Thursday, February 28, 2008


Composition in Blue, Yellow, and Black - 1936. Piet Mondrian. Oil on canvas, Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland.

A theory of art developed by Piet Mondrian to create a pure plastic art comprised of the simplest, least subjective, elements, primary colors, primary values, and primary directions (horizontal and vertical). (Gardner)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lill Tschudi - Painter and Linocut Artist

London Buses (detail) Lill Tschudi, Swiss. Color linocut - 1949 The Met, NYC.

Lill Tschudi (1911-2004) was a Swiss born painter and linocut artist. She studied at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London from 1920-1930 and in Paris with Fernand Leger among others. She was a lover of sports and circus subjects and was quite popular in England. Ms. Tschudi was a very prolific printmaker and in 1986 won the national print prize for lifetime achievement in linocutting.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gretchen Erhsam

Gretchen Erhsam is a wonderfully talented Block Print artist who lives in Seattle. She also is an artist for Rubbermoon rubber stamps (you can see loads of her stamps at their website, I really admire Gretchen's work and style. I love how she uses old objects as still life in her stamps. I don't know much about her life except that she is a mom and seems to be very inspired by her daughter. She teaches workshops here and there in the Spokane/Seattle areas. These are a few prints I purchased at a local art gallery, Spectrum Gallery. Enjoy!

(I'm not sure she works in wood - I know she sometimes uses 'safety cut' and linoleum to carve images.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Edward Hopper

Tables for Ladies (detail), 1930. Edward Hopper, American 1882-1967 The Met, NYC

I couldn't resist including this image .... I have never seen this painting before, and I thought I'd seen most Hoppers since I have several books about him. What a pleasant surprise! (sorry it's a bit lopsided.)

'US painter and teacher, one of the foremost American Realists. His views of life in New England and New York in the 1930s and 1940s, painted in rich, dark colours, convey a brooding sense of emptiness and solitude, as in Nighthawks 1942 (Art Institute, Chicago). Hopper's teacher Robert Henri, associated with the Ashcan School, was a formative influence.' (Brockhampton)

"If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint it." - Edward Hopper.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Child with Doll

Hand Studies, Child with Doll (detail).
Alma Lavenson, American, 1897-1989. Platinum Print, 7 x 9 in. 1932. The Met - NYC.
Alma Lavenson was born in San Francisco in 1897 and was a self-taught photographer. She became quite well known and was friends with Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham. She famously documented the history of the Gold Rush by photographing rush towns and buildings. This Gold Rush collection now is at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. She was invited to join an exclusive group exhibition called "Group f/64". Alma remained more of an 'amateur' photographer and died at the age of 92 in 1989.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Abbot Suger

Ambulatory and radiating chapels of the abbey church of St. Denis, 1140-1144. (outside of Paris)

Suger (pronounced 'sue-ghay') (1081-1151) French historian and politician, regent of France during the Second Crusade. In 1122 he was elected abbot of St. Denis, Paris, and was counsellor to, and biographer of, Louis VI and Louis VII. He began the reconstruction of St. Denis as the first large scale Gothic building. (Brockhampton)

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Drawing by Hendrik Willem Van Loon, 1937

'Originally a bell tower erected near or attached to, a church or town hall in Italy. The leaning tower of Pisa is an example; another is the great campanile of Florence, 275 ft high.' (Brockhampton)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wayne Thiebaud

Girl in White Boots 1965. Oil on Canvas 72 x 60 in. Collection of Blair Sabol.
This painting is not what one would picture, thinking of Thiebaud since he's so popular for his still lifes of cakes, toys, food etc. Love her bobbed hair. She's so Audrey Hepburn or Diana Rigg of The Avengers!
Wayne Thiebaud was born 1920 in Mesa, Arizona. In 1921 his family moved to Long Beach, California. During high school, he attended the Frank Wiggins Trade School in L.A. to study commerical art. He served in the US AirForce from 1942-1945. He earned a MFA in 1960. In 1962 He had his first solo show in NYC. In 1998 , he received an honorary doctor of fine arts from California State University.
'Wayne Theibaud has long been recognized as one of America's most prominent modern artists. Probably best known for his straightforward, deadpan still-life paintings of the 1960's traditionally linked with Pop Art. Thiebaud is identified by his brilliant palette, luscious handling of paint, and the intensity of light that lends a particularly "California" flavor to his images.' (Nash and Gopnik)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Greek Fashions from the Archaic Period

Kore, form the Acropolis, Athens. circa 510 B.C. Marble. Acropolis Museum, Athens. (wearing a chiton and a himation)

The sculpture above is wearing a later frock from the 6th century. The dresses were made of a light weight linen - the chiton and worn with a heavier weight himation or mantle. 'The asymmetry of the folds greatly relieves the stiff frontality of the bodies and makes these figures appear much more lifelike than contemporary kouros statues. Added variety is achieved by showing the kore grasping part of her chiton in her left hand -broken off in this statue- to lift it off the ground as she takes a step forward.' (Gardner)

  • Peplos Kore, from the Acropolis, Athens, circa 530 B.C. Marble. Acropolis Museum, Athens. (she is wearing a peplos)

    The Peplos Kore is wearing the 'fashion of the day', an ankle length, wool dress with a belt at the waist. This style makes for a nice, columnar shape which is attractive and slimming. It dosen't cling to the body and falls down in a line. 'She once held in her hand an attribute that would identify the figure as a maiden or, as has been suggested recently, a goddess, perhaps Athena herself. ' (Gardner)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jack-in-the-Pulpit IV

Georgia O'Keeffe 1930, Oil on Canvas 40 x 30 in.

'Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint.' - Georgia O'Keeffe.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fido in Art

Venus of Urbino, Titian. 1538 Oil on Canvas, Uffizi, Florence

In Venus... There is a little dog laying at her feet whis is called a "pendant" or balancing figure. The dog may have been a pet popular with the upper classes, other than being a 'pendant' for this composition, this dog is pure ornament!

Triumph of Death by Francesco Traini mid 14th century, Fresco Camposanto, Pisa.
Dogs depicted in paintings through the ages have represented many things, most often it is fidelity and loyalty. In contrast to the Venus of Urbino, in this painting, Triumph of Death, the dogs are hunting dogs, owned by the wealthy, lavishly dressed people who discover rotting corpses. There is a woman on a horse on far left who is cradling a sleeping pet with a hand on her chest, eyes closed as if she can't deal with the scene. The plauge was killing people by the thousands during this time. Dogs were a symbol of fidelity as they were 'always there' and were often the only companions survivors of the plauge had left in such devistating times.

The stereotype doggie name, 'Fido' came from 'fidelio' or fidelity... there's a good reason he's been dubbed man's best friend!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ephraim Mose Lilien

Illustration to Gensis 1:1-6 in Die Bucher der Bibel, Berlin and Vienna 1908.

I was facinated by this book page and had to post it. Love the layout and swirling stars and night sky in this illustration. Lilien was much inspired by English book illustrations.

"Lilien was a Polish painter, graphic artist, and illustrator. After an apprenticeship as a signpainter, he studied under the history painter Jan Matejko (1838-93) at the Krakow School of Art. In 1894 he won an honorary diploma in a competition in his hometown. He founded the Jewish Press in Berlin and was also the editor, publisher and illustrator. He followed in the footsteps of English Art Nouveau, but his work was a bit "tighter". He was one of the great Jewish artists." (Gabriele Fahr-Becker)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gabriel Metsu

The Letter Reader (1665) Gabriel Metsu

This artist was born in Leiden, Holland (1629-67) and later lived and worked in Amsterdam. He is most known for his striking similarity to Vermeer and for his genre scenes.

"This is one of Metsu's finest paintings and is also a reflection on the place of art in 17th century Dutch society. The servant who has delivered the letter pulls back a curtain covering a picture (they were often hung like this) so that she may
examine it. Paintings were indeed so abundant in 17th century Holland that they could be enjoyed by all levels of society rather than being the preserve of the rich
and privileged. (John Julius Norwich)

Friday, February 8, 2008


Anatomy of a Kimono (section) 1976. Fabric and acrylic on canvas, 6'8" x 11'11".
A kind of feminist sewn collage made by Miriam Schapiro in which she assembles fabrics, quilts, buttons, sequins, lace trim, and rick-rack to explor hidden metaphors for womanhood, using techniques historically associated with women's crafts (techniques and media not elevatd to the status of fine art). (Gardner)

Miriam Schapiro was born in 1923. She has a history of being an Abstract painter but later formed a feminist art program in California. She became facinated with fabrics and fibers while doing a project involving decoration of a dollhouse.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Alfred Stevens

The Bath, 1867 Oil on canvas, Musee D'Orsay, Paris

There is something about a bath that draws me in... if only I had a clawfoot tub and that golden swan spicket, what a lovely bath it would be...but why is she wearing her underthings??

"The Belgian Stevens ceased painting political themes after 1855, becoming a very succssful painter of bourgeois genre scenes. Here, the watch in the soap dish may mean that this respite is stolen from domestic responsibilities and social rounds. The roses may be a trac of another, also stolen, private moment." (Alexandra Bonfante-Warren)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hypostyle Hall

Hypostyle Hall, Temple of Amen-Re, Karnak, Dynasty XIX, 1275-1225 B.C.
Hypostyle Hall: "In Egyptian architecture, a hall with a roof supported by columns." (Gardner)

This style of hall is the original "light at the end of the tunnel". In the architectural world, it's known that people like to have light to walk towards... as humans, we are attracted to light. In an elongated hallway like this one, it demonstrates the notion of the horizontal and vertical narrowing as a person walks through the hall. It is lit only by a clerestory and openings in it allow light to enter. This is an ingenius design, as light has always been tricky in a large (or small) structure. Roman and Medieval architects used this design, as we still do in the modern world.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Alice Neel

Mildred 1937, Oil on Canvas

Alice Neel is one of my favorite figure painters. It's so hard to choose a painting of hers to post, I highly recommend seeking her out in a library or bookshop, you need time to pour over her paintings.

Ms. Neel was born in Pennsylvania in 1900. She had a tumultuous personal life by the 1930s and spent some time in psych hospitals. She was a mother, wife, Divorcee and all the while was painting, primarily portraits. She began doing a lot of children's portraits upon the arrival of her 1st grandchild, Olivia in the mid 1960s. She painted many nudes and pregnant women. She is now deceased.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Fortune Teller - detail

Georges de La Tour, 1630 French (Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC)

Oh how I love La Tour's faces, especially the women! Look at how pale and fresh-faced she is. Don't you want to see her hair? I'll bet she is blonde or maybe with a hint of red... long, wavy locks, who knows? She seems as though she could be a woman of today's time. I'm sorry to say, I have not seen a lot of La Tour paintings, but I can't help mentioning the movie, Le Divorce, starring Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson. It is based on the Diane Johnson novel and the story is partly about who is entitled to possessing a family painting thought to be by La Tour... great movie if you like Paris and a slice of French living. Enough rambling, here is a proper short history of Georges:

'La Tour, Georges de 1593-1652. French painter, active in Lorraine. He was patronized by the duke of Lorraine, Richelieu, and perhaps also by Louis XIII. Many of his pictures are illuminated by a single source of light, with deep contrasts of light and shade, as in Joseph the Carpenter about 1645 (Louvre, Paris). Theye range from religious paintings to domestic genre scenes.' (Brockhampton)