Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For the Birds

Saint Francis and the Birds, 1935 by Sir Stanley Spencer, Tate Gallery, London.

St. Francis seems to be given a comical take as he appears to admonish the heavens for giving him the admiration of the animals, in this particular case, birds. The model for St. Francis was the artist's father who is shown wearing a bathrobe rather than the monk's robe St. Francis would have worn.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Banner Year

Wheatfield, 1888 by Vincent van Gogh, Honolulu Academy of Arts.

1888 was a busy year for van Gogh he moved down to the South of France where he was energized by the subjects and the natural light, Gauguin came to stay with him which prompted the episode where he cut-off part of his ear, and his beloved brother Theo married.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Filled with Detail

The Battle of San Romano, c. 1450 by Paolo Uccello, National Gallery, London.

Uccello was fascinated with perspective and does his best to use "foreshortening" for the dead soldier in armor at the bottom of the piece, however it would be while before the technique would be fully understood and used less awkwardly.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Sleeping Muse, 1909-10 by Constantin Brancusi, Tate Modern.

Brancusi began training at a young age after running away from home. He eventually trained with Rodin before beginning his career as a sculptor. He went onto become one of the premier artists of the Abstract movement.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Nude, c.1912 by Amedeo Modigliani, The Courtauld Gallery, London.

Modigliani's life was short and filled with excesses. Excessive competition, excessive love, excessive drink and excessive talent. He and Picasso were great rivals and both were strongly influenced by Cezanne and African art. Some think Modigliani incorporated these influences into his work with more subtlety than Picasso.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Kashmir Paisley Shawl,19th century, Spurlock Museum.

The Scottish weaving center in Paisley perfected copying the woven shawls of Kashmir. Eventually the typical design was named for the city.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Thinker from the Gates of Hell, c.1880-1890 by Auguste Rodin, Musée Rodin, Paris.

It began as part of the monumental bronze doors that Rodin created called the Gates of Hell and although it is about 14 inches high in that context, his Thinker has taken on a life of it's own as one of the most famous statues ever created.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Alma mater

Peacock Mosaic Overmantel, 1891 by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co.,
The University of Michigan School of Art and College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

The small squares of glass or stone used to create mosaics were called tessere by the Romans who really were the first to perfect the medium.

My Mom is becoming a mosaic artist, as you read this!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Home Office

Studio Reception Room, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park IL.

Frank Lloyd Wright is the most famous American architect. His work changed the way Americans thought about the spaces they lived in and he continues to be a great influence today.

A Day at the Races

The Paddock by Raoul Dufy, Private Collection.

What a beautiful view, a horseracing track right by the ocean. The Paddock is the area of the racecourse incorporating the pre-parade ring, parade ring and winner's enclosure.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Winter Landscape, probably 1811 by Casper David Friedrich, National Gallery, London.

There is a man sitting down against the rocks and praying, he has abandoned his crutches as he approached the shrine. The serenity of the scene with the church in the background is a favorite theme of Friedrich.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Walking in the Rain

Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877 by Gustave Caillebotte, The Art Institute of Chicago.

An all time favorite of mine and a lot of visitors to the AIC. I think it is probably the familiarity of the scene even if it is almost 150 years before today, a rainy street is a rainy street.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Cottonwood Tassels, c.1943 by Gustave Baumann, multiple collections.

Baumann was a print maker who studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and lived for a while on the east coast before settling in New Mexico. The print shop he set-up was very successful and he is considered one of the best American color woodblock artists.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Can I Borrow Your Pen?

The Castlereagh Inkstand, 1818-1820, Paul Storr and Philip Rundell, London, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This was a political gift given in recognition for the diplomatic and and negotiating skills of Viscount Castlereagh in negotiating alliances against Napoleon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Crowded Room

The Reception of Christopher Columbus by Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella , c.1830-1850 by Eugene Deveria, Musee Bargoin, France.

Happy Columbus Day!

Romantic painter on a grand scale of historical paintings. Considered a Romantic painter because of the scale, subjects, and emotion.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fall Colors

Autumn Leaves, Lake George, NY, 1924 by Georgia O'Keeffe, The Columbus Museum of Art.

It was in the fall of 1924 that Alfred Stieglitz divorced his wife and asked Georgia O'Keeffe to marry him even though they had been together for at least six years by this time. They visited his family's home at Lake George every year.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Aka Venus

Statue of Aphrodite, c. 425 - 400 BC, The J. Paul Getty Museum.

It is thought that this large-scale statue was probably a cult figure from inside a temple which would account for its good condition.

Artist's rendering of statue as it would have originally looked. (from the Getty website).

The Getty has been in the news lately as they return some of their acquisitions.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Natural Canada

Pacific Spirit, 2003 by Susan Point, Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver Canada.

The work of the Inuit people of Western Canada is a very compelling and thriving community of artists who draw upon their heritage and environment for inspiration.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Howling Wolf, Southern Cheyenne, 1849-1927. Oberlin Ledger, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH.

Plains Native Americans used ledgers as sources of paper to create artistic records of battles and other important events.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Girl in a White Kimono (Geesje Kwok), 1894 by George Breitner, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

As an example of the influence of Japan in Europe at this time, the young girl wears a kimono in front of a floral screen. Van Gogh was fascinated with Japanese art and culture and was a contemporary (if not necessarily an admired one) of Breitner.
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