Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Other Van Gogh...

Of all that is popularly known about Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) , few know that his original job as a 20 year old was at Goupil et Cie, art dealers located in the Hague. In time, Vincent became disenchanted with the notion of art being treated as a commodity. Lucky for Vincent, his younger brother, Theo (1857-1891)(photo left) didn't agree with that notion and also worked at Goupil et Cie.

Theo would give all the money that he could to help Vincent in his career. The facts of Theo's efforts to help Vincent are legendary. Usually, the story of Theo ends there. However, Theo did a great deal to support all the impressionist painters.

To some degree, art is a commodity (sorry, Vincent)and like the stock market, a dealer needs to make a market for an artist. Theo was one of the art dealers who created popularity and a market for artists such as Degas and Monet. Can you imagine what that must have taken? (Degas painting above left-Monet directly right.)

At that time, the Academie de Beaux-Artes set the standard of art as being realistic and highly polished. The jury for exhibitions would refuse entry to "radical" impressionistic painters. Against all this, it must have been hard for Theo to sell art as a commodity that might not be an appreciating asset. Yet, he did. I can't help but think of Theo not only as a steadfast, loyal and patient brother but also a man with a futuristic eye.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What I've Been Doing...

Every so often I enjoy sharing with you what I've been doing in art. As you may recall, I had painted six oils on canvas of Greek portals. Well, one more is complete and here it is.

The dusty window appeared to be part of a closed ceramic studio. I thought of the potential that soon this shop would become a lively place for tourists to buy authentic Greek art.

Two more Greek paintings are in progress, but I've had to put the oil paints away for now and begin the items for my Holiday Open House and Studio Sale.

Knowing that folks are trying to find gifts that are unique but not pricey, I found some inexpensive boxes with framed glass lids. I purchased a variety of sizes with windows as small as 2" x 4.5" to the largest at 6.6" x 9".

The plan is to create an original pastel under the glass. Each original pastel will be unique and have a different subject. So far, I've completed a ladybug, tetras, a puffin, begonias, hummingbirds, and a bleeding heart flower. Whew! Here's a few of the completed pastels:

My goal is to finish these small pastels by the end of September The October project is to paint original Xmas ornaments. Stay tuned, boys and girls!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What is Weightier: Images or Words?

The combination of art and text have been around for a long time. Think illuminated manuscripts and Arab calligraphy. However, in the 1960s, something shifted in the world of art.

Conceptual artists became less interested in building beautiful scrolling and objects of nature around letters and text. Instead, these artists decided to make the letters or text the subject of their art. One of the most well-known artist today making words into an art form is Jenny Holzer (1950-).

Holzer focuses on phrases that provoke thought. She started with street posters and has widened her "canvas" to include all sorts of materials including footstools, stone benches, photographs, t-shirts, LED signs on buildings and even the internet. (If you search the 'net, you will find websites that list her "truisms" such as, "Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise" or "An Elite is Inevitable.")

(You can click on images to read.)

In time, Holzer began to use the text of poets, authors, and even declassified U.S. Army documents. These efforts seem to be the artist's attempt to elicit debate or perhaps even enlighten viewers. In either case, do you think that words can carry as much weight as images?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Artistic Style Originated by a Woman....

In a previous blog, I mentioned an Italian woman, Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757), who was a famous pastel painter. Her fame is even greater than pastel for she is considered the first woman in history to initiate a new style of art. At the time, it was called goût moderne. Today, we refer to the style as "rococo."

Carriera was born in Venice to a government clerk and a lace maker. Her early works were lace patterns, but sometime later she began painting miniature portraits for snuffboxes. The beauty of her miniatures and the loose, spontaneous brushstroke of this new style led to fame and acceptance at the very highest levels. In addition to creating a style of painting, there were many more "firsts" from this talented and innovative artist.

She painted finished portraits with pastels on paper - at a time when pastels were considered ideal for sketching only. She promoted the use of tempera on ivory instead of using vellum. She was such a good artist that she was accepted into the French Royal Academy even though it had previously banned women. She made a very fine living from the commissions she received from monarchy, wealthy patrons and collectors throughout Europe - allowing her to be the sole support of her self, her mother and her unmarried sister. Needless to say, she inspired many other women artists.

Here is a quote from a website regarding one of her paintings:

"... artist Rosalba Carriera is credited with winning respect from the art establishment and favor in the courts for pastel portraiture. Her delicate handling of the pastel medium beautifully captured the Rococo rage for pretty powdered faces and flowing fabrics. In A Young Lady with a Parrot, Carriera used a “dry-brush” technique, dragging her pastel lightly over a contrasting color, to suggest the gauzy material draped across the young lady and clear, wet-chalk accents to realize the lady’s floral hairpiece and jewelry."

Did you know of Carriera? Studied her works? Any pastelists care to comment?