Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cypress Trees and Absentee Bloggers

Two Cypresses
Vincent van Gogh

As a quick explanation of my absence, there are a large number of issues that I'm currently facing, such as moving and starting a new job, which are keeping me unbearably busy. Normal posting (i.e., every day) may not resume for a little bit, but I'll keep you posted on all events, and very soon all will be normal again. Thus spoke Zarathustra. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525 – September 9, 1569)

The Fall of the Rebel Angels

I'm back! The lack of updates over the past few days had to do with me running off for Memorial Weekend. I usually try to inform you when I'm going to be taking some time off, but that's not quite been the most accurate system. Oh well! On to the post. 

Bruegel the Elder was a fabulous painter who created a lot of the imagery that surrounds our conception of biblical stories. His The Tower of Babel, see below, is an image that transformed my view of that Genesis tale in my childhood years. As for Bruegel's style, his descent from Bosch is very evident, especially in works, such as the one above, where the swirling of demons and symbols echoes Bosch beautifully. There is also so much, not only in the myriad characters in his works, but also in his beautiful landscapes, which often go unnoticed, but held so much of the soul of his paintings. 

The Hunters in the Snow (January)

The Peasant and the Birdnester

The Tower of Babel

The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind

Big Fishes Eat Little Fishes
c. 1556

Christ and the Woman taken in Adultery

Friday, May 27, 2011

Herbert Draper (1863 – September 22, 1920)

The Lament for Icarus

Draper was a magnificent painter, who like so many Classicists was completely forgotten. That Draper had amazing technique and great sense of composition, unfortunately, mattered little to those who necessitated an at least Impressionistic style, progressively speaking; but I love Draper and the Classicists, nonetheless. 


Clyties of the Mist 

Ariadne Deserted by Theseus

Portrait of Miss Barbara de Selincourt

The Water Nymph

The Pearls of Aphrodite

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jean Delville (January 19, 1867 – January 19, 1953)

The Idol of Perversity

Delville, for me, exudes the early 20th century unlike any other artist; and, incredibly, he began to do so from the anachronistic perch of the 19th. But it's not just a representation of a zeitgeist, presaged or not, that makes Delville great, but its his absolutely unique style that I could only define as one of hyper-sensuality (he was a Theosophist, though I never understood by that group was so lascivious in their arts). And it should go without saying that Delville died unappreciated, and has only recently undergone a revival, reevaluation, recognition or whatever you'd like to call the perverse act of recognizing an artist after the comfort of a half-century's repose, at which time an artist's corpse can hardly restrain its excitement from all of the accolades.  

Satan's Treasures


The School of Silence


The Love of Souls

Mysteriosa or Portrait of Mrs. Stuart Merrill

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gustave Caillebotte (August 19, 1848 – February 21, 1894)

Woman at a Dressing Table
c. 1873

Caillebotte was a wonderful artist with a great grasp on representing soft emotions, though he is remembered far more, rather unfortunately, for his patronage of the arts, specifically the Impressionists. Patrons are littered throughout the arts, either out of the fondness or necessity of the painter; and they certainly aren't frivolous characters in history; but certainly the value of the patron isn't above the artist; so what should we make of an artist who  is remembered more fondly as a patron? (Did you notice how many semicolons I used?) Personally, I think he's a great artist, and all else is secondary.  

Fruit Displayed on a Stand
c. 1882

Paris Street

Chrysanthemums, Garden at Petit Gennevilliers

Floor Strippers

The Yerres, Rain

Naked Woman Lying on a Couch

Display of Chickens and Game Birds

Rising Road

c. 1892

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Peter McArdle (December 17, 1965)

Artist and Model

McArdle was one of the founders, and now an expat, of the Stuckist movement. Stuckism is the reaction of a group of British painters to Conceptual Art, which the painters viewed as a charlatan affair; in turn, they proposed figurative painting as a superior alternative. While Stuckists share a set of ideological similarities, their styles radically differ; for example, McArdle is a Surrealist with American Realist overtones, others are Expressionists, Pop Artists, etcetera; but all of them despise Conceptual Art. Whatever you may think of Conceptual Art, you can't say the Stuckists lack an ethos. And McArdle's one of my favorites from the movement. He has a Myspace account (people still use Myspace?), which you should visit if you want to see more examples of his art. 

Venice 2

Woman Reading

He Is Dancing

Seated Figure 10am 

Silence Between

Strange Love

An Annunciation

Nude - Head and Shoulder 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Giovanni Baglione (1566 – December 30, 1643)

Divine Love

Baglione was a very able painter, but it's his interaction with one particular contemporary of his that I find to be the most interesting aspect of his life. As you can tell, there are two versions of Baglione's Divine Love in this post. The second version, which is above, was created to be in competition with Caravaggio's Love Conquers All, though both were created for the same patron, Cardinal Giustiniani. The devil in the the second version is widely believed to be based on Caravaggio himself (and, by symbolic implication, some historians see this as bearing a charge of sodomy against Caravaggio). Following the track of these historians, this representation caused Caravaggio to write and circulate a defamatory poem about Baglione soon after the painting's completion. In turn, the poem so outraged Baglione that, in 1603, he filed libel charges against Caravaggio. Baglione won the case, and Caravaggio was sent to jail for a couple of weeks. The strange story culminated, ironically, with Baglione becoming Caravaggio's first biographer (though certainly not his most sympathetic). In terms of artistic merit, I think the feud was easily settled on the side of Caravaggio; in terms of character, I'd have to second the last sentiment. What do you think?

Divine Love

The Virgin and the Child with Angels

The Ecstasy of Saint Francis

Saint Sebastian Healed by an Angel

Self-Portrait with Vanitas Symbols

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Barnett Newman (January 29, 1905 – July 4, 1970)


I often feel that talking at length about Minimalism is somewhat contradictory to any sort of strong attempt at defining it (though this could be more semantics than metaphysics at play). Also, since I don't quite know how long my weak internet connection will last today, it might be better to let the Minimalist of the post to speak on my, or rather his, behalf; "What is the explanation of the seemingly insane drive of man to be painter and poet if it is not an act of defiance against man's fall and an assertion that he return to the Garden of Eden? For the artists are the first men."

Now II

Yellow Painting


Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?