Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret: From Fame to Obscurity

 Previously, I wrote a blog on how it became possible for artists to paint outside (plein air). Why? Because paints became available in tubes and the railroad made it easier to travel to the country. 

The other great advance was in photography which minimized the need for photo-realistic painting and moved art towards Naturalism and then Impressionism.. (It's difficult to differentiate between the two as they overlap in time and style.).


 Naturalism replaced Romanticism where settings were idealized often in Greco-Roman settings. Plein-air gave rise to naturaisticl backgrounds and settings. Impressionism took it a step further by using a natural environment but without requiring the same level of detail.



In that way, a once very famous painter is referred to as a Naturalist. His name is not well-known nor his works studied in recent times. He was Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929). He was French classically trained . Yet, like many young people, he was interested in the new technology of photography. (His painting of the photographer while he paints the wedding in a bit ironical.)   


 Dagnan-Bouveret's interest in using photographs together with his classical training, aided him in creating his Naturalist works. His teacher commented:

"...he was among the most forward-looking members of the academic tradition; he recognized that the “old" classical system of planning a composition had to respond to the new technologies that were already being applied and assimilated by painters of the avant-garde."

 This ability to create studies from photographs and combine them with other sketches of photo backgrounds such as his  “Les Bretonnes au Pardon" (“Breton Women at a Pardon").He won both the Grand Prize and Medal of Honor at the 1889 Exposition to great acclaim by the audience. It made him an artist of great renown. (Here is the photo of the original scene plus he would use other photos for his sketches to complete the scene shown below.)
















 As innovative and popular as he was until the turn of the century, like so many classically trained artists, Dagnan-Bouveret's art was considered outdated, and even though he continued to paint for the rest of his life, his works and his name fell into obscurity. (Below is his version of Madonna and child)


Monday, April 18, 2022

Tom Herman: A Unique Jeweler



 It seems that I've neglected a medium of artistry and astonishing craftsmanship. It's that of the jeweler. Jewelry combines so many techniques and specializations. An example is a friend who can finish a ring or a bracelet design with her expertise in stone inlay. Another friend is an expert in enamel for jewelry.





One remarkable jeweler, who has mastered many techniques of jewelry making, is Tom Herman (1957-) His expertise and his designs are well  known. His designs often reflect nature or geometric patterns, including one of my personal favorites - art deco.  


Herman also conducts workshops and as well as collaborating with other jewelry specialists to the completion of a beautiful wearable works of art.





Beyond Herman's expertise, there's another reason why he's unique. You see, he named his business "7 Fingers Jewelers" because that's the number of fingers he has!. As a child, he was involved in a farm accident that resulted in the loss of 3 fingers of his one hand. 



When you consider the detail and intricacy of handmade jewelry, it's a wonder how he choose a form of art requiring such small details. Herman must love a challenge.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Dunn-Harr and Flowers

 As the song goes, "Spring is busting out all over!" It seemed to be the just-right time to enjoy the unique flower paintings of artist, Vie Dunn Harr (1953-).



Dunn-Harr has been painting and drawing since she was a little girl. In her bio, she mentions at age 10, sitting on the curb and drawing pictures of the neighbors' houses. Clearly, she also had a flair for marketing as well. She sold those drawings to her neighbors for $.75 each!



By age 15, she was taking formal art lessons and at age 19 was exhibiting in a established galleries.. By age 21, she was teaching art and mentoring others.

Her national exposure came when a representative contacted her to show her flowers at art gallery next door to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The popularity of her flower paintings spread along with her reputation.


The demands for her works reached a point where the physical costs of painting with oils took a toxic toll on her body that even a hazmat suit couldn't prevent. It was devastating to even think of discontinuing the work she loved. Once again, opportunity, resilience and passion opened the door.



She attended a workshop on acrylic painting from a superb teacher, Joan Fullerton. (She will be a future subject) Dunn-Harr applied herself to this very different paint medium and practiced how to be comfortable enough to exhibit her paintings.


Subsequent trips to Europe appeal to her formal training and are informing her art as she evolves using the beauty, fragility and sensuality of flowers to express what she's feeling.