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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.
Monday
Jul092018

Winold Reiss: A Unique Understanding of America

Winold Reiss - Portrait of Langston Hughes - c. 1925 - Pastel on illustration board - 30 1/16 x 21 5/8 in. - National Portrait Gallery - Smithsonian Art Museum - Washington, D.C. (click photo for larger image)German born American artist Winold Reiss (1888- 1953) was primarily known for his portraits of Native Americans and African Americans.

He attended art school in Munich, where he learned to work in the style known as Jugendstil (a German version of Art Nouveau). He left for the United States in 1913 filled with romantic idealism about Native Americans and the vast Western frontier.

In 1924, Reiss was commissioned by Survey Graphic magazine to capture the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?) with portraits of the residents of Harlem in New York City. Among his many subjects was the poet, Langston Hughes.

Hughes was a trailblazer, not only for black writers but also for his ability to force his way into mainstream American literature. Although white intellectuals projected their racial fantasies and preconceptions onto African Americans, seeing them as a way of revitalizing a sterile culture by injecting a dose of the "primitive," Hughes focused on a deep commitment to African American history, treating the subject with the framework of modernist poetry.  

Viewing and studying the work of Winold Reiss presents a series of challenges. To understand this remarkable artist, who came to America with a unique sense of what this country was, is to challenge our own preconceptions about what American art is and should be.

Friday
Jul062018

Romaine Brooks - An Intensely Contradictory Nature  

Romaine Brooks - Self-Portrait - 1923 - Oil on canvas - Smithsonian American Art MuseumRomaine Brooks (born Beatrice Romaine Goddard 1874-1970) was an American painter who worked primarily in Paris and Capri. Specializing in portraiture, she used a subdued tonal palette keyed to the color gray. 

Brooks ignored contemporary artistic trends such as Cubism and Fauvism, drawing, instead, on her own original aesthetic. Her subjects ranged from anonymous models to titled aristocrats. She is best known for her images of women in androgynous or masculine dress, which directly challenged conventional ideas about how women should look and behave”. The self-portrait featured here exemplifies her approach to both life and art. It is her most widely reproduced work.

Brooks survived a devastating childhood. The memories of the cruelty and insanity she endured haunted her throughout her life. This particular work embodies her “intensely contradictory nature”.

Wednesday
Jul042018

Did You Know?

In a short period of ten years Vincent van Gogh made approximately 900 paintings and 1500 drawings. Vincent’s brother’s wife collected Vincent’s paintings and letters after his death, largely because she very much needed the money. Her dedication to the work led to Vincent’s finally getting the recognition he deserved.

Monday
Jul022018

Charles Burchfield - An American Original

Charles Burchfield - Ohio River Shanty - 1930 - Watercolor, gouache and pencil - 21 x 30 in. - The Phillips Collection - Washington, D.C. (click photo for larger image)American artist Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) was devoted to painting the small towns, industrial cities, and rolling hills of the Midwest. Initially inspired by nature, he later turned to creating realistic paintings of worn-down buildings and grimy streets in midwestern towns. Reflecting nostalgia for times past, these paintings portray a disillusioned America facing hard times. Like those of his contemporary, Edward Hopper (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?), Burchfield's images won praise for capturing the spirit of America.

In 1943 Burchfield returned to nature as his subject, creating imaginary landscapes that celebrate the seasons and the miracle of growth. He is considered among the most original watercolorists of the 20th century.

Friday
Jun292018

Amédée Ozenfant: Purism

Amédée Ozenfant, 1921, Nature morte au verre de vin rouge (Still Life with Glass of Red Wine), oil on canvas, 50.6 x 61.2 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel (click photo for larger image)French artist Amédée Ozenfant (1886-1966) was once associated with the Cubism movement, but found himself in disagreement with the direction of the movement as time moved forward. 

Purism, referring to the arts, was a movement that took place between 1918 and 1925, and was led by Ozenfant and Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) (1887-1965). It was a variation of Cubism, where objects were represented as elementary forms devoid of detail. The main concepts were presented in a book they wrote, Après le Cubisme (After Cubism), published in 1918.

Purism was an attempt to restore regularity in a war-torn France during hte post World War I era. Unlike what they saw as the “decorative fragmentation” of objects in Cubism, Purism proposed a style of painting where elements were simple and robust form, which also embraced technology and the machine.