Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Midas' Touch

Some years ago, I went to Ravenna, Italy, for a workshop in Byzantine mosaics. On the agenda was a tour of the basilicas, mausoleums and chapels - all sunlit by magnificent gold mosaics.

Fast forward to now where I am experimenting with painting clay tiles. For my first piece,
I've drawn on the Ravenna experience to surround the figure with gold color. This made me think of the use of gold in art and its meaning.

Ancients applied gold to statues and buildings to signify the wealth and power of empire. Later, as organized religions gained influence, gold was used to indicate saintliness and inspire awe. What does it signify today?

Today most public or empirical art do not include the use of real gold or even gold paint. Modern day churches are far more austere than before. So, I ask again: what does it signify when you looks at a painting with gold? (Gustav Klimt, left; Michelangelo Russo, right )

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Berthe Morisot and Impressionism

From time to time on this blog I like to tell you about a woman artist who has been finally recognized as historically important. Such an artist is Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). She was not only a beautiful French woman, but also a first-class Impressionist painter. (Manet's painting of her on left.)

Morisot was first juried into the very prestigious Salon de Paris when she was only 23 years of age. She would continue to be accepted in the Salon de Paris for the subsequent six years. This recognition of a woman demonstrates what an exceptional artist Morisot was.

At some point, her interest and experiments in the avant garde world of Impressionism led her into the same artists' circle as Degas, Monet, Manet, Pissarro, and Renoir. (She would exhibit at Salon des Refuses with these artists.)

Berthe Morisot and American artist Mary Cassatt are considered to be the two most important women artist of the 19th century. Yet, it is only recently that Berthe Morisot became a recognized name in Impressionism. Why do you think that is?

(Below are "Lady at her Toilette" and "A Village." Click for enlargement)