Thursday, November 20, 2014

RIP Marian Brown

San Francisco lost a very special person today. Our condolences to the friends and family of Marian Brown.

She is with her sister, strolling along the streets of an idealized SF, never changing, always stylish, always Baghdad by the Bay. 

Catalogues galore

A great day for art lovers: You can access the first set of art catalogues released under the OSCI initiative. As you can see, where the Getty goes, other institutions follow: The Art Institute of Chicago has released catalogues on the work of Monet and Renoir. The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has a catalogue on The World of the Japanese Illustrated Book, which sits nicely alongside LACMA’s catalogue on Southeast Asian Art. Other titles include Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century from the National Gallery of Art; The Rauschenberg Research Project from SFMOMA; Discover the Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Collection at the Seattle Art Museum; The Tates’s The Camden Town Group in Context; and the Living Collections Catalogue from the Walker Art Center.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The invention of the daguerreotype process of photography

A very important day for photography: 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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bay Area art picks for Nov 14 - 20

"Tetsuya Ishida: Saving the World with a Brushstroke" just opened at the Asian Art Museum. This is the first U.S. exhibition of paintings by the Japanese artist, who died in 2005. Ishida blended dreamlike realities with everyday life and melancholy isolation with bizarre wit, producing a body of work that triggers strong emotions but resists easy explanation.

Ishida once said he wanted his paintings to “depict the world as [he felt] it and let other people feel it freely.” The eight paintings at the Asian exhibit the range of Ishida’s themes, including the pressures of academic and office life, social dislocation, the dulling effects of mechanization and the search for identity.

His fame comes not just from his reputation as a maverick but also for his brilliant characterizations of Japanese society and the personal isolation that resulted from the country’s economic downturn through the 90s.

“Ishida captured the feelings of hopelessness, claustrophobia, and emotional isolation that burdened him and that dominated Japanese society during this era,” wrote Nick Simunovic of Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, site of an exhibition last fall. His characters are melancholy, introverted and seen on the edge of a nervous breakdown - probably reflecting the artist’s own psyche. His work is powerful but also disturbing; I left the museum feeling very “off.”  Ishida lived in a very bleak, bitter and frightening world - which probably is what led to his suicide.

Links to Keith Haring videos, Victor Cartegna and more at:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Monet

 “Nymphéas,” or “Water Lilies.”

Who doesn't love Monet? Well, the 19th century French critics for a start and even some of today's critics who loathe his shimmering, beautiful pieces. But the rest of us adore them for just that reason - a vision of beauty that takes us from our ordinary world into the sublime.

“Nymphéas,” or “Water Lilies.”  

Born in Paris in 1840, Monet moved with his family to the Normandy port city of Le Havre when he was 5. His early artistic efforts there were charcoal caricatures. He met the legendary regional painter Eugène Boudin when he was 18 and learned to paint landscapes in oil from him. Like most painters later termed "impressionists," he battled family disapproval, poverty, hunger, nasty barbs from the official critics and public distain. 

Following a productive stint in Argenteuil, near Paris, in the 1870s, Monet returned to Normandy and began his serial paintings (of haystacks and other subjects) in the 1880s and '90s. He spent the last 40 years of life in Giverny, the site of his oft-painted garden.

If ever a painter inhaled the soul of a garden, that painter was Monet. While his later years were financially secure, they were also difficult ones. His wife died, then one of his two sons, and his second son became gravely ill. World War I began and struck lethal blow after lethal blow to the young men of Europe.  Monet knew that, as an Impressionist, he was considered passé — Fauvism and Cubism had made that clear  At the same time his eyesight was deteriorating as a result of cataracts, leaving his vision so bad that he had to number his paint tubes to determine what colors he was using.

But he continued to paint his garden, hovering, as we now realize, on the edge of abstraction. He painted the dark as well as the light, totally absorbed in the natural work that was his own creation. His later works open up to the heart of a world contained in the heart of a flower floating on the primeval chaos of water.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Keith Haring Sculpture Moves from the Moscone Center to the de Young

See a short video of Keith Haring's sculpture Untitled (Three Dancing Figures) move from the Moscone Center in SOMA to Golden Gate Park, welcoming visitors as they enter the de Young!

The de Young also put the Haring Symposium on line:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In honor of Veterans Day

In honor of —Winslow Homer’s iconic composition “The Veteran in a New Field.”

Homer covered the Civil War for Harper's. Harper's sent Homer to the front lines of the American Civil War (1861–1865), where he sketched battle scenes and camp life, the quiet moments as well as the chaotic ones. His initial sketches were of the camp, commanders, and army of the famous Union officer, Major General George B. McClellan, at the banks of the Potomac River in October, 1861.