Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday links: Degas, Malevich, Terry St. John, National Museum of Women in the Arts...

 DEGAS, Edgar. L'absinthe.1876

Edgar Degas seems never to have reconciled himself to the label of "Impressionist," preferring to call himself a "Realist" or "Independent." Nevertheless, he was one of the group’s founders, an organizer of its exhibitions, and one of its most important core members. Like the Impressionists, he sought to capture fleeting moments in the flow of modern life, yet he showed little interest in painting plein air landscapes, favoring scenes in theaters and cafés illuminated by artificial light, which he used to clarify the contours of his figures, adhering to his Academic training.

The Ballet Class by French impressionist painter Edgar Degas, born July 19th, 1834: +Musée d'Orsay

From the 1870s until his death, Degas's favourite subjects were ballerinas at work, in rehearsal or at rest, and he tirelessly explored the theme with many variations in posture and gesture. Here the class is coming to an end – the pupils are exhausted, they are stretching, twisting to scratch their backs, adjusting their hair or clothes, an earring, or a ribbon, paying little heed to the inflexible teacher, a portrait of Jules Perrot, a real-life ballet master.

Over 80 other works by the painter are also on view at:

As Degas strove to represent the female body with greater truth, women engaged in the intimate rituals of both the bath and the brothel became his frequent themes. During the 1870s, when novels by J.-K. Huysmans, Edmond de Goncourt, and Émile Zola focused on the flourishing profession of prostitution, Degas too studied the world of the maisons closes, and made about fifty smudged drawings in greasy ink on glass or metal plates which he printed as monotypes.

Malevich at Tate Modern: Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935) was a radical, mysterious and hugely influential figure in modern art, who lived and worked through one of the most turbulent periods in twentieth century history. Tate Modern presents the first major Malevich retrospective for almost twenty-five years. This groundbreaking exhibition draws on the world’s greatest collections of his work to offer an expansive view of his career in its entirety. Having come of age in Tsarist Russia, Malevich witnessed the October Revolution first-hand. His early experiments as a painter led him towards the cataclysmic invention of Suprematism, a bold visual language of abstract geometric shapes and stark colours, epitomised by the Black Square. A definitively radical gesture, it was revealed to the world after months of secrecy and was hidden again for almost half a century after its creator’s death.

Kenneth Baker critiques YBCA's "Bay Area Now." The critique is mostly negative but he does spare a few kind words for Summer Mei Ling's "Into the Nearness of Distance."

"But BAN7 has a few memorable moments. Summer Mei Ling Lee's "Into the Nearness of Distance" (2014), brought by the Chinese Culture Foundation, has a transporting, yet not escapist, effect." ...."Lee's soundtrack happens to blend well with the teeth-on-edge expressionism of Marilyn Wong's nearby paintings and drawings, selected by Creativity Explored."

The hodge-podge of work reminded of the last exhibit that I saw at YBCA - a well intentioned but disorganized show of works from South Africa. There was too many pieces, too badly organized and many were extremely self-referential to the specifics of South African politics.

Retrospective of Terry St. John at Dolby Chadwick

Bay Area artist Terry St. John, who is 79 and paints out of his Oakland studio, has a new solo show at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco that brings together his decades of work and influences, from the Bay Area Figurative painters to his plein air studies, his female nudes and his move toward abstraction.


The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., has created Total Art Videos to complement its current exhibition "Total Art: Contemporary Video", on view through October 12. The site features mini biographies and works from the 10 innovative artists in the exhibition (Dara Birnbaum, Kimsooja, Mariko Mori, Mwangi Hutter, Alex Prager, Pipilotti Rist, Michal Rovner, Margaret Salmon, Eve Sussman/Rufus Corp., and Janaina Tschape), interviews, and video clips and mini documentaries. The site is a wonderful introduction to the exhibition and an excellent resource.

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