Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mark George Tobey. Born December 11, 1890

Mark George Tobey (December 11, 1890 - April 24, 1976) was an American painter. His densely structured compositions, inspired by Asian calligraphy, resemble Abstract expressionism, although the motives for his compositions differ philosophically from most Abstract Expressionist painters. His work was widely recognized throughout the United States and Europe. In 1921, Tobey founded the art department at The Cornish School in Seattle, Washington.

Abstraction and spirituality are intimately entwined in the delicate works of Mark Tobey, whom, along with Morris Graves, Life magazine described as a mystical painter. Canticle refers to liturgical hymns from the bible. Tobey acknowledged that the abstract harmony of music was an important source of inspiration: “When I play the piano for several hours, everything is clarified in my visual imagination afterwards.” The intricate pattern of delicate marks that animate the surface (critics called it “white writing”) was inspired by the artist’s study of Arabic and Japanese calligraphy.
Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014

Works by Mark Tobey at the Internet Archive:  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Paolo Uccello, Florentine painter, master of perspective.

Young man in flat profile, but his mazzocchio (that’s the headgear) looking very 3-dimensional because it’s painted by Paolo Uccello, master of perspective.

Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano, 1436. Violence fascinatingly held in check by perspective. Genius painting.

The Battle of San Romano is a set of three paintings by the Florentine painter Paolo Uccello depicting events that took place at the Battle of San Romano between Florentine and Sienese forces in 1432. They are significant as revealing the development of linear perspective in early Italian Renaissance painting, and are unusual as a major secular commission. The paintings are in egg tempera on wooden panels, each over 3 metres long. According to the National Gallery, the panels were commissioned by a member of the Bartolini Salimbeni family in Florence sometime between 1435 and 1460. The paintings were much admired in the 15th century; Lorenzo de' Medici so coveted them that he purchased one and had the remaining two forcibly removed to the Palazzo Medici. They are now divided between three collections, the National Gallery, London, the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Musée du Louvre, Paris

Commander Niccolo da Tolentino fighting bravely at San Romano. But how does he keep his fabulous hat on? Paolo Uccello does not reveal his secrets.

Even the landscape is seeded with conflict, and fighters in A+ multi-color hose, in Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano.

The Flood, in the Green Cloister, Sta Maria Novella, 1450. One of Paolo Uccello's perspective masterpieces. Flood is not usually about perspective but here it is.

Paolo Uccello, original name Paolo di Dono, (born 1397, Pratovecchio, near Florence—died December 10, 1475, Florence), Florentine painter whose work attempted uniquely to reconcile two distinct artistic styles—the essentially decorative late Gothic and the new heroic style of the early Renaissance. Probably his most famous paintings are three panels representing the Battle of San Romano (c. 1456). His careful and sophisticated perspective studies are clearly evident in The Flood (1447–48).

Art works:

Friday, December 6, 2019

Georges Saurat, Neo-Impressionist painter.

The Eiffel Tower
Georges Seurat, (born December 2, 1859, Paris, France—died March 29, 1891, Paris), painter, founder of the 19th-century French school of Neo-Impressionism whose technique for portraying the play of light using tiny brushstrokes of contrasting colors became known as Pointillism. Using this technique, he created huge compositions with tiny, detached strokes of pure color too small to be distinguished when looking at the entire work but making his paintings shimmer with brilliance. Works in this style include Une Baignade, Asnières (1883–84) and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884 (1884–86).

Madeleine Knobloch, Seraut's mistress and the mother of his two children. Both of whom died at birth or soon afterwards. 

While attending school, Georges began to draw, and, beginning in 1875, he took a course from a sculptor, Justin Lequien. He officially entered the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878, in the class of Henri Lehmann, a disciple of Ingres, who painted portraits and conventional nudes. In the school library Seurat discovered a book that was to inspire him for the rest of his life: the Essai sur les signes inconditionnels de l’art (1827; “Essay on the Unmistakable Signs of Art”), by Humbert de Superville, a painter-engraver from Geneva; it dealt with the future course of aesthetics and with the relationship between lines and images. Seurat was also impressed with the work of another Genevan aesthetician, David Sutter, who combined mathematics and musicology. Throughout his brief career, Seurat manifested an unusually strong interest in the intellectual and scientific bases of art.

Bedlam,” “scandal,” and “hilarity” were among the epithets used to describe what is now considered Georges Seurat’s greatest work—A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884when it was first exhibited in Paris. Recognized for its unusual technique, simplified figure types, and enormous scale, the monumental work is a manifesto of the new style of painting that broke with Impressionism.

Cirque. Although unfinished, Seurat's The Circus captures the emotion and movement of one portion of a circus scene. The clown at the front of the piece stands out with white make-up-clad skin against scarlet hair and dress. The smartly dressed ringmaster to the right is placed just in front of a menagerie of clowns and an acrobat who is jumping in front of him. The focal point of the piece is the young woman who is boldly riding the wild white horse to the left-center of the work.

As if from some sort of premonition of his impending death, Seurat showed the uncompleted Cirque at the eighth Salon des Indépendants. As an organizer of the exhibition, he exhausted himself in the presentation and hanging of the works. He caught a chill, developed infectious angina, and, before the exhibition was ended, he died on Easter Sunday 1891. 

On the following day Madeleine Knobloch presented herself at the town hall of her district to identify herself as the mother of Pierre-Georges Seurat. The child, who had contracted his father’s illness, died April 13, 1891. 

Seurat was buried in the family vault at Père Lachaise cemetery. In addition to his seven monumental paintings, he left 40 smaller paintings and sketches, about 500 drawings, and several sketchbooks. Though a modest output in terms of quantity, they show him to have been among the foremost painters of one of the greatest periods in the history of art.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Museum Shows this holiday season

The Legion of Honor's "Alexandre Singh: Featuring a new film and installation by Alexandre Singh commissioned for the Legion of Honor, A Gothic Tale draws inspiration from the eponymous literary tradition of nineteenth-century Europe as well as San Francisco’s place in film noir history with Orson Welles’s The Lady from Shanghai (1947) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Conceptualized with art historian Natalie Musteata, the exhibition premieres Singh’s debut short film, The Appointment, a mystery thriller of doubling and mistaken identity that embraces the fantastical and supernatural qualities of the Gothic tradition. The doppelgänger motif reverberates through the film and selection of prints, sculptures, and paintings drawn from the Museums’ encyclopedic collection, which are installed in a striking scenography of mirrored walls.
(Sept. 7-April 12, 2020). 

For "James Tissot: Fashion & Faith,"  (which I wrote about separately) FAMSF and the Musée d'Orsay collaborated on a major reassessment of the life and career trajectory of the artist who captured the inner lives and outer beauty of Parisian women while commenting on resplendent 19th-century fashion, religion and politics. (Oct. 12-Feb. 9). If one was a member of the wealthy elite, life was full of gorgeous clothes, balls and lots and lots of "stuff."

de Young Museum: "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power" is an historical show focusing on art produced during the volatile decades between 1963 and 1983, when issues of race, identity, bigotry and the fight for civil rights, equality and social justice dominated American culture and public and private debate. Works in a range of media are by artists from cities across the country. (Nov. 9-Mar. 22).

Asian Art Museum: "Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan" is an exhibition of over 100 objects that recounts the story of the friendship between Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi, and Japanese painter, calligrapher and philosopher Saburo Hasegawa,  (Sept. 27-Dec. 8). "Lost at Sea: Art Recovered from Shipwrecks" is a voyage into the past and the depths of the ocean that gave up secrets and a trove of Vietnamese artifacts that had lain undetected on the bottom of the sea for over a century. (Nov. 26-March 22).

MoAD is mounting a group of photography shows, and here's a rundown. Subscribing to the idea that the continent is as much psychological and physical territory, the group show "Africa State of Mind" revolves around three major themes: Hybrid African cities; Zones of Freedom, which addresses the fluidity of gender and sexual identity as well as the legacy of slavery, colonialism and apartheid; and Inner Landscapes, where the artists draw on personal memories and interpretations of Africa, past and present. In "Baye Fall: Roots in Spirituality, Fashion and Resistance," NYC-based documentary photographer Laylah Amatullah Barrayn engaged with the Mourides, a subgroup of Senegal's Sufi Muslims. (Nov. 27- March 1, 2020).

Saturday, November 30, 2019

William Blake, Poet, Artist, Mystic, Engraver.. unique among English artists

Setting a compass to earth: The Ancient of Days, 1794, by William Blake.

Nebuchadnezzar. 1795
Red dragon & the woman clothed in the sun, from Revelations. By William Blake, in 1805.
Poet, painter, engraver, and visionary William Blake worked to bring about a change both in the social order and in the minds of men. Though in his lifetime his work was largely neglected or dismissed, he is now considered one of the leading lights of English poetry, and his work has only grown in popularity.

.To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

The Lovers' Whirlwind illustrates Hell in Canto V of Dante's Inferno

The giant Albion, and his mysterious emanation

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees.

Caturday. Cartoon by Sarah Anderson

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it. 

Thanksgiving is a day of celebration and while many of us now know, it's founded upon a myth, I don't think it's ever wrong to be grateful, celebrate and share. We can't undo the past but we can understand it better and try not to repeat the errors, the violence and cruelty that seen as OK if given to "the other." On Thanksgiving, let no one be "the other." We are all members of the human race on this tiny blue planet.

The illustration is from the Luttrell Psalter which  famous for its numerous illustrations of everyday life in rural England in the early 14th Century although it also contains numerous fantastical grotesques.

The Luttrell Psalter was commissioned for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell of Irnham, Lincolnshire (b. 1276, d. 1345). This is indicated by the inscription 'Dns. Galdrifus Louterell me fieri fecit' and its accompanying illustration of Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, his wife Agnes (d. 1340) and his daughter-in-law Beatrice, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Scrope of Masham, all on f. 202v

The text was written throughout by one scribe and illuminated by at least five different artists. The style of the Psalter represents the last stage of the highly accomplished East Anglian School of manuscript illumination. One master artist completed a large section including the lavish dedication miniature showing the Psalter's patron, Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, fully armed and mounted on a splendid war-horse.
Sir Geoffrey's will survives, and gives further insights into his life and times. The Psalter is not mentioned in the will. By the end of the century the Psalter was in the hands of the Fitzalan family, Earls of Arundel. The volume was acquired by the Library in 1929.  British Library Add. MS 42130

"Take Cream a gode cupfulle, & put it on a straynour, thanne take yolkes of Eyroun, and put ther-to, & a lytel mylke; then strayne it throw a straynour in-to a bolle; ten take a..."