Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On this day. Vermeer, Happy 385th

October 31, 1632. Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer (October 1632 - December 1675) was a Dutch painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime. He evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings. In this image: Participants of a press conference look at a painting, entitled Holding a Balance, by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany, 16 March 2011.

"The charm of Vermeer is at once obvious and elusive. Everyone feels the pull of these paintings. No one can quite say how they exercise their magnetism, their unique beauty, their compelling mood. When people attempt to define the paintings, they often speak of Vermeer’s “poetry”. If you are a poet, you wonder what they mean by this. After all, there are many kinds of poetry, as Auden noted in “Letter to Lord Byron”: “By all means let us touch our humble caps to/La poésie pure, the epic narrative;/But comedy shall get its round of claps, too.”Craig Raine, 2013. The Spectator

The allegory of painting
Astronomer in his shadowy room. We know he's rapt in thought without even seeing his face. Brilliance of Johannes Vermeer, born OTD 1632.

You are caught by a glance, but only for a moment. Girl with a pearl earring, c. 1665, by Johannes Vermeer of Delft. Born on this day 1632. The Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of Vermeer’s miracles. The girl is virtually without eyebrows. Her half-open mouth is one of many great Vermeer mouths. No painter captures oral liquidity better. Her look, sideways yet direct, holds us. She may be about to speak – words that will never reach us. But it is the form, so subtle, so firm, that contributes crucially to the painting’s eternal eye contact. The earring catches the light like a nearly new moon, a crescent of brightness, lit from the left. This is echoed in her lovely, left-looking eyes, which are like moons in wane, the whites and the dark irises, as she turns to hold our gaze.

Totally disturbing because window is on wrong side! And who is she playing for, Mr. Vermeer? Happy 385th birthday, though.

Window flares. His face is darkened. Space is odder than you think. Not a simple glass of wine, of course not, it's Vermeer, on his birthday

The concert. Such an empty room, such distance between you and these three people. Tragic that this work was stolen! Ah, Vermeer. 1632.

Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the reinvention of seeing. Eye of the Beholder blends entertaining data culled from the history of Dutch Golden Age art, early modern European optics, and the history and correspondence of the Royal Society with perfunctory historical context, folding in neither original research nor non-English-language scholarship. Unlike Vermeer’s silent meditations on space and light, the book chatters along, concluding more or less where it began – in asserting a relationship that cannot be demonstrated  (Guardian Review)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle, born Catherine-Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle (29 October 1930 - 21 May 2002) was a French sculptor, painter, and film maker. In this image: French-born artist Niki de Saint Phalle presents her sculpture "L'Ange Protecteur," 'Guardian Angel' in the main hall of the central train station in Zurich,

She was one of the few women artists widely known for monumental sculpture. Surviving a difficult childhood, and an early marriage, she began creating art in a naïve, experimental style. She first received world-wide attention for angry, violent assemblages which had been shot by firearms. These evolved into Nanas, light-hearted, whimsical, colorful, large-scale sculptures of animals, monsters, and female figures. Her most comprehensive work was the Tarot Garden, a large sculpture garden containing numerous works ranging up to house-sized creations. Her idiosyncratic style has been called "outsider art"; she had no formal training in art, but associated freely with many other contemporary artists, writers, and composers.




Sunday, October 29, 2017

National Cat Day, Medieval Style

LOL Cats of the Middle Ages

Detail of miniatures of cats catching mice, mice stealing eucharistic wafers, and (below), an ancestor of Keyboard Cat: a later marginal doodle of a cat playing a stringed instrument; from a bestiary, England (Salisbury?), 2nd quarter of the 13th century, Harley MS 4751, f. 30v.

... . . "The mouse was not always the loser in the exchanges between cat and mouse, however, especially in the imaginative realm of the marginal grotesque.  Sometimes you eat the mouse, the cat may have philosophized, and sometimes the mouse eats you.  The relationship between mice and cats, and the prospect of an organized mouse insurrection against the oppressor, was actively explored as a metaphor for human society."

Detail of a miniature of mice laying siege to a castle defended by a cat; from a Book of Hours, England (London), c. 1320-c. 1330, Harley MS 6563, f. 72r.

On the subject of cats, you may also like to see Kathleen Walker-Meikle's book, Medieval Cats, published by British Library Publications (£10, ISBN 9780712358187)

Complete blog post at: http://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/01/lolcats-of-the-middle-ages.html

Friday, October 27, 2017

On this day. Lee Krasner

October 27, 1908. Lee Krasner (October 27, 1908 - June 19, 1984) was an influential American abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. On October 25, 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the abstract expressionism movement. In this 1949 photo provided by the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, artists Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock are shown in their garden at their East Hampton, N.Y., home.

It is a shame that Lee Krasner is so often identified as simply "the widow Pollock." She is more important than that and it is another sign of the sexism of the art world that her importance has been relegated to being "the wife of.."

An ambitious and important artist in New York City during Abstract Expressionism's heyday, . . .Krasner was intimately involved in the synthesis of abstract form and psychological content, which announced the advent of Abstract Expressionism.

Noon. 1947

The Sun Woman. 1958
Rising Green. 1972

Krasner never stopped exploring and utilizing lessons from the past. Her life's work is an intricate balance of both her past and present, one that did not take any experience for granted. Her work is rich in experience, reflection and understanding. Barbara Rose said it best, Lee Krasner is indeed one of the most important painters of the 20th century.

National Gallery of Art: https://www.nga.gov/Collection/artist-info.5761.html?artobj_artistId=5761&pageNumber=1 

Lee Krasner (Modern Masters Series) Paperback – September 1, 199e. by Robert Carleton Hobbs (Author), Lee Krasner (Author)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

RIP Fats Domino

Fats Domino in 1967. Elvis Presley once pointed at him and said, “There’s the real king of rock ’n’ roll.” Credit Clive Limpkin/Daily Express, via Getty Images

RIP to one of the early greats of Rock and Roll. I bet Heaven is rocking and rolling tonight.

"Mr. Domino had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t It a Shame” (also known as “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is the actual lyric), “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.” Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans, his hometown, and a droll resilience that reached listeners worldwide.: Obit NY Times


What constitutes the first Rock and Roll record?  Fats Domino’s 1949 single The Fat Man has a stronger claim than most. Based on Junkers’ Blues, a 1940 track originally recorded by Champion Jack Dupree, there’s almost nothing to it. A pounding, unchanging backbeat and an insistent bass pulse; Domino on piano, playing in a style noticeably more aggressively than that of his peers; saxes and guitar buried so deep in the mix that you barely even spot them until the song’s finale; some falsetto scat singing and three verses that replace Junkers’ Blues’ references to cocaine, reefers and heroin with lyrics that laud both Domino’s bulk and his irresistible sexual abilities: “I weigh two hundred pounds, all the girls love me, because I know my way around.” It sold a million copies and transformed Domino overnight from the pianist in Billy Diamond’s Solid Senders, a locally popular New Orleans band, into a star.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

On this day. Andrea della Robbia

October 24, 1435. Andrea della Robbia (October 24, 1435 - August 4, 1525) was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, especially in ceramics. Born in Florence, Robbia was the son of Marco della Robbia, whose brother, Luca della Robbia, popularized the use of glazed terra-cotta for sculpture. Andrea became Luca's pupil, and was the most important artist of ceramic glaze of the times. In this image: Andrea della Robbia, 1435?1525, Saint Michael the Archangel Italian (Florence) 15th century (ca. 1475) 1470 ? 1480. Glazed terracotta; Frame, wood 31-1/8 x 61-7/8 in. (79.1 x 157.2 cm) Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1960 60.127.2


Part of a famous Florentine family of artists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_della_Robbia 


Sunday, October 22, 2017

#Wombat Day

It’s #WombatDay! Did you know Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriele Rossetti had two pet wombats? He described owning them as ‘a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness’. 

Here are two drawings by Rossetti that show Jane Morris with one of the marsupials, and Rossetti lamenting the death of his wombat in 1869. Instead of being buried in the tomb shown in his drawing, this one was stuffed and placed in Rossetti’s entrance hall.

Friday, October 20, 2017

On this day. Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp

Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp (October 20, 1620 – November 15, 1691) was one of the leading Dutch landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. The most famous of a family of painters, the pupil of his father Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (1594–1651/52), he is especially known for his large views of the Dutch countryside in early morning or late afternoon light.

Cuyp was the great interpreter of the Dutch landscape in the Italianate manner. Early landscapes like 'A River Scene with Distant Windmills' are influenced by van Goyen, some of whose paintings show Dordrecht, Cuyp's home town. The work of Utrecht painters, especially Jan Both, who returned from Italy about 1641, helped to turn Cuyp's interest towards large-scale landscapes in the Italianate manner.

Cuyp was the son of the Dordrecht portrait and animal painter, Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp. His occasional portraits, like the 'Portrait of a Bearded Man' in the Collection, reflect his training with his father. Though based in Dordrecht throughout his life, Cuyp travelled widely in Holland, making drawings. In 1658 he married a wealthy widow and appears to have painted little thereafter.

Sunlight in his paintings rakes across the panel, accentuating small bits of detail in the golden light. In large, atmospheric panoramas of the countryside, the highlights on a blade of meadow grass, the mane of a tranquil horse, the horn of a dairy cow reclining by a stream, or the tip of a peasant's hat are all caught in a bath of yellow ocher light. The richly varnished medium refracts the rays of light like a jewel as it dissolves into numerous glazed layers. Cuyp's landscapes were based on reality and on his own invention of what an enchanting landscape should be.




Thursday, October 19, 2017

On this day. Umberto Boccioni

October 19, 1882. Umberto Boccioni (19 October 1882 - 17 August 1916) was an Italian painter and sculptor. Like other Futurists, his work centered on the portrayal of movement (dynamism), speed, and technology. He was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy. He died in WW I, only thirty-three years old. This made him an iconic and tragic symbol of the Futurists' celebration of the machine and the violent destructive force of modernity.

In the above image: Francesca Rossi, curator in charge of the Sforzesco Castle drawings collection, looks at a work by Umberto Boccioni, in the same room where sketches by mannerist painter Simone Peterzano are preserved, in Milan, Friday, July 6, 2012.

During his short life, he produced some of the movement’s iconic paintings and sculptures, capturing the color and dynamism of modern life in a style he theorized and defended in manifestos, books, and articles.

Although Boccioni deserves a great amount of credit for evolving the style now associated with Italian Futurism, he first matured as a Neo-Impressionist painter, and was drawn to landscape and portrait subjects. It was not until he encountered Cubism that he developed a style that matched the ideology of dynamism and violent societal upheaval that lay at the heart of Futurism. Boccioni borrowed the geometric forms typical of the French style, and employed them to evoke crashing, startling sounds to accompany the depicted movement.

Boccioni believed that scientific advances and the experience of modernity demanded that the artist abandon the tradition of depicting static, legible objects. The challenge, he believed, was to represent movement, the experience of flux, and the inter-penetration of objects. Boccioni summed up this project with the phrase, "physical transcendentalism."

Despite his fascination with physical movement, Boccioni had a strong belief in the importance of intuition, an attitude he inherited from the writings of Henri Bergson and the Symbolist painters of the late 19th century. This shaped Boccioni's approach to depicting the modern world, encouraging him to give it symbolic, almost mythical dimensions that evoked the artist's emotions as much as the objective reality of modern life. In this respect, Boccioni's approach is very different from that of the Cubists, whose work was grounded in an attempt to closely describe the physical character of objects in a new way.

The City Rises. Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

"The City Rises" is considered by many to be the very first truly Futurist painting. Boccioni took a year to complete it and it was exhibited throughout Europe shortly after it was finished. It testifies to the hold that  Neo-Impressionism and Symbolism maintained on the movement's artists even after Futurism was inaugurated in 1909. It was not until around 1911 that Boccioni adapted elements of Cubism to create a distinct Futurist style. Nevertheless, "The City Rises" does capture the group's love of dynamism and their fondness for the modern city. A large horse races into the foreground while several workers struggle to gain control of it, suggesting a primeval conflict between humanity and beasts. The horse and figures are blurred, communicating rapid movement while other elements, such as the buildings in the background, are rendered more realistically. At the same time, the perspective teeters dramatically in different sections of the painting.

Twenty works on line: https://www.moma.org/artists/624?locale=en




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Miyukti Tsurukawa. Ceramic Frankenstein
The celebrations for foods that are so delicious and yet, must not be eaten roll in. But since I can't eat much chocolate, I can enjoy the ceramics at Creativity Explored as it celebrates National Chocolate Cupcake Day.

Founded in 1983, Creativity Explored gives artists with developmental disabilities the means to create and share their work with the community, celebrating the power of art to change lives.

Devil Girl Monster (Detail) by Christina Fong © 2017 Creativity Explored Licensing, LLC, acrylic, paint markers and permanent markers on canvas, 26.5 x 15 inches
Current Exhibit: https://www.creativityexplored.org/events/exhibitions?date=2017-10-05#event3559

Shop Art: https://www.creativityexplored.org/shop

3245 16th St @ Gurerrero St
San Francisco, 94103
(415)  863-2018

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

International Pasta Day

It is probably a good thing that I did not know about this earlier. I love pasta but it is not good for my waistline. But that does not prevent me from enjoying literary references to pasta. Even those in a cook book of the Tolstoy Family

Leo Tolstoy's recipe for Mac n' Cheese - or to be more honest, his wife's recipe. How interesting. But if I am going to have macaroni, I prefer the description in Lampedusa's "The Leopard" in which Sicilian macaroni is described in loving, sensual terms. Not sure that Russian macaroni would fit the same bill but would love hear from those who tried. Amazon for $3.99

 A grand, luxurious and filling dish of macaroni and meat encased in pastry, Timballo del Gattopardo translates as ‘The Leopard’s Pie’ and is named after Giuseppe di Tomasi di Lampedusa, a nineteenth century Sicilian prince who wrote Il Gattopardo, one of Italy’s most famous novels. The original recipe contained eggs from the ovary of a chicken, but hard boiled eggs work just as well today.
Cuisine of Sicily: "Carluccio's assistant has spent a day preparing the stock for the pie, from vegetables and a large joint of beef. But first, he has to make the pastry case. The dough is spread, liberally sprinkled with flour, over an earthen vessel and the excess removed, so that the vessel is coated with the pastry dough on the inside. The original recipe calls for the unborn eggs from the ovary of a chicken, but the yokes of plain eggs will do as well. While the pasta is boiling, finely chopped onions are added to abundant olive oil, to fry along with chicken and chicken livers and truffles (or Porcini mushrooms), two glasses of beef stock, cubes of cooked ham, a smattering of wine, and finally the eggs. Add everything to the pasta, which is very al dente, and the last touch - liberal quantities of Parmesan. Fill up the pastry case with the mix and cover with a dough lid, brushed with oil to give a nice crust. Sprinkle cinnamon and put into the oven for half an hour...."

Cuisine of Sicily: http://jostamon.blogspot.com.au/2008/12/il-gattopardo-and-cuisine-of-sicily.html

On this day in 1577. Cristofano Allori

October 17, 1577. Cristofano Allori (17 October 1577 - 1 April 1621) was an Italian portrait painter of the late Florentine Mannerist school. Allori was born at Florence and received his first lessons in painting from his father, Alessandro Allori, but becoming dissatisfied with the hard anatomical drawing and cold coloring of the latter, he entered the studio of Gregorio Pagani, who was one of the leaders of the late Florentine school, which sought to unite the rich coloring of the Venetians with the Florentine attention to drawing. Allori also appears to have worked under Cigoli. In this image: Judith with the Head of Holofernes (1613). Oil on canvas, 139 x 116 cm. Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence.

This is his most famous work. It exists in at least two versions by Allori, of which the prime version is perhaps that in the British Royal Collection, dated 1613, with various pentimenti. A version of 1620 in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence is the best known and there are several copies by studio and other hands. According to the near-contemporary biography by Filippo Baldinucci, the model for the Judith was his former mistress, the beautiful "La Mazzafirra", who is also represented in his Magdalene, the head of Holofernes is a self-portrait, and the maid is "La Mazzafirra"'s mother


Monday, October 16, 2017

Celebrating the birthdays of Faith Ringgold, Dorothea Lange, Richard Mier, Paul Strand

I am a week behind in celebrating artist's birthdays so I am doing catch up.

October 08, 1930. Faith Ringgold (born October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York City) is an artist, best known for her narrative quilts. Ringgold's artistic practice was extremely broad and diverse, and included media from painting to quilts, from sculptures and performance art to children's books. She was an educator who taught in the New York city Public school system and on the college level. In 1973, she quit teaching public school to devote herself to creating art full-time. In this image: Faith Ringgold, American People Series, The Flag is Bleeding, 1967, oil on canvas. Collection of the artist, c. Faith Ringgold. Courtesy ACA Galleries, NY.



October 10, 1965. Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 - October 11, 1965) was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography. In this image: A large photo of "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange hangs in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum with the other photos, background, that Lange took while photographing the mother and children, as part of the "This Great Nation Will Endure" exhibit on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004, in Hyde Park, N.Y.


October 12, 1934. Richard Meier (born October 12, 1934) is an American architect, whose rationalist buildings make prominent use of the color white. In this image: Architect Richard Meier speaks as he honored at the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards on Ellis Island on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

October 16, 1890. Paul Strand (October 16, 1890 - March 31, 1976) was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa. In this image: Wall Street, 1915.

Flower Power at the Fall Arts and Antiques show in SF

Shades of Spring. Marcel Dyf, courtesy of Haynes Fine Art of Broadway
The Summer of Love theme has proved inspiring for any number of events. Of course, there was the exhibit at the de Young musem - a rather commercial and prettied up version of that important year. But this year, “Floral Imagery in Art, Antiques & Design” will be the theme of of the SF Fall Arts and Antiques fair. Inspired by  floral imagery which has long been part of a visual symbolism in art, every item that can be linked to flower power will be on display. 

From Watteau to Warhol, Flower Power is fertile ground for cultivating a uniquely curated assortment of art and antiques that will appeal to a wide audience, from the contemporary collector to the antiquities aficionado.

The 2017 San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show, now in it's 36th year,  will take place Thursday, October 26 through Sunday, October 29 at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture’s Festival Pavilion. The always fabulous (and expensive) Opening Night Preview Gala, benefiting Enterprise for Youth will open the Show on October 25.

This edition of the Show will feature fifty dealers from around the world, offering for sale an extraordinary range of fine and decorative arts representing all styles and periods including American, English, Continental and Asian furniture and decorative objects, paintings, prints, photographs, books, gold, silver and precious metals, jewelry, rugs, textiles and ceramics. Dealers are invited to bring pieces from antiquity to present day. The Show also features a popular Lecture Series, Cocktail Hour Talks and other programming.

ENTERPRISE FOR YOUTH As always, 100% of net proceeds benefit Enterprise for Youth (http://www.ehss.org/), the San Francisco nonprofit that has, since 1969, prepared and empowered a diverse group of Bay Area youth to pursue life after school with passion and purpose. Enterprise offers students everything they need to get and keep their first job, including intensive workshops, pragmatic skills and career exploration training, a network of advisors and peers, a broad database of paid internships, and college and career counseling.

DESIGNER VIGNETTES The Grand Entry Hall will feature four Designer Vignettes created by prominent designers and members of our Designer Circle, each incorporating pieces borrowed from exhibitors on the Show floor as well as a custom designed wall covering exclusively developed in collaboration with de Gournay (http://www.degournay.com/) and the designers. The 2017 Vignette Designers: Pamela Babey/BAMO (http://www.bamo.com/), Jay Jeffers (http://jayjeffers.com/) Edward Lobrano (http://www.edwardlobrano.com/) Kendall Wilkinson (http://kendallwilkinson.com/)

All activities are held at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 26-28, noon-5 p.m. Oct. 29. Tickets: $20 at the door, $15 in advance. Lectures: $10. The preview gala is Oct. 25. Details: 415-989-9019, or www.sffas.org. Proceeds benefit Enterprise for High School Students.

TICKETS: On sale now for the Preview Gala and Show days at http://www.sffas.org/

Falling Water

Some green forest and a waterfall to help us deal with the stressful fires around the globe.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

On this day. James Jacques Tissot

 October 15, 1836. James Jacques Joseph Tissot 15 October 1836 - 8 August 1902) was a French painter, who spent much of his career in Britain. Tissot exhibited in the Paris Salon for the first time in 1859, where he showed five paintings of scenes from the Middle Ages, many depicting scenes from Goethe's Faust. These works show the influence of the Belgian painter Henri Leys (Jan August Hendrik Leys), whom Tissot had met in Antwerp in 1859, over his work. In this image: Le Balcon du Cercle de la rue Royale (The Circle of the Rue Royale), 1868.

 In later life he became a devout Catholic and devoted his time to producing art based on religious themes. These became very popular, but I don't find them very interesting. What I do find interesting are his paintings of beautiful women, often of his mistress, the divorcee Kathleen Newton, dressed in the height of turn of the century fashion.

Brief Biography: http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/tissot/zuercher1.html

Wikipedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Paintings_by_James_Tissot