Monday, August 21, 2017

On this day. Aubrey Beardsley

Ali Baba (Cover design for "The Forty Thieves")

Illustrator and author Aubrey Beardsley was born #onthisday in 1872. A leader of the Aesthetic movement, His work influenced the opulent style of Art Nouveau in the early 20th century,

Inspired by the style of Japanese woodcuts which were becoming known in the West, hia work emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic, although as a life long sufferer of TB, his decadence was solely in his imagation. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. Beardsley's contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death from tuberculosis. In six short years, he had broken though Victorian rules of illustration which emphasized the pretty and the prissy and introduced a revolutionary look which combined a sensuous line with eroticism and humor.

In 1892, Beardsley travelled to Paris, where he discovered the poster art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and the Parisian fashion for Japanese prints, both of which would be major influences on his own style. Beardsley's first commission was Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory (1893), which he illustrated for the publishing house J. M. Dent and Company. Illustrations from Le More d'Arthur:

The Peacock Skirt
The dancer's reward. Salome.

New Yorker: The faith behind his art.

Images from Wikipedia

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Today's birthday: Gustave Caillebotte

August 19, 1848. Gustave Caillebotte (19 August 1848 - 21 February 1894) was a French painter, member and patron of the group of artists known as Impressionists, though he painted in a much more realistic manner than many other artists in the group. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an art form. In this image: An employee looks at a painting 'Oarsmen' of 1877 of French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) in the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gustave Caillebotte. Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877. Art Institute of Chicago
Even up to the 1950s, Gustave Caillebotte was relatively unknown despite achieving much in Paris during the reign of the Impressionists. Like many of his fellow avant-garde artists, he was fascinated by the impact of industrialization and modernization on the city of Paris and its inhabitants. While he is classified as an Impressionist, the paintings that are considered by most to be his masterpieces actually fall more into the category of Realism, like the work of his predecessors, Millet and Courbet, and even Degas or Monet's earlier work. Individual paintings in his oeuvre frequently feature the distinctive, loose brushwork and lighter palette of the Impressionist style, but the paintings for which he is best known are large-scale, precise "evocations of photographic naturalism," as one contemporary critic put it, although at the time the comment was meant to be taken pejoratively. Ultimately, what he had most in common with his Impressionist colleagues was his choice of subject matter: he depicted themes from everyday life rather than those favored by formally trained, academic painters. More at ...

In his masterpiece, "Paris Street; Rainy Day," (see above),  Gustave Caillebotte brought an unusual monumentality and compositional control to a typical Impressionist subject, the new boulevards that were changing the Paris cityscape. The result is at once real and contrived, casual and choreographed. With its curiously detached figures, the canvas depicts the anonymity that the boulevards seemed to create. By the time it appeared in the third Impressionist exhibition, held in April 1877, the artist was 29 years old, a man of considerable wealth, and not only the youngest but also the most active member of the Impressionist group. He contributed six of his own canvases to the exhibition; played a leading part in its funding, organization, promotion, and installation; and lent a number of paintings by his colleagues that he owned.  From My Blog in 2014:

Yellow Roses in a Vase, 1882, Dallas Museum of Art
Les raboteurs de parquet (1875), a controversial realist subject, Musée d’Orsay

Painter’s Eye. LA Times

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fearless Female Friday: Aethelflaed (Æthelflæd). Ruler of Mercia people in the English Midlands, Military leader.

Royal MS 14 B VI edited close up (image 2)
Queens Aethelswitha and Aethelflaed, In The Cartulary And Customs Of Abingdon Abbey (edited close up)

Queens Aethelswitha and Aethelflaed, In The Cartulary And Customs Of Abingdon Abbey (edited close up)
Fearless Female Friday: Aethelflaed (Æthelflæd). Ruler of Mercia people in the English Midlands, Military leader.

Born around 870, Aethelflaed was the eldest child of Alfred the Great and Ealhswith (member of ruling family of Mercia) as well as, sister of Edward "the Elder," King of Wessex. In 886, Aethelflaed married Aethelred (Lord of Merica) having one child Aelfwyn (Ælfwynn). In 911, Aethelred was killed in battle against the Danes. Upon Aethelred's death, Aethelflaed became the political and military ruler of the Mercians and received the title, Lady of the Mercians (Myrcna hlædige).

Aethelflaed took an active military role, she built fortresses in western Mercia as a defense against invading and occupying Danes. She also led her forces against the Danes at Derby and captured it in 917, she then took Leicester in 918, without any opposition. The Danes then submitted to her rule and offered their allegiance as protection against Norwegians in Ireland.

Aethelflaed died on June 12, 918, and was succeeded by her daughter Aelfwyn. However, her uncle Edward, who already controlled Wessex, hoped to solidify his control over most of England. He seized the kingdom away from Aelfwyn, taking her captive, leading to a rebellion by the Mercian and Welsh peoples.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What the so called "alt left" was doing in Charlottesville.

On Tuesday, after a weekend that included a white supremacist mowing down and killing a peaceful counter-protester in Charlottesville and Nazis marching on the University of Virginia with torches, the president of the United States stood in front of the American people and said, “What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right’? Let me ask you this: What about the fact they came charging—that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”

  Dahlia Lithwick
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate, and hosts the podcast Amicus.

There were, as it turns out, a great number of Charlottesville locals present to witness the violence and lawlessness on display in this town—my town—last weekend. I asked local witnesses, many in the faith community, every one of whom was on the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday, whether there was a violent, club-wielding mob threatening the good people on team Nazi. Here’s what I heard back:

Francesco Albani

August 16, 1578. Francesco Albani or Albano (17 March or 17 August 1578 - 4 October 1660) was an Italian Baroque painter. Albani never acquired the monumentality or tenebrism that was quaking the contemporary world of painters, and in fact, is derided often for his lyric, cherubim-filled sweetness, which often has not yet shaken the mannerist elegance. While Albani's thematic would have appealed to Poussin, he lacked the Frenchman's muscular drama. His style sometimes appears to befit the decorative Rococo more than of his time. In this image: Baptism of Christ ca 1640 (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. )

Francesco Albani: Holy Family with Angels, 1608-10
Photograph by Sharon Mollerus, Creative Commons licensed

Spring (Venus at her Toilet)1616-17. Oil on canvas, diameter 154 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome. Web Gallery of Art

Looks like he was born on the 17th day although the month is not clear

Sunday, August 13, 2017

2017 SECA Awards at SFMOMA

Liam Everett,Untitled, 2016. Photo courtes the artist and the Altman Siegel Gallery, SF
Since 1967, SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) has honored over seventy Bay Area artists with the SECA Art Award, which includes an exhibition at SFMOMA and inclusion in the accompanying catalogue. Recipients of the SECA Art Award, typically four per award year, are chosen during a ten-month process involving artists, SECA members, museum staff, and members of the local arts community. The exhibition is jointly curated by Jenny Gheith, assistant curator of painting and sculpture, and Erin O’Toole, Baker Street Foundation Associate Curator of Photography.     

Alicia McCarthy, Untitled, 2015, photo the artist and Jack Hanley gallery, SF

Sean McFarland, Untitled, 2016, photo: Courtesy the artis and Casemore Kirkeby Gallery, SF
K.r.m.Mooney, Accord, A Chord 1, 2016, courtesy the artist, Reserve Ames, and Altman Siegel Gallery, SF   

Lindsey White, Studio 8, 2016, photo. Courtesy the artist
The 2017 SECA Art Award exhibition, the first to be held in the new SFMOMA, features five Bay Area artists in their first major museum presentations. Liam Everett, Alicia McCarthy, Sean McFarland, K.r.m. Mooney and Lindsey White join the ranks of those who have received the award since 1967.

“The 2017 SECA Art Award exhibition is the first to take place in the museum in over five years, and the scale and profile of the exhibition has expanded along with the museum,” said O’Toole. “We are excited that a broader audience will be exposed to the work of the best contemporary artists working in the Bay Area today,” continued Gheith. 
The exhibition is being held in the temporary exhibition galleries on the museum’s fourth floor, and each artist has a dedicated gallery." Liam Everett’s paintings reveal traces of their making, evidence of deliberate and repetitive actions focused on movement and materials. In her intricately patterned compositions, Alicia McCarthy transforms surfaces into bursts of line and vibrant color. Using made and found photographs, Sean McFarland reckons with the challenges of representing the landscape. K.r.m. Mooney incorporates natural, industrial and hand-crafted elements in sculptures that explore the relationships between bodies and objects. In her most recent work, Lindsey White takes humor seriously, making photographs and sculptures inspired by stage performers such as comedians and magicians."

At SFMOMA. Through September 17, 2017. Images courtesy of SFMOMA

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday grab bag: World Elephant Day, Peter de Grebber, Incline Gallery, Basquiat

Peter de Grebber ( 1600- 1652) Another Dutch Golden Age painter whose actual date of birth is unknown. As did many artists in this era, he came from an artistic family. His father was a painter and embroiderer in Haarlem, Holland and the brother of the painters Maria and Albert.

In 1618, father and son went to Antwerp and negotiated with Peter Paul Rubens over the sale of his painting "Daniel in the lions pit". It was then handed - via the English ambassador in the Republic, Sir Dudley Carleton - to king Charles I. Pieter got important commissions not only in Haarlem, but also from the stadholder Frederik Hendrik. As such, he worked on the decoration of the Huis Honselaarsdijk in Naaldwijk and at the Paleis Noordeinde in Huis ten Bosch in the Hague. He painted altar pieces for churches in Flanders and hidden Catholic churches in the Republic. He may also have worked for Danish clients.

Pieter remained single and lived from 1634 until his death at the Haarlem Béguinage.

Besides history paintings, Pieter de Grebber also painted a number of portraits; furthermore many drawings and a few etchings by him have survived. From different influences, such as the Utrecht Caravaggistism, Rubens and also Rembrandt, he came up with a very personal style. He was, together with Salomon de Bray, the forerunner and first peak of the "Haarlem classicism" school, producing paintings characterized by a well-organized clarity and light tints.

Vermeer and the Delft School which has information on Grebber 

Overview at Pubhist


On #WorldElephantDay we say a big thank you to all of the men & women who serve on the #frontline everyday to protect these majestic animals

World Elephant Day on Twitter

The Guardian. Our Moral duty to care for nature.

The Atlantic. Since 2011, August 12 has been set aside as World Elephant Day. Supported by numerous conservation agencies, it’s a day to “spread awareness, share knowledge, and provide solutions for better care and management of both captive and wild elephants,” according to the organizer’s website. Elephants face numerous challenges, including poaching, habitat loss, exploitation, abuse, and proximity to human conflict and poverty. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists African elephants as “vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “endangered.”

From Chris Packhan:
I calling for protection of Asia’s endangered and an end to unethical tourism.

Incline Gallery: Incline Gallery presents NFS, an exhibition where artists have been invited to create works directly on and around the walls of the gallery. Over the course of six weeks 10 Bay Area artists will transform the space through an evolving exhibition of murals and mixed media installations. Visitors will be able to view finished works and works in process from July 20th through August 11th. People are encouraged to visit throughout the exhibition to see these artists pieces unfold directly on the walls. Scheduled gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays 1-5pm.

"I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is."

August 12, 1988. Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 - August 12, 1988) was an American artist. He began as an obscure graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s and evolved into an acclaimed Neo-expressionist and Primitivist painter by the 1980s. In this image: A gallery assistant poses with US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat's "Warrior" at Sotheby's auction house in central London on June 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


On here is a Leo Belgicus, the 'Lion of the Low Countries'. Find out more from this article by

Noble lion playing vielle. Breviary Renaud de Bar,Verdun MS 107 (British Library)

One of the greatest lion images of them all: Daniel in the Lion's Den from the Silos Apocalypse, for #WorldLionDay

Claws out to salute the Luttrell lions! #worldlionday @BLMedieval British Library Add. MS 42130. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hieronymus Bosch

Bosch was a Dutch/Netherlandish draughtsman and painter from Brabant. He is widely considered one of the most notable representatives of Early Netherlandish painting school. His work is known for its fantastic imagery, detailed landscapes, and illustrations of religious concepts and narratives.Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell.

Little is known of Bosch's life, though there are some records. He spent most of it in the town of 's-Hertogenbosch, where he was born in his grandfather's house. The roots of his forefathers are in Nijmegen and Aachen (which is visible in his surname: Van Aken). His pessimistic and fantastical style cast a wide influence on northern art of the 16th century, with Pieter Bruegel the Elder being his best-known follower. His paintings have been difficult to translate from a modern point of view; attempts to associate instances of modern sexual imagery with fringe sects or the occult have largely failed. Today he is seen as a hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity's desires and deepest fears. Attribution has been especially difficult; today only about 25 paintings are confidently given to his hand along with 8 drawings. Approximately another half dozen paintings are confidently attributed to his workshop. His most acclaimed works consist of a few triptych altarpieces, the most outstanding of which is The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Although his paintings were based on the bible, his cruel machines and invented monsters and tortured people show a dim view of suffering humanity. It is easy to see why Bosch has been credited as a powerful influence on 20th-century Surrealism. For a painter who has been so influential, it's amazing how little we really know about him. Maybe it's better that way. It would be quite a let down if this painter of fiends and devils would turn out to be a most boring fellow.

Catherine B. Scallen, The Art of the Northern Renaissance (Chantilly: The Teaching Company, 2007) Lecture 26

The Esoteric Meaning of Bosch

Vision of Hell lives on

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

International Cat Day

Mail art, Lenore Tawney to Maryette Charlton (1980).
It's International Cat Day today. And every other day of the year as well as far as they are concerned. Here’s a note of thanks for my friend Linda and all the volunteers who feed and take care of the feral cats in the SF Bay Area. If you love cats, look into helping out by finding a rescue group near your home. Or adopt a cat from the ones at animal shelters. Cherish your four legged friends. It’s not only good karma, it’s the right thing to do.

"This year may officially be the year of the rooster, but it seems the museum world is determined to put a cat amongst the poultry. In Washington D.C., the Archives of American Art Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery is staging an exhibition entitled ‘Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art’ (until 29 October). The show brings together some 60 feline themed exhibits, including works by the likes of Louise Nevelson and Jasper Johns."

"The exhibition also features an unpublished manuscript authored by art historian Elizabeth McCausland, in which she imagines a conversation with a cat named March Lion. Any readers tantalised by this might be interested to learn that Marcel Broodthaers went one further by actually recording an interview with his unfortunate moggy…"

Interview with a cat:

and more at the link:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Today's birthday. Emil Nolde

August 07, 2017. Emil Nolde (7 August 1867 - 13 April 1956) was a German painter and printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke, and is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolour painters of the 20th century. He is known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Golden yellows and deep reds appear frequently in his work, giving a luminous quality to otherwise somber tones. His watercolors include vivid, brooding storm-scapes and brilliant florals. In this image: Members of the media take a look at some of the paintings by German artist Emil Nolde presented at the Grand Palais in Paris, Wednesday Sept. 24, 2008. Painting at left is: Leute Im Dortkrug, (At the Village Hotel).

Emil Nolde added a special, mystical dimension to German Expressionism, and his career illustrates a number of the moral dilemmas which faced German Modernists of the first generation, since his instincts were nationalist and conservative even though his art was regarded as experimental.

His real name was not Nolde but Hansen; his parents were Frisian peasants. He was born in 1867 and grew up on the farm which had belonged to his mother's family for nine generations. Even as a boy Nolde was different from his three brothers: he drew, modelled and painted, and covered boards and barn doors with drawings in chalk. Some aspects of the family background, however, affected him deeply. The family were Protestants, steeped in religion, and in his youth Nolde read the Bible a great deal - its images were to return to him later in life.  More at...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Today's birthday. Andy Warhol

August 06, 2017. Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 - February 22, 1987) was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States of America dedicated to a single artist.

Somebody should do my paintings for me. Quote at Guggenheim here,

“Art is what you can get away with.” -

A visitor to SFMOMA tripped and fell into Wahol's Triple Elvis. Now the museum has to both repair the piece and reevaluate its value. Tripping into valuable art seems to be what people who visit museums do best this decade. Never saw that in my first 60 years on this planet.

Explore on Artsy here  .

Images from Wikipedia

Friday, August 4, 2017

Jimmie Rogers and Blue Yodel

Jimmie Rogers and Blue Yodel for Texas for a cool grey SF Sunday Morning

Smithsonian here

Archie Rand at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

To Know There Is a God

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is exhibiting all of Brooklyn born Archie Rand's paintings on the 613 Jewish Mitzvahs - from the first (“To know there is a God”) to the last (“Not to retain her for servitude after having relations with her”) — into paintings.

Possibly his most ambitious project, Rand spent five years painting 613 20-by-16-inch canvas panels, converting the literary text of the mizvahs into visuals. The paintings cover all four walls of the downstairs gallery at the museum, making the room vibrate with intense color and images drawn from inflences as diverse as Mad magazine, EC comic books, Jungian psychology, jazz, all brought to life in a Fauvist color palate. Those familiar with Dane Rudhyar will recognize the kind of occult, if not religious, symbolism which Rudhyar converted into the Sabian Symbols, a meditation on each sign of the zodiac. But the mitzvah (commandments) are far older and provide the backbone of Jewish ritual which permeates each corner of Jewish llife, especially for the Orthodoz. 

But Rand is engaging with the art of the Torah, something few Jewish artists have done, partially because of the 2nd commandment, "thou shalt not create graven images." But the 2nd commandment isn't the whole story. Something about the diasporic experience, Rand believes, led to an atrophy of the Jewish visual imagination over time. “There was a fear of enflaming or irritating the local people by using art to create a distinctively Jewish space — by claiming territory,” he tells me. “And murals can’t be moved if you need to get out of town.” (Interview, LA Review of Books)

In an interview with the Washington Post, Rand explained, "these paintings are made for a hypothetical culture of socially engaged, non-exclusionary believers. Normal people with a personal or academic interest in Judaism."

"#ArchieRand argues that his inheritance from Jewish traditions is primarily literary rather than visual. To make his paintings, starting with the texts of the 613 laws, he created a set of images that are centered on the human body as engaged in social activity, the full gamut of human interactions—full of folly, appetite, piety, transgression, violence, kindness, and curiosity."
CJM Chief Curator Renny Pritikin


Visit "The 613 by Archie Rand" to explore Rand's major painting project. 

Through October 22, 2017

LA Review of Books here.