Saturday, November 29, 2014

This Fall's Must See Exhibits

I've been somewhat busy the last few months - in case you missed these, here are some of the art exhibits that I've covered.

Alcatraz— @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz. Through April 26, 2015
 @Large: AiWeiwei on Alcatraz (pronounced “At Large”) is an exhibition of seven new installations in which freedom is a central theme. It has been the art news of the day.

de Young—Keith Haring: The Political Line: Haring started out as a graffiti artist, plastering NY’s subways with cute, jazzy cartoon figures. His bold graphic works were a spring board to success in the fevered NY art world of the 80's. His distinctive style easily lent itself to his numerous commercial ventures - t-shirts, cups, posters and the like. The show explores his political work in the context of the AIDS epidemic. Through Feb. 16, 2015

 Asian Art Museum—Tetsuya Ishida. This is the first U.S. exhibition of paintings by the Japanese artist, who died in 2005 (a possible suicide.) Ishida blended dreamlike realities with everyday life and melancholy isolation with bizarre wit, producing a body of work that triggers strong emotions but resists easy explanation.

The eight remarkable paintings exhibit the range of Ishida’s themes, including the pressures of academic and office life, social dislocation, the dulling effects of mechanization and the search for identity. Through Feb. 22, 2015

Legion of Honor—Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House
 Have you ever dreamed of living in a sumptuous English country estate, being served tea by a liveried footman, going to grand balls and sleeping in 4-poster beds, covered with rare Chinese silk? The current exhibit at the Legion of Honor, "Houghton Hall; Portrait of an English Country House" should satisfy even the most avid lover of Downton Abbey and of a particular kind of very upper class, very elite English life style.

 Houghton Hall brings to San Francisco a wonderful array of objects from one of Britain’s great country houses. Houghton House was built by Sir Robert Walpole, between 1722 and 1735, and is considered the finest Palladian house in England. All that is missing is his glorious collection of old master paintings (sold off to pay his and his heir's debts). Through Jan. 18, 2015

I would also add "Roads of Arabia." Saudi Arabia's very recent exploration of the peninsula's ancient past has yielded up its some of fascinating pre-Islamic history.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Links: ArtLifting, Mr. Lunch at the CJM, Buy Nothing Day

If life gives you persimmons, make cake (for Zoomie Station who received a gift of persimmons):

ArtLifting: Help an artist out (from Writing Without Paper)

Helping artists who are experiencing homelessness, as well as artists with disabilities or other disadvantages, is the primary mission of ArtLifting, which travels around the nation in search of artwork made by the creatives who are its focus.

Founded a year ago this December, ArtLifting describes itself as a "low-profit limited liability" social enterprise. Currently, it offers work, both originals and prints, as well as various products that use the images (e.g., iPhone cases), by the more than two dozen artists it has discovered. Work by two artists in the Washington, D.C., area recently was added (read "Two Homeless Artists Find a Platform for Selling Their Work").

Under contract to ArtLifting, the artists receive "the majority of proceeds" from sales of each original artwork and 55% of gross profit from sales of prints of the work. The organization keeps a portion to pay operating costs. Giftcards are available. Keep ArtLifting in mind when you're wondering what to give as a gift.

ArtLifting on Facebook and Twitter

Bay Area picks for post-Thanksgiving activities - Mr. Lunch at the CJM and more:

2014 Season Finale for Friday Nights at the de Young = a tribute to Keith Haring:

Buy Nothing Day (unless uou are buying something from a local artist or need milk for the kids or the cats: ):
Can you really buy absolutely nothing for just one day?
You might say “Sure,” but can you actually go one whole day without transacting any business? Are you totally debt free? Do you have any utilities? Do you have a cell phone? Do you have stocks? Do you have other debts, such as credit cards that accrue interest? Can you really go one whole day without buying anything? Try it. 
The organizers say this not to push you to attempt the impossible or go to extremes. They just want everyone to think about how integrated these transactions are into our daily routines.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A belated happy birthday to Toulouse-Lautrec

A belated happy birthday to Toulous-Lautrec: Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (24 November 1864 - 9 September 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an oeuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and often decadent life of those times.

More than a man who made posters:

"There always have been two Toulouse-Lautrecs. His posters glamourise sex and the city. They do it well. But the real greatness of his art is elsewhere, in his unvarnished, rough and tender portrayals of the true nature of the demi-monde he inhabited. Wild, savage dances, raw desire, aching loneliness and fragile intimacy make this other, less famous side of Toulouse-Lautrec far more significant."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cats at Disneyland

Did you know that there are 200 or so feral cats who live at Disneyland? Cats have lived there since it opened back in the fifties, doing their job of keeping the rodent population down. These cats keep a low profile and mostly hide from the tourists, but they have their own web site and Instagram account.

 Of course, The Mouse itself is not affiliated with either account. What would you expect from a mouse? Although it's lovely that they've been doing the trap-neuter-release thing with these cats for so many years.

And finally, a very helpful cat who does not live at Disneyland, helping his human rake autumn leaves.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Art at Big Crow Studios and other Holiday Art Fairs

Bill Bruckner’s “Lunar Eclipse” series, mixed media on board, canvas, and paper

 On the left: two acrylic paintings by Judi Gorski, “Rainbow on Beach Wall” and “Halfway There”
Middle four pieces: some of David Steinhardt’s “Flat Earth” cartoons, mixed media on paper on board
Left: David Steinhardt’s “The Workout” acrylic on canvas

 Two of Sherry Miller’s ”Volcano” series paintings, oil on canvas

For 25 years, BigCrow Studios has been the home and workspace of artists Anna Conti, David W. Sumner, and an evolving cast of painters, photographers, musicians, writers and other artists. Artists are leaving the city and galleries are closing but while the facts are depressing, Anna and David's response to this is not. They have created a new art space in the outer Sunset by using their own home,

The new exhibition space is opening with "Premier," a group show with 40 works by a dozen of the artists who have passed through here over the years. The space will operate free-to-the-exhibiting-artist (the gallery does not take a cut of sales) but it is not a co-op.

 untitled wool fiber handwoven panel by Ama Wertz

The primary Exhibition Space (on 41st Avenue) will be open to the public every Friday (1 p.m. - 8 p.m) and Saturday (noon - 6 p.m.)

Other days/hours by appointment (call Dave at 415-632-7746 or email Anna at ) The BigCrow Annex space (on 46th Avenue) is open by appointment.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

RIP Marian Brown

San Francisco lost a very special person today. Our condolences to the friends and family of Marian Brown.

She is with her sister, strolling along the streets of an idealized SF, never changing, always stylish, always Baghdad by the Bay. 

Catalogues galore

A great day for art lovers: You can access the first set of art catalogues released under the OSCI initiative. As you can see, where the Getty goes, other institutions follow: The Art Institute of Chicago has released catalogues on the work of Monet and Renoir. The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has a catalogue on The World of the Japanese Illustrated Book, which sits nicely alongside LACMA’s catalogue on Southeast Asian Art. Other titles include Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century from the National Gallery of Art; The Rauschenberg Research Project from SFMOMA; Discover the Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Collection at the Seattle Art Museum; The Tates’s The Camden Town Group in Context; and the Living Collections Catalogue from the Walker Art Center.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The invention of the daguerreotype process of photography

A very important day for photography: November 18, 1787. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (18 November 1787 - 10 July 1851) was a French artist and physicist, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography.

He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama theatre. In this image: "Boulevard du Temple", taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris, includes the earliest known photograph of a person. The image shows a street, but because of the over ten minute exposure time the moving traffic does not appear. At the lower left, however, a man apparently having his boots polished, and the bootblack polishing them, were motionless enough for their images to be captured.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bay Area art picks for Nov 14 - 20

"Tetsuya Ishida: Saving the World with a Brushstroke" just opened at the Asian Art Museum. This is the first U.S. exhibition of paintings by the Japanese artist, who died in 2005. Ishida blended dreamlike realities with everyday life and melancholy isolation with bizarre wit, producing a body of work that triggers strong emotions but resists easy explanation.

Ishida once said he wanted his paintings to “depict the world as [he felt] it and let other people feel it freely.” The eight paintings at the Asian exhibit the range of Ishida’s themes, including the pressures of academic and office life, social dislocation, the dulling effects of mechanization and the search for identity.

His fame comes not just from his reputation as a maverick but also for his brilliant characterizations of Japanese society and the personal isolation that resulted from the country’s economic downturn through the 90s.

“Ishida captured the feelings of hopelessness, claustrophobia, and emotional isolation that burdened him and that dominated Japanese society during this era,” wrote Nick Simunovic of Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, site of an exhibition last fall. His characters are melancholy, introverted and seen on the edge of a nervous breakdown - probably reflecting the artist’s own psyche. His work is powerful but also disturbing; I left the museum feeling very “off.”  Ishida lived in a very bleak, bitter and frightening world - which probably is what led to his suicide.

Links to Keith Haring videos, Victor Cartegna and more at:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Monet

 “Nymphéas,” or “Water Lilies.”

Who doesn't love Monet? Well, the 19th century French critics for a start and even some of today's critics who loathe his shimmering, beautiful pieces. But the rest of us adore them for just that reason - a vision of beauty that takes us from our ordinary world into the sublime.

“Nymphéas,” or “Water Lilies.”  

Born in Paris in 1840, Monet moved with his family to the Normandy port city of Le Havre when he was 5. His early artistic efforts there were charcoal caricatures. He met the legendary regional painter Eugène Boudin when he was 18 and learned to paint landscapes in oil from him. Like most painters later termed "impressionists," he battled family disapproval, poverty, hunger, nasty barbs from the official critics and public distain. 

Following a productive stint in Argenteuil, near Paris, in the 1870s, Monet returned to Normandy and began his serial paintings (of haystacks and other subjects) in the 1880s and '90s. He spent the last 40 years of life in Giverny, the site of his oft-painted garden.

If ever a painter inhaled the soul of a garden, that painter was Monet. While his later years were financially secure, they were also difficult ones. His wife died, then one of his two sons, and his second son became gravely ill. World War I began and struck lethal blow after lethal blow to the young men of Europe.  Monet knew that, as an Impressionist, he was considered passé — Fauvism and Cubism had made that clear  At the same time his eyesight was deteriorating as a result of cataracts, leaving his vision so bad that he had to number his paint tubes to determine what colors he was using.

But he continued to paint his garden, hovering, as we now realize, on the edge of abstraction. He painted the dark as well as the light, totally absorbed in the natural work that was his own creation. His later works open up to the heart of a world contained in the heart of a flower floating on the primeval chaos of water.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Keith Haring Sculpture Moves from the Moscone Center to the de Young

See a short video of Keith Haring's sculpture Untitled (Three Dancing Figures) move from the Moscone Center in SOMA to Golden Gate Park, welcoming visitors as they enter the de Young!

The de Young also put the Haring Symposium on line:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In honor of Veterans Day

In honor of —Winslow Homer’s iconic composition “The Veteran in a New Field.”

Homer covered the Civil War for Harper's. Harper's sent Homer to the front lines of the American Civil War (1861–1865), where he sketched battle scenes and camp life, the quiet moments as well as the chaotic ones. His initial sketches were of the camp, commanders, and army of the famous Union officer, Major General George B. McClellan, at the banks of the Potomac River in October, 1861.

Birthday guy - Paul Signac

Paul Victor Jules Signac (11 November 1863 – 15 August 1935) was a French Neo-Impressionist painterwho, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the Pointillist style.

He came from a well-to-do family of shopkeepers. A visit to the exhibition of Claude Monet’s works organized by Georges Charpentier at the offices of La Vie moderne in 1880 decided him on an artistic career and encouraged him to try painting out of doors.

His early works, landscapes or still-lifes of 1882–3 show an Impressionist influence, particularly that of Monet and Alfred Sisley. In 1883 Signac took courses given by the Prix de Rome winner Jean-Baptiste Bin (1825–c. 1890), but they had little effect on his style.

1884 he was a founder-member of the Salon des Indépendants, where he met Georges Seurat who that year was exhibiting Bathers at Asnières (1884; London, N.G.).

Signac recognized Seurat's genius from the start and "benefited from [his] researches," as Seurat himself pointed out. This "exact technique" permitted him to give color a predominant role, and he remained faithful to it to the end. - From Marina Bocquillon-Ferretti, in "Paul Signac, 1863-1935"
 The formal evolution of Signac’s painting followed two directions. Never an abstract painter, he nonetheless elaborated an aesthetic in which the beauty of pure colour was an end in itself: ‘[colour] division is more a philosophy than a system’, he wrote. 

The bold juxtaposition of bright colours (e.g. Women at the Well, 1892; Paris, Mus. d’Orsay) gave way in 1905 to more muted harmonies where he applied the principles of interaction between coloured masses with greater freedom (e.g. Paris, Ile de la Cité, 1912; Essen, Mus. Flkwang). On the other hand, his brushstroke, which until 1890 was no more than a little dot designed to produce ‘optical mixture’ at a distance, grew larger and then became a square or a rectangle whose size was adapted to suit that of the picture, which was conceived as a form of mosaic (Venice, 1905; Toledo, OH, Mus. A.). In 1927 he used the opportunity of writing a work on Johann Barthold Jongkind to produce a remarkable treatise on watercolour.

If Seurat was the founder of Divisionism, Signac deserves credit for making its principles known. A friend of the chemist and colour theorist Charles Henry, he designed the illustrations for Henry’s "Cercle chromatique et rapporteur esthétique (1888)."

 In the background of his Portrait of Fénéon (1890; priv. col., see 1979–80 exh. cat., p. 211), with its spiralling forms of vividly contrasting colour inspired by a Japanese print, he applied Henry’s theories concerning the emotional effect of colour and linear direction.

Signac proved his ability as a theorist in his important work, D’Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme(1899), in which he defended the Neo-Impressionist aesthetic just as Fénéon was abandoning his activity as a critic. Like Fénéon, Signac sought to place Neo-Impressionism in a historical context, although his dogmatism and his desire for clarity gave his work the force of a manifesto. 

The book was one of the key sources of the renewed interest in Divisionism between 1900 and 1910; it was widely read by artists, not only in France, but also in Germany (where it was translated in 1903), and in Italy where the Futurists took up the Divisionist technique. The Fauves, and especially Matisse, who in 1904 was working with Signac at St Tropez, found in it the sanction for a freedom of colour that they would accentuate even more, as would Robert Delaunay and František Kupka.

Rodolphe Rapetti
From Grove Art Online

Monday, November 10, 2014

Arnold Newman at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (and more at the link)


Ben Gurion
"Arnold Newman, Master Class," at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM): Nobody will be able to accuse Arnold Newman of promoting a simplistic or easily recognizable brand. An influential 20th century portrait photographer, "Arnold Newman: Masterclass" at the CJM presents some of his most famous portraits as well as numerous works which have never before been shown in public.

 Martha Graham

 Divided into 10 sections that delineate Newman's various approaches – the extensive exhibition, which is too much to take in at one visit, expands on how he thought and practiced his craft. Empathetic and sympathetic, he never descends to romantic cliche or facile glamor.

 Henry Miller
 Newman found his vision in the empathy he felt for artists and their work. Although he photographed many famous personalities—Marlene Dietrich, John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Mickey Mantle, and Audrey Hepburn—he maintained that even if the subject is not known, or is already forgotten, the photograph itself must still excite and interest the viewer. He sought to capture the person in their environment, avoiding the staged cliches of other photographers.

 Marilyn Monroe
A vulnerable Marilyn Monroe has never been photographed with such delicate understanding or the grand diva of dance, Martha Graham, with such respect for her icy power.

"I didn't just want to make a photograph with some things in the background," Newman told American Photo magazine in an interview. "The surroundings had to add to the composition and the understanding of the person. No matter who the subject was, it had to be an interesting photograph. Just to simply do a portrait of a famous person doesn't mean a thing."

"We want to show another side of Newman," said co-curator Todd Brandow. "There's a whole body of his work that hasn't been explored. For the first time we're getting into the way he worked. He kept his secrets to himself, but we had access to his archives."

The first major exhibition of the photographer's work since his death, "Arnold Newman: Masterclass" examines the evolution of his singular vision. Contemporary Jewish Museum. Through Feb 2015.

More about Keith Haring, Mark di Suvero and Udo Nöger at

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Last day of Open Studios for 2014

Support your local artist: View the online Guide to plan your Weekend 4 studio visits in the Sunset, Richmond, Hayes, Haight today!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Getty buys another masterpiece

 The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the acquisition at auction of "Spring" (Le Printemps), 1881 by the celebrated French painter Édouard Manet (1832-1883). The auction took place at Christie’s in New York the evening of Wednesday, November 5.

Spring sold at Christie's in New York for $65 million (£40.6m), almost doubling the previous record of $33.2 million (£20.7m) for a work by Manet. (Must be nice for a museum to have deep pockets).

“Spring "was the last of Manet’s Salon paintings still in private hands, and universally recognized as one of his great masterpieces,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “It is a work of extraordinary quality and beauty, epitomizing Manet’s influential conception of modernity, and executed at the height of his artistic powers—but, tragically, when he was already afflicted with the illness that would soon lead to his early death.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

'Roads of Arabia' explores the Arabian peninsula's ancient past.

A new exhibit "Roads of Arabia," now showing at the Asian Art Museum displays a treasure trove of items from the Arabian peninsula's largely unknown pre-Islamic past, some of which dates back to the beginnings of human history.

The objects on display may radically transform our understanding of the history of that now barren wasteland, still largely closed to Westerners. Although the exhibit is not lacking in beauty, “Roads of Arabia” is an archaeological and historical exhibition, rather than an art show.

In 2009, Australian scholar David Kennedy used Google Earth to identify almost 2,000 unexplored archaeological sites. He was able to focus attention on the battle between the powerful Saudi Arabian clergy for the destruction of that heritage and the determination of the  Saudi Arabian monarchy to protect that inheritance.

more at:

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