Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Today's birthday. Thomas Eakins, America's 19th century master realist painter

July 25, 2017. Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (July 25, 1844 - June 25, 1916) was an American realist painter, photographer,[2] sculptor, and fine arts educator. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important artists in American art history. In this image: A person views Thomas Eakins' "The Gross Clinic," at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, on Jan. 5, 2007. To help finance a $68 million deal to keep the masterpiece in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts said Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007, that it has sold another Eakins painting, "The Cello Player."

The critic Clement Greenberg once described Thomas Eakins’s signature brand of darkness as “an ideal chiaroscuro.” Eakins was known to knock down even the brightness of a cheerful blue sky with a sober dimming wash. (article on cleaning the painting by Randy Kennedy, July18, 2010) 

Thomas Eakins, The Swimming Hole, 1884/5
Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 46 1/4 in.
(Courtesy Amon Carter Museum)

,,, One of the things that I liked about Eakins is that his work is not controversial for the sake of being controversial; there’s no sense of “look at what I did, see how modern and transgressive and just oh-so-chic I am.” He certainly had the ego and used it, sometimes to his own detriment, but the grand standing that so often passes for talent in modern art is just not on display.

From an article that i wrote for the blog Venetian Red: https://venetianred.wordpress.com/tag/manly-pursuits/ 

The Gross Clinic

Thomas Eakins: The Champion Single Scull (Max Schmitt in a Single Scull), 1871
Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 46 1/4 inches, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Wrestlers, 1899, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California



Monday, July 24, 2017

Today's birthday. Alfons Maria Mucha , the king of Art Nouveau

July 24, 2017. Alfons Maria Mucha (24 July 1860 - 14 July 1939), known in English as Alphonse Mucha, was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, known best for his distinct style. He produced many paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs. In this image: The "Slav Epic", a cycle of 20 allegories tracing the history of the Slavic people and inspired in part by mythology, by Art Nouveau Czech artist Alfons Mucha, at the National Gallery in Prague."The Slav Epic" by Alfons Mucha, a Czech Art Nouveau gem, went on display in Prague, fulfilling the wish of the artist who spent 18 years on the series of paintings from 1910 to 1928.

The rising tide of fascism during the late 1930s resulted in Mucha's works and his Slavic nationalism being denounced in the press as ‘reactionary.'   Mucha’s Slav nationalism and Jewish roots made him a primary target of the Gestapo during Nazi occupation.

When German troops moved into Czechoslovakia during the spring of 1939, Mucha was among the first persons to be arrested by the Gestapo. During his interrogation, the aging artist became ill with pneumonia. Though released eventually, he may have been weakened by this event. He died in Prague on 14 July 1939, due to lung infection, and was interred there in the Vyšehrad cemetery. 

Savonnerie de Bagnolet, 1897

Biscuits LeFèvre-Utile

Byzantine Heads: Brunette (wikipedia)

Mucha's The Slav Epic cycle No.2: The Celebration of Svantovít (1912) from Wikipedia

Mucha's The Slav Epic cycle No.20: The Apotheosis of the Slavs, Slavs for Humanity (1926). from Wikipedia
Four Seasons

An introduction to the Works of Mucha (Public Domain) http://records.viu.ca/~Johnstoi/praguepage/muchalecture.htm

Mucha Foundation: http://www.muchafoundation.org


Gallery of his work: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Alfons_Mucha

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Yesterday was the Feast Day of Mary of Magdala, otherwise known as Mary Magdalene

Georges de La Tour. Magdalene with the Smoking Flame. 1640

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) - Conversione della Maddalena (Maria Maddalena penitente

Caravaggio, Martha and Mary Magdalene. 1598

 Yesterday was the Feast of Mary of Magdala, the Apostle to the Apostles, a saint whose memory has been much maligned over the millennia by misogynist clergy and laymen. The recently discovered gospel of Mary Magdalene is extremely important for it exposes the erroneous view that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute. This was and a piece of theological fiction; it presents the most straightforward and convincing argument in any early Christian writing for the legitimacy of women's leadership; it offers a sharp critique of illegitimate power and a utopian vision of spiritual perfection; it challenges our rather romantic views about the harmony and unanimity of the first Christians; and it asks us to rethink the basis for church authority. All written in the name of a woman.

Who was she? In the New Testament, we read that Mary of Magdala (her hometown, a village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee) was a leading figure among those attracted to Jesus. When the men in that company abandoned him at the hour of mortal danger, Mary of Magdala was one of the women who stayed with him, even to the Crucifixion. She was present at the tomb, the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection and the first to preach the “Good News” of that miracle.

We should remember that four Gospels are not eyewitness accounts. They were written 35 to 65 years after Jesus’ death, from separate oral traditions that had taken form in dispersed Christian communities. Jesus died in about the year a.d. 30. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke date to about 65 to 85, and have sources and themes in common. The Gospel of John was composed around 90 to 95 and is distinct.

Caravaggio 1595

She was a popular figure in the early days of Christianity, too, for different reasons, and some Gnostic groups claimed that she was the leader of the Church rather than James or Peter. An early gospel has been discovered which gives credence to that belief. Mary of Magdala has become a popular Biblical figure once again, due to the popularity of the novel The DaVinci Code, a real hodge podge of a novel which many now take as fact. But the story is popular because that problem of “how”—whether love should be eros or agape; sensual or spiritual; a matter of longing or consummation—defines the human condition. (Smithsonian, 2006)

She was also a compelling figure to artists because of her combination of religious repentance (according to what became Church Doctrine) and eroticism.




Images from Wikipedia

Friday, July 21, 2017

Born on this day in 1577: Adam Willaerts

Adam Willaerts (21 July 1577 – 4 April 1664) was a Dutch Golden Age painter. Willaerts (occasionally Willarts, Willers) was born in London to Flemish parents who had fled from Antwerp for religious reasons. By 1585 the family lived in Leiden. From 1597 until his death, Adam lived and worked in Utrecht. He became a member of the Utrecht Guild of St. Luke in 1611 and subsequently became its dean in 1620. His sons Cornelis, Abraham, and Isaac followed in his footsteps.

He was known as a painter of river and canal pieces, coastal landscapes, fish-markets, processions, and genre scenes. He also painted villages and marine battle scenes.

Images from Wikipedia



"In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art" at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Allison Smith, Ghost Photography, (Skansen Revisited) 1891–1981 (detail), 2015. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Marie Andersson. In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art—Allison Smith and Christina Zetterlund. On view July 20, 2017–July 3, 2018 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.
. Allison Smith, Ghost Photography, (Skansen Revisited) 1891–1981 (detail), 2015. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Marie Andersson. In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art—Allison Smith and Christina Zetterlund. On view July 20, 2017–July 3, 2018 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum rethinks the ancient practice of havruta—the study of religious texts by people in pairs—for the contemporary art community. In their current show  In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art, the museum has brought Bay Area artists together with a scholar, scientist, writer, or other professional of his or her choice for a ten-week fellowship in creativity. The resulting collaborations are presented in The Museum’s Sala Webb Education Center.

The current show is a dialogue between Allison Smith, a local artist and Christina Zetterlund, a craft and design historian and theoretician based at the Konstfack in Sweden.. Their work is informed by a quote from the Talmud that two shcolars working together sharpen each other.

"Smith was born and raised in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., where her father has long been employed by the Central Intelligence Agency. “He makes spy gadgets and does a lot of Internet stuff he can’t tell me about,” she says. As a child, she would travel with her accountant mother, a folk-art buff, to juried craft fairs along the East Coast. Her father’s job brought the family to Iran in the late 1970s. There, they lived on a small American base with a large geodesic dome, which Smith later learned housed a satellite dish and was her father’s workplace until the family was evacuated in advance of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.” Artnews, 2015

Smith has created a number of projects that consider traditional craft and historical reenactments in the context of the United States. Smith first met Zetterlund during her recent residency in Stockholm and they discovered a shared interest in the politics of handcraft and its use in both progressive and conservative social movements. Through a series of emails, shared texts, Skype sessions, and in-person visits in Stockholm and San Francisco, their exchanges have explored the role of traditional craft in constructions of nationalism and processes of colonization, and have specifically delved into the writings and teachings of the Jewish Swedish educator, Otto Salomon (1849–1907; born in Gothenburg, Sweden), whose work focused on the concept of sljöd (pronounced sloyd), a term which can be defined as “craft” or manual “skill.” Slöjd, also known as Educational sloyd, was a system of handicraft-based education started by Uno Cygnaeus in Finland in 1865. The system was further refined and promoted worldwide, including adoption in the United States, until the early 20th Century.

The new work created for this exhibition, titled Models for a System, will be presented in an installation that plays with the conventions of period rooms and living history museums.

Smith has exhibited her work nationally and internationally since 1995. She has produced over twenty-five solo exhibitions, installations, performances, and artist-led participatory projects for venues such as SFMoMA, Public Art Fund, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The Arts Club of Chicago, among many others. Smith has exhibited her work in group exhibitions at galleries and museums including MoMA P.S.1; Palais de Tokyo; the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art; Mass MoCA; The Andy Warhol Museum; and the Tang Museum. She was, until recently, Associate Professor and Chair of the Sculpture Program at California College of the Arts and is now Associate Professor of Art at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Art in Pittsburgh.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gerard Horenbout, aka The Master of James IV of Scotland.

 Great Medieval miniature. Banquet of Dives, Lazarus as leper at door (w/ rattle) and dead below. Miniature from 1510 by Gerard Horenbout,

Gerard Horenbout (c. 1465–c. 1541) was a Flemish miniaturist, a late example of the Flemish Primitives. He is "likely and widely accepted" to be the Master of James IV of Scotland.