Thursday, February 28, 2013

Matisse, Henri

Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's "La Desserte"
oil on canvas
180.9 x 220.8 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, Matisse's home in the Parisian suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux was requisitioned by the French military. When he was permitted to return the next year, he came across a painting he had made as a student. It was a copy of a still life by the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Jan Davidsz de Heem. It inspired Matisse to make a new version, based on what he called "the methods of modern construction." Influenced by the Cubists, Matisse laid out the painting as a tightly organized grid.

Henri-Emile-Benoit Matisse (1869 - 1954) was a French artist, known for his use of color and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. The art of 20th century has been dominated by two men: Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. They are artists of classical greatness, and their visionary forays into new art have changed our understanding of the world. Matisse was the elder of the two, but he was a slower and more methodical man by temperament. Matisse and Picasso helped to define the revolutionary  developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

Matisse began studying drawing and painting in the 1890s. A student of the masters of Post-Impressionism, Matisse later made a reputation for himself as the leader of a group of painters known as Les Fauves (wild beasts). An ironic label given to them by a critic, the name reflected Matisse's aggressive strokes and bold use of primary colors.
Although he was labeled a Fauve, by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of color and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art.

Matisse loved pattern, and pattern within pattern: not only the suave and decorative forms of his own compositions but also the reproduction of tapestries, embroideries, silks, striped awnings, curlicues, mottles, dots, and spots, the bright clutter of over-furnished rooms, within the painting. In particular he loved Islamic art. Islamic pattern offers the illusion of a completely full world, where everything from far to near is pressed with equal urgency against the eye. Matisse admired that, and wanted to transpose it into terms of pure color. Beyond painting, he worked with lithographs and sculpture, and during World War II he did a series of book designs. Later in his career he experimented with paper cutouts and designed decorations for the Dominican chapel in Venice, France.
Picasso destroyed his fear of women in his art, while Matisse coaxed his nervous tension into serenity. Matisse said that he wanted his art to have the same effect as a comfortable armchair on a tired businessman and many of the paintings he left us seem to be the view from that armchair.
"Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better." "It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character." (Henri Matisse)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Modigliani, Amedeo

Gypsy Woman with Baby
oil on canvas
115.9 x 73 cm (45 5/8 x 28 3/4 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

There are deep undercurrents of art historical awareness here, especially of an Italian heritage. Her oval face (which shows mask-like indifference or incisive characterization, depending on your taste), recalls the long visages of a Botticelli. The elongated forms of her body echoes Mannerists of the 16th century. And the sinuous lines that dance down her skirt, over her chest and alongside her face slink in the same way as Sienese painters of the 14th century.

“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)

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (1884 - 1920) was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He was born as the forth and the youngest child in the family, which belonged to the secularized Jewish bourgeoisie. Today, he is known for his paintings and sculptures in a modern style characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form 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.

He met the first serious love of his life, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, when he was 26. Anna was tall with dark hair, pale skin and grey-green eyes, she embodied Modigliani's aesthetic ideal and the pair became engrossed in each other, although in later years they became apart. 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 19-year old Jeanne Hebuterne (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. When he died, his pregnant wife of nearly nine months was emotionally destroyed by his death. Two days after his death, she jumped out of a 5th storey window and killed herself and her unborn child. They were buried together in the Pere 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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Redon, Odilon

Sacred Heart
Pastel on paper
46.5 x 60 cm
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

"My drawings inspire and are not to be defined. They determine nothing. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous world of the undetermined. They are a kind of metaphor." (Redon)

Bertrand-Jean Redon, better known as Odilon Redon (1840 - 1916), French, was one of the outstanding figures of Symbolism. He studied under Jean-Leon Gerome; mastered engraving from Rodolphe Bresdin, who exerted an important influence; and learned lithography under Henri Fantin-Latour.
Redon's aesthetic was one of imagination rather than visual perception. His imagination found an intellectual catalyst in his close friend, the Symbolist poet Stephane Mallarme. 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. There is an evident link to Goya in Redon’s imagery of winged demons and menacing shapes.

Redon produced nearly 200 prints, beginning in 1879 with the lithographs collectively titled In the Dream. He completed another series dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, whose poems had been translated into French with great success by Mallarme and Charles Baudelaire. Rather than illustrating Poe, Redon’s lithographs are poems in visual terms, themselves evoking the poet’s world of private torment.
Redon 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.

Redon's 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. Well before the Surrealists, he focused on his inner world, on the fantastic, some-times frightening, and always mysterious creatures of his imagination, to evoke a realm of dreams, distant memories, and indefinable emotions.
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. 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.
Redon occupies a major place in the history of modern art, not only for the intrinsic beauty of his works, but also and perhaps most importantly for the daring quality of his imagination.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

The Holy Family at Night
oil on panel
66.5 x 78 cm (26.2 x 30.7 in.)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

"Choose only one master -  Nature." (Rembrandt)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 - 1669), born in Leiden as the eighth of nine children of a miller, 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.

Crowe, Martijn*

Collage 1
100 x 150 cm
gallery/studio, Sao Paulo

*Active Artist Today "Martijn Crowe" (1969 - ) is a world famous artist who sells his work in more than 6 countries worldwide. In the main cities of the world, he has had expositions. He has his studio's in Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and Phnom Penh.

The combination of several modern media in his work is new and compelling. He combines video with photos, with paintings displays projects on web sites. The subjects he chooses are always social, reflecting the human condition. For him every image is a portrait of someone and can only be realized after really meeting the person or artifact presented in the image. The relation and the connection the artist has with his subject forms the art that Martijn Crowe makes, and not the portrait or painting that results from it. Nevertheless, the portrait always contains traces of this special moment of connection. The subject must have been aware of the special connection offered by Martijn; traces of the amazement that awareness causes are always visible.
He portrays the unseen people and artifacts of the world, like Drag Queens, the Homeless, Children in back-lace situations and Elderly people. In his studio work with artifacts , he is looking for other possible definitions of the objects he portrays. Thus he is creating a world that is beyond the common world and always raises the immaculate question: "how real is real?" In Martijns work it never is the question what his art means, but always what its effect is on you as an participant in the never ending process of experiencing the world.

Martijn wrote 13 books on philosophy and art. 3 of them are taught at Universities and 3 books are best selling copies.
His books and art are always leaving his readers with more question marks than with answers. Martijn Crowe has a saying: "If you find a  theory on anything that is compelling and complete, then please find the errors you made by inventing it."
(Marc Dwain : Curator)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lynch, Albert

The flower girl
year unknown
oil on canvas
 60.3 x 41.3 cm (23.7 x 16.3 in.)
St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Albert Lynch (1851 - 1912) was born in Trujillo, Peru to Irish parents. He is actually more closely tied to the French genre artists of the late nineteenth century. He settled in Paris, where he studied at l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He showed his artwork in the Salon of French artists which he won a third class medal in 1890 and a first class medal in 1892, and a gold medal in the World's Fair of 1900.

Lynch specialized in painting portraits of beautiful young women to which he brought a charming elegance and sophistication typical of such belle epoque paintings. He worked most often in pastel or watercolor, although he occasionally used oils. His work, composed with exquisite sensitivity and romance, having an engaging sweetness and subtle sensuality that make them highly desirable, maintained the spirit of the Belle Epoque. He illustrated such books as Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, Le Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac. He was made a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur in 1901. After illustrating books & magazines, he eventually returned to Peru, where he died in 1912.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique

Raphael and the Fornarina
oil on canvas
64.77 x 53.34 cm (25 1/2 x 21 in.)
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

La Fornarina, which means “little baker girl”, is traditionally identified with the fornarina (bakeress) Margherita Luti, Raphael's Roman mistress.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 -1867) was a French Neoclassical painter. A man profoundly respectful of the past, he assumed the role of a guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style represented by his nemesis Eugene Delacroix. His exemplars, he once explained, were "the great masters which flourished in that century of glorious memory when Raphael set the eternal and incontestable bounds of the sublime in art ... I am thus a conservator of good doctrine, and not an innovator." Nevertheless, modern opinion has tended to regard Ingres and the other Neoclassicists of his era as embodying the Romantic spirit of his time, while his expressive distortions of form and space make him an important precursor of modern art.

Ingres was born at Montauban as the son of a painter and sculptor. He was introduced to art at an early age. Though his father was a mediocre artist described as a 'jack-of-all-trades', he passed his love of art onto his more talented son. It wasn't long before Ingres elevated from his father's informal training onto better things.

Ingres was an artist who received mixed reviews throughout his career. The ups and downs of his career are a most fascinating aspect of his artistic journey. During his 87 years he had frequently seen the critical response to his work go from unabashed scorning to enthusiastic accolades. This fluctuation literally occurred overnight after one Salon exhibition, but it was without significant longevity. Though the opinion of his worth as an artist was inconsistent the majority of his life, he ultimately finished on top. In his latter years he was well respected, highly sought after and even deemed the best living artist in France. He became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and later he was elected to the President. The French government elevated Ingres to the rank of Grand Officers of the Legion of Honor. He was the first artistic figure to receive such a title. He was also one of the first professional painters appointed to the Senate in 1862. In his 60s Ingres was recognized as the greatest living artist in France.

Ingres died rich, honored and revered as a god by many of his pupils. His death marked the symbolic end of the tradition of monumental history painting in France. Despite having been surrounded by scores of pupils and a group of devoted fans, Ingres eventually left behind no pupils who would sustain his increasingly antiquated artistic vision. He was considered the last Neoclassical artist. Ingres said paint should be as smooth 'as the skin of an onion'.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cranach, Lucas, the Elder

The Law and the Gospel
tempera on linden wood
72 × 88.5 cm (28.3 × 34.8 in.)
National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic

Cranach created this painting in consultation with Luther around 1529. In the top left Moses receives the tables of the Law. Below him Adam and Eve undergo the Fall. In the center under the tree sits a naked young man - perhaps Adam, perhaps an ordinary sinner. To the right of him is John the Baptist, pointing to the salvation through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. The bearded man is probably the prophet Elijah, who Christians often link to the coming of the Messiah. Left and right of the panel not only show the Old and the New Testament. There also is a division between death and resurrection, shown in Jesus rising from the grave. Cranach made a somewhat similar painting in the same year he made this panel, 1529. The other version is now in a museum in Gotha, Germany.

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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Raffaello Sanzio

Head of a Muse
Cardboard, black chalk, charcoal
30.5 x 22.2 cm

''The drawing is not only a work of genius in its own right but is also related to one of Raphael's great frescoes in the Vatican and has come down to us in remarkable condition and with distinguished provenance, having previously been owned by both Sir Thomas Lawrence and King William II of Holland.'' (director of Christie's) ; In 2009, Raphael's Head of a Muse sold for £29.2millon at Christie's.

In 1508 Raphael was summoned to Rome and commissioned to paint frescoes in one of the Papal rooms in the Vatican. During the same period, Michelangelo was painting the ceiling fresco of the Sistine Chapel, sparking competition between the two Renaissance Masters.
"Head of a Muse" was drawn by Raphael as a study for a figure in Parnassus which shows Apollo holding court on the mountain, surrounded by muses, which was commissioned by Pope Julius II. It was one of the series of four frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican, which the Pope intended to use as his library. It was created between 1508 and 1511, and the series is seen as Raphael's greatest masterpiece. Raphael spent most of the rest of his life in Rome under the patronage of Pope Julius II and his successor, Leo X.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483 - 1520), better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, celebrated for the perfection and grace of his paintings and drawings. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. He was a popular personality, famous, wealthy, and honored.

Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at 37, a large body of his work remains. Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. After his early years in Rome much of his work was self-designed, but for the most part executed by the workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking.

He died on his thirty-seventh birthday, April 6, 1520, because of acute illness, which lasted fifteen days, and was buried the next day, at his request, in the Pantheon amidst universal mourning and acclaim. His funeral was extremely grand, very well attended by large crowds. It is said that Raphael's early death plunged into grief the entire papal court. Pope Leo X, who had an intention to make him a cardinal, wept bitterly when he died. The inscription in his marble sarcophagus reads: "Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die." He is said to have had many affairs, but he never married. The reason of his premature death is unknown.

Raphael's influence was widely spread even during his own lifetime. His posthumous reputation was even greater, for until the later 19th century he was regarded as the greatest painter who had ever lived - the artist who expressed the basic doctrines of the Christian Church through figures that have a physical beauty worthy of the antique. (it was against his authority that the Pre-Raphaelites revolted). He became the ideal of all academies, and today we approach him through a long tradition in which Raphaelesque forms and motifs have been used with a steady diminution of their values. In the modern era Raphael's past canonical status has counted against him and he has inevitably been compared, often unfavorably, to Leonardo and Michelangelo, whose personalities and artistic expression more readily accord with 20th-century sensibilities.

"While we may term other works paintings, those of Raphael are living things; the flesh palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere." (by Giorgio Vasari in the edition of Lives of the Artists, 1568)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Delacroix, Eugene

Bouquet of Flowers
Watercolour, gouache and pastel on paper
65 x 64 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

Delacroix painted flower paintings and landscapes in his later years. He took time off from his exhausting monumental labours to paint the flowers in the garden of his friend George Sand.

 "Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible." (Baudelaire)

Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix (1798 - 1863) was the most important of the French Romantic painters. He was the son of a politician, C. Delacroix, but there is some evidence to indicate that his real father was the diplomat Talleyrand, a friend of the family. His mother came of a family of notable craftsmen and designers.

His basic artistic education was obtained by copying Old Masters at the Louvre, where he delighted in Rubens and the Venetian School. In the Salon of 1822 he had his first public success with The Barque of Dante (Louvre). It was bought by the State (with Talleyrand perhaps pulling strings in the background), as was The Massacre at Chios (Louvre) two years later, ensuring the success of his career.
From the late 1830s his style and technique underwent a change. In place of luminous glazes and contrasted values he began to use a personal technique of vibrating adjacent tones and divisionist color effects in a manner of which Watteau had been a master, making color enter into the structure of the picture to an extent which had not previously been attempted. In spite of being hailed as the leader of the Romantic movement, his predilection for exotic and emotionally charged subject-matter, and his open enmity with Ingres, Delacroix always claimed allegiance to the classical tradition, and for his large works followed the traditional course of making numerous preparatory drawings. He was inspired by Byron, with whom he shared a strong identification with the "forces of the sublime", of nature in often violent action.

In his later career he became one of the most distinguished monumental mural painters in the history of French art. Baudelaire said of him that he was the only artist who 'in our faithless generation conceived religious pictures' and van Gogh wrote, 'only Rembrandt and Delacroix could paint the face of Christ.'

Delacroix's output was enormous. After his death his executors found more than 9,000 paintings, pastels, and drawings in his studio and he prided himself on the speed at which he worked, declaring 'If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man falling out of a window during the time it takes him to get from the fifth story to the ground, then you will never be able to produce monumental work.' Among great painters he was also one of the finest writers on art. He was a voluminous letter writer and kept a journal from 1822 to 1824 and again from 1847 until his death - a marvelously rich source of information and opinion on his life and times. His influence, particularly through his use of color, was prodigious, inspiring Renoir, Seurat, and van Gogh among others. Delacroix's studio in Paris is now a museum devoted to his life and work, but the Louvre has the finest collection of his paintings.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Berlin Street Scene
oil on canvas
120.6 x 91.1 cm (47 1/2 x 35 7/8 in.)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

“Berlin Street Scene” utilizes the lessons of “primitivism” and assimilates them into something Kirchner once described as “the symphony of the great city.” His subjects are two Berlin nightclub dancers, Erna and Gerda Schilling, both of whom are depicted in the center of the canvas, their florid dress marking them as sex trade workers fishing for clients.

"A painter paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact he creates new appearances of things." (Kirchner )

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 labeled 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.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Daumier, Honore

The Burden (The Laundress)
oil on canvas
130 x 98 cm (51 1/8 x 38 5/8 in.)
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Burden which might also well be called The Gust of Wind, in this painting, a woman strains against the elements. This picture is executed with a truly Romantic tension, in which are equally subordinate both this woman, who sees nothing of joy in her life, and the landscape, where the severe outline of the houses reiterates the desperate movements of the figure. The main thing for Daumier is the drama of life, which he reveals not so much through the subject as through the movement of the painting's masses and the contrasts of light and shadow.

This painting is a depiction of a laundress with her child. Her laundry bag seems to be weighing heavily on her. Her clothes appear to be falling off, which signifies her poverty. Perhaps she feels that life is too heavy for her to handle, and she cannot properly provide for her child. The child's hand grasps the shirt of her mother, almost as if she is trying to hold onto her love, and make a connection, but the title suggests that the child is a burden to the mother. The mother shows no love for her child because she has no physical contact, unlike her child. Perhaps the child interferes with her doing laundry, that is her life. Both the mother and child are running away. This running indicates that they do not lead an easy life; that it is filled with fear, poverty, and work. Through the blurred face, which has no distinguishing features, Daumier is depicting how the majority of bourgeoisie and upper-class never notice the poor child on the street. They almost become part of the scenery. They do not live in the bright, colorful, high cultured part. Through the bright colors in the upper left hand corner, it appears that the mother and child are running away from the lights of a glowing city.

Honore Daumier (1808 - 1879) was a French painter and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. He was perhaps best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behavior of his countrymen, although posthumously the value of his painting has also been recognized.

He was born in Marseilles into the family of a glazier, who was fond of poetry and even wrote his own verses. In 1814, the family moved to Paris, and he started to study art in 1822. The financial situation forced Daumier to earn his living as a delivery boy, while at his spare time he sketched at the Louvre. About 1828, he learned the technique of lithography and began to work for small publishing houses. In 1830, he started to work for Philipon’s Caricature and Le Charivari. Satire against the king Louis-Phillip in 1831 brought him wide popularity, especially when he was sentenced for 6-months in prison because of it. A biting political cartoonist, Daumier contributed satirical drawings to various Paris weeklies for most of his career. Nearly all of his cartoons were done with lithography. According to his contemporaries he had an amazing memory and capability to capture the essence of the model, its plastics, mimics, gestures.

At the end of the 1840s, Daumier’s interests shifted to painting, though he continued to issue many lithographs. His paintings however differ from his graphic works not only by techniques and artistic media but also by different subjects. As a painter, he was one of the pioneers of realistic subjects.

Daumier worked much, he produced over 500 paintings, 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 1000 drawings, 100 sculptures. But despite this titanic work he could not make ends meet all his life. He died in the house that had been presented to him by Corot. Corot secretly bought Daumier a house, and wrote to him, "My old comrade -  I have a little house for which I had no use at Valmondois near the Isle-Adam. It struck me that I could offer it to you and, as I think it is a good idea, I have registered it in your name at the notary’s. It is not for you that I do this, it is merely to annoy your landlord". It was a simple gesture, and it gave Daumier a few serene and tranquil years. Daumier was almost blind by 1873.

Daumier, one of the few Romantic artists who did not shrink from reality, remained in his day practically unknown as a painter. During his lifetime he found no public for his work. Only a few friends encouraged him and, a year before his death, arranged his first solo exhibition. Thus his pictures had little impact during his lifetime. Daumier’s paintings are closer to the art of the 20th century than to his own: they are sketch-like and very expressive. Only in 1901, at Daumier’s post-humous exhibition the world discovered this name for itself.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de

The Bed
oil on cardboard
54 × 70.5 cm (21.3 × 27.8 in.)
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

In The Bed, there are two laying women looking at each other. Although the character in the right might seem a man is, actually, a woman with short hair. On the scene, Lautrec himself said “…It is the very epitome of sensual delight”. This painting does not reflect a lesbian relationship between the women. The girls that worked in the cabarets usually slept together at the end of the night, because there wasn’t any room for individual beds. It was common that the bond they developed was more fraternal than sexual. Lautrec’s The bed just shows a tender scene where the women shelter together protecting themselves against an indifferent world.

"I paint things as they are. I don't comment." "I have tried to do what is true and not ideal." (Toulouse-Lautrec)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 - 1901) ,an aristocrat, was born in southern France. The son and heir of Comte Alphonse-Charles de Toulouse, he was the last in the line of an aristocratic family that dated back a thousand years. Today, the family estate houses the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec.

He is a painter and illustrator, whose immersion in the colorful and theatrical life yielded an oeuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. He is known, along with Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin, as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period. He observed and captured in his art the Parisian nightlife of the period.

Henri's father was rich, handsome, and eccentric. His mother was overly devoted to her only living child. They themselves were first cousins, and Henri suffered from a number of congenital health conditions attributed to this inbreeding. As a child, Henri was weak and often sick. But by the time he was 10 years old he had begun to draw and paint. At 12 young, he broke his left leg and at 14 his right leg. The bones failed to heal properly, and his legs stopped growing. He reached young adulthood with a body trunk of normal size but with abnormally short legs. He was only 4 1/2 feet (1.5 meters) tall.

Deprived of the physical life that a normal body would have permitted, Toulouse-Lautrec lived completely for his art. He dwelt in the Montmartre section of Paris, the center of the cabaret entertainment and bohemian life that he loved to depict in his work. Dance halls and nightclubs, racetracks, prostitutes - all these were memorialized on canvas or made into lithographs. He was very much an active part of this community. He would sit at a crowded nightclub table, laughing and drinking, meanwhile making swift sketches. The next morning in his studio he would expand the sketches into brightly colored paintings.

In order to join in the Montmartre life - as well as to fortify himself against the crowd's ridicule of his appearance - he began to drink heavily. By the 1890s the drinking was affecting his health. He was confined first to a sanatorium and then to his mother's care at home, but he could not stay away from alcohol. He died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis at the age of 36, at the family chateau of Malrome. His last words were: "Le vieux con!" ("The old fool!", although the word "con" can be meant in both simple and vulgar terms). This was his goodbye to his father. Since after his death, his paintings and posters - particularly the Moulin Rouge group - have been in great demand and bring high prices at auctions and art sales. His mother contributed funds for a museum to be created in Albi, his birthplace, to house her deceased son's works. The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum now owns the world's largest collection of works by the painter.
His debt to the Impressionists, in particular the more figurative painters Manet and Degas, is apparent. His style was also influenced by the classical Japanese woodblock prints which became popular in art circles in Paris.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Magritte, Rene

The Empire of Light, II
oil on canvas
78.8 x 99.1 cm (31 x 39")
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA

A dark, nocturnal street scene is set against a pastel-blue, light-drenched sky spotted with fluffy cumulus clouds. With no fantastic element other than the single paradoxical combination of day and night, Rene Magritte upsets a fundamental organizing premise of life. Sunlight, ordinarily the source of clarity, here causes the confusion and unease traditionally associated with darkness. The luminosity of the sky becomes unsettling, making the empty darkness below even more impenetrable than it would seem in a normal context. The bizarre subject is treated in an impersonal, precise style, typical of veristic Surrealist painting and preferred by Magritte since the mid-1920s. (In Empire of Light, numerous versions of paintings exist.)

"If the dream is a translation of waking life, waking life is also a translation of the dream." (Magritte)

Rene Francois Ghislain Magritte (1898 - 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images that fell under the umbrella of surrealism. His work challenges observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality.

He was born on the 21st November, 1898 in Belgium. His father was a tailor and a merchant. As his business did not go well the family had to move often. Rene lost his mother early and tragically, she committed suicide by drowning herself in the River when Rene was only 14 years old. This was not her first attempt; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Leopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. She was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river, dead.

After studying in the Royal Academy of Arts in Brussels, he became a wallpaper designer and commercial artist. His early painting works were executed under the influence of the Cubism and Futurism, then he was inspired by the Purists and Fernand Leger. The acquaintance with Giorgio de Chirico and Dadaistic poetry constituted an important artistic turning-point for Magritte. In 1927-30 Magritte lived in France, where he participated in the activities of the Surrealists, establishing a close friendship in particular with Max Ernst, Dali, Andre Breton and especially with Paul Eluard. In Paris, Magritte's system of conceptual painting was formed, it remained almost unchanged until the end of his life. His painting manner, intentionally dry and academic, "polished in the technical sense" with precise and clean draughtsmanship demonstrated a paradoxical ability to depict trustworthy an unreal, unthinkable reality. He was fond of philosophy and literature. Many of his paintings reflect his impressions of literature works, illusions and philosophical metaphors. Magritte died of pancreatic cancer on August 15, 1967 in his own bed in Brussels at the age of 69, and was interred in Schaerbeek Cemetery, Evere, Brussels. Popular interest in Magritte's work rose considerably in the 1960s, and his imagery has influenced pop, minimalist and conceptual art.

Magritte described his paintings as "visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, 'What does that mean?'. It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Miro, Joan

oil on canvas
58 x 58 cm (22 7/8 x 22 7/8 in.)
location unknown

What I am seeking... is a motionless movement, something equivalent to what is called the eloquence of silence... (Miro)

Joan Miro i Ferra (1893 - 1983) was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. He attended a commercial school and worked as an office clerk until a mental breakdown persuaded his artisan father to permit him to study art. From the beginning he sought to express concepts of nature metaphorically. From 1919 on he lived alternately in Spain and Paris, where he came under the influence of Dadaism and Surrealism. The influence of Paul Klee is apparent in his dream pictures and imaginary landscapes of the late 1920s, in which linear configurations and patches of color look almost as though they had been set down randomly. His mature style evolved from the tension between this fanciful, poetic impulse and his vision of the harshness of modern life.

Miro was never closely aligned with any movement and was too retiring in his manner to be the object of a personality cult, like his compatriot Picasso, but the formal and technical innovations that he sustained over a very long career guaranteed his influence on 20th-century art. A pre-eminent figure in the history of abstraction and an important example to several generations of artists around the world, he remained profoundly attached to the specific circumstances and environment that shaped his art in his early years. An acute balance of sophistication and innocence and a deeply rooted conviction about the relationship between art and nature lie behind all his work and account in good measure for the wide appeal that his art has continued to exercise across many of the usual barriers of style.

Earning international acclaim, Miro's work has been interpreted as a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, he expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favor of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.

Miro worked extensively in lithography and produced numerous murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces. A museum dedicated to his work, the Fundacio Joan Miro, was established in his birth city in 1975.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kandinsky, Wassily

Murnau - Kohlgruberstrasse
oil on board
71 x 97.5 cm
Private Collection

"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul." "Almost without exception, blue refers to the domain of abstraction and immateriality." (Kandinsky)

Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944) was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely-abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics. Successful in his profession - he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat - he began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.

Kandinsky named works after musical terms. He saw color when he listened to music, and believed color could visually express music’s timber, pitch and volume. At age 30, Kandinsky’s artistic career began when he left a legal career to pursue artistic studies after seeing Monet’s “Haystacks.” Passionately compelled to create, Kandinsky believed that the purity of this desire would communicate itself to viewers of his work.
He was fascinated by music's emotional power. Because music expresses itself through sound and time, it allows the listener a freedom of imagination, interpretation, and emotional response that is not based on the literal or the descriptive, but rather on the abstract quality that painting, still dependent on representing the visible world, could not provide. Music can respond and appeal directly to the artist's "internal element" and express spiritual values, thus for him it is a more advanced art. In his writings Kandinsky emphasizes this superiority in advancing toward what he calls the epoch of the great spiritual.

He was never solely a painter, but a theoretician, and organizer at the same time. He expressed his views on art and artistic activity in his numerous writings. In the 1920-30s Kandinsky's name became world famous. He was proclaimed the theoretician and leading figure of abstract painting. In addition to teaching courses, Kandinsky became actively involved in delivering lectures; his exhibitions took place almost yearly in Europe and America.
In 1921, Kandinsky was invited to go to Germany to attend the Bauhaus of Weimar by its founder, architect Walter Gropius. Kandinsky taught the basic design class for beginners and the course on advanced theory at the Bauhaus; he also conducted painting classes and a workshop in which he augmented his color theory with new elements of form psychology. In 1933, the Nazis having come to power in Germany and closed down the Bauhaus, he took refuge in France where he spent the last eleven years of his life. In 1939 Kandinsky and his wife became French citizens. He continued painting almost until his death. He died on 13 December 1944 in Neuilly-sur-Seine at the age of 78.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gogh, Vincent van

La Mousme
oil on canvas
73.3 × 60.3 cm (28.9 × 23.7 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA

Inspired by Pierre Loti's novel Madame Chrysantheme and Japanese artwork, Gogh painted La Mousme, a well-dressed Japanese girl. He wrote in a letter to his brother: "It took me a whole week... but I had to reserve my mental energy to do the mousme well. A mousme is a Japanese girl - Provencal in this case - twelve to fourteen years old." At the time that Gogh painted this portrait he was 35 years old. Living in Arles in southern France, he was at the height of his career, producing some of his best work. Retreating from Paris, he hoped that his time in Arles would evoke in his work the simple, yet dramatic expression of Japanese art. This is likely one of Gogh's happier periods of life. He is confident, clear-minded and seemingly content.

Gogh's use of color is intended to be symbolic. La Mousme's outfit is a blend of modern and traditional. Her outfit is certainly modern. The bright colors of skirt and jacket are of the southern region of Arles. Regarding Gogh's painting of her features, his greatest attention is focused on the girls face, giving her the coloring of a girl from Arles, but with a Japanese influence. The young lady's posture mimics that of the oleander. The flowering oleander, like the girl, is in the blossoming stage of life. Gogh said of portrait studies, such as La Mousme, "the only thing in painting that excites me to the depths of my soul, and which makes me feel the infinite more than anything else."

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 -1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. He spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community.

In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the strong sunlight he found there. His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 in 1890 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found). His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties. He completed many of his best-known works during his last two years. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes of flowers, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. According to an art critic, his late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and "longing for concision and grace". "I dream of painting and then I paint my dream." (Gogh)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Renoir, Auguste

Portrait de Madame Claude Monet
oil on canvas
61 x 50 cm
Musee Marmottan, Paris, France

"Shall I tell you what I think are the two qualities of a work of art? First, it must be indescribable, and, second, it must be inimitable." "With a limited palette, the older painters could do just as well as today... what they did was sounder." "Go and see what others have produced, but never copy anything except nature. You would be trying to enter into a temperament that is not yours and nothing that you would do would have any character."  (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.

He was born in Limoges and brought up in Paris, where his father, a tailor with a large family, settled in 1845. From the age of thirteen he worked as an apprentice painter, painting flowers on porcelain plates. This early apprenticeship left a certain trace on his art, which was always decorative in spite of its later realism. After machines for coloring ceramics had been introduced, he had to switch to decorating fans and screens. Having saved some money, in 1862 Renoir entered the Atelier Gleyre and there made friends with Monet, Sisley and Bazille; some time later he met Pissarro and Cezanne.

Renoir's work is characterized by a richness of feeling and a warmth of response to the world and to the people in it. 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 movement to apply a more disciplined, formal technique to portraits and figure paintings, particularly of women.

Renoir 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. He 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. He died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur on 3 December 1919 and was buried in Essoyes, next to his wife Aline.

Claude Renoir (1913 - 1993) was a French cinematographer. He was the son of actor Pierre Renoir and nephew of director Jean Renoir. He was also the grandson of painter Pierre Auguste Renoir. He is the father of actress Sophie Renoir.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Millet, Jean-Francois

Shepherdess seated in the shade
oil on canvas
65.4 x 54.9 cm (25 3/4 x 21 5/8 in.)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA

"To tell the truth, the peasant subjects suit my temperament best; for I must confess, even if you think me a socialist, that the human side of art is what touches me most." (Millet)

Jean-Francois Millet (1814 - 1875), born into a family of peasant near Cherbourg, was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers. He was the first painter to endow rural life with a dignity and monumentality that transcend realism, making the peasant an almost heroic figure. He never painted out-of-doors, and he had only a limited awareness of tonal values. He can be categorized as part of the naturalism and realism movements.

Millet was trained under a local painter at Cherbourg and then in Paris in 1837. His earliest works are pastiches of the pastorals of the 18th century and rather erotic nudes, but he also painted portraits for a time. The influence of Daumier seems to have been decisive. From c. 1850 his choice of subject matter led to accusations of Socialism (e.g. The Sower, Salon of 1850). In 1849 he moved to Barbizon and remained there for the rest of his life, living in the most gruelling poverty, painting scenes of peasants and their labors as well as ordinary landscapes and marines.

 Millet was often accused of socialism because of his chosen subject. Despite mixed reviews of the paintings he exhibited at the Salon in Paris, Millet's reputation and success grew through the 1860s. In 1870 Millet was elected to the Salon jury. His last years were marked by financial success and increased official recognition, but he was unable to fulfill government commissions due to failing health. On January 3, 1875 he married Catherine in a religious ceremony. Millet died on January 20, 1875.

He was an important source of inspiration for Vincent van Gogh, particularly during his early period. Millet and his work are mentioned many times in Vincent's letters to his brother Theo. Millet's late landscapes would serve as influential points of reference to Claude Monet's paintings of the coast of Normandy; his structural and symbolic content influenced Georges Seurat as well. Millet is the main protagonist of Mark Twain's play Is He Dead? (1898), in which he is depicted as a struggling young artist who fakes his death to score fame and fortune. Most of the details about Millet in the play are fictional.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Monet, Claude

Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil
oil on canvas
55.3 x 64.7 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA

Camille, Monet's first wife, is shown with a child in the garden of their house in Argenteuil, near Paris, where they lived between 1872 and 1877. Today, Claude Monet is primarily known as a landscape painter, but in the beginning of his artistic career, he used to concentrate on portraits. In those year, portraits of women were mostly ordered by bourgeois clients, but among progressive painters, the artistic structure became more important than the identity of the portrayed person. The masterly style, the lack of details, and the plainness of the colours led to a completely new directness of expression, independent of the facial gestures of the depicted person. In this picture, the features of the woman are completely indistinct.

"I'm never finished with my paintings; the further I get, the more I seek the impossible and the more powerless I feel." (Monet)

Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. Monet found subjects in his immediate surroundings, as he painted the people and places he knew best. He rejected the traditional approach to landscape painting and instead of copying old masters he had been learning from his friends and the nature itself. He observed variations of color and light caused by the daily or seasonal changes.

One day in 1871, legend says, Claude Monet walked into a food shop in Amsterdam, where he had gone to escape the Prussian siege of Paris. There he spotted some Japanese Ukiyo-e prints being used as wrapping paper. He was so taken by the engravings that he bought one on the spot. The purchase changed his life - and the history of Western art. Monet went on to collect 231 Japanese prints, which greatly influenced his work and that of other practitioners of Impressionism, the movement he helped create. Under the new Meiji Emperor, Japan in the 1870s was just opening to the outside world after centuries of isolation. Japanese handicrafts were flooding into European department stores and art galleries. Japonism, a fascination with all things Japanese, was soon the rage among French intellectuals and artists, among them Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and the young Monet.

Perhaps the greatest gift Japan gave Monet, and Impressionism, was an incandescent obsession with getting the play of light and shadow, the balance of colors and the curve of a line, just right - not the way it is in reality, but the way it looks in the artist's imagination, like Hokusai's Ukiyo-e. At Giverny where Monet built a Japanese bridge over a Japanese pond in a Japanese garden, he spent the rest of his life painting the private paradise, his water lilies of the pond, again and again, until he lost his eyesight in quest of an elusive, transcendent perfection that might best be called Japanese. "I have slowly learned about the pattern of the grass, the trees, the structure of birds and other animals like insects and fish, so that when I am 80, I hope to be better," Hokusai wrote 16 years before his death at age 89. "At 90, I hope to have caught the very essence of things, so that at 100 I will have reached heavenly mysteries. At 110, every point and line will be living."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Milashevich, Natasha

The Summer's Noon
oil on canvas
50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)
location unknown

Natasha Milashevich (1967 - ) was born in Dushanbe in the former Soviet Union. She started her study locally, graduating from the Art College of Dushanbe in 1989. She continued her studies in St. Petersburg in the studio of the renowned artist Vasili V. Sokolov at the Repin Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture -  widely considered the finest at academy in Russia -  from which she graduated in 1995. Since that time, she has been a member of  the Russian Fine Artist's Association. Her work has been included in more than 30 exhibitions in Russia, Finland, Holland, France, Chile and Kazakhstan.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tutwiler, David

Homeward Bound
oil on canvas
71.1 x 106.7 cm (28 x 42 in.)
location unknown

"Homeward Bound" is an American folk song written by Paul Simon, performed by Simon and Garfunkel, produced by Bob Johnston and recorded in 1965. The song describes his longing to return home, both to his then girlfriend, Kathy Chitty in Brentwood, Essex, England, and to return to the United States. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1966, peaking at #5. It remained on the charts for 12 weeks. Simon was living in Brentwood, and was said to have written the song at Widnes North railway station, a plaque is displayed on the wall of the Liverpool bound waiting room relating to this (12 miles from Liverpool) during a long wait for the next train, when he was traveling back from Widnes, where he had been playing.

"There's something about an old steam locomotive that appeals to everyone's sense of nostalgia and tradition, and I'm certainly no exception." (Tutwiler)

David Tutwiler (1952 - ) is renowned for his first-hand knowledge of trains and railroads, and is considered to be one of the leading exponents of railroad art in the United States today. His artistic technique, coupled with his eye for accuracy and attention to detail, result in the paintings that virtually sparkle with warmth and sensitivity.

His works have been shown in museums throughout the United States and his paintings are represented in numerous public, private, and corporate collections worldwide. He has painted for Disney and star wars. In addition to being one of America's foremost painters of steam era railroading, he has painted significant pieces depicting traditional American landscapes and sailing vessels.

Tutwiler is a winner of numerous awards, including a bronze medal from the National Park Academy for the Arts, the Marguerite Pearson Gold Medal Award, and the New York Guild of Boston Artists Award for Traditional Painting. His commission clients have included MBNA Bank, the Pepsi-Cola Company, National Geographic, the Hamilton Plate Collection and the National Railway Historical Society.

With his wife, fellow artist Line Tutwiler, he currently maintains a summer gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts, as well as a winter studio at their home on Lake Michigan shores in Northern Indiana.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Puigaudeau, Ferdinand du

Shadow Rabbits
oil on canvas
size unknown
Private collection

Ferdinand du Puigaudeau (1864 - 1930), nicknamed Picolo, was an French Impressionist painter best known for his paintings of country life and sunsets. Born in Nantes, France, he began his artistic career studying in the classical tradition and traveling to Italy and Tunisia. In 1886, he met Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard while attending what would later become the famous Ecole de Pont-Aven in Brittany. He was a close friend of Edgar Degas who bought one of his Fireworks paintings.

In. 1907, he rented the Manor Kervaudu, The Croisic, located in Southern Brittany to settle down definitively on the peninsula of Guerande. The World War of 1914 isolated him from the rest of the world. Degas called Puigaudeau the hermit of Kervaudu due to his secluded and solitary existence. In his later days, after the last minute cancellation of his exhibition in New York in 1919, he fell into a state of depression and alcohol abuse. He died on 19 September 1930, surrounded by his wife and daughter.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homer, Winslow

Fox Hunt
oil on canvas
96.5 × 174 cm (38 × 68.5 in.)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA, USA

Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910) was one of the most authentic and important American artists of the 19th century. He is remembered for his landscapes, many featuring scenes of the sea, boats, and coastlines. He did not receive formal art training. He began his art career as an apprentice for a commercial lithographer. In the late 1850's he began doing work for Harper's Weekly. His early work for Harper's was primarily to create line art drawings from photographs. At the time pictures were printed by "stamping" them from a large wood block.

Born in Boston, from a parent from long lines of New Englanders, he spent his adolescence in Cambridge, Massachusetts, surviving the absence of a father who rushed out to California to pan for gold. At nineteen he learned how to draw on the job at a lithography shop by illustrating or copying of photographs for sheet music covers of popular songs. He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations.

Homer's mother was a gifted amateur watercolorist and his first teacher, and she and her son had a close relationship throughout their lives. Homer took on many of her traits, including her quiet, strong-willed, terse, sociable nature; her dry sense of humor; and her artistic talent. He was an average student, but his art talent was evident in his early years.
His father was a volatile, restless businessman who was always looking to "make a killing". When he was thirteen, his father gave up the hardware store business to seek a fortune in the California gold rush. When that failed, his father left his family and went to Europe to raise capital for other get-rich-quick schemes that didn't materialize.

Homer's career as an illustrator lasted nearly twenty years. He contributed illustrations of Boston life and rural New England life to magazines, at a time when the market for illustrations was growing rapidly, and when fads and fashions were changing quickly. His early works, mostly commercial engravings of urban and country social scenes, are characterized by clean outlines, simplified forms, dramatic contrast of light and dark, and lively figure groupings - qualities that remained important throughout his career. His quick success was mostly due to this strong understanding of graphic design and also to the adaptability of his designs to wood engraving.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wyeth, N.C.

The Passing of Robin Hood
oil on canvas
101.5 x 81.2 cm (40 x 32 in.)
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, USA

Leaning heavily against Little John's sobbing breast, Robin Hood flew his last arrow out through the window, far away into the deep green of the trees.

Newell Convers Wyeth (1882 - 1945), otherwise known as N. C. Wyeth, was one of the great American illustrators. He was born and raised in Needham, MA, and was something of a child prodigy with watercolors. His mother encouraged his talent, and he attended local art schools.

When Wyeth was 20 years old, he was invited to study illustration under Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. Wyeth was greatly influenced by Pyle, who is still remembered today as the “father of illustration.” Pyle instilled in Wyeth the importance of research to illustration, from trips to historical sites, to drawing from models dressed in period costumes. Wyeth was pretty much successful from the get-go as a professional illustrator, landing a cover for The Saturday Evening Post just a few months after he began studying with Pyle.

Wyeth married and settled in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and went on to a long career as an illustrator, painter, and muralist. During his lifetime, he created over 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books, 25 of them for Scribner's, the Scribner Classics, which is the work for which he is best-known. The first of these, Treasure Island, was his masterpiece and the proceeds paid for his studio. Wyeth was a realist painter just as the camera and photography began to compete with his craft. Sometimes seen as melodramatic, his illustrations were designed to be understood quickly. Wyeth, who was both a painter and an illustrator, understood the difference, and said, "Painting and illustration cannot be mixed - one cannot merge from one into the other."

In 1945, N.C. Wyeth and his grandson died in an accident at a railway crossing near his Chadds Ford home. At the time of his death, he was working on an ambitious series of murals for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company depicting the Pilgrims at Plymouth, a series completed by Andrew Wyeth and John McCoy. Andrew Wyeth (born in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania in 1917) is a son of N.C. Wyeth and his wife Carolyn Bockius Wyeth.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cassatt, Mary

Girl Arranging Her Hair
oil on canvas
75.1 x 62.5 cm (29 9/16 x 24 5/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA

It was Edgar Degas who invited Cassatt to participate in the impressionist exhibitions, and the two remained close associates. Degas respected Cassatt's work, seeing in her careful compositions an approach to art that was deliberate and well thought out. Degas was known for his sharp criticism of other artists' work. He once complained to Cassatt: "What do women know about style?" She took his words as a challenge to produce a work whose appeal derived, not from a conventionally pretty subject, but purely from artifice, the painter's skill, and style. This painting is the result. (National Gallery of Art)

"Why do people so love to wander? I think the civilized parts of the World will suffice for me in the future." (Cassatt)

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 - 1926) was an American painter. She was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia. From there she went to Europe to further her studies. After a time, she settled in Paris an became involved with the Impressionist school of art. She first befriended Edgar Degas in France, one of the leaders of the Impressionist movement, who had seen her paintings exhibited in Paris. Degas invited her to join their group. She found her niche with the Impressionist approach, also became friends with Manet, another member of the movement.
The Impressionists concentrated on painting and pastel art, taking scenes from real life. This school of art used brighter colors and broader brushstrokes than the old masters. She often created images of the social and private lives of women going about their everyday life, 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.

Cassatt's 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.

In 1893, Cassatt was commissioned to paint a mural for Chicago’s World Fair. Ironically, after all those years abroad, this mural, entitled Modern Woman, made her well known in her home country. She worked hard to encourage American museums to develop collections of Impressionist art. From all accounts, the Modern Woman title of the mural, applied equally well to the artist, herself. 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.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Manet, Edouard

The Luncheon on the Grass
oil on canvas
208 cm × 265.5 cm (81.9 × 104.5 in.)
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

In 1863, Manet shocked the French public by exhibiting his "Luncheon on the Grass". It was not a realist painting, but it was a statement in favor of the artist's individual freedom. With its depiction of a nude female with fully clothed men was a controversial piece when it was displayed at the Salon de Refuses in 1863. It was considered an affront to the times, not only because of the stark nudity of the woman in contrast to the men but also because Manet used familiar models for the figures in the painting. The nude woman is a combination of both his wife and one of his other female models. The men, on the other hand, are his brother and his brother in law. It was also considered controversial because it illustrated the rampant prostitution in Paris at the time, which was a taboo subject just to mention, much less display in an oversized canvas.

"There are no lines in nature, only areas of color, one against another." (Manet)

Edouard Manet (1832 - 1883) was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from the realism of Gustave Courbet to Impressionism. His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, engendered great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.

His mother was a woman of refinement and god daughter of Charles Bernadotte, the Crown Prince of Sweden. His father was a magistrate and judge who hoped that Manet would someday follow in his footsteps, but Manet was destined to follow another path. Born into the ranks of the Parisian bourgeoisie with strong political connections, Manet rejected the future originally envisioned for him, and became engrossed in the world of painting. The last 20 years of Manet's life saw him form bonds with other great artists of the time, and develop his own style that would be heralded as innovative and serve as a major influence for future painters. Manet broke new ground in choosing subjects from the events and appearances of his own time and in stressing the definition of painting as the arrangement of paint areas on a canvas over and above its function as representation.

Although Manet was frequently in the company of members of the Impressionist group - Berthe Morisot, his sister-in-law since December 1874, Degas, and Monet in particular, and they regarded him as a leader, he had no wish to join their group. He was naturally irritated by the critics’ tendency to confuse him with Monet. Manet’s stylistic discoveries, such as "there are no lines in nature", which led to his abandoning of the conventional outline and his shaping the forms by means of color and subtle gradation of tints, decisively influenced the Impressionists, but their representation of light and optical reactions to color were different. Manet never painted what could be called a truly Impressionist picture.
During the Franco-Prussian War he joined National Guard. In 1881 he was received into the Legion of Honor. After a long illness, which had been exhausting him for about 5 years, he died on April 30, 1883.
"You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real." "When you've got it, you've got it. When you haven't, you begin again. All the rest is humbug." (Manet)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Giorgione, Giorgio da Castelfranco

The Tempest (La Tempesta)
oil on canvas
83 × 73 cm (33 × 29 in.)
Galeria della Accademia, Venice, Italy

The Tempest has been called the first landscape in the history of Western painting. The subject of this painting is unclear, but its artistic mastery is apparent. It portrays a soldier and a breast-feeding woman on either side of a stream, amid a city's rubble and an incoming storm. On the right a woman sits, suckling a baby. Her pose is unusual - normally the baby would be held on the mother's lap; but in this case the baby is positioned at the side of the mother, so as to expose her pubic area. This appears to signal that the mother's realm is the everyday rather than the sacred. A man, possibly a soldier, holding a long staff or pike, stands in contrapposto on the left. He smiles and glances to the right, but does not appear to be looking at the woman. This mysterious painting was originally commissioned by the Venetian noble Gabriele Vendramin. Scholars have cited The Tempest as having influenced Manet's Luncheon on the Grass.

Giorgione, Giorgio da Castelfranco (c. 1477 - 1510) was an Italian painter of the High Renaissance in Venice, whose career was cut off by his death at a little over thirty. He is known for the elusive poetic quality of his work, though only about six surviving paintings are acknowledged for certain to be his work. The resulting uncertainty about the identity and meaning of his art has made Giorgione one of the most mysterious figures in European painting. Together with Titian, who was slightly younger, he is the founder of the distinctive Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting, which achieves much of its effect through color and mood, and is traditionally contrasted with the Florentine painting.

Giorgione came from the small town of Castelfranco Veneto, 40 km inland from Venice. Contemporary documents record that his gifts were recognized early. In 1500, when he was only twenty-three, he was chosen to paint portraits of the Doge of Venice: the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

Vasari mentions an important event in Giorgione's life, and one which had influence on his work, his meeting with Leonardo da Vinci: the Tuscan master, on the occasion of Leonardo's visit to Venice in 1500. All accounts agree in representing Giorgione as a person of distinguished and romantic charm, a great lover and a musician, given to express in his art the sensuous and imaginative grace, touched with poetic melancholy, of the Venetian existence of his time. They represent him further as having made in Venetian painting an advance analogous to that made in Tuscan painting by Leonardo more than twenty years before; that is, as having released the art from the last shackles of archaic rigidity and placed it in possession of full freedom and the full mastery of its means. (Vasari; 1511-1574, is an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Renaissance artists.)

Giorgione also introduced a new range of subjects. Besides altarpieces and portraits he painted pictures that told no story, whether biblical or classical, or if they professed to tell a story, neglected the action and simply embodied in form and color moods of lyrical or romantic feeling, much as a musician might embody them in sounds. Innovating with the courage and felicity of genius, he had for a time an overwhelming influence on his contemporaries and immediate successors in the Venetian school, including Titian. Giorgione died at age 34, probably of the plague then raging, by October, 1510. Titian finished at least some paintings of Giorgione after his death.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Botticelli, Sandro

Virgin and Child with an Angel
early 1470s
Tempera and oil on wood
85.2 x 65 cm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Booston, MA, USA

A vast number of paintings of the Virgin and Child were produced in Florence in the late 1400s. Early in Botticelli's career, he specialized in such works. The angel, Virgin, and Christ Child all look down at a bowl of grapes studded with ears of grain. Grapes and wheat produce the wine and bread of the Eucharist, and allude to the blood and body of Christ’s sacrifice. The Virgin carefully selects some of the wheat, to signify that she accepts her child’s fate.

Alessandro Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli, (c.1445 - 1510) began his career during the Italian Renaissance period. He was born in Florence around 1445 where he would live out the rest of his life. As the youngest of five children, Botticelli’s father, a tanner, allowed him to become an apprentice to a goldsmith. During this apprenticeship, the goldsmith he worked with gave him the name Botticelli, meaning ‘small wine cask’. After a time, Botticelli convinced his father that he wanted to study painting and was chosen to be apprentice to the well known painter Fra Filippo Lippi. Botticelli quickly became recognized as a gifted artist under Lippi, and by the time he was 15 years old, he was able to open a workshop dedicated to his own work.
Botticelli stressed line and detail using them to bring his characters alive - as if acting out a scene. He included in his style a flowing characteristic and Neo-Platonism. This meant that he would bring together in one painting ideas that belong to both Christianity and pagan ideas which may have included mythology. In 1481, he was invited to Rome to take part in the painting of the Sistine Chapel. He joined artists such as Perugino, Ghirlandaio and then Michelangelo in contributing to the most well known piece of Italian art.

As Botticelli grew older, he became a follower of the monk Savonarola who was a prominent civic leader in Florence and Botticelli's style underwent a remarkable change. Many of his previous paintings were considered ungodly and were burned. When Savonarola’s popularity ended being burnt in the center of Florence, many followers fled the city but Botticelli stayed in Florence, and continued to paint. Botticelli’s later years seemed to be a disturbing time for him. As times changed in Florence, he often took on difficult commissions that other painters turned down. His rotating style reflected that he was struggling as a painter and his paintings were full of emotion. He died at the age of 65.

At the height of his fame, he was one of the most esteemed artists in Italy. His work was most in demand by the Medici family. After his death, his name all but disappeared until the late 19th century, his work lay forgotten for over 400 years after his death, when a developing appreciation for Florentine arts and culture brought about a renewed interest in his work. Since then his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. Among his best known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera.

Botticelli never wed, and expressed a strong aversion to the idea of marriage. The popular view is that he suffered from an unrequited love for Simonetta Vespucci. According to popular belief, she had served as the model for The Birth of Venus and recurs throughout his paintings, despite the fact that she had died years earlier, in 1476. Botticelli asked that when he died, he be buried at her feet in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence. His wish was carried out when he died some 34 years later, in 1510. He was buried near her in the same church.