Monday, November 16, 2015

Artist of the Week: Georgia O'Keeffe

Among the great American artists of the 20th-century, Georgia O’Keeffe stands as one of the most compelling. For nearly a century, O’Keeffe’s representations of the beauty of the American landscape were a brave counterpoint to the chaotic images embraced by the art world. Her cityscapes and still life's filled the canvas with wild energy that gained her a following among the critics as well as the public. Though she has had many imitators, no one since has been able to paint with such intimacy and stark precision. With exceptionally keen powers of observation and great finesse with a paintbrush, Georgia O'Keeffe recorded subtle nuances of color, shape, and light that enlivened her paintings and attracted a wide audience.

Georgia O'Keeffe was married to the pioneer photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) in 1924. Alfred Stieglitz was 54 when Georgia arrived in New York, 23 years her senior. Educated in Berlin, he had studied engineering and photography before returning to the States at the turn of the century and opening the 291 gallery. He pioneered the art of photography, and single-handedly introduced America to the works of Picasso, Matisse, and Cezanne at the gallery, along with publishing his well respected "Camera Works" magazine. It was at Stieglitz's famed New York art gallery "291" that her charcoal drawings were first exhibited in 1916. The union lasted 22 years, until Stieglitz's death.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun

Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun was a French painter, and is recognized as the most famous woman painter of the eighteenth century. Her style is generally considered Rococo and shows interest in the subject of neoclassical painting. Marie-Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun was one of the most famous painters during her time. During her eighty seven-year life, which spanned from 1755-1842, she created well over 600 pieces of artwork. In a time period where it was uncommon to be a female artist, Marie-Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun put her best effort forth to overcome this adversity.
Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun is considered a role model, especially to female artists, because of her wide recognition of skills and gained admittance to academies that were closed to her sex. Her plethora of work ranges from history paintings to landscapes. But, the majority of her work were beautifully colored portraits of the most prominent aristocrats and royalty. Her unique and exceptional talent made her one of the most sought out painters of her time. Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun was blessed with a natural ability that people adored, even centuries later. During her career, according to her own account, she painted 877 pictures, including 622 portraits and about 200 landscapes.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Artist of the Week: Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha used position, sensuous curves derived from nature, refined decorative elements and natural colors. The Art Nouveau precepts were used, too, but never at the expense of his vision. Bernhardt signed Alphonse Mucha to a six year contract to design her posters and sets and costumes for her plays. Mucha was an overnight success at the age of 34, after seven years of hard work in Paris. Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations in what came to be known as the Art Nouveau style. Alphonse Mucha's works frequently featured beautiful healthy young women in flowing vaguely Neoclassical looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed haloes behind the women's heads.
 Alphonse Mucha shared a studio with Gauguin for a bit after his first trip to the south seas. Mucha gave impromptu art lessons in the Cremerie and helped start a traditional artists ball, Bal des Quat'z Arts. All the while Alphonse Mucha was formulating his own theories and precepts of what he wanted his art to be. On January 1, 1895, Alphonse Mucha presented his new style to the citizens of Paris. Called upon over the Christmas holidays to created a poster for Sarah Bernhardt's play, Gismonda, (shown here) he put his precepts to the test. The poster was the declaration of his new art. Spurning the bright colors and the more squarish shape of the more popular poster artists, the near life-size design was a sensation. Overnight, Mucha's name became a household word and, though his name is often used synonymously with the new movement in art, he disavowed the connection.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Art Styles: The High Renaissance

The High Renaissance is widely viewed as the greatest explosion of creative genius in history. Even relatively minor painters active during the period, such as Fra Bartolomeo and Mariotto Albertinelli, produced works remarkable for their perfect harmony and total control of the painterly mediums. Simply put, this period represented a culmination.

Since the essential characteristic of High Renaissance art was its unity, a balance achieved as a matter of intuition, beyond the reach of rational knowledge or technical skill, the High Renaissance art style was destined to break up as soon as emphasis was shifted to favor any one element in the composition. The High Renaissance art style endured for only a brief period, 1495-1520, and was created by a few artists of genius, among them Leonardo da Vinci, Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian.

Leonardo da Vinci is considered the paragon of Renaissance thinkers, engaged as he was in experiments of all kinds and having brought to his art a spirit of restless inquiry that sought to discover the laws governing diverse natural phenomena. The High Renaissance is generally held to have emerged in the late 1490s, when Leonardo da Vinci painted his Last Supper in Milan. Michelangelo has come to typify the artist endowed with inexplicable, solitary genius.

Monday, October 12, 2015

M.C. Escher Dutch Artist 1898-1972

M. C. Escher was fascinated by every kind of tessellation – regular and irregular – and took special delight in what he called “metamorphoses,” in which the shapes changed and interacted with each other, and sometimes even broke free of the plane itself. By his method of coloring this tessellation, M.C. Escher has made it easy for us to understand how the tessellation was created. You can divide the design into two portions: equilateral triangles defined by groups of yellow creatures and equilateral triangles defined by groups of red creatures. These two types of equilateral triangles tessellate in a predictable manner.

"By keenly confronting the enigmas that surround us, and by considering and analyzing the observations that I have made, I ended up in the domain of mathematics, Although I am absolutely without training in the exact sciences, I often seem to have more in common with mathematicians than with my fellow artists."The laws of mathematics are not merely human inventions or creations. They simply 'are'; they exist quite independently of the human intellect. The most that any(one) ... can do is to find that they are there and to take cognizance of them."
 M.C. Escher is one of the world's most famous graphic artists. He created unique and fascinating works of art that explore and exhibit a wide range of mathematical ideas. M.C. Escher is most famous for his so-called impossible structures, such as "Ascending and Descending" (shown here), "Relativity", his Transformation Prints, such as "Metamorphosis I", "Metamorphosis II" and "Metamorphosis III", "Sky & Water I" or "Reptiles". Apart from being a graphic artist, M.C. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals. In "Ascending and Descending" lines of people ascend and descend stairs in an infinite loop, on a construction which is impossible to build and possible to draw only by taking advantage of quirks of perception and perspective.

"Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it's in my basement... let me go upstairs and check."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Conceptual Art

Conceptual art emerged in the 1960’s. The term was first used in 1961 by Henry Flynt in a Fluxus publication. It later evolved into a different meaning when the Art and Language group, headed by Joseph Kossuth, adopted it. This group believed that Conceptual art was created when the analysis of an art object succeeded the object itself.

 Land art is an art movement which emerged in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which landscape and the work of art are inextricably linked. Sculptures are not placed in the landscape, rather the landscape is the very means of their creation. The works frequently exist in the open, located well away from civilization, left to change and erode under natural conditions. One example is the Spiral Jetty, considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. "Spiral Jetty" (shown here) is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970. Built of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah, it forms a 1500-foot long, 15-foot wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake which is only visible when the level of the Great Salt Lake falls below an elevation of 4,197.8 feet.

The Italian movement Arte Povera, or poor Art is another type of Conceptual Art. The term Arte Povera was introduced by the Italian art critic and curator, Germano Celant, in 1967. His pioneering texts and a series of key exhibitions provided a collective identity for a number of young Italian artists. Poor Art emerged as the Italian economy collapsed into chaos and political instability. The word poor here refers to the movement's signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones of paint, canvas, bronze, or carved marble. Arte Povera is art made without restraints, a complete openness towards materials and processes.

Some Conceptual art consisted simply of written statements or instructions. Many artists began to use photography, film and video. In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg exhibited "Erased De Kooning Drawing", a drawing by Willem De Kooning which Rauschenberg erased. It raised many questions about the fundamental nature of art, challenging the viewer to consider whether erasing another artist's work could be a creative act, as well as whether the work was only "art" because the famous Rauschenberg had done it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Artist of the Week: Toulouse Lautrec

Toulouse Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draftsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colorful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec is known along with Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period. The French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec depicted the Parisian night life of cafés, bars, and brothels, the world that he inhabited at the height of his career.

Through the seriousness of his intention, Toulouse-Lautrec depicted his subjects in a style bordering on, but rising above, caricature. He took subjects who often dressed in disguise and makeup as a way of life and stripped away all that was not essential, thus revealing each as an individual, but a prisoner of his own destiny. The two most direct influences on Toulouse-Lautrec's art were the Japanese print, as seen in his slanted angles and flattened forms, and Degas, from whom he derived the tilted perspective, cutting of figures, and use of a railing to separate the spectator from the painted scene, as in At the Moulin Rouge. But the genuine feel of a world of wickedness and the harsh, artificial colors used to create it were Toulouse-Lautrec's own. He incorporated into his own highly individual method elements of the styles of various contemporary artists, especially French painters Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin. Japanese art, then coming into vogue in Paris, influenced his use of sharp delineation, asymmetric composition, oblique angles, and flat areas of color. His work inspired van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Georges Rouault.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Artist of the Week: Grant Wood

Grant Wood painted simple scenes of the land and people he knew best. Wood was an active painter from an extremely young age until his death, and although he is best known for his paintings, he worked in a large number of media, including lithography, ink, charcoal, ceramics, metal, wood and found objects. Grant Wood is most closely associated with the American movement of Regionalism that was primarily situated in the Midwest, and advanced figurative painting of rural American themes in an aggressive rejection of European abstraction He helped create an important, all-American style of art. Grant Wood’s paintings show the love he had for the people and customs of the Midwestern United States. Grant Wood particularly loved the farmland of Iowa.

From 1920 to 1928 Grant Wood made four trips to Europe, where he studied many styles of painting, especially impressionism and post-impressionism. But it was the work of Jan Van Eyck that influenced him to take on the clarity of this new technique and to incorporate it in his new works. From 1924 to 1935 Wood lived in the loft of a carriage house that he turned into his personal studio at "5 Turner Alley" (the studio had no address until Wood made one up himself). In 1932, Wood helped found the Stone City Art Colony near his hometown to help artists get through the Great Depression. Grant Wood became a great proponent of regionalism in the arts, lecturing throughout the country on the topic.

Grant Wood's best known work is his 1930 painting American Gothic,(shown above) which is also one of the most famous paintings in American art, and one of the few images to reach the status of cultural icon, along with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch's The Scream. It was first exhibited in 1930 at the Art Institute of Chicago where it can still be found today; It was given a 300 dollar prize and made news stories country-wide, bringing the artist immediate recognition.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Art Styles: Photorealism Art

Photo Realism is a figurative movement that emerged in the United States and Britain in the late 1960s and 1970s. The subject matter, usually everyday scenes, is portrayed in an extremely detailed, exacting style. It is also called super-realism, especially when referring to sculpture.

As a full-fledged art movement, Photorealism evolved from Pop Art and as a counter to Abstract Expressionism as well as Minimalist art movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States. It is also sometimes labeled as Super-Realism, New Realism, Sharp Focus Realism, or Hyper-Realism.

Photorealist painting cannot exist without the photograph. In Photorealism, change and movement must be frozen in time which must then be accurately represented by the artist. Photo realist's gather their imagery and information with the camera and photograph. Once the photograph is developed, the artist will systematically transfer the image from the photographic slide onto canvases.
Chuck Close's first solo exhibition included a series of enormous black-and-white portraits that he had painstakingly transformed from small photographs to colossal paintings. Close's large, iconic portraits are generated from a system of marking which involves painstaking replication of the dot system of the mechanical printing process. The portraits he produces, utterly frontal, mural-size, and centered in shallow space, replicate the veracity of a photograph and undermine the objectivity of photography at the same time, critics say.

Chuck Close reproduced and magnified both the mechanical shortcomings of the photograph, including blurriness and distortion,and the flaws of the human face: bloodshot eyes, broken capillaries, and enlarged pores.

To make his paintings, Chuck Close superimposed a grid on the photograph and then transferred a proportional grid to his gigantic canvases. He then applied acrylic paint with an airbrush and scraped off the excess with a razor blade to duplicate the exact shadings of each grid in the photo. By imposing such restraints, Close hoped to discover new ways of seeing and creating.

"Big Self-Portrait" (1967-1968), is, indeed, big (nearly nine by seven feet). Chuck Close used acrylic paint and an airbrush to include every detail. This painting took four months to complete. Big Self-Portrait, in black and white, was the first of Close's mural-sized works painted from photographs. To make this work, Chuck Close took several photographs of himself in which his head and neck filled the frame. From these he selected one of the images and made two 11 x 14-inch enlargements. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Neo-Expressionism Art

Neo-Expressionism comprised a varied assemblage of young artists who had returned to portraying the human body and other recognizable objects, in reaction to the remote, introverted, highly intellectualized abstract art production of the 1970s. The movement was linked to and in part generated by new and aggressive methods of salesmanship, media promotion, and marketing on the part of dealers and galleries. It was a diverse art movement that dominated the art market in Europe and the United States during the early and mid-1980s.

The German artist Georg Baselitz (his painting "Lenin on the Tribune " is shown above) is regarded as a leading pioneer of the neo-expressionism style of art. Other artists associated with this movement include Jean-Michel Basquiat (painting shown below), Arnold Mesches, Susan Rothenberg, and Julian Schnabel. Schnabel is famous for encrusting his paint surface with broken crockery. The titles of Julian Schnabel's works are often as deliberately crude as their handling, for example his artwork entitled "Circum-Navigating the Sea of Shit ".

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Artist of the Week: Frank Stella

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Frank Stella created a large body of work "The Pequod meets the Bachelor" (shown here) that responded in a general way to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. During this time, the increasingly deep relief of  painting  gave way to full three-dimensionality, with sculptural forms derived from cones, pillars, French curves, waves, and decorative architectural elements.

To create these works, Frank Stella used collages or scaled models that were then enlarged and re-created with the aid of assistants, industrial metal cutters, and digital technologies. The mid 1980’s onwards saw Stella working in three dimensions with increasing frequency, and by the 1990’s Frank Stella had moved on to creating free-standing sculptures for display in publi

Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker. Frank Stella is a significant figure in Minimalism and post-painterly abstraction. Printmaker and painter Frank Stella was born on May 12, 1936 in Malden, Massachusetts. Frank Stella attended high school in Massachusetts and, upon graduating, moved on to Princeton University and majored in history. Stella soon found himself influenced by figures the likes of Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock while in school, and visits to the art galleries of New York subtly shaped Stella’s techniques.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Artist of the Week: Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Giacometti was a popular artist and sculptor renowned for his complete dedication to his work. Alberto Giacometti is best known for is sculptures of the human form, stretched out with elongated limbs. 

Following a trip to Venice and Rome in 1920, during which Giacometti developed a passion for the work of Tintoretto and Giotto, Alberto Giacometti resolved to recover the innocent gaze of man's origins through primitive art and anthropology. In 1922 Alberto Giacometti moved to Paris to study under the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, an associate of Auguste Rodin. It was there that Alberto Giacomettiexperimented with cubism and surrealism. Among Alberto Giacometti's associates were Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso and Balthus. It was at this point Alberto Giacometti started writing and drawing for his magazine "Le surréalisme au Service de la Révolution" and he began to establish himself as a leading sculptor of the Surrealist movement.
 In 1962, Alberto Giacometti was awarded the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale, and the award brought with it worldwide fame. Giacometti's striding or standing figures find themselves in emptiness and isolation. In this intensive-subjective representation, an existential exposure and angst based on the immediacy of the moment is hinted at. To many they are a reflection of the spiritual situation of the time.

Just like his sculptures, Giacometti's drawings and paintings depict the lost human being in the emptiness of space with great intensity and sensibility. The formal characteristics are a graphic network of lines, with which Alberto Giacometti extracted volumes from areas, and an almost monochrome color scheme used in his paintings.

Even when Alberto Giacometti had achieved popularity and his work was in demand, he still reworked models, often destroying them or setting them aside to be returned to years later. In his later years Giacometti's works were shown in a number of large exhibitions throughout Europe. Riding a wave of international popularity, and despite his declining health, Alberto Giacometti traveled to the United States in 1965 for an exhibition of his works at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Art Styles: Die Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity)

Die Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity) was a pseudo-Expressionist movement founded in Germany in the aftermath of World War I by Otto Dix  (his painting "The Skat Players" shown above) and George Grosz. It is characterized by a realistic style combined with a cynical, socially critical philosophical stance. Many of the artists were anti-war. In their paintings and drawings they vividly depicted and excoriated the corruption, frantic pleasure seeking and general demoralization of Germany following its defeat in the war and the ineffectual Weimar Republic which governed until the arrival in power of the Nazi Party in 1933. But their work also constitutes a more universal, savage satire on the human condition.

Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, who was the director of the Kunsthalle in Mannheim, coined the term in 1923 in a letter he sent to colleagues describing an exhibition he was planning. In his subsequent article, "Introduction to 'New Objectivity': German Painting since Expressionism," Hartlaub explained, "I am interested in bringing together representative works by those artists, who over the last ten years have neither been Impressionistically vague or Expressionistically abstract, neither sensuously superficial nor constructivistically introverted. I want to show those artists who remained- or have once more become- avowedly faithful to positive, tangible reality". The exhibition took longer than expected to be organized and eventually took place between June and September of 1925.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Artist of the Week: Edvard Munch

The Norwegian painter and graphic artist Edvard Munch illustrated man's emotional life in love and death. His art was a major influence of the expressionist movement, where artists sought to give rise to emotional responses. Edvard Munch is best known for his composition, "The Scream", one of the pieces in a series titled The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of life, love fear death and melancholy.

The Scream is Munch's most famous work and one of the most recognizable paintings in all art. It has been widely interpreted as representing the universal anxiety of modern man. Painted with broad bands of garish color and highly simplified forms, and employing a high viewpoint, the agonized figure is reduced to a garbed skull in the throes of an emotional crisis. With this painting, Munch met his stated goal of “the study of the soul, that is to say the study of my own self”.

Munch wrote of how the painting came to be:”I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.” Edvard Munch later described the personal anguish behind the painting, “for several years I was almost mad…You know my picture, ‘’The Scream?’’ I was stretched to the limit—nature was screaming in my blood… After that I gave up hope ever of being able to love again.”
In 1889, Edvard Munch presented his first one-man show of nearly all his works to date. The recognition it received led to a two-year state scholarship to study in Paris under French painter Léon Bonnat. At that time a Post-Impressionist breakthrough was in progress along with different anti-naturalist experiments. This had a liberating effect on Munch. "The camera cannot compete with a brush and canvas," Edvard Munch wrote, "as long as it can't be used in heaven and hell." The first autumn, shortly after Munch arrived in France, he was informed that his father had died.

The loneliness and melancholy in the painting "Night" (1890) are often seen with this in mind. The dark interior with the lonely figure at the window is completely dominated by tones of blue, a painting of nuances which may be reminiscent of James McNeill Whistler's nocturnal color harmonies.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Art Styles: Dadaism

Throughout time art has taken on many styles that have been born from political views (Dada), wars (Die Neue Sachlichkeit), new understanding of how the mind and the eye works (impressionism), and new inventions (futurism). The history of the Church was also very much reflected in the history of art.  Secularism has influenced Western art since the Classical period, while most art of the last 200 years has been produced without reference to religion and often with no particular ideology at all.

Art has often been influenced by politics of one kind or another, of the state, of the patron and of the artist. Dada was a literary and artistic movement born in Europe at a time when the horror of World War I was being played out in what amounted to citizens' front yards. Due to the war, a number of artists, writers and intellectuals, notably of French and German nationality, found themselves congregating in the refuge that neutral Zurich Switzerland offered. The movement was, among other things, a protest against the barbarism of the War and what Dadaists believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society; its works were characterized by a deliberate irrationality and the rejection of the prevailing standards of art. It influenced later movements including Surrealism.

According to the Dada ideal, the movement would not be called "Dadaism," much less designated an art-movement. According to its proponents, Dada was not art; it was anti-art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored them. If art is to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strives to have no meaning--interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada offends. Perhaps it is then ironic that Dada is an influential movement in Modern art. Dada became a commentary on art and the world, thus becoming art itself. With the order of the world destroyed by World War I, Dada was a way to express the confusion that was felt by many people as their world was turned upside down.

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Summer Fruits and Vegetables" 2015 acrylic on wood

"Summer Fruits & Vegetables"  is my newest painting. This is an experiment in still life using the grisaille technique and overlaying thin glazes atop the tonal study in grays. The ground is 18 inches wide by 12 inches high on 3/8-thick medium density fiber board prepared with two coats of gesso between sandings for an ultra-smooth surface. I used acrylic paints from the tube mixed with a little bit of retarder. I used red, yellow and blue paint.

The "Summer Fruits & Vegetables" acrylic still life painting by award winning Citrus County Florida artist Michael Arnold makes a bold statement on any wall where it is displayed. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Old Barn on the Plain" 2015 acrylic on wood

This is an experiment in perspective in a landscape painting. The rolling clouds and fenceline disappear into a far off vanishing point, which creates a larger sense of infinite space. The barn is rendered in two-point perspective, which also helps create greater volume and space.
The painting is 26.5 inches wide by 12.5 inches high on 1/2-thick medium density fiber board prepared with two coats of gesso between sandings for an ultra-smooth surface. I used acryllic paints from the tube. I began with a wash of burnt sienna and gradually built up layers of blue-green, yellow ochre and red. I used white for tinting purposes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Maribel Arnold

For the Fourth of July we had a special visitor all the way from San Fransisco  California and it made me remember the painting I had done of her a few years back. "The subject is my daughter in law, Maribel, who won a pageant in her home country of the Philippines. The photo I used as reference was of her in her costume after winning. This painting was created using only burnt sienna and a touch of pthalo blue to darken the hair. I layered the burnt sienna over and over again to build up the darker tones and create depth. The lightest colors in the painting were accomplished using a single layer and the darker tones have up to fifteen thin layers of paint. Check out the portrait painting of Maribel's ex husband here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Artist of the Week: Peter Max

For July 4, 1976, Peter Max created a special installation and art book, Peter Max Paints America, to commemorate America's bicentennial. It was the year Max also began his annual July 4th tradition of painting the Statue of Liberty. In 1982, Max painted six Liberties on the White House lawn, and then personally helped to actualize the statue's restoration, which was completed in 1986.

Peter Max began a series of works called the Better World series, and created a painting called "I love the World," depicting an angel embracing the planet, inspired by his backstage experience at the Live Aid concert. in 1989, for the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, Max was asked to create world's largest rock-and-roll stage for the Moscow Music Peace Festival.

Soon after the festival, in October, 1989, Max unveiled his "40 Gorbys," a colorful homage to Mikhail Gorbachev. Prophetically, a few weeks later, communism fell in Eastern Europe and Peter Max was selected to receive a 7,000-pound section of the Berlin Wall, which was installed on the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Intrepid Museum. Using a hammer and chisel, Peter Max carved a dove from within the stone and placed it on top of the wall to set it free.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Artist of the Week: Frida Kahlo

From 1926 until her death, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo created striking, often shocking, images that reflected her turbulent life. She painted using vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico as well as by European influences that include Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. In 1925 Frida Kahlo was gravely hurt in a bus accident. She spent over a year in bed, recovering from fractures of her back, collarbone, and ribs, as well as a shattered pelvis and shoulder and foot injuries. Despite more than 30 subsequent operations, Frida Kahlo spent the rest of her life in constant pain. During her convalescence Frida Kahlo had begun to paint with oils. Frida's mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes

Her pictures, mostly self-portraits and still life's, were deliberately naive, filled with the bright colors and flattened forms of the Mexican folk art she loved. Frida Kahlo had studied art before, at the National Preparatory School, where she had met Diego Rivera when he was painting the "Creation Mural", but Frida Kahlo had never worked on paintings before. Over her bed, Frida Kahlo had a mirror so she could see herself, and this was the beginning of her focus on self more

Monday, June 15, 2015

Artist of the Week: Rene Magritte

 "My painting is 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."- René Magritte
Rene Magritte was a groundbreaking Surrealist who combined wit and illusion. Magritte, who originally designed wallpaper, posters and ads, began painting full time after receiving a gallery contract. In Magritte’s signature style, he places ordinary objects in unexpected contexts, often blocked faces with floating objects to challenge preconceptions about the unknown.

 The Human Condition series, painted between 1933 and 1935. "The Human Condition" ("La condition humaine") refers to a number of works, of which the two most famous are both oil on canvas paintings. There are also a number of drawings of the same name. 

 The 1960s brought a great increase in public awareness of Magritte's work. One of the means by which his imagery became familiar to a wider public was through reproduction on rock album covers including,  the 1969 album Beck-Ola by the Jeff Beck group, Jackson Browne's 1974 album, Late for the Sky,  and the Firesign Theatre's album Just Folks . . . A Firesign Chat.  Styx adapted Magritte's Carte Blanche for the cover of their 1977 album The Grand Illusion, while the cover of  John Foxx's 2001 The Pleasures of Electricity, was based on Magritte's painting Le Principe du Plaisir.  Jethro Tull mentions Magritte on a 1976 album and Paul Simon's song "Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War" appears on the 1983 album Hearts and Bones. Paul McCartney, a life-long fan of Magritte, owns many of his paintings, and claims that a Magritte painting inspired him to use the name Apple for the Beatles' media corporation. Magritte is also the subject and title of a John Cale song on the 2003 album HoboSapiens.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Artist of the Week: Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer became one of the all-time leading figures in American art, known for his marine genre paintings and for his espousing of Realism, especially of American life. From the 1880s until his death in 1910, Winslow Homer's work was focused on issues of mortality and the forces of nature such as violent storms at sea. Winslow Homer was one of the most well known artists to come out of the Civil War.

Like all artists who work alone, Winslow Homer matured slowly, and as he matured, he lost interest in portrayals of the land and children. In 1883, Winslow Homer moved from New York to Maine where he set up a studio close to the wild and rocky coast and began his series of watercolors of the sea and its people, before finally losing interest in people altogether, and confining himself almost entirely to "the lonely sea and the sky." His watercolors are so powerful that it is difficult to believe that Homer was himself "a small, reserved gentleman, quiet and unostentatious." His view of nature was severe and, even in the scenes of tropical waters, brilliant in color, indicative of his belief that man himself is nothing in comparison to the vastness of the ocean

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Artist of the Week: James Whistler

The American painter, etcher, and lithographer James Whistler created a new set of principles for the fine arts, championed art for art's sake, and introduced a subtle style of painting in which atmosphere and mood were the main focus. Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. James Whistler used a butterfly as his signature for his paintings.

The butterfly was unique in that it possessed a long stinger on it's tail. Whistler's signature fit him well for it combined both aspects of his personality. Whistler was known to have a difficult public persona, yet his artwork was often delicate like a butterfly.

In 1862 James Whistler started to work on "Symphony in White No.1: The White Girl" (shown at top of page). The model was once again his mistress, Jo. This controversial painting brought Whistler's name to the forefront in the art world. Shown in London first and then in Paris, it provoked a buzz of irrelevant interpretation. The expressionless young woman in virginal white, standing on a wolf skin with a lily in her hand (that floral emblem of the Aesthetic Movement), was declared to be a bride on the morning after her wedding night; or a fallen ex-virgin; or a victim of mesmerism - anything except what she actually was: a model posing in Whistler's studio to give him a pretext to paint shades of white with extreme virtuosity and subtlety

Although The White Girl was rejected by the Royal Academy in 1862 and the Paris Salon of 1863, it was a sensation at the Salon des Refusés, admired by artists though laughed at by the public.In 1863 Whistler leased a house in the Chelsea section of London, where he set up housekeeping with Jo. His mother arrived late that year and spent the rest of her life in England.
Whistler’s mother was both a religious and very proper woman, and her arrival in London, upset her son’s bohemian existence. As he wrote to Henri Fantin-Latour, “General upheaval!! I had to empty my house and purify it from cellar to eaves.” Whistler became a collector of blue-and-white porcelain as well as Oriental costumes, in which he posed his models for such pictures as La Princess du pays de la porcelaine (1864). By 1871, Whistler returned to portraits and soon produced his most famous painting, the nearly monochromatic full-length figure titled "Arrangement in Gray and Black: Portrait of the Artist's Mother", but usually referred to as Whistler's Mother.  According to a letter from his mother, one day after a model failed to appear, Whistler turned to his mother and suggested he do her portrait. In his typically slow and experimental way, at first he had her stand but that proved too tiring so the famous profile pose was adopted. It took dozens of sittings to complete. The austere portrait in his normally constrained palette is another Whistler exercise in tonal harmony and composition. The deceptively simple design is in fact a balancing act of differing shapes, particularly rectangles of the curtain, picture on the wall, wall and floor which stabilize the curve of her face, dress, and chair.

Again, though his mother is the subject, Whistler commented that the narrative was of little importance. In reality, however, it was a homage to his pious mother. After the initial shock of her moving in with her son, she aided him considerably by stabilizing his behavior somewhat, tending to his domestic needs, and providing an aura of conservative respectability that helped win over patrons.

Friday, May 22, 2015

War as seen by artists

With Memorial Day this week-end we can stop and take a look at how war looks through the eye of an artist.When the Revolutionary war opened, John Trumbull joined the army as adjutant. His skill as a draughtsman enabled him to make drawings of the enemy's works at Boston, and Washington appointed him one of his aides-de-camp. As a soldier in the American Revolutionary War, Trumbull was able to witness the famous Battle of Bunker Hill.

In March 1785 John Trumbull wrote to his father, Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., that "the great object of my to take up the History of Our Country, and paint the principal Events particularly of the late War." Influenced by the work of West and John Singleton Copley, Trumbull completed his first history painting, "The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill " (shown above) in March 1786.

Pablo Picasso is considered to be one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.  "Guernica" (1937) is thought to be one of Picasso's greatest works. Created during his Surrealist period, Picasso captures the horror of the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica, which killed many innocent civilians during the Spanish Civil War. By the end of World War II, Picasso had become an internationally known artist and celebrity. A highly productive artist, Pablo Picasso created a large number of works during his lifetime.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Artist of the Week: Lucien Levy-Dhurmer

Lucien Levy-Dhurmer was a master of pastels, painter of fantastical scenes, portraits and beautiful Mediterranean landscapes. He was born Lucien Lévy to a Jewish family in Algiers. From 1879 Lucien Levy attended drawing and sculpture classes at his local school in Paris. In 1886, he met Raphael Collin, who advised him in art training.

 Lucien Levy-Dhurmer's pastel and charcoal picture "Medusa" or "Waging Wave" (shown here) was completed in 1897. The artwork is an excellent example of the symbolist style. Symbolists prefer vision to sight. The art is tinged with spirituality and plunges into beliefs, myths and legends. For them woman is often a deadly creature, a poisonous, raging being, a monster of accursed beauty. The world of appearances fades away before the dream like universe; the elements come to life, take human form and become nightmarish figures. They call themselves Symbolists, these painters, draughtsman and artists who share the same goal: to make the invisible visible, to cling to fate, dreams from the subconscious and other places. Lucien Levy- praise for the academic attention to detail with which he captured figures lost in a Pre-Raphaelike haze of melancholy, contrasted with bright Impressionist coloration. His portrait of writer Georges Rodenbach is perhaps the most striking example of this strange and extraordinary synergy. Lucien Levy Dhurmer began to use pastels a great deal, this medium with its suggestive blurred effects, lending itself to the magic of symbolism; several of his contemporaries, particularly Fantin-Latour and Khnopff, were equally attracted by his pastel technique. He was influenced by the ideas both of Khnopff and the Pre-Raphaelites (this latter influence can be seen particularly in his rather languid women and his idealized figures). Levy-Dhurmer exhibited frequently at the Salon d'Automne.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Artist of the Week: Horace Pippin

Horace Pippin was an African American folk painter known for his depictions of African American life and of the horrors of war. Horace Pippin was called a folk artist because he had no formal art training. He used bright colors, flat shapes, and straight lines.

Horace Pippin did not use shading or complicated perspective. His art is also called primitive, naive, or innocent. The injustice of slavery and American segregation figure prominently in many of his works. 

In 1947 critic Alain Locke described Horace Pippin as "a real and rare genius, combining folk quality with artistic maturity so uniquely as almost to defy classification."

Although he painted only about 140 works, concentrations of his work can be found in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Artist of the Week: Elaine Fried de Kooning

 In 1938, Elaine Fried was introduced to a Dutch immigrant artist, Willem de Kooning. She soon began studying with him, and approximately five years later, on December 9, 1943, they married. While her artistic reputation was eclipsed to some degree by his fame, she was able to forge a name as an artist and as a critic They were the typical artist couple in the 1940's, struggling with serious financial hardships while producing tremendously innovative work. By the early 1950's she was producing stylized paintings based on news photographs of sports figures. Elaine Fried de Kooning was also an art critic for Artnews and wrote articles about American Modernist painters.

Elaine Fried de Kooning  had her first solo show in 1952, while subsidizing her income by working as a model. Elaine Fried de Kooning had a diverse and interesting career as an artist. Unlike most women artists of the time Elaine Fried approached art in an ambitious and competitive manner. Her intoxicating vitality made Elaine both challenging and physically fearless.
Elaine Fried de Kooning's most famous series of portraits, painted on commission from the White House, is of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Elaine Fried de Kooning followed the President, observing him from various standpoints. President Kennedy’s  young daughter, Caroline, copied de Kooning by making her her own small paintings as Elaine was painting the portraits.

Elaine Fried de Kooning traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida, to make painted sketches of Kennedy and spent much of 1963 working on a presidential portrait of him for the Truman Library. Kennedy was assassinated during the creation of this work. His murder impacted her to such a degree that she stopped painting for nearly a year. Elaine Fried de Kooning spent most of this time teaching and doing sculptures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Artist of the Week: Georgia O'Keeffe American Painter 1887-1986

Among the great American artists of the 20th-century, Georgia O’Keeffe stands as one of the most compelling. For nearly a century, O’Keeffe’s representations of the beauty of the American landscape were a brave counterpoint to the chaotic images embraced by the art world. Her cityscapes and still life's filled the canvas with wild energy that gained her a following among the critics as well as the public. Though she has had many imitators, no one since has been able to paint with such intimacy and stark precision. With exceptionally keen powers of observation and great finesse with a paintbrush, Georgia O'Keeffe recorded subtle nuances of color, shape, and light that enlivened her paintings and attracted a wide audience.

After spending a summer in New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe, enthralled by the barren landscape and expansive skies of the desert, would explore the subject of animal bones in her paintings of the 1930s and 1940s. Georgia found the thin, dry air enabled her to see farther, and at times could see several approaching thunderstorms in the distance at once.

She affectionately referred to the land of northern New Mexico as "the faraway"...a place of stark beauty and infinite space. Soon after their arrival, Georgia O'Keeffe and Beck where invited to stay at Mable Dodge Luhan's ranch outside of Taos for the summer. Georgia O'Keeffe would go on many pack trips exploring the rugged mountains and deserts of the region.

On one trip Georgia O'Keeffe visited the D.H. Lawrence ranch and spent several weeks there. Just as with the flowers, Georgia O'Keeffe painted the bones magnified and captured the stillness and remoteness of them, while at the same time expressing a sense of beauty that lies within the desert.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Artist of the Week: Stuart Davis

Considered a forefather of the Pop Art movement, Stuart Davis translated the visual imagery of New York City and the jazz music of the mid-20th Century into iconographic abstract paintings of squiggly lines and flashy colors. The career of Stuart Davis has encompassed the entire span of modern art in the United States. Stuart Davis was an American cubist painter whose colorful compositions, with their internal logic and structure, often camouflaged the American flavor of his themes.

 "I have always liked hot music. There's something wrong with any American who doesn't. But I never realized that it was influencing my work until one day I put on a favorite record and listened to it while I was looking at a painting I had just finished. Then I got a funny feeling. If I looked, or if I listened, there was no shifting of attention. It seemed to amount to the same thing--like twins, a kinship. After that, for a long time, I played records while I painted"- Stuart Davis