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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

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” - Vincent van Gogh


Photorealism: A Challenge to Idealism and Abstraction

Duane Hanson - Woman Eating - 1971 - Polyester resin and fiberglass with oil and acrylic paints and found accessories - 50 x 30 x 55 in. - Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC (click photo for larger image)The name Photorealism (also known as Hyperrealism or Superrealism) was coined in reference to those artists whose work depended heavily on photographs, which they often projected onto canvas allowing images to be replicated with precision and accuracy. The exactness was often aided further by the use of an airbrush, which was originally designed to retouch photographs. The movement came about within the same period and context as Conceptual art, Pop Art, and Minimalism and expressed a strong interest in realism in art, over that of idealism and abstraction.

The work of Duane Hanson (1925-1996) explores social issues and the complexities of American identity. Hanson is considered one of the central members of the international Photorealist movement of the late twentieth century, a loose congregation of artists who favored naturalistic depiction over the abstract motifs of their contemporaries.

I’ll be teaching a single-session class on Photorealism THIS Thursday (11/2) at the Larchmont Temple. Register HERE if you’d like to attend.


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and the Gothic Tradition

The Biadaiolo Master (Italian miniaturist) - Libro del Biadaiolo - 1328-30 - Illumination on parchment, 385 x 270 mm - (15.2 x 10.6 in) - Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Florence (click photo for larger image)Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bern with Belltower, 1935, oil on canvas, 70.5 x 80.65 cm (27.75 x 31.75 in) Minneapolis Institute of Arts (click photo for larger image)The so-called Biadaiolo codex was composed by Domenico Lenzi, a grain merchant. He annotated on it the prices of cereals for the Florentine marketplace located at Orsanmichele, together with bits of news, verses, and reflections of various sorts. The precious miniatures which decorate the codex are attributed to an anonymous artist, known as the Biadaiolo Master. On this sheet featured here, views of the city of Florence may be identified.

The charming setting as subject matter is rare in the work of German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1867-1956). His tendency was to deal with darker, more somber subjects. In 1917, Kirchner left Germany for Switzerland where he settled in an alpine house at Davos. He became a new influence in the Swiss art world which had been relatively untouched by Expressionism. At an age when most artists begin to settle and mellow, Kirchner found new vigor in the idolatry of Swiss students. The peaceful beauty and vast expanse of the high Alps, as well as the political stability of Switzerland, must also have contributed to the new brightness and precision evident in Bern (featured here). This new style, Kirchner's last period, began in 1925. Nothing of his expressive power is lost in the grandeur, gaiety and light.


Did You Know?

Though there are now dozens of casts of Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Thinker” around the world, it had a much smaller origin. Rodin originally created a 70 cm (27.6 in) version in 1880, as the central component to a bigger sculptural work called “The Gates of Hell”. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the piece—first called “The Poet”—was conceived as a representation of Dante himself. The re-dubbed sculpture was exhibited on its own in 1888, then was enlarged, in 1904, to the depiction we know today.


Emil Nolde and the Medievalists

Emil Nolde - Crucifixion (The Life of Christ) - 1912 - Oil on canvas - 87x76 in. - Nolde Stiftung Seebüll  (Germany - Neukirchen) (click photo for larger image)The artists of the Modern Era were determined to shake off the dust of the Renaissance—and the canons of classical approaches that had “ruled” them for over 400 years. Perhaps ironically, many primary resources for the Moderns came from the Medievals! Modern Art draws heavily upon medieval art—in its approaches to color, line, surface imagery, abstraction and subject matter. In addition, art forms invented in the Middle Ages—such as woodcuts, wood carvings, and everyday items elevated to the status of art—were revived during the Modern period.

Emil Nolde (featured elsewhere on this site) was heavily influenced by medieval art. A restoration of specific, Christian imagery, in a new, colorful style, was not only a hallmark of his oeuvre but an important contribution to Expressionism and the northern visual arts tradition.

Unknown Master, Italian - Crucifix with the Stories of the Passion (detail) around 1200 - Tempera on wood - Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (click photo for larger image)The medieval work featured here shows one of the scenes (a Deposition) from the Stories of the Passion. It was created by one of many unknown masters of the Middle Ages. The Nolde painting featured illustrates how his compositions abstracted and exaggerated forms to delineate figures in a compressed space, bypassing the use of traditional linear perspective to relate the story.