Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Theo Andreas Vos & Erte : Art Deco Sculpture

Born to a carpenter in Amsterdam, Theo Andreas Vos (1887-1948) received his art training in his own country and in Paris. His further education was heightened by his time living, working and learning in the great art cities of Europe - London, Paris and Cologne. Going full circle, he then returned to leave permanently in Amsterdam. 

Along the way, he learned the flowing lines and curves of the Art Nouveau period. However, like Erte (1892-1990), Vos was drawn to the essential lines of Art Deco. Both artists created sculptures of women in minimalist movement, but still expressing grace. 

Vos was asked by a German porcelain manufacturer to design figurines. His most captivating ones are of the lute player and the famous dancer/choreographer, Gertrud Leistikow. 

When I first saw his sculptures, my thoughts were that it was Erte's works. The difference is that many of Erte's refer to the costumes as he was a designer; whereas Vos' are strictly about the movement. Here are some of Vos' gracefully animated sculptures. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Famous Last Works of Monet, Kahlo,Rivera,Seurat, Raphael, Rembrandt, Bacon & O'Keeffe

Given the discipline of the most renown artists, usually their last painting also marks the end of their lives. However, in some cases, like Georgia O'Keeffe, it can mean that painting stops because of a physical failure. Most of the time, the artist is aware that their career or the life is ending and so these are some of their last works.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) was one of the most famous and beloved artists of his time. When he faced the failings of his eyesight and general health, he decided to paint his beloved water lillies one last time. (Above painting before his cataracts and after below)

In keeping with the times and the great influence of the Church on the choice of representations, Raphael's (1483-1520) last painting would be"The Transfiguration." (When Christ appears as a radiant being. )

For much of his life, Rembrandt von Rijn (1606-1669) chronicled his own life through self-portraits. In this painting, we can see him as an old man holding an infant. It is a classic scene of the old and the new as life brings changes in all things.

One artist who painted his experience of the end of his life was Francis Bacon (1561-1626). /Chronic Asthma was claiming him and this deeply breathing beast was his sign-off.

A touching story was Diego Rivera's (1886-1957) last painting. His great patroness, Dolores Olmedo, asked him to make a painting of watermelons. He didn't want to do it because the subject didn't interest him or maybe it had to do with Frida Kahlo's (1907-1954) painting of watermelons just 8 days before she died 3 years earlier. When Olmedo asked another painter, that's when Rivera stepped up. Alas, it would be his last painting,too. (Kahlo (l) Rivera (r)

As if to create a laugh at life's absurdities, George Seurat,(1859-1891) the famous pointilist, last painting is titled, "The Circus." (It wasn't complete at the time of his passing.)

Lastly, there's the aptly named Georgia O'Keefe's (1887-1986) painting, "The Beyond." It was the last painting she did unassisted as her eyesight faded from macular degeneration 

The world is an ever-changing place and these artists expressed this in the ways they knew best.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The 2 Artists: Singer-Sargent vs. Sorolla

 Someone introduced me to the artist, Joaquin Sorolla's (1863-1923) paintings. My first hit was how much they reminded me of the John Singer Sargent's (1856-1925) retrospective I'd seen in Seattle. As you can tell from the dates, they were contemporaries. I wondered if they knew each other.  (Sorolla self-portrait on left)

A Google search of  "Singer-Sargent vs Sorolla" showed they not only knew each other, but had much in common, including a friendly competition. Both had the discipline to paint everyday. Many of their subjects were the same - portraits, outdoors, and scene of activities. An area where Sorolla differed was the sea as his subject.

He painted it often. He was also known as the "Master of Light."

The socio-economic worlds they came from were quite different. Singer-Sargent was American, lived in Europe and never knew poverty or want.  He moved in the best circles buoyed by his outstanding ability as a portraitist. Sorolla's parents died of cholera when he was 9 years old. His experiences left him with an interest in painting scenes of average people in their work-a-day world or celebrating at a festive time. 

Perhaps the societal differences explain why Singer-Sargent is why he's better known; whereas Sorolla is little known outside of Spain.  However in Spain, there's the Sorolla Museum, the Spanish National Dance Company created a ballet about him and there's even a railway station named after him.

Beyond the comparison, here is a sampling of his works. He often worked very large as is shown by the last image... 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Modern Basketry - Pamela E. Becker

 It seems that basketry has evolved from utilitarian craft made of willow, reeds, leaves and pine needles used for gathering, winnowing, or toting to specifically an art form shown in museums and galleries. It's main purpose being beauty of form and design. 

While many basket makers still use the ancient methods of gathering natural materials, many now weave into their works embellishments such as copper or silk threads, beads, and paper. Many baskets are made as sculptural forms. They don't bring to mind the image of a basket for everyday usage. 

A basket maker who incorporates both the sense of purpose with modern motifs is Pamela E. Becker (?-), Becker uses materials such as waxed linen and rayon threads into a "closed coil" form of basketry. With her background as a potter, she builds her basketry to not only create a surface design, but to also integrate the interior of her works. (Her works below include a peek inside one of her finished piece).