese Gardens, Rome
Oil on canvas
25.1 x 40.6 cm (9 7/8 x 16 in.)
The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796 - 1875) was a French landscape painter.
Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century. He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting and his vast output simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism. Claude Monet exclaimed "There is only one master here—Corot. We are nothing compared to him, nothing."

“What there is to see in painting, or rather what I am looking for, is the form, the whole, the value of the tones…That is why for me the color comes after, because I love more than anything else the overall effect, the harmony of the tones, while color gives you a kind of shock that I don’t like. Perhaps it is the excess of this principal that makes people say I have leaden tones.” (Corot)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ghirlandaio, Domenico

Adoration of the Shepherds
167 x 167 cm
Santa Trinita, Sassetti Chapel, Florence

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 - 1494) was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. Among his many apprentices was Michelangelo. He is best known for his frescoes, in which he often set religious subjects in a secular setting and in which he included recognizable portraits.

The occupation of his father is, dealers of silks and related objects in small quantities. He was at first apprenticed to a jeweller or a goldsmith, most likely his own father. The nickname "Il Ghirlandaio" (garland-maker) came to him from his father, a goldsmith who was famed for
creating the metallic garland-like necklaces worn by Florentine women. In his father's shop, he is said to have made portraits of the passers-by. In 1490, the Duke of Milan received a report that described a handful of good artists available for work in one region. In the report, it was
suggested that he was a notable painter of panels and a master of fresco. It went on to commend his work and to describe him as an efficient and prolific artist. Ghirlandaio employed hordes of assistants - one of whom was Michelangelo - in his prosperous, family-run business. 
Ghirlandaio is commonly credited with having given some early art education to Michelangelo, who cannot, however, have remained with him long. Ghirlandaio died of pestilential fever and was buried in Santa Maria Novella. He had been twice married and left six children. One of his three sons, Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, also became a noted painter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Diebenkorn, Richard

Freeway and Aqueduct
oil on canvas
23 1/4 x 28 inch.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

"When I'm half way there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling... But it happens very rarely; usually it's agony. I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It's the invisible enemy." (Richard Diebenkorn)

Richard Diebenkorn (1922 - 1993) was a well-known 20th century American painter. His early work is associated with Abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His later work (best known as the Ocean Park paintings) were instrumental to
his achievement of worldwide acclaim.

He maintained his love of vivid color and structured composition in both his abstract and representational works. Born in Portland, Oregon, he moved with his family to San Francisco in 1924. After attending Stanford University, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he concentrated on art classes. In the winter of 1944, when he was stationed in Virginia, he frequently visited The Phillips Collection, where he was inspired by the paintings of Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne. He particularly admired Matisse’s technique of structuring space through planes of color, merging indoor and outdoor space. Returning to San Francisco in 1946, he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts.  Awarded a fellowship the same year, he moved East, living and working in Woodstock, New York, and making many contacts. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, he followed a distinctive abstract vocabulary of forms, stylistically rooted in the New York School, placing him firmly within the ethos of American modernism.
From 1955 to 1973 he taught at several California arts institutions, including a position at UCLA while he worked in a studio in the Ocean Park district of Santa Monica. In 1955 he shifted from abstraction to a more representational mode, making reference to observed subjects. Until 1967, when he returned to abstraction, he executed still-lifes, landscapes and interior figure paintings that present his finely tuned sense of color and structure.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Klee, Paul

Moonrise and Sunset
oil on board
40.5 x 34.5 cm
private collection

Paul Klee (1879 – 1940) was born in Switzerland, into a family of musicians, and is considered both a Swiss and a German painter. His childhood love of music was always to remain profoundly important in his life and work.

Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered color theory, and wrote extensively about it; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory, published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are considered so important for modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo da Vinci's A Treatise on Painting had for Renaissance. He had a natural sensitivity to music, the least material of the arts, and it runs through all his work, clarifying his spellbinding color and dematerializing his images.

Klee went to Dusseldorf to teach at the Akademie in 1931, shortly before the Nazis closed the Bauhaus. Forced by the Nazis to leave his position in Dusseldorf in 1933, Klee settled in Bern the following year. Klee died on June 29, 1940, in Muralto-Locarno, Switzerland.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dix, Otto

Die Familie des Künstlers (The artist's family)
Oil on wood
80 x 50 cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (1891 - 1969) was a German painter, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war.

On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Dix volunteered for the German Army and was assigned to a field artillery regiment in Dresden. In the autumn of 1915 Dix was sent to the Western Front where he served as a non-commissioned officer with a machine-gun unit. Dix was wounded several times during the war. On one occasion he nearly died when a shrapnel splinter hit him in the neck. By the end of the war in 1918 Dix had won the Iron Cross (second class) and reached the rank of vice-sergeant-major. After the war He developed left-wing views and his paintings and drawings became increasingly political. He was angry about the way that the wounded and crippled ex-soldiers were treated in Germany.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Nazi Germany. Hitler and his Nazi government disliked Dix's anti-military paintings and arranged for him to be sacked from his post as art tutor at the Dresden Academy. Dix's dismissal letter said that his work "threatened to sap the will of the German people to defend themselves". Dix left Dresden and went to live near Lake Constance in the south-west of Germany. Soon afterwards, several of his anti-war paintings were destroyed by the Nazi authorities in Germany. In 1939 He was arrested and charged with involvement in a plot on Hitler's life. However, he was eventually released and the charges were dropped. In the Second World War Dix was conscripted into the German Home Guard. In 1945 he was forced to join the German Army and at the end of the war was captured and put into a prisoner-of-war camp. Released in 1946, he returned to Dresden. Most of his post-war paintings were religious allegories.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wyeth, Andrew

Braids (Helga Testorf)
dry-brush watercolor
982 × 800 mm
location: unknown

In 1986, Andrew Wyeth revealed his Helga collection; 245 works of a German born woman named Helga Testorf. She was a neighbor of Wyeth's in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in the late 60s and 70s, and was taking care of an elderly woman. Wyeth asked Helga to model for him in 1971, and from then until 1985 he made 45 paintings and 200 drawings of her. He painted and drew her over and over, naked and dressed, without the knowledge of Wyeth's wife or Helga's husband, over a period of 14 years. The sessions were a secret and the paintings were stored at the home of his student, neighbor and good friend.

Andrew Newell Wyeth (1917 – 2009) was a US visual artist, primarily a realist painter, working predominantly in a regionalist style. He was one of the most famous US painters of the twentieth century and often named the "Painter of the People" as a result of his popularity with the American people. In his art, Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nolde, Emil

Abendmahl (The Last Supper)
Oil on canvas
65 x 84 cm
Statten Museum fur Kunst in Copenhagen

"I had an infinite number of visions at this time, for wherever I turned my eyes nature, the sky, the clouds were alive, in each stone and in the branches of each tree, everywhere, my figures stirred and lived their still or wildly animated life, and they aroused my enthusiasm as well as tormented me with demands that I paint them."

Emil Nolde (1867 – 1956) was a German painter. He was one of the first Expressionists, and is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolor painters of the 20th century. He is known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Nolde focused mainly on religious imagery. Some aspects of the family background affected him deeply, the family were Protestants, steeped in religion, and in his youth Nolde read the Bible a great deal.

Nolde was a supporter of the Nazi party from the early 1920s, having become a member of its Danish section. However Hitler rejected all forms of modernism as "degenerate art", and the Nazi regime officially condemned Nolde's work. 1052 of his works were removed from museums,
more than those of any other artist. He was not allowed to paint, even in private, after 1941.
The painting was confiscated as a degenerate art from Städtisches Museum in Halle in 1937. Re-acquired by Emil Nolde in 1939 from the confiscated paintings.
After World War II, Nolde was once again honored, and he was awarded the German Order of Merit in 1952, his country's highest civilian decoration. Nolde died in April 1956, aged eighty eight.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Turner, Joseph Mallord William

The Fighting Termeraire tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up
Oil on canvas
91 x 122 cm 
National Gallery, London, England

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)  was born in London, England. He is the one of the finest landscape artists whose work was exhibited when he was still a teenager. His father was a barber. His mother died when he was very young. He received little schooling. His father taught him how to read, but this was the extent of his education except for the study of art. By the age of 13 he was making drawings at home and exhibiting them in his father's shop window for sale. His entire life was devoted to his art. Wherever he visited he studied the effects of sea and sky in every kind of weather. He developed a painting technique all his own. Instead of merely recording factually what he saw, he translated scenes into a light-filled expression of his own romantic feelings.

Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day. As he grew older Turner became an eccentric. Except for his father, he had no close friends. He allowed no one to watch him while he painted. One day Turner disappeared from his house. His housekeeper, after a search of many months, found him hiding in a house in Chelsea. He had been ill for a long time. He died the following day.

Unlike many artists of his era, he was successful throughout his career. He left a large fortune that he hoped would be used to support what he called "decaying artists." His collection of paintings was bequeathed to his country. At his request he was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. He is
commonly known as "the painter of light" and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.