Sunday, November 23, 2014

Georgia O'Keefe's Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1

They’ve been celebrating at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum here in Santa Fe for the past couple of days!  

The 17-year-old museum decided to sell three paintings from its collection of 1,149 works by G.O’K. The museum holds half the artist’s lifetime output.  But, because “there are gaps that need to be filled,” in September the decision was made to sell three pieces to benefit the Acquisitions Fund. 

One of the three, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, is one of the most well-known examples of O’Keeffe’s celebrated flower paintings, which are among the most recognizable images in art history and popular culture. 

Here’s a video clip produced by Sotheby's that expresses G.O’K.s  feelings about Jimson Weed

Here's why they're celebrating: the work was expected to sell for an estimated $10/15MM. In the end, it sold on Thursday for $44.4 million! The buyer’s identity is unknown, but the auction opened with seven bidders vying for the work before settling into a lengthy two-way battle, with the winning bid made on the phone. 

Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 was owned originally by the artist’s sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young, whose estate was sold at Sotheby’s in 1987. At that time the painting sold for $990,000. In 1994 it was sold again into a private collection for $1MM. It was donated to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum by The Burnett Foundation in 1996. It spent 6 years on the dining room wall in the Bush White House and has been featured in nearly every major O’Keefe retrospective, including those at MOMA in New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

I wonder how long it will be before the buyer's identity is revealed.

“When Georgia O’Keeffe paints flowers, she does not paint fifty flowers stuffed into a dish. On most of her canvases there appeared one gigantic bloom, its huge feathery petals furled into some astonishing pattern of color and shade and line…It is enough to say that Miss O’Keeffe’s paintings are as full of passion as the verses of Solomon’s Song.”   Time, 1928

Monday, November 17, 2014

Trevi Fountain "In Restauro"

It’s inevitable that  something you really want to see when visiting Italy will be “in restauro”, rendered inaccessible or blocked from view by scaffolding and protective fencing. I’ve been thwarted many times when trying to research or photograph monuments and artworks for Jane's Smart Art Guides, being barred entrance to chapels and once even an entire building (the Borghese Gallery), unable to take photographs of fountains, and finding frescoes behind great sheets of canvas. 

So -- other than the coincidence of timing – it came as no surprise to learn, the day after launching the Jane's Smart Art Guides audio guide to the Fountains of Rome, Part 1: Acqua Vergine, that the principal fountain -  the Trevi Fountain – is “in restauro”!  If I actually lived in Rome, instead of just dreaming of living there, I would have known! 

One night in June of 2012, chunks of stone and stucco fell from a cornice on the left hand side of the Trevi Fountain.  It is thought that the monument was weakened by the snow and the unusually cold spell that Rome experienced the preceding winter, and by the particularly rainy spring that followed. Of course, ice would have worsened any cracks and fractures that were already present in the structure.

"We intervened on Saturday evening, as soon as we knew about the damage," said Rome's superintendent of heritage, Umberto Broccoli. Immediately part of the fountain was fenced off and workers used a mobile crane to assess the damage. During this assessment, additional pieces of the cornice were removed because they appeared to be on the verge of collapse. The city undertook emergency work at a cost of  €320,000.

Fast forward two years (and in Italy, a mere two years really is fast forward!) … contractors have been hired, the water’s been turned off and the fountain drained. Happily, the protective barrier that’s been set up around the perimeter is transparent, and a footbridge over the basin has been installed to allows visitors to see the work and get closer to the structure. Apparently the entire restoration will be conducted in public view.

Actually, I wish I could be there to see it this way … a unique opportunity to get really close to the fountain, to see it from a totally different perspective. What a great way to fully understand the scale of this monument!  I remember being quite thrilled by how close we were able to get to Michelangelo’s Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli while it was being restored. The elevated walkway took us right past Moses at eye level … closer than I will ever be again.

In addition to restoring the façade that forms the backdrop against the south wall of the Palazzo Poli, the sculptural elements will be cleaned and new pumps, artistic lighting, and barriers to deter pigeons will be installed. The last major restoration was in 1990, but new techniques will make this the most thorough in the fountain's history.

They say that the work will be completed in about a year and a half. "We hope to restore this treasured landmark to the city in the autumn of 2015,” Ignazio Marino, the Mayor of Rome said.  But I think that may have been back in April when the work was supposed to start!  Oh, me of little faith … but I don’t think we should get our hearts set on seeing the work completed before some time in 2016!  Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong. 
If you know how cash-strapped Italy’s cultural heritage authorities are, you might well ask, “Where’d they find the funds?”  In the past few years, Italy has more and more been looking to private sponsors to help repair long-neglected monuments and archaeological sites. Dependence on private industry to pay for needed restoration has become the norm. 

Entitled Fendi for Fountains, in addition to sponsoring the restoration of the Trevi Fountain, this initiative also includes the restoration of the Quattro Fontane -- four fountains that face each other on the corners of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale. (These fountains, dating to 1590, will be included in my Fountains of Rome, Part 2: Acqua Felice audio guide.) This is a busy intersection, and the fountains have been dirtied over the years by the emissions of the thousands of cars that pass by every day. Conservation work on the Four Fountains has also begun. New hydraulics and lighting will be installed. The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2015.

The work on the Trevi and Quattro Fontane is the latest in a series of privately-funded restorations of Italy's prized landmarks.  The Colosseum (Tod's), the Spanish Steps (Bulgari), the Rialto Bridge in Venice (Diesel Jeans), are some of the important historic monuments currently being worked on. In addition, Finmeccanica, a Defense group, has pledged staff and technology worth up to €2 million to a project to prop up the crumbling town of Pompeii.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Adam After The Fall, Nov 11

If the pedestal supporting a priceless 15th century marble sculpture collapses, and nobody hears the statue smash on the hard marble floor, did it actually break into 28 large pieces and hundreds of small fragments?  Unfortunately, yes

A security guard doing his normal rounds at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday, October 6th, 2002 was first to come upon the shockingly unexpected scene at around 9:00 PM.

Sometime that evening the plywood pedestal supporting Tullio Lombardo’s 15th century marble statue of Adam collapsed, dropping all 770 pounds of the 6’3” figure to the ground.  Adam was decapitated, the torso flung across the floor, the left arm broken into seven pieces, the right leg into six. 

Until that moment, the smooth unblemished surface of the carving had been one of Adam‘s most illustrious features.  

Originally commissioned for the tomb of the Doge Andrea Vendramin (d. 1478) in the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Venice, Lombardo’s Adam was placed in a niche next to the sarcophagus of the Doge in the center of the monument. A statue of Eve, attributed Francesco Segala, stood in the balancing niche on the other side. 

When the church of the Servi was demolished by Napoleon in 1812, the Vendramin tomb was moved to the choir of the church of Saints Giovanni e Paolo, but without Adam and Eve. In keeping with the times, the classical nudes were deemed indiscreet, and they were replaced by two warrior figures. 

Adam and Eve were moved to the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi where Eve remains to this day.  But in 1865 Adam was sold at auction in Paris, and eventually made it’s way into the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, in 1936.  The acquisition was a triumph: Adam is widely considered to be the most important Italian Renaissance sculpture in North America.

Not just “another Renaissance sculpture”, Tullio’s Adam was recognized not only as the first classically-inspired monumental nude carved since antiquity, but as a masterpiece in its own right. 

But according to the fascinating entry on The History Blog, the conservators subsequently decided “to take a far more meticulous approach, studying every aspect of the reconstruction in detail before drilling holes in it and piecing it together with adhesives and pins. Instead of two years it took 12, but they were 12 years well spent”. 

On November 11th, Adam is going back on display at the Met, and the story of the restoration is part of the exhibition. The statue, originally intended for a niche and therefore less worked in the back than in the front, will now be viewed in the round so people can see it the same way the conservators did. The Met has made some videos explaining the epic 12-year conservation project …. and you can preview them now . They are fascinating.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Sanford Robinson Gifford's Luminous Landscapes

Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma – Puget Sound, 1875

Oil on Canvas
Sanford Robinson Gifford, American, 1823-1880

Our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest of course included a visit to the Seattle Art Museum where I was happy to see this landscape by one of my favorite 19th-century American landscape artists, Sanford Robinson Gifford.  
The label adjacent to the picture says this: 

In the summer of 1874 … Gifford travelled the length of Puget Sound and was able to see the great domes of the Cascades.  The appearance of the ethereal-seeming, majestic Mt Rainier on an August afternoon clearly enchanted him.  He thrilled to the particular spirit of this place of grand volcanic peaks and ancient peoples, where, at times, when the skies clear and Rainier emerges out of the mist, we are granted the privelege of glimpsing what seems the heavenly home of the gods.

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823 – 1880) was an American landscape painter and one of the leading members of the Hudson River School. Gifford's landscapes are known for their emphasis on light and soft atmospheric effects, and he is regarded as a practitioner of Luminism, an offshoot style of the Hudson River School. It’s his luminist paintings that I really love. 

Just look at the light on his Clay Bluffs On No Man's Land (1877) and the gleam on the water in Sunset, Bay of New York (1878). 

Gifford grew up in Hudson, New York, the son of an iron foundry owner. He attended Brown University briefly but dropped out to study art in New York City in the mid-1840s. He exhibited his first landscape at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1847, was elected an associate in 1851, and an academician in 1854. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he joined the Union Army and served as a corporal in the Seventh Regiment.

Like most Hudson River School artists, Gifford traveled extensively to find scenic landscapes to sketch and paint. In addition to exploring New England and upstate New York, Gifford travelled abroad. His first trip to Europe (1855-57) to study European art and sketch subjects for future paintings lasted more than two years.  Another venture abroad took him across Europe in 1868 and then to the Middle East, including Egypt, in 1869. 

In the summer of the following year, Gifford journeyed to the Rocky Mountains in the western United States, at which time he produced the sketch of Mt. Rainier that resulted in the painting that now hangs in the Seattle Art Gallery. Like most of the Hudson River School artists, Gifford would first sketch rough, small works in oil paint from his sketchbook pencil drawings. Those scenes he most favored he then developed into small finished paintings, then into larger finished paintings.

Gifford referred to the best of his landscapes as his "chief pictures". Many of his chief pictures are characterized by a hazy atmosphere with soft, suffused sunlight. Mount Rainier, Bay of Tacoma – Puget Sound demonstrates this luminosity, as well as one of Gifford’s favorite compositional arrangements, wherein in the foreground he painted a body of water, in which the distant landscape is gently reflected.

On August 29, 1880, Gifford died in New York City of what is thought to have been malaria . In a testament to his stature, that autumn the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City celebrated his life with a memorial exhibition of 160 paintings. A catalog of his work published shortly after his death recorded in excess of 700 paintings produced during his career. At his death. His paintings were selling for about $300, give or take.  Recently, on Antiques Road Show, a small Gifford oil on canvas was valued at $300,000.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Can Tradition Survive the 21st Century?

Every time I’ve seen Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, I – like many viewers -- have been struck by the seemingly excessive foreshortening of the body and the over-large size of Christ’s head.  

Initially I managed “forgive” these “flaws” on the basis that it was painted in early days of perspective, and that there is so much else to admire about the picture. Then I read that Mantegna’s intent was to cast me, the viewer, in the role of a fourth mourner, kneeling beside the catafalque. That’s when I realized it was my understanding that was flawed, not Mantegna’s perspective!

This idea would suggest that the painting – which has long hung at the traditional level in the Brera Art Gallery, in Milan, – might be raised to a higher-than-normal position, to bring the viewer’s eye to just above the edge of the bier.

And indeed, last December, the Brera did rehang the piece. But their attempt to explain the unusual composition placed this iconic painting below standing eye level. This viewpoint was based on the assumption that Mantegna himself kept the canvas hung low so as to kneel before it in prayer.

And they didn’t stop there. They commissioned movie-maker Ermanno Olmi to design the new installation. 
Oh my!  What a furor this has created!   

ArtWatch UK writes: “The Dead Christ is now housed in a special crypt-like dark room, stripped of its historic frame and visually isolated by spot-lighting, as if now embedded into a monolithic black wall – and at a height of only 67 cm from the ground”.  
Quoted by ArtWatch UK, Michel Favre-Felix president of ARIPA (Association Internationale pour le Respect de l’Intégrité du Patrimoine Artistique) said this, “...the painting is now dematerialized and degraded to a projected image. This new projected-slide effect of the Dead Christ offends art historian Philippe Daverio who complains of a present resemblance to the reddish glow of a Pizza furnace. Personally, I am even more struck by the similarity with a movie screen. Could it be that M. Olmi does not realize that he is here replicating the very situation, so familiar to him, of a cinema showing in the dark? Should a row of cinema chairs be put in the present gallery, the seated spectators would be at the perfect height for looking at his Dead Christ film.”

I haven’t personally seen the installation, so I won’t express an opinion about it. But it does occur to me that, 500+ years later, it's difficult for most of us to understand the true spiritual and emotional meaning this image held for Mantegna and his contemporaries. In fact, it’s commonly believed that the work was created just after the death of the artist’s sons in the mid-1480s, which would have added a personal layer of  pathos to the image.  Perhaps, then, an “overly-dramatic” presentation is in order -- to stop us in our tracks and focus our attention on the Lamentation Over the Dead Christ.

Is this dramatic installation the most effective? Certainly there are many who don’t think so. And apparently others who do!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Context is the Lifeblood of Art Appreciation

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just announced their purchase of Charles Le Brun’s monumental portrait of Everhard Jabach and hisfamily. 

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Met said: “This magnificent canvas by the leading painter of King Louis XIV is a landmark in the history of French portraiture. It depicts the family of a major figure in the world of finance and one of the most important collectors in 17th-century Europe.” 

Anyone who knows me knows that I think context is the lifeblood of art appreciation.  And happily, development of context is a big part of the art historian’s métier, so we have terrific resources like the Metropolitan Museum website that allow us to delve into the history that engendered the art we see on their walls.

I look at this picture and wonder "Who was Everhard Jabach?"  He’s such an obscure figure today that he doesn’t even warrant a Wikipedia entry! But clearly he was somebody important … to have been the subject of this magnificent canvas (92” × 128”), painted by Charles LeBrun, court painter to King Louis XIV.   Actually, he was a tremendously wealthy 17thC German banker (1618–1695) whose collection of paintings and drawings was sold to the French crown to form the core of the collection of the Louvre.

Wait. …  I thought I’d heard that this painting was destroyed in Berlin in WWII?  Ahh … it turns out there were two versions. This one entered a British country house in 1832 where it quietly remained under the radar until it was put up for sale last year. Notice near the top of the canvas the line of damage that runs across its full width. Apparently, the top portion if the canvas was folded over to reduce the height of the huge picture and it was reframed to fit on a particular wall in its new Kentish home.  

Close examination of the picture shows some pentimenti indicating that it was, in fact, the original of the two versions ... which makes it the more important of the two.  

And, speaking of importance, who is the personnage whose portrait is so prominently placed behind, to Jabach’s right ?  Wait … that’s not a painting within the painting, that’s a mirror, reflecting the painter, Charles Le Brun (French, 1619–1690), sized only slightly smaller than his subjects.  

Of course, a big part of the joy for the viewer is in piecing together the narrative. I love interpreting what the eyes and gestures tell us, and here Le Brun has, in this one static moment, captured the family dynamic amidst the sumptuous setting: Jabach senior expounds upon the artifacts that illustrate his intellectual and cultural interests. His eldest son hangs adoringly on his every word, while his wife stoically – yet again -- bears the pedantic monolog. I sense Everhard does go on a bit! The always-helpful younger daughter tries to gain the attention of her baby brother whose curiosity is engaged outside with something beyond the frame. And the manipulative adolescent daughter makes provocative eye contact with the viewer, while the greyhound at her feet seems to be intensely willing her attention to return into the family portrait.

My appreciation of this painting started with what I saw when I took the time to look at the details -- or thought I saw, to my own personal satisfaction. Then my appreciation grew as I looked further, away from the canvas and into the writings of the art researchers who’ve studied this piece and the artist and the subject and the history that engendered it.   That is how Charles Le Brun’s monumental portrait of Everhard Jabach and his family moved from being just another 17th century portrait of  a wealthy man and his possessions to a picture with meaning. I begin to understand why Thomas P. Campbell believes that the acquisition of this painting “transforms the Museum’s European paintings collection by adding a defining work both in the history of art and in cultural and political history.” 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Confusion About Contemporary Art

It’s not always easy to recognize a work of contemporary art.

A few years ago I visited the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami. There was a very cool minimalist art installation set behind “Caution” tape, to one side of a large hall: a step ladder, bucket and mop, a neatly folded tarp and paint can and brushes. Of course, it turned out to be an actual work project!  

A couple of weeks ago this pen and ink drawing, "Snowy Mountain" by contemporary Chinese artist Cui Ruzhuo, was tossed in the trash. It had just sold for almost US $ 4MM. Security footage showed a guard kicking the work into a pile of garbage which janitors then hauled away. Last I heard, the landfill was being searched.

Earlier this year, a cleaning woman at an exhibition in Bari, Italy, mistook parts of an art installation for garbage and threw them away.

In 2001, a Damien Hirst installation in a London gallery was cleaned up by a janitor; it featured ashtrays, empty coffee cups and other detritus. Hirst had set it out earlier that evening during the launch party of his latest exhibition.  The befuddled cleaner said: "As soon as I clapped eyes on it I sighed because there was so much mess. I didn't think for a second that it was a work of art - it didn't look much like art to me. So I cleared it all into bin-bags and dumped it."

If it needs a sign explaining that it’s art … is it art?  Just because a famous artist had a hand in its creation … is it art?  If one person says it’s art … does that make it art?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monet to Rousseau Landscapes

In Philadelphia, 
Tuesday April 8th, 4-5:30pm
at The Barnes Foundation


La Plaine de Bellevue

For centuries, the landscape has been a muse for artists. From real locations to imagined scenes, learn how legendary artists like Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, and Rousseau have captured the beauty, mystery, and experience of nature. Voted Best of Philly by Philadelphia Magazine, this 90-minute tour offers an intimate Barnes experience on a day they’re closed to the public.   

check webite for price of tour

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recognizing St. Christopher

The point of iconography is to identify biblical and legendary characters in art. But for those of us who didn't a have a parochial education, raised with exposure to the stories of the saints, the age-old attributes of many biblical figures that we see in painting aren’t always all that helpful.

There are some telltale attributes that are always easy for me to recognize, like St. Peter with his key, St Paul with the sword of his martyrdom, St Catherine of Alexandria with a spiked wheel … but since I didn't grow up learning about the saints and their martyrdoms, there are very many that aren’t lodged in my long-term memory. I depend on my FlammarionIcnographic Guide to the Bible and the Saints.  

As the patron saint of travellers, St Christopher is perhaps one of the most widely-recognized:  identified in art as an outsized man carrying an small child on his shoulder. The iconography stems from the legend, popularized in the 13th century, in which a Canaanite named Reprobus, who was 5 cubits (7.5 feet) tall, decided to seek out and serve "the greatest king there was".  After attaching to two or three kings who proved themselves to not be the greatest, Reprobus met a hermit who instructed him in the Christian faith and suggested that because of his size and strength he could serve Christ by assisting people to cross a dangerous river. 

Soon after Reprobus began providing this service, a small child asked him to carry him across the river. During the crossing, the river became swollen and the child became increasingly heavy, so much that Christopher could scarcely carry him. When he finally reached the other side, he said to the child: "You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied: "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work." The child then vanished.  

The legend tells us that henceforth Reprobus was known as Christopher, meaning "Christ-bearer".  Wikipedia has an interesting entry about the historical figure – a soldier in a Roman military cohort in Northern Africa who may have been merged into this legend.

Today I came across a figure identified as St. Christopher … dressed as a Roman soldier with the head of a dog atop his neck … with no sign of a river and no child perched on his shoulder. Misattribution was unlikely: painted on the panel adjacent to the figure’s halo, clear as day (?!), it says Ἅγιος Χριστόφορος, Greek for St. Christopher.  

Uh oh. My RC-centric Flammarion Guide says nothing about a dog-headed (cynocephalic) Christopher. 

But a little delving led me to the website of the Museum of Russian Iconography in Clinton MA. The museum has recently acquired this miniature icon depicting St. Christopher with a dog's head, wearing gilded armor and a red cape. Scholars believe that the Latin words for Canaanite (Cananeus) and "dog-like" (canineus) may have been confused in early translations, making St Christopher a fearsome warrior for the Christian faith. While the dog-headed legionnaire iconography became standard in the art of the Eastern Orthodox church, it never took hold in the Roman Catholic west, replaced by the Christ-bearer image. 

To the right is an extremely rare icon in which East meets West, showing a dog-headed St. Christopher bearing Christ on his shoulder. 

Incidentally, in the museum's miniature icon (shown above), the figure with the cynocephalic Christopher is identified as St. Stephen. Stephen was a deacon who was expelled from town and stoned to death. Here is wears his usual dalmatic and stole, but the expected stones of his martyrdom are missing. In their stead he holds a censer and a model of a fortified town ... unusual attributes in my experience.  More delving required ...! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Alert: Winged Victory Under Restoration

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is undergoing restoration at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The current word is that it will be unveiled sometime this summer.

The Winged Victory is a phenomenon of Hellenistic sculpture. The statue of a winged female figure—the messenger goddess Victory (Nike in Greek)—stands atop a base shaped like the prow of a ship. The monument measures just over 18 feet 3 in in height.

The monument was sculpted in the 2nd century BC in white Paros marble. It was created as an offering in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the island of Samothrace following a naval battle. Spreading her tremendous wings, the goddess announces the victory. The figure wears a sheer chiton and a cloak that swirls and falls in deep folds. The massive base and pedestal are sculpted from grey white-veined marble from the quarries of the island of Rhodes, a darker color that contrasts with the white marble of the statue. The incredible ingenuity in the construction of this masterpiece shows the artist to be of extraordinary talent.

The Victory was discovered in April 1863 by the French consul and amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau, who sent it to Paris in the same year. The monumental yet airy Daru staircase was built to link the Denon and Sully wings of the Louvre, and in 1884 the Winged Victory was positioned at the top landing and unveiled to the public.

For anyone interested in the process of restoring such an important antiquity, there is an interesting explanatory slideshow on the museum website.   The staircase will be under renovation until Spring of 2015.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three Historic House Art Museums

In Chicago
The Driehaus Museum  
Housed in a grand residential building of 19th-century Chicago which was the Gilded Age home of banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson. The galleries feature surviving furnishings paired with elegant, historically-appropriate pieces from the Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts, including important works by such celebrated designers as Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany. 

Through June 29, 2014

  Louis Comfort Tiffany worked in nearly all media available to artists and designers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — glass, ceramic, metalwork, jewelry, and painting.  More than 60 objects are on view.

In Glens Falls, NY  
Historic Hyde House
Housed in an American Renaissance mansion built in 1912.  The collection includes Rembrandt, Rubens, Picasso, Renoir, and Hassam. 
Through May 11, 2014 

A selection of approximately twenty winter landscape paintings, including the work of Aldro Thompson Hibbard, Hobart Nichols, Ernest Lawson, Arthur James Emery Powell, Arthur Clifton Goodwin, and Walter Koeniger. In the early twentieth century, winter scenes emerged as a major genre for American landscape painters as artists sought to express the special quality of a local place through the luminescent effects of bright, winter light and its reflective colors.

Arthur James Emery Powell 
(American, 1864-1956)
Winter Landscape, ca. 1930, 
oil on canvas, 20 1/4 x 24 1/4 in

Through April 20, 2014 

Forty early works by legendary master of American landscape photography, Ansel Adams, will offer a fresh look at key images by the artist from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Also, original masterworks from an international circle of painterly photographers know as the Photo-Secession. In the first years of the 1900s, the artists broke away from the mainstream use of the camera as a tool for mechanical reproduction and embraced a new style that emphasized the role of craftsmanship.

In Rockland, ME 
Farnsworth Art Museum

The museum has 20,000 square feet of gallery space and more than 10,000 works in the collection. One of  the nation's largest collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson. Its Wyeth Center features works of Andrew, N.C. and Jamie Wyeth.
Through April 27, 2014

As 19th century artists drew creative inspiration from the environment, melding of the real with the ideal, these works offer us a view of the compositional and conceptual ideas of the time.  .

 E Josselyn 
Untitled Winter Scene, 1885 
Oil on canvas 25 3/8" x 33 1/2"

Through December 31, 2014

From the holdings of the Farnsworth Art Museum, the exhibit presents the nude, as it explores the ideal of beauty.  From the fluid, classical sensuality of John Adams Jackson’s Eve to the soft intimacy of George Bellows Girl on a Flowered Cushion, to the austere aggressiveness of Leonard Baskin’s Apollo, to the overt sensuality of Emil Ganso’s Lingerie, to Neil Welliver’s whimsical Floating Women.


Emil Ganso 
American, b.1895, d.1941) 
Lingerie, 1932 Color 
lithograph 16 x 21 1-2" 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Temporary Art Exhibits In Cincinnati

At the Cincinnati Art Museum
through May 11, 2014

More than seventy master drawings by a group of artists known as “The Generation of 1700.” This group of artists born in or around the year 1700, includes François Boucher, Charles-Joseph Natoire, and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. Their work epitomizes the French grand manner: from Boucher’s sumptuous reclining female nude, to a rare, early pastel by Chardin, to a mature self portrait by theDirector of the French Academy, Charles Coypel. 

François Boucher (1703–1770), Recumbent Female Nude, circa 1742–43, red chalk, heightened with white chalk, The Horvitz Collection, Boston

At the Taft Museum of Art

A selection of exquisitely embellished robes, accessories, and textiles from the Qing dynasty. These rarely seen items include imperial silk robes, hats, fans, sleeve bands, rank badges, jewelry, shoes, and wall hangings. The exhibition will provide an enriched context for the Taft’s porcelains, which share a number of decorative motifs and symbols with the visiting objects.

Imperial Manchu Man’s Semiformal Court Robe with Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty, China, 1850–1875, woven silk and metal thread tapestry. Denver Art Museum Neusteter Textile Collection

Also at the Taft Museum of Art 
through June 22, 2014

A group of diminutive oils featuring landscape, portrait, and figure paintings by 18th- and 19th-century artists from the United States, France, and Holland.

Frank Duveneck, An Italian Woman, about 1880, oil on panel.
Taft Museum of Art, 

New Look, New Directions

I've been blogging about art-related things that interest me for seven and a half years! Haven't always posted regularly, by any means ... this is only my 120th entry.   The will to post seems to come over me in random spurts.  I'm in a spurt right now.

Browsing around blogspot I've found that there are a lot of features they didn't offer when I got started in 2006. And I've learned that my old template is no longer supported ... which may explain why I have been having so much trouble getting spacing and font-size selections to stick!

So ... a new look and an new feature: Now you can follow my blog by entering your email so new posts will automatically appear in your inbox.

I've also recently started posting information about special temporary exhibits that are on display in museums around the US and abroad. If you're looking for a weekend get-away, this could give you ideas!

I'd love it if you would sign up to follow my blog!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Notable Contemporary Art Exhibits: East,West and Mid U.S.

New York City
 through June 8th
Focuses on Paul Gauguin’s rare prints and transfer drawings, and their relationship to his better-known paintings and sculptures in wood and ceramic. Approximately 150 works, including some 120 works on paper and a selection of some 30 related paintings and sculptures, it is the first exhibition to take an in-depth look at this overall body of work.
Created in several discreet bursts of activity from 1889 until his death in 1903, these remarkable works on paper reflect Gauguin’s experiments with a range of media, from radically “primitive” woodcuts to jewel-like watercolor monotypes and large, mysterious transfer drawings. Gauguin’s creative process often involved repeating and recombining key motifs from one image to another, allowing them to evolve and metamorphose over time and across media.

Also at MOMA 
through June 1, 2014
Celebrates the recent joint acquisition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s extensive archive by MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. Through an initial selection of drawings, films, and large-scale architectural models, the exhibition examines the tension in Wright’s thinking about the growing American city in the 1920s and 1930s, when he worked simultaneously on radical new forms for the skyscraper and on a comprehensive plan for the urbanization of the American landscape titled “Broadacre City.”   
Highlighting Wright’s complex relationship to the city, the material reveals him to have been a compelling theorist of both its horizontal and vertical aspects. His work, in this way, is not only of historic importance but of remarkable relevance to current debates on urban concentration.

Los Angeles
At The Hammer Museum  
through May 18, 2014
Approximately 100 works, including prints as well as rare books and ephemera (such as menus, theater programs, and music scores). This array of objects gives the exhibition an intimate quality, revealing much about how women – and men – lived their lives during a time of great social upheaval and artistic innovation. 
Whether as angelic creatures or exotic lures, women filled the imaginations of artists and were a frequent subject of fin-de-siècle art. Those who had leisure time were depicted relaxing with an afternoon cup of tea, as seen in a Mary Cassatt etching, whereas other artists portrayed the drug addiction common to women facing harsh economic realities.

Also at The Hammer Museum  
through May 18, 2014
Focuses on the intersection of two important genres of contemporary art: appropriation (taking and recasting existing images, forms, and styles from mass-media and fine art sources) and institutional critique (scrutinizing and confronting the structures and practices of our social, cultural, and political institutions). The exhibition brings together works by thirty-six American artists who came to prominence between the late 1970s and the early 1990s. 
The majority of the works on view are from the 1980s and 1990s, a groundbreaking period that was shaped by the feminist and civil rights movements of the previous decades. Conscious of the profound impact on society of mass media such as television, newspapers, and film, artists examined critical questions of identity and representation via politically and socially engaged practices.

San Francisco
NEWS:  the SFMOMA building is closed for expansion through early 2016. But in the interim, you can experience SFMOMA's exhibitions and events at locations around the Bay Area. Check the website for info. 

At the Museum of Contemporary Art through Jun 15, 2014
 The 1960s were important years for artists and friends Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) and Marisol (Marisol Escobar, American, b. France, 1930), and marked a formative period in the development of their individual careers. Warhol began using his celebrated silk screen techniques to produce serial paintings, often based on mass media images. Marisol made the first of many portraits and developed her signature style, wooden sculptures with flat painted surfaces and additional elements such as everyday objects or plaster castings. Both were prominent figures in New York City’s lively art scene during this time.
Inspired by the multifaceted relationship of these two artists, the show presents a focused selection of their works, side-by-side.

Also at the Museum of Contemporary Art 
through Aug 17, 2014
MCA DNA: AlexanderCalder 
Traces the development of the artist’s ideas over a fifty-year career, in particular, his exploration of how art can move in response to its physical environment. The exhibition presents examples of Alexander Calder’s (American, 1898–1976), mobiles, stabiles, and works on paper dating from the 1920s to the 1970s—a selection of the museum’s in-depth holdings of the seminal artist’s work.
Trained as an engineer, Calder applied his knowledge of mechanics to colorful abstract shapes. Activated by air currents, his dynamic mobiles are ever-changing compositions. Marcel Duchamp invented the word mobile to describe Calder’s revolutionary work.


At the Walker Art Center 
through June 20, 2014
The first major museum exhibition to focus on the drawings and creative process of Edward Hopper (1882–1967), surveys his significant and underappreciated achievements as a draftsman. More than anything else, Hopper’s drawings reveal the continually evolving relationship between observation and invention in the artist’s work. Includes pairings of many of his greatest oil paintings with their preparatory drawings and related works.