Sunday, February 16, 2020

Black History Month via podcast from KQED, Dawoud Beys at SFMOMA

In honor of Black History Month, KQED is taking  you on an audio journey with the artists, activists, educators, culture-keepers and creatives who are making black history every day. You’ll find stories on the historic Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics, a freshly painted Nipsey Hussle mural, a guide for living with joy and the origins of the word “hella.”
So grab your headphones, hit that subscribe button and dive into these stories from the Bay Area and beyond.

Dawoud Beys at SFMOMA

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day. Peter Paul Rubens self-portrait with his first wife Isabella Brandt.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Alison Saar

Snake Man
 Saar’s work is personal, but so deeply informed by myth and history that its narratives become universal and inclusive. The eyes of her figures are generalized or turned inward, so the sculptures don’t meet our gaze, yet their presence registers viscerally. In all their power and vulnerability, these women embody essential conditions of being-social, political, biological. They represent humanity, distilled.  (Art in America). 

From National Museum of Women in the Arts:  Alison Saar creates artworks that frequently transform found objects to reflect themes of cultural and social identity, history, and religion.
Saar credits her mother, acclaimed collagist and assemblage artist Betye Saar, with exposing her to metaphysical and spiritual traditions. Assisting her father, Richard Saar, a painter and art conservator, in his restoration shop inspired her learning and curiosity about other cultures.
Saar studied studio art and art history at Scripps College in Claremont, California, receiving a BA in art history in 1978. In 1981 she earned her MFA from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1983, Saar became an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, incorporating found objects from the city environment. Saar completed another residency in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1985, which augmented her urban style with Southwest Native American and Mexican influences.
Saar’s style encompasses a multitude of personal, artistic, and cultural references that reflect the plurality of her own experiences. Her sculptures, installations, and prints incorporate found objects including rough-hewn wood, old tin ceiling panels, nails, shards of pottery, glass, and urban detritus. The resulting figures and objects become powerful totems exploring issues of gender, race, heritage, and history. Saar’s art is included in museums and private collections across the U.S.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Ending a difficult week by admiring beautiful calligraphy

Ending a difficult week with a beautiful 'B' and a lovely 'L' from the beginning of Jerome's letter to Pope Damasus & Matthew's Gospel.
Egerton MS 609; 9th century; The Four Gospels; Brittany or Tours; ff.1r, 8r @BLMedieval

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Celebrate February through many traditions.

Snowdrops' by artist Flora Mclachlan
Imbolc is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. It is held on 1 February. A time of celebration and ritual, often honoring Brighid, the goddess of the hearth.

February derives from februa, the instruments of purification that were used to regain the favor of the gods of the underworld and prepare for spring, which can be seen on this Roman mosaic from ancient Thysdrus, present-day El Jem in Tunisia.

Sunday 2nd February is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or the Purification of the Virgin aka Candlemas. Add 49598;963-984; f.34v BnF MS Latin 9438; 12th century; f.29r
Add MS 60629; 13th century; f.160r Stowe 12; 14th century; f.242v

It's February! Month of much snow and cold, cold woe. Here from the Tres Riches Heures of Jean, duc de Berry.

They don't make calendars like this anymore! #February in the Hours of René d'Anjou (Paris, c. 1410) Egerton MS 1070, f. 6v

Friday, January 31, 2020

Sassetta considered the greatest Sienese painter of the early 15th century

Saint Francis taking leave of his father. And all his possessions. Especially his clothing! Set in a lovely pink palace and painted 1440 by Sassetta

Saint Francis giving his robe to a poor man, & then having a dream about A+ floating castle. By Sassetta of Siena

Just Saint Francis, looking a bit surprised to be here all alone and painted by Sassetta,

Madonna being given a delicate crown by a pair of angels. By Sassetta of Siena

Betrayal of Christ, complete with ear-cutting by Peter, as painted by Sassetta

The Journey of the Magi. 1433-35
Sassetta, original name Stefano di Giovanni, (died c. 1450, Siena [Italy]), Gothic-style painter considered to be the greatest Sienese painter of the early 15th century.

The date and place of his birth are uncertain. He seems to have been trained in Siena, and the force of the Sienese tradition is evident in the vivid colours and elegant use of line in the surviving panels of his first commissioned work, an altarpiece for the Arte della Lana in Siena (1423–26). His interest in the work of the first generation of Florentine Renaissance painters is reflected in the coherent spatial relationships of the monumental altarpiece of the “Madonna of the Snow,” painted for Siena Cathedral in 1430–32. From this point on, under Gothic influence, Sassetta’s style assumes an increasingly decorative character, manifest initially in a polyptych in San Domenico at Cortona (probably 1437) and reaching its climax in a cycle of scenes from the legend of St. Anthony the Abbot. His best-known and most ambitious work was carried out for San Francesco at Sansepolcro (1437–44) and was originally a double-sided altarpiece (now dispersed) with a Virgin and Child and four saints on the front and scenes from the life of St. Francis on the reverse side. The St. Francis scenes mark the peak of Sassetta’s career as a narrative artist and are exemplary of his late style, with their sophisticated colour sense and their subtle, rhythmic compositions. Sassetta never completely abandoned his interest in Florentine painting, and it is thought to be the fusion of traditional and contemporary elements in his work that turned Sienese painting from the Gothic to the Renaissance style.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, a time to reflect on the mechanisms that enabled the genocide against Jews & Rom, & not only remember what those mechanisms wrought but that they are still in motion: fear, xenophobia, demagoguery, dehumanization of marginalized groups.

#OnThisDay 75 years ago, Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau. They found several thousand emaciated survivors and the smouldering remains of the gas chambers. Approximately 1.1 million men, women and children had been murdered there. Learn more:

They were not numbers, triangles or symbols.And we will not let their names be forgotten. (Photo: Czeslawa Kwoka, Vinzent Daniel, Maria Schenker, Walter Degen)

9 January 1940 | Hungarian Jewish girl Sarolta Grünwald (in the picture on the left) was born in Csongrad. In June 1944 she was deported to #Auschwitz and murdered in a gas chamber. She was 4. Her 2-years-older brother Sandor died with her. (Photo:

18 January 1943 | French Jew Claude Alexander was born in Lyon. In 1944 he was deported to #Auschwitz and murdered in a gas chamber. He was 1 year old.