Friday, May 31, 2019

Walt Whitman at 200

Happy Birthday to the America's world poet, Walt Whitman

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Read more at:

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this 
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their 
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

Song of Myself

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Wallerant Vaillant. Born on June 30, 1623

Wallerant Vallaint, in a red turban

Wallerant Vaillant, born OTD 1623: a trompe l'oeil letter rack. Proof that skillful trompe l"oeil was nothing new. 

 Portrait of a boy holding his hooded falcon, painted by Wallerant Vaillant who was born on this day in 1623.

Born on this day in 1623, in Lille, Wallerant Vaillant. Painter and printmaker. Here, by himself as a young man, wearing an exotic red turban. He had five brothers, all of whom became artists. He's better known today for his mezzotints. 

Vaillant's portraits constitute a visual document on the people of the Dutch Golden Age world: burgomeisters, regents, merchants, ship-owners, doctors, booksellers, clergymen, women painters, or other members of the city government who placed orders with him.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.

From Snopes:  

What's True

In May 1865, free blacks in Charleston reburied dead Union prisoners of war and held a cemetery dedication ceremony.

What's False

The May 1865 event was not the origin of the modern Memorial Day observance.
Thanks to Abstrakt Goldsmith for this nugget of history that most of us never learned in school.

From President Barak Obama: On Memorial Day, we remember all those who gave everything for something greater than themselves. It's up to us to not simply reflect on their sacrifice but to honor it with service of our own—and by living out the values they fought for.

Memorial Day: Facts and History:

From the Library of Congress: Learn more about , its origins and how it has been commemorated through the years in this roundup of blog posts & resources from the Library of Congress.

Here are more resources from our Chronicling America collection of historical American newspapers.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Happy Birthday to Dorothea Lange

May 26, 1895. Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 - October 11, 1965) was an 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: Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Couple Seated on Porch, Gunlock, Utah, 1953, Gelatin silver print, Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds donated by Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley. ©Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California, City of Oakland. Gift of Paul S. Taylor

"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange

Beyond the Dust Bowl:

Born in New Jersey and a survivor of polio, she walked with a limp, always finding empathy, even when she ran an upscale portrait studio in San Francisco in the 1920s (not long after her arrival on the West Coast). 
In the 1930s, her interest in social issues became evident, as seen in photos of bread lines and labor demonstrations in The City.
Soon after, she worked with University of California social scientist Paul Taylor, an expert in farm labor (whom she married), and together they famously documented migrants for the Farm Security Administration.
Equally evocative images emerged during World War II; Lange’s pictures of Japanese-Americans under internment are touching, particularly “One Nation Indivisible,” an interestingly cropped shot of Asian fifth graders reciting the pledge of allegiance at Raphael Weill Elementary School in San Francisco.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Pontormo. Italian Mannerist Painter, Born on May 24, 1494

Confident, regal, and slightly terrifying: woman in a red dress, with dog. Painted by Jacopo Pontormo, who was born on this day in 1494.

Space, even gravity, have no meaning in Pontormo's -- what, Deposition? There is no cross. Entombment? No tomb. Dance of pure emotion, painted for the Capponi Chapel, 1525.

2/2 Carrying Christ is tough. And tragic. A great face from Pontormo, who was born on this day in 1494.

Pontormo's drawing for the figures in his Visitation. No street! But all squared for transfer into one.

 Practicing to be tough: girl with her dog, other hand defiantly on hip. By Jacopo Pontormo, born on this day 1494.

 Little Giulia de' Medici, orphaned, being brought up by Maria Salviati and looking as if life is kind of overwhelming.

Incredibly vivid colors in recently-cleaned 1528 Visitation. Mary & Elizabeth accompanied by 2 haunting women in De Chirico-like street.

"You looking at ME?"  1529

Jacopo da Pontormo
, original name Jacopo Carrucci, (born May 24, 1494, Pontormo, near Empoli, Republic of Florence [Italy]—buried January 2, 1557, Florence), Florentine painter who broke away from High Renaissance classicism to create a more personal, expressive style that is sometimes classified as early Mannerism.

Haber Art reviews:


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Albrecht Durer. Born May 21, 1471

Durer Self Portrait as a handsome dandy

Self portrait as Christ? 

Nude Self Portrait 

Durer: born May 21, 1471, Imperial Free City of Nürnberg [Germany]—died April 6, 1528, Nürnberg), painter and printmaker generally regarded as the greatest German Renaissance artist. His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings. His woodcuts, such as the Apocalypse series (1498), retain a more Gothic flavor than the rest of his work.

Heilbrun Time line of Art: supremely gifted .. and nothing wrong with his ego either:

Duccio, One of the greatest Italian painters of the Middle Ages

A section of Virgin and Child enthroned, surrounded by angels known as the Rucellai Madonna

Rucellai Madonna. Ufezzi Gallery 

The Annunciation

Get thee hence, Satan! Christ spurns devil's offer

Christ calling Peter and Andrew. Love how Duccio represents fish-filled sea here. From Maesta altarpiece, 1310.

Nativity from the front of Duccio's Maestà altarpiece in Siena cathedral. Now sadly dismantled!

front of Duccio's great Maestà in Siena

Duccio...Unknown birthdate but born 13th century, Siena, Republic of Siena—died c. 1319, Siena?), one of the greatest Italian painters of the Middle Ages and the founder of the Sienese school. In Duccio’s art the formality of the Italo-Byzantine tradition, strengthened by a clearer understanding of its evolution from classical roots, is fused with the new spirituality of the Gothic style. Greatest of all his works is the Maestà (1311), the altarpiece of the Siena cathedral.

The Art of Sienna:

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Warhol at SFMOMA -From A to B and Back Again

Mao, 1997. Acrylic, slikscreen & graphite on linen. Art Institute of Chicago. Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York
Unless you absolutely adore Andy Warhol, SFMOMA's current exhibit of his works which covers three floors with 300 works on display  might be too much. But at least there are a lot of celebrity portraits to enjoy as well as Warhol's knack for invention and kitsch. 

The show’s title is taken from Warhol’s 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), a memoir featuring the artist’s musings on fame, love, beauty, class, money and other key themes that frequently appear in his work. Was the Prince of Pop a complicated figure as claimed by Gary Garrels, curator of painting and sculpture or a savvy PR specialist who became a media darling? 

on view from May 19 through September 2 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tamara Lempicka. Born on this day in 1898

May 16, 1898. Tamara Lempicka (born Maria Górska; 16 May 1898 - 18 March 1980), also known as Tamara de Lempicka, was a Polish painter active in the 1920s and 1930s, who spent her working life in France and the United States. She is best known for her polished Art-Deco portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy, and for her highly stylized paintings of nudes. In this image: A man stands beside the painting "M. Tadeusz Lempicki" during the exhibition of works of art made by Tamara de Lempicka which opened at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

Tamara de Lempicka was the lone traditional easel painter in the entirety of the Art Deco style. Her sources of inspiration ranged dramatically: she adored Italian Renaissance painting; she was characterized by critics as a sort of modern-day Ingres, although the comparisons were more often not intended to flatter; she absorbed the avant garde art of the era - particularly post-cubist abstraction but of a "softened" style. Perhaps most influential was Lempicka's desire to capitalize on her social connections to create a niche for her portraiture, which most often featured well-to-do, cosmopolitan types. The Art Deco style, lavish in a less visually complex way than its predecessor, Art Nouveau, was probably the ideal vehicle for her trendy style. Most notably, despite its decorative quality, her work provided her with an outlet for unconventional self-expression: truly a product of her era, the libertine golden age between the two world wars, Lempicka, a bisexual, made bold, liberated female sexuality the linchpin of her art.

Her wild life:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Richard Avdeon, Born on this day in 1923

Humphrey Bogart, October 2, 1953

May 15, 1923. Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 - October 1, 2004)
American fashion and portrait photographer. 

An obituary published in The New York Times said that 
"his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America's 
image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century". 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Thomas Gainsborough. Today was his day in 1727

May 14, 1727. Thomas Gainsborough FRSA (14 May 1727 (baptised) - 2 August 1788) was an English portrait and landscape painter, draughtsman, and printmaker. He surpassed his rival Sir Joshua Reynolds to become the dominant British portraitist of the second half of the 18th century. In this image: Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788), Holywells Park, um 1748 - 1750. Öl auf Leinwand, 50,8 x 66 cm. Ipswich Museum and Gallery © Ipswich Museum and Gallery.

To the casual museumgoer, Georgian portraiture conjures stiff, self-satisfied images of frilly costumes and gravity-defying hairdos. The art of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), however, like that of his contemporary Joshua Reynolds, was more than smooth finishes and frippery.  (WSJ) 

Among the portraits Thomas Gainsborough painted while living in Bath is a small likeness of a young boy in shirt and waistcoat, clutching a handful of paintbrushes and glancing anxiously out of the feigned oval in which he’s framed. The boy – dubbed ‘the Pitminster Boy’, for the small Somerset village he came from – was one of Gainsborough’s studio assistants, a local lad who used to carry the artist’s materials and pass him brushes when he went into the countryside to paint landscapes. The portrait is hastily done, but the expressiveness Gainsborough captures in the boy’s face – the hesitation around the selection of a brush – indicates the remarkable attention he paid to the way people around him looked.  (Apollo Magazine) 

 He was the most versatile English painter of the 18th century. Some of his early portraits show the sitters grouped in a landscape (Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, c. 1750). As he became famous and his sitters fashionable, he adopted a more formal manner that owed something to Anthony Van Dyck (The Blue Boy, c. 1770). His landscapes are of idyllic scenes. During his last years he also painted seascapes and idealized full-size pictures of rustics and country children.  BBC History: .......Ten things to know about The Blue Boy:,....   About Gainsborough

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg, Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, Frank Stella, Joseph Beuys

 Born on this day in 1630, in Antwerp, architectural painter Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg. Here, two figures in huge, strangely classical entrance to a Gothic church. Eerie.

The Getty:  

May 12, 1828. Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti (12 May 1828 - 9 April 1882), generally known as Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a British poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. In this image: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Mnemosyne, 1876. © Private collection c/o Christie's Images Ltd., 2010.

"I don't like to say I have given my life to art. I prefer to say art has given me my life." 

Happy 83rd Birthday to painter, sculptor, and printmaker #FrankStella!