Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Picasso in Vallauris

Vallauris: Ten Years of Picasso Ceramics 1958.
Picasso: Ceramics and White Clay, 1958
Between 1948 and 1966, Picasso created some 70 posters. His use of materials, mode of expression and playful creativity are unrivaled. Most of his posters were designed for the southern french town of Vallauris, as part of ad campaigns for various art and crafts exhibitions, and bullfights. (Marc Gundel from Picasso The Art of the Poster - Prestel, 2000)
I was especially drawn to these posters because I spent some time in Vallauris and bought some ceramics there that I use everyday. Vallauris is an 'art town' specializing mostly in ceramics - there is a wonderful ceramics museum there. During Picasso's stay there he did a lot of printmaking which is quite similar to the look of these posters. It's a beautiful little town not far from the coast and very close to the 'perfume capital', Grasse.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The Parting of Lot and Abraham, mosaic in the nave of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, 432-440

A method of representation used in Early Christian and medieval times which simplifies all meaning into body attitude and gesture. (Gardner)

This mosaic also features a 'device' called 'head clusters' . One set of clusters are the people 'for' and behind Lot and the other people who back Abraham. This method has a long history in Christian art.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Nymph and Satyr, 1775. Terracotta, approx. 23 inches high. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. (bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913.)
Clodion (real name Claude Michel) (1738-1814). French sculptor (known by the diminutive form of his first name), who created some of the most charming works of his age. the son-in-law of Pajou and the nephew of L.-S. Adam, he trained with the latter and briefly with Pigalle. He produced a few large-scale works, but he excelled chiefly in small statuettes and terracotta figures and groups. They are often of light-hearted classical subjects - nymphs and satyrs and son on - and have the wit and verve of the best Rococo art. After the Revolution he changed his style completely to suit the sterner Neoclassical taste; his later work included carvings on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (1806-9) in Paris which was built to commemorate Napoleon's victories. (Ian Chilvers)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tasha Tudor

October, A Time to Keep, 1977.
Tasha Tudor drawing

Puss, the cat
Valentine. Dr. Cupid Corgi in His Laboratory.

Tasha Tudor was the illustrator, author, or subject of more than 90 books, including The Secret Garden, one of the best-selling children's books of all time. She has left an indelible print of the traditions and celebrations of devoted fans all over the world.

Ms. Tudor has lived her art for 3 quarters of a century, raising her own food, spinning and waving her family's clothes, and leaving the fruits of her hobbies to the world as paramount collections - her gardens are famous, and her collection of 1830's clothing is the world's best. The renowned Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg honored her in 1996 with a landmark exhibition of her work. ( Harry Davis - taken from the inner flap of the book, The Art of Tasha Tudor, 2000; Little, Brown and Co.)

I'm a fan of Tasha Tudor, she and Beatrix Potter have a very similar style. I enjoy her paintings and children's books/stories but I'm very intrigued by her way of life. Sadly, she died earlier this year at the age of 92.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Andy Warhol

Marilyn. 1967. Screenprint on paper. 36 x 36 in. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Andy Warhol: Born Pittsburgh, PA. Died: NYC, 1987. American painter, printmaker, sculptor, draughtsman, film-maker and writer, one of the most famous and controversial artists of the 20th century. During the 1950s he was enormously successful as a commercial artist in NY. In 1960 he began making pictures based on mass-produced images like ads, comics and in 1962 of Campbell's soup cans. They were shown that year with sensational success and he soon became the best known figure in American Pop art. He then embarked on a lengthy series of pictures of Marilyn, Monroe, Elvis Presley, Liz Taylor and other celebrities. There was also a car crash series - whatever the subject matter, he often mode use of rows of repeated images.
The screen printing process that he favored allowed infinite replication and he was opposed to the idea of a work of art as a piece of craftsmanship, handmade and expressing the personality of the artist: 'I want everybody to think alike. I think everybody should be a machine.' In keeping with this outlook he used clippings of 'dehumanized' illustrations from the mass media as his sources, turned out his works like a manufacturer, and called his studio 'The Factory.' In 1965, he began making more films and managed the musical group, the Velvet Underground. In 1968, Warhol was shot by a bit-part player in one of this films - Valerie Solanes - an incident that added to his legendary status. He recovered and began doing portraits for the rich and famous. He died of a routine gall-bladder operation - because of volume overload. His fortune was estimated at $100,000,000, most of which went to create an arts charity, the Andy Warhol Foundation. In 1994 a museum dedicated to his work opened his home town of Pittsburgh. (Ian Chilvers)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Julia Griffiths Jones

Homage to Calder, 2003; painted mild steel, aluminum , thread; 51 x 29 in.
I Would Do For You, 2004; painted mild steel, stitched aluminum; 52 x 27 in. Photos: Jason Ingram

Look at these fabulous fiber art pieces, I could not resist sharing them. The line quality really is that of a wire sculpture. I also love that the subject matter is women's garments - a reoccurring element in my own work.
'While studying textiles at the Royal College of Art in London, Jones won a travel scholarship to Poland and Czechoslovakia where she was inspired by traditional embroidery, lace, and folk art. She later spent time furthering her folk-art studies in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. In 1987 an investigation into making drawings 3-dimensional led to Jones's current wire drawings. In her recent collection, each wire garment has a story - some based on a favorite piece of poetry or fiction, some celebrating members of her family.' (Stefanie Berganini - FiberArts magazine, Summer 2008.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


A people who migrated, apparently from Asia Minor, to the north-west Italian peninsula during the during the late Bronze Age (c. 1500-1200). They were driven out of Italy by the Latin-speaking people in 509 BC, but not before passing on to the Latins, among other things, the alphabet (c. 700) which they had acquired from the Greeks and had developed to their own use. Little is known about the Etruscans. Although their alphabet is from the Greek, their language is unrelated, and has never been deciphered by modern research. Our lack of knowledge is due in part to the political stake which the Romans had in obliterating any record of the Etruscan history and culture. (Rose Folsum)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paul Klee

Senecio, 1922. Oil on canvas mounted on panel. Kunstmuseum, Basel.

This adaptation of the human face is divided by color into rectangles. Flat geometric squares are held within a circle representing a masked face and displaying the multi-colored costume of a harlequin. A portrait of the artist-performer Senecio, it can be seen as a symbol of the shifting relationship between art, illusion and the world of drama. This painting demonstrates Klee's principles of art, in which the graphic elements of line, color planes and space are set in motion by an energy from the artist's mind. In his imaginative doodlings, he liked, in his own words, to 'take a line for a walk'.

From 1921 to 1931 he was a brilliant teacher at the Bauhaus school of design, publishing many writings on his theory of art. Two years later the Nazis exiled him from Germany, when over 100 of his works were removed from German galleries as 'degenerate.' (Butler, Van Cleave, Stirling)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Johann Zoffany

Charles Towneley's Library in Park Street, 1783. Oil on canvas. Towneley Hall Art Gallery, Burnley

Marble athletes, nymphs, gods, goddesses and portrait busts are crammed into the library of the collector. Towneley, seated in the chair on the right, his faithful dog at this feet, is surrounded by fellow antiquaries and connoisseurs. The elegant library contains all the accouterments of the cultured 18th century gentleman with highly refined tastes. The bust of Clytie on the desk is said to have been such a favorite of his that he referred to it as his wife. German by birth, Zoffany (1733-1810) travelled and studied extensively in Italy. He met Towneley in Florence and the 2 men became close friends. Zoffany arrived in London in 1760 and set up as a painter of portraits, interiors and theatrical scenes. In 1783, he went to India where he made his fortune painting portraits. (Butler, Van Cleave and Stirling)

When I first looked at this painting, it was hard to tell who was real and who was a sculpture... it struck me as humorous. Surrounding one's self with all that sculpture would maybe combat loneliness. :) On the flip side, Mr. Towneley was obviously a man of information, wealth and a serious art collector.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Painting by my 5 year old son.

"When I'm out of red, I use blue." - Pablo Picasso

Friday, September 12, 2008


Decorative and margin ornamentation on the printed page. Alternatively, a picture with irregular edges and no frame, that shades away at the sides. (Gabriele Fahr-Becker)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

Heads I, 1911.

Self-Portrait, 1916.

(1884-1976) - As an architecture student in Dresden, he made an acquaintance of Heckel, Kirchner and Fritz Bleyl, with whom he founded Die Brucke. He also showed with Der Blaue Reiter and contributed to Die Aktion. On of thee most prolific of the Expressionists, Schmidt-Rottluff made over 300 woodcuts, many revealing his interest in Cubism and African/Oceanic art. 51 of his works were shown by the Nazis in the infamous show of 'Degenerate Art.' (Shane Weller - Dover)

Monday, September 8, 2008


Bands or marks on a heraldic shield. (which leads to ...)
Heraldry: Armorial bearings evolved in the 11th. century. At first, the badge of one's group was painted on each shield used in battle. Around the 13th century, the painting of helmets and use of crests (carved figures attached to the helmet) were added. After the 15th century, armorial bearings were no longer used except ceremonially, but the idea lived on. Today, in the English-speaking world, a coat of arms is registered with the College of Arms in London, and may be used in perpetuity by the individual, family, town, guild, etc. who registers it. There are rules by which heraldic insignia are designed and executed that have broadened over the centuries. (Rose Folsum)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Still Life with Crayfish

Detail, 1880-82
Gustave Caillebotte: (1848-94). French painter and collector. He came from a very wealthy family (he was rich enough to build and race yachts as a hobby) and for many years after his death he was remembered primarily for the financial help he gave the Impressionists, by purchasing their paintings and sometimes by direct gifts of money. Since the 1960's, however his own work as a painter has been reassessed and he is now regarded as an artist of considerable, although uneven, achievement. He exhibited at 5 of the 8 Impressionist exhibitions, concentrating on scenes from everyday life. The most striking feature of his work is his liking for unusual viewpoints and bold perspective effects.
On his death Caillebotte bequeathed his collections of 67 pictures to the State. Against the opposition of various academic artists representing the taste of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the official Salon, 38 of the pictures were accepted after much wrangling and formed the nucleus of the Impressionist collection of the Luxembourg Museum (now the Musee d'Orsay, Paris) (Ian Chilvers)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mannerism in Garden Design

Ligorio, Oliverieri and Tommaso da Siena, Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy. Begun 1550. 'This garden takes advantage of the rugged landscape for the creation of terraces and innumerable fountains; such Mannerist designs provided a total sensory experience.' (Leland M. Roth)

Mannerism - in painting, sculpture, and architecture, a style characterized by a subtle but conscious breaking of the 'rules' of classical composition - IE, displaying the human body in an off-center, distorted pose, and using harsh, non-blending colors. The aim was to unsettle the viewer. The term was coined by Vasari and used to describe the 16th century reaction to the peak of Renaissance Classicism. It refers to a style developed by painters and architects working in Italy (primarily Rome and Florence) during the years 1520s-90s beginning with , and largely derived from, the later works of Michelangelo in painting and architecture. (Brockhampton)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Raoul Dufy

Pesage - weighing in at the Deauville trial
Aux Courses - a scene at Auteuil

Le Depart - the Grand Prix, Longchamps
Raoul Dufy (1877-1953). French painter, graphic artist, and designer. His early work was Impressionist in style but he became a convert to Fauvism in 1905 after seeing a Matisse show. He exhibited with the Fauves in 1906 and 1907, but in 1908 he worked with Braque at L'Estaque and abandoned Fauvism for a more sober style influenced by Cezanne. He soon returned to a lighter style and in the next few years developed his most known style. It is characterized, in oils and watercolors, by rapid calligraphic drawing on backgrounds of bright, thinly washed color and was well suited to the scenes of luxury and pleasure Dufy favored. He worked with fashion designer Paul Poiret and did some textile design for a silk factory in Lyon as well. In 1952 he was awarded the main painting prize at the Venice Biennale. His popularity has continued undiminished since his death. (Ian Chilvers)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Interior of Hagia Sophia (532-537) Istanbul, Turkey
Conches: Semi-circular half domes. (Tansey & Kleiner) Shown in the photo and on both sides of the 'pointer'.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Flock Prints

A rare type of 15th century woodcut in which the block is 'inked' with glue and then printed. While the glue is still wet on the paper the surface is dusted with 'flock' (fluff of minced wool) which adheres to the printed design. The technique was later adapted in the 19th century for the manufacture of 'flocked' wallpapers, notable for their rich, heavy patterning. (Michael Clarke)
Note: Unfortunately, I don't have any flocked examples to show you so I posted an actual woodblock - by me of the 21th century. It has been printed before - hence the black ink stains. Now, just imagine it covered in glue.... about to be printed onto paper. I may have to try this myself!