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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jacques Villon

Happy Birthday Jacques Villon!! (aka Gaston Duchamp) Born in France in 1875, Jacques Villon, brother of Marcel Duchamp (see my blog for July 28), was a painter. Actually, 3 of his siblings were artists,
Marcel, Raymond and sister Suzanne. He began his career in art studying engraving with his grandfather, Emile Nicolle, an amateur artist. His name "Villon" was taken as a tribute to French poet Francois Villon. His posters definitely show the influence of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. After working as an illustrator and caracturist for a time, he began painting, and became a member of the artistic group Section d'Or along with his brother Marcel and others. Although know as a Cubist painter, his work also has connections with Impressionism and Futurism. The poster below, in the Art Nouveau tradition,  is called Le Grillon (The Cricket), American Bar, and said to be the most famus as well as the most rare of his lithographs.

Section d'Or a group of French artists influenced by Cubism.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Giorgio Vasari

Happy Birthday Giorgio Vasari!! The Italian art historian was born in 1511, in Arezzo, Tuscany, trained in Florence and worshipped Michelangelo. Although he was also a painter and architect, Vasari's real expertise was his ability to explain how art history evolved. His book Le Vite de'piu eccellenti Architetti, Pittori, et Scultori Italiani (1550) or Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, is considered by some to be the most important book written on the history of art.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Eastman Johnson

Happy Birthday Eastman Johnson!! Co-founder of the Metropolitan Art Museum, Johnson was born in  Lovell, Maine, in 1824. He was a famed portrait painter of various well known public figures. In 1840 he was apprenticed to a lithographer, where he began his extensive study of art. He was a realistic genre painter who took care to paint what he saw rather than stereotypical images, providing an important historical record. His final genre painting is included here today, The Nantucket School of Philosophy, 1887, a creation of warmth and comaraderie amongst the figures who sit and solve the problems of the day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marcel Duchamp

Happy Birthday Marcel Duchamp!! Born in 1887, this French painter was associated with the Dada and Surrealist movements and is thought to have initiated many avenues in art. His brother Raymond Duchamp Villon was a sculptor. Duchamp's early work had ties to Cubism and certainly Futurism (Nude Descending a Staircase). Later he exhibited ready-made objects (urinal, hat stand) questioning the implications of Cubism. Dada was the natural progression of this thought...Dada "signifies nothing". He insisted art should be a "brain fact" not merely an imitation of reality and it is statements such as this that make us realize he was an intellectual artist influenced by Leonardo da Vinci. Bicycle Stand, 1913, his well-known found object sculpture represents the first kinetic sculpture. Duchamp eventually lost interest in art and became quite interested in chess, even playing competitively and writing as a chess journalist for a time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hugo Henneberg

Happy Birthday Hugo Henneberg!! This Austrian photographer was born in 1842. He became a photographer in  1888, after obtaining his doctorate, following a period of study in chemistry, physics, mathematics and astronomy. He was a member of various photography groups and exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. Landscapes were his favored subject. By 1910 Henneberg had abandoned photography for etchings and engravings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

George Catlin

Happy Birthday George Catlin!! American painter, born in Philadelphia, in 1796, Catlin started out as a lawyer. He was enamored with Native Americans, however, and turned to painting scenes from the Old West. He traveled to Native American territories in Missouri and created  paintings of their lives and customs and nature. He returned with quite a collection of artifacts as well as over 500 paintings, that he used to set up an "Indian Gallery" in 1838.  He also published several collections of engravings. Much of his work is displayed in the Smithsonian.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thomas Eakins

Happy Birthday Thomas Eakins!! American painter, born in 1844, Thomas Eakins was a realism painter of the ninetheenth century. He was born in Philadelphia and other than a period of study in Paris, lived there his entire life. While some artists who travel and study abroad turn away from American genre, he became more attuned to life around him. He was committed to painting the world around him and was also a great teacher in this respect. Eakins encouraged his students to paint what was before them rather than what they felt the subject should look like. The portrait of Walt Whitman exemplifies his honesty in approach.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alexander J. Davis

Happy Birthday Alexander J. Davis!! American architect, born in 1803, Davis was in the forefront of the Gothic Revival period in America of the nineteenth century. Known for his stately Gothic mansions, Davis did not restrict his designs to overpowering, large monstrosities, rather he believed the building must be adapted to its surroundings. Note the pleasing elements of the Rotch Home, New Bedford, Mass., built in 1845.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Francesco Granacci

Happy Birthday Francesco Granacci!! Italian Renaissance painter born in 1477, Francesco Granacci was a contemporary of Renaissance artists Michelangelo, Bertoldo di Giovanni and Filippino Lippi, even working as an assistant to Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The influence of Michelangelo is apparent when studying the sculptural quality of his figures, seeming to stand alone in the composition Rest on the Flight into Egypt with the Infant St. John. Another work resides in the Ufizzi Gallery, in the Renaissance Room, (which I had the joy of visiting this past June) Joseph Presents His Brothers to Pharoah along with Michelangelo's tondo The Holy Family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Edward Hopper

Happy Birthday Edward Hopper!! You may have noticed on the Google page, that it is also Alexander Calder's birthday today. I wrote about him last year...check out today's date on So today I want to write about American painter Edward Hopper, born in 1882. In his city scenes, time stops and the viewer is treated to a slice of life. Eleven A.M. affords us a new look at the female nude (especially when compared to, say, Titian's Venus of Urbino, which I had the distinct pleasure of viewing on my recent trip to Italy). In Hopper's scene, we see an introspective woman gazing out the window of, presumably, a hotel room. She seems in deep thought, as the Titian, however in Hopper's we are not treated to the vivid fabrics and furnishings, but rather the nude is seated in nondescript surroundings. Likewise the flawless face of Titian's nude stares out at us, while Hopper's woman's face is obscured by her flowing hair.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alfred Henry O'Keefe

Happy Birthday Alfred Henry O'Keefe!! I believe this may be the first time I've written about a New Zealand artist! O'Keefe was born in 1858, in Australia, but his family relocated to Dunedin, New Zealand when he was only 4. After an apprenticeship in cabinet making, he studied art in Paris, finally settling back in Dunedin. A family man with 6 children, O'Keefe supported his family by running hotels and teaching art. He painted a wide range of subjects, including portraits, still life and land and sea scapes. Perhaps the most poignant is The Defense Minister's Telegram, depicting the heart wrenching moment when a father learns of his son's death at war. Particularly touching since O'Keefe lost two sons in this manner...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Max Liebermann

Happy Birthday Max Liebermann!! German born painter from 1847. Liebermann began drawing and painting at age 9. He is known not only for painting, but also etching and lithography. He studied art in Germany and the Netherlands. He was a portrait painter before becoming a leading figure in German Impressionism. His Woman Watering the Flower Garden is pictured below; the influence of Monet is apparent.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

John Martin

Happy Birthday John Martin!! Born in 1789, English painter John Martin was originally apprenticed to a coachbuilder to learn heraldic painting. Heradlic painting was the creation of emblems for shields and banners. After a wage disagreement he next studied with an enamel painter and then supported his family by giving drawing lessons. Later he concentrated on landscape painting and finally had one of his "sublime" landscape paintings accepted by the Royal Academy. In addition to painting, John Martin was also a visionary, creating designs for sewage and water control, railways, lighthouses, etc. It has been reported that he commented to his son that he would have rather been an engineer. The Day of His Wrath, below, is a great example of his Romantic style.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gertrude Kasebier

Happy Birthday Gertrude Kasebier!! This woman was a photographer, born in 1852, in Des Moines Iowa. She married businessman Eduard Kasebier, who was a German immigrant, in 1874. They had 3 children and it wasn't until 1889 that she decided to study art. She studied at the Pratt Institute, traveled to Europe, studying the chemistry of photography in Germany and painting in Paris and then, upon returning to the US, opened her own studio. Her work became recognized and she had a solo showing of her work at Alfred Stieglitz' gallery the Camera Club. She joined with fellow photographers, forming the Photosecession Group, and her work was included in the magazine Camera Work. Kasebier was considered the major “pictorialist photographer” of her time, printing using platinum and gum bichromate. She is known for a series of portraits of Native Americans in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Camille Corot

Happy Birthday Camille Corot!! French painter Camille Corot was born in 1796, in Paris. His landscape paintings, created on the spot, emphasized the use of tonal values to represent distance and a sensitive touch in light and form. His work began to take on a blurred, softened quality which became popular. He influenced artistic greats such as Renoir, Matisse, Seurat and Picasso. The view of Rome and the Tiber River below is a great example of his expertise at controlling tone to depict distance in his paintings.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sir Joshua Reynolds

Happy Birthday Sir Joshua Reynolds!! Another Englishman for today, from 1723, Reynolds was a portrait painter. His father was the head of a grammar school, so education was important to Reynolds. He studied portrait painting with Thomas Hudson in London and then sailed to Italy where he studied the Renaissance masters. Finally settling in London as a portrait painter, Reynolds earned quite a name for himself. When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, he was appointed the president. He was knighted in 1769. His portraiture often contained allusion and symbolism, setting it part from portraiture of the time. The Heads of Angels, included here today was painted in 1787, just 5 years prior to his death. Sadly, failing eyesight brought an end to his painting in 1789.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Inigo Jones

Happy Birthday Inigo Jones!! This English artist was born in 1573 and considered important architect of the Modern age. His father was a clothmaker and devout Catholic. Inigo was to remain a faithful Christian as well. He lived in Venice, Italy beginning around age 30, where he worked as an architect, as well as in Denmark, where he was a court appointee. After 1600 he returned to England where he worked on various designs including that of St. Paul's Cathedral, Somerset House, the piazza for the Convent Garden and others. His work was based on his theories that architecture should be solid and proportional with no affectations. The Queen's House, Greenwich is pictured here today on Jones' birthday!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ossip Zadkine

Happy Birthday Ossip Zadkine!! Russian Jewish sculptor, born in 1890, Zadkine was educated in London before moving to Paris. He was a member of the Cubist group, but African influences are also apparent in his work. His most well-known sculpture, The Desroyed City, is located in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), created in tribute after seeing first hand the destruction of the city by Germany in WWII. The devastated figure reaches to the Heavens in obvious pain.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wenceslaus Hollar

Happy Birthday Wenceslaus Hollar! Although he was born in Prague in 1607, Hollar was an illustrator and topographer of extreme import to England, where he made his home. Originally planning on going into law, Hollar decided to become an artist after his family was forced to leave Prague, ultimately for England. He worked for the Earl of Arundel for many years and then for various authors and publishers. He created numerous drawings and watercolors of important figures, places, and events that now provide priceless historical background of 17th century England. The etching included today is of the Globe Theater (where many of Shakespeare's plays were presented), created in 1647.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Amedeo Modigliani

Happy Birthday Amedeo Modigliani!! Italian-Jewish Expressionist artist, born in 1884, Modigliani relocated to France, where he lived and worked in Paris from 1906 on. He was influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and Picasso. He began as a sculptor, but the lack of available supplies, due to the war, caused him to switch to painting. The sculptural qualities of his work continued to show in his paintings (note Portrait of Lipchitz and His Wife (1916) below). He is considered one of the greatest Italian painters of all times.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Charles Searles

Happy Birthday Charles Searles!! Born in 1937, Charles Searles is from Philadelphia. He worked primarily in painted wood sculpture. After serving in the army he decided to pursue a career in art. He graduated from Philadelphia College of Fine Arts and has taught art at several universities. Travel brought him to an understanding of various cultures and his work is representative of his interests in Caribbean, African, Native American and Asian peoples. The piece below is Freedom's Gate (2000) and created from bronze.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Giorgio de Chirico

Happy Birthday Giorgio de Chirico!! Born in 1888, de Chirico was born inGreece to Italian parents. With Marc Chagall, de Chirico is know as a precursor to Surrealism, a painter emphasizing the dream-world. He trained in Munich and became acquainted with Symbolists and in the philosophy of Nietzche. He tried to express the deeper reality of the world in his early work. Later, abandoning this concept, he began to use a metaphysical approach to his work, still using the dream as his vehicle. He wrote a couple of books as well as designed scenery and costumes for the ballet. This painting is called Piazza d'Italia.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

David Hockney

Happy Birthday David Hockney!! Born in 1937, David Hockney, from England, is an artist of many talents, including painting, drafting, photography and stage design. He was educated at Bradford School of Art and the Royal College of Art. A major contributor to Pop art of the 60's, Hockney was to become one of Britain's most influential artists. He began using the camera as a memory aide for his painting, but eventually graduated to using it as the tool for his art expression, exhibiting many photographic works. He taught at several universities in the US including University of California, Berkeley and University of Colorado. He published his book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, in 2001. He currently lives in Bridlington, Yorkshire. The recent painting, Felled Totem III (2009) is included today, on Hockney's birthday!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stanton MacDonald-Wright

 Happy Birthday Stanton MacDonald-Wright!! American born painter from 1890, MacDonald-Wright was an abstract painter and founder of the Synchromist Movement. He studied art in Paris and together with Morgan Russell, developed his Synchromist style, aimed at depicting emotion through color. The two artists created paintings consisting of layers of color with applications to music, space and abstraction. He was responsible for the first Modern Art exhibit in Los Angeles in 1915. Later MacDonald-Wright experimented with Synchromist figures. He also worked on public art projects such as murals and taught at UCLA.  The painting below is oil paint on panel and titled The Music of Gershwin, 1983.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Felicien Rops

Happy Birthday Felicien Rops!! Born in 1833, the Belgium artist was a (symbolist) painter and engraver, interested in fantasy and the supernatural. He painted female nudes, often quite erotic, focusing on death, satanic, and prostitution themes. He was associated with authors, creating frontispieces and illustrations for books, to which his vivid imagination lent itself well. I am including the frontispiece for Les Diaboliques, written by Barbey d'Aurevilly.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

John Flaxman

Happy Birthday John Flaxman!! This Neoclassical English sculptor and book illustrator was born in 1755. He worked as a youth in his father's plaster-casting studio and also attended the Royal Academy. Following his education, he worked for Wedgewood for a time, then traveled to Italy, returning to focus on monumental sculpture and relief. Unlike some artists who may create religious art simply at the request of the Church, Flaxman was truly a man of God and took great joy from his religious works. I am including the relief Deliver Us From Evil, here today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Paul J. C. Gabriel

Happy Birthday Paul J. C. Gabriel!! This artist comes from an artistic family,  born in Amsterdam in 1828, he helped his mother, a portrait painter,  provide for their large family after his father died when he was 5. He took evening classes in art, and worked with various mentors, focusing on Impressionistic nature. He was a watercolor painter and created etchings, working in Brussels as well as the Netherlands. His most famous work is In the Month of July, featuring a windmill on Polder Waterway. Doesn't the balanced composition exude tranquility?

Monday, July 4, 2011

William Rush

Happy Birthday William Rush!! American painter, born in 1756, William Rush was a sculptor. He was born in Philadelphia and his father was a ship carver. William got his start carving figureheads for ships. It is thought that he created the stepping stone between folk carving and sculpture; regarded by some as the first American sculptor. He was a contemporary of Thomas Eakins. Some of his wood carvings have been cast in bronze, as the one of George Washington, included here, appropriate for America's Independence, celebrated today!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jean Dubuffet

Happy Birthday Jean Dubuffet!! Born in France, in 1901, Dubuffet was a painter and sculptor. He studied at the Academie Julian in Paris briefly, but left to study on his own. He became interested in throwing off artistic traditions to approach his expression in a more primitive manner. He added sand, tar and other materials to his oil paint to create a very thick, textured surface. Later Dubuffet chose to use exclusively red, white, black and blue for his paintings. He also worked in sculpture as well as music and sound. Pictured here today is one of his earlier paintings, The Cow with a Subtile Nose, 1954.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Andre Kertesz

Happy Birthday Andre Kertesz!! Andre Kertesz was an American photographer, born in Hungary in 1894. His work initially appeared in magazines until his immigration to the US in 1936 to flee persecution of the Jews, when he accepted fewer commissions and began to pursue his own interests. His work utilized the camera to "play with" vantage point, geometry and composition. Photography was primarily used to record facts, not as "art". Kertesz was one artist who used the medium to express himself artistically. "Nobody photographed chairs in the parks...I did. Of course, at the time, I did not know this was modern or unique." (Kertesz on Kertesz)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jose Louis Sert

Happy Birthday Jose Louis Sert!! American architect born in Barcelona, Spain in 1902. He was an avant-garde artist known for his urban development and city planning. His influences were his uncle who was a painter and Spanish architect Gaudi. He was an important proponent of the Modern Movement in Catalan Spain. In 1937 he created the Spanish Republic's pavilion at the World's Fair Paris Exhibition. Picasso collaborated by adding Guernica, which was to become the focus of the pavilion. Later Sert came to the US where he became friends with Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and others. He taught at Yale and Harvard Universities and designed several buildings for Harvard including the Science Center, pictured below.