Friday, 28 May 2010

El Lissitzky - Proun

El Lissitzky developed a suprematist style of his own, a series of abstract, geometric paintings which he called Proun (pronounced "pro-oon"). The exact meaning of "Proun" was never fully revealed, with some suggesting that it is a contraction of proekt unovisa (designed by UNOVIS) or proekt utverzhdenya novogo (Design for the confirmation of the new). Later, El Lissitzky defined them ambiguously as "the station where one changes from painting to architecture."

Proun was essentially El Lissitzky's exploration of the visual language of suprematism with spatial elements, utilizing shifting axes and multiple perspectives; both uncommon ideas in suprematism. Suprematism at the time was conducted almost exclusively in flat, 2D forms and shapes, and El Lissitzky, with a taste for architecture and other 3D concepts, tried to expand suprematism beyond this. His Proun works (known as Prounen) spanned over a half a decade and evolved from straightforward paintings and lithographs into fully three-dimensional installations. They would also lay the foundation for his later experiments in architecture and exhibition design. While the paintings were artistic in their own right, their use as a staging ground for his early architectonic ideas was significant. In these works, the basic elements of architecture — volume, mass, color, space and rhythm — were subjected to a fresh formulation in relation to the new suprematist ideals. Through his Prouns, utopian models for a new and better world were developed. This approach, in which the artist creates art with socially defined purpose, could aptly be summarized with his edict "das zielbewußte Schaffen" — "task oriented creation."

From Wikipedia sort of.

A Story of Two Squares (1920)

Dlia golosa (1923)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Juan Gris

At first Gris painted in the analytic style of Cubism, but after 1913 he began his conversion to synthetic Cubism, of which he became a steadfast interpreter, with extensive use of papier collé. Unlike Picasso and Braque, whose Cubist works were monochromatic, Gris painted with bright harmonious colors in daring, novel combinations in the manner of his friend Matisse.

In 1924, he first designed ballet sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev and the famous Ballets Russes.

Gris articulated most of his aesthetic theories during 1924 and 1925. He delivered his definitive lecture, Des possibilités de la peinture, at the Sorbonne in 1924. Major Gris exhibitions took place at the Galerie Simon in Paris and the Galerie Flechtheim in Berlin in 1923, and at the Galerie Flechtheim in Düsseldorf in 1925.

He died in Boulogne-sur-Seine (Paris) in the spring of 1927 at the age of forty, leaving a wife, Josette, and a son, Georges.

His top auction price is $20.8 million which was set by his 1915 still life titled, Livre, pipe et verres.

from wikipedia

The Sunblind (1914, see at Tate Gallery)

The Painter's Window (1925)

Harlequin with Guitar (1919)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Jacques Villon

Jacques Villon (July 31, 1875 - June 9, 1963) was a French cubist painter and printmaker. Elder brother to Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp and Suzanne Duchamp-Crotti, he was born Gaston Emile Duchamp, the reason for his name change was to distinguish himself from his siblings, he adobted Villon as a homage to 15th century medieval french poet François Villon. In 1903 he helped organize the drawing section of the first Salon d'Automne in Paris. In 1904-1905 he studied art at the Académie Julian.

By 1906, Montmartre was a bustling community and Jacques Villon moved to Puteaux in the quiet outskirts of Paris. There, he began to devote more of his time to working in drypoint, an intaglio technique that creates dark, velvety lines that stand out against the white of the paper. During this time he worked closely to develop his technique with other important printmakers such as Manuel Robbe.

His isolation from the vibrant art community in Montmartre, together with his modest nature, ensured that he and his artwork remained obscure for a number of years.

Among Villon's greatest achievements as a printmaker was his creation of a purely graphic language for cubism — an accomplishment that no other printmaker, including his fellow cubists Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque, could claim.

Les Cartes

Le Potin

Portrait of Marcel Duchamp

Comedie de societe

Photograph of Duchamp brothers (l-r Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Villon, and Raymond Duchamp-Villon in the garden of Jacques Villon's studio in Pateaux, France, 1914)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Vanessa Bell - The Beach, Studland

Vanessa Bell (née Stephen; 30 May 1879 – 7 April 1961) was an English painter and interior designer, a member of the Bloomsbury group, and the sister of Virginia Woolf.

Studland Beach is in a quiet bay in Dorset. The idea of the beach as a place for leisure activities was relatively new in 1912. It is a sign of their modernity that Vanessa Bell and her Bloomsbury Group friends holidayed there.This is one of several works by Bell from 1911–2 which show a debt to Matisse in their simplified design and bold colouring. Though an exercise in what her friends called ‘significant form’ (emphasising form rather than subject matter), the picture retains some of the feel of a sunny day spent on the sand and in the water.

The Beach, Studland

I found this painting in the Sotheby's June 1995 program, it is of an area of beach in Dorset called Studland bay. The style is indebted to Maurice Denis, like Denis, Vanessa composes her figures into rhythmic groups, the emphasis on silhouette showinga concern for the decorative unity of the picture surface. The figure lying down in a straw boater is said to be Virginia Woolf, who visited Studland around the same time. The standing figure is thought to represent Vanessa herself. (the lines are not meant to be there, it's a bad scan)

Here is a portrait she did of Virginia (Woolf)

And here is one of Aldous Huxley

Here's Baigneuses by Maurice Denis...

When i googled the title this came up which is also by Vanessa Bell and is slightly different, note how the standing figure which was meant to be herself is changed. I'm presuming this to be the finished version and the one from the Sotheby's catalogue to be an initial working of the painting.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Pablo Picasso - Three Dancers

The Three Dancers (French: Les Trois Danseuses) is a painting by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, painted in June 1925

The painting shows three dancers, the one on the right being barely visible. A macabre dance takes place, with the dancer on the left having her head bent at a near-impossible angle. The dancer on the right is usually interpreted as being Ramon Pichot, a friend of Picasso who died during the painting of Three Dancers. (Some critics believe it could well be Picasso's wife Olga Khokhlova.[3]) The one on the left is claimed to be Pichot’s wife Germaine Gargallo with the one in the centre being Gargallo’s boyfriend Carlos Casagemas, also Picasso’s friend [4]. Casagemas shot himself after failing to shoot Gargallo, twenty-five years before Pichot’s death, and the loss of two of his best friends spurred Picasso to paint this chilling depiction of the love triangle.
from wikipedia

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Hans Hofmann

"the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."

The Gate

Indian Summer


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Joan Miro at the Tate Modern

A Star Caresses the Breast of a Negress (Painting Poem) (1938)

Miró’s ‘painting-poems’ combine painted and written elements. This work was built around the first line of an erotic poem, balancing words and signs. The two touching triangles represent a woman in Miró’s language of signs, and the bulbous outline with hairs relates to his usual sign for the female sex. The star appears only as a word, although the ladder alludes to the desire to reach for the stars. This exemplifies Miró’s ability to combine simple imagery with ancient symbolism and make contact with deeply held instincts.

Women and Bird in the Moonlight (1949)

This work belongs to a series of paintings that Miró made in 1949-50 in Majorca. Miró’s use of simple shapes and bright colours constitutes a highly personal visual language, often charged with symbolic meaning. In this case, the women and bird of the title are easily identifiable under the moon and stars. This imagery suggests a harmonious and elemental relationship between man and nature, which the artist felt was threatened by modern civilisation.

Peinture (1927)

Delicate linear forms float on the open blue that Miró associated with dreams. With André Masson, Miró was the first to create imagery using automatic techniques in which forms seemed to emerge directly from the unconscious. From this he developed his own personal sign language, which simplified familiar things such as stars, birds and parts of the body. He later revealed, for example, that the white shape in this painting signified a horse.

Message from a Friend (1964)

Miró believed that ambiguity was essential to the poetic effect of his work. Accordingly, he deliberately left the identity of the shapes in this painting unclear. Soon after its completion he compared the central black shape to both a cloud and a whale. However, preliminary sketches show that the composition was derived from an arrow drawn on an envelope by Alexander Calder, the friend of the title. As one commentator has remarked, the work as a whole became a ‘meditation on communication’.

All this is lifted from the Tate website, get down and see this lot asap.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

William Hogarth - Marriage à-la-mode

In 1743–1745 Hogarth painted the six pictures of Marriage à-la-mode (National Gallery, London), a pointed skewering of upper class 18th century society. This moralistic warning shows the miserable tragedy of an ill-considered marriage for money. This is regarded by many as his finest project, certainly the best piece of his serially-planned story cycles.

Marital ethics were the topic of much debate in 18th century Britain. Frequent marriages of convenience and their attendant unhappiness came in for particular criticism, with a variety of authors taking the view that love was a much sounder basis for marriage. Hogarth here painted a satire – a genre that by definition has a moral point to convey – of a conventional marriage within the English upper class. All the paintings were engraved and the series achieved wide circulation in print form. The series, which are set in a Classical interior, shows the story of the fashionable marriage of the son of bankrupt Earl Squanderfield to the daughter of a wealthy but miserly city merchant, starting with the signing of a marriage contract at the Earl's mansion and ending with the murder of the son by his wife's lover and the suicide of the daughter after her lover is hanged at Tyburn for murdering her husband.

William Makepeace Thackeray wrote:

This famous set of pictures contains the most important and highly wrought of the Hogarth comedies. The care and method with which the moral grounds of these pictures are laid is as remarkable as the wit and skill of the observing and dexterous artist. He has to describe the negotiations for a marriage pending between the daughter of a rich citizen Alderman and young Lord Viscount Squanderfield, the dissipated son of a gouty old Earl ... The dismal end is known. My lord draws upon the counselor, who kills him, and is apprehended while endeavouring to escape. My lady goes back perforce to the Alderman of the City, and faints upon reading Counsellor Silvertongue’s dying speech at Tyburn (place of execution in old London), where the counselor has been executed for sending his lordship out of the world. Moral: don’t listen to evil silver-tongued counselors; don’t marry a man for his rank, or a woman for her money; don’t frequent foolish auctions and masquerade balls unknown to your husband; don’t have wicked companions abroad and neglect your wife, otherwise you will be run through the body, and ruin will ensue, and disgrace, and Tyburn.

from wikipedia

The Marriage Settlement

In the first scene the aged Earl (far right) is shown with his family tree and the crutches he needs because of his gout. The new house which he is having built is visible through the window.

The merchant, who is plainly dressed, holds the marriage contract, while his daughter behind him listens to a young lawyer, Silvertongue. The Earl's son, the Viscount, admires his face in a mirror. Two dogs, chained together in the bottom left corner, perhaps symbolise the marriage.

Hogarth's details, especially the paintings on the walls, comment on the action. A grand portrait in the French manner on the rear wall confronts a Medusa head, denoting horror, on the side wall.

The Tête à Tête

In this, the second in the series of paintings, the marriage of the Viscount and the merchant's daughter is quickly proving a disaster. The tired wife, who appears to have given a card party the previous evening, is at breakfast in the couple's expensive house which is now in disorder. The Viscount returns exhausted from a night spent away from home, probably at a brothel: the dog sniffs a lady's cap in his pocket. Their steward, carrying bills and a receipt, leaves the room to the left, his hand raised in despair at the disorder.

The decoration of the room again comments on the action. The picture over the mantlepiece shows Cupid among ruins. In front of it is a bust with a broken nose, symbolising impotence.

The Inspection

The third scene takes place in the room of a French doctor (M. de La Pillule). The Viscount is seated with his child mistress beside him, apparently having contracted venereal disease, as indicated by the black spot on his neck, Hogarth's symbol for those taking the mercurial pills which were the only known treatment for this ailment.

He holds towards the doctor a box of pills; other boxes on the chair and in his mistress's hand suggest he is seeking an alternative remedy. An older woman holds a clasp knife; she appears to be the young girl's mother.

The machines to the right, identified in the inscription on the open book, are for setting a broken shoulder, and drawing corks. A skeleton embraces a model in the cupboard behind the Viscount.

The Toilette

After the death of the old Earl the wife is now the Countess, with a coronet above her bed and over the dressing table, where she sits. She has also become a mother, and a child's teething coral hangs from her chair.

The lawyer Silvertongue invites her to a masquerade like the one to which he points, depicted on the screen. A group of visitors on the left listen to an opera singer, possibly a castrato, accompanied by a flautist.

An African page on the right unpacks a collection of curiosities bought at auction, including a figure of Actaeon. The paintings on the right wall show 'Lot and his Daughters' and 'Jupiter and Io' (after Correggio). On the left wall is a portrait of the lawyer and 'Rape of Ganymede' (after Michelangelo).

The Bagnio

This episode takes place in a bagnio, originally a word used to describe coffee houses which offered Turkish baths, but by 1740 it signified a place where rooms could be provided for the night with no questions asked. The Countess and the lawyer have retired there after the masquerade. The young Earl has followed them and is dying from a wound inflicted by Silvertongue, who escapes through the window, while the Countess pleads forgiveness.

The noise of the fight has awakened the master of the house who appears through the door to the right with the Watch. On the rear wall is a tapestry of the 'Judgement of Solomon', and a painting of a courtesan is over the door.

The Lady's Death

The final scene takes place in the house of the Countess's father. She has taken poison on learning that her lover has been hanged for the murder of the Earl, reported in the broadsheet at her feet.

Her crippled child embraces her and her father removes a ring from her finger as a suicide's possessions were forfeit. In the centre an apothecary remonstrates with the servant whom he accuses of obtaining the poison.

Through the window to the right is a view of Old London Bridge. A dog seizes his chance to make off with the frugal meal on the table. The paintings on the wall to the left are Dutch low-life scenes, indicating the taste of the alderman.

And that's the lot...
btw I didn't write any of the text, i can't write but i sure can copy and paste, like i said at the top the opening blurbs are from wikipedia and the painting descriptions are from the national gallery website, I'm hoping they won't mind as it's possibly getting people to go down and see the lot of them... at the national gallery, London (trafalgar square).

Monday, 17 May 2010



"ROME — By at least one amusing new metric, Michelangelo’s unofficial 500-year run at the top of the Italian art charts has ended. Caravaggio, who somehow found time to paint when he wasn’t brawling, scandalizing pooh-bahs, chasing women (and men), murdering a tennis opponent with a dagger to the groin, fleeing police assassins or getting his face mutilated by one of his many enemies, has bumped him from his perch."...

bla bla blah...

... "Caravaggio, on the other hand, exemplifies the modern antihero, a hyperrealist whose art is instantly accessible. His doe-eyed, tousle-haired boys with puffy lips and bubble buttocks look as if they’ve just tumbled out of bed, not descended from heaven. Coarse not godly, locked into dark, ambiguous spaces by a strict geometry then picked out of deep shadow by an oracular light, his models come straight off the street. Cupid is clearly a hired urchin on whom Caravaggio strapped a pair of fake wings. The angel in his “Annunciation” dangles like Chaplin’s tramp on the high wire in “The Circus,” from what must have been a rope contraption Caravaggio devised."

David with the head of Goliath

(the goliath depicted in this painting is in fact Caravaggio himself)

The Cardsharps

Martyrdom of St. Matthew

Death of a Virgin

Caravaggio's epitaph was composed by his friend Marzio Milesi. It reads:

"Michelangelo Merisi, son of Fermo di Caravaggio - in painting not equal to a painter, but to Nature itself - died in Port' Ercole - betaking himself hither from Naples - returning to Rome - 15th calend of August - In the year of our Lord 1610 - He lived thirty-six years nine months and twenty days - Marzio Milesi, Jurisconsult - Dedicated this to a friend of extraordinary genius."

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Robert Delaunay - the Eiffel Tower

I have never in my life seen a straight line...."

I don't think that images 2 and 4 are originals, though they may well be, i was attempting to find the picture that hangs in the national museum in Berlin where there are notable differences to in the two pictures here, firstly the colour, secondly there is more patches of grass leading up towards the top left of the picture and thirdly... erm well there's other bits as well. It could be he did a couple from the same perspective, as he seems to have done that with a few others, i don't know a lot about him but like his stuff a lot.

Monday, 10 May 2010

William Roberts - Painting on the tube...

I found this guy in Sotherby's program for the London sale of 1995, 'Talk of Buddha' was starting at £3000, not sure how much it sold for or if it did. Online it seems to suggest it is still the property of Ernest Cooper of whom it belonged to before the sale too. Roberts' style i find is very much akin to Fernand Leger on his more tubist pieces. They were both contemporaries though Leger may have hit the scene a little before Roberts.

Talk About Buddha

The Seaside

The Rhine Boat

Friday, 7 May 2010

Wieslaw Walkuski & John Constable

Wieslaw Walkuski - Danton

John Constable - Seascape study with rain cloud

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Édouard Manet - A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)

This is an unusual portrait because it is of someone at work, and someone who to our eyes is defined by her work and is profoundly unhappy with it. She is alienated from her surroundings, as if there is a glass pane between her and everyone else in the room - the drinkers, chatters-up, lovers, liars, thieves and businessmen. Manet conveys Suzon's estrangement from her world by the fact that she is the only person in this painting who is not reflected in glass. Everyone else in the painting is seen in the big bar mirror: the quickly painted, harshly reflected faces and bodies, a woman in gloves with her lover or client, someone else looking at the scene with binoculars. They are objects she is looking at - but at one remove, through a glass darkly.

The only solid realities are the marble bar top and the bottles - crème de menthe, champagne, beer - a bowl of oranges, two flowers delicately placed in a vase. She has both hands firmly on the bar as if she needs to touch something solid, in case she should be carried away by the vortex of light and shapes reflected in the mirror.

This is not a realistic painting of the Folies-Bergère. Suzon did work there, but she posed for the painting in Manet's studio, behind a table laden with bottles. He merged this image with rapid painted sketches he made at the Folies-Bergère. There is no attempt to make the image cohere: there is, as contemporary critics pointed out, an inconsistency to the relationship between the reflections in the mirror and the real things. The man in the top hat approaching Suzon in a sinister way in the top right hand corner of the mirror would in reality have to be standing with his back to us in front of the bar, and Suzon herself should be reflected in an entirely different place.

The dislocation of Suzon's world is deliberate. Paris is a hall of mirrors where Suzon floats helplessly, clinging to her bar. The flowers are a touching attempt to preserve a little humanity, as are her neat blue clothes and whole demeanour. It's amazing that contemporary critics saw her as a prostitute.

And who are you? The top-hatted stranger, of course, the Jack the Ripper whose ghostly reflection approaches her with such menace in the mirror. Manet captures the coolness, cruelty and glamour of modern life. This is one of the keystones of modern art.

full guardian article

The Painting was the inspiration for John Brack's 1954 painting 'The Bar', again the patrons can be seen in a sinister light in the mirror behind the barmaid.