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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.

Quote of the Day

“Every good painter paints what he is.” - Jackson Pollock 


Courbet: A Wholly New Philosophy

Gustave Courbet - Poor Woman of the Village - 1866 - Oil on canvas, 86 x 126 cm - Private collection (click photo for larger image)

French painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) was central to the emergence of Realism in the mid-19th century. Rejecting the classical and theatrical styles of the French Academy, his art insisted on the physical reality of the objects he observed—even if that reality was plain and blemished. He also saw his Realism as a means to champion the peasants and country people from his home town. He has long been famous for his response to the political upheavals which gripped France during his lifetime. More recently, historians have seen his work as an important prelude to other artists of early modernism, such as Èdouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Paul Cézanne (all of whom are discussed elsewhere on What About Art?).

Courbet’s reputation has continued to grow since his death. His detractors often judge his art only on the basis of his socialism, ignoring the fact that his political beliefs grew out of his generosity and compassion. His work offered succeeding generations of painters not so much a new technique as a wholly new philosophy. The aim of his painting was not, as previous schools had maintained, to embellish or idealize reality but to reproduce it accurately and without sentimentalism. Courbet succeeded in ridding his painting of artistic clichés, contrived idealism, and timeworn models.


Henry Darger: Work Born of Genius or Mental Illness?

(Henry Darger - Untitled II (At Jennie Richee, they admire the beauty of the tropical nimbus clouds), n.d. Watercolor, pencil and collage on paper (click photo for larger image)American outsider artist and writer Henry Darger (1892-1973) is known for his epic fantasy more than 15,000 pages long and his colorful, often disturbing watercolors and collages. His works were discovered shortly before his death and recognized only posthumously by the wider world. Darger’s illustrations are recognizable by the artist’s lavish palette, the use of the entire page, and complex compositions that often include repetitive figures of young girls. Darger is widely regarded as the paradigmatic outsider artist. His fame rests not only on the quality of his work but also on the late recognition of his secret creative output and his tragic and reclusive life. Darger lost both of his impoverished parents at an early age. An intelligent child, he was first enrolled in a public school, was eventually moved to a Catholic school, and ultimately was institutionalized in the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children. Despite an obvious intelligence, it was determined that "little Henry's heart is not in the right place”.  The Lincoln asylum's practices included forced labor and severe punishments. Eventually, Darger served briefly in the U.S. Army during WWI, and afterwards lived a humble, solitary life. He earned his wages as a janitor. Art critics and scholars continue to debate whether his work was born of genius or of mental illness. 

Darger’s most-astounding production is the epic entitled in full, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, or In the Realms of the Unreal. The story follows seven girls, the Vivian Girls of the Catholic nation Abbieannia, who attempt to rescue kidnapped children enslaved by the atheistic and villainous Glandelinians. The tale, loosely based on events from the American Civil War, pits heroic children against evil, abusive adults. Darger first wrote the story in longhand and later typed it and added illustrations. He worked on the project for 43 years.

The 300 watercolors he made to accompany his story bring the tale of destruction and heroism to life, often in graphic detail. The paintings, some of which measure up to 12 feet wide, illustrate the children’s vulnerability against their captors. The enslaved children are white, pale, and unclothed and are typically rendered androgynous or with boys’ genitalia. Darger traced and cut figures from comics and children’s books into his work, because, probably because he felt he did not have the skill to draw people without them.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About ‘Giclee’ But Were Afraid to Ask

Art Speaks (click photo for larger image)Mark Sarazen will be the Featured Presenter for this Sunday’s OAC ‘Art Speaks’ program. Mark will be sharing stories from his twenty-one years of experience in making Digital Fine Art Prints, and he’ll have an array of art produced by Sarazen Editions hung in the gallery for us to view! 

‘Art Speaks’ is one of the Ossining Arts Council’s most popular programs—because it explores all art forms and all types of participation in the arts. Artists, Arts Educators, Collectors, Historians, and Art Patrons all participate—and enjoy—spending time on Sunday afternoons learning more about the arts. Get out from under the “tax-day blues” this week and share in the fun.

The program runs from 2-3:30pm. Admission is FREE to ALL and light refreshments will be served. Donations are welcome. 

OAC Steamer Firehouse Gallery - 117 Main St., 2nd Fl., Ossining, NY 10510


Did You Know?

Dada artist Marcel Duchamp created art from everyday objects, which he called “readymades”. He made about twenty of these pieces. The most famous example, by far, is a work called “Fountain” which is nothing more than a urinal he purchased. He scrawled “R. Mutt” as a signature on its side. When it came time to display his creation at an art show, the board in charge of the exhibit had a fierce debate about it. They eventually chose to hide the display from view, presumably in the washroom.