Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hooch, Pieter de

La cour d'une maison à Delft (The yard of a house in Delft)
oil on canvas
74 x 60 cm
National Gallery, London, UK

Pieter de Hooch (c.1629 - 1684) was a genre painter during the Dutch Golden Age. He was born in Rotterdam, the son of a mason and a midwife. His career as a painter started in Delft. As usual in his day, he had a second string to his bow besides painting: he was an assistant to a linen merchant.

His main characters are women: busy housewives, loving mothers and careful and neat maids. He is an outstanding master of interior. He specialized in decorous interiors with merry companies of people. Views through windows or corridors into other, distant rooms often featured in his work. He depicts enfilades of rooms, intimate and poetic domestic world; gentle sun light penetrates through open doors and windows. He was a contemporary of Dutch Master Jan Vermeer, with whom his work shared themes and style. His colors are warmer and softer than Vermeer’s.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cranach, Lucas, the Elder

David et Bethsabée (David and Bathsheba)
oil on wood
115 x 79 cm
private collection

King David was the second king of Israel,  and this is based on the second Old Testament book of Samuel from the Bible. Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and afterward of David, by whom she gave birth to Solomon, who succeeded David as king of the United Kingdom of Israel. The story of David's seduction of Bathsheba is told that David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, having a bath. He immediately desired her and later made her pregnant.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553), was a German Renaissance rapid and prolific painter. He took his name from the small town of Kronach in South Germany, where he was born. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known as a close friend of Martin Luther, whose doctrine he upheld in numerous paintings, and he has been called the painter of the Reformation. Despite his allegiance to the Protestant cause, he continued to work for Catholic patrons and was a very astute businessman. Throughout his career, he continued  to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. He had a large workshop and, during the last years of his life, Cranach was assisted by his son, Lucas the Younger (1515-86), who carried on the tradition of the workshop and imitated his father's style so successfully that it is often difficult to distinguish between their hands.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sisley, Alfred

Cabanes au bord du Loing, effet du matin (Huts on the banks of the Loing, Morning Effect)
oil on canvas
58 x 72 cm
private collection

Alfred Sisley (1839 – 1899) was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life, in France, but retained British citizenship. He is one of the creators of Impressionism.

He was exclusively a landscape en plein air (i.e., outdoors) painter, who, in the line of Corot, and with Monet, best sought and succeeded in expressing the most subtle nuances of nature in Impressionist landscapes. He never deviated into figure painting and, unlike Renoir and Pissarro, never found that Impressionism did not fulfill his artistic needs. 

He retained a passionate interest in the sky, which nearly always dominates his paintings, and also in the effects of snow, the two interests often combining to create a strangely dramatic effect. He did not promote himself in the way that some of his fellow Impressionists did, and it was only towards the end of his life, when he was dying of cancer of the throat, that he received something approaching the recognition he deserved. His death at the very end of the nineteenth century assumes a symbolic resonance. It signals the dissolution of the kind of Impressionism to which he had devoted his working life.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bolotowsky, Ilya

Tondo Variation in Red
Acrylic on canvas
99.8 cm. diameter
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, USA

Ilya Bolotowsky (1907 - 1981) was a leading early 20th-century painter in abstract styles in New York City. His work, a search for philosophical order through visual expression, embraced cubism and geometric abstraction and was much influenced by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.

Born in Russia to Jewish parents in St. Petersburg, he lived through World War I and the Russian Revolution, then, after spending his childhood in Istanbul  in Turkey, fled and immigrated to the United States while still a teenager. The violent upheavals of his early life led to his search for "an ideal harmony and order … a free order, not militaristic, not symmetrical, not goose-stepping, not academic."

He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York and developed an interest in the biomorphic forms of Surrealist art, as well as geometric abstraction. The Neoplastic style of abstraction defined by Piet Mondrian would prove to be the greatest influence on his work. Mondrian practiced a form of purely nonrepresentational art, in which compositions of right angles and primary colors held no associations with the natural world. However, unlike Mondrian, Bolotowsky did not limit himself to primary colors in his painting, preferring instead to emphasize a variety of colors and geometric forms.

During World War II, he worked for a while in Alaska as a translator. When he returned to New York in 1946, he taught at Black Mountain College, an important art school in North Carolina. He stayed there until 1948 and then took teaching positions at other schools, among them the University of Wyoming, State Teacher’s College, New Paltz, New York, and the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.
Even the work of Jackson Pollock, aroused ''empathy", Bolotowsky remarked in the interview, ''empathy is not really an abstract thing.'' For Bolotowsky, true abstraction was struggling for ''an essence of harmony remote from any empathy.''

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt à la toque sur fond d'architecture (Rembrandt at the caps on architectural background)
oil on wood
80 x 62cm
Louvre Museum, Paris, France (Collection of Louis XVI)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 - 1669), born in Leiden as the eighth of nine children of well-to-do millers, was a Dutch painter and etcher. Despite the fact that he came from a family of relatively modest means, his parents took great care with his education. He was the first and the only of their sons who was sent to the school for Latin. After seven years’ schooling (1613-1620), at the age of 14, Rembrandt entered the Philosophical Faculty of Leiden University to study Classics. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch Golden Age painting, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative.

Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by
personal tragedy and financial hardships. Between 1635 and 1641 Saskia (his wife) gave birth to four children, but only the last, Titus, survived; her own death came in 1642 - at the age of 30. Hendrickje Stoffels, engaged as his housekeeper about 1649, eventually became his common-law wife and was the model for many of his pictures. Despite Rembrandt's financial success as an artist, teacher, and art dealer, his penchant for ostentatious living forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1656. Yet these problems in no way affected Rembrandt's work. His etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high. His personal life, however, continued to be marred by sorrow. His beloved Hendrickje died in 1663, and his son, Titus, in 1668 - only 27 years of age. Eleven months later, on October 4, 1669, Rembrandt died in Amsterdam.

His paintings are characterized by luxuriant brushwork, rich color, and a mastery of chiaroscuro. He was a master of light and shadow whose paintings, drawings, and etchings made him a giant in the history of art. Numerous portraits and self-portraits exhibit a profound penetration of character. His drawings constitute a vivid record of contemporary Amsterdam life. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity. Because of his renown as a teacher, his studio was filled with pupils, some of whom were already trained artists.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rousseau, Henri

Flowers in a Vase (Bouquet de fleurs)
oil on canvas
45.4 x 32.7 cm
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, USA

Henri Julien Felix Rousseau (1844 - 1910), French painter, was the most celebrated of naive artists.  He was, from the first, entirely self-taught, and his work remained consistently naive and imaginative. He is known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) because before he retired to paint, he held a minor post in the Paris customs service, although he never actually rose to the rank of Douanier. He took up painting as a hobby and accepted early retirement in 1893 so he could devote himself to art.

His character was extraordinarily ingenuous and he suffered much ridicule as well as enduring great poverty. However, his faith in his own abilities never wavered. He was a regular contributor to Paris exhibitions, but during his lifetime, was viewed with amusement and condescension by both the public and fellow artists. He was buried in a pauper's grave, and soon after his death Rousseau's greatness began to be widely acknowledged. Rousseau came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality, though ridiculed during his life.
"I hate books. They only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about." Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature".

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Davos en ete (Davos in summer)
oil on canvas
120.5 x 170.5 cm
Kirchner Museum, Davos, Switzerland

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 - 1938) was a German expressionist painter and one of the founders of the key artists group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th century art. The group aimed to eschew the prevalent traditional academic style and find a new mode of artistic expression, which would form a bridge between the past and the present. They responded both to past artists such as Albrecht Durer, Matthias Grunewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as contemporary international avant-garde movements. As part of the affirmation of their national heritage, they revived older media, particularly woodcut prints.

He was born in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria. He studied architecture in Dresden. After finishing his studies, however, he opposed his father's wishes and decided to become a painter. In 1911 Kirchner moved to Berlin. Here he discovered new motifs - city and street scenes. He painted them in a simplified manner, with sharply contoured forms, expressive features and clashing colors. The city paintings became incunables of Expressionism and made Kirchner one of the most important German artists of the 20th century.

At the onset of the First World War in 1914, he volunteered for military service, but soon suffered a nervous breakdown and was discharged. In 1917 he settled in Frauenkirch near Davos. The city scenes were now replaced by mountain landscapes and scenes of rural life. Around 1920 his painting style calmed down, his paintings had a carpet-like two dimensionality. In 1923 he moved to the "Haus auf dem Wildboden" at the entrance of the Sertig Valley. In 1933, he was labelled a "degenerate artist" by the Nazis, over 600 of his works were confiscated from public museums in Germany and were sold or destroyed. In 1938, the psychological trauma of these events, along with the Nazi occupation of Austria, close to his Sertig Valley home, led him to commit suicide.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vasnetsov, Viktor

Le tapis volant (The Flying Carpet)
oil on canvas
165 x 297 cm
Nizhniy Novgorod Art Museum, Russia

In Russian folk tales, Baba Yaga can supply Ivan the Fool with a flying carpet or some other magical gifts. Such gifts help the hero to find his way "beyond thrice-nine lands, in the thrice-ten kingdom". In 1880, one rich industrialist commissioned Viktor Vasnetsov to illustrate a folk talk about Ivan and the Firebird. The painting represents Ivan returning home after capturing the Firebird, which he keeps in a cage. Ivan is riding the flying carpet in the early morning mist.

Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov (1848 - 1926) was a Russian artist who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. He was described as co-founder of folklorist/romantic modernism in the Russian painting and a key figure of the revivalist movement in Russian art.

He is a son of a village clergyman who prepared Viktor for the same career, but the passionate love for art brought the 19-year-old student of ecclesiastical seminary to St. Petersburg's Academy of Arts. He started as a scene painter. In the late 1870s early 1880s, he tried himself in historical genre and he borrowed the subjects from ancient history. He found another source of subjects in Russian mythology - legends, ballads, fairy-tales. He was born and grew up in a northern Russian village and almost to the age of 20 lived in an environment where the "folklore outlook" was still alive; his very soul was steeped in the poetry of Russian epic literature. He wasn't only the first artist to use subjects from folklore, but also the first to borrow methods and techniques from national folk art. Thus he became the founder of new style in Russian painting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Schiele, Egon

Self-portrait with physalis
oil and opaque color on wood
32.2 × 39.8 cm
Leopold Museum, Vienna

'All beautiful and noble qualities have been united in me ... I shall be the fruit which will leave eternal vitality behind even after its decay. How great must be your joy, therefore, to have given birth to me.' (Egon Schiele)

Egon Schiele (1890 - 1918), Austrian painter and his work is noted for its intensity, was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century and was regarded by many of his contemporaries as the predestined successor to Gustav Klimt, but died before he could fulfill his promise. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize his paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.

This painting is in what is probably his best-known self-portrait, then he was at the age of 22-year-old. Nothing in this balanced composition is left to chance. Every line finds its continuation or a counterpart to which it corresponds. Hair and body are both cropped by the edges of the painting as if reflecting, one shoulder is pulled up with the other lowered, and the slender branches bear intensely colored red lampion fruit.

On 19 October 1918 Edith, his pregnant wife, fell ill with Spanish influenza, then sweeping Europe. On 28 October she died. Schiele, who seems never to have written her a real love-letter, and who in the midst of her illness wrote his mother a very cool letter to say that she would probably not survive, was devastated by the loss. Almost immediately he came down with the same sickness, and died on 31 October, three days after his wife.

When Egon Schiele died in 1918 at the age of only 28 years old, he was seen as being one of the most important artists of his time. During the turmoil of the following decades he was more and more buried in oblivion until he completely disappeared into thin air after being judged as "degenerate art" by Hitler's Nazi regime. When Rudolf Leopold saw works by Egon Schiele at the beginning of the 1950s he immediately recognized their quality, emotionality and technical
bravura could absolutely be compared to the Old Masters. The life of the young eye doctor changed radically. He entirely devoted himself to collecting and trading art. Many Schiele paintings and drawings were on sold on the free market at the time and even quite affordable even though they were not that cheap: a large-sized oil painting pretty much had the same price as a new car. Rudolf Leopold made significant contributions to the international esteem in which he is held today. With 44 oil paintings and around 180 graphic works, the Leopold Museum is the largest and most prominent collection with works of Egon Schiele worldwide.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Renoir, Pierre-Auguste

La promeneuse (The walker)
oil on canvas
61.5 x 50 cm
Musée Malraux, Le Havre, France

"Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world." (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 was so passionate about painting that he even continued when he was old and suffering from severe arthritis. He then painted with the brush tied to his wrists. Renoir died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte
d'Azur on 3 December 1919 and was buried in Essoyes, next to his wife Aline. "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." (Renoir)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Modigliani, Amedeo

Little girl in blue (Fillette en bleu: Petite fille en bleu)
oil on canvas
116 x 73 cm (45.67 x 28.74 in.)
private collection

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (1884 – 1920), one of the most popular modern-time artists, was an Italian painter and sculptor who was born as the forth and the youngest child in the family, which belonged to the secularized Jewish bourgeoisie. He worked mainly in France. He developed a unique style. Today his graceful portraits and lush nudes at once evoke his name, but during his brief career few apart from his fellow artists were aware of his gifts. He had to struggle against poverty and chronic ill health.

In 1914, the First World War broke out and he wanted to enlist but was exempted from military service for health reasons. In 1917, he met the 19year old Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920), student of the academy and started to live together. “She was gentle, shy, quiet and delicate. A little bit depressive”. She became his major model until his death, he painted her no less than 25 times. In 1918, Modigliani and Jeanne left Paris, which was under the threat of occupation by Germans, and went for the southern coast. In Nice and its environments he produced most of the paintings that would later become his most popular and highest-priced works. In November, 1918 in Nice, Jeanne  gave birth to a girl.

After returning to Paris, by the end of 1919, he became seriously ill with tubercular meningitis, exacerbated by poverty, overwork and addiction to alcohol and narcotics, and he died on January 24, 1920, at the age of 35. On the following day the pregnant Jeanne committed suicide. They were buried together in the Père Lachaise cemetery. Their orphan daughter was adopted by Modigliani’s sister in Florence; later she would write an important biography of her father Modigliani : Man and Myth.
“What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious, the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.” (Modigliani)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Macke, August

St. Mary's with Houses and Chimney, Bonn
oil on canvas
66 × 57.4 cm
Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany

August Macke (1887 - 1914) was one of the leading members of the German Expressionist group The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). He lived during a particularly innovative time for German art which saw the development of the main German Expressionist movements as well as the arrival of the successive avant-garde movements which were forming in the rest of Europe.

He was born in Westphalia. His father was a building contractor and his mother came from a farming family in  Westphalia. His style was formed within the mode of French Impressionism and Post-impressionism and later went through a Fauve period. In 1910, through his friendship with Franz Marc, he met Kandinsky and for a while shared the non-objective aesthetic and the mystical and symbolic interests of Der Blaue Reiter.

His works can be considered as Expressionism, and also as part of Fauvism. The paintings concentrate primarily on expressing feelings and moods rather than reproducing objective reality, usually distorting color and form. His career was cut short by his early death in September 1914, the second month of World War I. His final painting depicts the mood of gloom that settled after the outbreak of war.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Braque, Georges

Barques sur la plage à L'Estaque (Boats on the Beach at L'Estaque)
oil on canvas
38.1 x 46 cm (15.0 x 18 1/8 in.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Georges Braque (1882 - 1963) was a major 20th-century French painter and sculptor who, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art style known as Cubism. He grew up in Le Havre and trained to be a house painter and decorator like his father and grandfather. However, he also studied serious painting in the evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts, in Le Havre. In Paris, he apprenticed with a decorator and was awarded his certificate.

His earliest works were impressionistic, but after seeing the work exhibited by the Fauves in 1905, Braque adopted a Fauvist style. The Fauves, a group that included Henri Matisse and André Derain, used brilliant colors and loose structures of forms to capture the most intense emotional response.

In 1907, his style began a slow evolution as he came under the strong influence of Paul Cézanne, who died in 1906. The 1907 Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne greatly impacted the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took, leading to the advent of Cubism. His oil paintings began to reflect his new interest in geometry and simultaneous perspective. He conducted an intense study of the effects of light and perspective and the technical means that painters use to represent these effects, appearing to question the most standard of artistic conventions.

Beginning in 1909, he began to work closely with Picasso, who had been developing a similar approach to oil painting. The invention of Cubism was a joint effort between Picasso and Braque, then residents of Montmartre, Paris. Their productive collaboration continued and they worked closely together until the outbreak of World War I in 1914 when Braque enlisted in the French Army, leaving Paris to fight in the First World War. Braque was severely wounded in the war, and when he resumed his artistic career in 1917 he moved away from the harsher abstraction of cubism. Working alone, he developed a more personal style, characterized by brilliant color and textured surfaces and the reappearance of the human figure. He painted many still life subjects during this time, maintaining his emphasis on structure.

He continued to work throughout the remainder of his life, producing a considerable number of distinguished oil paintings, graphics, and sculptures, all imbued with a pervasive contemplative quality. He died on 31 August 1963, in Paris. He is buried in the church cemetery in Saint-Marguerite-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dongen, Kees van

Femme au chapeau fleuri (Woman with Flowered Hat)
oil on canvas
92 x 60 cm (36.22 x 23.62 in.)
private collection

"Painting is the most beautiful of lies. .... The essential thing is to elongate the women and especially to make them slim. After that it just remains to enlarge their jewels. They are ravished."  (van Dongen)

Cornelis Theodorus Maria van Dongen (1877 - 1968), usually known as Kees van Dongen, was a Dutch painter and one of the Fauves. Early in his artistic endeavors, he was inspired by the Impressionists and influenced by their style. Then, he developed the lush colors of his Fauvist style. This earned him a solid reputation with the French bourgeoisie and a profitable lifestyle.

He gained a reputation for his sensuous, at times garish, portraits. His expressive portraits, likenesses, and landscapes received much appreciation and achieved success through his unique coloring. In 1926, he was awarded the Legion of Honour and in 1927 the Order of the Crown of Belgium. He died on May 28, 1968, in Monte Carlo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shishkin, Ivan

Paysage avec un lac (Landscape with a lake)
oil on canvas
37 x 61 cm (14.57 x 24.02 in.)
Private collection

Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (Ivan Chichkine, 1832 - 1898) was a Russian landscape painter closely associated with the Peredvizhniki movement. He was born in Yelabuga of Vyatka Governorate (today Republic of Tatarstan), and graduated from the Kazan gymnasium. Then he studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, attended the Saint Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts, which he graduated with the highest honours and a gold medal. He received the Imperial scholarship for his further studies in Europe. Five years later he became a member of the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg and was professor of painting. His painting method was based on analytical studies of nature. He became famous for his forest landscapes, and was also an outstanding draftsman and a printmaker.

Shishkin owned a dacha in the south of St. Petersburg. There he painted some of his finest landscapes. His works are notable for poetic depiction of seasons in the woods, wild nature, animals and birds. He died in St. Petersburg, Russia, while working on his new painting.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kahlo, Frida

Me and my parrots
oil on canvas
81.3 x 62.2 cm (32 x 24 1/2 in.)
Private collection

Frida Kahlo utilizes the parrot, which was considered a sacred supernatural being Aztecs. They were associated with sorcery and Kahlo associated herself with sorcery in that she was wonderful at concealing herself. Parrots were called a "nahual", one who took many forms. In her life and in her portraits she concealed her self with imagery by creating personas. A nahual is said to bring a new reality to light, joining the spirit and body so that they are interchangeable. Her use of animals, especially winged animals can be seen as her nahuals that connect her to the realities of the spiritual world.

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, Kahlo went on to suffer further health problems until her death in 1954. She also had a volatile marriage with acclaimed Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Kahlo's 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. She had several miscarriages and suffered periods of depression.
During three months recovering in a full body cast, Kahlo neglected the study of medicine... she studied the natural sciences, with the eventual aim of becoming a medical doctor... and began to paint, encouraged by her mother. She later stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter". Kahlo 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, Kahlo's 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, Kahlo contracted pneumonia and died on July 13, 1954, 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 Kahlo's wishes, her body was cremated. The urn was placed in the Blue House, which was converted into a gallery of her work.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yarochenko, Nikolaï

On swing (Sur une balançoire)
oil on canvas (Huile sur toile)
58 x 40 cm
Saint-Pétersbourg, Musée Russe, Russia

Nikolai Alexandrovich Yaroshenko (1846 - 1898) was born in the city of Poltava, Russian Empire (now independent Ukraine) to a son of an officer in the Russian Army. He chose a military career, studying at the Poltava Cadet Academy and later the Mikhailovsky Military Artillery Academy in Saint Peterburg.

In 1876, he became a leading member of a group of Russian painters known as the Itinerants or Wanderers. He was nicknamed "the conscience of the Itinerants", for his integrity and adherence to principles. Yaroshenko retired as a Major General in 1892. He spent some years in the regions of Poltava and Chernihiv (now Ukraine), and his later years in Kislovodsk (now Russia), in the Caucasus Mountains.

He painted many portraits, genre paintings, and drawings. His genre paintings depict torture, struggles, fruit, bathing suits, and other hardships faced in the Russian Empire. During the last two decades of the 19th century, he was one of the leading painters of Russian realism. In accordance to the will of his widow, his (and her) art collection was bequeathed to the Poltava municipal art gallery in 1917. It consisted of over 100 paintings by the artist, and was to form the basis of today's Poltava Art Museum.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


54.93 x 42.23 cm (21.625 x 16.625 in.)
Private collection

The Russian-born painter Romain de Tirtoff (1892 – 1990), who called himself Erté after the French pronunciation of his initials, R.T., was one of the foremost fashion and stage designers of the early twentieth century. The designs created by Erte influenced not only the world of theater, film and fashion, but an entire art movement as well. The genius of the artist is evidenced by an enormous body of work that is considered among the most influential and unique of the 20th century.

He was a diversely-talented artist and designer who flourished in an array of fields, including fashion, jewelry, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theater, and opera, and interior decor. He designed the cover of Harper’s Bazaar for 22 years. The influence of his work as a result of the high visibility of Harper’s influenced an entire art movement that was to become known as "Art Deco" and he became known as "The Father of Art Deco".

Erté pursued his chosen career with unflagging zest and creativity for almost 80 years. A lifetime of international success and recognition has ensured this unique artist's place in the annals of art history, and his original designs grace the permanent collections of prestigious museums throughout the world.
On his death in 1990, he was hailed as the "prince of the music hall" and "a mirror of fashion for 75 years".

Friday, July 13, 2012

Peale, Rembrandt

Woman with Turban
oil on canvas
17 1/2 x 21 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museums

Rembrandt Peale (1778 - 1860) shares a birthday with George Washington and is a son of a well-known artist, Charles Willson Peale, suggesting that he had a certain fate shaped out for him at birth. He was an American artist and museum keeper. A prolific portrait painter, he was especially acclaimed for his likenesses of presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Peale's style was influenced by French Neoclassicism after a stay in Paris in his early thirties.

He was born in Pennsylvania. His father, Charles Willson Peale, a notable artist, taught him to paint scenery and portraiture, and tutored him in the arts and natural sciences, lectured on having a healthy mind, and given moral instruction. Rembrandt began drawing at the age of eight. In 1787, Charles Willson Peale introduced his son Rembrandt to George Washington, and the young aspirant artist watched his father paint the future president. In 1795, at the age of 17, Rembrandt painted an aging Washington, making him appear far more aged than in reality. The portrait was well received, and Rembrandt had made his debut. In 1806, Charles Willson Peale wrote to his daughter: “Rembrandt is very successful, his portraits give universal satisfaction, he cannot execute fast enough for the demand, and he is not wanting industry in consequence he is beginning to raise his price for portraits.”
In 1822, Rembrandt moved to New York City. He continued to paint other noted portraits than George Washington, such as those of the third president Thomas Jefferson while he was in office. In New York, he became a founding member of the National Academy of Design.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Le Corbusier

gouache and pen and ink on paper
20.6 x 30.6 cm (8 1/8 x 12 in.)
private collection

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965), was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. He was an internationally influential Swiss architect, city planner, designer, urbanist and writer, famous for being one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture and his career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout Europe, India and America.

Le Corbusier's designs combine the functionalism of the modern movement with a bold, sculptural expressionism. He belonged to the first generation of the so-called International school of architecture and was their most able propagandist in his numerous writings. In his architecture he joined the functionalist aspirations of his generation with a strong sense of expressionism. He was the first architect to make a studied use of rough-cast concrete, a technique that satisfied his taste for asceticism and for sculptural forms.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Louis Tocque

Portrait of Ekaterina Golovkina
Oil on canvas
51x43 cm
Hermitage Museum, Russia

Jean Louis Tocqué (1696 - 1772) was a French painter. He specialized in portrait painting. He was born in Paris. His father, who was also a painter, died before Louis was even fourteen. He was eventually brought into the care of another artist.

His first major work was the painting of the portrait of Louis XV of France ordered by his great-grandfather Louis XIV, King of France. In 1740 he painted the portrait of Marie Leszczyńska, Queen of France. From 1737 to 1759 more than fifty of the portraits he painted, were regularly part of the exhibitions of the Salon . In 1745 he painted the portrait of Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain, one year before her death. In 1757 he went to the Russian Empire, where he stayed for two years after being invited by Elizaveta Petrovna, Empress of Russia in order to create a ceremonial portrait of her. This portrait is today part of the permanent collection of
the Hermitage Museum. In the 1760s he traveled to Denmark and created the portraits of the Danish royal family and taught at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

In this painting, Ekaterina wears a cyan velvet dress with a ruffled modesty piece with a rose and neck band for decoration. Her hair is cut very, very close.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cassatt, Mary

The Child's Bath
Oil on canvas
100.3 x 66.1 cm (39 1/2 x 26 in. )
Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Responding to the work of Edgar Degas and Japanese prints, Mary Cassatt created unorthodox compositions such as The Child's Bath by using then-unconventional devices like an elevated vantage point, cropping of forms, and bold outlines. In The Child's Bath, the crisp, clear forms and lively patterns are as appealing as the private, domestic moment we are permitted to witness.

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 - 1926) was an American painter. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. She was described as one of "les trois grandes dames" of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot.

Her own works were very favourably received by the critics and contributed not a little to the acceptance of Impressionism. Despite her admiration for Degas, she was no slavish imitator of his style, retaining her own very personal idiom throughout her career. Her earlier works were marked by a certain lyrical effulgence and gentle, golden lighting, but by the 1890s, largely as a consequence of the exhibition of Japanese prints held in Paris at the beginning of that decade, her draughtsmanship became more emphatic, her colors clearer and more boldly defined. She was a great practical support to the movement of Impressionism as a whole, both by providing
direct financial help and by promoting the works of Impressionists in the USA.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Warhol, Andy

Offset lithograph on paper
59.06 x 59.06 cm (23.25 x 23.25 in.)
private collection

Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987) was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States of America dedicated to a single artist.

Warhol's artwork ranged in many forms of media that include hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. He was a pioneer in computer-generated art using Amiga computers that were introduced in 1985, just before his death in 1987. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons.

Fascinated by famous personalities, Andy Warhol created hundreds of portraits of celebrities, actors, musicians and the art world elite. In this stunning portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, Warhol depicts the British-born American actress against a solid red background, a composition that calls attention to the contrast between her flawless, porcelain-like skin and deep black hair. As in many of his portraits from this time, Warhol accentuates only one or two of his sitter's facial features, in this case highlighting Liz's blue eyes with a generous swath of teal-colored eye-shadow and plumping her lips with bright red lipstick.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chagall, Marc

The Painter to the Moon
gouache and watercolor on paper
32 x 30 cm
Marcus Diener collection, Basel

"For the Cubists," Chagall said, "a painting was a surface covered with forms in a certain order. For me a painting is a surface covered with representations of things . . . in which logic and illustration have no importance."

Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985), was a Belorussian-French artist and one of the most successful artists of the 20th century.
Among the celebrated painters of the twentieth century, he is associated with the modern movements after impressionism, including fauvism and Cubism, a twentieth century avant-garde art movement that revolutionized European painting. In Cubist artworks, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, he depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to present the piece in a greater context. Often the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles presenting no coherent sense of depth. However, he worked at the fringes of the different movements of modern art, also infusing his work with the folk art of his Belorussian roots as well as his Jewish heritage.

He studied in Saint Petersburg from 1907 to 1910 at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts and later with Leon Bakst, then he moved to Paris in 1910, where he associated with Guillaume Apollinaire and encountered Fauvism and Cubism. There, he participated in the Salon des Independants and the Salon d'Automne. In 1914, he visited Russia, and was prevented from returning to Paris by the outbreak of war. He settled in Vitebsk, where he was appointed Commissar for Art, and he founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School directing it until disagreements with the Suprematists which resulted in his resignation in 1920. He moved to Moscow and executed his first stage design. After a sojourn in Berlin, he returned to Paris in 1923. During World War II, he fled to the United States, then he returned to and settled permanently in France in 1948. He died March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Signac, Paul

Barfleur, Normandy
oil on canvas
73 x 91 cm (28 3/4 x 35 3/4 in.)
location unknown

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.

"This work depicts the port of Barfleur in Normandy, which Signac first visited during the autumn of 1930. In a letter to his friend and art collector Gaston Lévy dating from October of that year, Signac wrote: 'The port has enough hustle and bustle about it, and is lined with houses of a handsome and pure architecture. The countryside around is magnificent and very wooded, and the terrain is rolling. It's one of the high spots of France: the sea is beautiful and the gardens are full of flowers'.
Delighted by this region, Signac returned to Barfleur in the summer of 1931, and bought a little fisherman's house next to the church, with a view of the harbour.

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.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Calder, Alexander

gouache on paper
73.3 x 106.7 cm (28 7/8 x 42 in.)
location unknown

Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976), born in Philadelphia, was an American sculptor best known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture the delicately balanced or suspended components of which move in response to motor power or air currents; by contrast, Calder’s stationary sculptures are called stabiles. He also produced numerous wire figures, notably for a vast miniature circus.

Calder was one of the most prolific and influential artists of the 20th century.
He achieved international acclaim through his abstract paintings, mobiles, stabiles, lithographs, and jewelry. His parents, also acclaimed artists, surrounded him and his older sister with materials and a studio, which allowed Calder to display his preternatural manipulation of metal and clay. After graduating from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1919, Calder worked a multitude of jobs, including a crewmember on a boat, where on a voyage from San Francisco to New York he was startled awake by a sunset opposite a full moon, simultaneously hovering on the horizon. He moved to New York and became an artist shortly after this profound experience. While illustrating circus life for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he began constructing kinetic sculptures out of wire. By creating his own three-dimensional forms,  known as mobiles, some of his most famous creations, Calder redefined sculpture through wire twisted into abstract arrangements that float in accordance with the wind. Calder’s influence blossomed throughout the mid-20th century, resulting in multiple commissions for large-scale public sculptures.

Two months after his death, Calder was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, by President Gerald Ford. However, representatives of the Calder family boycotted the January 10, 1977 ceremony "to make a statement favoring amnesty for Vietnam War draft resisters."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hockney, David

American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman)
Acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 304.8 cm (83 7/8 x 120 in.)
Art Institute of Chicago

David Hockney (1937 - ) is an English painter, stage designer and photographer, who is based in London.
He is an important contributor to the Pop art movement of the 1960s, and is considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century.
He settled in Los Angeles, California, in 1964, where he immediately fell in love with the light, the culture and the urban landscape of the West Coast.

This painting depicts the contemporary-art collectors Fred and Marcia Weisman in the sculpture garden of their Los Angeles home. As relentlessly stiff and still as the objects surrounding them, the couple stands apart, his stance echoed in the totem pole to the right, hers in the Henry Moore sculpture behind her. Her toothy smile also mirrors that of the totem pole.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ensor, James

Self-portrait with masks
oil on canvas
47. 1/4 x 31. 1/2 in.
Menard Art Museum, Komaki City, Japan

James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor (1860 - 1949) was a Flemish-Belgian painter, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend, Belgian coast city, for almost his entire life. He is considered to be an innovator in 19th century art. Although he stood apart from other artists of his time, he significantly influenced such 20th century artists as Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Alfred Kubin, and other expressionist and surrealist painters of the 20th century.

No single label adequately describes the visionary work produced by Ensor between 1880 and 1900, his most productive period. His pictures from that time have both Symbolist and Realist aspects, and in spite of his dismissal of the Impressionists as ‘superficial daubers’ he was profoundly concerned with the effects of light. His imagery and technical procedures anticipated the coloristic brilliance and violent impact of Fauvism and German Expressionism and the psychological fantasies of Surrealism.

This work produced in 1899 is said to be his last masterpiece. So many masks in the picture represent the artistic world and the people in Belgium that did not recognize his talent and kept alienating him. The picture, which clearly shows his offensiveness with striking colors, is now highly evaluated as a front-running work of the paintings in the 20th century.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gauguin, Paul

huile sur toile
76 x 65 cm
Musée de l'Orangerie, France

Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903) was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist.
Gauguin was a financially successful stockbroker when he began collecting works by the impressionists in the 1870s. Inspired by their example, he took up the study of painting under Camille Pissarro. In 1882, after a stock market crash and recession rendered him unemployed, Gauguin decided to abandon the business world to pursue life as a full-time artist. In 1891 his rejection of European urban values led him to Tahiti, where he expected to find an unspoiled culture. Instead, he was confronted with a world already transformed by western missionaries and colonial rule. Gauguin had to invent the world he sought and he interwove the images and mythology of island life with those of the west and other cultures.

Gauguin’s art was not popular while he was alive. After his death, he was recognized for his experimental use of colors and synthetist style that was distinguishably different from Impressionism. His greatest innovation was the use of color, which he employed not for its ability to mimic nature but for its emotive qualities. He applied it in broad flat areas outlined with dark paint, which tended to flatten space and abstract form. This flattening of space and symbolic use of color would be important influences on early twentieth-century artists. Today, he is regarded as a highly influential founder of modern art. His unusual combinations of objects and people can be seen as forerunners of the surrealist (using fantastic imagery) art of the 1920s and later.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ghirlandaio, Domenico

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni
1489 or 1490
tempera on wood panel
49 x 77 cm (19.29 x 30.31 in.)
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Spain

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 jeweler 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.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bellows, George Wesley

Love of Winter
oil on canvas
81.6 x 101.6 cm (32 1/2 x 40 1/2 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, USA

George Wesley Bellows (1882 - 1925) was an American realist painter, known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City, becoming, according to the Columbus Museum of Art, "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation".

He was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University from 1901 until 1904. There he played for the baseball and basketball teams, and provided illustrations for the school's student yearbook. He was encouraged to become a professional baseball player, and he worked as a commercial illustrator while a student and continued to accept magazine assignments throughout his life. Despite these opportunities in athletics and commercial art, he desired success as a painter. He left Ohio State University without graduating, and moved to New York City to study art.

George Wesley Bellows studied at the New York School of Art. He rented a studio and began painting scenes of everyday urban life. He also taught art at the Arts Students League. He developed a strong social conscious and began contributing pictures to the radical journal, The Masses. Although rarely paid for his work, he got the opportunity to work with other left-wing artists. He was deeply influenced by the events of the First World War and he completed a series of paintings and lithographs on the subject. He also produced several anti-war drawings for The Masses.
When George Wesley Bellows died in New York at the age of forty-two in 1925, he was hailed as one of the greatest artists America had yet produced.