Monday, August 29, 2016

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, born 29 August 1780

August 29, 1780. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (29 August 1780 - 14 January 1867) was a French Neoclassical painter. Although he considered himself to be a painter of history in the tradition of Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David, by the end of his life it was Ingres's portraits, both painted and drawn, that were recognized as his greatest legacy.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Man Ray

Emmanuel Radnitzky (Man Ray) was born on this day in 1890. Self-portrait.

Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, 1890–1976) was a leader in two pioneering art movements, Surrealism and Dada, but was never deeply invested in either of the two. Although accomplished as an avant-garde photographer, he eschewed labels and thought of himself primarily as a painter and as an artist wedded to no single medium. Man Ray's camerawork marked a turning point in the integration of photography among other visual art form.

 His obsessive love affair with Lee Miller lead to some of the greatest works of his career. Miller and Ray lived and worked together from 1929 to 1932, and the work they did together influenced modern photography and film for decades to come.

A year ago:

Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy Birthday Rufino Tamayo

August 26, 1899. Rufino Tamayo (August 26, 1899 - June 24, 1991) was a Mexican painter of Zapotec heritage, born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. Tamayo was active in the mid-20th century in Mexico and New York, painting figurative abstraction with surrealist influences. In this image: Rufino Tamayo's painting "Sandias" or "Watermelons'' is seen in this undated picture. Mexico put out an international alert Sunday, Jan. 31, 1999 for 12 paintings that were stolen from an exhibition last week, including "Sandias" by one of Mexico's most famous painters. The paintings, on loan from private art collectors in Mexico, the United States and Europe, were part of a 43-canvas show the gallery organized to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tamayo's birth.

Mr. Tamayo's painting can be stark or lyrical, bawdy or extraordinarily delicate, allegorically elaborate or a feast of music and nature. Throughout his long career, his passionate commitment to the craft of painting is unmistakable, as is his feeling for animals and fruit and for the ceremonial pleasures of play and dance. (NY Times obit).

Modernism helped him explore the possibilities of an international language but his inspiration remained the presence and continuity of Mexican traditions. The ecstatic earthiness, the transcendent power of simple things, and his masklike faces and statuesque figures are rooted in his Indian origins and in his study of Mexican folk art and pre-Columbian sculpture. From beginning to end, his painting is saturated with Mexican color and light. 
Obit NY Times:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

'Saint Eustace' (1501) by Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer, Heiliger Eustachius, 1501 (detail). Kupferstich, 358 x 260 mm. Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, Kupferstichkabinett / Photo: Karen Blindow.

The Kunsthalle Bremen was able to acquire a work sold more than a hundred years ago by the museum. The well-preserved copperplate engraving of “Saint Eustace” (1501) by Albrecht Dürer is the artist’s largest copperplate engraving, measuring 35.8 x 26 cm, it. During his lifetime, the artist viewed it as his unsurpassed masterpiece and proof of his skills as an engraver. The recently purchased masterpiece “Saint Eustace” by Albrecht Dürer once belonged to the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen. 

Albrecht Dürer in the Kunsthalle Bremen’s Collection
With the acquisition of this rare “Saint Eustace” print one of the German master’s greatest works returns to Bremen. Furthermore, it fills a major gap in the Kunsthalle Bremen’s collection of printed works which resulted from early sales and heavy losses incurred during the Second World War. Works by Dürer represent a prominent focus of the collection in Bremen: In addition to the almost complete printed works, the Kunsthalle possess drawings, watercolours and paintings which were exhibited in 2012 in a major monographic exhibition. As loans, these exhibits have also enriched major shows of Dürer’s work internationally.

“Saint Eustace”, the subject of the engraving by Albrecht Dürer
The engraving shows a scene from the “Legenda aurea” by Jacobus de Voragine (1228–1298). A stag with a crucifix between its antlers appeared to the Roman general Placidus (first century A.D., later Saint Eustace). Placidus subsequently had himself and his family baptized and was subjected to a series of calamities that tested his faith. In the end he died a martyr’s death under the Emperor Hadrian and is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. In his engraving, Dürer depicted the apparition of the stag with the Saint kneeling before the crucifix to the left and the game in the middle distance.

The unusual refinement and concentrated use of hatching creates an almost “painting-like” impression. Dürer was able to achieve a precise depiction of the quality of various surfaces such as stone, metal, fur and foliage. The richness of forms found in nature – glorification of the divine creation – ranges from the various poses of the dogs, which are based on Dürer’s independent studies of the natural world, to plants, leaves, the lake with swans, the flock of birds and the knight on the horse ascending the mountain. Each detail is depicted with great care, the composition extending in an almost ornamental pattern. The horse reflects the beginning of Dürer’s interest in the study of perspective which he continued to explore in the following years. The fortress on the mountain appears to be inspired by his watercolours of Italian landscapes. Dürer’s watercolour “Mountain Castle in the Cembra Valley” (“Felsenschloss im Cembratal”) from the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen was a possible model for the fortress.   

Press release and image from Art News Daily   

Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy Birthday Henri Cartier-Bresson

August 22, 1908. Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 - August 3, 2004) was a French photographer considered to be the father of modern photojournalism. He was an early adopter of 35 mm format, and the master of candid photography. He helped develop the "street photography" or "life reportage" style that has influenced generations of photographers who followed. In this image: A man looks at images at the opening of a photo exhibit Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004, at The Museum of The City of New York, which features the work of photographers from the Magnum photo agency.

I saw a show of his work back in 2010 at the "old" SFMOMA. It was overwhelming, far too many photos to really look at with any comprehension, many of which were the iconic photos which we all recognize. But it was a treat to hear his widow talk and be privileged enough to be there. Let's hope that the "new" SFMOMA can mount exhibitions as powerful.

Quotes: "One has to tiptoe lightly and steal up to one's quarry; you don't swish the water when you are fishing."

"I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

images courtesy of SFMOMA, from 2010 show