Monday, March 19, 2018

Josef Albers. Born March 19, 1888

March 19, 1888. Josef Albers (March 19, 1888 - March 25, 1976) was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of modern art education programs of the twentieth century. In this image: Color Study. Gouache on paper, 7 1/16 x 10 3/16 inches (18 x 25.8 cm) © 2016 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

In 1963, he published Interaction of Color which presented his theory that colors were governed by an internal and deceptive logic. The very rare first edition has a limited printing of only 2,000 copies and contained 150 silk screen plates. This work has been republished since and is now even available as a cell phone app. Also during this time, he created the abstract album covers of band leader Enoch Light's Command LP records. His album cover for Terry Snyder and the All Stars 1959 album, Persuasive Percussion, shows a tightly packed grid or lattice of small black disks from which a few wander up and out as if stray molecules of some light gas. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973. Albers continued to paint and write, staying in New Haven with his wife, textile artist, Anni Albers, until his death in 1976.

Key Ideas: Albers's 1963 book Interaction of Color provided the most comprehensive analysis of the function and perception of color to date and profoundly influenced art education and artistic practice, especially Color Field Painting  and Minimalism, in the twentieth century.

His series Homage to the Square, produced from 1949 until his death, used a single geometric shape to systematically explore the vast range of visual effects that could be achieved through color and spatial relationships alone.

Albers's art and theories were widely disseminated to generations of artists and art-school faculty through his teachings at the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale University, and they provided the theoretical basis for the development of non-objective art during and after the age of Abstract Expressionism.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cornelis or Cornelius Ketel. Born on this day in 1548

Woman Aged 56 painted in 1594.
March 18, 1548. Cornelis or Cornelius Ketel (March 18, 1548 – August 8, 1616) was a Dutch Mannerist painter, working in Elizabethan London from 1581to the 17th century. Although he is now known as a portrait painter, he was also a poet, orator and sculptor.
Adam Wachendorff, a merchant of the Steelyard, London, 1574

Sir Martin Frobisher, 1577

Thomas Pead, 1578. The skull is inscribed "Respice finem".

"Together with Pieter Pietersz, Ketel was the leading portraitist in Amsterdam for many years, and one of the generation of Dutch portrait-painters whose increasingly sophisticated work laid the foundations for their much more famous successors. Whereas in England portraits in oils remained mostly confined to the court and gentry, in the Netherlands they were already common among the prosperous mercantile classes. Ketel lived near Oude Kerk, where he bought in 1593 a house on the so-called "Velvet Canal."

 "Both Ketel and Pietersz developed an Amsterdam style often marked by depicting sitters "very close to the picture plane, from an unusual angle, and cropped closely by the frame” ...Ketel seems to have kept a stock of drawings of poses, from which a patron might choose, and which could be worked up by studio assistants without the sitter's presence being required. Van Mander records that around 1600 he at times discarded his brush and painted directly with his fingers, and even developed the trick of painting with his feet and toes—presumably just for short periods. This may have been to amuse himself and his sitters, to relieve boredom. An alternative, perhaps more likely, explanation, is that he was forced to do so by a progressive paralysis, perhaps arthritic, which finally completely overcame him by 1610–1613 "   

From Wikipedia:

Fuchs, RH; Dutch painting; 1978, pp. 94-5, Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-20167-6

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rosa Bonheur. Born on March 16 in 1822

Portrait of Rosa Bonheur by Anna Klumpke

Born on March 16, 1822 in Bordeaux, Rosa Bonheur was most popular artist of nineteenth-century France, She was also one of the first renowned painters of animals and the first woman awarded the Grand Cross by the French Legion of Honor. A professional artist with a successful career, Bonheur had two consecutive and committed relationships with women.

Ploughing in the Nivernais, Musée d'Orsay

Study of a dog, 1860 ? 

Her father was a dedicated remember of the Saint Simeon Society, a group dedicated to the reform of society. Her father abandoned the family to live with the Saint Simeons, creating enormous hardship and poverty for Rosa, her mother and the rest of his children. 

From Wikipedia: Bonheur's siblings included the animal painters Auguste Bonheur and Juliette Bonheur and the animal sculptor Isidore Jules Bonheur. Francis Galton used the Bonheurs as an example of "Hereditary Genius" in his 1869 essay of the same title.

Her mother died in 1833, of poverty and exhaustion, something which Rosa never forgot. After her mother's death, Rosa was taken in by neighbors, the Micas family.

Their daughter, Nathalie was Rosa's first love and the women she lived with for most of her life. (40 years). 

When Bonheur began her professional career, she had already received some training from her father, a landscape and portrait painter. Bonheur was a rebellious child, refusing the learn "traditional" female skills so her father, eventually, encouraged her to continue with her love of art. Bonheur learned more by sketching at the Louvre, a favorite learning method for artists from the Renaissance until the 20th centuryl. Later she studied with Léon Cogniet. From the beginning her favorite subject was animals. She did not hesitate to study anatomy by dissection, visiting the horse market and by further direct study. She even got permission from the French government to wear men's slacks, a loose smock and heavy boots to protect her feet in the muck of animal pens. 

From the age of 19 (1841) through 1853, when she won the salon's gold medal. In 1848 she was commissioned by the French government to paint Plowing on the Nivernais." In the same year, she and her sister, Juliette, became directors of l"ecole gratuite de dessin pour les jeunes filles, a post once held by her father. 

The Horse Fair
She completed her most famous work "The Horse Fair," in 1855. This painting was bought by a London art dealer and became so well known that Queen Victoria requested a private viewing. It would lather be bought in 188y by Cornelius Vanderbilt and was donated to the new Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY City. 

Her financial success allowed her to purchase a house and farm near Fontainebleu Forest. In 1860, she moved there with Natalie and Madame Micas. The three women divided the work so that Madame Micas served as the housekeeper, Natalie as the one who prepared Bonheur's canvases and dealt with art dealers and patrons, leaving Bonheur free to paint. 

Bonheur's fame continue to rise, leading to her receiving the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, the first woman to do so. But it was not all wine and fancy honors for Bohneur. In 1889, Natalie died and she became, for a while, unable to work or even see friends. But by 1893, Bohneur had recovered and formed an attachment with a young artist, Anna Klumpke who was with her until her death on May, 25, 1899. 

"While Bonheur never referred to herself as a lesbian, she certainly understood her relationships with Nathalie Micas and Anna Klumpke to be a subversive form of matrimony. These liaisons rejected the patriarchal institution of marriage in favor of a matriarchal life in partnership. Bonheur used her last will and testament to force legal recognition of her right to transfer her property to another woman."

Her ashes are buried with those of Natalie and Anna in 
PèreLachaise cemetery in Paris. 


Biography: In a century that did its best to keep women "in their place," Rosa Bonheur (1822--99) defined herself outside of the social and legal codes of her time. To the horror and bewilderment of many, she earned her own money, managed her own property, wore trousers, hunted, and smoked.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ferdinand Hodler. Born on this day in 1853.

March 14, 1853. Ferdinand Hodler (March 14, 1853 - May 19, 1918) was one of the best-known Swiss painters of the nineteenth century. His early works were portraits, landscapes, and genre paintings in a realistic style. Later, he adopted a personal form of symbolism he called "parallelism". In this image: Ferdinand Hodler, The Reaper, c. 1910 © Christoph Blocher Collection, Photo: SIK-ISEA, Zürich

In 1908, Hodler met Valentine Godé-Darel, who became his mistress. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1913, and the many hours Hodler spent by her bedside resulted in a remarkable series of paintings documenting her decline from the disease

Critique from the NY Times in 1984: His work is not greater than the sum of its parts. Broken down into its parts, however, it is complex and revealing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Alberto Burri. Born on this day in 1915

Multiplex 8, 1981. Courtesy Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Italy, and Luxembourg & Dayan

Alberto Burri (born Feb 13, 1915) was an Italian painter and sculptor, considered a key figure in Post WW II art and such artistic movements as Neo-Dada, Nouveau realism, post-minimalism and Art Povera. He studied to be a doctor, served in the Italian army during WW II, was captured and sent to a camp in Texas, where he became increasingly fascinated by art due to a program set up by the YMCA. After he returned to Italy, the post war chaos and poverty led him to abandon medicine and become more and more involved in art - using a complex of industrial and found materials such as burlap and rejecting formal art forms in favor of art that was impressionistic, abstract and evocative.  

Alberto Burri, Sacco e Rosso, 1956. Burlap and oil on canvas. 100 x 86 cm. Courtesy Mazzoleni, © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini, Collezione Burri, Città di Castello. This work is on show at Alberto Burri at Gallery Mazzoleni, London, until 30 November

A man of steel and burlap