Monday, January 28, 2008

A Century of Art and Design

Photograph of Viktor Schreckengost by Karen Ollis-Toula c.2000, Collection of Viktor Schreckengost.

Viktor passed away Saturday at the age of 101. He was such an inspiration not only in his art, but his teaching, designs, and pure common sense. I am honored to have known him.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Closer to God

The Builders, 1950 by Fernand Leger, Musee National Fernand Leger.

A follower of the Cubist movement, elements of it can be seen in this work of workers on a high rise. He was trained in an architect's office where he could study construction firsthand. Starting in the late 1920's through the 1950's America experienced an unprecedented growth in skyscrapers as the architects and moguls competed to make taller and taller structures.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shaping Nature with Color

Le Talisman, 1888 by Paul Serusier, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.

Serusier was strongly influenced by Post Impressionist Paul Gauguin's bright and bold works and this painting represents nature broken into blocks of color. What makes the Nabis artists different from the Abstract Expressionists who saw their work as a revolution, is that the Nabis saw theirs as a bold new interpretation of their world, rather than a revolution against tradition.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Earliest Influences

Woman, Bird by Moonlight by Joan Miro, Tate Gallery, London.

Miro was one of the most prominant members of the Surrealist movement. His artwork is filled with fantasy and color and he brings the viewer inside his fantasy world. Miro's work is said to resemble pre-historic cave paintings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Enjoy the View

The Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard, Wallace Collection, London.

Fragonard is considered the greatest artist of a short period known as Rococo. This 18th century style followed the Baroque period where it utilized all the ornament and fashion of the Baroque, but left out the drama.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What is Art?

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, Indiana University Art Museum.

In 1917 French Dadaist artist turned the art world on it's ear when he exhibited this piece signed by "R.Mutt." He said Mr. Mutt did not need to create the object, his mere choice of it and applying his signature could serve as its consideration as art. Thus began a movement known as Found Object.

Friday, January 18, 2008


The Concert, 1660 by Johannes Vermeer, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (stolen 1990).

The FBI has a website which lists stolen art and gives a description of the crime. More often than not, when notorious works like the ones taken from the Gardner Museum are stolen, they are "requests" from collectors who will never try to sell or publicly display the artwork in their possession.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Drapery Study for Semiramis by Edgar Degas, Musee d’Orsay

Sometimes the studies artist's do (and often never intend to publish) are the most beautiful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Inspiration at Home

Anne with a Japanese Parasol, 1917 by George Bellows, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Bellows did quite a few portraits of his family and friends. This is his oldest daughter. He was a member of the group known as The Eight and a teacher at the Art Students League.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Driven to Create

Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, c. 1950-64 by James Hampton, The Smithsonian.

James Hampton worked as a Janitor to earn a living all his life, on his off time he was compelled to create art to express his strong religious beliefs. He made this assemblage out of discarded furniture, flashbulbs, wrapped in gold and silver foil and purple tissue paper.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

For Safe Keeping

Set of Canopic Jars, c. 1069-945 BC, Egyptian 21st Dynasty, The British Museum.

These jars were used to store the internal organs, removed for mummification. They stored the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines. They represent the four sons of the god Horus and were to protect the organs inside.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

You Have to Look the Part

Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne, 1806 by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Musée de l'Armée, Paris.

Ingres' state portrait of Napoleon the I is one of the most commanding ever done. He was a young man and a student of Jacques-Louis David when he painted this work.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Apple Blossoms

Spring (Apple Blossoms) by John Everett Millais, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, England

Millais is one of the founding members of the 19th century British artist group known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He achieved the most fame of the group and eventually came to lead the Royal Academy he had rebelled against.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Beyond Floors and Bathrooms

Detail from Pewabic Pottery tile decoration from the Guardian Building, 1928, Detroit MI.

Mary Chase Perry Stratton and her partner Horace Caulkins founded the Pewabic Pottery based on the Arts & Crafts style and ideal sweeping the country. The building they built in 1907 they moved to the building that still houses an active pottery, museum and store.

Another view of the Guardian Building.

I received this fantastic book as a gift and had to re-post the Guardian Building. Anyone who is into architecture will love it and Detroiters need to see it to appreciate the gems in that city (before they disappear).
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