1881-1973, Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and ceramist, who worked in France. He is generally considered in his technical virtuosity, enormous versatility, and incredible originality and prolificity to have been the foremost figure in 20th-century art.
Early Life and Work
A precocious draftsman, Picasso was admitted to the advanced classes at the Royal Academy of Art in Barcelona at 15. After 1900 he spent much time in Paris, remaining there from 1904 to 1947, when he moved to the South of France. His power is revealed in his very early works, some of which were influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec (such as Old Woman, 1901; Philadelphia Mus. of Art).
Picasso's artistic production is usually described in terms of a series of overlapping periods. In his "blue period" (1901-4) he depicted the world of the poor. Predominantly in tones of blue, these melancholy paintings (such as The Old Guitarist, 1903; Art Inst. of Chicago) are among the most popular art works of the century. Canvases from Picasso's "rose period" (1905-6) are characterized by a lighter palette and greater lyricism, with subject matter often drawn from circus life. Picasso's Parisian studio attracted the major figures of the avant-garde at this time, including Matisse, Braque, Apollinaire, and Gertrude Stein. He had already produced numerous engravings of great power and began his work in sculpture during these years.
In 1907 Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (Mus. of Modern Art, New York City), a radical departure from the artistic ideas of the preceding ages and now considered the most significant work in the development toward cubism and modern abstraction (see modern art). The influence of Cézanne and of African sculpture is apparent in its fragmented forms and unprecedented distortions. The painting heralded the first phase of cubism, called analytic cubism. This severe, intellectual style was conceived and developed by Picasso, Braque, and Gris c.1909-12. Picasso's Female Nude (1910-11; Philadelphia Mus. of Art) is a representative painting and his Woman's Head (1909; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) a representative sculpture of this style.
In the synthetic phase of cubism (after 1912) his forms became larger and more representational, and flat, bright decorative patterns replaced the earlier, more austere compositions. The Three Musicians (1921; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) exemplifies this style. Picasso's cubist works established firmly that the work of art may exist as a significant object beyond any attempt to represent reality. During both periods of cubism experiments by Picasso and others resulted in several new techniques, including collage and papier collé.
Other Stylistic Innovations
Picasso's enormous energy and fecundity was manifested by another development. In the 1920s he drew heavily on classical themes and produced magnificent monumental nudes and monsters that were reminiscent of antiquity and rendered with a certain anguished irony.These works appeared simultaneously with synthetic cubist paintings. Picasso was for a time saluted as a forerunner of surrealism, but his intellectual approach was basically antithetical to the irrational aesthetic of the surrealist painters.
The artist sought to strengthen the emotional impact of his work and became preoccupied with the delineation of agony. In 1937 the bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica impelled him to produce his second landmark painting, Guernica (Mus. of Modern Art, New York City), an impassioned allegorical condemnation of fascism and war. The profits he earned from a series of etchings and prints made in the 1930s went to help the Republican cause.
Later Life and Work
In his later years Picasso turned to creations of fantasy and comic invention. He worked consistently in sculpture, ceramics, and in the graphic arts, producing thousands of superb drawings, illustrations, and stage designs. With unabated vigor he painted brilliant variations on the works of other masters, including Delacroix and Velázquez, and continued to explore new aspects of his personal vision until his death. His notable later works include Rape of the Sabines (1963; Picasso Mus., Paris) and Young Bather with Sand Shovel (1971; private collection, France). By virtue of his vast energies and overwhelming power of invention Picasso remains outstanding among the masters of the ages.
Sergey was born Sergey Cherepakhin in St. Petersburg, Russia on January 24, 1969. His creative and artistic talents were recognized early. He was encouraged to attend art school and began studying art by the age of eight. During that time, Sergey discovered his absolute love of art.
After completing his first few years of school, Sergey knew he wanted to attend one of the most prestigious art schools in Europe, the “Serovo Art Institute.” In the next few years of his education, he studied extensively all the classic forms of art including, European art history, photography, printing process, sculpture, restoration methods and painting everything from still-life to portraits.
Sergey’s images reflect his passion for French Impressionism and his love of color. Imagination fueled by a lifetime of wanderlust is the key to his lively and popular landscapes. Energy flows from his paintings with a gentle yet powerful force that keeps one captivated for a lifetime.
His work has been exhibited across the globe, from his homeland of Russia in St. Petersburg and Moscow, to galleries in England, Australia and in the United States of America. His one-man shows and special exhibits are typically “SOLD-OUT” events.
The 32 year old artist was recently recognized in December of 2000 by the ACCADEMIA INTERNAZIONALE, Greco-Marino, Accademia Del Verbano, Di Lettere, Arti, Scienze in Italy, with an appointment of Professor Sergey Cherepakhin, Associate Academician, Department of Arts. The appointment was based on Sergey’s artistic life reported in the Dizionario Enciclopedico d’Arte Contemporanea and other catalogues and was awarded the nationwide title of ACADEMICAL ASSOCIATE OF VERBANO.
Like many who venture to the United States, Sergey Americanized his name. His artwork often holds the signature Sergey Cherep.
The Russian-born painter Romain de Tirtoff, who called himself Erté after the French pronunciation of his initials, was one of the foremost fashion and stage designers of the early twentieth century. From the sensational silver lamé costume, complete with pearl wings and ebony-plumed cap, that he wore to a ball in 1914, to his magical and elegant designs for the Broadway musical Stardust in 1988, Erté pursued his chosen career with unflagging zest and creativity for almost 80 years. On his death in 1990, he was hailed as the "prince of the music hall" and "a mirror of fashion for 75 years".
Born in St. Petersburg and destined by his father for a military career, Erté confounded expectation by creating his first successful costume design at the age of five, and was finally allowed to move to Paris in 1912, in fulfillment of his ambition to become a fashion illustrator. He soon gained a contract with the journal Harper's Bazaar, to which he continued to contribute fashion drawings for 22 years. Erté is perhaps best remembered for the gloriously extravagant costumes and stage sets that he designed for the Folies-Bergère in Paris and George White's Scandals in New York, which exploit to the full his taste for the exotic and romantic, and his appreciation of the sinuous and lyrical human figure. As well as the music-hall, Erté also designed for the opera and the traditional theatre, and spent a brief and not wholly satisfactory period in Hollywood in 1925, at the invitation of Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer.
After a period of relative obscurity in the 1940s and 1950s, Erté's characteristic style found a new and enthusiastic market in the 1960s, and the artist responded to renewed demand by creating a series of colorful lithographic prints and sculpture. This luxuriously illustrated museum contains a rich and representative selection of images, drawn from throughout Erté's long and extraordinary productive career.
(The designs created by Erté during his long and illustrious life influenced not only the world of theatre, film and fashion, but an entire art movement as well. The genius of the artist is evidenced by an enormous body of work that is considered among the most influential and unique of the 20th century. Erté—Romain de Tirtoff—was born in Russia in 1892, and died at age 97 in 1990. His legendary career spanned nearly the entire length of his life. In 1912, Erté moved to Paris and his unique talent was immediately recognized by the city’s most established couturiers. In 1915, he began an association with Harper’s Bazaar by designing covers of each of their magazines for the next 22 years. The influence of his work as a result of the high visibility of this periodical influenced an entire art movement that was to become known as “Art Deco”. Throughout this period, the artist also created original costume and fashion designs for many of the era’s most renowned screen actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova, Norma Shearer and others. His creations for the stage included extravagent designs for productions at such venues as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris and the Paris Opera, as well as for the Folies-Bergères and George White’s Scandals.
At the age of 75, Erté was encouraged to embark on a new career and began to recreate the remarkable designs of his youth in bronze and serigraphy. The Art Deco movement was hence reborn. A lifetime of international success and recognition has ensured this unique artist's place in the annals of art history, and his original designs grace the permanent collections of prestigious museums throughout the world including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.)
Marc Chagall was at odds with the century in which he lived. Despite this, Chagall's reputation is now secure as one of the most critically acclaimed and popular artists of the century. In an age of science and reason, Chagall defied these prevailing standards by seducing the viewer through the illogical inventiveness of his subject matter and his dazzling use of color. Chagall's popularity, in part, is due to his art being resistant to over-intellectualization which is the fate of so much art in the past century. Chagall himself rejected being labeled and steadfastly wished his art to be unaligned with the major art movements of the century.
Chagall thought himself at the opposite of Picasso. He said, "Picasso painted with his belly and me, I paint with my heart."1 In this sense, one could say of the great artists of the school of Paris that Matisse painted with his sense of propriety, Braque with his sense of order, Gris with his sense of design, Leger with his workingman's logic, Modigliani with his sensuality, Miro with his subconscious, and Giacometti with his pathos. But it is emphatically Chagall who painted with his heart on his sleeve. Charles Marq, who worked in stained glass for Chagall, wrote: "Chagall had that very sentimental streak; he was a simple man, very simple. There again, there is always the inner world and the outer world. He was so simple, I often saw him cry while he was working. He was extremely demanding and so was I. He used to say, "Let's go, no fooling around." He was a very good man too, but he couldn't accept people talking about art in a way that didn't match his ideal and his vision. Then he could be really hard-nosed."
This exasperation surfaced in a 1944 interview that was one of the clearest statements by Chagall concerning the meaning of his art. He remarked: "For me a picture is a plane surface covered with representations of objects-beasts, birds, or humans- in a certain order in which anecdotal illustrational logic has no importance. The visual effectiveness of the painted composition comes first. Every extra-structural consideration is secondary. I am against the terms 'fantasy' and 'symbolism' in themselves. All our interior world is reality-and that perhaps more so than our apparent world. To call everything that appears illogical, 'fantasy,' fairy tale, or chimera would be practically to admit not understanding nature."
Chagall is paired with Joan Miro as one of the two great artists of the century whose work is personal, emotional, and, in the case of Miro, often highly abstracted; yet is still understood and appreciated by a large cross section of the public. Picasso is different. He dazzles by his virtuosity of composition and variety of styles. Ultimately, however, Picasso is cerebral. Chagall and Miro, instead appeal to our feelings through color and emotion. Lionello Venturi wrote: "Chagall wanted an art of the soil, and not of the intellect. That is, he refused to follow the intellectual process he did not understand, and remained faithful to the soil-to his own feelings, his own imagination, his memories of his village, of his beloved people and cows. He wanted to revolutionize not the physical but the psychic form of reality."
Marc Chagall could leave Russia but Russia could never leave Marc Chagall. His sense of the tragic and comic in humanity was formed in Vitebsk and was never to abandon him or his art. It resurfaces again and again as a subtle sense of laughter through tears. His art is many things but it is never harsh. Marc Chagall must have been the least judgmental of artists. This sense of empathy comes from the fatalism of his Russian roots and surely his Jewish background. Henri Deschamps who printed some of Chagall's lithographs commented on this: "I don't think it was possible for Chagall to paint like Picasso or Braque, because when you're Jewish, maybe you see things differently, because of that long and difficult past across the centuries....They have a particular art, it emanates from them. Chagall, it just wasn't possible for him to be a Dadaist. Me, for example, I understand Braque. Our origins are in Romanesque art, Gothic art; not theirs. And this wandering through the countries gave them something, something touching in fact. It's a more lyrical art, more interior."
Russia was Chagall's past but Paris was his present and future. It was in Paris in 1910-14 and again in 1923 when he finally settled there that Chagall found himself artistically. He remembered Russia as a world of whites, grays, and blacks. It was in Paris that Chagall discovered and embraced an all-encompassing sense of color. He observed it everywhere from the streets and the sky to paintings in artists' studios and the Louvre. It was a revelation that transformed his art and caused him to later say that in Paris he was born a second time.
Cubism, Futurism, and other advanced art movements of the day were both a shock and a revelation to Chagall. Their influences advanced, and then eventually receded from his art. His mature style, established by the 1920s, consisted of expressively rendered representation in imaginative, even magical compositions with people, animals, and objects often defying gravity and logic. The unifying force in his art, however, was color. Rich, complex, and layered, Chagall's color floats like chromatic mists across the surface of his work. Chagall is one of a select group of 20th-century artists, which includes Bonnard, Vuillard, Matisse, Miro, Rothko, Avery, and Diebenkorn, where masterful color is the dominant force.
Marc Chagall was 33 years old and already an established artist when he was commissioned to make his first prints in Berlin in 1922. These were all black and white etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts. They were somewhat tentative due to Chagall's unfamiliarity with the graphic techniques. Nevertheless, the vigor and originality of his creativity was evident. Settled in Paris by the fall of 1923, and through an introduction by the poet Blaise Cendrars, Chagall met Ambroise Vollard, the individual whose ambitions in the graphic arts were to monopolize his creativity for the next 15 years.
A legendary dealer of Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings, Vollard's greatest passion was in the publishing of Livres des artistes by the foremost artists and writers of the day. He eventually commissioned three massive publication projects from Chagall, the Dead Souls by Gogol (107 etchings), La Fontaine's Fables (100 etchings), and The Bible (105 etchings), which Chagall was to work on intermittently until World War II. Vollard, who died in 1939, did not live to see any of these projects realized. They were eventually issued by the publisher Teriade in 1948, 1952, and 1956 through 1958 respectively.
Although Chagall threw himself into these projects with enthusiasm, their reliance on line and lack of color limited his ability to truly express himself. While in exile in America, he was finally given his first opportunity to create color prints. The series of 13 color lithographs illustrating Four Tales from the Arabian Nights were begun in 1946 and published in 1948. This publication was an extraordinary achievement considering that it was Chagall's first venture into that medium and that it was printed in New York, devoid of the tradition and skills of color printing that Paris had in abundance.
In 1948 in the workshop of the Parisian lithographic printer Fernand Mourlot, Chagall finally found his home as a printmaker. Under the patient tutelage of printers like Charles Sorlier, Chagall found color lithography to be the perfect graphic medium for his art. Christopher Conrad has written: ".lithography soon became his favored printing technique. This is certainly due primarily to the fact that he could integrate the one element he had previously always missed in his graphic art: color. Color is employed in Chagall's work with greatly varying intensity, from watercolor-like washes and fragile crayon lines to opaque layers whose effect closely resembles that of his luminescent gouaches."
Over the next 35 years Chagall's enthusiasm resulted in the creation of over 1,000 color and black and white lithographs.
Just as the printers taught Chagall, he in turn, with his inventiveness and constant artistic inquiry, pushed the limits of their capabilities. Commenting about working with Chagall, Henri Deschamps said: "Me, I was disoriented by those masters (Chagall and Picasso) at the beginning, because when I was a young lithographer we used to put on just a little bit of color, because the pigment was expensive. But Chagall, he didn't worry about the price, he didn't give a damn, he put on all the colors he needed. So often, after a print, he would add a few tones, which worked out just fine in fact....So if at the end he wanted to put a bit of blue in the sky, a spot, or a cloud and a pair of lovers . well, what are you going to say? That's the way it is."
The crowning achievement of Marc Chagall's career as a printmaker is the suite of 42 luminous color lithographs illustrating Daphnis and Chloe by Longus, which was published in 1961. It was through the friendship of Chagall's longtime Greek friend and publisher Teriade (1897-1983) that he was introduced to this classic text of antiquity. In order to assimilate himself with the spirit of the story, Chagall travelled to Greece in 1952 before producing the gouaches that served as the models for these prints. In 1954 he returned once more to Greece, "to see if I hadn't been mistaken and to check whether my first impressions had been the right ones."
The painstaking translation of the gouaches into lithography began in 1957 and went on for four years. In the end approximately 1,000 zinc plates were needed to produce the series of 42 lithographs. Some of the prints required up to 25 colors. The teamwork required to produce such a complex publication was truly amazing.
In his greatest color lithographs, such as Daphnis and Chloe, Marc Chagall created works that are the equal of his finest achievements in painting, drawing, stained glass, and ceramics. Henri Deschamps contributed the wonderful remark, "Chagall, they say he came into the world every morning."9 To see life afresh each day, to act on one's imagination and impulses in creating an art based on a poetry of feeling is Chagall's gift to the world. His work is done, his achievement secure. It is for us to appreciate his genius and take refuge from an often uncomprehending world in the beauty he left us.
written by - Robert Flynn Johnson, Achenbach Foundation
Louis Icart was born in 1888 in Toulouse, France. He began drawing at an early age. His move to Paris is believed to involve his aunt, she owned a fashionable millinery shop called Maison Valmont. While visiting the Icart family saw young Louis’ work, was very impressed, and brought him to the Paris.
Icart started his career in a studio that produced sexy postcards of the type the French were famous. His first job was to make copies of existing images, but he soon began designing original works. He successfully submitted his original works to magazines and was commissioned to design covers for La Critique Théâtrale.
Icart enjoyed rapid acceptance as an illustrator of catalogues for fashion houses, and in 1913 he was invited to exhibit at the Salon des Humoristes.
The tradition of fine art etchings of beautiful women became popular in France with artists like Paul-César Helleu and Manuel Robbe. Icart learned the technique of etching on copper and took the art to new heights. Combing his understanding of fashion, his obvious love of beautiful women, and understanding the commercial value of his work Icart became one of the most popular artists of his time.
Icart met his second wife Fanny in 1914; she became his most popular model. She was an artist in her own right and a ravishing blonde beauty. He was drafted into the military in World War One; he became a pilot and flew combat missions. He sketched constantly during the war and did many etchings with patriotic themes.
Icart is known worldwide for his etchings, it is believed he created more than 500 etchings in his lifetime. He also illustrated more than thirty books, many extremely erotic, and became an accomplished painter as well. He had several distinctive styles over the years, which are mostly expressed in his color palette. Many of his early paintings are moody, with use of browns, gold, and reds. As the times became brighter so did his paintings. In 1920 he exhibited at Galerie Simonson in Paris, and received mixed critical revues. Icart’s work was influenced by the Impressionists, like many other painters he took what he needed from them and used it in communicating his own vision of his times. His paintings are very personal and less commercial than his etchings; they were created for his own pleasure and not specifically intended to reach a large public audience. He exhibited frequently in Parisian galleries and several times in New York.
In 1922 Louis and Fanny Icart traveled to New York City for his first American exhibition. The exhibition was at Belmaison a gallery at John Wanamaker’s department store, and the exhibit later moved to Wanakamers in Philadelphia. He exhibited fifty oil paintings, and was met with mixed reviews.
In 1932 the Louis Icart Society, an organization created to market his etchings, exhibited a collection of paintings called “Les Visions Blanches.” They were shown at the Metropolitan Galleries in New York, many of the canvases were subjects similar to his popular etchings. Because Icart himself did not attend the exhibition it did not attract much publicity.
After the German invasion in 1940, Icart turned to a more serious subject. Her executed a series of paintings documenting the horrors of the occupation. This collection was called L’Exode, Icart like many of his countrymen fled Paris; these works chronicle that exodus. In the 1970s, when a renewed interest in Icart’s work was taking hold, a group of these paintings, along with several large earlier works were discovered in an attic storage facility of a Paris art academy, a sort of graveyard of forgotten art.
Icart captured the romance of Les Années Folles. His unabashed eroticism, and his incredible prolific nature gained him world renown and made him quite wealthy. From 1930 he lived in a magnificent house in Montmartre with a breathtaking view of Paris.
With the resurgence of interest in the Art Deco period, Icart’s works have enjoyed an unprecedented revival. There are several books in print on the artist. Louis Icart is one of the most recognized artists specifically identified with Art Deco, he is included in this collection in order to draw attention to his paintings, any collection of works of this period would be lacking without Icart’s inclusion.
Marcel Mouly was born in Paris in 1918 and has been heavily influenced by the work of Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Marcel Mouly, now in his eighties, is the last living student of Picasso. He is acknowledged as one of the most outstanding contemporary artists of our century, whose unique style is immediately recognized around the world. His work is housed in the permanent collections of over 20 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in Japan, Museum of Modern Art in Helsinki, the Museum of Geneva, and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Numerous books have been written about Mouly.
In 1935, after studying painting at the French Academies, he began to show his work publicly. He was befriended by the great sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz, to whom he became a protege and was influenced by his approach to Cubism. In 1945 he participated at the Salon d'Automne, took part in the open art forums of the Ecole de Boulogne and studied with Leger, Pignon and Bertin in 1945.
His first one-person show was at the Libraire Bergamesque in Paris in 1949. Since that time he has had over 50 one-person exhibitions internationally including the countries of Brazil, Venezuela, the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Norway. He works with deep powerful colors, which are used in the manner of the Fauvist painters Matisse, Dufy and Derain; however, color and the background architectural structure of his compositions are derived from analytic and synthetic cubism. Mouly has continued to gain in reputation and popularity so that today he is recognized as one of the important artists still linked with the great French masters of the early Twentieth Century. He has excelled as a painter and master printmaker and has been awarded the French National honors of Chevalier de l'order des Artes et Letteres in 1957 and the Premier Prix de Lithographie in 1973.
Alexander Calder was born in 1898, the second child of artist parents-- his father was a sculptor and his mother a painter. Because his father Alexander Stirling Calder received public commissions, the family traversed the country throughout Calder's childhood. Calder was encouraged to create, and from the age of eight he always had his own workshop wherever* the family lived. For Christmas in 1909, Calder presented his parents with two of his first sculptures, a tiny dog and duck cut from a brass sheet and bent into formation. The duck is kinetic-- it rocks back and forth when tapped. Even at age eleven, his facility in handling materials was apparent.
Despite his talents, Calder did not originally set out to become an artist. He instead enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology after high school and graduated in 1919 with an engineering degree. Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as hydraulics engineer and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship's boiler room. While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast). The experience made a lasting impression on Calder: he would refer to it throughout his life.
Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students' League. He also took a job illustrating for the National Police Gazette, which sent him to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to sketch circus scenes for two weeks in 1925. The circus became a lifelong interest of Calder's, and after moving to Paris in 1926, he created his Cirque Calder, a complex and unique body of art. The assemblage included diminutive performers, animals, and props he had observed at the Ringling Brothers Circus. Fashioned from wire, leather, cloth, and other found materials, Cirque Calder was designed to be manipulated manually by Calder. Every piece was small enough to be packed into a large trunk, enabling the artist to carry it with him and hold performances anywhere. Its first performance was held in Paris for an audience of friends and peers, and soon Calder was presenting the circus in both Paris and New York to much success. Calder's renderings of his circus often lasted about two hours and were quite elaborate. Indeed, the Cirque Calder predated performance art by forty years.
Calder found he enjoyed working with wire for his circus: he soon began to sculpt from this material portraits of his friends and public figures of the day. Word traveled about the inventive artist, and in 1928 Calder was given his first solo gallery show at the Weyhe Gallery in New York. The show at Weyhe was soon followed by others in New York, as well as in Paris and Berlin: as a result, Calder spent much time crossing the ocean by boat. He met Louisa James (a grandniece of writer Henry James) on one of these steamer journeys and the two were married in January 1931. He also became friendly with many prominent artists and intellectuals of the early twentieth century at this time, including Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, James Johnson Sweeney, and Marcel Duchamp. In October 1930 Calder visited the studio of Piet Mondrian in Paris and was deeply impressed by a wall of colored, paper rectangles that Mondrian continually repositioned for compositional experiments. He recalled later in life that this experience "shocked" him toward total abstraction. For three weeks following this visit, he created solely abstract paintings, only to discover that he did indeed prefer sculpture to painting. Soon after, he was invited to join Abstraction-Création, an influential group of artists (including Arp, Mondrian, and Hélion) with whom he had become friendly.
In the fall of 1931, a significant turning point in Calder's artistic career occurred when he created his first truly kinetic sculpture and gave form to an entirely new type of art. The first of these objects moved by systems of cranks and motors, and were dubbed "mobiles" by Marcel Duchamp, for in French mobile refers to both motion and motive. Calder soon abandoned the mechanical aspects of these works when he realized he could fashion mobiles that would undulate on their own with the air's currents. Jean Arp, in order to differentiate Calder's non-kinetic works from his kinetic works, named Calder's stationary objects "stabiles."
In 1933, Calder and Louisa left France and returned to the United States, where they purchased an old farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. Calder converted an icehouse attached to the main house into a studio for himself. Their first daughter, Sandra, was born in 1935, and a second daughter, Mary, followed in 1939. He also began his association with the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York with his first show there in 1934. James Johnson Sweeney, who had become a close friend, wrote the catalogue's preface. Calder also constructed sets for ballets by both Martha Graham and Eric Satie during the 1930s, and continued to give Cirque Calder performances.
Calder's earliest attempts at large, outdoor sculptures were also constructed in this decade. These predecessors of his later imposing public works were much smaller and more delicate; the first attempts made for his garden were easily bent in strong winds. Yet, they are indicative of his early intentions to work on a grand scale. In 1937, Calder created his first large bolted stabile fashioned entirely from sheet metal, which he entitled Devilfish. Enlarged from an earlier and smaller stabile, the work was exhibited in a Pierre Matisse Gallery show, Stabiles and Mobiles. This show also included Big Bird, another large work based on a smaller maquette. Soon after, Calder received commissions to make both Mercury Fountain for the Spanish Pavilion at the Parisian World Fair (a work that symbolized Spanish Republican resistance to fascism) and Lobster Trap and Fish Tail, a sizable mobile installed in the main stairwell of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
When the United States entered World War II Calder applied for entry to the Marine Corps but was ultimately rejected. He continued to create: because metal was in short supply during the war years, Calder turned increasingly to wood as a sculptural medium. Working in wood resulted in yet another original form of sculpture, works called "constellations" by Sweeney and Duchamp. With their carved wood elements anchored by wire, the constellations were so called because they suggested the cosmos, though Calder did not intend that they represent anything in particular. The Pierre Matisse Gallery held an exhibition of these works in the spring of 1943, Calder's last solo show at that gallery. His association with Matisse ended shortly thereafter and he took up the Buchholz Gallery/Curt Valentin as his New York representation.
The forties and fifties were a remarkably productive period for Calder, which was launched in 1939 with the first retrospective of his work at the George Walter Vincent Smith Gallery in Springfield, Massachusetts. A second, major retrospective was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York just a few years later, in 1943. In 1945, Calder made a series of small-scale works; in keeping with his economy, many were made from scraps of metal trimmed while making larger pieces. While visiting Calder's studio about this time, Marcel Duchamp was intrigued by these small works. Inspired by the idea that the works could be easily dismantled, mailed to Europe, and re-assembled for an exhibition, he planned a Calder show at Galerie Louis Carré in Paris. This important show was held the following year and Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his famous essay on Calder's mobiles for the exhibition catalogue. In 1949, Calder constructed his largest mobile to date, International Mobile, for the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Third International Exhibition of Sculpture. He designed sets for Happy as Larry, a play directed by Burgess Meredith, and for Nuclea, a dance performance directed by Jean Vilar. Galerie Maeght in Paris also held a Calder show in 1950, and subsequently became Calder's exclusive Parisian dealer. His association with Galerie Maeght lasted twenty-six years, until his death in 1976. After his New York dealer Curt Valentin died unexpectedly in 1954, Calder selected the Perls Gallery in New York as his new American dealer, and this alliance also lasted until the end of his life.
Calder concentrated his efforts primarily on large-scale commissioned works in his later years. Some of these major monumental sculpture commissions include: .125, a mobile for the New York Port Authority that was hung in Idlewild (now John F. Kennedy) Airport (1957); La Spirale, for UNESCO, in Paris (1958); Teodelapio, for the city of Spoleto, Italy (1962); Man, for the Expo in Montreal (1967); El Sol Rojo (the largest of all Calder's works, at sixty-seven feet high) installed outside the Aztec Stadium for the Olympic Games in Mexico City; La Grande Vitesse, the first public art work to be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1969); and Flamingo, a stabile for the General Services Administration in Chicago (1973).
As the range and breadth of his various projects and commissions indicate, Calder's artistic talents were renowned worldwide by the 1960s. A retrospective of his work opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1964. Five years later the Fondation Maeght, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, held its own Calder retrospective. In 1966, Calder, together with his son-in-law Jean Davidson, published a well-received autobiography. Additionally, both of Calder's dealers, Galerie Maeght in Paris and the Perls Gallery in New York averaged about one Calder show each per year.
In 1976, he attended the opening of yet another retrospective of his work, Calder's Universe, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Just a few weeks later, Calder died at the age of seventy-eight, ending the most prolific and innovative artistic career of the twentieth century. 1
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press
French painter, one of the important revolutionaries of 20th-century art who, together with Pablo Picasso, developed Cubism.
His paintings consist primarily of still lifes, remarkable for their robust construction, low-keyed colour harmonies, and serene, meditative quality (e.g., "Still Life with a Mandolin," 1935).
Braque was born just seven months after Picasso, in a small community on the Seine near Paris and one of the centres of the Impressionist movement in the 1870s. His father and a grandfather were the owners of a prosperous house-painting firm, and both were amateur artists. In 1890 the family moved to Le Havre, which had also been, in the time of the seascapist Eugène Boudin and the young Claude Monet, an early centre of Impressionism. The boy attended the local public school, accompanied his father on painting expeditions, and developed an interest in sports, including eventually boxing, that gave him, as an adult, the look of a professional athlete. He also learned to play the flute.
At 15 Braque enrolled in the evening course at the Le Havre academy of fine arts. He left school at 17 for a year of apprenticeship as a house painter and interior decorator, first in Le Havre and then in Paris; during this period he picked up his solidly professional handling of materials and his knowledge of the artisan's tricks--the imitation of wood grain, for instance--frequently utilized in his Cubist pictures. After a year of military service he decided, with the help of an allowance from his family, to become an artist. Between 1902 and 1904 he studied in a Paris private academy and, very briefly, at the official École des Beaux-Arts; in his free hours he frequented the Louvre, where he admired especially Egyptian and archaic Greek works.
His early paintings reveal, as might be expected from a childhood spent in Normandy, the influence of the Impressionists, in particular that of Monet and of Camille Pissarro. A little later came the revelation of the firm structures and the union of colour and tone values in the work of Paul Cézanne. But Braque can be said to have begun to find his way only in 1905, when he visited the Paris Salon d'Automne and saw the violent explosion of arbitrary colour in the room occupied by the paintings of the group nicknamed the Fauves (Wild Beasts). During the next two years he was a convinced, if rather prudent and tradition-minded, Fauvist, working for a while at Antwerp and then on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille, at L'Estaque and La Ciotat. Representative pictures from this period are "Le Port d'Anvers," "The Port of La Ciotat" and "View from the Hôtel Mistral, L'Estaque."
In the spring of 1907 he exhibited six paintings at the Paris Salon des Indépendants and sold them all. Later that year he signed a contract with a dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who had recently opened a small Paris gallery destined to play an important role in the history of modern art. Kahnweiler brought around the avant-garde poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who introduced Braque to Picasso in the latter's Montmartre studio. Braque was at first disconcerted by Picasso's recently painted "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (Museum of Modern Art, New York City). "Listen," he is reported to have said, "in spite of your explanations your painting looks as if you wanted to make us eat tow, or drink gasoline and spit fire." But the two artists became close friends, and within a few months they were engaged in the unprecedented process of mutual influence from which Cubism emerged.
It is impossible to say which of the two was the principal inventor of the revolutionary new style, for at the height of their collaboration they exchanged ideas almost daily and produced pictures so alike as to be practically indistinguishable. Picasso provided, with his proto-Cubist "Demoiselles," the initial liberating shock. But it was Braque, largely because of his admiration for Cézanne, who provided much of the early tendency toward geometrical forms. During the summer of 1908 in southern France, he painted a series of radically innovative canvases, of which the most celebrated is "Houses at L'Estaque"; here already can be seen the slab volumes, sober colouring, and warped perspective typical of the first part of what has been called the analytical phase of Cubism. That fall he had a show at Kahnweiler's gallery and provoked from the Paris critic Louis Vauxcelles a remark about "cubes" that soon blossomed into a stylistic label.
By 1911 Braque--now teamed, as he said later, with Picasso as if they were roped alpinists--was well into the so-called hermetic part of the analytical phase of Cubism, of which "Man with a Guitar" is an example; here the colours are brown, gray, and green, the pictorial space is almost flat, viewpoints and light sources are multiplied, contours are broken, volumes are often transparent, and facets are turned into apparently illogical simultaneous views. Also in 1911, Braque stencilled letters into "The Portuguese" and thus significantly strengthened the idea, full of consequences for the future of art, that a picture was not a representation but an autonomous object. In 1912 he went further in the same direction and created what is generally considered the first papier collé (pasted-paper picture) by attaching three pieces of wallpaper to the drawing "Fruit Dish and Glass".
During the early part of the Cubist adventure, he had a studio in Montmartre but often worked elsewhere: in 1909 at La Roche-Guyon, on the Seine, west of Paris; in 1910 back at L'Estaque; and in 1911 at Céret, a village on the Mediterranean side of the foothills of the Pyrenees. In 1912 he married Marcelle Lapré and rented a house at Sorgues, a small town in the Rhône valley near Avignon. With the outbreak of World War I he entered the army as an infantry sergeant and served with distinction, being decorated twice in 1914 for bravery. In 1915 he suffered a serious head wound, which was followed by a trepanation, several months in the hospital, and a long period of convalescence at home at Sorgues. During this period he added to the aphorisms he had been in the habit of scribbling on the margins of drawings, and in 1917 a collection of these sayings, put together by his friend the poet Pierre Reverdy, was published in the review Nord-Sud as "Thoughts and Reflections on Painting." Even a brief sampling can suggest the quality, at once poetic and rational, of Braque's mind and the sort of thinking that lay behind Cubism:
New means, new subjects. . . . The aim is not to reconstitute an anecdotal fact, but to constitute a pictorial fact. . . . To work from nature is to improvise. . . . The senses deform, the mind forms. . . . I love the rule that corrects emotion.
Released from further military service, the artist rejoined the Cubist movement, which by then was in what is sometimes called its synthetic phase--a not very adequate way of referring to a tendency to use more colour and to represent objects not by the previous spider web of analytical signs but by relatively large emblematic planes. In 1917-18 he painted, partly under the influence of his friend Juan Gris, a Spanish-born Cubist master whose paintings were strongly Synthetic Cubist, the geometric, strongly coloured, nearly abstract "Woman Musician" and some still lifes in a similar manner. Rapidly, however, he moved away from austere geometry toward forms softened by looser drawing and freer brushwork; an example of the change is the 1919 "Still Life with Playing Cards." From this point onward his style ceased to evolve in the methodical way it had during the successive phases of Cubism; it became a series of personal variations on the stylistic heritage of the eventful years before World War I. (see also Synthetic Cubism)
By now Braque was a prosperous, established modern master, much in the favour of the well-to-do, up-to-date members of postwar French society. Working again much of the time in Paris, he transferred his studio from Montmartre to Montparnasse in 1922 and three years later moved into a new Left Bank house designed for him by a modern-minded architect, Auguste Perret. In 1923 and again in 1925 he had commissions from Sergey Diaghilev, the great ballet impresario, for the design of stage sets. In 1930 he acquired a country residence at Varengeville, a group of hamlets on the Normandy coast near Dieppe. His painting during these years is most easily classified, because of its stylistic variety, on the basis of subject matter. From 1922 to about 1926 he did a series of canephores, pagan-looking women carrying fruit. Overlapping with this group in time is the series of cheminées, fireplace mantelpieces laden with fruit and perhaps a guitar. By 1928 he was doing a series of gueridons, pedestal tables holding the material previously assigned to mantelpieces.
In 1931 he undertook a new medium of expression: incised, white drawings, reminiscent of ancient Greek pottery designs, executed on plaster plaques painted black. Later in the 1930s he began a series of figure paintings; first-rate examples are " Le Duo" and "The Painter and His Model," and in 1937 he won the Carnegie Prize. During World War II he produced a collection of small, generally flat, very decorative pieces of sculpture, in a style recalling again ancient Greece and centring on vaguely mythological themes. After the war he resumed his practice of doing a number of paintings on a single subject: first came a series of billiard tables, then one of studio interiors, and then one of birds--large, lumbering creatures that seem charged with some forgotten archaic symbolic meaning. During the last years of his life Braque was honoured with important retrospective exhibitions throughout the world, and in December 1961 he became the first living artist to have his works exhibited in the Louvre. 1
"Picasso once said that he had spent his whole life in learning how to draw like a child and many other artists have shared his sentiment- Graciela Rodo Boulanger seems always to have known how to draw like a child…but there are connections within this artist's imagination and feeling that speak a language of which no child is capable."
Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Graciela Rodo Boulanger was raised in an artistic environment. She studied piano with her mother, and it was at the age of 25, after having studied music in Chile, Austria, and Argentina, that she decided to devote herself to her creative expression, which is painting. Since her first one woman show in Vienna, 1953, she has worked in many other mediums beside oil painting: etching, lithography, water colour, pastel, sculpture and tapestry.
More than 150 exhibitions of works by the artist have been held on five continents of the globe. In 1979 she was designated by UNICEF as official artist for the International Year of The Child poster. In 1993 the world Federation of the United Nations chose one of her oil paintings to illustrate a stamp issue and accompanying limited edition print with the theme of endangered species.
Works by the artist have been acquired by many institutions including: the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America, Washington, D.C.: the Bibliotèque Nationale, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, La Paz; and the Modern Art Center, Zurich.
Leonor Fini (1908 -
Born in 1908 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to an Argentine father and an Italian mother, Leonor Fini from the very start, was a prodigy. Fiercely independent from early childhood, she would live one of the most fascinating lives and produce one of the most powerful oeuvres in 20th-century art history.
Fini was raised in Trieste, Italy, by a mother who fled her "overly macho" Argentine father. It was a highly cultured household, comprised mostly of women whose house guests included figures like James Joyce and Rainer Maria Rilke. Trieste was a crossroads of European cultures. Art Nouveau, Viennese Secessionist and traditional Baroque aesthetics predominated in her childhood, along with the everyday "commercial" imagery of elegant packaging and children's books. These influences, along with her beloved cats, would permeate Fini's artwork for the rest of her life.
Fini's mother dressed her as a boy until she reached puberty to disguise her from hired kidnappers sent by her father to abduct her to Argentina. After many failed attempts to retrieve his daughter this way, her father finally gave up and had minimal if any contact with her for the rest of his life.
Fini had read all of Freud by the time of la tentation, rencontre pendant la nuit (Temptation: Encounter in the Night) which she executed around the time she left home for good (1924-25). This painting represents the first important cornerstone of Weinstein Gallery's collection of her work. She was seventeen years old when she completed it. The painting is infused with sensuality, both beautiful and ominous, gentle but full of erotic connotations. Fini utilized universal motifs of intense, but often subtle, facial expression, literary and apocalyptic as well as redemptive imagery. All the work, no matter if it be macabre or overtly sexual, is extraordinarily beautiful and demonstrates great technical proficiency. Her mastery of watercolor is near legendary, producing very loose soft-hued visages of pointed but ambiguous emotional intensity, pieces such as "visage bleu" and the large and impressive "Leven" (possibly a semi-portrait of a friend).
Like Da Vinci, she learned anatomy through the studying of corpses which she found in Trieste morgues. The highly detailed sketches of her youth later gave way to highly gestural and increasingly simpler drawings, usually of women or scenes from literature, such as "étude pour Mr. Venus" or "le Concile d'amour". She showed a genius' gift for self-expression and self-tutelage, and a constant rebellion against regimented forms of education. Though she never attended art schools, she eventually became France's most celebrated female artist. Her first show was in Milan at the age of seventeen. Soon thereafter, she moved to France for good.
Fini enjoyed a lifetime love of theater, dance and masquerade balls. Often, she would make surprise appearances at events elaborately dressed, with a bizarre and wholly surrealistic entourage. She designed her own extremely complex costumes, which have also enjoyed success as fine art, and produced much in the way of theater costume and set design. The Paris Ballet, in gratitude for Fini's finding a benefactor who financed the company, produced an elaborate ballet with sets and costumes by Fini, entitled "Les demoiselles de la nuit" ( Ladies of the Evening). Le reve de Leonor Fini (The Dream of Leonor Fini) was produced the following year and appeared at the Royal Ballet as well as the Paris Ballet.
The artist resided in France, both in Paris and the south, till her death in 1996. As many as twenty-three cats at a time accompanied her on her journeys and were her constant companions at home. Cat and sphinx imagery predominates much of her strongest work in the thirties, forties and sixties (Egyptian symbols of dignity and power). Eventually she settled with two men, one mostly a friend, the other mostly a lover, Stanislao Lepri, a diplomat turned highly successful painter, and Constanine Jelenski, "Kot," a celebrated Polish poet and writer who produced much writing on Fini, as well as a definitive study of Hans Bellmer amongst others.
Fini never officially joined the Surrealists and never married, but did produce work displayed at many Surrealist exhibitions, including her introduction to America in 1936 at the Museum of Modern Arts Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism. There followed in 1937 a two person show with Max Ernst at the famous Julien Levy Gallery. Julien Levy was the preeminent gallery for Surrealist work in New York at the time.
Nonetheless, Fini was highly successful on four continents, including traveling museum retrospectives in Europe and Japan. Her work hangs in many of the world's foremost museums, and was included in three major shows in the last two years alone in the northeast (the Peggy Guggenheim Centennial, "Mirror Images" at the Liszt Center at M.I.T., and "Two Private Eyes" at the Guggenheim). Her volatile personality and tendency to "bite the hands that fed her" offended many American scholars, museum curators and art dealers, leading to lesser exposure in American venues (until her death) than in European ones.
An accomplished draftsman, watercolorist and painter, Fini was successful in virtually all two-dimensional media. The Weinstein Gallery collection will initially include oils, watercolors and pen and ink drawings.
Malcolm Morley (1931- )
English painter active in the USA. After attending the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London from 1952 to 1953, he studied at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1954 to 1957. Deeply impressed by the Abstract Expressionist paintings in an exhibition of American art (London, Tate, 1956), he made a brief visit to the USA in 1957 and settled permanently in New York in 1958. While earning his living as a waiter he developed an abstract idiom influenced by Barnett Newman, limiting himself primarily to horizontal bands in black and white, as in Battle of Hastings (1964; see 1983–4 exh. cat., p. 75).
After trying in 1964 to paint a ship from real life Morley turned to photographs of ships, which he copied in a meticulous trompe l'oeil style with the aid of a grid, as in Empire Monarch (1965; Kansas City, KS, Larry and Cindy Meeker priv. col.; see 1983–4 exh. cat., p. 18). As a child Morley had made many detailed models of ships, which may help account for his choice of subject matter. These and the other pictures using ship imagery that followed, such as On Deck (1966; New York, Met.), marked the beginning of Photorealism in the USA, although Morley preferred the term Super Realism. He moved from these to all manner of photographic images, including travel brochures, reproductions of celebrated paintings (e.g. Vermeer, Portrait of the Artist in his Studio, 1968; Sweden, priv. col., see 1983–4 exh. cat., p. 25) and contemporary scenes. Often he would turn both the source material and canvas upside down so as to reproduce it as accurately as possible without stylizing it. Like the Pop artists who preceded him, by focusing on the repeatability of images he questioned the basis of artistic creativity. Replicating the original in an almost mechanical way and conceiving of the painting simply as a coloured surface, Morley undermined the distinction between the abstract and the figurative.
Although he abandoned Photorealism as a style in the early 1970s, Morley continued to examine the relationship between images and the objective reality they purported to portray. The Photorealist rendering of a telephone book in St John's Yellow Pages (1971; Cologne, Mus. Ludwig) is accompanied by a real electric bell that negates the illusion of the image by making its flatness apparent. In Los Angeles Yellow Pages (1971; Humlebæk, Louisiana Mus.) the front of a torn telephone book was painted in a mixture of acrylic and wax encaustic so that the tears could be represented in relief, but this very literalism draws attention to the image as a painted surface. In another work, Kodak Castle (1971; Utica, NY, Munson–Williams–Proctor Inst.), Morley reproduced the folded corner of his source material, paradoxically emphasizing the flatness of his painting by reference to another two-dimensional artefact. Throughout this period in particular Morley was influenced by the philosophy and ideas about perception of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Even after adopting looser, more expressionist brushwork in the early 1970s, Morley remained committed to the conceptual approach to painting that had characterized his Photorealist works, with their focus on the process of painting.
In the early 1970s Morley's interest in the life and work of van Gogh as representative of the myth of the romantic artist led him to shoot 11 hours of film as part of a project called The Discipline of Vincent, the Ballroom Dancer. From 1975 to 1976 he produced a number of pictures depicting scenes of disaster, such as Train Wreck (1975; Vienna, Mus. 20. Jhts), in which he seemed to be destroying the remnants of his own previous style. While working in Tampa, FL, for 18 months from 1977 to 1979 he began using his own watercolours and drawings as models for his oil paintings, much as he had previously used found material, claiming that the method allowed him the freedom to incorporate abrupt changes of scale as a challenge to conventional hierarchies. A series of watercolours and drawings of the archaeology and landscape of Crete and Greece, which he visited in 1982, formed the basis of some of his later paintings, such as Albatross (1985; see 1986 exh. cat.), painted in an energetic style that invited comparison with the work of younger Neo-expressionist painters working in Europe and the USA. In 1984 Morley was the first recipient of the Turner Prize administered through the Tate Gallery in London.
Henri Matisse (1869- 1950)
"Henri Matisse was born in 1869, the year the Cutty Sark was launched. The year he died, 1954, the first hydrogen bomb exploded at Bikini Atoll. Not only did he live on, literally, from one world into another; he lived through some of the most traumatic political events in recorded history, the worst wars, the greatest slaughters, the most demented rivalries of ideology, without, it seems, turning a hair. Matisse never made a didactic painting or signed a manifesto, and there is scarcely one reference to a political event - let alone an expression of political opinion - to be found anywhere in his writings. Perhaps Matisse did suffer from fear and loathing like the rest of us, but there is no trace of them in his work. His studio was a world within the world: a place of equilibrium that, for sixty continuous years, produced images of comfort, refuge, and balanced satisfaction. Nowhere in Matisse's work does one feel a trace of the alienation and conflict which modernism, the mirror of our century, has so often reflected. His paintings are the equivalent to that ideal place, scaled away from the assaults and erosions of history, that Baudelaire imagined in his poem L'Invitation al Voyage:
Furniture gleaming with the sheen of years would grace our bedroom; the rarest flowers, mingling their odours with vague whiffs of amber, the painted ceilings, the fathomless mirrors, the splendour of the East ... all of that would speak, in secret, to our souls, in its gentle language. There, everything is order and beauty, luxury, calm and pleasure.
"In its thoughtfulness, steady development, benign lucidity, and wide range of historical sources, Matisse's work utterly refutes the notion that the great discoveries of modernism were made by violently rejecting the past. His work was grounded in tradition - and in a much less restless and ironic approach to it than Picasso's. As a young man, having been a student of Odilon Redon's, he had closely studied the work of Manet and Cézanne; a small Cézanne Bathers, which he bought in 1899, became his talisman. Then around 1904 he got interested in the coloured dots of Seurat's Divisionism. Seurat was long dead by then, but Matisse became friends with his closest follower, Paul Signac. Signac's paintings of Saint-Tropez bay were an important influence on Matisse's work. So, perhaps, was the painting that Signac regarded as his masterpiece and exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1895, In the Time of Harmony, a big allegorical composition setting forth his anarchist beliefs. The painting shows a Utopian Arcadia of relaxation and farming by the sea, and it may have fused with the traditional fête champétre in Matisse's mind to produce his own awkward but important demonstration piece, Luxe, Calme et Volupte, 1904-5. In it, Matisse's literary interest in Baudelaire merged with his Arcadian fantasies, perhaps under the promptings of Signac's table-talk about the future Golden Age. One sees a picnic by the sea at Saint-Tropez, with a lateen-rigged boat and a cluster of bulbous, spotty nudes. It is not, to put it mildly, a very stirring piece of luxe, but it was Matisse's first attempt to make an image of the Mediterranean as a state of mind.
"In 1905 Matisse went south again, to work with André Derain in the little coastal town of Collioure. At this point, his colour broke free. Just how free it became can be seen in The Open Window, Collioure, 1905. It is the first of the views through a window that would recur as a favourite Matissean motif. All the colour has undergone an equal distortion and keying up. The terracotta of flowerpots and the rusty red of masts and furled sails become a blazing Indian red: the reflections of the boats, turning at anchor through the razzle of light on the water, are pink; the green of the left wall, reflected in the open glazed door on the right, is heightened beyond expectation and picked up in the sky's tints. And the brushwork has a eupeptic, take-it-or-leave-it quality that must have seemed to deny craft even more than the comparatively settled way that Derain, his companion, was painting.
"The new Matisses, seen in the autumn of 1905, were very shocking indeed. Even their handful of defenders were uncertain about them, while their detractors thought them barbaric. Particularly offensive was his use of this discordant colour in the familiar form of the salon portrait - even though the "victim" was his wife, posing in her best Edwardian hat.
"There was some truth, if a very limited truth, to the cries of barbarism. Time and again, Matisse set down an image of a pre-civilized world, Eden before the Fall, inhabited by men and women with no history, languid as plants or energetic as animals. Then, as now, this image held great appeal for the over-civilized, and one such man was Matisse's biggest patron, the Moscow industrialist Sergey Shchukin, who at regular intervals would descend on Paris and clean his studio out. The relationship between Shchukin and Matisse, like the visits of Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe to France, was one of the components of a Paris-Moscow axis that would be destroyed forever by the Revolution. Shchukin commissioned Matisse to paint two murals for the grand staircase of his house in Moscow, the Trubetskoy Palace. Their themes were "Dance" and "Music".
"Even when seen in a neutral museum setting, seventy years later, the primitive look of these huge paintings is still unsettling. On the staircase of the Trubetskoy Palace, they must have looked excessively foreign. Besides, to imagine their impact, one must remember the social structure that went with the word "Music" in late tsarist Russia. Music pervaded the culture at every level, but in Moscow and St. Petersburg it was the social art par excellence. Against this atmosphere of social ritual, glittering and adulatory, Matisse set his image of music at its origins - enacted not by virtuosi with managers and diamond studs but by five naked cavemen, pre-historical, almost presocial. A reed flute, a crude fiddle, the slap of hand on skin: it is a long way from the world of first nights, sables, and droshkies. Yet Matisse's editing is extraordinarily powerful; in allotting each of the elements, earth, sky, and body, its own local colour and nothing more, he gives the scene a riveting presence. Within that simplicity, boundless energy is discovered. The Dance is one of the few wholly convincing images of physical ecstasy made in the twentieth century. Matisse is said to have got the idea for it in Collioure in 1905, watching some fishermen and peasants on the beach in a circular dance called a sardana. But the sardana is a stately measure, and The Dance is more intense. That circle of stamping, twisting maenads takes you back down the line, to the red-figure vases of Mediterranean antiquity and, beyond them, to the caves. It tries to represent motions as ancient as dance itself.
"The other side of this coin was an intense interest in civilized craft. Matisse loved pattern, and pattern within pattern: not only the suave and decorative forms of his own compositions but also the reproduction of tapestries, embroideries, silks, striped awnings, curlicues, mottles, dots, and spots, the bright clutter of over-furnished rooms, within the painting. In particular he loved Islamic art, and saw a big show of it in Munich on his way back from Moscow in 1911. Islamic pattern offers the illusion of a completely full world, where everything from far to near is pressed with equal urgency against the eye. Matisse admired that, and wanted to transpose it into terms of pure colour. One of the results was The Red Studio, 1911.
"On one hand, he wants to bring you into this painting: to make you fall into it, like walking through the looking-glass. Thus the box of crayons is put, like a bait, Just under your hand, as it was under his. But it is not a real space, and because it is all soaked in flat, subtly modulated red, a red beyond ordinary experience, dyeing the whole room, it describes itself aggressively as fiction. It is all inlaid pattern, full of possible "windows," but these openings are more flat surfaces. They are Matisse's own pictures. Everything else is a work of art or craft as well: the furniture, the dresser, the clock and the sculptures, which are also recognizably Matisses. The only hint of nature in all this is the trained houseplant, which obediently emulates the curve of the wicker chair on the right and the nude's body on the left. The Red Studio is a poem about how painting refers to itself: how art nourishes itself from other art and how, with enough conviction, art can form its own republic of pleasure, a parenthesis within the real world - a paradise.
"This belief in the utter self-sufficiency of painting is why Matisse could ignore the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. When the war broke out in 1914, he was forty-five - too old to fight, too wise to imagine that his art could interpose itself between history and its victims, and too certain of his alms as an artist to change them. Through the war years, stimulated by a trip to North Africa, his art grew in amplitude and became more abstract, as in The Moroccans, 1916. In 1917 he moved, more or less permanently, to the South of France. "In order to paint my pictures," he remarked, "I need to remain for several days in the same state of mind, and I do not find this in any atmosphere but that of the Côte d'Azur." He found a vast apartment in a white Edwardian wedding cake above Nice, the Hótel Regina. This was the Great Indoors, whose elements appear in painting after painting: the wrought-iron balcony, the strip of blue Mediterranean sky, the palm, the shutters. Matisse once said that he wanted his art to have the effect of a good armchair on a tired businessman. In the 1960s, when we all believed art could still change the world, this seemed a limited aim, but in fact one can only admire Matisse's common sense. He, at least, was under no illusions about his audience. He knew that an educated bourgeoisie was the only audience advanced art could claim, and history has shown him right..."
- Text from "The Shock of the New", by Robert Hughes http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/matisse.html
Jean Claude Picot (1933 - )
Since 1956, Jean Claude Picot has been working exclusively as a professional artist. He was greatly influenced by the works of the Fauvist masters Vlaminck, Derain and Matisse. These artists, whose exuberant canvases created great attention in the first decade of the 20th century due to their revolutionary use of color, texture and abstract form, have inspired Picot for decades and one finds many similar characteristics in his works. Picot has developed a unique style that recalls a Post-Impressionist application of color combined with the expressive qualities of form and line. The world of his art is often one of a happy reflection and relaxation, and possesses his personal “joie de vivre.” He frequently captures the animation, romance and essence of the landscape as his favored subject, although he also creates still-lifes, cityscapes, markets, and festival scenes. All of his work is imbued with the same bright and cheerful character, and is instantly identifiable.
Since 1947 he has exhibited in over fifty one-person shows throughout the world including exhibitions in the United States, Belgium, Norway and Australia. Picot lives a part of the year in the south of France, and often draws on the Cote d’Azur—its visitors, its beaches and its boat-filled harbors. His work abounds with natural beauty and features breathtaking panoramic views charged with the unique light of the Mediterranean. Picot works in a Post-Impressionist manner reducing flowers, trees, houses and figures to their essential forms.
In reviews of Picot’s most recent solo shows in Paris, Bordeaux and Oslo, the critics cited the affinities between the masters of Impressionism and early 20th Century Fauvism with Picot’s work. Today in the 21st Century, Picot continues the tradition of important French landscape painters.
Picot actively works in many media – oil, acrylic, watercolor, etching, ceramic and most recently, serigraphy and embellished serigraphy, which beautifully capture his vibrant color and painterly technique. His work is a favorite of collectors internationally, and is represented in prestigious collections worldwide. Artist Picture and Biography Credited To Park West Gallery
Matt Lively (lkndlk - )
Matt Lively was a typical little boy who loved baseball and counted the minutes before he got out of school. One Saturday night, when he was seven and enjoying the unusual privilege of staying up late, he happened to watch, "Saturday Night Live." The host was talking about various occupations and joked that artists get to sleep until noon and then sell their paintings for millions of dollars. At that moment, Matt decided he wanted to become an artist, and began drawing and coloring in earnest. By the time he discovered that most artists don't lead the lifestyle that first attracted him, Matt was already "hooked" on art.
Playing after school with his older brother, the boys would make 8-millimeter movies using little clay characters that Matt had fashioned. Learning math by figuring out how many frames there were per second and honing his writing skills by developing scripts, art took on practical applications for him as well. Sometimes, he would draw cartoons to use in their movies. As his brother grew older, his interest in cars and girls overcame the appeal of making movies, and Matt was left on his own to create the films which was just fine with him.
During his high school years, Matt had an outstanding art teacher who was very supportive and directed him towards a proper path. Matt would stay after school to paint with this teacher and learned everything he possibly could from him. He further developed his skills in photography, film and drawing. Matt says, "Drawing is the basis of everything."
After graduation, Matt went to Virginia Commonwealth University where he majored in sculpture. Because of his major, he was able to work in all mediums and had use of the best tools and equipment. Experimenting as much as he could, Matt enjoyed creating three-dimensional art. One medium he used was wrapping strapping tape around an inanimate object to obtain form. Next, with the help of a blow- torch, he would melt the tape. When it was melted and had cooled down, he would peel it off and have a transparent, light-weight art piece. Most of Matt's art work makes apparent his sense of humor, and often it has a whimsical appearance.
College was not all work. Matt met his future wife there, and they were married after graduation and immediately moved to Atlanta. Securing employment with a restoration company, Matt had income and knew he would have time to paint. He would work many long hours restoring items that had been damaged in fires for an insurance company. But, it also meant he had a lot of down time where he did not have to "work" and could devote that time to painting. Expecting to have to continue this lifestyle for quite a while, within two months, he was selling enough of his art that he no longer needed the two positions.
Remaining in Atlanta for seven years, Matt and his wife jumped at the opportunity to move back to the southeastern part of the country where he had grown up. This was the beginning of his association with Rosenbaum Fine Art. Matt feels it is the perfect relationship. He has the freedom to live where he wants, they share the same plan and goal, and he has the artistic freedom he needs.
Matt's distinctive art style is one of his goals. He paints objects as if they have their own personality and paints primarily in an abstract representational style. Using nondescript colors, he wants his work to be unique. Wood is his favorite medium on which to paint, but he usually paints on canvas with oil and alkyd (fast drying oil paint) which gives him better colors. Surprising him by continually showing up in his work are Abe Lincoln's head, blimps and telephones. He doesn't know what that means and is pleased to know that others will see in it what they want. Mostly he picks up inspiration from things around his house, but if he finds himself temporarily uninspired, he will jump on his bike and go downtown or take a walk.
One of the biggest changes in Matt's life is his little son, and making certain that he has time to spend with him is a priority. But other hobbies are work related as his love of art filters down to everything he does. Photography is a favorite. And, once again, Matt is making 8-millimeter movies. Currently working with animation, Matt would like to make a movie combing animation and film. He collaborates with friends in both his photography and film-making; They sometimes borrow equipment from one another and bounce ideas off one another. He also teaches one-day art workshops.
In the future, Matt would love to paint more installation art. After seeing a two- story building, where the artist depicted the lower level as hell, the middle as purgatory, and the second floor as heaven, it affirmed that this is a direction he wants to follow. Recently, he completed a sixty- foot long canvas, which he found challenging and rewarding. Maybe artists don't get up at noon and make millions of dollars, but Matt is living proof that they enjoy their work and just keep getting better and better. http://www.rosenbaumfineart.com/lively.jsp
Peter Max (1937 - )
Peter Max is a multi-dimensional creative artist. He has worked with oils, acrylics, water colors, finger paints, dyes, pastels, charcoal, pen, multi-colored pencils, etchings, engravings, animation cells, lithographs, serigraphs, silk screens, ceramics, sculpture, collage, video and computer graphics. He loves all media, including mass media as a "canvas" for his creative expression.
As in his prolific creative output, Max is as passionate in his creative input. He loves to hear amazing facts about the universe and is as fascinated with numbers and mathematics as he is with visual phenomena.
"If I didn't choose art, I would have become an astronomer," states Max, who became fascinated with astronomy while living in Israel, following a ten-year upbringing in Shanghai, China. "I became fascinated with the vast distances in space as well as the vast world within the atom," says Max.
Peter's early childhood impressions had a profound influence on his psyche, weaving the fabric that was to become the tapestry of his full creative expression.
It was a childhood filled with magic and adventure, an odyssey the likes of which few people have had, artists included.
European born, Peter was raised in Shanghai, China, where he spent his first ten years. He lived in a pagoda-style house situated amidst a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh temple and a Viennese cafe. And yet, with all that richness and diversity of culture, he still had a dream of an adventure yet to come in a far-off land called America.
From American comic books, radio broadcasts and cinema shows, young Peter formed an impression of the land of Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, swing jazz, swashbucklers, freedom and creativity.
But the American adventure was far in the future. In the decade to follow, Peter would discover many other fascinating worlds that fanned the fires of his imagination.
At the age of ten, Peter and his parents traveled across the vast expanse of China to a Tibetan mountain camp at the foothills of the Himalayas. Then they journeyed 9,000 feet up to a beautiful, white-turreted hotel in a mountain paradise that seemed like Shangri-La.
After their return to Shanghai, the family left on another voyage of discovery, around India, the continent of Africa, and Israel, where Peter studied art with a Viennese fauve painter. It was in Israel that young Peter also developed a love and fascination for astronomy.
In 1953, Peter's family immigrated to America after a six-month visit to Paris. Though it was a relatively short stay, Peter enrolled in an art school and absorbed the culture and art heritage of Paris. At the age of sixteen, Peter realized his childhood vision and arrived in America.
After completing high school, he continued his art studies at The Art Student's League, a renowned, traditional academy across from Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. Here, Peter learned the rigid disciplines of realism and developed into a realist painter.
When he left art school, Max had become fascinated with new trends in commercial illustration and graphic arts, from America as well as Europe and Japan. He decided to try his hand at it and within a short time he won awards for album covers and book jackets, which combined his own brand of realism with graphic art techniques.
Max also admired the work of contemporary photographers such as Bert Stern, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn, which led to his photo collage period, in which he had captured the psychedelic era of the mid '60s.
As the '60s progressed, the photo collages gave way, to his famous "Cosmic '60s" style, with its distinctive line work and bold color combinations.
This new style developed as a spontaneous creative urge, following Max's meeting with Swami Satchidananda, an Indian Yoga master who taught him meditation and the spiritual teachings of the East.
Max's Cosmic '60s art, with its transcendental imagery captured the imagination of the entire generation and catapulted the young artist to fame and fortune.
Max was suddenly on numerous magazine covers, including Life Magazine, and appeared on national TV. Max's visual impact on the '60s has often been compared to the influence the Beatles had with their music.
In the 1970s, Max gave up his commercial pursuits and went into retreat to begin painting in earnest. He submersed himself in his art for several years, and was only induced to come out of retreat on occasion through special commissions by the Federal government agencies: the U.S. Border murals, the first 10¢ U.S. postage stamp, and projects for the Federal Energy Commission.
For July 4, 1976, Max created a special installation and art book, Peter Max Paints America, to commemorate America's bicentennial. It was the year Max also began his annual July 4th tradition of painting the Statue of Liberty. In 1982, Max painted six Liberties on the White House lawn, and then personally helped to actualize the statue's restoration, which was completed in 1986.
In the years that followed, Max developed his new atelier, with a primary focus on paintings, mixed media works and limited graphic editions. Of the thousands of requests that came in for posters, Max was drawn to those that synchronized with his own concerns: environmental, human, and animal rights.
He began a series of works called the Better World series, and created a painting called "I love the World," depicting an angel embracing the planet, inspired by his backstage experience at the Live Aid concert.
In 1989, for the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, Max was asked to create world's largest rock-and-roll stage for the Moscow Music Peace Festival. Soon after the festival, in October, 1989, Max unveiled his "40 Gorbys," a colorful homage to Mikhail Gorbachev.
Prophetically, a few weeks later, communism fell in Eastern Europe and Max was selected to receive a 7,000-pound section of the Berlin Wall, which was installed on the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Intrepid Museum. Using a hammer and chisel, Max carved a dove from within the stone and placed it on top of the wall to set it free.
In 1991, Max's one-man retrospective show at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg drew the largest turnout for any artist in Russian history. Over 14,500 people attended!
As a painter for four former U.S. Presidents (Carter, Ford, Bush and Reagan) in 1993, Max was approached by the inaugural committee to create posters for Bill Clinton's inauguration. He was later invited to the White House to paint the signing of the Peace Accord.
Max has always been ready to apply his creative talent to important global events and has produced posters for many such events, including Summit of the Americas, Gorbachev's State of the World Forum, and the United Nations Earth Summit, for which he had designed a series of twelve stamps that became the best-selling stamps in U.N. history. For the U.N.'s 50th anniversary, Max produced an installation of fifty paintings in different color combinations of the landmark United Nations Building.
A lover of music, Max has been designated Official Artist for the Grammy’s, The 25th Anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Woodstock Music Festival.
In the sports arena, Max has been the Official Artist for five Super Bowls, The World Cup USA, The U.S. Tennis Open and the NHL All-Star Game.
Always an optimist, Max sees a fabulous new age for the new millennium, filled with enormous possibilities. He also sees a need for a greater responsibility to our planet, and he is ever ready to serve as the "Global Artist."
Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)
Isolated among the artists of his time, George Rouault produced work which proved it was possible to be an independent yet wholly committed Modernist. He was born in 1871, in the cellar of a house in Belleville, a working class quarter of Paris near the Pere Lachaise cemetery. The city was at that moment being bombarded by government troops from Versailles, who were putting down the Paris Commune. His father was an artisan - a finisher and varnisher of pianos in the Pleyel factory. He was also a follower of the Catholic democrat Lammenais who sent his son to a Protestant school in disgust when Lammenais was condemned by the Pope. Rouault's grandfather was in his own way equally remarkable: he was an employee in the postal service and a modest collector - he bought Callot engravings, lithographs by Daumier and reproductions of paintings by Rembrandt.
The Protestant school was not a success, and in 1885 Rouault was taken away and apprenticed for two years to a maker of stained glass named Tamoni. He was then employed by another stained glass maker, Georges Hirsch, who did some restoration work on medieval windows, which gave his young assistant a chance to examine them and to realize their superiority to modern work. From 1885 onwards Rouault also studied at evening classes at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs, and in 1891 he was able to transfer himself to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he entered Elie Delaunay's studio. Delaunay died the following year, and it was Rouault's good luck that his successor was Gustave Moreau, one of the leading Symbolists. Moreau immediately became a progressive influence in the school; his pupils included Matisse, Marquet, Evenepoel and Manguin, but it was Rouault who was his closest disciple.
During this period Rouault's ambitions were still conventional. He set himself to win the Prix de Rome, but failed on two occasions despite Moreau's encouragements. He did, however, manage to win some minor prizes, and he exhibited his work for the first time, sending it to the conservative Salon des Artistes Francais. In 1898 Moreau died, and there was an immediate vendetta within the Ecole des Beaux Arts against his more 'advanced' disciples. Rouault might have been put in a precarious position but was rescued by being offered a curatorship of the Gustave Moreau Museum which was set up under the terms of his teacher's will. He still endeavoured to maintain some links with the academic art world for example, he exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition of French art held in connection with the Paris Exposition Universel of 1900, and was awarded a bronze medal. Nevertheless, the period was one of discouragement. In 1901 he spent some time at the Benedictine Abbey of Liguge in Poitou, where the novelist J. K. Huysmans was endeavouring to form a religious community of artists. The experiment was brought to an end by the law against religious congregations introduced by the anti clerical French government of the time.
It was at this point that Rouault claimed he had the good fortune to find himself as a painter, but to have been quite unconscious of what was happening to him:
It was not the influence of Lautrec, Degas or the moderns which made me experiment with a new style, but interior necessity, or the wish - maybe inconsistent - not to be trapped by conventional religious subjects.
In any case, he committed himself to the Modernist party, and in 1903 was one of the founders of the Salon d'Automne. Equally significant was his meeting with the radical Catholic writer Leon Bloy. He was especially struck by Bloy's novel La Femme Pauvre, published in 1897, and in 1904, the author reported rather complacently in his diary: 'My book has touched him to the quick, and left a wound that will never heal. I tremble to think of the sufferings in store for the unfortunate man.' In fact their understanding was in many respect imperfect and required great tolerance on Rouault's part, as Bloy had no eye for modern art and detested Rouault's interpretations of his characters. Seeing the three works by Rouault in the Salon d'Automne of 1905, which used imagery drawn from his own creation, Bloy recorded sadly: 'Bourgeois foulness has wrought so violent and horrified a reaction in him that his art seems to have received the death blow.' The phase immediately before the First World War was one of transition for Rouault. He experimented with glazed ceramics, a path he did not pursue; he travelled a little he went to visit Bruges; and he married. His wife was Marthe Le Sidaner, sister of the painter Henri Le Sidaner, and she was to be a constant support for the rest of his life. Despite a successful one man show at the Druet Gallery in 1910, Rouault was often very poor. In 1910 or 1911 (the sources differ) he moved to Versailles where he inhabited a miserable, rat infested house in an old quarter of the town. On one occasion he went to tell his landlord, who was a veterinary surgeon, that he intended to complain to the local Committee for Public Health. 'It'll do you no good,' said the landlord complacently, 'I'm the chairman.' During the Versailles years Rouault did a series of watercolours of low life subjects, including a series of paintings of prostitutes. These were apparently inspired by a single glimpse of a woman seen leaning out of a door, and Rouault was later careful to explain how the pictures came into being:
I am not a specialist in brothel subjects ... The woman I saw in the doorway is not the woman I painted. She and the rest corresponded to the emotional state I was in at the time.
In 1916 Rouault left Versailles and in 1917 he signed a contract with the famous dealer Ambroise Vollard which was to provide him with freedom to work for many years. Rouault agreed to give Vollard everything he produced in return for a salary; Vollard even went so far as to provide him with a studio on the top floor of his own house, where he could work undisturbed. As the artist was later to discover, there were certain drawbacks to this arrangement. Vollard was a jealous patron - he liked to monopolize the work of the artists he favoured and to keep it from prying eyes. The result was that for twenty years people judged Rouault by old work, rather than by what he was producing currently. Vollard had a passion for fine illustrated books, and it was natural that he should encourage Rouault to turn in this direction. During the first decade of their association Rouault concentrated mainly on graphic work: during this period he produced the plates for Misere, which is generally considered his finest achievement. From 1918 onwards, he also returned to making paintings of sacred subjects. Some attention did come his way from outside: there was a scattering of exhibitions; in 1921 the first monograph on his work was published; in 1924 there was a retrospective at the Druet Gallery, where he had shown before; and he was awarded the Legion of Honour. In 1926 he published his book Souvenirs intimes, and in 1929 Diaghilev commissioned him to design his last major project, The Prodigal Son, with music by Prokofiev and choreography by Balanchine. It was not until 1937 that Rouault's reputation took a great stride forward: forty two paintings, all in a style which was relatively 'new' for the critics and public but long established so far as the artist himself was concerned, were shown as part of the large 'Exposition des Artistes Independents', staged in connection with the Paris Exposition Universelle. In 1939 Vollard was killed in an accident and the artist was thus released from his contract. It left behind it an important question: what was to happen to the great mass of unfinished work which was now in the possession of Vollard's heirs? In 1947 Rouault brought a suit against them to recover this material. Rouault had always been very concerned with the artist's rights over his own creation. In 1943 he wrote:
I sometimes dream, in these last years of my life, of upholding a thesis at the Sorbonne on the spiritual defence of works of art and the artist's rights before the law, and the ways and means of securing these rights, so that those who come after us may be better protected.
He succeeded perhaps better than he had hoped. He asked the courts for the return of 800 unfinished and unsigned paintings which had remained in Vollard's possession at the time of his death, and his right to them was eventually conceded. He only failed to recover those which had already been sold. In November 1948, to make his point quite clear, he ceremonially burned before witnesses 315 of the canvases he had recovered. Rouault's reputation was not damaged by the war. He had already had a few exhibitions abroad in the 1930s, and in 1940-41 there were Rouault retrospectives in Boston, Washington and San Francisco. In the immediately post-war period his sometimes sombre vision was in tune with the times. There was a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1945, and another, shared with Braque, at the Tate Gallery, London, in 1946. in 1948 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale and travelled to Italy for the first time.
When his eightieth birthday was celebrated at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris in 1951, the celebrations were organized by the Centre Catholique des Intellectuels Francais. But the French state honoured him too: he was promoted to the rank of Commander of the Legion of Honour. In the 1950s, what had been a trickle of retrospective exhibitions became a flood, and when Rouault died in February 1958, he was given a state funeral.
- From Edward Lucie-Smith, "Lives of the Great 20th-Century Artists"
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
"...Aspects of Degas's work - mainly, his ballet paintings from the 1880S - have long been popular with a broad audience; too much so for their own good. But he has never been a "popular" artist like the wholly inferior Auguste Renoir, whose Paris-Boston retrospective in 1985 beguiled the crowds and bored everyone else. Degas was much harder to take, with his spiny intelligence (never Renoir's problem), his puzzling mixtures of categories, his unconventional cropping and, above all, his "coldness" - that icy, precise objectivity which was one of the masks of his unrelenting power of aesthetic deliberation. Besides, the long continuities of his work have not always been obvious. The figure you think he skimmed from the street like a Kodak turns out to have been there already, in Ingres or Watteau or some half-forgotten seventeenth-century draftsman who suited his purposes. Degas was the most modern of artists, but his kind of modernity, which entailed a passionate working relationship with the remote as well as the recent past, hardly exists today. How we would have bored him, with our feeble jabber of postmodernist "appropriation"!
"In his late years Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas was chatting in his studio with one of his few friends and many admirers, English painter Walter Richard Sickert. They decided to visit a café. Young Sickert got ready to summon a fiacre, a horse-drawn cab. Degas objected. "Personally, I don't like cabs. You don't see anyone. That's why I love to ride on the omnibus-you can look at people. We were created to look at one another, weren't we?"
"No passing remark could take you closer to the heart of nineteenth-century Realism: the idea of the artist as an engine for looking, a being whose destiny was to study what Balzac, in a title that declared its rebellion from the theological order of Dante's Divine Comedy, called La Comédie Humaine.
"The idea that the goal of creative effort lay outside the field of allegory and moral precept was quite new in the 1860s when Degas was coming to maturity as a painter. The highest art was still history painting, in which France had reigned supreme; but since 1855 practically the whole generation of history painters on whom this elevation depended - Paul Delaroche, Ary Scheffer, Horace Vernet and, above all, Eugéne Delacroix and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres - had died, and no one seemed fit to replace them. French critics and artists alike, and conservative ones in particular, felt a tremor of crisis, as others would a century later as the masters of modernism died off. After them, what could sustain the momentum of culture? "His presence among us was a guarantee, his life a safeguard," ran Ingres's obituary in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in 1867.
"And yet beyond the ruins of the temple, something else was stirring: a sense of the century as unique in itself, full of what Charles Baudelaire called the "heroism of modern life." Its chief bearers, in painting, were to be Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas.
"Born in 1834 into a rich Franco-Italian banking family with branches in Paris, Naples and New Orleans, Degas was never short of money and never doubted his vocation as a painter, in which his family encouraged him. He was a shy, insecure, aloof young man - if one did not know this from the testimony of his friends, one would gather it from his early self-portraits, with their veiled look of mannerist inwardness acquired from Pontormo - and, it seems, unusually devoid of narcissism: unlike almost every nineteenth-century painter one has heard of, he gave up painting his own face at thirty-one. It was the Other that fascinated him: all faces except his own.
"In time he would construct a formidable "character" to mask his shyness: Degas the solitary, the feared aphorist, the Great Bear of Paris. He never married - "I would have been in mortal misery all my life for fear my wife might say, 'That's a pretty little thing,' after I had finished a picture." Certainly he was not homosexual. The more likely guess is that he was impotent. If so, all the luckier for art: his libido and curiosity were channeled through his eyes.
"He had a reputation for misogyny, mainly because he rejected the hypocrisy about formal beauty embedded in the depilated Salon nudes of Bouguereau and Cabanel - ideal wax with little rosy nipples. "Why do you paint women so ugly, Monsieur Degas?" some hostess unwisely asked him. "Parce que la femme en general est laide, madame, " growled the old terror: "Because, madam, women in general are ugly."
"This was a blague. To find Degas's true feelings about women, one should consult the pastels and oil paintings of nudes that he made, at the height of his powers, in the 1880s and 1890s. Some critics still find them "clinical," because they seem to be done from a point outside the model's awareness, as though she did not know he was there and were not, actually, posing. "I want to look through the keyhole," Degas said. The bathers were "like cats licking themselves." Their bodies are radiant, worked and reworked almost to a thick crust of pastel, mat and blooming with myriad strokes within their tough winding contours. But they are also mechanisms of flesh and bone, all joints, protuberances, hollows, neither "personalities" nor pinups. (One sees why Duchamp, inventor of the mechanical bride, adored and copied Degas.) Not even Nude Woman Having Her Hair Combed, 1886-88, the most refined and classical of these nudes, seems in the least Renoiresque, although nothing could be more consummately appealing than that pink, slightly blockish body against the gold couch and the regulating white planes of peignoir and apron. It was a subject to which Degas brought special, almost fetishistic feeling, and a later version of the same theme, The Coiffure, 1896, shows what a vehicle for innovation it could be: by now the contours of the woman and her maid are roughed out with an almost Fauvist abruptness, and they emerge from a continuous orange-russet field that seems to predict Matisse's Red Studio - in fact Matisse once owned this painting, although he bought it from Degas's studio sale in 1918, long after his Red Studio was finished.
"Looking back from old age, Degas reflected that "perhaps I have thought about women as animals too much," but he had not - although he was certainly reproached for doing so. His "keyhole" bathers provoked the crisis of the Ideal Nude, whose last great exponent had been the man Degas most revered, Ingres. Yet their exquisite clarity of profile could not have been achieved without Ingres's example. In them, the great synthesis between two approaches that, thirty years before, had been considered the opposed poles of French art - Ingres's classical line, Delacroix's Romantic color - is achieved. There is no clearer instance of the way in which true innovators, such as Degas, do not "destroy" the past (as the mythology of avant-gardism insisted): they amplify it.
"In their novel Manette Salomon (1867) the Goncourts had Coriolis, an artist, reflect on "the feeling, the intuition for the contemporary, for the scene that rubs shoulders with you, for the present in which you sense the trembling of your emotions.... There must be found a line that would precisely render life, embrace from close at hand the individual, the particular - a living, human, inward line - a drawing truer than all drawing."
"Degas thinly disguised, you would think. But at the time, the Goncourts did not know Degas; they would come to meet him later. Neither, strangely enough, did Degas meet his literary parallel, Gustave Flaubert, whose Madame Bovary had made its scandalous and prosecuted debut in 1856 - although he had certainly read him. Flaubert's objectivity, his impassioned belief in "scientific" description as the instrument of social fiction, his acute sensitivity to class, his sardonic humor - all find their counterpart in Degas. And so does his attitude to the past as source and example, the springboard for invention in the present. "There must be no more archaisms, clichés," Flaubert wrote about the difficulty of prose. "Contemporary ideas must be expressed using the appropriate crude terms; everything must be as clear as Voltaire, as abrim with substance as Montaigne ... and always streaming with color." Read Ingres and Delacroix for Voltaire and Montaigne, and you have Degas in a nutshell.
"Nothing escaped his prehensile eye for the texture of life and the myriad gestures that reveal class and work. He made art from things that no painter had fully used before: the way a discarded dress, still warm from the now naked body, keeps some of the shape of its wearer; the unconcern of a dancer scratching her back between practice sessions (The Dance Class, 1873-76); the tension in a relationship between a man and a woman (Sulking, 1875-76) or the undercurrent of violence and domination in an affair (Interior, sometimes known as The Rape, 1868--69); a laundress's yawn, the stoned heaviness of an absinthe drinker's posture before the dull green phosphorescence of her glass, the exact port of a dandy's cane, the scrawny professional absorption of the petits rats of the ballet corps, the look in a whore's eye as she sizes up her client, the revealing clutter on a writer's desk. Even when painting themes from the Bible or from ancient history, as he often did in his early years, there were, as Henri Loyrette points out in the catalogue, "contemporary concerns beneath a thin archaeological veneer." His Scene of War in the Middle Ages, 1863-5, whose erotically charged women victims prefigure his bathers, refer to the brutality inflicted on women in New Orleans (where all his maternal family lived) by Union troops in the Civil War.
"Degas did not suddenly "become" a Realist. That was a myth propagated by his friends in the Impressionist circle at Batignolles, especially Édouard Manet, who implicitly claimed the credit for his conversion. What happened was more subtle: gradually this quintessential young bourgeois discovered what was to be seen from the eyeline of the bourgeoisie, but he raised his theater of social observation on the foundations of strict academic training in the mold of Ingres, whose precision he never lost. His eye for the instant gesture and socially revealing incident went with a lifelong habit of recycling poses and motifs, patching them in. Thus he can be very deceptive: the image that seems the freshest product of observation turns out to have been used half a dozen times before. Degas copied everything from Mantegna to Moghul miniatures, and even the work of lesser painters than himself; an artist, he said, should not be allowed to draw so much as a radish from life without the constant habit of drawing from the old masters. (By the same token, he was an avid collector of both old and new art: in his sixties he purchased two Gauguins, and when pushing eighty he remarked with some admiration of Cubism that "it seems even more difficult than painting." Allegory, in his early work, went with the desire to see freshly - and it would return in strange forms in his old age, as in the painting of a fallen jockey whose horse is clearly one of the steeds of the Apocalypse, or Russian Dancers, three women in clumping boots, locked together in a straining mass like Goya's witches. Both are present in his first real masterpiece, done in 1858 after he got back to Paris: The Bellelli Family, that marvelously observed group portrait of his neurotic aunt Laura, her lazy and distracted husband, Gennaro, and their two daughters. For although it is a tour de force of Realist observation - how much more concrete and present the Bellellis seem to us, surrounded by the furniture and other stuff of their lives, than the people on the neutral brown grounds Manet borrowed from Velázquez! - it is also an allegory, of family continuity under stress: the drawing on the wall behind Laura Bellelli is of Degas's grandfather Hilaire, and she is pregnant, so that four generations, not two, are present in the picture. And you cannot fail to associate this with Degas's own working methods, the sense of filiation and descent that would breathe through his work for the rest of his life, the past feeding into the present and then out into the future. Degas, the synthesizer of Ingres and Delacroix, would point - through the wild color-fields and direct manual touch of his later years - to a modernism that was not yet born."
- From Robert Hughes, "Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists"
Joan Miro (1893 - 1983)
"ON JANUARY 24, 1937 the Catalan artist Joan Miró, prevented by civil war from returning to his homeland, set up in the gallery of his Paris dealer, Pierre Loeb, a still life on which he worked every day for a month. The painting was finished in his studio on May 29 of that difficult year. It consists of an apple, into which a lethal, six-tined fork has been stuck; a gin bottle shrouded in torn newspaper, secured with a thong; a heel of bread; and a left shoe, its lace untied. The apple is brown, so perhaps rotten; the bread is dried; the shoe, we learn from the title Still Life with Old Shoe, is worn. Each object relates to a heavy shadow, represented by black free-forms of the sort we associate with Miró's vocabulary of shapes-forms that came to be emblems of modern art in the plaques of Hans Arp, in the flat metal pieces on Calder mobiles and in modernesque jewelry and coffee tables, and which have their natural counterparts in deeply lobed leaves or kidneys or human feet. It is possible to read the shadow cast by the gin bottle as a weeping silhouette, but it is also possible to read too much into the painting, wanting it to be deep. The shoe is painted in yellows and greens, reds and bright blues-footwear for a one-legged harlequin. James Thrall Soby compared the work-polemical, memorial, ostensibly lamentational-with Picasso's Guemica, to which it was allegedly intended as an artistic response.
"Form for me is never something abstract," Miró once said. "It is always a token of something. . . . For me, form is never an end in itself." So here is a work of political reference and artistic allusion, a work supposed to draw its meaning from the events that elicited it and from other art elicited by those events. But how could one tell, descending the coiled ramp of the Guggenheim Museum, that this is a piece of political art, an exile's meditation on war and loss, a dark poem in a dark time, a counterthrust in the style wars of Paris? It looks like what its title says it is: a still life with a shoe. The shoe is luminous, parti-colored, comical. But the image is otherwise realistic and recognizable, like a good cartoon. That fact sets it off from the works that immediately surround it: Miró had not painted objects realistically and recognizably since 1923, even if his forms were always tokens of real things. But that fact, if it is even relevant, would not be visible in the painting alone, without the context of its peers.
"I saw this wonderful exhibition on a sparkling May morning. The Guggenheim must have had its skylight washed of the accumulated Manhattan soot for the occasion, and the brilliant sky was mirrored in the blue pool (itself almost a Miró shape) at the base of the ramp, making the museum's core a well of light. Outside in the park, under the new green, there were runners in bright costumes, vendors, children, dogs. The paintings themselves were gay and playful, and filled with creatures so inventive and good-humored that one had the sense of passing through a display of zoological or botanical or entomological extravagances-whiskered, flittering innocent beings, utterly unsuited to the struggle for existence, goggle-eyed, bearing the blank staring expressions of brilliant fish in tropical waters, or insects in flower-mad gardens, or radiant birds flying among ornamental planets. Where there were humans, they seemed mainly to be carriers of jolly genitalia. Still Life with Old Shoe ought to have stood darkly against the ambient gaiety like the Ancient Mariner at the wedding feast. Instead, it looked like part of the carnival, as if the wedding guests had refused to accept the spell of the old loon's tale, had decked the mariner out with silk and ribbons and made him part of the dance. The external knowledge of the circumstances in which the painting was made, however, fought against this spontaneous assimilation, and demanded that one reflect on the fact that one was traversing a total life in art (Miró died in 1983, at the age of ninety). Ought the contradiction between what we know about this painting and the overall sense of hedonistic celebration call the latter into question? After all, that is exactly the contradiction between the meaning of the painting and its surface. Or is this particular painting a failure, Miró not being up to expressing that level of intention?
"It would, I think, be remarkable if each of the paintings in the show held a tension at all like the one I find in Still Life with Old Shoe, for then their meanings would be so external to their formal achievement that we would need a dictionary to read the show. A shoe, a bottle, a piece of fruit with a fork in it or a knife, a crust of bread-these compose the pedagogical still life set up in the art academies of that era. For all one knows, Miró's painting is an exercise in nostalgia for the Barcelona art schools of his youth. There is a tradition of mystical still life painting in Spain, where achingly familiar objects are transfigured by an unearthly light against an impenetrable blackness. In 1922 Miró had painted a number of severe still lifes of carbide lamps and grills, kitchen utensils and, in one case, a blade of wheat, displayed like the emblems of martyrdom in uncanny spaces and immersed in a light so absolute that the shadows have been reduced to thin drawn lines. But these, like almost everything he did before 1923, seem to be about art. There is an early still life in the Cubist manner, in which a live rabbit and rooster are juxtaposed with a demijohn and a smoked fish on a sheet of newspaper together with an onion, a pepper and some greens, which may refer to the bodegón tradition of Spanish still life painting, or for that matter may refer to Cubism rather than stand solidly in that style of representation. Standing outside a style to which he refers, a stranger and a commentator, detached, a bit derisive, putting bits and pieces of art to his own ends, associated with the Surrealists but never finally one of them, a Parisian but an outsider, Miró seems insufficiently in the world to be making a statement about it rather than a statement about statements or about styles. So Still Life with Old Shoe comes as an interruption. Small wonder we would never have known it was a response to the Civil War in Spain if no one told us. Small wonder it fails to communicate the feeling it was intended to convey. Small wonder the surrounding works refuse to allow it to speak of suffering. It is too isolated, like a single serious and direct thing-"By the way, I am dying"-uttered in the monologue of a great comedian.
"Consider in this light Miró's climactic masterpiece, The Farm, executed over nine months in the three places that defined his life from 1921 to 1922: the parental farm at Montroig, Barcelona and Paris. In those years, indeed as a regular rhythm until the Civil War put a stop to it, Miró moved between Catalonia and Paris, between the tradition in which he sought his identity and the brittle world of Parisian intellect, where he lived among poets and thinkers rather than the cultural patriots of his native province. The two forms of life, one feels, pulled him in two directions, and this tension is embodied in The Farm. The painting has the unsettling quality of something observed and at the same time dreamed of or remembered. Hemingway, who owned it, described it perfectly: "It has in it all that you feel about Spain when you are there and all that you feel when you are away and cannot go there." Hemingway went on to say, "No one else has been able to paint these two very opposing things." What is remarkable about the painting is the oppositions it internalizes, just as Miró himself internalized as a matter of personality the circumstances of his shuttled existence. Picasso belonged wherever he was. Miró belonged only where he wasn't: his not being in Paris defined his Spanish reality, and vice versa.
"The Farm is energized by two incompatible artistic realities, corresponding to the polarities of Miró's life. It has the obsessive documentation of visual reality that we find in primitive painting: each leaf on the dominating eucalyptus tree is separately painted, each rock in the stony field to the right is given an autonomous space, each blade of grass is given its own identity. The lichen on the cracked façade of the farm building on the left defeats this impulse: you cannot register lichen spore by spore, at least not in the middle distance of a landscape where spores would be negligible specks in proportion to the façade they adhere to-though the particularity of treatment gives an uncanny microscopy to that surface. The barking dog, the rabbit, the snail, the cock, the donkey, the dove, the pail, the watering can, the wagon, the plow, the dozens of farm implements, the farmer's wife, the baby by the wash trough, are each suspended in the shadowless clarity of a metaphysical illumination-it is the kind of light one gets through an optical instrument. The space recedes to distant mountains, but the trees and bushes at the horizon are treated with the same measured detail as the foreground objects, as if perception were indifferent to distance. All this pulls the farthest objects forward to the surface plane, and indeed, when we look carefully, we notice that the plane on which all these objects are arrayed, and which seems to recede, is itself tipped up. There is, for instance, a tiled area, supposed to be lying flat on the ground, which in fact is parallel to the surface. Behind it, again, is a path that seems at once to go back and to rise up, like an abstract flame. It is as though the artist had intermixed, in a single work, the illusory space of traditional landscape with the shallow space of Cubism, so that everything is on the surface and at the same time bears no relation to the surface, which, after all, is not part of the landscape. There is, for example, a trestle table in the middle distance in the form of a letter A. If it is a letter, it belongs on the surface, as writing. An A in the landscape is dissonant, as if the work were a rebus puzzle. But a table, of course, belongs to the world of a farm. Everything is inside and outside at once. And superimposed on the primitive meticulousness of a picturesque farm are the devices of the most sophisticated painting of the century so far. Part of what brings everything to the surface are the Cubist rhythms, the sense of pattern, of fragmentation, of reduction and abstraction. "No one could look at it," Hemingway wrote, "and not know it had been painted by a great painter." He is right, but no one who knows great painting can look at it without sensing the divided consciousness and the aesthetic indeterminacy of an artist who sank into his art the oppositions of his vision: Catalan and Parisian, traditionalist and Cubist, naif and cosmopolite.
"Of this great painting, Miró later said, "It was the summary of one period of my work, but also the point of departure for what was to follow." And though he could not then have known what precisely was to follow, the fact that it is the largest painting he had undertaken up to that time is an indication that he had chosen to make an important statement through it. Miró was perhaps not as poor at that stage of his life as artistic mythology maintains, but canvas and paint, then as now, were costly items, especially if one had no idea if one's work was going to sell. The size of the canvas plays a part in an affecting vignette left us by Hemingway, who describes how he bore it home as a birthday present for his wife, Hadley, after paying off the last installment of the 5,000 francs it cost: "In the open taxi the wind caught the big canvas as though it were a sail, and we made the taxi driver crawl along."
"It is instructive to think of The Farm together with Still Life with Old Shoe. The latter is a failure, not so much as a painting but as a painting about war, for its subject never penetrates the work save by the external imposition of a symbolic interpretation. "In some sense," Jacques Dupin claims in his catalogue essay, "this unique and fantastic painting stands as Miró's Guernica." Dupin curated the show, and he is an enthusiast. But as Miró's Guemica, the painting fails. Miró was certainly sickened by the war in Spain, but he was not finally a political person: Art was the substance of his life and hence of his art, which is most genuine and best when, as in The Farm, it is about its own processes. The first works we encounter in the show are two drawings from 1917, before Miró had visited Paris for the first time. They are dense with Parisian references and mannerisms even so: the male and female nudes are geometrized, all arcs and angles, evidence that the news of Cubism had arrived in Spain and was deflecting advanced artists from whatever path their training would have set them on if the twentieth century had not happened instead. Miró was still dealing with Cubism in The Farm, painted five years later.
"Dealing with Cubism, for he felt at once its seductiveness and its dangers. It could not be ignored, but at the same time it almost guaranteed artistic mediocrity, for Paris in the early 1920s was full of second-generation Cubists. Picasso confided to his dealer, Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, that he had become rich by selling his license to paint guitars, alluding to the endless cubed and stretched guitars that formed the motif of the Cubist legions. The Farm was a liberation, even if Cubism remained an internal force in its dynamics. "I will smash their guitar," Miró said when he realized he had found another path, visible in The Farm only in the light radiating from his later work, which began, abruptly, in 1923. The Tilled Field of that year shows us the Miró we know and love. The space has moved so far forward that the ground is nearly vertical. A tree shows an eye amid its leaves, and has grown a hallucinatory ear from its trunk. The farm animals are there, still recognizable, but the hen has taken the form of a grotesquely unbalanced dumbbell, with a globular body and a tiny head. The mare has developed immovably thick legs, as wavy as sine curves, and her tall swishes forward like a calligraphic question mark. The whole painting is like an exultation at having broken through to the style-pictographic, idiomatic, autographic-that was to be his from now on. If he were a poet, we would say he had found his voice.
The art historian Michael Baxandall has introduced an interesting concept in discussing Picasso's portrait of Kahnweiler. There is a system of interchange between advanced artists and their patrons and critics which is analogous to a market, but which involves ideas and refinements instead of money. He gives this system the name troc, which means "barter" in French. Picasso was en troc with poets like Apollinaire and intellectuals like Kahnweiler, who demanded certain artistic performances from which they and the artist benefited. The great American painters of the 1950s were en troc with Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg. Troc requires mutual interchange rather than unilateral influence, so that present-day artists are not en troc with the intellectuals they admire, such as Derrida, who knows little about painting, and Baudrillard, who cares little for it. Miró was intensely en troc with the poets and the theorists of Surrealism, with Picabia and Tzara, Breton and Masson, Artaud, Próvert, Desnos and Michel Leiris. My own sense is that his breakthrough owes a lot to this intimacy. He showed with the Surrealists, and took over a great deal of their ideology and a degree of their silliness, but as long as the conversations rang in his head, as long as he was painting for an audience that was instantly responsive and critical, he maintained a minor greatness.
"Miró remained in Paris from 1936 to 1941, the year Normandy was bombed, when he settled in Palma de Mallorca, his mother's birthplace. The next year he returned to Barcelona, where he found he could live after all. His work thinned after the war, though his productivity remained, and his influence became immense, especially in New York, where his ideas were absorbed and transcended by Gorky and Pollock and Motherwell. In a way, his truly creative life ended when the troc ended. In this regard he bears a resemblance to Chagall, who was a great artist when he was in tension with the ideologues of the School of Paris, but who simply manufactured Chagalls when the tensions eased and commerce took over. One senses that the greatness of Picasso and Matisse in part consists in their being en troc with themselves as their own intellectuals. Appropriately, there is proportionately little painting in the Guggenheim show after 1950. In those years Miró's energies mainly went into ceramics and into a kind of terra cotta sculpture. This was an artistic return, of sorts, to Catalonia, and it was a nice way to round off Miró's particular life. The show has the cadences of a marvelous biography. Go on a really sunny day."