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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.

Rufino Tamayo: Strong Colors—Strong Styles

Rufino Tamayo - Women of Tehuantepec - 1939 - Oil on canvas - 33 7/8 x 57 1/8 in. (86 x 145 cm) - Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (click photo for larger image)Mexican Artist Rufino Tamayo (1889-1991) created paintings that draw on Mexican folk art and ceramics for their themes, and for their rich use of color and texture. But their sophisticated compositions are more closely indebted to Cubism. In the 1930s Tamayo painted tropical fruits, perhaps influenced by his experiences as a child working for his aunt's wholesale fruit business. Later his imagery became more grotesque, dominated by animals. From the mid 1940s onwards, he moved towards abstraction and placed greater emphasis on his use of strong colors.

The artist was born in Oaxaca, but following the death of his parents in 1911 he went to live with his aunt in Mexico City. He studied at the Escuela des Artes Plasticas, and in 1921 was appointed head of the Department of Ethnographic Drawing at the Archaeological Museum, which introduced him to folk art. 

From 1936-48, Tamayo was based in New York. Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler first studied with Tamayo at the Dalton School, and always claimed to owe him a great debt. After an exhibition which marked his return to Mexico (at the Pallacio des Bellas Artes, 1948) was bitterly attacked by the muralists for its disavowal of popular and accessible forms, Tamayo moved to Paris. He finally returned to Mexico City in 1964, donating his collection of Pre-Columbian art to Oaxaca to form the Museo de Arte Prehispanico de Mexico Rufino Tamayo. In 1981 his collection of modern art opened to the public at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City. Tamayo was an outsider in post-Revolutionary Mexico, politically neutral and opposing the muralists' commitment to a public, popular art.


Did You Know?

While Claude Monet achieved renown for his beautiful paintings of water lilies and other idyllic natural scenes, he started out drawing the classics: offensive doodles. Monet was a rebellious student who often slacked on his work while drawing caricatures of teachers and peers.


Fernando Castillo: A Humble Life

Fernando Castilllo - The Black Cat - Oil on canvas - c. 1929 - 17 x 14 in. - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (click photo for larger image)With his humble beginnings as a shepherd and muleteer, Mexican artist Fernando Castillo (1895-1940) is an example of how the Open Air School of Free Painting helped toward the artistic and aesthetic education of social groups traditionally cut off from art. He perhaps inherited his gift for wood carving and engraving from his father, a stonecutter, and enhanced this with painting and drawing. In 1928 he took part courses in the people's art center directed by the painter Gabriel Fernández Ledesma in the San Pablo district of Mexico City. Although his work reached the Mexican Pavilion in Seville, where he was awarded a silver medal, he had a very hard life, working as a shoe shiner, cobbler, "body carrier" in a hospital and underling for a Ministry of Education art gallery. He died of tuberculosis seven years after the San Antonio Abad Popular Center closed in 1933. Only a handful of his works survive, carefully guarded by private collectors.


Hugo van der Goes: A Strange and Melancholy Genius

Hugo van der Goes - Monforte Altarpiece - c. 1470 - Oil on wood, 150 x 247 cm - Staatliche Museen, Berlin) (click photo for larger image)Early Netherlandish painting refers to the work of artists, sometimes known as the Flemish Primitives, active in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands during the 15th- and 16th-century Northern Renaissance; especially in the flourishing cities of Bruges, Ghent, Tournai and Brussels. One of its great masters was Hugo van der Goes ( c. 1440-1482).

The most brilliant work from the early period of Van der Goes is the Monforte Altarpiece, named after the town in which it was housed, in a college belonging to a group of Spanish Jesuits. It was subsequently transferred to the Berlin museum. It is a large-scale triptych, of which only the central panel, a long horizontal rectangle, has survived to the present day. A group of hovering angels have been amputated from the top of the panel, and the two wings have disappeared. The theme of the surviving picture is the adoration of the Magi.

The Three Kings and their followers come upon the Virgin, the Holy Infant and Joseph amid the ruins of a palace. A group of villagers observe this extraordinary scene through a gap in the wall. The figures, both actors and witnesses, are all shown on the same scale, whether humble or magnificent. They are neither reticent nor exalted, but react to the event in their various ways, surprised or self-conscious. In the background we can see a few women, some cottages and a river besides which the Kings' horses are waiting. In the foreground, symbolic flowers - the lily and columbine - and a pottery vessel are depicted with great care. A tiny squirrel is running along one of the beams above the opening through which the villagers observe the scene. Van der Goes has given free rein to his imagination, both in the composition and in his handling of paint, deploying the splendidly rich colors that are so characteristic of his art, mixing blazing reds with the most delicately nuanced shades.

You can read more about Hugo van der Goes right HERE on What About Art?


Quote of the Day

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” - Francis Bacon