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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.

Marcel Janco: An Eclectic Style

Marcel Janco - Untitled (Mask, Portrait of Tzara) - 1919 - Private CollectionRomanian-Israeli artist Marcel Janco (1895-1984) had joined a group of artists at the Cafe Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916 and was among the  principal founders of  the Dada Movement. Dada was a unique artistic movement which had a major impact on 20th century art. It was established in Cabaret Voltaire by a group of exiled poets, painters and philosophers who were opposed to war, aggression and the changing world culture.  

Dada soirées featured spontaneous poetry, avant-garde music, and mask wearing dancers in elaborate shows. The Dadaists teased and enraged the audience through their bold  defiance of Western culture and art, which they considered obsolete in view of the destruction and carnage of World War I. The Dadaists objected to the aesthetics of Western contemporary painting, sculpture, language, literature and music. The group published articles and periodicals, and mounted exhibitions. The seeds sown in Zurich spread throughout the world, resulting in  new Dada organizations in Paris, New York, Berlin, Hannover, and more. 

Janco designed masks and costumes for the famous Dada balls, and created abstract reliefs in cardboard and plaster. He had an eclectic style in which he brilliantly combined abstract and figurative elements, expressionistic in nature. His masks were to play a large role in the anarchic dances at the Cabaret Voltaire. They were created from scraps of cardboard, paint, glue, and sack-cloth, all crumpled and torn, with ragged edges and patchy paint.


Did You Know?

Keith Haring was apparently quite the impressionable young man. As a boy, he met some members of the Jesus movement and was so inspired by their message that he started handing out leaflets and preaching to people about their need to be born again. He might not have stuck with this as his life’s calling, but the passion is nevertheless appreciated.


Kurt Schwitters: Master of Collage

Kurt Schwitters - Merz 163, with Woman Sweating, 1920. Tempera, pencil, paper, and fabric collage mounted on paper, 6 1/8 x 4 7/8 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New YorkKurt Schwitters (1887-1948) is generally acknowledged as the twentieth century's greatest master of collage. Just as collage is essentially the medium of irony, so Schwitters' life is characterized by paradox and enigma. Born in Hanover, the only child of affluent parents, he was a loner in his youth, plagued by epileptic attacks, introverted and insecure. As a student at the Dresden Academy of Art he proved as apt as he was unimaginative. But his contact with Expressionist artists in Hannover in 1916 gave him more confidence to develop his own style, He found something of a following as part of the Dada movement.

Schwitters invented his own unique aesthetic style, which he dubbed Merz in 1919. Premised on the practice of assemblage—the union of sundry quotidian items with formal artistic elements—Merz exemplified Schwitters’s quest for “freedom from all fetters,” cultural, political, or social. The artist’s collages, of which he produced more than 2,000, and his large-scale reliefs known as Merzbilder are kaleidoscopic, sometimes whimsical accretions of humble found material—tram tickets, ration coupons, postage stamps, beer labels, candy wrappers, newspaper clippings, fabric swatches, rusty nails, and the like—that bespeak the flux of contemporary society. In his early collages, Schwitters subjected his bits of wreckage to an organizing principle resembling the vertical scaffolding of Analytic Cubism, thus transforming the diverse components into formal elements. Embedded in each collage, however, are hints of narrative.


Robert Motherwell: Stream of Consciousness—in Paint

Robert Motherwell - Ulysses - 1947 - Oil paint on cardboard, on wood - 38 x 32 inches - Tate Modern, London (click photo for larger image)American Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was among the first American artists to cultivate accidental elements in his work. His decision to become a serious artist came in 1941—and he embraced several different styles during the course of his career.

“Possessing perhaps the best and most extensive formal education of all the New York School painters, Robert Motherwell was well versed in literature, philosophy and the European modernist traditions. His paintings, prints and collages feature simple shapes, bold color contrasts and a dynamic balance between restrained and boldly gestural brushstrokes. They reflect not only a dialogue with art history, philosophy and contemporary art, but also a sincere and considered engagement with autobiographical content, contemporary events and the essential human conditions of life, death, oppression and revolution.”

Motherwell was also a successful and well-known teacher and writer. He taught art at Hunter College from 1951—58, and again from 1971-72. He directed the publication of the series “The Documents of Modern Art” (1944–52), and he wrote numerous essays on art and aesthetics. Motherwell was generally regarded as the most articulate spokesman for Abstract Expressionism.

The work featured here is named after James Joyce's famous modernist novel Ulysses (1922) which Motherwell first read while traveling though Europe in 1935. Joyce's style of writing, in particular his use of stream of consciousness, had a profound effect on Motherwell, who believed that art should be an expression of the innermost thoughts and feelings of the artist.


Quote of the Day

"What concerns me when I work, is not whether the picture is a landscape, or whether it's pastoral, or whether somebody will see a sunset in it. What concerns me is - did I make a beautiful picture?” - Helen Frankenthaler