Picasso

My sophomore year of college, I took an Art History course focused on one of art’s most fascinating figures: Pablo Picasso. It was taught by Professor Stanford, a brilliant and witty professor from Cornwall.

He taught the class as a personal view into Picasso’s mentality as he was creating his works, and he illuminated so much about Picasso for me. I had always wondered why this guy who drew portraits like an insane person was so famous.

Picasso was a born genius, a bad ass, an insanely intelligent and talented man who was extraordinarily prodigious- I think he produced over 30,000 pieces in his life. However, the more I learned about Picasso the artist and Picasso the man, the more I was disgusted by the man.

Picasso, for all his brilliance, was an ass. He was a womanizer who never remained faithful to his lovers, and he loved babies and children. However, as soon as his children were grown, he didn’t want them anymore- the naivete of children did something to him, but as adults they were more nuisances than anything. Paloma Picasso had to fight to keep her father’s last name. He left behind chaos with the various lovers he had, and he seemed to feed off of the drama he created himself.

When people quote Picasso and worship the man rather than the art he produced, I have a problem with that. Morally, he was twisted at best. There is nothing wrong with finding melody and poetry in paintings of his or any of his work at all. However, people should know that the man who created these pieces was a rather cruel person prone to creating heart break, disappointment, and destruction, along with emotional abuse.

To speak personally, when I visited the Reina Sofia in Madrid, I saw Guernica, his amazing masterpiece- and I was emotionally overcome by the violence and pain writhing within the painting. I was touched by this work, utterly entranced, and could have spent hours in front of the painting. However, I was not entranced by the man the more I learned about him.

Sunday

Paul Signac’s “Sunday”, painted 1888-1890, feels like a vignette of a moment in time. I love the posture of the man over the fire and how the woman and the man aren’t facing one another.

Even the cat is removed, and seems almost unnatural in the scene. There are lots of interpretations of the painting, but to me it feels either like a relaxing Sunday morning for the bourgeois or a tense moment between a couple. Either way, I love it.

James Gillray: Talented cartoonist with razor sharp wit.

I love old engravings, prints, and paintings.

I also love humor.

So, the summation of these two would be the incredibly detailed and hilarious etchings and cartoons by none other than James Gillray.

As a side note, I pray that I never get gout, as the bottom etching makes it look most unfortunate to have a mustachio-ed beast attached to ones foot.

 

 

The Ghent Altarpiece- Favorite Art Things

The Ghent Altarpiece, a polyptych (meaning many parts) by the van Eyck brothers in Flanders in 1432, is one of the most beautiful works of art ever created by human hands. It’s done with multiple layers of glazes and oils, and is so amazingly detailed that I’m surprised Art Google hasn’t had it photographed with their amazing cameras yet!

This is a perfect example of detailed 15th century Flemish art, full of symbolism, detail, and obvious care for the shadows and layers that the artists composed. I’m not religious at all, but this work is so incredible that even agnostics like me can’t ignore the sheer beauty and quality put into the Altarpiece! I’ve complied many detail images, please enjoy and revel in the amazing skill of the van Eyck brothers!

Polyptych closed.

Polyptych open- full glory!

Angels expressions- seriously amazing detail of the jewels and brocades.

The Virgin Mary, resplendent in jewels, piously reading a book.

Detail of an angel’s sleeve.

Detail of the crown in the Altarpiece

Eve in her nakedness- she and Adam are a severe, stark contrast to the richy robed angels, saints, and virgins in the rest of the polyptich- meant to make the viewer feel uncomfortable and see how sin strips one bare. (Of course, Eve’s “sin” was seeking intelligence, and after that women are forever stereotyped as the unintelligent ones? Come on!)

This is the last detail- I wish I could find some of the actual background of Ghent- you can literally see the church where this was kept! So beautiful!

Thinking that this was made 500+ years ago blows my mind, and makes me appreciate the skill and hard work that went into this altarpiece. I hope you are in as much awe as I!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

My Olympus OM-20 lives! This semester it came into question about whether or not the camera was functioning. This roll of film proves that yes! It is alive! I’ve been playing around with my wide angle lens- it’s so much fun! I love how the distortion can become unnoticeable and then suddenly totally obvious.

I spent Friday nestled in a coffee shop reading Dostoyevsky and teaching myself German. It’s quite difficult- German, not being a Romance language, is conjugated very differently. I’m still on the present tense with regular verbs, but am slowly getting the adjectives down! WOO!

Die Brücke & Ernst Kirchner

The Junkerboden Under Snow

View of Basel and the Rhine

Tavern

Nollendorfplatz

Die Brücke is a German artistic movement started in Dresden focusing on German Expressionism.

There are two kinds of art: haptic and visual. I’m about to give a little taste of Art History 101, so be prepared! (Geeking out right now).  Haptic art is more…emotional. Think Edvard Munch. All his vampyre women and the bleak colors. To give you an example of visual art, think Italian artists, like Michelangelo. Although Munch and Michelangelo are centuries apart, their art is just as far apart in that Michelangelo is visual: there isn’t the same emotion, but more exactitude, whereas Munch exudes emotion in his Northern way.

The haptic/visual argument comes from a geographical theory that I find really interesting. In the northern parts of Europe like Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, etc., they are often indoors and cooped up with their emotions more. In the south, the weather allows for the people to get a different kind of emotion with their work. Think of Van Gogh, too! Van Gogh was a Northerner trying to paint like a Southerner in the Impressionist style, but because he was naturally a haptic artist, he couldn’t convert to becoming a visual Impressionist. Those thick smears of paint we delight over are the result of a man torn.

Now, back to the artist I’m focusing on: Ernst Kirchner, a German Expressionist who founded the Die Brücke movement. In his works, there is an underlying agitation, and underlying theme of almost a simmering feeling. The Die Brücke movement could be compared to the Fauvist movement in France- Fauve means “beast”, whereas Die Brücke translates to “the bridge”.

What I love about Kirchner’s works is that they are so primitive, and they do use a color palette that is not geared towards naturalism, and that there is so much underlying emotion in his works that oozes out from underneath the paint, almost permeating the space around the works.

So, there’s your geeking out for tonight. Seriously, go check out German Expressionism and it’s other artists, it’s really a beautiful thing!

All images via Wikimedia. 

The Garden of Earthly Delights: Hieronymous Bosch’s Gift to the World

Let’s talk about Bosch.

He’s freaky. He’s murky. He’s that creepy weird guy who lives in a studio flat filled with refuse who probably keeps piles of records unordered in a closet and subsists off of weird things like low-fat yogurt and Cheetos.

Or, maybe, he’s a 16th century Dutch bad ass bursting with talent! In reality, Bosch left little for historians to track besides his hometown, s’-Hertogenbosch’s account books. I wish that people with this kind of imagination were actually documented or at least had the ego to write a bit on some scraps of vellum or make a weird ode to themselves so that we can remember their awesomeness.

Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights is in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain- check it out, it’s even more beautiful in person!

Elusive & Reclusive: Piet Mondrian

Ocean, 1914

Pier and Ocean, 1915

Fox Trot B

Yellow Red and Blue

Broadway Boogie Woogie

I am Dutch. I can trace my family lineage back almost 500 years. I’m also an introvert and quite like being alone.

Perhaps it is for those reasons that I am enamored with fellow Dutchman Piet Mondrian and his work. Perhaps it’s also because they are visual poetry. It’s more than those reasons, for sure, because there is something so ethereal and yet grounded in his work.

His masterpiece, Broadway Boogie Woogie, is a post WWII triumph of life, color and pure energy. However, in reality, Piet was quite reclusive, living in almost monastic like style. He had chairs and tables made from orange crates, and his walls were almost totally bare in his New York City apartment. He also rarely saw friends. Trying to find a biography that is colorful and full of fun facts about Piet Mondrian isn’t possible; the world simply doesn’t have that sort of information, like with Picasso or Salvador Dali. Instead, however, he left us with some incredible works that, in person, are even more beautiful. We are left to wonder what being Piet Mondrian is like, but for me that is almost as fun as knowing.

Seriously, if you are in New York, check out the MoMA, as it has Broadway Boogie Woogie taking up an entire wall on it’s own. The Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland, has a small, diagonal Mondrian that is charming and sort of disarming, because the paint is slightly cracking and giving it a morbid edge to the timeless line and color.

Unfortunately, his final and unfinished ultimate masterpiece, Victory Boogie Woogie, is in private hands.

(I have lost the source websites for these images! If you know don’t hesitate to tell me!)

Art Talk: Henri Rousseau

Self Portrait

The Dream

The Sleeping Gypsy

Let’s talk about Henri Rousseau. Seriously. It’s about time we discuss this hilarious man. He’s French, he’s a “primitive” artist (which means he’s untrained and paints in such a manner) and he’s amazing. As a French postal worker, he began painting, and is today considered a self-taught genius. In his day though, he was seen as a nutter. Seriously. Eventually he started painting so much that his job started falling to the wayside, and thusly he got transferred to the middle of nowhere France. Rousseau apparently thought this was so he would have more time to paint- yes, they did that for me!- but really, they were getting him out of their bureaucratic hair by exiling him, essentially.

Looking at his paintings, you could crop off any one part and still have an amazing piece of art. Even if you would crop out the main playings, like the gypsy or the lion, the way that he paints a landscape and creates this surrealistic environment for his characters- it’s pure awesome, pure talent. You clever man, you.

All images: Wikimedia