Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vincent van Gogh's The Cafe Terrace

Vincent van Gogh's The Cafe Terrace stands as one of the painter's most remarkable works. It is also, without question, one of the most famous produced in Van Gogh's brief but prolific career. This work is the first in a trilogy of paintings which feature starlit skies. Starry Night Over the Rhone came within a month, followed by the popular Starry Night painted the next year in Saint-Rémy. An interesting companion to these three can be found in the Portrait of Eugene Boch (painted in the same month as Cafe Terrace and Starry Night Over the Rhone)--note the starry motif in the work's background. Vincent was enthusiastic about The Cafe Terrace and wrote to his sister Wil: In point of fact I was interrupted these days by my toiling on a new picture representing the outside of a night cafe. On the terrace there are tiny figures of people drinking. An enormous yellow lantern sheds its light on the terrace, the house and the sidewalk, and even causes a certain brightness on the pavement of the street, which takes a pinkish violet tone. The gable-topped fronts of the houses in a street stretching away under a blue sky spangled with stars are dark blue or violet and there is a green tree. Here you have a night picture without any black in it, done with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green, and in these surroundings the lighted square acquires a pale sulphur and greenish citron-yellow colour. It amuses me enormously to paint the night right on the spot. They used to draw and paint the picture in the daytime after the rough sketch. But I find satisfaction in painting things immediately. Vincent goes on to tell Wil that there is a description of a similar cafe in the book Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant starlit night in Paris with the brightly lighted cafes of the Boulevard, and this is approximately the same subject I just painted." Van Gogh's works are often inspired by literary references or by the works of other painters. Cafe Terrace has a similar style and compositional structure to Avenue de Clichy in the Evening by Anquetin. Regardless of whether Van Gogh was directly inspired by Anquetin's work, the composition of Cafe Terrace is unique among all of Van Gogh's oeuvre. Note how the lines of composition all point directly to the centre of the work where a horse and carriage are found. Everything seems to be drawn inward, like a vortex, and yet the overall tone suggests tranquillity and not turmoil. The overall scheme is dark, but without the slightest trace of black. More than one hundred years after Vincent painted it, the Cafe Terrace is still in Arles serving drinks to its thirsty patrons. It's now called the Cafe Van Gogh, appropriately enough, and has been remodelled to appear as it did more than a century ago--yellow-lit awning and all. I stopped and had a cognac when I visited Arles in 1995 (you won't find absinthe on the menu any more) and thought of Vincent, so close by in spirit, working feverishly under the stars.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Klimt – Timeline of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

Klimt – Timeline of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

To understand The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, it is important to understand the full history of Gustav Klimt’s career and where The Kiss fits into that. Courtesy of Expo Klimt we include the history of Gustav Klimt below.

The Kiss comes in at 1908

Gustav Klimt was a controversial figure in his time. His work was constantly criticized for being too sensual and erotic, and his symbolism too deviant. Today, they stand out as the more important paintings ever to come out of Vienna.

1862 Birth of Gustav Klimt in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria. His father is a gold engraver but unsuccessful in business. The family lives in poverty.

1876 At the age of 14, Klimt enters the Vienna Public Art School. Noticed for his talents, he receives his first commissions while studying.

1883 Klimt, his brother Ernst and Franz Matsch form the Känstlercompanie (Company of Artists) and start a productive cooperation. Works for theaters, churches and museums were ordered by several patrons.

1886-1892 Klimt executes mural decorations for staircases at the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. He contributes for a series called Allegories and Emblems. Its success leads to a second large order, containing Klimt’s painting “Tragedy”, announcing all of his stylistic characteristics: gold paint, areas of detail and areas of abstract space, symbolism, the female figure.

1891 He becomes a member of the Co-operative Society of Austrian Artists.

1892 Death of his father and brother Ernst. He moves to a larger studio.

1893 Klimt and Matsch are commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the new University of Vienna. Due to a falling-out between Klimt and Matsch, the works are greatly delayed. The series of paintings, “Philosophy”, “Medecine” and “Jurisprudence”, provoked widespread controversy. He is never to accept a public commission again.

1897 As Klimt feels his integrety as an artist is under threat, The Secession Mouvement is formed, focusing on exposure for young, unconventional artists, bringing quality foreign art to Vienna and publishing a magazine.

1898-1905 The first large exhibition of foreign work organized by the Secession attracts 57.000 visitors. “Ver Sacrum”, its monthly magazine, starts to publish. The Secession completes its own exhibition building and rapidly becomes the leading Artist Association in Vienna. Klimt will remain at the center of Secession activity until 1905.

1898 Klimt paints “Sonia Knips” at the Dumba Palace Music Room.

1900 His first painting for the University of Vienna, “Philosophy” is exhibited unfinished at the Paris World Fair and wins the Grand Prix. He paints the portrait of Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann.

1901 Klimt paints “Medicine” and “Judith and Holofernes”

1902 In the Secession Building, the statue of Max Klinger, “Beethoven”, is accompanied by Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze”. He also paints the portrait of Emilie Flöge in a dress that she designed.

1903 Klimt travels to Ravenna and Florence and paints “Jurisprudence”.

1904 Klimt paints “Water Snakes” and is commissioned to paint the series of mosaic murals (1905-1909) for the Palais Stoclet, an opulent private mansion in Brussels.

1905 Several artists and Klimt himself resign from Secession and form a new association called “Kunstschau” (Art Show). The artist paints “The three ages of Woman”.

1907 The works “Danae”, a very erotic work depicting the conception of Perseus by Zeus, and “Adele Bloch-Bauer” are painted.

1908 Klimt paints “The Kiss”, in which Gustav Klimt celebrates the attraction of the sexes. Enjoy this blog which celebrates the Kiss and its influences.

1909 Klimt paints “Judith II” and “Hope” in which he juxtaposes the promise of new life with the destroying force of death.

1911 Klimt travels to Rome and Florence, paints “Death and Life”.

1913 Klimt paints “The Virgin”.

1914 Klimt paints “Elisabeth Bachofen-Echt”.

1917 Klimt paints “Baby” (unfinished). Paints “Schönbrunn Landscape” among other landscape scenes.

1918 On January 11th, Klimt suffers a stroke in his apartment and dies on February 6th from pneumonia.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jackson Pollock - American master!

PRLog (Press Release)Oct 12, 2009 – Pollock, Jackson, 1912–56, American painter, b. Cody, Wyo. He studied (1929–31) in New York City, mainly under Thomas Hart Benton, but he was more strongly influenced by A. P. Ryder and the Mexican muralists, especially Siqueiros. From 1938 to 1942, Pollock worked on the Federal Art Project in New York City. Affected by surrealism and also by Picasso, he moved toward a highly abstract art in order to express, rather than illustrate, feeling. His experimentations led to the development of his famous “drip” technique, in which he energetically drew or “dripped” complicated linear rhythms onto enormous canvases, which were often placed flat on the floor. He sometimes applied paint directly from the tube, and at times also used aluminum paint to achieve a glittery effect. His vigorous attack on the canvas and intense devotion to the very act of painting led to the term “action painting.” Pollock had become a symbol of the new artistic revolt, abstract expressionism, by the time he was killed in an automobile accident. His paintings are in many major collections, including museums in New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, and Chicago. Pollock was married to the painter Lee Krasner.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vermeer painting coming to the New York Met Museum

On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s historic voyage to Manhattan from Amsterdam, that city’s Rijksmuseum will send The Milkmaid, perhaps the most admired painting by Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), to the Metropolitan Museum. To celebrate this extraordinary loan, the Metropolitan Museum will present Vermeer’s Masterpiece The Milkmaid, a special exhibition that will bring together all five paintings by Vermeer from its collection, along with a select group of works by other Dutch artists, placing Vermeer’s superb picture in its historical context. Along with The Milkmaid, important works by Pieter de Hooch, Gabriël Metsu, Nicolaes Maes, Emanuel de Witte, and Gerard ter Borch will be on view. All were masters who, like Vermeer, were active during the remarkable period of exploration, trade, and artistic flowering that occurred during the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century. Vermeer’s Masterpiece The Milkmaid will mark the first time that the painting has traveled to the United States since it was exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vermeer, Jan 1632–75, Dutch genre and landscape painter.

Vermeer, Jan 1632–75, Dutch genre and landscape painter. He was born in Delft, where he spent his entire life. He was also known as Vermeer of Delft and as Jan or Johannes van der Meer. Carel Fabritius is presumed to have influenced him greatly. In 1653 he was admitted to the painters' guild, of which he was twice made dean. He enjoyed only slight recognition during his short life, and his work was forgotten or confused with that of others during the following century. Today he is ranked among the greatest Dutch masters and considered one of the foremost of all colorists. His most frequent subjects were intimate interiors, often with the solitary figure of a woman. Although his paintings are modest in theme, they exhibit a profound serenity and a splendor of execution that are unsurpassed. No painter has depicted more exquisitely luminous blues and yellows, pearly highlights, and the subtle gradations of reflected light, all perfectly integrated within strictly ordered compositions. Vermeer apparently produced only one or two pictures a year during his period of greatest activity. His career is a mystery to art historians because, although his work was of the finest quality, his output was too small to have been the sole support of his family of 11 children. Only about 35 paintings can be attributed to him with any certainty. Among them are The Milkmaid and The Letter (Rijks Mus.); The Procuress (Dresden); The Art of Painting (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna); View of Delft (The Hague); Soldier and Laughing Girl (Frick Coll., New York City); Girl Asleep and Young Woman with a Water Jug (Metropolitan Mus.); Woman Weighing Gold and Young Girl with a Flute (National Gall., Washington, D.C.); and The Concert (Gardner Mus., Boston). Forgeries of Vermeer's work have been frequent, Hans van Meegeren's being the most successful (see forgery, in art).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Expressionism in Art

Expressionism developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Expressionis was opposed to academic standards that had prevailed in Europe and emphasized artist's subjective emotion, which overrides fidelity to the actual appearance of things. The subjects of expressionist works were frequently distorted, or otherwise altered. Landmarks of this movement were violent colors and exaggerated lines that helped contain intense emotional expression. Application of formal elements is vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic. Expressionist were trying to pinpoint the expression of inner experience rather than solely realistic portrayal, seeking to depict not objective reality but the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in them. The expressionistic tradition was significantly, rose to the emergence with a series of paintings of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh from the last year and a half of his life. There was recorded his heightened emotional state. One of the earliest and most famous examples of Expressionism is Gogh's "The Starry Night." Whatever was cause, it cannot be denied that a great many artists of this period assumed that the chief function of art was to express their intense feelings to the world. The Belgian painter and printmaker James Ensor was such an artist - with his sense of isolation. The Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch dealt - with different fears. The Vienesse painters Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele first started with their expressionistic styles within Klimt's circle of the Vienna Secession. Vienesse Expressionism later gained significance between years 1905 and 1918 during a politically and culturally turbulent era of revelation of the profoundly problematic conditions of the turn-of-the-century Europe. In the years just around 1910 the expressionistic approach pioneered by Ensor, Munch, and van Gogh, in particular, was developed in the work of three artists' groups: the Fauves, Die Brucke, Der Blaue Reiter.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Whistler, James (Abbott) McNeill

Whistler, James (Abbott) McNeill
(b Lowell, MA, 11 July 1834; d London, 17 July 1903). American painter, printmaker, designer and collector, active in England and France. He developed from the Realism of Courbet and Manet to become, in the 1860s, one of the leading members of the AESTHETIC MOVEMENT and an important exponent of JAPONISME. From the 1860s he increasingly adopted non-specific and often musical titles for his work, which emphasized his interest in the manipulation of colour and mood for their own sake rather than for the conventional depiction of subject. He acted as an important link between the avant-garde artistic worlds of Europe, Britain and the USA and has always been acknowledged as one of the masters of etching.