Friday, April 27, 2018

Delacroix, born on April 26, 1798

Delacroix's most Influential work. Liberty Leading the people. 

"The Death of Sardanapalus," perhaps Delacroix's most notorious painting, was inspired by Byron's 1821 play Sardanapalus about a hedonistic Assyrian king who ordered all of his prized possessions destroyed with him on his funeral pyre. The artist's vision of a tangled mass of bodies amid the decadent excess of the exotic interior saturated with rich color established Delacroix's position at the vanguard of Romantic painting. It was considered too controversial at the time to be shown in public but it now hangs in the Louvre. 

Born on April 26, 1798, in Southern France, Delacroix's art formed the link between the realistic art of the past and modernism, ultimately having a profound effect on the Impressionists and hence, on all art of the 20th century. His bravura brushstrokes and bold use of color make his art revolutionary for the time. His legal father was known to be infertile so Prince Tallyrand has been been suggested as his "real" father. The official art world rejected his paintings but Delacroix waa able to achieve widespread public popularity.

"Delacroix is, with Turner, the greatest mater of romantic painting.. . . moved by a passionate desire to express their feelings though color and a deep pessimism. " Kenneth Clark. The Romantic Rebellion

Massacre at Chios
Tallyrand protected and helped Delacroix throughout his career,  He went on to study art in the usual way for the 19th century and achieved early success with his huge works depicting tragedies - first "The Barque of Dante" in 1822 and in 1824, his portrayal of the massacre at Chios, a powerful, colorful painting of dying Greeks massacred by the Turks.

Delacroix was widely read, with interests ranging from 18th century works of the French Enlightenment to contemporary novels. His politics were also progressive as he advocated for the end of Bourbon rule and supported the Greeks who were fighting for their independence against the Turks. All of these topics were used in his paintings. 

Lion Hunt 
In 1832, Delacroix was able to travel to Spain and North Africa. His extensive journals and notes provided inspiration for the rest of his career. 

His health was poor and from 1844 until his death in 1863, he lived in a small house in the country, often painting flowers but also involved in the progressive art and political movements of the time, still considered a leader of the Romantic movement. He died on August 13, 1863 with his faithful housekeeper by his side.ène_Delacroix
The Romantic Rebellion. Kenneth Clark

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Schnabel at the Legion

I don't get it. I really don't. This is such a poor excuse for a show and Schnabel is a has been, has been for quite some time. Overhyped, oversold and over the top. Hollein is being lauded for bringing "life" to a stale institution. That's not the way I - and many who love classical art see it. Let us enjoy the very few pieces of medieval, classical, Baroque, Renaissance and Impressionist art that we can enjoy. That art is scarce and for us in Northern California, a rare treat. Schnabel whom one reviewer called an "enfant terrible" is far from being an infant but he's pretty terrible. Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life” dominates most of the museum’s entry courtyard, as well as the walls of three huge galleries. The show opened this week and continues through Aug. 5, 2018. 

Maybe later I will feel like describing the oversized, flatly painted pieces with one image dripped across them like an amoeba or an single celled organism. Since scientists postulate that life began with single celled organisms, this is a perfect metaphor for art that needs to go back into the sea to grow up and actually say something. 

“Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life”: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m., Tuesdays-Sundays. Through Aug. 5. $12-15. Under 18, free. Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Ave., S.F. (415) 750-3600.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Lyubov Popova.  Born on this day in 1889

Russian avant-garde painter and designer Lyubov Popova was born on this date in 1889. This is "The Model. I am not sure that I was aware of Popova until I saw a piece of her’s at the Norton Simon some years ago. I was awestruck and have continued to love her work and feel that it was one of the many tragedies of the Russian Revolution that she was diverted from painting and worked as a designer, creating Communist propaganda and textiles, before her early death of 35 from scarlet fever. 

Her 1915 painting The Traveler teeters on the edge of abstraction, though like other Cubists, never crosses the line into the non-objective. While the composition is broken into fragments, we can still discern remnants of reality. 

In a 1991 review of Popova, Christopher Knight wrote, “The 55 paintings and 67 works on paper […] confirm Popova’s stature as an artist who […] ranks with Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin.” In the 2009 Tate Modern catalogue, Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Modernism, Magdalena Dabroski concurred, “Along with Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, and Alexander Rodchenko, she stands out as one of the four most accomplished artists of the Russian avant-garde in the first quarter of the twentieth century.”

First, a brief biography: Popova was born in 1889. Her father was a textile merchant and performing arts patron, and her mother belonged to a prominent, cultured family. She studied at private art studios in Moscow beginning in 1907, making lifelong friendships with future members of the Constructivist group.

Popova traveled extensively during the pre-World War I period, absorbing past and present art: Mikhail Vrubel’s religious Symbolism from the 1880s at the Church of St. Cyril, Kiev (1909); early Renaissance painting during lengthy trips throughout Italy (1910 and 1914); medieval icon painting in Novgorod, Pskov, and other ancient Russian cities (1910-12); the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (1911); and Sergei Shchukin’s collection of modern French masters (1912); She and Nadezha Udaltsova lived together in Paris (1912-13), studying at La Palette under Cubists Jean Metzinger and Henri Le Fauconnier, where additionally, she first saw Futurist art and was particularly inspired by Boccioni. In 1916 she explored Islamic architecture in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.  

When she returned to Moscow, she worked with a group called “The Artists Studio,” creating works that pre-figured cubism but were far more dynamic. After the Bolsheviks gained power in 1917, she worked for their version of revolution, creating murals, propaganda posters, embroidery and fabrics for workers’ co-ops. In 1918, she married and had a child; her husband died in the typhoid epidemic of 1919 and Popova did not paint for a year.. 

In 1924, her young son died of scarlet fever during another virulent epidemic, and Liubov Popova died four days later, at age 35. She was vivacious, audacious, and passionately political, idealistic about the Russian Revolution. After Lenin’s death in 1924 and Stalin’s subsequent rise to power, Popova’s colleagues either emigrated or adapted to the changed circumstances, producing the Socialist Realist art demanded by the regime. Due to her early death, She was never faced with that choice.

In May 1991, Deborah Solomon wrote in The New Criterion, “Popova seems so very young: something about her face, her expression, suggests qualities of a child — naïveté, innocence, or just plain earliness. She looks like an incarnation of the childhood of modern art.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy birthday JM Turner

JM W Turner was born #onthisday in 1775. Atmospheric seascapes were one of Turner’s most prolific subjects. Here the raging sea claims a shipwreck while passengers escape on lifeboats towards the danger of another jagged rock. When this piece was exhibited in 1823, Turner was praised for ‘the chaotic & destructive character’ of the work. There’s no evidence that this scene was based on an actual shipwreck, and Turner often created imaginary compositions for artistic effect.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Odilon Redon, born April 20, 1840, the master of the mysterious

Crying Spider, 1998

Born yesterday (born April 20, 1840* - July 6, 1916), Redon does not get the credit that he is due for exploring the dark side of the unconscious a long time before the Surrealists were born as well as creating some of the most beautiful works in European art. Of his own work Redon wrote, "My drawings inspire and are not to be defined. They place us,as music does, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined." 
 Goldwater, Robert; Treves, Marco (1945). Artists on Art. Pantheon.

"In the prints and drawings he made beginning in the 1860's, Redon created macabre and cryptic images inspired in some cases by the writings of Poe and Baudelaire, in others by the paintings of Goya. His renditions of flowers sprouting skulls and of skeletons with antlers, and his references to Hindu symbols for death and to mythical creatures like Pegasus and the Sphinx, prompted the Parisian critics to label him as a purveyor of ''le fantastique reel,'' ''that desolate region which exists on the borders of the real and the fantastic - a realm populated by formidable phantoms, monsters, monads and other creatures born of human perversity,'' explained the critic Emile Hennequin in an 1882 review of Redon's lithographs." (NYTimes) 


His mother had an unusual background - she was a Creole born in Louisiana, where his father met her - a lonely childhood and highly atypical training all helped to exacerbate his originality. He studied watercolor painting in Bordeaux, spent a year architectural studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which he did not enjoy, and another year in the studio of Jean-Léon Gérome, the academic painter whose teaching and brusqueness he loathed. At the age of 25, he was back in Bordeaux, studying engraving with Rodolphe Bresdin. In the late 1860's he produced a series of small masterpieces, a charcoal landscape, dark still life works mixed with his carefully painted scenes, inspired by medieval poetry. His work was produced in a bewildering variety of styles, sometimes verging on kitsch, except for his brilliant color. A Symbolist phase followed his macabre etchings and works in charcoal, predating Dali by a century. Inspired by Gustave Flaubert's temptation of St. Anthony, Redon created three lithograph albums. 

--> In the early 1900's, he painted some of the most beautiful flower still lifes in European painting, moving his visionary art from the darker side of the human psyche into the light.

Opelia among the flowers
Arbres sur un fond jaune, one of the panels painted in 1901 for the dining room of the Château de Domecy-sur-le-Vault

In 1899, his commissions from Baron de Domecy to create decorative panels for the dining room of his chateau marked Redon's transition from ornamental to abstract painting and increased his popularity. Although he remained a very private person, he received the Legion of Honor in 1903 and his increased popularity led to greater financial security by the end of his life. 

April 22 according to another source.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Three items invented by women

Liquid paper, the dishwasher and the disposable diaper:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

In honor of Paolo Veronese

Self Portrait

Veronese's house in Venice

The Feast in the House of Levi

One of the problems with trying to write a post on an artist's birthday is that we don't HAVE the birthday's for many pre-19th century artists. In Paolo Veronese's case (also known as Palo Callari), we have his date of death which is today, April 19, 1588). Born in Verona in 1528, his father was a stonecutter and apprenticed his son Paolo at the age of 14 to a local artist. Paolo soon began to develop his own style of using lighter colors in a wider range. 

In 1543, he had moved to Mantua and worked on frescos in the city's cathedral. Ten years later he arrived in Venice where he was to produce his most memorable works of art. He specialized in large format paintings of works from mythology and the Bible. He became part of the great artists- Titian, Tintoretto - who dominated 15th century art and that of the late Renaissance. "His most famous works are elaborate narrative cycles, executed in a dramatic and colorful style, full of majestic architectural settings and glittering pageantry. His large paintings of biblical feasts, crowded with figures, painted for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona are especially famous, and he was also the leading Venetian painter of ceilings. Most of these works remain in situ, or at least in Venice, and his representation in most museums is mainly composed of smaller works such as portraits that do not always show him at his best or most typical." Wikipedia

Twenty years after his arrival in Venice, Inquisitors challenged Veronese, asking him to account for the presence of "buffoons, drunkards, dwarfs, Germans, and similar vulgarities" in his painting of the Last Supper for a monastery in Venice. Veronese defended himself by invoking the artist's right to creative freedom. By the end of his life, Veronese's paintings were in such high demand that his brother, two sons, and a nephew had to carry out the remainder of his numerous commissions after his death.

Susannah and the Elders
He has always been appreciated for "the chromatic brilliance of his palette, the splendor and sensibility of his brushwork, the aristocratic elegance of his figures, and the magnificence of his spectacle", but his work has been felt "not to permit expression of the profound, the human, or the sublime", and of the "great trio" he has often been the least appreciated by modern criticism.[ Nonetheless, "many of the greatest artists ... may be counted among his admirers, which include  RubensWatteauTiepoloDelacroix and Renoir".