Friday, March 30, 2007

"Calgon Take Me Away"

Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David, Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels.

David ushered in a return to classical ideals and away from the Rococo with this homage to the death of his friend. Marat was an outspoken leader of the French Revolution and was murdered in his bath after receiving a letter of admission into his home for the murderer. David's stark scene conveys the shock and sadness he felt after learning Maret had been killed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Not Gotten Better, It's Gotten Worse

Just What Makes Today's Homes, So Different, So Appealing? , 1956 by Richard Hamilton, Kunsthallie, Tubingen.

Hamilton's collage about overblown 1950's consumerism also hailed the use of the word Pop in reference to art. He is still an innovator, creating his new art with computers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cow by Bacon

Figure with Meat by Francis Bacon, 1954, Art Institute of Chicago.

Bacon deliberately subverted painting familiar traditions such as the portrait, in order to make his work even more disturbing . This work of a Pope with two sides of beef is a deliberate homage to the court artist Velazquez.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Kitchen by Liza Lou, Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton.

I work with beads myself and I find these bead covered surfaces by Lou to be endlessly fascinating. The entire surface is covered in beads, or created with beads. Lou did the beading for this piece herself and it took five years it is roughly 12' x 13' x 8.'

Friday, March 23, 2007

Or Josie for Short

Princesse Albert de Broglie, née Joséphine-Eléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, 1853 by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ingres portraits are some of the most amazing studies of people and how we adorn ourselves. His skill at rendering the faces and capturing his sitters makes him among the finest portraitists ever.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Anatomy of a Horse

Mares and Foals in a Landscape, 1763-8 by George Stubbs, Tate Gallery, London.

Stubbs spent hours studying the musculature and skeletal structures of the animals he painted in order so that his portrayals would be as life-like as possible.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Venus with a Mirror, c. 1555 by Titian, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

During the Renaissance paintings of nude women were often titled "Venus" as in excuse to portray nudes by claiming the image is a portrayal of the Roman goddess.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Arts & Crafts

Covered Box by Lucia K. Mathews, The Oakland Museum

The Arts & Crafts movement began in England in the late 19th century and became popular in the United States a few years later. The followers of the movement sought-out the hand-made production methods of the past, as a reaction to the industrial age. California had their own take on the Arts & Crafts philosophy which manifested itself in the architecture of Greene & Greene and the work of many small artisans like Mathews.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Protecting Nature

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1872 by Thomas Moran, Yellowstone National Park Museum.

Moran was another artist working in the same vein as Bierstadt. His paintings of the American West were even more idealized. His work was presented to Congress as evidence that Yellowstone needed to be protected as a National Park which caused them to establish the National Park Service in 1916.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Long Trip

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Leopold Egg, The City Museum and Art Gallery Birmingham England.

Egg was an actor and his dramatic training shows in his artwork. He painted subjects from literature. He was a close friend of Charles Dickens and performed in his stage productions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Waiting Impatiently

Spring, 1895 byLawrence Alma Tadema, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu CA

In a land of clear colours and stories,
In a region of shadowless hours,
Where Earth has a garment of glories
And a murmur of musical flowers.

This poem by Algernon Swinburne (a favorite of Victorian painters especially the Pre-Raphaelites) is engraved on the frame of the painting.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Manifest Destiny

Niagra, 1869 by Albert Bierstadt, Wake Forest University, Simmons Collection.

Bierstadt painted panoramic, idealized scenes of the United States. His main subjects were places in the the American West which was being touted as the promised land and his beautiful landscapes helped to sell it as the place to explore and settle.

Manifest Destiny

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tucked In

Cat on a Balustrade:Summer, 1896 by Theophile A. Steinlen, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Steinlen loved cats and used them as subjects for a great many of his posters. He began as an apprentice in a textile factory and later took up graphic arts and created a great many posters both for consumer goods and political statements.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Silent Treatment

In the Car by Roy Lichtenstein, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

A member of the Pop Art movement of the 1960's Lichtenstein found influence in the American comic book which he transferred to a large scale including the use of the printing process. Comic book illustrations are made up of millions of small dots in a process known as Ben Day.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Poet Party

The Thirty-Six Master Poets, 1828 by Saki Hōitsu, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian.

Created during the Edo period, this work is intentionally irreverent while at the same time paying tribute to revered poets of the 7th - 11th centuries.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Grand Beauty

Grand Canyon, 1919 by Gustave Baumann, various collections.

Baumann visited the Taos New Mexico art community early in his career while still studying art and returned at the end of his career to retire there.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Down to the Bare Wood

The Floor Scrapers, 1875 by Gustave Caillebotte, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Caillebotte liked to portray everyday scenes like these workers removing wax from floors. He liked to portray everyday people going about their business in a realistic way.
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