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Worth Watching
  • Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
  • Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
    Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)

    “Sister Wendy Beckett has transformed public appreciation of art through her astonishing knowledge, insight and passion for painting and painters.” This set includes Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Sister Wendy's Odyssey, and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour. Simultaneously delightful and scholarly--this is a must have for anyone interested in art history.

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    When British stencil artist Banksy traveled to Los Angeles to work, he came across obscure French filmmaker Thierry Guetta and his badly organized collection of videotapes involving the activities of graffiti artists. Inspired, Banksy assembled them with new footage to create this talked-about documentary, and the result is a mind-boggling and odd film (so strange as to be thought a hoax by some) about outsider artists and the definition of art itself.
  • The Impressionists
    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
  • The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.

Charles Henry Alston: A Pivotal Harlem Renaissance Artist

Charles Henry Alston - Painting - 1950 - Oil on canvas - 50 x 36 in. (127 x 91.4 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkCharles Henry Alston (1907-1977) was an African American painter, sculptor, and illustrator born in the early 20th century. He was an important artist of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, his father died when he was three years old. Soon after, his mother moved to New York and married Harry P. Bearden—the uncle of artist Romare Bearden (featured elsewhere on this site). Alston attended DeWitt Clinton High School, taught there, and graduated from Columbia University in 1929. In 1931, he received a master’s degree from Columbia’s Teachers College.

Alston directed art programs and community centers in the New York area including the Harlem Workshop. Jacob Lawrence (also featured on What About Art?) was one of his students at Utopia House. He directed the 35 artists who created the Harlem Hospital murals for the Federal Arts Project in 1935 and 1936, painting two of the murals himself. Many of Alston’ works were published in the New Yorker, Fortune, and Collier’s magazines. In 1950, he sold the painting featured here to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also became the first Black instructor at the Art Students league.

Alston later taught at the Museum of Modern Art and City College of New York. The winner of numerous awards, he was the first recipient of Columbia University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, bestowed on him in 1975. 

Alston and his wife, Myra A. Logan (a surgeon) died of cancer within months of each other in 1977.


Did You Know?

Micro-sculptor Willard Wigan creates artwork so small that he once inhaled one by accident. His sculptures will run you about $40,000.


Paolo Farinati: A Master of Verona

Paolo Farinati - The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine - n.d. - Oil on slate - 30x23 cm - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)Paolo Farinati (1524-1606) was an Italian Mannerist artist of the Veronese school. Indeed, he was one of the leading 16th-century painters at Verona. Most of his vast output of paintings was completed for churches in Verona and its environs, where much of it has survived. He was strongly influenced by his younger contemporary Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) and also by Parmigianino (1503-1540), among others. He executed a few engravings, some architectural projects (which apparently included work on the Castello San Felice at Verona), and a great many drawings. 

In the work featured here, painting on slate the artist exploited the oil medium to add prominence to the figures, thrown into relief against the dark background and foliage. The highlights in the drapery of the figures, with shimmering touches of white, is reminiscent of Paolo Veronese. Typically favoring line over color, a strong chiaroscuro effect emerges from this work.


Édouard Vuillard: An Intimist

Édouard Vuillard – The Album – 1895 – Oil on Canvas - 26 3/4 x 80 1/2 in. (67.9 x 204.5 cm) – Metropolitan Museum of Art (click photo for larger image)French Symbolist painter Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) was a member of the Symbolist group known as Les Nabis (from the Hebrew and Arabic term for "prophets" and, by extension, the artist as the "seer" who reveals the invisible). However, he was less drawn to the mystical aspects of the group and more attracted to fashionable private venues, where philosophical discussions about poetry, music, theatre, and the occult occurred. Because of his preference for painting interior and domestic scenes, Vuillard is often referred to as an "intimist".

The work featured here is best described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

In 1894–95, Thadée and Misia Natanson commissioned from Vuillard a series of five decorative panels known collectively as "The Album." The unusual character of these works matched that of the Natansons' Paris apartment, a large open space adjoined by several small alcove areas. Its unconventional decor reflected Misia's taste, which was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement. The apartment often served as an alternative office for Thadée's lively avant-garde journal, "La Revue blanche." Among the contributors to this influential publication were Claude Debussy, Léon Blum, Stéphane Mallarmé, and André Gide. The evocative Symbolist qualities of Mallarmé's poetry and Debussy's music find echoes in Vuillard's five panels, which take their name from this painting.

You can read more about the Symbolists and Vuillard on this site. Just search “Symbolists” and “Vuillard” and you find several articles of interest.


Quote of the Day

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” - Andy Warhol