Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wrapping up 2015

Time to jet off somewhere.  Wherever you go, there is always an adventure.  I hope you enjoyed 2015.  And, I hope 2016 brings you joy, happiness, and contentment.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chicago's, The Bean

I do like The Bean.  Maybe it is because it draws in so many people.  Maybe it is because the light and images are constantly changing.  And, maybe it is because people seem happy when they are there.

For your enjoyment:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Chicago's Museum of Art: American Gothic

Painted in 1930, American Gothic hints at the Great Depression.  According to the placard, Grant Wood visited Eldon, Iowa where he saw the house, built in the 1880's, that caught his eye.  Mr. Wood asked his dentist (Dr. McKeeby) and his own sister (Nan Wood) to pose as the father and daughter. 

I like it.   It is simple.  Wood isn't trying to capture rapid movement.  They are just people in their roles, facing their lives, and doing what they do, every day, to live.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"

I have seen this image before.  But, I have never seen the original. I really like it.

Painted in 1942, it depicts a restaurant on New York's Greenwich Ave.  The placard didn't state whether this was late at night or early in the morning.  But, as I was writing this post, I originally had written that it was "late at night".  But, those words gnawed at me and I couldn't leave them.  For me, as I look at this, the painting is very early in the morning.  The day is just getting started.   The usual's have come in for their morning coffee and breakfast.   You can just about see the smoke of a cigarette from the gentleman with is back to us.

I like the simplicity.  I like the vibrant yellow and reds against the darker shadows.  And, I like the implicit hope for the beginning of the day.

Yeh....the beginning of the day.   Very early. That works for me.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Back to the Chicago Museum of Art! Picasso's "The Head"

Picasso did "The Head" in 1927.  According to the placard, this is an example of Picasso's continuous experimentation with style and technique.  "To make this work, he laid the canvas flat and sprinkled powdered pigment, in a manner similar to Naive American sand painting, onto the still-wet painted surface." 

The placard goes on to state that in some areas he scrapped some of the pigment off.  But, in other areas, he left it alone.  The result is some areas of the painting are blurred and "flat".

Personal opinion here.....I don't like it.  I have a granddaughter that recently drew me and it looks similar.  But, what do I know.  I am obviously not an art critic from New York.    Or, she's a savant!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve: 2015

I still have a few more images from the Chicago Museum of Art.  But, it is time to take a few days and focus on Christmas.  There are so many powerful messages out there, by those with a greater gift for words, that I am not sure what to say.

So, I will keep it simple.

May you all have a wonderful Christmas.   I know it can be stressful with company and gifts and family dynamics.   But, suck it up for a few days and recognize your family and friends.  They all have had a hand in molding and shaping who we are.

Celebrate the joy of giving.  The world is bigger than your needs.  So, give with joy.

And, be happy you are not me because I think I am getting this...............again.

I am not saying I don't deserve it, mind you. 

Keep safe and warm.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Chicago Museum of Art: Picasso 3

Completed in 1915, below is Picasso's "Man with a Pipe".  If you are looking for the pipe, try the images lower left hand (your right).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Chicago Museum of Art: Picasso 2

This is Picasso's "Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler".

Mr. Kahnweiler was an art dealer, writer, and publisher who opened a gallery in Paris in 1907.  According to the placard, he began showing Picasso's work in 1908.   He sat over 30 times for this portrait.  And, despite the very cubist/abstract nature of the portrait, Picasso added physical attributes: a lock of hair and the knot of a tie, to identify his subject.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Chicago Museum of Art: Picasso 1

This was the first time I had seen Picasso's work in "real life".  

From Wiki, "Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso (/pɪˈkɑːs, -ˈkæs/;[2] Spanish: [ˈpaβlo piˈkaso]; 25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973), was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture,[3][4] the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the Bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian airforces at the behest of the Spanish nationalist government during the Spanish Civil War.

Below is his "Head of a Woman from 1909

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Picasso's "The Old Guitarist"

Years ago as I studied the guitar and became a more accomplished guitarist (and that isn't saying much), I found this painting stunningly beautiful and peaceful.  

I was surprised at the placard next to the painting where the Picasso's "blue period" was described as cold, monochromatic, flattened and emotional, psychological themes of human misery.  Here is a blind, poor, musician doing only that which is left for play.

My thinking was this was an old man playing because it was beautiful.  He is playing because he can become lost in the music.   And, it is his gift to those around him.

But, what do I know.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Toulouse-Lautrec's "Ballet Dancers"

I have known this painting for years and have always loved it. I can feel the dancing and almost hear the music at a theater in Paris.

According to Wikipedia:

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901), also known as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French: [ɑ̃ʁi də tuluz lotʁɛk]) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century allowed him to produce a collection of enticing, elegant and provocative images of the modern, sometimes decadent, life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec is among the best-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period, alongside Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin. In a 2005 auction at Christie's auction house, La Blanchisseuse, his early painting of a young laundress, sold for US$22.4 million and set a new record for the artist for a price at auction.[1]  

 Lautrec was obviously hanging around some amazingly creative people.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: van Gogh's "The Bedroom"

Once again, the Chicago Museum of Art's placard does a wonderful job describing this painting.

Painted in 1889, this is one (perhaps the first) of three versions of this scene of the interior of the "Yellow House", where he lived while in Arles (S. France).  This house was where he dreamed of a community of like minded artists could come and create art in a collaborative and supportive environments.

This was painted to be a simple bedroom, with vibrant colors.  The idea was to be relaxing and suggest rest, calm, peace and tranquility. 

Gauguin was van Gogh's guest at this time.   However, it ended badly after 2 months, shortly after van Gogh cut off his ear. 

The community of artists never materialized.   

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Van Gogh's "The Drinkers"

The placard at the Chicago Museum of Art does a wonderful job explaining this painting.   Painted in 1890, van Gogh at this time was in the Asylum of Saint-Paul in Saint-Remy, a small town near Arles.  He was already struggling with mental health issues.

While there, he took to copying works of other painters that he admired.   This is a copy of a wood engraving from Honore Daumier, titled "Drinkers"

It is possibly a parody on the four ages of man.  And, van Gogh could also be implying his own drinking habits with absinthe were concerning to him.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Vincent Van Gogh's First Known Self Portrait

According to Wikipedia:

Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch: [ˈvɪnsɛnt ˈʋɪləm vɑn ˈɣɔx];[note 1] 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch and post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. His output includes portraits, self portraits, landscapes and still lifes of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. He drew as a child but did not paint until his late twenties; most of his best-known works were completed during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints.
Van Gogh was born to upper middle class parents. He spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, and traveled between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught in England at Isleworth and Ramsgate. He was deeply religious as a younger man and aspired to be a pastor. From 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he sketched people from the local community, and in 1885 painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette then consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later paintings. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the region's strong sunlight. His paintings grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888.
After years of anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness,[1][2] he died aged 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been widely debated by art historians. Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill health, art historians see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence wrought through illness. His late paintings show an artist at the height of his abilities, completely in control, and according to art critic Robert Hughes, "longing for concision and grace".[3]

Below is what is believed to be his first self portrait. 

The placard at the museum mentions that this style was more inline with the Master's, like Rembrandt.  However, Van Gogh is also now working with complimentary colors.  This is much more in line with the Parisian avant-garde .

Here you can see the backdrop blending into his beard and mustache and even into his jacket.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Van Gogh "Terrace and Observation Deck at the Moulin de Blute-Fin, Montmartre"

From Wikipedia:

Montmartre (French pronunciation: ​[mɔ̃.maʁtʁ]) is a large hill in Paris's 18th arrondissement. It is 130 metres high and gives its name to the surrounding district, part of the Right Bank in the northern section of the city. The historic district established by the City of Paris in 1995 is bordered by rue Caulaincourt and rue Custine on the north; rue de Clignancourt on the east; boulevard de Clichy and boulevard de Rochechouart to the south.[1] containing sixty hectares.[2] Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district. The other, older, church on the hill is Saint Pierre de Montmartre, which claims to be the location at which the Jesuit order of priests was founded.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, during the Belle Époque, many artists had studios or worked in or around Montmartre, including Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh. Montmartre is also the setting for several hit films. This site is served by metro line 2 stations of Anvers, Pigalle and Blanche and the line 12 stations of Pigalle, Abbesses, Lamarck - Caulaincourt and Jules Joffrin.

So, when Van Gogh was there, it was dotted with abandoned quarries and homes.     It was an artists haven and was featured in many paintings by different artists.

Today Sacre Cour sits atop Montemarte.  It is the highest point in Paris.  And, it was where Hitler stood in 1940, overlooking the city, and said, "Paris is mine".  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Degas' "The Star"

The Chicago Museum of Art's placard titles this "The Star".  However, a quick search online about "The Star" consistently shows another image.   I suspect there are two different paintings with the same name.  And, I just haven't searched long and hard enough.

As an example:   Click here  

Regardless, I do like Degas' work very much.  It is filled with movement!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Degas' Yellow Dancers (In the Wings)

This was one of the 24 works shown by Degas at the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876.  It was one of several ballet scenes.  In this, he places the viewer in the wings of the theater.   This was actually a position of privilege, where an elite male subscriber to the Paris Opera could freely roam and socialize. 

Degas originally required the help of his influential friends to slip him into this more private world.  He paid his own way in in 1885.

Chicago Museum of Art: Edgar Degas' "Cafe Singer"

Since I have already mentioned Degas, I won't repeat it here.  I very much liked this painting.   And, I wondered whether he had a model for it or just did it from memory.

Painted in 1879, it is one of my favorites.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: The Abduction of the Sabine Women

Luca Geordano painted the Abduction of the Sabine Women between 1675 and 1680.  Giordano was perhaps the most acclaimed and well traveled artist in Italy in the later 1600's.  He was able to assimilate other styles as a benefit of his travels. 

In this story, the Romans, plagued by a shortge of brides, invited the neighboring Sabines to a festival.   It was during the feast, that the Romans kidnapped the younger women. 

Note....I didn't give a damn trigger warning.  Some may find this difficult and be offended by the painting.   Deal with it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein

Johann Tischbein lived 1751-1829.  The paintings below of Paris and Helen, were painted at the same time, about 1787.

If you recall, Paris kidnapped Helen (yes....Helen of Troy), and thus began the slaughter of thousands of soldiers and innocents. 

 Tichbein discovered the art of antiquity in Rome and Naples.  So, it is somewhat natural that he focused on what was considered ideal beauty.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Monet's The Beach at Sainte-Andresse

Monet was 27 when he painted the "Beach at Sainte-Andresse".  Monet had stated that it was hard work.  Boats and people were moving about. 

 And, the tide was moving in and out.

I really liked this painting.   You could nearly smell the sea air.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Manet's Henri Fantin-Latour

This piece was painted in 1867.  Manet had been often rejected by the official "Salon", a body supporting the arts in Paris.  So, he decided to host a private exhibition of 56 of his works at an independent pavilion near the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

 The subject of this commissioned painting, Henri Fantin-Latour, willingly submitted his portrait to the exhibition with the signature in the lower left, "To my friend Manet". 

The idea, may suspect, was to improve Manet's standing in the Parisian circles.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Degas, a Family Portrait

Degas was born in Paris in 1834.  He was the eldest of 5 children.  By the time he was 18, he had already turned much of his bedroom into an artist's studio.   His father wanted him to study law. So, in 1853 he applied to the Faculty of Law at the University of Paris.  But, we didn't pay much attention to his studies!

He traveled to Italy and returned to France in 1858 where he moved into a Paris studio.  And, he began painting.

He was famous for movement in his paintings, focusing on dancers for nearly 1/2 of his work.

The painting below is of his uncle (Henri Degas) and his niece, Lucie.  

Degas was lauded as an impressionist.  However, he preferred the term, "realist"

My apologies for the slight light reflection just above the cigar.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Monet's "Boats on the Beach at Etretat"

Painted in 1885, Monet's "Boats on the Beach.." depicts not a wide expanse of ocean, but a sandy beach of half moon bay with fishing boats pulled out of the tide.

Some wonder if Monet knew he was painting the end of an era.   The local economy was becoming more dependent upon tourists.   And, they would not be as desirous to look at fishing boats and cleaning stations. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Chicago Musem of Art: Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte"

In a style much different than Renoir's, Georges Seurat painted "A Sundy on La Grande Jatte" in 1884.

The scene shows people relaxing in a suburban park on an island in the Seine River.  Seurant used small, horizontal brush strokes and later added small dots, in complementary colors.   The dots appear solid from a distance.   Seurant's method was quite scientific for its time. 

Many argued that his style reflected the static posturing of the modern Parisian society.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Renoir's "Chrysanthemums"

First, I really tried to find a Renoir painting of pilgrims and turkeys.   I know that turkey may not have been on the menu that first Thanksgiving.  Regardless, I was unable to find a single Renoir with either a pilgrim or turkey.  What was he thinking? to serious things! 

Renoir writes that when he paints flowers, he lets his brain rest.  He went on to explain that with a model, he felt tension trying to capture the moment.   That doesn't exist with flowers.

Here, he just works on the color tones and doesn't worry about losing the image/moment with a model

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Renoir's "Woman at the Piano"

It was in the mid-1800's that the piano became a popular instrument for home music.  By 1875-1876, when this was painted, almost every bourgeois home had an upright. 

I liked this piece a lot.  Even the candle holder, candle and the notes on the music caught my eye.

This piece made me wish I had talent to draw and paint.   Unfortunately, I do not!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Renoir's "Alfred Sisley"

Renoir painted this portrait of Alfred Sisley at Monet's home in Argenteuil in 1876. 

Sisley was also an impressionist painter and friend.

Interestingly, there is little in the scene to indicate Sisley's passion for painting.  There is no paint, no brush, no canvas! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chicago's Museum of Art: Renoir's "Near the Lake"

Renoir painted this about 1879-1880.  The setting hasn't been determined.   Many believe it to be near the tourist destination of Bois de Boulogne in the western suburbs of Paris.

Renoir, like many artists used his friends as models.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chicago Museum of Art: Paintings: Renoir's Two Sisters (On the Terrace)

It is likely that Renoir painted this in 1881 on the terrace of the Fournaise family restaurant on the Seine, at Chatou.  

The colors were stunning!

I found them flowing and envisioned flowers and feathers mixed in a beautiful hat.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chicago Museum or Art: Paintings: Renoir's Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise

Painted about 1875, Renoir did this piece in Chatou, west of Paris on the Seine.The setting is the terrace of a restaurant on an island in the river.  It was, as the placard says, a popular meeting place for recreational rowers.

Renoir was friendly with the owners of the restaurant.   One of the subjects has been identified as Monsieur de Lauradour, a regular at the restaurant.   He is the figure at the far left.

I very much liked the details of the glasses and bottles. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Chicago Museum of Art: Paintings: Manet's "Woman Reading"

Painted about 1879-1880, Manet painted a young Parisienne sitting in a cafe, with a glass of beer at her side. 

Her face consists of just a few quick brush strokes on the white-primed canvas.   It is, as the informational card next to the painting explains, almost like "make-up".

It is likely she is reading the La vie moderne, which was a new magazine devoted to literature, art and society.   Manet contributed illustrations to this publication.