Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Richard Diebenkorn

April 22, 1922. Richard Clifford Diebenkorn Jr. was born on April 22, 1922 in Portland, Oregon. His family moved to San Francisco, California, when he was two years old. From the age of four or five he was continually drawing. In 1940, Diebenkorn entered Stanford University, where he met his first two artistic mentors, Professor Victor Arnautoff who guided Diebenkorn in classical formal discipline with oil paint, and Daniel Mendelowitz, with whom he shared a passion for the work of Edward Hopper. Hopper's influence can be seen in Diebenkorn's representational work of this time. In this image: Richard Diebenkorn's painting 'Ocean Park No.129', 1984.

 The period of Diebenkorn's figurative work corresponds (with the exception of the last of the Berkeley abstractions in 1955) to his remaining years as a teacher in the Bay Area (until about 1966). With Park, Bischoff and other artists such as Nathan Oliveira (b 1928), William Theo Brown (b 1919) and Paul Wonner (b 1920), Diebenkorn became known as one of the founders of the Bay Area figurative school.

 The surface of Diebenkorn's paintings tells the viewer much about the manner in which he works. This is true of all of his work. The multi-layered, built-up quality of the surface reveals many revisions and corrections. This is evidence of an active feedback between artist and canvas. Some critics view this aspect of Diebenkorn's work negatively and accuse him of uncertainty and imprecision. On the contrary, "getting it right" is Diebenkorn's chief objective and he does not mind revising things to realize a composition where everything is essential -- nothing is left out.

Reflections on the Painting of Richard Diebenkorn: THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.
Gregory Eanes
April 7, 1993

Friday, April 21, 2017

Today's birthday genius: Charlotte Brontë

‘I sat a long time by the window, looking out over the silent grounds and silvered fields, and waiting for I know not what’ – Jane Eyre

Author Charlotte Brontë was born #onthisday in 1814. Published in 1847 under the pen name ‘Currer Bell’, the novel is Brontë’s best-known work. This image shows Jane at a window in Lowood School – one of the many parts of the book that have parallels with Brontë’s own life. The print was made by Ethel Gabain in 1922:

The three Brontë sisters, with their proto-feminist ideology and the barely veiled feral rage that runs like an undercurrent through their books, would always mesh well with the feminist anger that’s so prevalent today. But the thing that makes them a near-perfect fit — the thing that both To Walk Invisible and The Moors use as the sisters’ chief antagonist — is the problem of their brother, the much-despised alcoholic Branwell. It’s Branwell who, like a living embodiment of the patriarchy, keeps trying to hold the sisters back, and Branwell whom they must defeat.

More at:

Portrait by George Richmond
(1850, chalk on paper)

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.
Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.
It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Today's Birthday Person:Miró

April 20, 1893. BARCELONA.- April 20, 1893.- Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramist born in Barcelona. Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favour of upsetting the visual elements of established painting. In this image: Joan Miro, Femme, 1949 and Oiseau Lunaire, 1946 (back) Successio Miro_ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012. Photo Jonty Wilde.

Ouotes: I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.
The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.
Throughout the time in which I am working on a canvas I can feel how I am beginning to love it, with that love which is born of slow comprehension.

"Though a lover of poetry who often created titles out of fanciful imagery--A Star caresses the breast of a black woman (1938), The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers (1941) -he was hardly glib. To emphasize a point, in fact, he often used a click of the tongue or a swing of his fist instead of a word. "America has influenced me greatly because of the vitality that you have," he said. "It has a push." Then he punched his fist through the air to show what kind of push." (Smithsonian). 

Over decades, Miro created myriad personal symbols of monstrous feet, grotesque women, twisted ears, enormous eyes, spiraling letters, clustering stars, dancing insects, playful demons, ink-spot birds, stick animals, escape ladders, angry cats, barking dogs and much more. Sometimes a canvas seems to brim with as many symbols as a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. But where Bosch is the alchemist of darkness, Miro is the prince of light and color. It is hard to enter a room full of Miros without breaking into a smile and feeling a dollop of joy. *1993 Smithsonian Institution)ó

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Jan Davidsz. de Heem

Vase of Flowers, 1660, part of Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild collection. It was purchased by the National Gallery of Art in 1961

Still life with books and a violin, 1628,
The Dutch painters of the 17th Century displayed a delight and skill in portraying flowers and items from "ordinary life" that has never been excelled. De Heem’s paintings also reflected the great interest in botany at that time, and this work includes exotic flowers and plants brought back from faraway places, such as the tulip, originally imported into Europe from Turkey in the 1550s.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hare by Durer; not your typical Easter Bunny

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Elizabeth Catlett - born on this day

There are a lot of famous artists born today- apparently Leonardo was born on this day - but women artists, especially black women artists get short shrift. So, today's post is in honor of Elizabeth Catlett. In spite of the blocks put in her way, she persevered!

No other field is closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity. Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett (April 15, 1915 – April 2, 2012) was an African-American graphic artist and sculptor best known for her depictions of the African-American experience in the 20th century, which often had the female experience as their focus. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. to parents working in education, and was the grandchild of freed slaves. It was difficult for a black woman in this time to pursue a career as a working artist, so Catlett devoted much of her career to teaching. However, a fellowship, awarded to her in 1946, allowed her to travel to Mexico City, where she would work with the Taller de Gráfica Popular for twenty years and become the head of the sculpture department for the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas. In the 1950s, her main means of artistic expression shifted from print to sculpture, though she would never give up the former. Wikipedia