Monday, April 14, 2014

The Nicholas Brothers and a full moon eclipse

It's a bit of a grey day here and my energy is low. I know that a lot of people are going crazy over the upcoming tax day deadline. Plus tonight is the beginning of four lunar eclipses, this one in the Aries/Libra axis.

April 14-15, 3:42am EDT, 12:42am PDT, 8:42am GMD

So it seems like a good day for swing, swing, swing with the Nicholas Brothers, probably the best tap dancers to work in Hollywood. If anybody can tap the problems away, it's those two, aided by Cab Calloway.

From the movie: STORMY WEATHER 1943
It is said that no less an authority on dance than Fred Astaire once said that this was in his opinion the best dance number ever put on film. One thing for sure, the Nicholas Brothers were without a doubt the best Tap Dance team ever, case closed. I have included the entire number including Cab Calloway's opening vocal. The dance starts at about the 1:30 mark.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Vuillard at the Legion of Honor for Slow Art Day

Édouard Vuillard. Mother and Sister of the Artist, c. 1893

On Saturday, April 12, the de Young, the Legion of Honor, and dozens of other museums and galleries around the world will participate in Slow Art Day. Like the National Day of Unplugging, which encourages people to power down their smartphones and socialize face-to-face, Slow Art Day’s mission is to enable new connections with art that otherwise might be lost in the everyday blur of activity. It gives participants the opportunity to expand how they look at and respond to art, with no artistic background or expertise needed. The approach is akin to meditation: simply choose a work of art and spend five to 10 minutes looking at it, without doing anything else.

 My choice would be Vuillard. The FAMSF don't have any in their permanent collection (except one on loan from Dede Wilsey). But the current show at the Legion has several, as part of the post-impressionist show from the National Gallery of Art. This is the one that fascinated me.

Vuillard habitually depicted his seamstress mother (with whom he lived until her death in 1928) and his sister in claustrophobic images filled with a profusion of patterns: striped dresses, variegated fabrics, and flowered wallpaper.

In this work, as in many others, we find ourselves inside Vuillard's family circle. The thickly patterned, decorative background is claustrophobic and the two women seem poised on the verge of confrontation. The mother sits, squat, black, confident, almost masculine and intractable in the middle of the scene. The daughter, bowed over, dressed in yet another mix of dots, stripes and blocks is bowed, bowed over and looking like she wants to merge into the wallpaper or escape from the powerful figure dominating the room, pushed into the edge. 

The palate is limited - black, grey, dark green, white with matte multicolored patterns and flattened space. The painting is small - 18 1/4  x 22 1/4" but it's a chapter on family relationships, right out of Freud. 

Poetry ! :


Legion of Honor Blog:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Work in Pastel: Orange Juice and Water

Orange Juice - I like the colors in this one but the shape of the orange peel (that orange triangle sticking out of the glass) doesn't quite work. But you can't rework pastel or the colors will get muddy so I am leaving this as is. I may redo the image in watercolor and "fix" that piece of peel - or not.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The Swing (French: L'Escarpolette), also known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing (French: Les Hasards Heureux de l'Escarpolette, the original title), is an 18th-century oil painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in the Wallace Collection in London. It is considered as one of the masterpieces of the rococo era, and is Fragonard's best known work.

The Two Sisters. The identity of the sisters is unknown. Until recently, they have been called the artist's daughter Rosalie (born 1769) and his sister-in-law Marguérite Gérard (born 1761). This is unlikely given the known difference in age between the two.

The Stolen Kiss, 1756–61. This picture is one of the few highly finished works painted by Fragonard during his first Italian sojourn from 1756 to 1761.

The Love Letter, ca. 1770

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French: 5 April 1732 in Grasse – 22 August 1806 in Paris) was a French painter and printmaker whose late Rococo manner was distinguished by remarkable facility, exuberance, and hedonism.

One of the most prolific artists active in the last decades of the Ancien Régime, Fragonard produced more than 550 paintings (not counting drawings and etchings), of which only five are dated. Among his most popular works are genre paintings conveying an atmosphere of intimacy and veiled eroticism. (Wikipedia).

The Legion of Honor's Salon Dore, which just reopened after years of restoration, would have been the perfect setting for his work:

Fragonard is one of the favorites of Colin Bailey, the head of the FAMSF

Unfortunately the French Revolution sent most of his clients to the guillotine and Fragonard felt it prudent to drop out of sight.

When he died in 1806, he had long ceased to be a central figure in the Parisian art world. His most characteristic work—brightly hued and fluidly painted pictures of courting aristocrats, scenes of rustic life, pleasure gardens, and erotic mythologies made in the 1760s and 1770s—seemed irrelevant after the political, social, and cultural upheavals of the French Revolution. 

Yet his obituary in the Journal de Paris lamented that, "the French school has lost a justly admired painter," whose works associated him with "the very idea of the Graces."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

'Pretty in Ink and Rose O'Neill' at the San Francisco Public Library

 Rose O'Neill - who knew that the most popular cartoonist in America prior to the depression was a woman, the daughter of poor Irish immigrants and a staunch supporter of women's rights?

O'Neill created the Kewpie character, which first appeared in 1909 in her illustrated poems for the Ladies' Home Journal.

"Signs", a cartoon for Puck by Rose O'Neill, 1904.
Ethel: "He acts this way. He gazes at me tenderly, is buoyant when I am near him, pines when I neglect him. Now, what does that signify?"
Her mother: "That he's a mighty good actor, Ethel."

 Women's History Project

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Max Ernst

Today's birthday boy is one of the biggest names in 20th century art. Max Ernst (2 April 1891 - 1 April 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

He enrolled in the University at Bonn in 1909 to study philosophy, but soon abandoned this pursuit to concentrate on art. At this time he was interested in psychology and the art of the mentally ill. In 1911 Ernst became a friend of August Macke and joined the Rheinische Expressionisten group in Bonn. Ernst showed for the first time in 1912 at the Galerie Feldman in Cologne. At the Sonderbund exhibition of that year in Cologne he saw the work of Paul Cézanne, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh. In 1913 he met Guillaume Apollinaire and Robert Delaunay and traveled to Paris. Ernst participated that same year in the Erste deutsche Herbstsalon. In 1914 he met Jean Arp, who was to become a lifelong friend.

Aquis Submersus. 1919. Influenced by the Italian metaphysical art it is one of Ernst's earliest works showing surrealistical accents. It is currently at the Städel museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

Despite military service throughout World War I, Ernst was able to continue painting and to exhibit in Berlin at Der Sturm in 1916. He returned to Cologne in 1918. The next year he produced his first collages and founded the short-lived Cologne Dada movement  In 1921 Ernst exhibited for the first time in Paris, at the Galerie au Sans Pareil. He was involved in Surrealist activities in the early 1920s with Paul Eluard and André Breton.

Constantly experimenting, in 1925 Ernst invented a graphic art technique called frottage (see Surrealist techniques), which uses pencil rubbings of objects as a source of images. He also created the 'grattage' technique, in which paint is scraped across canvas to reveal the imprints of the objects placed beneath. He uses this technique in his famous painting Forest and Dove (as shown at the Tate Modern).
The Barbarians:

His first American show was held at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, in 1932. In 1936 Ernst was represented in Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1939 he was interned in France as an enemy alien. Two years later Ernst fled to the United States with Peggy Guggenheim, whom he married early in 1942. After their divorce he married Dorothea Tanning and in 1953 resettled in France.

 The Robing of the Bride. 1940

Ernst received the Grand Prize for painting at the Venice Biennale in 1954, and in 1975 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum gave him a major retrospective, which traveled in modified form to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1975. He died on April 1, 1976, in Paris.

Highly Recommended: Max Ernst's life and career are examined in Peter Schamoni's 1991 documentary Max Ernst. Dedicated to the art historian Werner Spies, it was assembled from interviews with Ernst, stills of his paintings and sculptures, and the memoirs of his wife Dorothea Tanning and son Jimmy. The 101-minute German film was released on DVD with English subtitles by Image Entertainment.