Why Kandinsky chose to make abstract art

With his abstract forms and bold colors, Wassily Kandinsky was a revolutionary. Hated by the Nazis, he not only painted, but taught other artists to think outside the box. He was born 150 years ago on December 4.

In 1910, Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky painted his first abstract watercolor. The following year, he presented his works in an exhibition held by the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, or Munich New Artists’ Association. It turned out to be a scandal.

“Either the majority of the members in this association are incurably insane or we’re dealing with a group of unscrupulous con men that very well know how to sensationalize the weaknesses of our contemporaries and try to take advantage of the large demand,” commented the newspaper “Münchener Neuste Nachrichten.”

For Europe’s avant-garde, Kandinsky’s abstract art was revolutionary.

Source: Kandinsky

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Bob Dylan: a Hockney-like painter of America’s strange essence

Long before Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel prize in literature, pundits used to talk about “Dylan versus Keats”, as if you had to choose, and as if Dylan’s poetic transformations of folk song are really so different from what John Keats does in his eerie ballad La Belle Dame sans Merci.

When it comes to Dylan’s art, the dice fall differently. Dylan versus John Constable would make no sense, for when it comes to drawing and painting it’s as plain as a Brooklyn ice cream parlour that Bob Dylan is a bluff old traditionalist.


He draws and paints what he sees, although in his latest, impressive show at London’s Halcyon Gallery you feel that what he sees is always subtly merging with an America in his mind. Sometimes that inner America seeps out. A crowd of midwesterners gawping at a fairground sideshow that offers a peep into a “Harem” – surely this has come from Dylan’s dreams? Yet most of the time, with true observation and patient work, he records reality in all its strangeness.

Source: Bob Dylan: a Hockney-like painter of America’s strange essence | Art and design | The Guardian

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It only took 200 years: Prado stages its first show dedicated to a female artist

The 200-year-old Museo del Prado in Madrid unveiled its first exhibition dedicated to a female artist today, 25 October (until 19 February 2017). The Art of Clara Peeters, which travels from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, is a display of 15 still-lifes by one of the few women to work as a professional painter in 17th-century Europe. The Flemish artist is among just 41 women to be represented in the Spanish museum’s permanent collection (compared with more than 5,000 men).

The modest one-room show reflects a slender, scantily documented oeuvre. Born in the late 1580s in Antwerp, Clara Peeters was a contemporary of the Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. She is named by a number of historical accounts as a painter based in Antwerp, though she was not a member of the city’s official guild. Only 11 of the 39 works attributed to Peeters are dated, the earliest of them to 1607 and the latest to 1621. She was, however, a pioneer of the still-life genre—the first artist to depict fish and hunting game as a main subject, according to the Prado—who sold her paintings through dealers to collections in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Madrid.

Read full article at source: It only took 200 years: Prado stages its first show dedicated to a female artist

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The Son of Man, 1946 by Rene Magritte

Magritte painted The Son of Man as a self-portrait. The painting consists of a man in an overcoat and a bowler hat standing in front of a short wall, beyond which is the sea and a cloudy sky. The man’s face is largely obscured by a hovering green apple. However, the man’s eyes can be seen peeking over the edge of the apple. Another subtle feature is that the man’s left arm appears to bend backwards at the elbow.

About the painting, Magritte said:”At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”

The Son of Man resembles The Great War on Facades (La Grande Guerre Facades), another Magritte painting featuring similar imagery. Both feature a person standing in front of a wall overlooking the sea. The Great War on Facades, however, features a woman holding an umbrella, her face covered by a flower. There is also Man in the Bowler Hat, a similar painting where the man’s face is obscured by a bird rather than an apple.

Source: The Son of Man, 1946 by Rene Magritte

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The Drive To Create Pictures ‘Is Deep Within Us’

The nearly 80-year-old artist has written a book called A History of Pictures. It’s chock-full of art he’s loved looking at, including one painter he credits with inventing Hollywood lighting.


Picking Favorites

Hockney’s A History of Pictures is chock-full of images — a few photos, but mostly reproductions of paintings he’s loved looking at over the years. His favorite is a quick pen and ink drawing Rembrandt made in 1656.  It shows a mother, a father and a sister teaching a little child to walk. The jot of a curve makes a shoulder; a flick of the brush shows the father squatting, encouraging the child. Hockney thinks it’s a virtuoso piece.

“You see the tenderness of the drawing, I think. But you also see … the marks that made the drawing as well,” he says. “I mean, you can look at the mother and see the little ragged dress she has on, but then you see the marks that were made to do this and how few there are.”

The drawing is minimal and universal. “Any person anywhere in the world has seen something like this and experienced it,” Hockney says.

Source: Artist David Hockney Says The Drive To Create Pictures ‘Is Deep Within Us’

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Norman Lewis Exhibit puts him into the context of an art movement

A few decades ago, the history of abstract expressionism seemed well established and its main exponents, including heavy-hitters like Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko, all firmly identified.

But a recent series of exhibitions is questioning the accepted narrative of that transformational mid-20th-century art movement and arguing for the recognition of key participants who curators believe have been wrongly undervalued. Among them are “Women of Abstract Expressionism” at the Denver Art Museum and “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis.”

The show was overseen by Ruth Fine, who served in 1980-2002 as the curator of modern prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She became a Lewis admirer after encountering his works on paper, which she called some of the most original of his time. “I just think his work is very important, very beautiful and very special and not well enough known,” she said.

Never completely abandoning the figurative imagery that characterized his early work, Lewis (1909-1979) always pursued multiple directions in his emotionally involving abstraction. Some compositions were more monochromatic and atmospheric, and others consisted of kind of linear constructions such as “Roller Coaster” (1946).

Source: Exhibit puts Norman Lewis into the context of an art movement

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Artist Edith McLean is still painting at 94

A victim of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss, 94-year-old McLean thought she’d never be able to paint again. Unable to paint fine lines and intricate details anymore, her work has strayed into the abstract, but that may have been for the best, McLean said.

“In spite of the fact this eye business is so awful, it really has improved my painting,” McLean said. “I guess it just goes to show that good does come out of the bad. I thought I wouldn’t be able to paint anymore but I can and it’s just great.“

McLean, a Rowayton resident for nearly 40 years, was recently featured in a show at St. Paul’s on The Green in Norwalk. The exhibit featured roughly 15 of her paintings as well as the work of another artist. McLean is also a member of the Rowayton Arts Center and has been a part of several area artists organizations through the years.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, McLean developed a lifelong love of drawing and painting. As the wife of an Air Force serviceman and a mother of one, she took classes when she could but didn’t started painting full time until after her husband died in 1984. That’s when she converted a back bedroom at her Rowayton home into the studio she still uses today.

“After my husband passed, I was by myself,” McLean said. “My son was married and I could go ahead and do what I want to do. I‘m just so glad I was able to turn it into something I love so much.“

Source: Norwalk artist Edith McLean is still painting at 94 – The Hour

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New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos’ paintings to open at St. Tammany

Palette is not an alien word to New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos. His color palette contains exuberant hues that help bring his subjects to life; a palette knife is his preferred means for creating an abundance of texture in his often large-scale oil paintings.

“I favor the palette knife because it allows decisive and rapid action,” he said via email while working from his residence in France. “I like to go for the throat, so to speak. Brushes are great, if you wish to baste the beast, but better the knife when you wish to cut to the quick.”

Source: New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos’ paintings to open at St. Tammany show

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What’s keeping great paintings from the public?

The work of art that rocked Shakespeare’s Globe theatre on Friday was not a painting – it was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Yet it was created in precisely the same era as the paintings the market is apparently falling out of love with. Why is the visual art of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries losing favour when drama from that age can still pack ’em in?

The New York Times asks if old master art can regain its “relevance.” Watching Shakespeare at the Globe offers a couple of answers. Make it new: productions of the Bard are popular because theatre is so good at revealing his contemporary pertinence. In fact, the Globe’s Dream goes as far as I’d ever want a theatre to do in that direction, including, ahem, changing some of Shakespeare’s words. This brings me to the second suggestion: make it democratic.

The reported crisis in the old master market is the inevitable result of the snobbery and elitism that has suffocated paintings for far too long. The very term “old master” is a horrible, destructive piece of pretension – what does it even mean? The custodians of oil paintings often seem to revel in the obscurity of their taste, putting on exhibitions that flaunt erudite connoisseurship and have little to say to the general public.

Source: Art for snobs: what’s keeping great paintings from the public? | Art and design | The Guardian

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Four paintings disappear from Dunkirk museum

As art heists go, the one that recently struck the Dunkirk Historical Museum is not like to end up in the history books.

But it is rattling the employees of the small institution a half mile from the Lake Erie shore, who discovered in mid-August that four paintings by Dunkirk-born artist George William Eggers had been stolen from a museum storage room.

Staff discovered the missing paintings while preparing for an upcoming exhibition about Eggers, a painter and art museum director who lived from 1883 to 1958 and ranks as the most accomplished artist to emerge from the town. The artworks include a framed self-portrait in watercolor, which shows Eggers in a bright orange outfit reminiscent of a prison jumpsuit, and three other minor pieces.

Dunkirk Historical Society President Diane Andrasik stressed that the stolen works, valued at less than $1,000, were hardly valuable enough to merit the theft. What’s at stake, she said, is the reputation of the museum as a caretaker of important community treasures.

Read full article at source: Four paintings disappear from Dunkirk museum – Gusto

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