Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On this day in 1904. Miguel Covarrubias

November 21, 1904. Miguel Covarrubias also known as José Miguel Covarrubias Duclaud (22 November 1904 - 4 February 1957) was a Mexican painter, caricaturist, illustrator, ethnologist and art historian. Miguel's artwork and celebrity caricatures have been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines. In this image: Covarrubias's caricature of himself as an Olmec.

Cover for Collier's Magazine, done during WWII. Caricature of Mussolini
From Sketches of Bali
Miguel Covarrubias was one of the most famous artists of his day, but chances are you’ve never heard of him. Caricaturists know his work- Al Hirschfeld studied under Covarrubias and shared a studio with him in 1924. He spoke of Covarrubias’ talent in the same breath as Daumier and Hogarth. Ethnologists and archaeologists know the name of Covarrubias as well. His analysis of pre-Columbian art and the culture of Bali led to books on the subject that have become classics. And his reputation as an anthropologist rivalled any of his peers in that field. Illustrator, caricaturist, anthropologist, author and educator… It’s high time you knew about Covarrubias too!

His art can be viewed at this website:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Born on this day. Paulus Potter

The Piebald Horse, 1650

The Young Bull. Potter's most famous painting. 1647

Two Horses in a Meadow
Paulus Potter was a Dutch painter who specialized in animals within landscapes, usually with a low vantage point. Before Potter died of tuberculosis at the age of 28, he succeeded in producing about 100 paintings.

When Paulus Potter died of tuberculosis before he was thirty years old, he had already profoundly influenced the way animals are depicted in European art. Potter created portraits of animals, making them his picture's focus, not just a backdrop for human action. The precocious son of a painter, his first dated work is from 1640. He entered Delft's Guild of Saint Luke in 1646 and later moved to The Hague. He is said to have wandered the Dutch countryside, sketchbook in hand, equally sensitive to how farm animals behave at different times of day and to light's vicissitudes from morning to dusk. Few of his contemporaries were more attuned to nature's moods or to the timeless harmony of beast, landscape, and weather. Potter's strong feeling for composition is seen in the way he grouped forms and used silhouette. His most successful paintings are small.

His contemporaries recognized Potter's talent. The famous Dr. Nicolas Tulp, who had spotted the young Rembrandt van Rijn's genius twenty years earlier, persuaded Potter to move to Amsterdam in 1652, whereupon he became Potter's mentor. In the 1800s, Potter's life-size The Young Bull was as famous as Rembrandt's Night Watch.Potter's etchings show the same sensitivity as his paintings.

Lidtke, Walter A., Michiel Plomp, and Axel Rüger. 2001. Vermeer and the Delft school. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0-87099-973-7

All Images:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sol LeWitt's Advice to Eva Hesse, read by Benedict Cumberbatch

Also, here’s a fantastic picture of Eva, who died at 34 of brain cancer, leaving behind loads of beautiful work—because she didn’t stop doing.

If you like Benedict Cumberbatch, this will make your day. If you like Sol LeWitt, this will make your week; if you also love and adore Eva Hesse, your entire month will be made. If you know none of these people and are just having a bad day, all will be made right in six minutes or less.

Dear Eva,
It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just

More at the link...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Born on this day in 1787. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre

November 18, 1787. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (18 November 1787 - 10 July 1851) was a French artist and physicist, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama theatre. In this image: "Boulevard du Temple", taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris, includes the earliest known photograph of a person. The image shows a street, but because of the over ten minute exposure time the moving traffic does not appear. At the lower left, however, a man apparently having his boots polished, and the bootblack polishing them, were motionless enough for their images to be captured.

The shoe shiner working on Paris’ Boulevard du Temple one spring day in 1839 had no idea he would make his­tory. But Louis Daguerre’s groundbreaking image of the man and a customer is the first known instance of human beings captured in a photograph. Before Daguerre, people had only been represented in artworks. That changed when Daguerre fixed his lens on a Paris street and then exposed a silver-plated sheet of copper for several minutes (though others came into the frame, they did not stay long enough to be captured), developed and fixed the image using chemicals. The result was the first mirror-image photograph.

Unlike earlier efforts, daguerreotypes were sharp and permanent. And though they were eventually outpaced by newer innovations—daguerreotypes were not reproducible, nor could they be printed on paper—Daguerre did more than perhaps anyone else to show the vast potential of the new medium of photography.

The invention of photography:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Monet, Founder of Impressionism (Born Nov 14, 1840 - December 1926)

Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant), 1872; the painting that gave its name to the style and artistic movement. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

“When I look at nature I feel as if I’ll be able to paint it all and capture everything … then it vanishes,” Monet laments, perfectly capturing that elusive gap between what you see in your mind’s eye and what ends up on the canvas.  Monet

In the garden

Camille ?

Le Point Japanoise. 1923

Les Bassin au Nympheas 1917-1919

Nypheas, 1907

Nypheas 1908

Nyphjeas 1916-1919

Oscar-Claude Monet 14 November 1840 – 5 December 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.The term "Impressionism" is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise), which was exhibited in 1874 in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his associates as an alternative to the Salon de Paris.

However, success did not come early or easily. In 1868, he wrote. “I must have undoubtedly been born under an unlucky star. I’ve just been turned out without even a shirt on my back from the inn in which I was staying. My family refused to help me any more. I don’t know where I’ll sleep. I was so upset yesterday that I was stupid enough to hurl myself into the water. Fortunately no harm was done.”

But he knew no other path and he kept on painting, although he had to write begging letters to his family for money, although his first wife Camille died after months of suffering. Monet painted her on her deathbed, a work full of grief and anger.

Nothing stopped him, not even the horrors of WW I. He could hear the guns from his home and Giverney and yet, he proclaimed, "They are going to have to slaughter me here as I paint." Nothing stopped him. Painting was everything.

"Art critic Jonathan Jones recently noted that “Monet makes all other art seem slightly false”, adding that the painter was “an unbeatable, unequalled artist whose popularity alone stops art snobs admitting that he is their favourite too”. It’s true that, as he and his fellow impressionists have been co-opted by the tourism industry, their work adorning everything from calendars to tea towels, so they have become increasingly dismissed as “chocolate box” painters.

Yet, as Andrew Graham-Dixon pointed out in his recent series on French art, to sneer at these “pretty” works is to forget that when they were first shown they were “raw and shocking”.  The Guardian

Complete Works:

Monet. Essay from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
The sketch in 19th century France
The roots of Modernism:
Monet at work in his Garden.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Painted Sculpture at the Legion of Honor

The latest show at the Legion of Honor is part of the new scholarship on Greek and Roman Sculpture. According to current belief, the sculptures were painted and in the most garish way possible. For decades, scholars have known that the sculptures were painted but in respect to the ancients, they refrained from imposing their version of taste on the works. 

No more. German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann decided that he knows better.  Using high-intensity lamps, ultraviolet light, cameras, plaster casts and jars of costly powdered minerals, he has spent the past quarter century painting sculptures and reliefs, believing that he has found the way, the truth and the light of ancient colors. He probably has the pigments right but does he have the colors right? What artist worth the name simply uses a color full strength, not tinting, not shading, not one iota of finesse? 

Would the people who created the lifelike Fayum portraits and the beautiful murals and mosaics that still exist have slathered art work with all the finesse of a toddler with a paint box? Showing teutonic stubbornness, Brinkmann has kept hammering away that his version is the true replica. Most iInstitutions have given in out of exhaustion if nothing else. Phidias,the creator of the Parthenon and much else, must be turning in his grave. 

Information from article “True Colors.” Smithsonian, July 2008 

Images from the Legion 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

American Resistance

Diana R. Fisher will be posting her book on line, chapter by chapter:

"IN honor of the 2017 election results, which some have called a Tsunami for the Resistance, I am posting chapter 1 today. This chapter catalogues the emergence of the Resistance, which is America’s response to an out-of-touch Democratic Party, a President who shows no interest in compromise, and the reach of conservative donors’ usage of Dark Money. It is still going through peer-review. I will post a revised peer-reviewed draft when reviews are back and I have responded to them."