Category Archives: Art

Works of Claude Monet

Works of Claude Monet (Masters of Art)Works of Claude Monet by Claude Monet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was fortunate to spend an afternoon in the fall 2018 at Monet’s home in Giverny. The place effuses serenity. This is a superb collection of the master’s art. Delphi overs analysis and history of highlighted works, and included a somewhat gushingly biased biography of the impressionists and the movement written and published in 1907 by Camille Mauclair. For those unaware, Monet’s 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise” was the inspiration for the name of the movement. He was asked for a title for a catalogue containing it and he replied, “Put Impression”. Two years later, it was part of a show that critic Louis Leroy nastily reviewed in an article titled “The Exhibition of the Impressionists”, and the name stuck.

Monet - Impression, Sunrise

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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers by Danny Gregory

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And DesignersAn Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers by Danny Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book sitting on a table next to my recliner for a few years now and finally picked it up to read (my wife, the artist, got it for herself). I am fascinated with the thought processes of any artist, whether visual, musical, literary, architect, … This is a specific snapshot, well… collection of snapshots, of some thoughts and processes. Fifty artists (including the author), fifty samplings from their sketchbooks, their preferences for ink, pencil, types of pens,… and types sketchbooks – Moleskine seems to be popular, but some prefer off the shelf whatevers, some make their own. What they think about, why they sketch, what they do with their sketches, and other words of their choices. I was both surprised and not at some of the commonalities.

A few Takeaways I flagged:

Mattias Adolphsson: “I find that drawing in my sketchbook is easier for me than using other media.”

Butch Belair: “I usually draw in my car. Very few people know I am doing it… Having people watch while I do it would be a bit of a buzzkill. Don’t tread on my Zen, man.”

Bill Brown: “My sketchbooks are filled with words and pictures I haven’t started second-guessing yet.”

Robert (“R.”) Crumb: “My advice: Draw from life as much as you can stand to. That’s where you really learn things, And learn to express your real, personal feelings. And don’t worry about creating masterpieces or only drawing the pretty things. Look for the commonplace, the unnoticed details of everyday reality. To draw fro life is to learn from life. But you know, you need to be compelled by some inner need to fill the blank page, It’s gotta come from within.”

Barry Gott: “I don’t care if the drawings are logical or done well, which is helpful since theri neither.”

Gay Kraeger: “I love the way I see the world since I stated drawing. I like seeing how everything relates to everything else.”

Brody Neuenschwander: “When I draw, I am thinking about how some kind of intensity of meaning can be brought to a genre that has no receptive field in our society [calligraphy].”

A nice collection. I’m not a fan of much of the art I saw, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring the artists, and their processes.

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Mentors: The Making of an Art Historian by Francis M Naumann

Mentors: The Making of an Art HistorianMentors: The Making of an Art Historian by Francis M Naumann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My commutes this year have been enhanced by lectures on concert music (The Great Courses lecture series by Dr. Robert Greenberg, ten Great Masters, Their Lives and Music), and when this came across in an email, I was happy to expand my arts education again. I received a review copy of this from Edelweiss, Above the Treeline. I had read Maxwell Anderson’s The Quality Instinct: Seeing Art Through a Museum Director’s Eye six years ago (must reread it soon!) and wondered if this might be a bit of seeing art through a historian’s eye. Not really, but engaging nonetheless. Naumann is forthcoming with his naiveties, candid with his relationships (be forewarned, he is open with some…adult…interactions), and while I didn’t get the full sense of his subtitle until the end, I did feel a privilege of his sharing of his mentors. Those mentors were Leo Steinberg, John Rewald, Beatrice Wood, and William Rubin, Robert Rosenblum and Robert Pincus-Witten. I’ll not pick much from his memories here…best to read about them yourself. Continue reading

Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke

Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca SalsburyFoursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was provided a review copy of this from the publisher through First to Read. I admit unfamiliarity with three of the foursome, though I recognize Strand and of course, O’Keeffe (I got to see an exhibition of some if her works in Oklahoma some 30 years ago, too young to truly appreciate them) and I didn’t make many notes in this reading… just absorbed. There are intimate stories here. I do not know how much is known already to students of these four, but I suspect – obviously, as the book had to be written – that having them all together is new, and perhaps unknown.

More than a telling of their stories, Ms. Burke also frames the times that shaped them, shaped their arts. New arts to the world, new visions, self discovery and explorations. One of the things I appreciate about Ms. Burke’s exposition and sometime dramatization is that she qualifies any speculation; if she found no evidence to support suspected relationships, interactions, she doesn’t embellish. Or at least those parts of her narrative where she caveats “tempting to think … but impossible to know” would indicate.

We tend to think in two dimensions, and might think of a “foursome” as a rectangle/quadrangle, but they were rather a tetrahedron, with Steiglitz at the apex for most of their relationships. O’Keeffe eclipsed him in fame and ascended to that apex, but his … seniority … tended to prevail. This is not to say that any of the other three were not their own people, individual and distinct. Clearly, they were, but he was the progenitor of that foursome. They fed off of each other. Built. And also held each other at bay. To preserve their individuality.

This is about the people, and much less their arts, which serve to support here but not stand center. So what do I take away? Well, I looked up Salsbury’s reverse oils on glass, and Stieglitz’s and Strand’s photographs. And I revisited O’Keeffe. And I have things to think about.

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