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Art History > Art Trivia of the Day (Dec. 2010)

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Georges Seurat, born on December 2, 1859.

In his short career, he produced sophisticated drawings and invented the Divisionist technique of painting known as POINTILLISM, which was taken up by many of his contemporaries associated with Neo-Impressionism. His application of scientific principles to painting and his stress on the surface quality of his work have had lasting effects on 20th-century art.

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Seurat, 1888

Born in a wealthy family, Seurat studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878, but he had already lost interest with its conservative policies of copying old masters in the Louvre. In 1879, he left the École des Beaux-Arts and rented a studio together with his friends.

In May, Seurat visited the 4th Impressionist exhibition. This was the first time he had seen their paintings, and they opened his eyes to an art liberated from the rigidities of academic rules. In Nov. his military service started in Brest. All his free time he devoted to drawing and reading on theories of color and vision.

During the 19th century, one scientist-writer named Michel Eugène Chevreul, wrote treatises on color, optical effects and perception. In 1839 he published The Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast which was one of the first systematic studies of color perception and of color design principles. Chevreul great contribution was producing a color wheel of primary and intermediary hues.

More about colour wheels and colour systems:

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Seurat studied scientific works in an effort to achieve scientifically the color effects that the Impressionists had pursued, and developed Pointillism, the technique of juxtaposing tiny brushstrokes of contrasting colors to portray the play of light. He and other artists working in this style became known as Neo-Impressionists. As an aesthetic theorist, he explored the effects that could be achieved with the three primary colors and their complements. Seurat's Theory was a synthesis of the ideas of Chevreul and Sutter (seen below in a letter written by Seurat in 1890):
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DRAWING -- In Seurat’s mature drawing style he applied an interlacing mass of conté crayon strokes to laid Michallet paper (textured, high quality). He created tones ranging from dense and velvety black through subtle greys to white where the paper was left exposed. He also retained a feeling of lustre throughout by allowing the white of the paper to show through where the conté crayon had not reached the troughs in its textured surface. Seurat’s conté crayon drawings are often been seen as “original”, but precedents can be found in Daumier’s and Fantin-Latour’s lithographs, Millet’s drawings, and Goya’s etchings and aquatints.

Seurat used conté crayon in two distinct types of work: firstly, independent drawings, series which were often exhibited in the later 1880s, and secondly, those used as preparatory studies for paintings. Seurat made 8 of these for the Bathers in order to arrive at a simplified, monumental and tonally harmonious treatment of figures and details, which could be transferred to the final works.

In Seurat’s sketchbook there are numerous sketches. In 2007-2008, MoMA had an exhibit on 4 of his sketchbooks and many conte crayon drawings which both my daughter and I found amazing.
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Check it out:

In 1880 after returning from Brest, he rented a small room, where he painted his most important works up till 1886. Scientific theories on color and vision continued to deeply interest him and he studied the paintings of Eugène Delacroix.

1883: the FIRST & ONLY time, Seurat’s work, a drawing of Aman-Jean, was allowed in the official Salon.
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Aman-Jean, 1883, conté crayon on paper, 24 1/2 x 18 11/16 in., The MET

Seurat's study of his friend the artist Aman-Jean (1860–1936) is one of the great portrait drawings of the 19th century. A remarkably assured work for a young artist, it was shown in the Paris Salon of 1883 shortly after Seurat's 23rd birthday. Aman-Jean and Seurat knew each other as students at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Following their studies, they took a studio together, and it was there that Aman-Jean posed for this portrait. Aman-Jean kept the drawing, and referred to it many years later in a letter to Seurat's biographer as "a very beautiful portrait of me." Seurat chose a classic profile pose for his sitter, sensitively portraying the artist with brush in hand and a facial expression of deep concentration. Seurat deftly used conté crayon in tonal gradations from the darkest black to the softest gray, culminating in the luminescent white of the unmarked paper.

The next, 1884, year Seurat’s first large painting, Bathers at Asnières, was rejected by the Salon. But it was shown in the exhibition held by the Société des Artistes Indépendants. It was there that Seurat became met Paul Signac, with whom he soon became close friends.

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Bathers at Asnières, Georges Seurat, 1884, National Gallery, London

Seurat was 24 years old when he painted Bathers at Asnières. The Bathers puzzled many of Seurat’s contemporaries, and the picture was not widely acclaimed during his lifetime.

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Seurat described one of the brush-stroke techniques he developed on this canvas as the balayé technique, wherein a flat brush is used to apply matte colours using strokes in a criss-crossing formation. These strokes become smaller as they approach the horizon. The balayé technique is not rolled out in a consistent manner across the painting, but is adapted where Seurat thought it appropriate.

The foreground—for example—consists of a balayé network of strokes atop a more solid layer of underpaint, suggesting the flickering play of sunlight over the blades of grass. This chunky, cross-hatched brushstroke pattern is in contrast with the nearly horizontal, much thinner strokes that are used to depict the water, and is in even greater contrast with the smoothly rendered skin of the figures.

At the time of this painting, urban development in Paris was proceeding at a very rapid pace. The population of Paris had doubled from one million in 1850 to two million in 1877, and the population of Asnières had almost doubled in just ten years to reach 14,778 in 1886. The reality of the often unpleasant or dangerous conditions in which industrial workers labored had already been fully taken on by many painters. Seurat elected not to make the real or imagined plight of the suburban workers his concern, instead portraying the laboring class and petit-bourgeoisie of Asnières and Courbevoie with dignity, and in a scene of lazy leisure. It was in the late 19h century a break with practice to use painting on this scale in this way, but Bathers at Asnières carries this unusual message with no note of incivility or incongruity. Not only did Seurat decline to make absolutely clear the social status of the major figures in Bathers, but neither did he show them performing a public role of any kind. Their faces are for the most part shown in profile, and not one of them faces in the direction of the viewer. The anonymity and ambiguity with which these figures are painted was never again to feature so prominently in any major painting from Seurat.

'Bathers at Asnières' is an important transitional work. It shows him developing the application of his novel pointillist technique to a large work on the scale of History painting. At the start of his career, Seurat followed a traditional path: studying the works of early Italian and 17th-century French artists in the Louvre; then exhibiting at the official Salon. His drawings in Conté crayon allowed for very subtle tonal gradation; they shimmer in a manner akin to the effect created by Seurat's pointillist painting technique. Seurat combined a traditional approach, based on his academic training, with a study of modern techniques, such as Impressionism. He also applied ideas from contemporary optical theories of color relationships. Seurat's disciplined work, which contrasts with that of many of his Impressionist contemporaries, was very influential. (– National gallery, London)
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Reclining Man (study for Bathing Place, Asnieres), 1883, conte crayon on paper

Although Seurat devoted considerable energy to his drawings, painted studies and finished marines, he considered his large figure paintings his most ‘important’ works because they represented a complex synthesis of modernist procedures (painting large-scale colorist paintings of contemporary life) with academic practices, producing idealized, symbolic works on a substantial scale.

In preparation for the large works Seurat also made conté crayon studies. The large oils were painted in a variety of brushstrokes: ‘IMPRESSIONIST’ for the water and sky, BALAYÉ for the grass and (in the Bathers) a smoother, fused stroke recalling that of PUVIS DE CHAVANNES for the figures. Seurat loosely reworked the Grande Jatte over the winter of 1885–6 in a ‘skin’ of divisionist strokes enhancing its optical properties. He harmonized and balanced warm and cool hues. He became increasingly interested in calculating the emotional effects of his color harmonies. The cooler and more subdued coloration of the Bathers contrasts with the slightly more acid and warmer tones of the Grande Jatte to emphasize the differing ‘MORAL’ qualities of the two sites’ populations. The Grande Jatte has been analyzed as a painting about prostitution and moral decadence (rampant in Paris at this time.) One example is that Seurat used is verbal puns -- using the french word PECHE which is the verb “to fish” or “to sin”. On the riverbank, a woman is holding a fishing pole in the river. At this time prostitutes would “go fishing”. Fishing was a ploy for being in public areas without being arrested while they plied their trade.

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Sunday Afternoon on the island of the island of Grande Jatte, 1884-86, oil on canvas, 6’ 10” x 10’ 1”, Art Institute of Chicago

Seurat died in Paris on March 29, 1891. The cause of Seurat's death is uncertain (possibly meningitis, pneumonia, infectious angina, and/or diphtheria). His son died 2 weeks later from the same disease.

Complete works:

message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Welcome back, Carol!

message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Thanks Heather.

message 4: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy belated birthday to Gilbert Stuart on Dec. 3, 1755.

self portrait, 1778

Because he portrayed virtually all the notable men and women of the Federal period in the United States, Gilbert Stuart was declared the "Father of American Portraiture" by his contemporaries. Born in Rhode Island, the artist trained and worked in London, England, and Dublin, Ireland, from 1775 to 1793. He then returned to America with the specific intention of painting President Washington's portrait.

Stuart made 104 or more likenesses of George Washington, who was president from 1789 to 1797. The pictures are grouped in categories named after the first owners of the original portraits from which Stuart made his own replicas: Vaughan (facing to his left), Athenaeum (facing to his right), and Lansdowne (full-length). Because this work was purchased by Samuel Vaughan, an American merchant living in London and a close friend of the president, Vaughan's name became associated with seventeen versions.

His best known work, the unfinished portrait of George Washington that is sometimes referred to as The Athenaeum, was begun in 1796 and never finished; Stuart retained the portrait and used it to paint 130 copies which he sold for $100 each. The image of George Washington featured in the painting has appeared on the United States one-dollar bill for over a century, and on various U.S. Postage stamps of the 19th century and early 20th century. Throughout his career, Gilbert Stuart produced portraits of over 1,000 people, including the first six Presidents of the United States.


George Washington (Vaughan portrait), 1795, oil on canvas, NGA

Stuart was granted his first sittings from George Washington at Philadelphia, then the capital, in March 1795. The president, then sixty-three years old, grumbled about the drudgery of posing, and all of Stuart's wit and wisdom failed to interest him. The artist claimed that "an apathy seemed to seize him, and a vacuity spread over his countenance, most appalling to paint." The canvas has spontaneity because of its relatively quick, sketchy technique. The warm tan under painting shows through the thinly brushed hair, while slashes of pigment model the black queue ribbon and form the highlights on collar and cravat. To impart Washington's imposing six-foot, two-inch stature, Stuart placed his head high in the design, as though the president towered above the viewer. Finally, he surrounded the president with a fiery glow like a halo.

Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, 1796, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery

The second President of the United States, John Adams, 1823

The second First Lady of the United States, Abigail Adams, c. 1800-1815

Stuart studied in England with American artist Benjamin West for 6 years.

Complete works:

message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy belated birthday to John Marin on Dec. 3, 1870.

One of the foremost members of the group of artists around Alfred Stieglitz, Marin created paintings that are among the most ground breaking and influential of his generation. He primarily worked in watercolors, and is considered an icon in American modernism.

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Brooklyn Bridge

Marin explored the idea of movement in his paintings more consistently than any other American artist of the twentieth century. From the wind-swept coast of Maine to the hustle-bustle of New York City, the subjects Marin chose to paint convey a sense of motion. Marin saw movement in his paintings as a sign of modernity, a means of capturing the quickening pace of life in the twentieth century. More importantly for him, however, was movement as a manifestation of the pulse and rhythm of life itself.

Scholars have suggested that Marin’s interest in exploring movement was sparked during years in Paris, where he may have seen the work of Robert Delaunay. Marin’s interest, though, seems to have been a celebration of a vitality that was essentially humanistic, rather than a reflection of any new machine-age faith. What interested him was the life of the city and the people who live in it.

Small Point Maine , 1918

Marin divided most of his time as a painter between the New York City area and the coast of Maine. He trained in architecture and practiced for a number of years before attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied with William Merritt Chase. In Europe he encountered the work of Cézanne, the Fauves, and the Cubists.

Stieglitz gave Marin his first one-artist exhibition, in 1909, and remained a staunch supporter for many years. At home with landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes, Marin infused those subjects with turbulent action, motion, color, and light. He called this modernist dissonance “things that clash.”

With the triumph of Abstract Expressionism, American modernists such as Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Arthur Dove receded from critical discourse, but the revival of representational painting in the 1970s has brought renewed appreciation of their work.

The Red Sun-Brooklyn Bridge, 1922. Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

New York Landscape, 1920, watercolor, 15 x 18 inches 
Gift of Oliver James

Brooklyn Bridge, 1912

In 1909, Marin received his first exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery. From that point on, until his death in 1946, Stieglitz showed Marin's work almost every year in one of his galleries.

Group of artists with Stieglitz in 1912 -- John Marin is on the far right.

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Flint Isle, Maine - No.1, 1947, Watercolor over pencil, Gift of the Women's Committee of the Corcoran Gallery of Art

In Maine

message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Walt Disney on Dec. 5, 1901.

Walter Elias “Walt” Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon and philanthropist.

In the 1920s Walt Disney joined with his brother Roy and his friend Ub Iwerks (1901 – 71) to establish an animation studio. Together they created Mickey Mouse, the cheerful rodent — customarily drawn by Iwerks, with Disney providing the voice — that starred in the first animated film with sound, Steamboat Willie (1928).

The earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse, 1928.

The brothers formed Walt Disney Productions (later the Disney Co.) in 1929. Mickey Mouse's instant popularity led them to invent other characters such as Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy and to make several short cartoon films, including The Three Little Pigs (1933).

Drawings by Disney --

concept art for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Layout Drawing from "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs" (1937)

Storyboard Panel from "Pinocchio" (1940)

Dumbo with Mother, from the storyboard, 1941.

Drawing from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Their first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), was followed by classics such as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), and Cinderella (1950). A perfectionist, an innovator, and a skilled businessman, Walt Disney maintained tight control over the company in both creative and business aspects. He oversaw the company's expansion into live-action films, television programming, theme parks, and mass merchandising. By his death in 1966, Disney had transformed the family entertainment industry and influenced more than one generation of American children.

message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Happy Birthday Gian Lorenzo Bernini! Born on 07 December 1598; the greatest Baroque sculptor in Italy, also an architect, painter, and dramatist, the last of Italy's remarkable series of universal geniuses. He died on 28 November 1680.

Self-Portrait as a Young Man (1623)

Bernini is the single most important artistic talent of the Italian baroque. His art is the quintessence of high baroque energy and robustness. In sculpture his ability to suggest textures of skin or cloth as well as to capture emotion and movement was uncanny. Bernini reformed a number of sculptural genres, including the portrait bust, the fountain, and the tomb.

The life of Bernini was dominated by his work, and his biography is defined by the immense number of projects he undertook. His career developed almost entirely in Rome, although he was born in Naples. His father, Pietro Bernini, a talented sculptor of the late Mannerist style, was his son's first teacher. Young Gian Lorenzo soon surpassed his father in excellence, however. Many of Bernini's early sculptures were inspired by Hellenistic art.

Group sculptures by earlier masters such as Giambologna were noted for their Mannerist multiple views. Bernini's groups of the 1620s, however, such as the Abduction of Proserpina (1622) present the spectator with a single primary view while sacrificing none of the drama inherent in the scene.

The Rape of Proserpina 1621-22
Marble. height 295 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome

Bernini was the first sculptor to realize the dramatic potential of light in a sculptural complex. This was even more fully realized in his famous masterpiece Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1652), in which the sun's rays, coming from an unseen source, illuminate the swooning saint and the smiling angel about to pierce her heart with a golden arrow.

The Ecstasy of Saint Therese 1647-52
Marble, height 350 cm
Cappella Cornaro, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

Dating from the 1660s are the Scala Regia (1666), connecting the papal apartments in the Vatican Palace to St. Peter's, and the magnificent Piazza San Pietro (designed 1667), framing the approach to the basilica in a dynamic ovular space formed by two vast semicircular colonnades.

Photo, axial overview, looking over and across · Piazza of St. Peter's · Vatican City, surrounded by Rome, Italy

Under Urban VIII Bernini began to produce new and different kinds of monuments - tombs and fountains. The tomb of Urban VIII (1647) shows the pope seated with his arm raised in a commanding gesture, while below him are two white marble figures representing the Virtues.

Tomb of Pope Urban VIII 1627-47
Golden bronze and marble, figures larger than life-size
Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican

Bernini's most outstanding fountain group is in the spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) in the Piazza Navona. Bernini remained a vital and active artist virtually up to the last day of his life.

Fountain of the Four Rivers 1648-51
Travertine and marble
Piazza Navona, Rome

Other works:

Apollo and Daphne 1622-25
Carrara marble, height 243 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome

Fontana del Tritone 1624-43
Travertine, over life-size
Piazza Barberini, Rome

Bernini's most spectacular religious decoration is the Throne of Saint Peter, or the Cathedra Petri (1666), a gilt-bronze cover for the medieval wooden throne (cathedra) of the pope. Bernini's task was not only to make a decorative cover for the chair but also to create a meaningful goal in the apse of Saint Peter's for the pilgrim's journey through the great church. The seat is seemingly supported by four imposing bronze figures representing theological doctors of the early church: Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine. Above, a golden glory of angels on clouds and rays of light emanates from the Dove of the Holy Spirit, which is painted on an oval window.

The Throne of Saint Peter 1657-66
Marble, bronze, white and golden stucco
San Pietro, Rome

message 8: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Stuart Davis.

Stuart Davis with Combination Concrete #2 in progress on easel, at his studio, NY,
Summer 1958

Stuart Davis’ father was a graphic artist who encouraged his interest in art. He studied in New York City with Robert Henri (1909 – 12), made drawings for the periodical The Masses, associated with the Ash Can school.

With his contribution of five watercolours Davis was one of the youngest exhibitors at the Armory show, the international exhibition of modern art that opened in New York in 1913 and introduced European avant-garde art to the USA.


In the following years Davis abandoned his Ashcan realist style and experimented with a variety of modern European styles, including Post-Impressionism and Cubism. From 1915 he began to spend his summers in Gloucester, a seaside town and artists’ resort north of Boston, where he painted panoramic landscapes with an artistic vocabulary derived from Cézanne, Gauguin, Matisse and van Gogh. He travelled and painted in Havana in 1918, and in New Mexico in 1923.

White walls, 1959, oll on canvas

Colonial Cubism, 1954, oil on canvas, Walker Art Center

Davis began rearranging natural forms from everyday life into flat poster-like patterns with sharp outlines and contrasting colors — the dissonant colors and repetitive rhythms reflecting his interest in jazz — in a style that eventually led to totally abstract patterns. He is considered the outstanding U.S. artist who worked in this Cubist style.

Hot still scape for 6 colors—7th Avenue style, 1940, oil on canvas, Boston mfa

As his earlier painting Swing Landscape reveals, Stuart Davis viewed technological developments (such as radio) as forces which changed the fundamental experience of American life. He believed visual art needed to change in style in order to reflect the fragmentation brought by modern twentieth century media.

Davis likened the painter's role in creating such representations to that of the jazz artist. In describing this work, Hot Still Scape for Six Colors--Seventh Avenue Style, Davis makes this comparison explicit: “It is called Hot (a jazz term referring to improvisational force] because of its dynamic mood, as opposed to a serene or pastoral mood. The six colors are used as the instruments in a musical composition might be, where the tone-color variety results from the simultaneous juxtaposition of different instrument groups. They celebrate jazz by characterizing a new, jazz-inspired visual language as the method of examining and communicating modern American life.

These abstract works of the 1930s and 1940s, the true act of interpretation lies in the work of the visual artist who translates the pervasiveness of the commercialized swing sensibility into socially relevant artwork. This is a marked shift from the work of the New York Realists, including Davis himself, earlier in the century.

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egg beater number 4

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in the gallery

message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Interesting, Carol. I was not familiar with Davis before. Thanks for the info!

message 10: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments I've always thought that Stuart Davis's paintings are like jazz.

message 11: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments Me, too, Ruth. I believe I saw one of his at the Norton Simon but never could I find it again.

Outstanding job on Bernini, Heather. I've copied and pasted it in an email to my 87 year old pop who really likes his artwork. I have fond memories enjoying him seeing many Bernini works in 1999, including the newly restored Borghese Palace. Quite a few Bernini sculptures are there in the first few galleries.

Ditto, nice job on Davis, too, Carol, thank you. I like his work, too, though am not familiar with his realist Ash Can paintings, didn't know he summered in Gloucester, or that he was a New Yorker.

I especially enjoy his comparison of six colors to musical instruments arranged in a dynamic jazz composition.

message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 147 comments I can't believe how much i missed of Bernini's sculptures when I was at the Vatican and hanging out for a few nights at Plaza Navrona when in Rome.
Maybe it was the campari and sodas.

message 13: by Ed (new)

Ed Smiley | 871 comments Heather wrote: "Happy Birthday Gian Lorenzo Bernini! Born on 07 December 1598; the greatest Baroque sculptor in Italy, also an architect, painter, and dramatist, the last of Italy's remarkable series of universal ..."

One tidbit, he was actually a very good cartoonist. He did amusing little caricatures of friends and prominent people; they rather remind one of Al Hirschfeld.

D. Bernini. Caricature of cardinal S. Borgeze. 1650.

message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments Interesting, Ed. Thank you!

message 15: by Monica (last edited Dec 09, 2010 07:22AM) (new)

Monica | 909 comments Yes, Ed, lovely!! Did you mean G. Bernini?
Which Borghese Cardinal was it?

I'm just clearing out my Borghese creams, muds and bath salts!

message 16: by Ed (new)

Ed Smiley | 871 comments Monica wrote: "Yes, Ed, lovely!! Did you mean G. Bernini?
Which Borghese Cardinal was it?

I'm just clearing out my Borghese creams, muds and bath salts!"

Yeah. Dunno. I have a "World of" Bernini book that shows several of his cartoons that he did for his own amusement. (I am speaking of caricatures, not the fine art sense of "cartoon"--an outline layout for a painting.) It's interesting, I think, because we think of possibly rapid sketches, from the work that has come down to us from the past, but never, for the most part comics, doodles or cartoons. It surprises me cause it looks so contemporary.

message 17: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Edvard Munch on December 12, 1863.
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self portrait with skeleton arm, 1895

Munch studied in Oslo and under Bonnat in Paris and traveled in Europe. He abandoned impressionism and in the 1890s, from a profound personal sense of isolation, visually examined such primal themes as life, fear, death, love, and melancholy. Stricken by tragedy (his mother and favorite sister died young from Tuberculosis, another sister was psychotic, and he personally feared for his own sanity).

Death in the sickroom, 1895, oil on canvas, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo.

The sick child, 1907, oil on canvas – this is the death of his sister Sophie

Munch transformed his own trauma into an exploration of universal themes, creating figurative images that are sometimes violent, sometimes tranquil and sorrowful. Munch's emotionally charged style is recognized as being of primary importance to the birth of German Expressionism. Also during the 1890s, Munch's most productive period, he made a number of powerful and often shocking woodcuts, developing a new technique of direct and forceful cutting that served to revive creative activity in this medium.

Among Munch's strongest and best-known works are The Scream (1893), Vampire (1894), and The Kiss (1895). Reaction to his stark and sometimes fearsome images caused the closing of his first major exhibition held in Berlin in 1892.

The Scream, 1893, oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo.

“I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun was setting. I felt a breath of melancholy – Suddenly the sky turned blood-red. I stopped, and leaned against the railing, deathly tired -
looking out across the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword
over the blue-black fjord and town.
My friends walked on – I stood there, trembling with fear. And I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature.”
(written in his journal in 1892.)

The vampire, 1893-94, oil on canvas, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo.

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The Kiss, ca. 1895, oil on wood, Munch-museet, Oslo.

IN 1893 he began a cycle he later called the Frieze of Life — A Poem about Life, Love and Death. "Frieze of Life" motifs such as The Storm and Moonlight are steeped in atmosphere. Other motifs illuminate the nocturnal side of love, such as Rose and Amelie and Vampire. "The Frieze of Life" themes recur throughout Munch's work but find their strongest outpouring in the mid1890’s. In sketches, paintings, pastels and prints, he taps the depths of his feelings to examine his major motifs: the stages of life, the femme fatale, the hopelessness of love, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy, sexual humiliation, and separation in life and death.

In 1909, after a severe mental illness, he returned from Germany to Norway, where he painted murals for the Univ. of Oslo and for an Oslo chocolate factory. His painting became brighter of palette and less introverted until the 1920s, when he again was moved to portray his dreadful anguish. All but a few of Munch's paintings, e.g. Summer Night's Dream: The Voice are in Norwegian collections.

Summer Night's Dream: The Voice, 1893. Oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

To the end of his life, Munch continued to paint. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis labeled Munch's work "degenerate art" and removed his 82 works from German museums. In 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and the Nazi party took over the government. Munch was 76 years old. With nearly an entire collection of his art in the second floor of his house, Munch lived in fear of a Nazi confiscation. Seventy-one of the paintings previously taken by the Nazis had found their way back to Norway through purchase by collectors (the other 11 were never recovered), including The Scream and The Sick Child, and they too were hidden from the Nazis. Munch died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on January 23, 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday.

message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Helen Frankenthaler on December 12, 1928.

1957 from Life

As a painter her earliest training was with the Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo at the Dalton School in New York. She studied with Paul Feeley at Bennington College, where she received her bachelor of arts degree in 1948. She then lived in New York City, although she traveled extensively throughout Europe. She was married to the painter Robert Motherwell.

In the early 1950s Frankenthaler participated in several important group shows and had her first solo exhibition in 1951. She exhibited regularly during this decade and by 1960 had begun to receive national and international recognition. Large exhibitions of her work were held at the Jewish Museum in New York City in 1960 and at Bennington College in 1962. In 1969 she enjoyed a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Before the caves, 1958, oil on canvas, Berkeley Art Museum

Frankenthaler's style developed in ways counter to the better-known trends of abstract painting during the 1950s. Inspired by Jackson Pollock's black-and-white paintings of 1951, she began to stain thinned pigment into unprimed canvas. The paintings that resulted possessed a delicate, liquid appearance, and their surfaces were devoid of any hint of physical pigment. By contrast, most abstract painting of this time took inspiration from Willem de Kooning's work and emphasized dense surface face textures and aggressive brushwork. But Frankenthaler's direction gradually became influential. In 1953 she introduced the stain technique to Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, both of whom adopted and developed it within the personal structures of their own painting. Along with Frankenthaler, these two painters profoundly influenced the direction of nonpainterly color abstraction in the 1960s.

Other generation, 1957, oil on canvas

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Mountains and Sea, 1952. Oil and charcoal on canvas. 86 5/8 x 117 1/4 in. On extended loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The painting which Frankenthaler showed to Louis and Noland is called Mountains and Sea (1952). It clearly reveals the advantages of the staining technique, particularly in the flowing spontaneity of the color areas. Because the thinned pigment soaks naturally into the canvas ground, passages from one color to the next are experienced within a continuous optical field rather than as abrupt jumps from one discrete plane to another. In other words, the space is generated within the acknowledged limits of the two-dimensional canvas surface.

As its title suggests, Mountains and Sea bears a lingering resemblance to a natural landscape. In 1989 the editor-in-chief of American Artist referred to Mountains and Sea as one of the four "landmark paintings in the history of contemporary art." In her work after the early 1950s, Frankenthaler became more abstract in her imagery and devoted increasing attention to the development of her lyrical color sensibility.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Frankenthaler continued to develop her own style, one which emphasizes the notion of beauty. She explored the use of acrylic paints, and her work during this era tended to be larger, simpler, and more geometric than previous pieces. Still, her goal was to capture emotion through the use of color without using scenes or subjects. In the late 1970s she explored cubist ideas of space that she had learned in art school.

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Nature Abhors a Vacuum, 1973, acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art

During the late 1980s critics began to realize more fully how significantly Frankenthaler's work had contributed to the art world. They credit her with many technical achievements and approaches to the use of color during her four decades of creativity.

Retrospective exhibitions of her work began to tour museums, even as she continued to create. In late 1996 Eric Gibson noted in ARTnews that her latest round of prints, Spring Run Monotypes, "convey a wide array of sentiments that were barely noticeable in her earlier works."

Radius, 1993, color woodcut printed from 6 woodcuts on hand-colored paper

Amazing screen by Helen Frankenthaler -- apparently she made twelve of them.

Tales of Genji III, 1998, 53 color woodcut from 18 woodblocks and 2 stencils on gray TGL handmade paper, 47" x 42", Edition of 36, 14 Artist's proofs

Tales of Genji IV, 1998, Collage, 47" x 42", Edition of 30, 12 Artist Proofs

Critics consider Frankenthaler one of the most highly regarded painters of the 20th century. Though she has experimented with a variety of techniques, her style has remained truly individual. She told Newsweek in 1989, "I continue to do the work I do." This beautiful and poetic work has assured her a place among the masters of contemporary art.

1991 photo

Frankenthaler has a home and studio in Darien, Connecticut.

message 19: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Carol wrote: "Happy birthday to Edvard Munch on December 12, 1863.

self portrait with skeleton arm, 1895

Munch studied in Oslo and under Bonnat in Paris and traveled in Europe. He abandoned impressionism and i..."

My husband's first wife's uncle was a collector of Munch. Several paintings that belonged to him are now in the National Gallery in Oslo.

message 20: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Carol wrote: "Happy birthday to Helen Frankenthaler on December 12, 1928."

When I was an undergraduate in art, I wanted to be Helen Frankenthaler.

message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Paul Klee on December 18, 1879.
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Klee was a Swiss-German artist known for the fine lines and playful geometry in his childlike watercolors and illustrations. His mother was Swiss and his father was German, and Klee was raised in Switzerland but spent most of his adult life in Germany, where he studied art at the end of the 19th century. A skilled illustrator and respected teacher at the Bauhaus, Klee was part of Der Blaue Reiter, the avant-garde circle co-founded by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. Influenced by Cubism and drawn to the expressiveness of primitive art and children's paintings, Klee produced nearly 10,000 works in a variety of media, but is mostly known for his watercolor paintings. At the peak of his career his work was deemed "degenerate" by the Nazi party of Adolf Hitler and removed from all public exhibits. He left Germany and returned to Switzerland in 1933, but by 1935 was ill with what has since been diagnosed as an autoimmune disease called Scleroderma, that hardens the skin. Despite his ill health, Klee remained creative and prolific until his untimely death in 1940.

Some of his best-known works include Southern (Tunisian) Gardens (1919), The Twittering Machine (1922) and Fish Magic (1925). Below is just a few artworks . . .

Hammamet with Its Mosque, 1914, Watercolor and pencil on paper, The MET

Klee's artistic training, which began in 1898, when he went to Munich for three years to learn to draw and paint, can be said to have lasted until 1914, when he visited Tunisia. The light of North Africa aroused in him a sense of color, and there Klee made his now-famous statement: "Color and I are one. I am a painter."

On April 14, 1914, Klee visited Hammamet, a small town on the Mediterranean northwest of Tunis. He captured a view of the city in Hammamet with Its Mosque, a watercolor painted from outside the city walls. As happens so often in Klee's works, the picture consists of representational as well as nonrepresentational elements. The upper part shows the mosque surrounded by two towers and gardens; the lower area is made up of translucent color planes, following Robert Delaunay's (1885–1941) example of making pure color and its contrasts the sole subject of a picture.

Tale à la Hoffmann, 1921, Watercolor, pencil, and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with metallic foil, The MET

Klee loved the tales of the German poet and writer E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776–1822), who was nicknamed "Ghost Hoffmann" in his own country. Tale à la Hoffmann appears to be loosely based on the poet's best-known lyrical tale, The Golden Pot (1814), a magical story that switches back and forth between high fantasy and everyday life in Dresden. It recounts the trials of the pure and foolish young Anselmus and his efforts to gain entry to Atlantis, the heaven of poetry. The tree from which Anselmus first heard fateful voices speaking to him might thus be on the left. The odd, tubelike construction on the right perhaps represents the glass bottle in which Anselmus found himself briefly imprisoned. The tale's repeated references to time are reflected in the two clocks, and the vessel in the center may stand for the golden pot with the fantastic lily that gives the story its name. -- MET

Southern (Tunsian) Gardens, 1919, watercolor, collection Heinz Berggruen, Paris

Senecio, 1922, oil on canvas, Kunstmuseum, Basel

In his Phaidon Colour Library Series book on Paul Klee, Douglas Hall offers a few remarks on one of Klee's most popular works, Senecio. Among other things, Hall comments that Klee's use of the circle in this painting is "to denote the form of a flower." This interpretation, he says, is supported in part by the title itself, "Senecio being the botanical name for a genus of plants including the common ragwort as well as various garden plants with round flower-heads." He also remarks that Richard Verdi assumed the image to be the face of a child, thus "drawing a parallel between the flower as the crowning glory of the plant, and the human face as the flower of the body." Hall goes on to point out that Senecio also suggests the Latin senex, old man, and asks if Klee may have "intended a paradox on the theme of youth and age." And it is here that I find an important clue to the entire image. Rather than the face of a child, this is the face of an adult, a king...the flower of human aspirations, the connecting element between heaven and earth, the sun, Ra.

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The twittering machine, 1922, watercolor and pen and ink on transfer drawing paper mounted on cardboard, MoMA

The "twittering" in the title doubtless refers to the birds, while the "machine" is suggested by the hand crank. The two elements are, literally, a fusing of the natural with the industrial world. Each bird stands with beak open, poised as if to announce the moment when the misty cool blue of night gives way to the pink glow of dawn. The scene evokes an abbreviated pastoral—but the birds are shackled to their perch, which is in turn connected to the hand crank.

Upon closer inspection, however, an uneasy sensation of looming menace begins to manifest itself. Composed of a wiry, nervous line, these creatures bear a resemblance to birds only in their beaks and feathered silhouettes; they appear closer to deformations of nature. The hand crank conjures up the idea that this "machine" is a music box, where the birds function as bait to lure victims to the pit over which the machine hovers. We can imagine the fiendish cacophony made by the shrieking birds, their legs drawn thin and taut as they strain against the machine to which they are fused. Klee's art, with its extraordinary technical facility and expressive color, draws comparisons to caricature, children's art, and the automatic drawing technique of the Surrealists. In Twittering Machine, his affinity for the contrasting sensibilities of humor and monstrosity converges with formal elements to create a work as intriguing in its technical composition as it is in its multiplicity of meanings. -- MoMA

Cat and Bird, 1928, oil and ink on gessoed canvas mounted on wood, MoMA

Klee was one of the many modernist artists who wanted to practice what he called "the pure cultivation of the means" of painting—in other words, to use line, shape, and color for their own sake rather than to describe something visible. That priority freed him to create images dealing less with perception than with thought, so that the bird in this picture seems to fly not in front of the cat's forehead but inside it–the bird is literally on the cat's mind. Stressing this point by making the cat all head, Klee concentrates on thought, fantasy, appetite, the hungers of the brain. One of his aims as an artist, he said, was to "make secret visions visible."

The cat is watchful, frighteningly so, but it is also calm, and Klee's palette too is calm, in a narrow range from tawny to rose with zones of bluish green. This and the suggestion of a child's drawing lighten the air. Believing that children were close to the sources of creativity, Klee was fascinated by their art, and evokes it here through simple lines and shapes: ovals for the cat's eyes and pupils (and, more loosely, for the bird's body), triangles for its ears and nose. And the tip of that nose is a red heart, a sign of the cat's desire. -MoMA

Sinbad the sailor, 1928

Highways and Byways, 1929, oil on canvas, Collection Christoph and Andreas Vominckel

Death and Fire, 1940,

A white, gleaming skull occupies the center, with the German word for death, “Tod”, forming the features of its face. A minimal man walks towards death, his breast stripped of his heart, his face featureless, his body without substance. Death is his only reality, his facial features waiting there in the grave for him. But there is fire in this picture too: the sun, not yet set, rests on the earth's rim, which is also the hand of death. The upper air is luminous with fire, presenting not an alternative to death, but a deeper understanding of it. The man walks forward bravely, into the radiance, into the light. The cool, grey-green domain of death accepts the fire and offers wry comfort.

Three mysterious black stakes jag down vertically from above, and the man strikes the skull with another. If fate forces him down into the earth, he does not go passively or reluctantly: he cooperates. Death's head is only a half-circle, but the sun that it balances in its hand is a perfect globe. The sun is what endures the longest, what rises highest, what matters most, even to death itself. Klee understood his death as a movement into the deepest reality, because, as he said, ``the objective world surrounding us is not the only one possible; there are others, latent''. He reveals a little of that latent otherness here.-- webmuseum

The Golden Fish, 1925, oil and watercolor mounted on cardboard

message 22: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments December 22, 2000 SENSATIONAL ART THEFT

One Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings were stolen from the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, when three armed thieves broke into the museum.
While one of the robbers, armed with a submachine gun, threatened people in the museum lobby, the other two, one or both also armed, ran upstairs to grab the paintings from different rooms. An unarmed museum guard alerted the police. But they managed to flee using a boat, moored in front of the museum. By 2001, the police had recovered one of the Renoirs and by March 2005 they had recovered the second one in Los Angeles. That year, in September, they recovered the Rembrandt in a sting operation in a hotel in Copenhagen.

The stolen works are a self-portrait by the Dutch master Rembrandt and two works by the French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir — A Young Parisian Woman and Conversation.

Self-Portrait Rembrandt

message 23: by Heather (last edited Dec 26, 2010 06:16PM) (new)

Heather | 4 comments Born on 24 December 1903: Joseph Cornell

New York state “construction” maker, printmaker, film maker, and writer, who died on 29 December 1972.

Through art reviews and exhibitions he became acquainted with late 19th-century and contemporary art; he particularly admired the work of Odilon Redon. He also saw the exhibitions of US art organized by Alfred Stieglitz and became interested in Japanese art, especially that of Ando Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai.

Cornell had no formal training in art and his most characteristic works are his highly distinctive ‘boxes’. These are simple boxes, usually glass-fronted, in which he arranged surprising collections of photographs or Victorian bric-à-brac in a way that has been said to combine the formal austerity of Constructivism with the lively fantasy of Surrealism.

Cassiopoia #1

Cassiopoia -- verso

He was fascinated not by refuse, garbage, and the discarded, but by fragments of once beautiful and precious objects, relying on the Surrealist technique of irrational juxtaposition and on the evocation of nostalgia for his appeal.

Always interested in film and cinematic techniques, he made a number of movies, including the collage film Rose Hobart (1936) and wrote two film scenarios. One of these, Monsieur Phot (1933), was published in 1936 in Levy’s book Surrealism.

In the early 1960s, Cornell stopped making new boxes and began to reconstruct old ones and to work intensively in collage. Cornell died at his home in Flushing.

Other Works:

Tilly Losch 1935

Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)1936

Defense d'Afficher Object 1939

Object 1940

Untitled (Medici Boy)1942-1952

Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery 1943

Untitled (Grand Owl Habitat) 1946

Untitled (Cockatoo and Corks) 1948

A Parrot for Juan Gris Winter 1953-54

message 24: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments You've hit a home run for me this time, Heather. JC is one of my very favorite artists.

message 25: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments description
I wrote this last night but forgot to his send cause I got lost on some other internet search probably for a picture of his house.

Thanks very much Heather. I'm not 100% sure if his house on Utopia Pkwy is a museum. I'm the sort of person who'd drive there someday.

message 26: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments And this about Larry Jordan

message 27: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments Of course none of which are available on netflix

message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy belated birthday to Louise Bourgeois on December 25, 1911.

As a teenager, Bourgeois assisted her parents in their tapestry-restoration business, making drawings that indicated to the weavers the repairs to be made. In 1932, she entered the Sorbonne to study mathematics, but abandoned that discipline for art. In the mid- to late 1930s, she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, École du Louvre, Atelier Fernand Léger, and other Parisian schools. In 1938, Bourgeois married an American, the art historian Robert Goldwater, and moved to New York. There, she studied for two years at the Art Students League and was soon participating in print exhibitions.

After moving to a new apartment in 1941, Bourgeois began to make large wood sculptures on the roof of her building. In 1945, her first solo show, comprised of twelve paintings, was held at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York and her work was first included in the Whitney Annual (later the Whitney Biennial). In the mid- to late 1940s, she worked at Stanley William Hayter's printshop, Atelier 17, where she met Le Corbusier, Joan Miró, and other Europeans exiled by World War II. In 1949, she exhibited works from her Personage series in the first show of her sculpture, at Peridot Gallery in New York.

The Winged Figure, 1948, Bronze, National Gallery of Art

Mortise, 1950, painted wood, National Gallery of Art

In 1951, Bourgeois became an American citizen. Continuing her mode of abstracted figuration instilled with psychological and symbolic content, she remained stylistically distinct from New York School developments. She did, however, join American Abstract Artists in 1954. In the 1960s, she taught in public schools and at Brooklyn College and Pratt Institute in New York. She would continue to teach at colleges and universities during the following decade. In the late 1960s, Bourgeois's imagery became more explicitly sexual as she explored the relationship between men and women and the emotional impact of her troubled childhood (her father had had a ten-year affair with her governess). From 1967 until 1972, she made trips to Pietrasanta, Italy, to work in marble.

An image from a Louise Bourgeois retrospective at the Pompidou, Paris in 2008, including Untitled (1950), back right, and Femme Volage (1951), centre.

With the rise of feminism and the art world's new pluralism, her work found a wider audience. In the 1970s, she began to do Performance pieces—among them A Banquet/A Fashion Show of Body Parts (1978), in which she wrapped art historians and students in white drapery with sewn-in anatomical forms—and expanded the scale of her three-dimensional work to large environments.

A Banquet/A Fashion Show of Body Parts (1978)

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Eyes, marble, 1982, MET

The first retrospective of Bourgeois's work was organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1982–83), and her first European retrospective was assembled by the Frankfurter Kunstverein (1989). Bourgeois was selected to be the American representative to the 1993 Venice Biennale. Her collected writings were published in 1998.

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Precious Liquids, 1992

Red Room (parents), 1994

Maman, 1999

In 2000, three thirty-foot-high towers by Bourgeois, commissioned by the Tate Modern in London—I Do, I Undo, and I Redo—were featured in that museum's inaugural exhibition. Many of her large-scale works have been exhibited as public art, including three spider sculptures installed at Rockefeller Center in New York in 2001 under the aegis of the Public Art Fund.

I Do/ I Undo/ I Redo, 2000

Bourgeois's achievements have been recognized with, among other honors, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973), membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1981), a grand prize in sculpture from the French Ministry of Culture (1991), and the National Medal of Arts (1997).

Bourgeois died of heart failure on May 31, 2010, at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. She had continued to create artwork until her death, her last pieces were finished the week before. Her husband, Robert Goldwater, died in 1973. She is survived by two sons, Alain Bourgeois and Jean-Louis Bourgeois. Her third son, Michel, died in 1990.

Maman sculpture at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

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Art 21

message 29: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments I love that spider!

message 30: by Jim (new)

Jim | 147 comments The human form - Art 21 above -bending is so fluid and beautiful

message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 1140 comments Happy birthday to Henri Matisse on December 31, 1869.

When Matisse was a law clerk when he became interested in art. After study with Gustave Moreau at the École des Beaux-Arts, he exhibited four paintings at the Salon and scored a triumph when the government bought his Woman Reading (1895).
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Woman Reading, 1895

Self-confident and venturesome, he experimented with pointillism but eventually abandoned it in favor of the swirls of spontaneous brushwork and riots of color that became known as Fauvism. He took up sculpture and produced some 60 pieces during his lifetime. The Armory Show exhibited 13 of his paintings. In 1917 he moved to the French Riviera, where his paintings became less daring but his output remained prodigious. After 1939 he became increasingly active as a graphic artist and in 1947 published Jazz, a book of reflections on art and life with brilliantly colored illustrations made by "drawing with scissors": the motifs were pasted together after being cut out of sheets of colored paper. He was ill during most of his last 13 years; he designed the magnificent Chapelle du Rosaire at Vence (1948 – 51) as a gift to the Dominican nuns who cared for him. His well-known paintings include—
Joy of Life (1906)

The Red Studio, 1911, oil on canvas, MoMA

Piano Lesson, 1916, oil on canvas, MoMA

The Dance I , 1909, oil on canvas, MoMA

The Dance II, 1910, oil on canvas, Hermitage
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Green Stripe (Madame Matisse), 1905, Oil and tempera on canvas, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
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message 32: by Jim (new)

Jim | 147 comments what a great artist to end 2010 with
thanks Carol

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all and thanks for all the great art and thoughts this year

message 33: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments Just wonderful! Happy New Year, everybody!

message 34: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments Let's all join hands and dance naked to welcome in the year.

message 35: by Heather (new)

Heather | 4 comments lol!

message 36: by Monica (new)

Monica | 909 comments Love you, Ruthie!!!
Hope you don't mind being called that I just felt inspired!!!

message 37: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 1948 comments :) You just took years off my life. Nobody calls me that except people I went to high school with.

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