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Found 12 results

  1. I was having an interesting conversation with two musician friends today. I've come to the conclusion that - out of all the fine arts - visual art, particularly modern art - is the one field in which I have difficulty discerning mediocrity from greatness. A perfect example is Paul Cézanne. I've been going to museums regularly for thirty years, and have been exposed to a lot of modern art (Cézanne is considered by many to be The Father of Modernism). A couple years ago, I read an entire book on Cézanne, detailing his life, his periods, and his works. I can identify him by sight quite often. Yet, I cannot honestly tell you what makes Cézanne a greater artist than, say, Matisse. And that's just one example: With modern art in general, it would be *very* easy to fool me with something mediocre that an expert told me was profound, and vice-versa. Every other art form I can think of, I'm able to discern hacks from experts, but not with visual art, and especially with post 19th-century art. Can anyone tell me why this is? I'm willing to accept that I have no talent, but why in just this one area? I can tell you a great film from a lousy one, a great piece of literature from a lousy one, a great musical composition from a lousy one; it's just modern art that I am not capable of discerning. I admire, respect, and appreciate Cézanne. But I'd be lying if I told you I could definitively tell you *why* he's essentially considered "the Beethoven of visual arts." I cannot. Opinions sought and welcomed.
  2. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto, the National Gallery is launched a major three part exhibition starting March 4 and running thru June 9 and July 7, including the first retrospective of the artist in North America. Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice (March 24-July 7, 2019) In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/1519–1594), the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia with the special cooperation of the Gallerie dell’Accademia, will organize a major exhibition on the Venetian master. Following its opening at the Palazzo Ducale, Venice, beginning in September 2018, Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice will travel to the Gallery—its only other venue—from March 24 through July 7, 2019. As the first retrospective of the artist in North America, the exhibition will include many significant international loans traveling to the U.S. for the first time. The exhibition will feature nearly 50 paintings and more than a dozen works on paper spanning the artist’s entire career and ranging from regal portraits of Venetian aristocracy to religious and mythological narrative scenes. Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice (March 24-June 9, 2019) The first exhibition to focus specifically on Tintoretto’s work as a draftsman, Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice provides new ideas about his evolution as a draftsman, about the dating and function of the so-called sculpture drawings, and about Tintoretto’s place in the Venetian tradition. Venetian Prints in the Time of Tintoretto (March 24-June 9, 2019) Completing the panorama of Venetian art in the time Tintoretto is an exhibition that will present some 40 prints from the second half of the 16th century, ranging from the exquisite etchings of Parmigianino and his immediate followers in the Veneto, to the spectacular woodcuts of Giuseppe Scolari, most from the Gallery’s own collection. They will reveal a critical source for Tintoretto’s artistic formation, parallel developments toward a distinctively Venetian mannerism, and striking graphic responses to the dynamism and expressiveness of Tintoretto’s style.
  3. Jeff Koons is a big-name artist: one of the most famous living artists in both America and the entire world. In fact, "Balloon Dog (Orange)" has established the record - which still stands - for "most money ever paid for an artwork by a living artist." On Nov 12, 2013, it sold for $58.4 million at a Christie's auction: "An Orange Balloon Dog Sold for $58.4M, So Here Are 10 Other Cool Jeff Koons Balloon Pieces" by Olivia B. Waxman on time.com --- "Balloon Dog (Orange)" - (DonRocks)
  4. 2019 marks the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death. There are multiple exhibitions opening around the world marking the anniversary. And course many articles being written. We will try to keep the more engaging material consolidated here. The New York Times is running two articles about Rembrandt Rembrandt Died 350 Years Ago. Why He Matters Today. Rembrandt in the Blood: An Obsessive Aristocrat, Rediscovered Paintings and an Art-World Feud --- "All the Rembrandts" Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum "Rembrandt, Vermeer & the Dutch Golden Age:  Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre" Exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi "The Night Watch"
  5. "Ai Wei Wei's Beijing Studio Destroyed by Chinese Authorities" by Shannon van Sant on npr.org
  6. For all you Hunter S. Thompson fans out there. or Flying Dog Brewery (apparently he illustrates their beer labels) Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective, Jun 16 - Aug 12, 2018: American University, Wash, DC "The retrospective showcases Steadman's legendary collaborations with maverick Gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson; his illustrated literary classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island; and the inventive books he authored such as I Leonardo and The Big I Am. There are also illustrations from his children's books, which include No Room to Swing a Cat and That's My Dad, plus artworks from his travels with Oddbins Wine Merchants and his iconic packaging for Flying Dog Brewery. As Thompson advised in the Steadman illustrated Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "buy a ticket, take the ride."" Ralph Steadman's Website
  7. The *moment* I saw Mrs. Obama's portrait, I said to myself, "Miss Everything!" I just found an email that I received from Ms. Sherald - now I'm *really* going to treasure it.
  8. If anyone wants to argue that Impressionism is the most overplayed, hackneyed art movement in all of history, you'll get no argument from me. If anyone wants to argue that, with the possible exception of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is the most overplayed, hackneyed Impressionist in history, you'll also get no argument from me. But to my view, no painter in history can produce more beautiful *eyes* than Renoir - his eyes are so captivating that I'm able to see through all the dilettantes (of which I'm often one), crowding around the Impressionist galleries. You can often tell an Impressionist painting is a Renoir from the eyes alone. La Rêverie, 1877 - Puschkin Museum, Moscow, Russia Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881 - The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC Two Sisters (On The Terrace), 1881 - The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Some masterworks in life lend themselves to close scrutiny; a small minority can be appreciated at face value - this falls into that latter category. They are just beautiful - the pictorial version of Bel Canto Opera. Any serious student of art here just lowered their opinion of me several rungs, and I understand why, but I don't care: Tawdry entertainment or not, these are gorgeous paintings.
  9. Pedestrians along Takoma Park's Carroll Avenue can enjoy a bit of public art that would be hard to notice from a passing car: for some six or seven hundred feet between Columbia Ave and the firehouse, the sidewalk on the south side has a decorative border of thousands of colored tiles of various shapes and sizes, pieced together in various seemingly nonrepeating patterns, as if someone has transplanted a two-dimensional ribbon of pebble beach into the urban landscape. This is the work of Silver Spring's Adriana Baler, an art professor at Montgomery College and also at the Corcoran, whose other work includes ceramic wall collages, the Escher-esque solid-surface Peeps tiles in the flagship Peeps store at National Harbor, and the faceted chocolate molds at Fiola Mare. Baler's design was selected in 2005 by the city's Arts and Humanities Commission from a field of twelve proposals for the "Carroll Avenue Sidewalk Public Art Project". [artist's signature at "left end" of the artwork, near the firehouse]
  10. "Ellsworth Kelly, an Artist Who Mixed Abstract with Simplicity, Dies at 92" by Holland Cotter on nytimes.com "Artist Ellsworth Kelly, Master of Colorful Abstraction, Dies at 92" by Neda Ulaby on npr.org "Ellsworth Kelly, the American Abstract Painter and Sculptor, Dies at 92" on theguardian.com MoMA has 235 works by Kelly online! Included in these are *45* paintings from 1951 alone - a year which must have been extremely fertile for Kelly (he was 27-28 years old), including these four paintings: "Nine Colors" (1951) - Ink on Paper and Gouache on Paper - 7.5" by 8" "Colors for a Large Wall" (1951) - Oil on Canvas with Sixty-Four Joined Canvases - 7' 10.5" by 7' 10.5" (!) "Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance VI" (1951) - Cut-and-Pasted, Color-Coated Paper and Pencil on Four Sheets of Black Paper - 37.25" by 37.25" "Study for Meschers" (1951) - Cut-and-Pasted, Printed Paper - 19.5" by 19.5" Click on the MoMA link - you have 41 more glorious works to enjoy *just* from 1951. To those who think modern art could be done by a child, I urge you to keep going to exhibits, reading about it, and just exposing yourself to it as much as you can - sooner or later you'll start to like it, and I can't tell you why you'll start to like it; only that you will. Just have an open mind - I still don't know why I like modern art (yes, a child *could* spray-paint a canvas all black, although I assure you the modern masters can paint just as realistically as you ask them to), but I really do enjoy it, and I think you will, also. I will add that I have no ability to discern what's worth $5 from $5 million, but I still just ... like it. Brian, do you have a better explanation than mine?
  11. I've sort of run out of steam with the 20th-century chanteuses I was highlighting. Lots and lots of recordings to listen to, of course, but not a lot of my favorite female jazz singers I haven't posted about at least once. So what about the great rock-n-roll singers? I find that almost all of them were men. I'm setting aside R&B and soul singers, like Aretha Franklin, one of the greatest singers of the 20th century (to anyone with any discernment), and ditto James Brown, say, or Otis Redding. It's not a matter of race: Little Richard and Chuck Berry, along with Jimi Hendrix and others, certainly inhabited the world of rock-n-roll, but it became more and more dominated by white artists as time went by in the 50s and into the 60s, and the only black rock-n-roll singer whose star shines in the highest firmament to me is Little Richard, of whom more later. The prominent female rock singers, like Grace Slick and Janis Joplin, are largely over-rated, in my view. Joplin might have become a really great singer, but her career was so terribly short. Probably my favorite female rocker is Marianne Faithfull, but it's hard to put her in the same category as the greatest male r-n-r singers, such as John Lennon. Charlie Pierce famously maintains that the only wrong answer to "what's your favorite Beatles song?" is "Revolution Number 9", a point of view I'm in sympathy with, but can't agree with in the detail. "Revolution Number 9" isn't a song, but there are songs from the white album that are wrong answers: "Piggies" and "Oh-bla-di", for example. But the white album also includes much of John Lennon's best work with the Beatles. Not just his best writing, but his best singing. Take as an extravagantly great example one of my very favorite Beatles songs, probably not well known to generations younger than mine, but which features one of John's most wonderful vocal performances, among other things - "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" (1968): I loved him as if I knew him.
  12. I've been meaning to post about Jessie Mann Porcelains (also known as Boxes By Jessie) for over a year. Some dear friends had a child on Dec 1, 2013 , and I didn't have a clue what to get them. So I hunted and pecked, looked around at Etsy, and then Google, and I searched and searched, and then a few minutes later, I found the perfect keepsake: a hand-painted Limoges porcelain box, custom-made for their baby. I went over to Jessie's studio and met with her personally, and there was a whole variety of Limoges boxes to choose from - plain, ivory-colored boxes in their native, unpainted state. But she had catalogs of her work, so I could see where this was going to go - her finished products are *beautiful*. Look at these, and these, and these. She not only paints them, but applies the French enamels in multiple layers, firing the box in an oven after each layer. The entire process takes about a week, and it's well-worth your time (no, I'll say it's imperative) that you go over there, in person, to select your box. Jessie sat down with me for about thirty minutes, sketching out what I wanted right in front of me, so I had a pretty good idea of what the finished product would be like - but when I actually saw it, I couldn't believe how vibrant it was. These are gifts for people who have everything, and you don't know what to buy them. Obviously, they're not cheap (they start at $100 and go up - you can expect to spend $200-300 for even a modestly sized box). But man, are they worth it. And then when your box is ready, she doesn't just hand it to you and say bye; she includes photos, and presents it in a really nice gift bag. If you have a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or other special occasion (she even has one that says "First Tooth"), I can't imagine there's anyone who wouldn't appreciate receiving one of these as a gift. I cannot recommend Jessie Mann highly enough - she was a pleasure to work with, and the quality of her artistry is amazing. Don Rockwell
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