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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Clyfford Still

Happy Birthday Clyfford Still!! Born today in 1904, in North Dakota, Clyfford Still was one of the foremost leaders of Abstract Expressionism. After relocating to the west coast in the 40's and teaching at various colleges, including California School of Fine Arts, Still developed his mature style. He became disenchanted with the art world and retreated into obscurity, showing in only occasional exhibitions, creating a mysterious persona. While other artists in the movement had rather predictable compositions of juxtaposed rectangles or narrow strips of thinly applied color, Still painted thick, ragged shapes of color as if the top layer had been torn away revealing the color beneath. He kept the majority of his work and upon his death left instructions for a museum which was just recently opened in Denver, CO. The Clyfford Still Museum, directed by Dean Sobel, is home for over 2400 works which have been sealed off from the public for decades. At the artist's direction the city accepting the work agreed to permanent housing for the work, following the opening none of the work is to be sold or loaned, and the museum cannot include a restaurant or auditorium, all adding to the enigma that is Clyfford Still.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alexander Brullov

Happy Birthday Alexander Brullov!! Russian born artist from a French family of artists, Brullov was born in 1798, in St. Petersburg. He attended the Imperial Academy of Arts and then studied art and architecture on a tour of Europe, creating many watercolor portraits. He was also an illustrator, a lithographer and teacher. In his architectural design he was interested in Gothic Revival, through his painting he explored Romanticism and Neo-Classical styles. One of his most well known portraits is that of poet Alexander Pushkin's wife Natalya Goncharova-Pushkina.

Monday, November 28, 2011

William Blake

Happy Birthday William Blake!! An English painter and poet, born in 1757, William Blake was a formative figure of Romanticism. At an early age it is reported that Blake saw visions. This coupled with the fact that he showed promise as an artist, Blake did not attend conventional school, but was educated at home and began studying art at age 10. Shortly thereafter he began to write poetry. He was inspired by Greek and Roman mythology as well as the work of Raphael, Durer and Michelangelo. He created engravings to illustrate his poetry ans the work of others. The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun is included today.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jose de Creeft

Happy Birthday Jose de Creeft!! American sculptor, born in Guadalajara, Spain, Jose de Creeft was born in 1884, educated in Paris and immigrated to the US in 1929. He first began learning carving as an apprentice to a wood carver at age 16 and eventually became an expert at direct stone carving. He was as interested in his creative process as he was in the actual sculptures, devising tools to simplify his work. He was not only a sculptor, but drew and painted as well, though his two-dimensional work was primarily abstract.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

William Sidney Mount

Happy Birthday William Sidney Mount!! This American painter was born in 1807 and came from a family of painters (one of three brothers who were painters). His family lived on a farm on Long Island. After an apprenticeship with his older brother, William became a portrait painter and genre scenes of life on the farm. After a short stint in New York, he returned to Long Island to settle in Stony Brook for the rest of his life. His style lends narration to scenes of American life in the 19th century.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Isaac Rosenberg

Happy Birthday Isaac Rosenberg!! Born in England, 1890, Isaac Rosenberg was a war poet (WWI) and visual artist. He began studying engraving in earnest when he quit school at age 14 to apprentice. He was considered by most to be the greatest war poet of all time, authoring Poems from the Trenches. Although against the war, poverty moved him to enlist in the army and sadly he was shot and killed at the young age of 28. He left behind several self portraits, one of which (from 1915) I am including today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

John Bacon

 Happy Birthday John Bacon!! English sculptor Bacon was born in 1740. Although he began modeling china figures for Wedgewood and the Derby porcelain factories, he soon turned to marble and became known for his monuments as well as tomb designs. He was a member of the Royal Academy and while there developed a tool to aid in the sculpting of marble. His sons Thomas and John carried on the family tradition and studied sculpting with their father. The River Thames, Bacon's interpretation of Father of the mighty river, is included here and is located at the Ham House in Richmond, London.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Happy Birthday Erte!! Russian designer, Erte, was born in 1892 and named Roman Petrovich Tyrtov. His family was notable and his father an admiral in the Russian fleet. The designer took on the pseudonym Erte to avoid bringing disgrace upon his family, who expected him to follow in his father's footsteps. He moved to Paris where he designed magazine illustrations and stage sets, but he is best known for his fashion designs in the Art Deco Style. Symphony in Black is thought to be his most famous image.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding

Happy Birthday Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding!! This English watercolorist was born in 1787, and known as Copley Fielding. He was a student of John Varley. His father was a painter as well, and it has been said their work was near indistinguishable. The influence of Turner is apparent. I fell in love with the stormy seascape, below, created in pencil and watercolor. Note the sections that have been scratched out to reveal the white paper, adding to the drama of the crashing waves.

Monday, November 21, 2011

John Ekels

Happy Birthday John Ekels!! This painter was born in Amsterdam in 1724, and known as John (or Jan) the Elder Ekels. He studied design, but also helped his father in his business. His son (also John) followed in his footsteps as a painter and trained with his father. It was tough finding information on this artist, but I was able to locate some city scenes, such as the one below titled The Westerhal Near the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. I love the peaceful calm that seems to envelope this street corner.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bartolomeo Pinelli

Happy Birthday Bartolomeo Pinelli!! The Italian designer was born in 1781and was known as one of the foremost Italian draftsman for his day. He studied in Rome and Bologna and preferred drawing to painting. He created a volume of etchings and illustrated books such as Don Quiote and Dante's Divine Comedy. His drawings are done as if by a visitor to Rome, of contemporary Roman life. He disdained historical scenes, wishing instead, to create a modern look at everyday life, including customs, architecture, landmarks, street signs, etc., adding authencity to his portrayal. The Game of the Ring (1825) is an etching exhibiting the style of Bartolomeo Pinelli.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen

Happy Birthday Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen!! Danish artist from Copenhagen, sculptor Thorvaldsen was born in 1770. His father was a wood carver and he was accepted to the Royal Academy at the young age of eleven. After winning the opportunity to travel to Rome, the artist spent most of the rest of his life there. Known as the most noteworthy Neo-Classical sculptor in the world, this artist felt that only through immitation of Classical works could one achieve greatness in the art world. The Dying Lion located in Lucerne, Switzerland, honors the fallen Swiss Guard in the French Revolution. Mark Twain termed the work, "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world".

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sir David Wilkie

Happy Birthday Sir David Wilkie!! This Scottish painter was born in 1785. His studied in Edinburgh and then in London at the Royal Academy. By 1811 he was Painter to the King and he was knighted in 1836. His extensive travel influenced style changes in his painting and subject matter. His early work was Dutch genre scenes and portraits, and later historical scenes. When he died in 1841, on the way home from the Near East, Turner painted his burial at sea. The genre painting, The Penny Wedding, is an example of the detailed, but rather muddy palette of Sir David Wilkie.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Agnolo Bronzino

Happy Birthday Agnolo Bronzino!! Italian Mannerist portrait painter Agnolo Bronzino was born in 1503. Bronzino was a friend and student of Pontormo and Michelangelo was also an influence (foreshortening), yet he took what he learned from these artists and truly developed his own style. His subjects were regal and reserved. I was fortunate to see some of his work in Florence, Italy. this past summer. I found the Holy Family with the Infant St. John ( 1540) at the Uffizi Gallery mesmerizing. I love the tender gaze of St. John as he regards the Baby, the rapt attention Mary and Joseph display and the realism with which the clothing drapes over the Mother's form. Stunning!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alice Adams

Happy Birthday Alice Adams!! Born in the USA in 1930, Alice Adams is known for her land art projects of the 70's. She trained as a painter and weaver, at Columbia University, creating tapestry weavings based on her painting experience. She also studied in Aubusson, France on a Fulbright scholarship. Her work began to break the bounds of traditional weaving; she drew on non-traditional weaving materials, and gradually moved into installations. Initially her installations were site specific, non-permanent, inviting viewer interaction, reminiscent of Christo's work. Gradually she began to create permanent public art structures, arches, sitting areas, memorials, etc. She currently resides in the Bronx, working on new design projects. Stone and Glass Gardens, a project for the International Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is included here today. An aluminum boat frame is suspended above the "garden" sitting area.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wayne Thiebaud

Happy Birthday Wayne Thiebaud!! The American painter was born in 1920 and began cartooning in high school. After serving in the US Air Force, Thiebaud studied at San Jose State University and California State University, and went on to become an assistant professor at U.C. Davis. He is best known for his assembly line views of cakes, pastries, lipsticks, etc., so could be considered precursor to the Pop Art movement (a group interested in objects of the popular culture), although his approach was one of nostalgia rather than satirical. Thiebaud is currently living in California and is 91 today, Happy Birthday, Wayne!

Monday, November 14, 2011

John Steuart Curry

Happy Birthday John Steuart Curry!! This painter was an America, born in 1897 on a farm in Kansas. He initially studied art at home, then in Kansas City, Chicago and finally briefly in Paris. He began as a magazine and book illustrator. He was part of the regionalism that developed in America in the 30's. This was an effort on the behalf of artists to rejuvenate enthusiasm and a love of American life and traditions. Often the art was focused on the areas the artists lived and displayed heightened realism. I am including Baptism in Kansas, his first painting to become famous and the one that launched his career. It was purchased by Gertrude Stein and it is said she subsidized his work for 2 years with $50 per month!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wilmer Angiers Jennings

Happy Birthday Wilmer Angier Jennings!!  This African American, born in 1910, in Atlanta, was a printmaker. He benefitted from the programs set up by the WPA in 1935-43, in various urban art centers. During a time when there were not many black printmakers, the WPA was responsible for educating artists and teachers in the field. He was best known for his black and white prints on paper. The Still Life (1939) included today is a woodcut including random objects, creating a study in form, contrast and composition. Note the African figure in the center front of the work, an appreciation for his culture.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Frank Furness

Happy Birthday Frank Furness!! American Victorian architect, born in 1839, Furness trained with architect Richard Morris Hunt. He designed over 600 buildings, residential and civic, primarily for the Philadelphia area, in his career spanning over 45 years. His work includes ornate, decorative features set off with a strong design sense in a variety of building materials. Today I am including the Pennsylvania University Library (now called the Fisher Fine Arts Library).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paul Signac

Happy Birthday Paul Signac!! French painter, born in 1863, Paul Signac was a  leader, particularly after the death of Seurat, of the neo-classical school in Paris.  He worked in the pointillist method established by Georges Seurat. Fortunately born into wealth, Signac was taken by a Monet exhibit and decided to pursue painting himself. Largely self-taught, he studied the work of fellow Impressionists, focusing particularly on landscapes in fresh bright colors, looking to brighten the palette. He became a follower and later a theoretician of pointillism. He loved the sea, hence his portrayal of this fascination in his work.

Pointillism-style of Impressionist painting using the idea of visual fusion of colors to create a desired effect. Tiny dots (points) of color are juxtaposed to create a new color (for instance yellow next to blue to achieve green) and subtle tonal shading from one hue to the next with a glistening effect of shimmering sunlight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sir Jacob Epstein

Happy Birthday Sir Jacob Epstein!! Born in 1880, Epstein was a sculptor who was born in New York, relocated to Paris as a young man and lived the majority of his life in England. He originally desired to become a painter, but poor eyesight forced him out of that field and into sculpture. He studied at Ecole Beaux des Art in Paris, finally establishing his studio in London in 1905. He became known for his portrait sculptures, but it was amidst scandal, since his work was quite raw (some have even been destroyed). He was a founder of the London Group, artists and writers who sought to advance the theories of Modern Art. His mature work was bronze castings from modeled clay with slick planes contrasted with rough, mottled sections, reminding me of Rodin's work. Sir Winston Churchill is depicted below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thelma Hulbert

Happy Birthday Thelma Hulbert!! British artist, born in 1913, Thelma Hulbert studied at Bath School of Art and then at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. After going to work as the secretary for the group of artists known as the Euston Road Group, Hulbert began to pursue her own career as a painter. The group focused on tonal figurative work, figures and portraiture, while she was more interested in still life. Her interest in pale tones and still life unfortunately lead to the mis-assumption that her work is "feminine" sadly leading to her dismissal from some art historians' consideration.  I find her paintings to be refreshingly light and airy, and reminiscent of those of Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, Parisian artists who, in part, focused on interiors such as the one I am including here, The Blue Screen (1956). 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Photios Kontoglou

Happy Birthday Photios Kontoglou!! This Greek artist, born in 1895, was a writer and an iconographer as well as a painter. He went to school at the Athens School of Fine Arts. After traveling, he settled for a time in Paris before returning to Greece. He taught painting at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. His work was mostly religious (frescoes) and he was involved in creating religious iconography as well. He wrote various pieces of literature and essays and illustrated his book, Pedro Kazas.

Iconography-A religious work on flat panel (or can be carved or worked in metal or wood) usually of a Holy object or Being.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Eugene Yoors

Happy Birthday Eugene Yoors!! Born today in 1879, in Antwerp, Belgium, Eugene Yoors was a stained glass artist and glass etcher. He studied art in Paris, served in World War I, and then settled in Antwerp where he strived to become a success at his art. His focus was on religious works, specifically the portrayal of Christ. Yoors brought new methods and color to the art of glass. He felt his art would bring him closer to God.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alois Senefelder

Happy Birthday Alois Senefelder!! Born in Prague, in 1771, this German playwright invented the  process of lithography. He happened upon the process while experimenting with printing processes for his writing, since he could not find a publisher. His first printing studio was opened in Vienna in 1803.

Lithography works on the principle of "oil and water do not mix". An etching is created on a stone, using a greasy substance, water is flooded on the stone, filling in the areas that are not etched. Ink placed on the etched parts creates the print when paper is pressed upon the stone. The process is used for illustrating books, magazines, posters, etc. and is still used widely today.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Washington Allston

Happy Birthday Washington  Allston!! This American painter and poet was born in South Carolina in 1779. He was considered the pioneer of Romantic landscape painting in America. He studied at teh Royal Academy in London, after first going to Harvard. His inspiration came not only from the paintings he observed and painters he was associated with in Europe, but also from the Bible. He was concerned with introducing heightened emotion into his work, creating from the imagination rather than relying solely on fact. The painting below is appropriately titled "Moonlit Landscape".

Friday, November 4, 2011

Charles Despiau

Happy Birthday Charles Despiau!! This French sculptor was born in 1874 and his father and grandfather were plasterers. He shows skill in drawing and Despiau attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, following his military service, after first failing the school's exam. He gained recognition and went on to become a sculptor in his own right, after working as a practitioner, or an assistant, for Rodin. His work was primarily portrait busts, exuding a “calm classicism”.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Annibale Carracci

Happy Birthday Annibale Carracci!! Italian artist, born in 1560, this painter was a forerunner of the Baroque style. He worked with his brother, Agostino, and cousin Ludovico to change the course of painting, rejecting the Mannerist style currently popular. He used nature in his work to create a new form of genre painting, paying particular attention to light effects on his subject as well as brushstrokes to portray the feeling of movement in his work. Two Children Teasing a Cat, is a prime example of his use of nature in genre painting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emile Bayard

Happy Birthday Emile Bayard!! This French illustrator, born in 1837, was selling his illustrations to newspapers by age 15. He studied with French painter, Leon Cogniet, for several years. Throughout his career he drew for many magazines as well as books. He is considered one of the first to draw “Space Art” of a scientific nature, illustrating From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne. I am including his rendition of the character Cosette, from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, which is perhaps his best known work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Antonio Canova

Happy Birthday Antonio Canova!! This artist, born in 1757, was an Italian Neoclassical Sculptor. He was a raised a stone mason, had his own studio by age 17, and received his first major commission soon after. He eventually went to Paris at Napoleon's urging and created a bust of him, as well as other sculptures. He believed true beauty could only be achieved after careful consideration and study of antiquities. He was instrumental in retrieving many French artworks after the fall of Napoleon. Canova created many works which are found all over the world today. I am so fond of the one included today, Cupid and Psyche, that when I saw it in the Louvre I had to have a print for my wall! The interlocking figures create a movement through the piece and the loving gaze of Cupid just draw the viewer in...