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Archive for the ‘Modern Art’ Category

John Constable: Landscape and Prophecy

October 28, 2014 2 comments

It could be just a fine landscape painted in the colder months in England, but RT feels there’s something prescient or even prophetic about this untitled painting by John Constable. The image, with its loose, impressionistic style, anticipates art that would have been considered avant-garde a half-century after Constable painted it (1811), and its subject is nothing tangible, but rather the mood it creates in the viewer. We see here a movement away from the heroic and romantic concerns of the 18th and 19th centuries towards a direct encounter with nature and experience, the commonplace that is somehow not commonplace. The beauty of humanity and nature are here in balance, a poise we need to encourage in our century.    RT

Painting: Study for or detail of a larger painting? John Constable, 1811. WikiCmns; Victoria and Albert Museum. Public Domain.

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Two Figures: Something Fun…

November 12, 2013 1 comment

File:Albert Müller Zwei Figuren 474.jpg

something fun…enjoy!   RT

Drawing: Two Figures (by 1926); Albert Muller. Crayon on paper. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Autumn in France

September 22, 2013 6 comments

File:Autumn in France Emily Carr 1911.jpeg

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Here’s something bright to begin autumn with… enjoy!   RT

Painting: Autumn in France; Emily Carr; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Evan Hecox

September 15, 2013 Leave a comment

dynamic design, for sure…  RT

(reposted from The Accidental Optimist)

Evan Hecox.

Van Gogh–Self-Portrait & A New Biography

September 5, 2013 5 comments

485px-VanGogh-self-portrait-dedicated_to_gaugin--WikiPD

RT has been gulping down a new(ish) biography of Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh: The Life, by Stephen Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, The book is detailed and presents a portrait of the man that is far more complex than the understanding RT previously had of this artist/saint. Artist/saint he remains, but with more rough edges than RT had imagined. And then there is the matter of this remarkable self-portrait. After struggling for decades to discover his true calling, in the last four years of his life Van Gogh achieved a luminous understanding of himself. Setting aside the dark colors of his early work, overcoming at last the reasonable expectations of his family, Van Gogh experienced a vision of life as it should be: beautiful and sacred.   RT

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Painting: Self-portrait Dedicated to Gauguin (September, 1888); Vincent Van Gogh; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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J.M.W. Turner–The Wreck of the Minotaur

August 17, 2013 1 comment

File:Shipwreck turner.jpg

At heart, RT is a romantic: essentially optimistic, a believer in beauty, dramatic in his understated way.  No wonder, then, that he has long been a fan of the British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), Something of a prodigy, Turner was producing respectable architectural studies by the age of 12 and entered the Royal Academy of Art at 14. His first watercolor drawing was accepted for the RA’s Summer Exhibition in 1790; Turner was 15.

By 1796, Turner had established a reputation as an oil painter (he was also known for his watercolors), and he was able to support himself as an artist for the rest of his life. Financial security made it possible for Turner to experiment boldly with effects of light, color, and mood, but did not bring social success or marriage. The artist was something of a recluse; his father lived with him for 30 years, working as studio assistant, and after his death Turner began to suffer from depression. He is believed to have fathered two daughters with Sarah Danby, an older widow.

John Ruskin praised Turner’s work, and Claude Monet is known to have studied Turner’s paintings. It should be added that Turner was not adverse to addressing contemporary political issues, as his paintings The Slave Ship and Rain, Steam, and Speed–The Great Western Railway demonstrate. But the painting that RT has chosen to illustrate this post with commemorates the loss of a British Navy ship of the line, a veteran of many important battles, including Trafalgar, in 1810. About 450 men were lost in the wreck.  RT

Painting: HMS Minotaur (1793); J. M. W. Turner. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Southern Art–George E. Ohr, Walter Anderson, Georgia O’Keefe

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RT will confess, right at the get-go, that he doesn’t know much about Southern art. For reasons he’s never bothered to figure out, his art education has focused on the achievements of New York City’s art culture. NYC, art capital of the nation? Well, certainly by volume of output, anyway.

Part of the problem, now that he thinks about it, is that the type of art produced in the United States varies (along with so much else) by geographic location: artists in the north have tended to produce minimalist and conceptual work; artists in the south, representational work. And of course there are plenty of exceptions to what might be called RT’s 12:03 am Rule.  But RT’s limited impression tells him that a certain longing for old-fashioned sensuousness and bright colors characterizes the work of those who feel the influence of the Gulf of Mexico’s tropical waters.

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For instance, meet George E. Ohr–the self-styled “mad potter of Biloxi.” Harbinger of avant-garde sculpture, seeker of new and more ravishing glazes, superb technician (he seems to have been all three), Ohr (1857-1918) was indisputably one of the most creative souls America has produced so far. His pottery broke with the prevailing standards of the time by experimenting with form in a way that had never been attempted before. Fun is certainly one of Ohr’s themes. But his spontaneity and sheer joy in experimentation is tempered by technical skill and finesse–attempts to recreate his glazes have not met with success. And you have to admire Ohr’s brio; by the standards of his time, the crushed and oddly shaped ceramic objects he produced went way beyond “flaky.” The mad potter was pursuing a new kind of beauty, even (getting mathematical per RT’s recent post), exploring space.

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Here’s another southern artist to take seriously: Walter Anderson (1903-1965), a multi-talented individual who lived in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Anderson was a writer, painter, and naturalist who studied at the NY School of Fine and Applied Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before working as a designer at the family pottery, Shearwater Pottery, Anderson executed several large-scale works during the 1930s before suffering a nervous breakdown in 1938 followed by psychotic episodes. Whether this was caused by malaria and undulant fever or an underlying psychiatric condition has never been determined. Despite his hospitalizations, he managed to visit China in 1948. Anderson’s paintings are inviting, leave a dream-like, colorful impression, and deal with a wide range of subject matter–they reflect his encounters with the sublime.

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Last but not least is Georgia O’Keefe. Yes, she was born in Wisconsin, yes she lived in New York City and Taos, New Mexico, but she also spent three summers at the University of Virginia. where, influenced by the ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow, she began to paint again after a hiatus of four years. Her time as head of the Art Department at West Texas A&M University in 1916-1918 was another important influence on her work. Despite the many other sources of O’Keefe’s work acquired while she traveled across the United States (including Hawaii), her mature painting retains the quality of lucidity that seems to characterize southern art.

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The crashiest of crash courses? Maybe, but RT hopes that reading about these three artists will inspire readers to explore southern art in greater depth.    RT

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RT’s Related Posts: The Vogels: Collecting Art as if Your Life Depended on It.

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Photo: George E. Ohr, WikiCmns; Public Domain. Painting: Blue and Green Music (1921); Georgia O’Keefe. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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