Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Norman Garstin: The Irish Impressionist

 It seems that the Impressionist Movement traveled far and wide. Previously, I've posted about the Russian version. Today is about the Irish version as portrayed by Norman Garstin (1847-1946), who was born in County Limerick, Ireland.

Garstin finished college and worked at architecture and engineering for a bit when the travel bug got the best of him and he began his wandering. First, to South Africa where he worked in journalism with Cecil Rhodes. However, his interest in art and learning next took him to Antwerp, Paris, Spain, Morocco and Venice.


He eventually settled himself and his family in Newlyn, England. However, he continued to conduct teaching plein-air to student groups in his favorite European settings.  

Garstin's influences were not only Impressionism and plein-air, but also Japonisme along with many of the other Impressionists such as Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt and Claude Monet.



His reputation was as a stimulating teacher and shrewd critic with an eye for old architecture and historic atmosphere. As an Irishman, he had his share of intense impulsiveness and opinions on many topics, especially war. Now, that's the definition of a true paddy! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Walter Hunt Everett: Loss and Redemption


 The Brandywine School of Art taught illustration from the late 19th Century to the first part of the 20th Century. It was during a time when illustrations flourished for books, magazines and newspapers. Many notable illustrators graduated from the school. Some names are familiar, such as: N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish. 

There were many others whose fame diminished for a variety of reasons just as happens in every art movement. In this case, the artist was Walter Hunt Everett (1880-1946). Yet, Everett's illustrations were well-known in his time and highly prized by publishers. So, why is it we know so little about him now?




Although he was in high demand, his temperament and perfectionism caused him to miss deadlines. Everett was far more interested in mastering his craft. He shaped his brushes, designed his own easel, and sought perfection. This made his illustrations change over time as his style evolved until it was more about art than illustration. Finally, he quit making the art required by publishers.




He was so obsessed with perfecting his talent that he even forgot to pay rent and other bills. It led to his wife leaving him and taken their son with her.




At the peak of his career in the 1930s, a kind of madness came over him and he burned all his illustrations and disappeared!

The question of what happened to him isn't certain. There is speculation that he suffered from depression and possibly another mental illness.

After his death from emphysema, his son found about 30 rolled-up oil paintings hidden in the corner of a barn on Everett's property. Eventually and in a manner of speaking, Everett was resurrected. 

In 2014, the Society of Illustrators welcomed Everett's illustrations into the Hall of Fame with comments such as, "based on the evidence he left behind, the man was a genius." Worthy praise for a story too often told posthumosly in an artist's search for personal expression.

(Some of his colored illustrations were submitted too late for plates to be printed, so the publishers would print in black and white.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

László Moholy-Nagy: Space, Transparency, Translucency & Opacity

 Many years ago, I wrote several blogs on the Bauhaus School in Germany. It existed from 1919-1933 when the Nazis pressured the school to close. The school's art and designs offered a new way to look at the combination of industry and art. Many of the designs in everyday furniture and furnishings owes its shapes to the Bauhaus. The same goes for art. 


Among the artists/teachers, who taught there, was László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) Born in Hungary, he was not only a photographer and painter, but also one of the most influential educators in the United States after WW1. He brought his Bauhaus teaching style to the Chicago Institute of Design.



His restless nature had him experimenting with different art techniques. Whether he was painting, creating photographs or sculpting with Plexiglass, he was mostly interested in how the elements interacted. His vast curiosity cannot be covered in one blog. I've chosen to feature his paintings here.


My selecting his paintings over all his other accomplishments has a personal reason. You see, I was so taken with his style in college that I tried painting a few of them with oil paint - assuming that's what was available to him. 


By trying to replicate his works, I came to understand how very complex were his paintings and how much restraint he exercised to leave a great deal of negative space. 

Moholy-Nagy's works are bold, certain and geometric. Yet, there seems to be a rhythm I see that I don't often find in other abstract works. Plus the amount of negative space makes the overall effect more restful.


In 2019, there was a celebration of the anniversary of the Bauhaus and 3 years before he received national acclaim with solo shows in 3 leading Art Institutions in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. 

To quote a magazine article in Artland: "His paintings are constructed of simplified, geometric forms that are often overlapping, creating a careful study about space, transparency, translucency, and opacity."


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Masayo Fukuda: The Evolution of Kirie Paper Cutting

 As many of the fans to this art blog already know, I'm deeply impressed by paper artists. Using the most common of materials, they create stunning works of art. Today's artist takes paper cutting to a very high level.


 Masayo "Kiriken" Fukuda was born in Japan, studied art in college and went to work as watch repairer. Along the way, she learned how to manipulate tiny tools such as screwdrivers and tweezers, That experience plus the gift of excellent hand dexterity, would lead to the extraordinary mastery of "kirie."


Kirie is Japanese for "cut-picture." Fukuda started as a teenager cutting out greeting cards for her friends and family. She found that the cards were too thick to make for easy cutting. She experimented and refined her techniques. 


Today, she sketches on a single sheet of very thin paper, As if that fact isn't enough, she's also taken the art of kirie to an even higher level.



Most kirie is flat two-dimensional. Fukuda creates the appearance of the final piece as having depth. This method requires her to sketch on the back of the paper, just as a printer, on the reverse. Furthermore, to continue the look of depth, she varies the thickness of the cut lines. This is all remarkable and very unusual. 


Her lyrical, lacy art has been shown in throughout Japan and at the Louvre in Paris. She also has made YouTube videos of her techniques and a book.