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


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Summer of Love

Installation view of Haight Street Gallery in ‘The Summer of Love Experience.’ (Courtesy of FAMSF)
Give us an exhibit that offers a clear-eyed critique of what truthfully was a brief social experiment, notes its shortcomings along with its joys. Give us context. At the very least, give us some intellectual honesty: an exploration of what really happened, who it affected, why it ended, and how it shaped the San Francisco (and United States) we currently inhabit.

Exactly.. and more at:

Robert Delaunay: Vision becomes the subject of painting.

Robert Delaunay, 1912, Simultaneous Windows on the City, 40 x 46 cm, Kunsthalle Hamburg

Robert Delaunay, 1930, Circular Forms, oil on canvas, 67.3 × 109.8 cm (26.5 × 43.2 in), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift by Andrew Powie Fuller and Geraldine Spreckels Fuller Collection, 1999

Robert Delaunay (12 April 1885 – 25 October 1941) was a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, cofounded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee. His key influence related to bold use of colour and a clear love of experimentation with both depth and tone.

At the prime of his career he painted the known series that included: the Saint-Sévrin series (1909–10); the City series (1909–11); the Eiffel Tower series (1909–12); the City of Paris series (1911–12); the Window series (1912–14); the Cardiff Team series (1913); the Circular Forms series (1913); and The First Disk (1913).

Delaunay is most closely identified with Orphism. From 1912 to 1914, he painted nonfigurative paintings based on the optical characteristics of brilliant colors that were so dynamic they would function as the form. His theories are mostly concerned with color and light and influenced many including Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Morgan Russell, Patrick Henry Bruce, Der Blaue Reiter, August Macke, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, and Lyonel Feininger. Apollinaire was strongly influenced by Delaunay’s theories of color and often quoted from them to explain Orphism. Delaunay’s fixations with color as the expressive and structural means were sustained with his study of color.

His writings on color, which were influenced by scientists and theoreticians, are intuitive and can be sometimes random statements based on the belief that color is a thing in itself with its own powers  of expression and form. He believes painting is a purely visual art that depends on intellectual elements, and perception is in the impact of colored light from the eye. The contrasts and harmonies of color produce in the eye simultaneous movements and correspond to movement in nature. Vision becomes the subject of painting.

Robert Delaunay

Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon

Paris 1913 (dated on painting 1912)


In Simultaneous Contrasts that movement is the rhythm of the cosmos, for the painting's circular frame is a sign for the universe, and its flux of reds and oranges, greens and blues, is attuned to the sun and the moon, the rotation of day and night. But the star and planet, refracted by light, go undescribed in any literal way. "The breaking up of form by light creates colored planes," Delaunay said. "These colored planes are the structure of the picture, and nature is no longer a subject for description but a pretext." Indeed, he had decided to abandon "images or reality that come to corrupt the order of color."

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Maimonides & Barbara Wolff's Rose Hagaddah

Opening page of Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Portugal, Lisbon, 1490

He was medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician

Barbara Wolff is one of the rare contemporary artists using the techniques of medieval manuscript illumination. She paints on vellum—animal skin—and highlights her work with silver, gold, and platinum foils. Her imaginatively conceived designs for the Rose Haggadah combine these ancient traditions with historical and archaeological references and wry humor, while reinventing the images for a modern audience.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kenneth Noland, Francesco del Cossa & Raphael drawings at the Ashmolean

Today's art birthdays run the gamit from modern to Renaissance

Happy Birthday to American abstract painter Kenneth Noland, born on this day in 1924:

Triumph of Venus, 1470

Today's artist w/out known birthday: Francesco del Cossa. Month of April w/ triumph of Venus from Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara, c 1470. 

The most remarkable surviving project of Ferrarese artists in the Quattrocento is the fresco cycle lining the Salone dei Mesi (Room of the Months), the main hall in the Palazzo Schifanoia at Ferrara, a hunting lodge enlarged by Duke Borso d'Este beginning around 1465. The frescoes are related to the calendar illustrations that appear frequently in Northern European manuscripts, but here there is a special emphasis on Borso d'Este as a wise ruler. The program, devised by a still unidentified humanist, is complex. Each month is represented at the top register by the triumphal cart of the ancient deity who presided over that month, with the signs of the related zodiac in the middle zone and the courtly activities and practical labours appropriate for that month on the bottom. Portraits of Borso and his courtiers appear in various scenes on the lower level.

The frescoes demonstrate the brilliance of Ferrarese colouring and the inventiveness of Ferrarese painters in their interpretation of the subjects. The leading masters were apparently Francesco del Cossa and Cosme Tura, with limited participation by Ercole de' Roberti and other anonymous artists.

Not since 1983 has such an extensive showing of Raphael sketches gone on view" … #RaphaelDrawings opens 1 June

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tomb Treasures at the Asian

Like the Roman Empire, China's Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) forged one of the most powerful, advanced civilizations of the ancient world, and its elite had it all: unbridled luxury, technical innovations and courtly romance. Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China's Han Dynasty, is an original exhibition of more than 160 intriguing works recently unearthed from the coastal heartland of classical Chinese culture.

 Bell set, unearthed from Tomb 1, Dayun Mountain, Xuyi, Jiangsu. Western Han period (206 BCE–9 CE), 2nd century BCE. Bells: bronze; stands: lacquer and silver. On loan from Nanjing Museum. Photo: Nanjing Museum.
Ruled by 29 emperors for over 400 years, the Han dynasty was the second imperial dynasty in Chinese History and represents the first “golden era” of development in Chinese history, a time when China’s diverse ethnic groups experienced relative stability, social development and harmony. To this day, the majority Chinese refer to themselves as the "Han people."

Tomb excavations are ongoing in China and, every so often, they unearth a major find.  In 2014, Chinese archaeologists in Jiangsu province, Eastern China (somewhat near Shanghai), unearthed more than 10,000 objects from a cluster of more than 100 Han tombs, untouched for some 2,000 years.  Jiangsu was the birthplace of Liu Bang (Emperor Gaozu, reigned 202-195 BCE), the founding emperor of the Han dynasty and Jiangsu was a center of concentrated wealth and culture.  There, Han royalty lived extravagantly.  They perceived of the afterlife as a form of existence much like their earthly one, requiring that basic subsistence needs be fulfilled as well those for spiritual enlightenment and entertainment.   Many of the most fascinating possessions from this rich find and earlier Han excavations are on display at the AAM.

Gilded bronze lamp in the shape of a deer unearthed from Tomb 1, Dayun Mountain, Xuyi, Jiangsu, Western Han period, 2nd century, BCE. On loan from the Nanjing Museum

On view through May 28, Tomb Treasures showcases these fresh archaeological finds, almost all never-before-seen outside of China. Surviving over 2,000 years underground, such outstandingly crafted royal burial goods reflect Han royalty's daily lives and nightly pastimes, and confirm how the early Chinese courts sought to glorify their statures in this life and in the next one. Yahoo

Dancer figurine, unearthed from the Tomb of the King of Chu, Tuolan Mountain, Xuzhou, Jiangsu. Western Han period (206 BCE-9 CE), 2nd century BCE. Earthenware. Xuzhou Museum.

"In addition to luxuries, royals surrounded themselves with domestic wares that surprise us with their intimate portrait of private life during the Han dynasty," says the museum's newly appointed curator for Chinese art, Fan Zhang. "We have everything from a large silver basin for taking baths, to a working stone latrine with an armrest, to a boldly designed ceramic urinal -- we even have two hollow bronze phalluses that could be used." 

 Coffin. Western Han. King of Chu. 206 BCE

The exhibit is divided into various themes, based on what the Han considered important: Everlasting happiness without end (長樂未央): Luxurious life and palatial entertainment. Daily life, banquets and pastimes of the Han elites are accompanied by the music and dance of the court.
Eternal life without limit (長生無極): Worship of jade and search for immortality. A tomb-like atmosphere allows visitors to explore ancient ideas about the afterlife.
Enduring remembrance without fail (長毋相忘): Private life and intimacy at the court. Affairs of the heart expose secrets from the innermost chambers of men and women fascinated by pleasure.

Jade suit on view in the Asian Art Museum’s Hambrecht Gallery, unearthed from Tomb 2, Dayun Mountain, Xuyi, Jiangsu, Western Han period (206 BCE-9 CE), 2nd century BCE. Jade and gold. Nanjing Museum. Photo: courtesy AAM.

Details: Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty closes May 28, 2017. The AAM is located at 200 Larkin Street near Civic Center.  Parking is easy at Civic Center Plaza garage which offers a discount with your validated AAM ticket. (Get it stamped upon entry to the museum.)

Hours: Tues-Sun: 10-5; Thursdays until 9 (end Oct 8); closed Mondays.  

Admission: General admission $20 weekday, $25weekend; Seniors, students, youth (13-17) $15 weekday, $20 weekend; 12 & under are free. 

1st Sundays are free thanks to Target.  You can pre-purchase your tickets, with no processing fee, online here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Billie Holliday

Most artists belong to their times, but Billie Holiday, born 100 years ago Tuesday, fits in the present. In a way, she died before her time, just as the country was beginning to talk about race, drugs, feminism and misogyny — all of which converged in her life.

Billie Holiday has become a mythic presence in absentia.
William Gottlieb/Getty Images Official Website:  
  I never hurt nobody but myself and that's nobody's business but my own.
 Obit from the NY Times:

 The Art of Her Life from the New Yorker:

Her Tragic Life:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Whiter Shade...the top song from 1967

For The Summer of Love Exhibit:

50th Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, said to be the second largest festival outside of Washington, D.C., celebrates the blooming of cherry blossoms at one of three remaining Japantowns in the United States.

All are welcome to join in the festivities as San Francisco’s Japantown celebrates Japanese and Japanese-American culture. The festival will be held on Post Street between Laguna and Fillmore Streets.

50th Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
– April 8-9, 2017 | 10 am to 5 pm
– April 15-16, 2017 | 10 am to 5 pm
– Parade – Sunday, April 16, 2016 at 1 pm
Japantown (Post and Buchanan Streets), San Francisco

The 2017 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrating its 50th year, is one of California’s most prominent celebrations of Asian traditions. Each year, over 200,000 people attend this dazzling display showcasing the color and grace of the Japanese culture and the diversity of the Japanese American Community.

The Grand Parade will be held on Sunday, April 16, 2017, beginning at Civic Center, proceeding up Polk to Post Street and ending in Japantown at Post and Fillmore streets.

A number of performers from Japan will also grace us with their presence. Japanese classical (Buyo) and folk dance (Minyo) groups representing the Bay Area will perform throughout the parade route like a myriad of floating butterflies.

My friend, the multitalented Nina Sazevich will be performing with Ensohza Minyoshu. The group will be debuting a couple of the dances the group learned in Japan last August at San Francisco's festival this Sunday, April 9, 2016 Peace Plaza stage near the pagoda in Japantown at 2:30pm ... come on out! This year with guest vocalist Yukiyo too!!!!

Performing at the 2014 Cherry Blossom Festival:

In honor of the festival, I will get the CD from the library and have my own private screening of "The Makioka Sisters" which ends with an exquisite shot of the sisters walking through a storm of cherry blossoms in the hills above Kobe. The story takes place in Japan primarily during the late 1930s (Shōwa period). The sisters live in the Kansai area (Kobe/Osaka) and travel to Tokyo and other prefectures throughout the novel.

watercolors by Nancy Ewart

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Summer of Love exhibit opening at the de Young

In 1966 -1967, inspired by the song "If you come to San Francisco," and utopian dreams of the very young, millions of young people descended on San Francisco looking for sex, love, drugs and Rock and Roll. The Haight Ashbury was ground zero for home away from home and Golden Gate Park their playground. For a brief moment in time, young, fashion, music, art and politics converged to create a unique, although vulnerable, culture

Ruth-Marion Baruch, 'Hare Krishna Dance in Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury', 1967

The 50th anniversary exhibit at the de Young presents a brightly colored, idealistic vision of the time with more than 300 items: rock posters, photographs, clothing, film and music.

Loren Rehbock, 'Mnasidika, 1510 Haight St.', 1967, Color offset lithograph, 20 x 14 in., FAMSF, Gift of Gary Westford, L16.26.3
The exhibition opens with a look at the Trips Festival of January 21–23, 1966, providing background and context into this creative period. Co-organized by American writers Stewart Brand and Ken Kesey, this multimedia extravaganza—complete with liquid light and slide shows, film projections, electronic sounds, and more—was the first event to gather members of the counterculture in a significant way.

The current city of San Francisco, probably remembering the piles of trash left by any gathering of any size, cancelled a concert. 

It's probably just as well. Nostalga for a never never land doesn't hold up very well and while looking at all the pretty things created in that brief moment will be fun, the uglier aspects of drugs, mental illness, poverty and its attendant ills are what we would be reminded of by any current concert.

Bob Schnepf, "Summer of Love/City of San Francisco", 1967. Color offset lithograph poster, 20 1/2 x 14 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,

Summer of Love here

April 8th Opening Day Schedule here

Artist: Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley Publisher: Family Dog. Printer: The Bindweed Press. “Skeleton and Roses,” Grateful Dead, Oxford Circle, September 16 & 17, Avalon Ballroom, 1966. Color offset lithograph poster, 50.7 x 35.6 cm (19 15/16 x 14 in). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Vanity Fair here

at the de Young Museum, SF Golden Gate Park: April 8- Aug 20
All images courtesy of the FAMSF.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Happy birthday to Maurice de Vlaminck

 If you like bright, vivid colors....April 04, 1876. Maurice de Vlaminck (4 April 1876 - 11 October 1958) was a French painter. Along with André Derain and Henri Matisse he is considered one of the principal figures in the Fauve movement, a group of modern artists who from 1904 to 1908 were united in their use of intense color. In this image: A member of public reads the information panel for the Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) painting titled 'Le Jardinier' during a pre-sale preview held in London, Thursday June. 16, 2005.

French Fauve artist, Maurice de Vlaminck, seems to have been in a contest with the iconic Cubist, legendary womanizer, and notoriously egotistical, Pablo Picasso. What these two rebellious artists did have in common was an uncanny ability to innovate, to create something completely new. For Picasso, it was Cubism; for Vlaminck and his fellow Fauves, André Derainand Henri Matisse, it was the bright, expressive colors - likened to "fire crackers" - and outrageously unconventional depictions that earned the group their influencial place in history. Vlaminck later railed against developments in modern art when, ironically, he was one of the true pioneers of modernist abstraction ...