Monday, June 29, 2015

The Cantor Arts Center acquires an early work by Edward Hopper

The other Hopper painting is at SFMOMA (not on view now because of the construction and was bought in 2012:

“Hopper came up with the idea for Intermission while he was watching a movie, and his wife, Josephine Hopper, arranged for him to work on the painting in an empty theater. However, Hopper decided to complete Intermission at his home and studio in New York City. A surviving preparatory sketch for the painting reveals that he considered including another figure in the third row. In an interview he revealed, ‘There’s half another person in the picture.’ The final composition depicts a solitary woman in a theater, sitting alone in the first row of a side aisle. Seemingly waiting for others to return from intermission, she appears lost in thought, staring off into the distance as she sits contently in a comfortable-looking dark green theater seat with her ankles crossed.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love rules supreme

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not LOVE, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'J.M.W. Turner. Painting Set Free' at the de Young

On his deathbed in 1851, Turner ‘s doctor wrote “just before 9 a.m., the sun burst forth directly on him with that brilliancy which he loved to gaze on.*" The story is a fitting beginning to the current show at the de Young - “Painting Set Free,” a look at work produced by Turner from his sixtieth birthday in 1835 to his death in 1851, for the sun and the luminous colors of the sea and the sky are the real subjects of Turner's art.

 More at:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

'28 Chinese' now at the Asian Art Museun

Allison Harding, guest curator of "28 Chinese," moderates a panel discussion featuring scholars, writers and artists in conversation about the exhibition and the contemporary art scene in China. Panelists include curator and art historian Abby Chen, artist Yan Xing and curator Barbara Pollack.

More details at:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

'28 Chinese" at the Asian Art Museum

Edgy, transgressive, disturbing, challenging, interesting and in some cases, simply beautiful - if there's one show you must see in June, this should be the one.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

The feast day of St. Anthony

"Saint Anthony of Padua," about 1469, Taddeo Crivelli. Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment.

The Getty Museum reminds us that today is the feast day of St. Anthony!

The Gualenghi-d'Este Hours, a tiny, hand-held manuscript, was the personal prayer book of Andrea Gualengo and his wife, Orsina d'Este, who was a member of the ruling family of Ferrara, Italy where this manuscript was made. The text of the manuscript comprises the standard readings found in books of hours, including the Hours of the Virgin, Penitential Psalms, the Hours of the Holy Cross, the Office for the Dead, and Suffrages, which are prayers to saints.

On this manuscript page, the Franciscan friar Saint Anthony of Padua kneels in prayer while a mule bows down before a basket in front of him. Although the mule had been fasting for three days, the animal ignores the wheat in the basket and kneels respectfully before the consecrated Eucharist placed on top of the wheat. According to legend, this miracle took place in Toulouse, France.

Taddeo Crivelli was one of the illuminators who introduced the Renaissance style into manuscript painting in Ferrara. His first known miniatures date to the early 1450s.

"Saint Anthony of Padua," about 1469, Taddeo Crivelli. Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment.

Explore the other pages of this extraordinary manuscript:

from the twitter feed of @SexyCodicology

Friday, June 12, 2015

Egon Schiele

June 12, 1890. TULLN.- Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. Schiele's work is noted for its intensity, and the many self-portraits the artist produced. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism, although still strongly associated with the art nouveau movement (Jugendstil). The most important collection of Schiele's work is housed in the Leopold Museum, Vienna. In this image: House with Shingles, 1915.

Eight things that will change the way you think about Egon Schiele:

The Art Story:

The radical nude:

Complete works:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mid-week roundup: Bedford Gallery, Asian Art Museum, Chinese Cultural Foundation & Seager Gray Gallery

BLOW UP at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek explores the imaginative ways that artists use air as a tool for creating large-scale sculpture. Inflatable structures connote fun and whimsy, and challenge our everyday, feet-on-the-ground perspective. The show creates a spectacular, immersive environment and taps into our fascination with inflatables with artworks that are surreal, humorous and poetic. (Image courtesy of the Bedford Gallery):

 'Present Tense' at the Chinese Cultural Foundation

Haisu Landskating to music by Mozart

Art from Asia, by native born Asians and by Asians born in America is exploding onto the world stage. The Asian Art Museum is featuring new art from China and the Chinese Culture Foundation opens today with a new exhibit featuring the talents of emerging artists of Asian descent, selected from the MFA programs around the Bay Area.

T​anja Geis takes inspiration from the East Bay and its ecology, focusing her recent work on the mudflat adjacent to the Bay Trail in Richmond, to create a rich tapestry of paintings, sculpture, and video made from and inspired by materials dredged from the Bay. Meanwhile J​Kung Dreyfus creates abstract painting and sculpture which interrogates the space of the computer screen, architecture, and human presence. Her work is sketched in Powerpoint and finished in hand-rendered two and three-dimensional form. C​hiyomi McKibbin makes paintings that speak of the impossible perfection of domestic space as presented in glossy home magazines. Her work fuses aspects of form and function, creating ideas of space and domesticity through painterly abstraction.

J​ingwei Qiu creates large scale sculptural and installation works that explore technology and the global environment. His work blends concerns of how space, language, and landscape are experienced, represented, and altered. O​riginally from Korea, ​Minji Sohn embraces her artistic practice in her daily life. Through her visual work and performances, she reorganizes chaos in color-saturated spaces made for ritualized acts of repetitive counting, marking, and inhabiting. L​astly, H​aisu Tian creates traditional Chinese ink painting with a custom-engineered pair of roller skates, a tool that allows her to work at large scale, and with surprising precision.

Visit the Cantor and enjoy some exquisite drawings. The Bay Area has every form of art on view but seldom that of the Renaissance and Baroque. Looking at this is a reminder of what kinds of artistic skills used to be considered normal and desirable - and are no longer. It's our loss.

 Bernini, Seated Male Nude, 1618-1624

'500 Years of Italian Master Drawings' at the Cantor Arts Center

Seager Gray Gallery

Francis McCormack
 The term “lyrical abstraction” has been used to describe two separate post-war modernist art periods, one related to Abstract Expressionism occurred primarily in France after 1945. Artists such as Jules Olitski, Joan Mitchell and Sam Francis expressed themselves in the language of abstraction, but in a less gutteral, more descriptive form, using movement of brushstroke and generous applications of paint to create paintings of uncommon complexity and beauty. Later, in the 60’s the term “American lyrical abstraction” emerged referring to artists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Natkin who were moving away from geometric, hard-edge, and minimal styles, toward more sensuous, fluid abstractions worked in a loose gestural style.

Ann Weber. Save Me
It is with a nod to those moments in history that we present Contemporary Lyrical Abstraction featuring painters Leslie Allen, Tim Craighead, Frances McCormack, Claudia Marseille and Christine Hayman. In planning the exhibition, we became interested in how some shapes and markings in paintings show up in three-dimensional sculpture. We decided to include the wire sculptures of Emily Payne and cardboard shapes of Ann Weber, creating an interesting dialog between the paintings and 3-dimensional forms.

"28 Chinese” evolved after six trips the Rubells made to China between 2001 and 2012. It includes, as one would expect, work by art star Ai Weiwei but equally importantly, it includes Chinese artists not yet "discovered" and therefore, presenting fresh and challenging art. (now at the Asian - a proper review to come later).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

'Pacific Worlds' at the Oakland Art Museum, Brash Contemporary.. and more

Some fascinating art from the Museum's collection along with a lot of finger-waging one-sided blame which got more than a bit tiresome. The show's labels read like a current version of "all evil comes from the West" but was redeemed by the art created by the various cultures of the Pacific.

I got so annoyed with the lecturing tone of the panels that I was probably sharper than I would have otherwise been. I also realized that the panels were written with info from our local Pacific Islander community - which, like many communities of color has felt ignored.

But I also thought - how do you get people to listen? SHOUT at those who are already on your side about how evil their ancestors were? Or explain, enlighten, make others share in your delight in your culture so that we all work to protect what's left.

One of the serious questions that needs to be asked about exhibits like this is - who are they for? The art speaks for itself but the marketing, outreach and most of all, the tone of the wall texts are going to turn many off without enlightening those who genuinely don't know about the impact of Western expansion on the cultures of the Pacific. 

There were hordes of teenagers in the Museums. Oakland is mostly black and brown and very much lower and working class. The kids were not the least bit interested in the exhibit - except for the weapons of war. I would have walked past them except for the boys clustered around the war clubs, getting all excited at the potential damage they could have done.

Somebody should do a war game video using objects from the Pacific Cultures; it's bound to be a hit and could be a great teaching tool. 

Brash continues its exploration of contemporary magic realism; it's a delight to see all the unique visions of fantasy worlds along with the superb technical skills.