Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass (1888)

Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass (1888)
One of my favorite still life subjects of Van Gogh, the cut branch in a glass, I ran across this one with the book behind creating a complicated compositional element. Note also the use of complementary colors, red and green, creating a vibration in the painting.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Richard C. Woodville

Happy Birthday Richard C. Woodville!! This artist was born to wealthy parents in Baltimore in 1822. He graduated from medical school but never had the desire to pursue a career in medicine, instead decided to become an artist. After marrying the daughter of a doctor, Woodville went to Dusseldorf to study privately with genre artist Carl Ferdinand Sohn. While in Europe, he worked form sketches of America, shipping home his paintings where they did achieve some fame and appreciation. His work is rather drab in color and is said to appear aloof, as if laughing at his subject. The painting today is titled Waiting for the Stage. Five years after going to Germany, Woodville left his wife for a fellow student and fled to Paris, where he died of an accidental drug overdose at age 30.

Friday, April 29, 2011

David Hoadley

Happy Birthday David Hoadley!! American architect from Connecticut, born in 1774, Hoadley was a self-taught architect. He got his start as a craftsman, a carpenter and builder. He created designs for churches and houses for early America, among other buildings. Hoadley's designs are light and graceful. The First Church of Milford, pictured here was built in 1824 in place of the previous meeting house.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Edgar Tytgat

Happy Birthday Edgar Tytgat!! Flemish painter and etcher, Edgar Tytgat was born in 1879. His father owned a lithography studio where Edgar first learned to draw. As his career progressed his artwork went through changes beginning with an interest in Symbolism,  Expressionism and finally at the end of his life his subjects involved historical, mythological and imaginary images. During WWI he went into refuge and created woodcuts and linocuts with his wife, Maria. His style was sensitive handling of bright colors accented with soft greys, his images simplistic. Tytgat also was a writer but published little.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Norman Bel Geddes

Happy Birthday Norman Bel Geddes!! American artist, born in 1893, Geddes was focused on theatrical and industrial design. He got his love for the theater from his mother, who was a “woman of culture”. He married Helen Belle Schneider and they joined their names to form Bel Geddes. He is said to be the first to impose theories of aeronautics and streamlining to industrial design. He created futuristic ideas, some of which never came to fruition, such as the 1934 aerodynamic car pictured here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eugene Delacroix

Happy Birthday Eugene Delacroix!! French painter born in 1798, Delacroix was the major artist in the Romantic movement in France. His work was colorful and his subjects perhaps more exotic and literary than classical, but he was held in high regard by artists struggling to break free from the strict guidelines set forth by the Salon. He had a few pupils but did not teach as an avocation, concentrating instead on his own work and commentary on Parisian life. He traveled to America in the 1830, returning with a wealth of subject matter in new peoples, animals and ideas. The painting today is Christ on the Sea of Gallilee clinging on to the small craft amidst a turbulent sea.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Karel Appel

Happy Birthday Karel Appel!! Born in Amsterdam, in 1921, this artist was a painter and sculptor and an originator of the artistic group Cobra. His first painting was created when he was 14. His mother did not approve of his becoming an artist so he had to leave home after studying art during the German occupation from 1940-43. He was influenced by artists Picasso, Matisse and Jean Dubuffet. He made found object sculpture and joined a group of artists in Holland, later forming the group Cobra. The group was rather controversial, so he eventually moved to Paris. This sculpture was created in 1976 and is a good representation of his bold use of colr and simplistic shapes in both his painting and sculpture. The artist died in 2006.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bridget Riley

Happy Birthday Bridget Riley!! English painter from 1931, born in London, this woman artist first studied at Cheltenham Ladies' College but later went to the Royal College of Art. She was a forerunner of Op art, creating illusions of intricate black and white geometric patterns. Early on she was an art teacher, an illustrator, but then began to develop her signature style. Considered the first British contemporary painter, she was the first woman to be awarded the International Prize for painting at the Venice Biennale. She has compared her work to nature, "It (the eye) should feel caressed and soothed, experience frictions and ruptures, glide and drift...One moment there will be nothing to look at and the next second the canvas seems to refill, to be crowded with visual effects.”

Venice Biennale-Contempory Art Art exhibit that happens every two years in Venice, Italy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Antoine Vollon

Happy Birthday Antoine Vollon!! This painter was born today in France, in 1833, and a French Realist, painting still life, marine scenes, and landscapes. His father was an ornamental artist. He studied at the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, and worked as an engraver. After moving to Paris, he became a painter. He exhibited with the Salon, winning some prizes. The simplicity of the Bag of Cherries attracted my attention.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sidney Nolan

Happy Birthday Sidney Nolan!! Perhaps the most famous Australian painter was born today in 1917. He studied crafts and design at Prahran Technical College beginning at age 14. Following his education he worked in advertising and displays for Fayrefield Hats. He also attended night classes at the National Gallery of Arts School. His work was concentrated on historical and legendary figures as well as the Australian landscape. His most well-known series is one that celebrates Ned Kelly in the outback. Ned Kelly was an Australian icon; a fugitive or bushranger as outlaws are called in Australia, whom Nolan identified with. Nolan also was a fugitive after going AWOL from the army in WWII. He was a member of the Angry Penguins beginning in the 40's. I am including a painting from his series on Ned Kelly. The square “head” represents the same shaped armor Kelly is said to have worn for protection.

Angry Penguins-an avant-garde literary and artistic group focused on Surrealism and Expressionism.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ludovico Carracci

Happy Birthday Ludovico Carracci!! Italian Baroque painter, born in 1555, Ludovico Carracci was a painter in Bologna. He was the oldest of two cousins who established the famed Bologonese Painting Academy. He taught his cousins Agostino and Annibale, who both went on to outshine his own painting. Their academy became the premier  training school for painting of the day. They encouraged their students to study nature and figure painting on a large scale. He continued to run it after the cousins left to travel and paint elsewhere. His work includes engravings, frescoes and altar pieces with wide gesturing figures and a soft light, some of which are still in existence today. The painting The Transfiguration, in the National Gallery of Art in Scotland, is a good example of his Baroque style. Note the handling of the fabric in simpler planes when compared to the same of Renaissance painters. Please be aware that the foreshortening of the prostrate figures of the disciples is quite complex. Foreshortening was first masteres by Michelangelo 100 years prior to Carracci.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Daniel Chester French

Happy Birthday Daniel Chester French!! Born in New Hampshire, in 1850, French first studied sculpture in Boston with William Hunt. His father was a lawyer and they were neighbors to Louisa May Alcott and her family, whose sister May encouraged French to pursue a career in sculpture. He is best known for his monumental sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, located in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. I was awestruck when I approached the immense seated figure of one of my heroes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Firmin Baes

Happy Birthday Firmin Baes!! This painter is from Belgium and born in 1874. His father was also a painter and professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. He was an accomplished pastel artist as well as a painter. His work was concentrated on portraiture and genre scenes. The mother and child pastel I am including here today is titled Sweet Dreams.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Max Weber

Happy Birthday Max Weber!! The American artist, born in Russia,1881, studied with Arthur Wesley Dow at the Pratt Institute. He traveled to France and met with artists such as Picasso, Matisse and others. He experimented with Cubism, creating complex compositions with multiple views, patterns and various perspectives. Financially deplete, Weber was forced to return to the US and he became acquainted with Alfred Stieglitz, who supported the budding artist and in return, Weber passed on his experience with European Modernism. Following World War I his work became more expressive and he concentrated on figure painting.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Patrick Reason

Happy Birthday Patrick Reason!! American born artist from 1817, Patrick Reason was a printmaker and illustrator. He became interested in art and designed the frontpiece for Charles Andrews' book The History of New York African-Free Schools. He was an apprentice to Stephen Henry Gimber, an engraver. Reason struggled to find a place in the artworld, not an easy task for a black man in the 1800's. His work describes the hardship of the American slaves and champions abolitionists. The engraving below is titled The Kneeling Slave.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

John Chamberlain

Happy Birthday John Chamberlain!! American sculptor, born in 1927, in Indiana, John Chamberlain attended the Art Institute of Chicago and Black Mountain College after serving in the Navy. He is considered an Abstract Expressionist and his best loved works are created from junk cars and various metal parts. Some are brightly painted like the one included here and others have been left raw metal with parts chromed. He has had over 100 exhibitions of his work all over the world. Currently, he lives in Shelter Island, New York.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Theodore Rousseau

Happy Birthday Theodore Rousseau!! French landscape painter, born in 1812, Rousseau began painting nature at age 15. He was friends with Millet and Diaz and greatly influenced by the Dutch masters. He became the leader of the Barbizon School a group of landscape painters who attempted a naturalistic study of nature. Like the Impressionists to follow, he painted a gorgeous luminescent light, symbolic in purpose, rather than naturalistic. His intensity is evident in the contrasting tones in Lowland Marsh.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guiseppe Valadier

Happy Birthday Giuseppe Valadier!! Born in 1762, the son of a goldsmith, this Italian artist was an architect and urban planner. Valadier won his first prize for a church facade at age 13 and then at 15 claimed the prestigious Concorso Balestra for architecture. He taught architecture at the Accademia di San Luca and was an archeologist pioneer. He resurrected fallen monuments and restored old churches and palaces. His greatest creation was the Piazza del Popolo, the impressive open space in Rome with three avenues branching off. It is a public square in the heart of Rome where public executions took place until 1826.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sir Thomas Lawrence

Happy Birthday Sir Thomas Lawrence!! English painter, born in 1769, his father was an innkeeper and he had 15 brothers and sisters! A child prodigy, Lawrence began supporting his family at an young age with pastel portraits of nobility. Later he trained at the Royal Academy School of the Arts, learning to paint with oils. He became a painter for King George III and was knighted in 1815. He is considered to be the final great English portrait painters. His work was dramatic with rich color and textures in the Romantic style. The portrait I am including today is the Calmady Children.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Imogen Cunningham

Happy Birthday Imogen Cunningham!! American photographer, born in Portland, Oregon in 1883, this artist began photographing at age 18. After attending the University of Washington in Seattle, she went to work in the photography studio of Edward S. Curtis. Cunningham was quite interested in the chemistry of photography. She was granted the opportunity to study in Germany, and after returning to the US opened her own studio. She was known for her photos of plants, nudes and industrial subjects. She created close-up photographs of flowers such as the Calla Lily pictured here. She created photographs until her death at the age of 93.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gustav Vigeland

Happy Birthday Gustav Vigeland!! Considered the most gifted Norwegian sculptor, this artist was born in 1869 in Mandal, Norway. His father was a furniture maker and Gustav apprenticed with a sculptor as well as took evening classes to study drawing. A visit to Paris and fellow sculptor, Rodin, inspired him to seek a realistic quality in his sculpture. His work spanned Neoclassical, Impressionist and Classic styles. His most monumental work was Vigeland-Parken, a collection of over 200 life sized figures representing birth, life and death, of granite and bronze, set in a park designed by the artist.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ben Nicholson

Happy Birthday Ben Nicholson!! and also to my daughter Amanda Louise...English born abstract artist from 1894, Nicholson was educated at the Slade School of Fine Art. He was married three times, once to artist Barbara Hepworth. After creating figurative works and dabbling in Cubism, Mondrian influenced Nicholson to begin working in an abstract vein. He created the first of his wood reliefs in 1933, titled White Relief.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Victor Vasarely

Happy Birthday Victor Vasarely!! This Hungarian French artist was born in 1908. He began a career in medicine, but abandoned that for studies in academic painting. He left Hungary in 1930, settling in Paris in 1930. His mature style is considered Op Art (art of the optical illusion) and his most widely known painting in this style is Zebra. Beginning in 1970, Vasarely opened several museums to house his work, some of which are still in existence today. The version of his Zebra pictured below is from 1937.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Richard Neutra

Happy Birthday Richard Neutra!! Born in 1892, in Vienna, this artist went to school at Technische Hochschule and studied architecture. He emigrated to the US in 1923, where he established his architectural practice, after working with Rudolph N. Schindler. Neutra is credited with creating a light airy structure of metal frame with stucco that became a regional signature of Modern architecture in Southern California. His specialty was to extend the architectural space into an immaculate landscape. Neutra mentored Robert Alexander and was partners with his wife Dione.  He believed that architecture should "act as a social force for the betterment of mankind". His son Dion still operates the architectural firm in Los Angeles and, in fact, is celebrating 85 years of practice this week. The Kaufman House that I am including here today was recently sold at auction for 16.5 million. It was discovered in 1992 in near ruin by architectural historian Beth Harris and her husband, Brent, and restored to its original state. The couple is interested in treating architecture like fine art and preserving its original beauty.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gino Severini

Happy Birthday Gino Severini!! Italian painter born in 1883, Severini originally studied the Impressionist artists in Paris and there met other artists such as Modigliani, Picasso, Braque and Gris. He was invited to join with the Futurists and signed their Manifesto in 1910. Rather than an interest in machines like some of his fellow Futurists, instead Severini was interested in the human body in motion. After working in the Futuristic style for a time, he began to move more toward Cubism after 1915. In addition to his paintings, he also created murals and mosaics, working in Rome and Paris. He was considered an important link between art in France and Italy. The painting I have here today is called The Armored Train and was painted in 1915.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gustave Moreau

Happy Birthday Gustave Moreau!! French painter Gustave Moreau was born in 1826 and considered a symbolist. He painted subjects not many painters would attempt, such as the war between good and evil, the conflict of the sexes, the mysteries of life and death. He was not well liked by the art critics, but did mentor Matisse and Rouault in his later years. The painting I am showing here today is Young Girl Carrying the Head of Orpheus who according to legend, continues to “sing after his physical death". Orpheus, it is said, could compose music so beautiful it had the ability to charm man as well as beast, and (sadly) had his head torn off by a group of angered women. Moreau paints a devised ending to the story with the head, recovered, being contemplated by a young maiden.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jules Dupre

Happy Birthday Jules Dupre!! Born in France in 1811, Jules Dupre was a well known landscape painter. His father was a porcelain manufacturer, so Jules was working on porcelain, decorating plates and landscape painting from an early age. He studied landscape and animal painting with Jean-Michel Diebolt. He exhibited with the Salon in 1831 and after several successful showings there, began to work in the studio and travel around in search of new subject matter. He ceased exhibiting for a time, working in solitude, and although in 1867 he made a come back with a show at the Salon, he continued to paint in isolation in his studio until his death in 1889. The peaceful setting painted here must be what Dupre was seeking in his solitude.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Edward Hicks

Happy Birthday Edward Hicks!! American Folk Artist Edward Hicks, born today in 1780, was a Quaker from Pennsylvania. He was a sign painter and used his art to express his deep religious beliefs, and love of peace. One of his most favored subjects was the literal translation of Isaiah's Biblical quote, “when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid”. He painted this subject, The Peaceable Kingdom over one hundred times. In the painting, the animal forms are flat and the contours are clearly outlined with rich patterns adorning their coats, the children are cherubic and scaled small. He often backs the idea of peace with another group of figures in the background, such as Quakers, Native Americans, early settlers, etc.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bud Fisher

Happy Birthday Harry Conway (Bud) Fisher!!  American cartoonist, born in 1815, Bud Fisher created the first daily comic strip to achieve notoriety, Mutt and Jeff. He attended University of Chicago and, as a journalist in San Francisco, created Mr. Mutt in 1907 adding Jeff later.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

William Holman Hunt

Happy Birthday William Holman Hunt!! English painter, William Holman Hunt was born in 1827. After leaving school early, he became an office clerk, but bored, he convinced his parents to allow him to attend the Royal Academy. He formed a group with 7 other artists, the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. Considered the first avant-garde movement in art, the brotherhood sought to reject the mechanical approach to art by Mannerist artists who followed Michelangelo and Raphael. They were fascinated with Medieval culture but also wanted to express themselves and closely observe and record Nature. Eventually the group split into two, one including Hunt and Millais focused  on realism and the other interested in Medieval depictions. The painting I am including today is titled Isabella and the Pot of Basil, after the poem by John Keats.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bill Traylor

Happy Birthday Bill Traylor!! Born into slavery on a plantation in Alabama in 1854, this artist was a self-taught painter. Following the Civil War, he stayed on at the plantation as a sharecropper, married and had 9 children. At age 82, Traylor, his family all gone, left the plantation for Montgomery Alabama. After working in a shoe factory for a short while, he began to draw. His inspiration was ordinary people on the streets and animals. His supplies were simple: pencil, charcoal and cardboard. Charles Shannon, a white painter noticed his work and arranged a show in 1940. He continued to become more recognized and created an amazing amount of paintings, of which Charles Shannon had possession of 1200-1500 when Bill Traylor died in 1949.