(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘art history

“I suppose illustration tends to live in the streets, rather than in the hermetically sealed atmosphere of the museum, and consequently it has come to be taken less seriously”*…

From “How Punch Magazine Changed Everything,” one of the essays in the collection

From illustrator, writer, and educator Philip Kennedy, 175 stories “illustrating” 175 years of illustration…

Illustration is a fascinating subject and yet its history is rarely told. This project aims to champion the medium and bring some inspiration, insight and knowledge to readers everywhere.

Illustration Chronicles explores a history of illustration through the images, illustrators and events of the past 175 years. Every few months the site picks a topic [e.g., Music, Animals, Satire, History] to explore. These topics inspire the types of work that get selected and once a piece has been chosen, the year it was made gets marked off the project timeline.

To learn more about Illustration Chronicles you can read a more detailed introduction here

Take a look at the fascinating work-in-progress: “Illustration Chronicles,” from @philipkennedy.

* master illustrator Quentin Blake

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As we delight in drawing, we might send carefully-limned birthday greetings to Barbara Cooney; she was born on this date in 1917. An illustrator and writer, primarily of children’s books, she received two Caldecott Medals for her work on Chanticleer and the Fox (1958) and Ox-Cart Man (1979), and a National Book Award for Miss Rumphius (1982). Her books have been translated into 10 languages.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 6, 2022 at 1:00 am

“The medieval principles led up to Raphael, and the modern principles lead down from him”*…

Raphael, “The Madonna of the Pinks” (“La Madonna dei Garofani”) (c. 1506-7)

On the occasion of a major National Gallery show in London, Michael Glover on Raphael…

… he was born a mere man, a citizen of Urbino in the Marche, the son of a court painter, who was orphaned very young and raised by an uncle who also happened to be a priest. Perhaps the reverence is due to his talents, which were superabundant, and moved in so many directions at once. He was a painter, printmaker, architect, designer, sculptor, and much else. His industriousness, and the consistent quality of his output, were superhuman. That is undeniable.

Raphael painted relatively few portraits… during his short lifetime, and even fewer in which he could be said to have painted them in order to please himself, because he was always so much in demand by immensely rich and powerful male patrons for the kinds of things that they wanted him to do. They wanted him to beautify public (and private) spaces, all the greater to reflect their own power and importance — beneath the ever-watchful eye of the Christian God, their chief sponsor, in whose revered name they splashed all this cash. 

Raphael was the very well remunerated servant of these rich masters, and this was entirely a matter of choice. He was boundlessly ambitious and intimidatingly energetic (he was already running a studio by the age of 17), charming, good-looking (though not to an excessive degree), diplomatic, and utterly opportunistic. Michelangelo loathed him because, though much younger, Raphael seemed to sweep all before him. What a break for the irascible, prickly Michelangelo that his young rival died, quite unexpectedly, of a fever, when he did, leaving him unchallenged for decades!

And Raphael, the name, the work, the style, has resonated and resonated across the centuries…

On the Renaissance painter described by Vasari, his first biographer, as the universal artist: “Raphael Between Heaven and Earth,” in @hyperallergic.

Raphael paints wisdom, Handel sings it, Phidias carves it, Shakespeare writes it, Wren builds it, Columbus sails it, Luther preaches it, Washington arms it, Watt mechanizes it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

John Ruskin

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As we appreciate art, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver; he died two days later. A post-impressionist painter, he was not commercially successful in his lifetime and, struggling with severe depression and poverty, committed suicide at the age of 37. But he subsequently became, with Raphael, one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art history.

Self-Portrait, 1887

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 27, 2022 at 1:00 am

“A picture is a poem without words”*…

Truth, trend.

A collection of pithy illustrations…

Generalist, specialist.
Numbers obscure nuance.

Many more artistic aphorisms at Visualize Value.

* Horace

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As we picture it, we might send aesthetic birthday greetings to Rene Ricard; he was born on this date in 1946. A painter, poet, actor, and art critic, he was a seminal figure in the New York art scene of later 20th century. After dropping out of school in Boston, he moved to New York City, where he became a protégé of Andy Warhol (and appeared in the Warhol films Kitchen, Chelsea Girls, and The Andy Warhol Story). He was a founder of Theater of the Ridiculous (with John Vaccaro and Charles Ludlam). He was a regularly-published poet. And from the early 90s, he was a widely-exhibited artist. But he was perhaps ultimately most influential in his art criticism (and his contributions to gallery and exhibition catalogues)– especially a series of essays he wrote for Artforum magazine in which (among other impacts) he launched the career of painter Julian Schnabel and helped bring Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame. Andy Warhol called Ricard “the George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world.”

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“… life, by definition, is never still”*…

“Still Life With a Gilt Cup,” Willem Claesz Heda, 1635

Jason Farago explores some of the extraordinary things that a still life can tell us…

When you visit a museum’s collection of European painting, do you skip by the still lifes and head for the showier stuff?

It’s understandable. Their scale is usually smaller than that of other paintings. Their prices are lower. They can feel straightforward: Pictures of fruit and fowl, cups and bottles, what do you want from me?

Still life had a bum reputation for centuries. Early critics rated them as something less than high art…

[There follows a wonderful– and wonderfully-illustrated– close reading of the painting above, and an exploration of its reflections of its place in a globalizing moment in Dutch and world history…]

… this is the power of still life. It’s here, more than any other mode of art, that this social and economic life of things becomes visible.

Inside and between these carefully observed objects is a narrative of global scale. It’s a tale Heda tells even despite himself…

Art may show you the connections for just a moment. They will always be hazy. But some motions can only be sensed when you’re standing still.

A marvelous visual essay: “A Messy Table, a Map of the World” (unlocked), from @jsf— part of the “Close Read” series in @nytimes.

* Kurt Vonnegut

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As we uncover connections, we might send observant birthday greetings to an artist who painted still lifes (and other forms) to a different end, Georges Braque; he was born on this date in 1882. With his friend, collaborator, and rival, Pablo Picasso, he was central to the development of Cubism.

Georges Braque, “Five Bananas and Two Pears” [source]
Georges Braque, 1908, photograph published in Gelett Burgess, “The Wild Men of Paris”, Architectural Record, May 1910 [source]

“Which painting in the National Gallery would I save if there was a fire? The one nearest the door of course.”*…

Unveiling the Mona Lisa after World War II

The remarkable tale of the Louvre’s successful efforts to protect its treasures from Nazi looting…

… With due respect to the Monuments Men (and unsung Monuments Women), before the Allies arrived to rescue many of Europe’s priceless works of art, French civil servants, students, and workmen did it themselves, saving most of the Louvre’s entire collection. The hero of the story, Jacques Jaujard, director of France’s National Museums, has gone down in history as “the man who saved the Louvre” — also the title of an award-winning French documentary (see trailer below). Mental Floss provides context for Jaujard’s heroism:

After Germany annexed Austria in March of 1938, Jaujard… lost whatever small hope he had that war might be avoided. He knew Britain’s policy of appeasement wasn’t going to keep the Nazi wolf from the door, and an invasion of France was sure to bring destruction of cultural treasures via bombings, looting, and wholesale theft. So, together with the Louvre’s curator of paintings René Huyghe, Jaujard crafted a secret plan to evacuate almost all of the Louvre’s art, which included 3600 paintings alone.

On the day Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Nonaggression Pact, August 25, 1939, Jaujard closed the Louvre for “repairs” for three days while staff, “students from the École du Louvre, and workers from the Grands Magazines du Louvre department store took paintings out of their frames… and moved statues and other objects from their displays with wooden crates.”

The statues included the three ton Winged Nike of Samothrace (see a photo of its move here), the Egyptian Old Kingdom Seated Scribe, and the Venus de Milo. All of these, like the other works of art, would be moved to chateaus in the countryside for safe keeping. On August 28, “hundreds of trucks organized into convoys carried 1000 crates of ancient and 268 crates of paintings and more” into the Loire Valley.

Included in that haul of treasures was the Mona Lisa, placed in a custom case, cushioned with velvet. Where other works received labels of yellow, green, and red dots according to their level of importance, the Mona Lisa was marked with three red dots — the only work to receive such high priority. It was transported by ambulance, gently strapped to a stretcher. After leaving the museum, the painting would be moved five times, “including to Loire Valley castles and a quiet abbey.” The Nazis would loot much of what was left in the Louvre, and force it to re-open in 1940 with most of its galleries starkly empty. But the Mona Lisa — at the top of Hitler’s list of artworks to expropriate — remained safe, as did many thousands more artworks Jaujard believed were the “heritage of all humanity”…

How France Hid the Mona Lisa & Other Louvre Masterpieces During World War II, from @openculture.

* George Bernard Shaw

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As we say thanks for safekeeping, we might send Romantic birthday greetings to a painter whose works were among those saved by the Louvre; he was born on this date in 1798. Breaking with the neoclassical tendencies of contemporaries (like his rival Ingres), Delacroix took his inspiration from Reubens and the Venetian Renaissance, emerging from the outset of his career as a leader of the French Romantic movement. Together with Ingres, Delacroix is considered one of the last old Masters of painting, and one of the few who was ever photographed (see below).

Also a fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of Shakespeare, Walter Scott, and Goethe.

Eugène Delacroix, c. 1857 (portrait by Nadar; source)
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