Friday, December 31, 2010

Pablo Picasso (October 25, 1881 – April 8, 1973)

Boy with a Pipe

Pablo Picasso was a major force in 20th century art (though I still think he's not quite as important as Kandinsky). I decided to pluck out one of his periods and paste it here for your glistening eyes: Rose Period. Also, by pure chance, all of the paintings I chose are from 1905. Strange coincidence. It's a beautiful period in Picasso's life, but also one that reflects a deep sadness through his characters' features. And, interestingly, in all of the paintings below the people look away from one another, which perhaps exposes Picasso's feelings of disconnect from the people around him. Maybe I'm over-analyzing it ... What else is there to say? 

Happy New Year Everyone!

Clown and Young Acrobat

Acrobat on a Ball

Acrobat and Young Harlequin

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jan van Eyck (c. 1395 – July 9, 1441)

The Arnolfini Portrait

Considered one of the leading painters of the 15th century, Jan van Eyck was and remains extremely appreciated. Personally, he's one of my favorite painters, because of, not only the amazing detail of his pieces, but the eerie, cool realism all of his characters evince. 

The Ghent Altarpiece: Virgin Mary

The Ghent Altarpiece: Adam

The Ghent Altarpiece: Eve

The Ghent Altarpiece: God Almighty

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827)

The Omnipotent

I don't know how to introduce, to describe William Blake. He was simply one of the most influential and unique figures in the history of art. What else can compare to his works or is like them? Strange and stranger. Obviously a significant portion of his genius came from his insanity, all in the forms of wild and vivid images. 

Behemoth and Leviathan
c. 1805 - 1810 

Lucia Takes Dante to the Entrance of Purgatory

Blake is also very well known for his poetry:


Ah, sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

The Fall of Satan

Antaeus sets down Dante and Virgil in the 9th circle 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Paul Helleu (December 17, 1859 – March 23, 1927)

Portrait of Madame Marcel Cassaguet 

Paul Helleu is a lesser-known, but wonderful Impressionist, who painted women in one of the most charming fashions. What I find most interesting is how the standards of beauty from a century ago still ring perfectly in our time. And it's sad to note how poorly remembered Helleu is for all his talent. 

Portrait of Peggy Letellier

Reclining Nude

Autumn at Versailles

Monday, December 27, 2010

Maxfield Parrish (July 25, 1870 – March 30, 1966)


Parrish is one of my favorite artists (this is evinced by the little picture of his that hangs constantly at the very bottom of this blog and now at the bottom of this post). While Parrish was in some ways a disciple of Pyle, he nonetheless developed a completely unique and somewhat mathematical theory of composition, which adds a certain ethereal quality to all of his works; I could try to explain all of the elements and steps of his painting process, but I'm afraid I'd exhaust the limits of everyone's patience. I'll just finish by saying that he is one of the few artists who struck me with a thrill when I viewed his paintings. How does he strike you?

The Reluctant Dragon
c. 1901

The Lantern Bearers

Wild Geese

Cadmus Sowing the Dragon's Teeth

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Roy Lichtenstein (October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997)

O.K. Hotshot

Pop Art was largely a reaction to the aesthetics of consumerism. Whatever you may think about it, Lichtenstein viewed it with a very sarcastic eye: of his art, Lichtenstein said, "The closer my work is to the original, the more threatening and critical the content." While that quote might make him seem to be a grave critic of modern culture, in fact he had a very different opinion of himself: "I think my work is different from comic strips, but I wouldn't call it transformation; I don't think that whatever is meant by it is important to art." What do you think of his pieces?

Girl at Piano


I know ... Brad

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986)

Corn, Dark I

O'Keeffe mostly straddled that strange zone between Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism (though she did cross the line occasionally). Her paintings are highly stylized and emotional, and, as many claim, rather vaginal; interestingly, O'Keeffe denied that her paintings had anything to do with female genitalia, which begs the question, is the audience projecting or is the painter subconsciously embedding that idea?

Black iris III

Pink Moon and Blue Lines

Blue and Green Music

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918)

Portrait of Mäda Primavesi
c. 1912 

If you ask, who defines Art Nouveau? whom else could you say, but Klimt? An absolutely beautiful style dominated by the appreciation of female beauty. The best thing to say about Klimt, was said by Klimt: "Who ever wants to know something about me ... ought to look carefully at my pictures."

Birch Forest

Two Girls with Oleander

The Big Poplar II


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519)

Leda and the Swan (copy)

It's Leonardo da Vinci; is there anything more that needs to be said? Of all artists, most deservedly or not, he is best known. Even on the lips of someone devoid of any tangible understanding of art, da Vinci can slip out, just as Einstein can out of the lips of someone completely ignorant of science. And there certainly is a strong emotional greatness in his art.

Interestingly, one of da Vinci's most famous paintings, Leda and the Swan, is actually preserved as a replica made by Cesare da Sesto. What happened to the original? As many great artifacts of our long-lived civilizations, it was lost, only recovered in the semblance of a copy; and for many grand works, we don't even have the much.

St. Jerome
1480 - 1482
Head of a Man Shouting

The Battle of Anghiari

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Charles Burchfield (April 9, 1893 - January 10, 1967)

Moon and Thunderhead

Charles Burchfield is an amazing and absolutely unique painter, who developed a very singular style: often  representing long periods of time (hours, days, seasons) within a single frame, expressing light and motion in symbolic rather than realistic fashion and, of course, turning to a child's vision of the world. Burchfield was highly admired during his lifetime, a period when abstraction was far more the mode; he was, most notably, revered by the equally talented painter Edward Hopper. Was there and will there be anything really like him?

Sunlight in Forest

Moon and Thunderhead

Lavendar and Old Lace


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Odilon Redon (April 20, 1840 – July 6, 1916)

Flower Clouds

Symbolism took on many forms, and with Redon especially it's difficult to narrow down a single theme. Obviously Redon put a tremendous amount of thought into the colors of his works, which are wild and multiple, but also, as the piece below shows, often very mute and bizarre in subject. It should come as no surprise, after you spend a little time gazing into these paintings, that Expressionism and Surrealism both took significant direction from Symbolism. Dreamy, eh?

Head on a Stem

Joan of Arc

Apollo's Chariot

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wassily Kandinsky (December 16, 1866 – December 13, 1944)

Der Blaue Reiter

Kandinsky, three of whose paintings hang perennially on the right side of the blog, is, arguably, the most important artist of the 20th century. There are a number of reasons why: he was a strong participant in two important Expressionist movements: Der Blaue Reiter, as a founder (see the namesake of the movement above) and the Bauhaus School, as a teacher; and he is  credited with producing the first abstract work in the art world (the term, Abstract Expressionism, was coined in reference to Kandinsky). And all of this commentary does not even begin to cover the amount of changes Kandinsky underwent within each style, always with an amazing sense of color and composition. 

Composition VII

The painting above, Composition VII, is considered Kandinsky's magnum opus; he said that he put the most work of any of his paintings into that piece.

Couple Riding

Glass Painting with the Sun