Monday, October 15, 2018

Women artists in the news. Hilma af Klint, Jenny Saville, Anni Albers

Contrary to popular myth, she was neither isolated or ignored. Hilma af Klint was linked to both modern art of the time and Swedish society. But she he believed that her work was unappreciated and preferred to keep it private and shown within a small circle. At the time of her death, she left over 1200 works, solidifying the claim to be the inventor of modern abstract art. She created her first abstract painting in Stockholm in 1906. Before Kandinsky. Before Malavich.

 Klint rarely exhibited her remarkably forward-looking paintings and, convinced the world was not ready for them, stipulated that they not be shown for 20 years following her death. Ultimately, her work was not exhibited until 1986, and it is only over the past three decades that her paintings and works on paper have received serious attention. 

First solo exhibit in the us. Currently showing at the Guggenheim in NY through April 2019.

Self Portrait (Propped) by Jenny Saville. Sold at 9.5 million pounds (US$ 12. 4 million) during Sotheby's contemporary sale. This marks a new auction record for any living female artist. 

"Up close, these paintings break apart into abstract glops of paint, slathered on like cake icing with massive brushes. From a distance, however, they depict gigantic fleshy women out of some bondage clinic, images that challenge all conceptions of the feminine and erotic. And though Lucian Freud is certainly her artistic forebear, Saville makes him seem quaint."

Tate Modern will be showing the work of Anni Albers (1899-1994). The show brings together the most important works from major collections, many of which will be show in the UK for the first time. Opening ahead of the centenary of the Bauhus in 2019, the exhibition is a long over dure recognition of Albers's pivotal contributions to modern art. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Allan Ramsay. Born on this day in 1713

Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay was born on this date in 1713. This is "The Artist's Wife, Margaret Lindsay of Evelic. I saw the original in an show at the De Young Museum, SF

Ramsay painted numerous portraits in a style that anticipated Sir Joshua Reynolds’ grand manner, but his more lasting reputation rests on his less formal and more intimate studies. His portraits of women are especially notable for the warmth, tenderness, and bloom of their presentation, as well as for the technical facility with which lace and ruffles are reproduced. The influence of French Rococo portraiture is clear in the lightness and unpretentious elegance of these works.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Jean-Antoine Watteau

October 10, 1684. Jean-Antoine Watteau (*baptised October 10, 1684 - died July 18, 1721), better known as Antoine Watteau, was a French painter whose brief career spurred the revival of interest in color and movement, as seen in the tradition of Correggio and Rubens. He revitalized the waning Baroque style, shifting it to the less severe, more naturalistic, less formally classical, Rococo. Watteau is credited with inventing the genre of fêtes galantes, scenes of bucolic and idyllic charm, suffused with a theatrical air. Some of his best known subjects were drawn from the world of Italian comedy and ballet. In this image: Jean-Antoine Watteau (French, 1684 - 1721), The Foursome (La Partie quarrée), ca. 1714. Oil on canvas, 19 ½ x 24 ¾ in. (49.5 x 62.9 cm) Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum Purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection (1977.8)

"About Jean-Antoine Watteau, it is said, very little is known. He was born in Valenciennes, possibly in 1684. He probably moved to Paris in 1702, making an early living painting copies and theatrical backdrops. Success, when it came, was remote from the usual circles of Court and Academy. The small group of patrons who bought his works supported him to an uncommon degree as he drifted between their homes, moving "a hundred times" according to his first biographer. There was never a fixed abode.

"There are no letters, no artistic statements, no known relationships with either sex. Many of his works have disappeared and Watteau apparently destroyed others he considered too risqué before his premature death. Even the fatal illness is uncertain, some lifelong weakness of the lungs that carried him off before he was 37. He is said to have painted feverishly in the air as he died." (From review of a show at the Wallace Collection.)

"Portrayed this way, Watteau becomes another Vermeer: the sphinx of Valenciennes, conjuror of mysterious tableaux, silent music, frozen time, hidden behind his own pictorial magic. But is that really the case? Two galleries in London that brought Watteau into focus for the first time since the great exhibition of 1984, and for those of us who never saw that show the experience may be revelatory – the opening of a locked door."

"In his drawings, you see his style, the pronounced tapering of fingers and faces; the eyebrows slanting up at acute angles; the lithe bodies, draped in rippling silk, turning, pointing, dancing, embracing, moving in the white space of the page. Models recline, performers pose, but no matter how immobile the ostensible subject, the drawing always feels alive, quick with its maker's mark."

"Watteau uses chalk as finely as others use pen and ink, to detail the glint in an eye, the rib of a fan, the length of a child's eyelash. And then he plays this amazing sharpness off against chalk's infinitely smooth gradations of tone. Precise tendrils of hair cast a soft shadow on the nape of a girl's neck. The faces of two flute players appear quite distinct and yet they merge on the page: separate notes blending into one harmonious air.

Figures recur: commedia dell'arte performers, dancers, mercenaries, itinerant Savoyards carrying curiosity boxes, tinkers, shoeshine boys. A shifting world for the restless Watteau, who is always someplace just long enough to sketch the travelling player or the Persian ambassador – some place, but precisely where?
What is so striking is the complete absence of location. A figure is sketched in a few brief lines on the page, white chalk indicating satin or greasepaint or something like limelight. Heads are often lit from the side or below. Watteau is right there at the scene, the rehearsal, observing these people: that is what the drawings testify. But he removes them from their ordinary surroundings, frees them from the limitations of here and now, which might be described as the very essence of Watteau's paintings."

"And the astonishing fact is that even upon a larger scale, his  painting suffer no loss of power. Watteau's ephemeral vision doesn't wane, as you might expect. On the contrary, the paintings looks strongly continuous with the drawings: soft and hazy, yet highly detailed, the subtle nuances of chalk effortlessly translated into diaphanous oil paint."

"In the Wallace Collection's The Halt on the Hunt, some riders are dismounting while others are already leaving: arrival and departure all at once. In the distance is that ethereal glow at the centre of so many of Watteau's paintings: a vignette, as it seems, of the afterlife."

"Sing those songs, gather those rosebuds, keep on dancing, for too soon the day will end. This is the mortal knowledge of Watteau's life and art."

* we know his baptismal date but not his birthdate

Helinbrun Timeline of art:

The Getty:

Web Museum:

Monday, October 8, 2018

Faith Ringgold. Activist, artist, painter, quiltmaker, writer & educator Born on this day in 1930

Faith Ringgold, American People Series, The Flag is Bleeding, 1967, oil on canvas. Collection of the artist, c. Faith Ringgold. Courtesy ACA Galleries, NY.

October 08, 1930. Faith Ringgold (born October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York City) is an artist, best known for her narrative quilts that communicate her beliefs and her experience as an African-American. 

Born and raised in Harlem, New York—one of the neighborhoods convulsed by the race riotsof the 60's —artist, writer, and educator Faith Ringgold was in her early thirties at the time, and focusing on painting landscapes. The daughter of culturally engaged parents, she had been making art since her childhood. Despite making their home in a neighborhood that had become the seat of black art and literature during the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century, and despite its location in one of America’s most progressive cities, Ringgold and her family were touched by racism, too.

In the 1960s, opportunities for black artists in the mainstream art world were close to zero and, in a double blow for Ringgold, women artists were also barely allowed in. Persisting in the face of these challenges, she brought her landscape paintings to the gallerist Ruth White, hoping for a show. White told her that, as a black artist, she should not paint landscapes during such a charged time.

“Some people might have been upset or hurt by it,” Ringgold said. “But I was happy that she had the courage to tell me that.” Channeling her own anger at the injustices she experienced and saw around her, she set aside her landscapes and began work on what would grow into a defining series of 20 paintings, titled “The American People,” with canvases populated with black and white protagonists that represented a society riven by racial division, and black people both caught within and striving against its constraints. So she persevered, taking an old art form (quilts) and giving them new life. 

Throughout her life, Faith Ringgold has expressed her experience as an African American woman dealing with racism in an honest and beautiful way. 

Whose's Afraid of Aunt Jemina?
Tar Beach

After attempting unsuccessfully to have her autobiography published, at the turn of the decade Ringgold discovered a new way to tell her story. Once more drawing her inspiration from Tibetan art, and in honor of her mother’s early influence, Ringgold began a series of quilts that are perhaps her best-known work. She assembled the first quilt, Echoes of Harlem 1980 (a year before her mother passed away) and went on to make numerous others, eventually incorporating text as well. Among her narrative quilts are Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima (1983), the tribute to Michale Jackson, Who’s Bad?, (1988) and her most famous offering, Tar Beach (Part 1 from the Woman on the Bridge series (1988), which is now part the Guggenheim Museum's permanent collection.

Meanwhile, Ringgold had become a professor of art at the University of California at San Diego, where she taught until 2002. Displaying yet more talent, beginning in the 1990s, Ringgold embarked on a literary career, publishing the children’s book Tar Beach, which she adapted from her quilt of the same namw in 1991. In 1995, she published her memoir, We Flew over the Bridge; she has now written and illustrated more than 15 other children’s books.

In recognition of her contributions as an artist and activist, Ringgold has received countless honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship for painting and an NAACP Image Award. Her work continues to be exhibited in major museums around the world.

Sudoku, the numbers puzzle that became the world’s favorite brain teaser in the ‘90s, has been touted as a way to slow down the cognitive losses of aging. Playing the game and regularly cracking its arithmetic logic, some have said, keeps the mind active. The objective is to keep Alzheimer’s at bay while having fun.

Faith Ringold, one of Sudoku’s millions of admirers, has turned a brain teaser into a digital work of art – and who better to do so given her stature as an artist whose primary medium is quiltmaking. Sudoku’s rows of single-digit numbers, arranged in nine-by-nine grids, bear more than a passing resemblance to quilts

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mandala for Fall.

... so should I also perhaps
Dream, under the empty angel of this twilight,
But the great memory of that unhumanized world,
With all its wave of good and evil to climb yet,
Its exorbitant power to match, its heartless passion to equal,
And all its music to make, beats on the grave-mound. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Wayne Thiebaud. Artist's Choice at SFMOMA

In two side-by-side exhibitions, Northern California–based artist Wayne Thiebaud’s own work is featured alongside paintings by others that he personally selected from SFMOMA’s collection.

Thiebaud (b. 1920) first visited SFMOMA in 1942, when he was just 22 years old, and has had a close relationship with the museum ever since. For Wayne Thiebaud: Artist’s Choice, he delved deep into the museum’s storage vault. His choices include both old friends and new discoveries by European Modernists Henri Matisse and Joan Miró, American painters George Ault and Georgia O’Keeffe, California peers Richard Diebenkorn and John McLaughlin, and more recent canvases by Katherine Porter and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Canyon Mountain
Drawn from SFMOMA’s collection, the selection of works spans 50 years of the artist’s career, from his classic still life Confections (1962) to his grand landscape Canyon Mountains (2011–12). Get a firsthand look at the creative process behind Thiebaud’s lushly painted, richly hued works, from beginning sketch to finished painting.

Paintings and Drawings" runs through April 28. "Artist's Choice" is up until March 10.