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  • 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.
Wednesday
Oct102018

Did You Know?

The ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ painting by Johannes Vermeer was bought for the equivalent of just $27 at auction in The Hague, in 1881.

Monday
Oct082018

Masolino: A Lyrical and Unfailing Artistry

Masolino - Miracle of the Wheel - 1425-31 - Fresco - Castiglione Chapel, San Clemente, Rome (click photo for larger image)Masolino da Panicale (c. 1383 - c. 1435) was a painter who achieved a compromise between the International Gothic Style and the Early Renaissance style of his own day. He owes his prominence in the history of Florentine art not to his innovations but to his lyrical style and his unfailing artistry. Masolino came from the same district of Tuscany as his younger contemporary Masaccio (1401-1428), with whom his career was closely linked. Trained in a Florentine studio, he appears before 1407 to have been a member of the workshop of famed sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1381-1455). He worked with Masaccio on the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, which artists from all over traveled to see and study.

The International Gothic Style was prevalent in Europe during the last half of the 14th century and the early years of the 15th century. It grew out of the need for artists to travel from court to court seeking work, following the Black Death. There were features common to European art, in general. In particular, figures were elegant and graceful – and had a certain artificiality. A taste did grow for realism in detail, general setting, and composition. The internationalism of the style owes to the fact that much of the most important work was executed under court patronage, and most European royal families were closely linked by marriage ties. Local idiosyncracies, however, did persist.

In the scene of the Miracle of the Wheel an angel intervenes to stop the torture of Saint Catherine of Alexandria commanded by emperor Maxentius. A secondary scene (upper left) shows the emperor looking down at the interrupted martyrdom from a high loggia. A woman beside him, doubtless Empress Faustina, is leaning over the railing. She, too, had been converted by Catherine.

Friday
Oct052018

William Glackens: A Rejection of Academic Dictates  

William Glackens - Hammerstein’s Roof Garden - c. 1901 - Oil on linen - 29 7/8 × 24 13/16 in. (75.9 × 63 cm) - Whitney Museum of American Art - New York, NY (click photo for larger image)American artist William J. Glackens (1870-1938) created paintings of street scenes and middle-class urban life that rejected the dictates of 19th-century academic art and introduced a matter-of-fact realism into the art of the United States.

Although he did not identify himself as part of the Ashcan School (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?), Glackens' attention to ordinary, modern, urban subjects and their unidealized presentation connects him to the core tenets of that movement. In documenting his world, he also incorporated the style of the Impressionists (particularly Renoir), as well as their interest in contemporary, urban leisure.

“Hammerstein's Roof Garden captures a fashionable entertainment venue, immediately placing the viewer in a specific and contemporary urban space. Such roof gardens were popular spots during the summer, when theaters were often closed due to the stifling heat. Recently opened by theater legend Oscar Hammerstein in 1899, this locale, the Paradise Roof Garden, was a popular destination for the sort of spectacular which we see here.

Positioning the viewer as a member of the audience, we see a row of fashionably dressed women who watch a pair of tightrope walkers. The costumes of the acrobats provide a jolt of color in an otherwise muted tonal palette. With this limited scene, Glackens gives us a sense of the immense space of the theater, its popularity, its clientele and its performances. Providing respectable entertainment, the presence of unchaperoned young women points to the modernity of this scene (previously, such unescorted adventures would have been unthinkable), further emphasized by the recognizable architecture and real-life locale.” (The Art Story) 

Wednesday
Oct032018

Quote of the Day

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” - Edgar Degas

Monday
Oct012018

Bartolo di Fredi: A Sienese Success

Bartolo di Fredi - The Annunciation to Joachim - c. 1383 - Tempera and gold on wood, 25 x 37 cm - Pinacoteca, Vatican (click photo for larger image)Bartolo di Fredi (c. 1330-c.1410) was the most successful Sienese painter of the later fourteenth century. He produced a large number of altarpieces and frescoes, and, in addition, collaborated with other artists on mural and altarpiece paintings and polychrome sculptures. He worked on many of his most important commissions with his son, Andrea di Bartolo.

The small panel featured here was one of a polyptych from the life of the Virgin. It was a commission granted to Bartolo di Fredi by the Company of Saint Peter on May 9, 1585, for the Chapel of the Annunciation in the Church of S. Francesco in Montalcino, where the artist had already painted other works. The polyptych has since been broken up, and parts of it can be seen in various museums.

The portrayal is of Saint Joachim in a mountainous setting. The angel Gabriel has come to bring him the news that his wife, Saint Anne, will bear a child. On the right side there are two shepherds near their flock, one of whom holds a bagpipe.

Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus, according to the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions. The story of Joachim and Anne first appears in the apocryphal Gospel of James. Joachim and Anne are not mentioned in the Bible.

While his work is decidedly medieval—note the very heavy-handed haloes—there are all touches of slowly emerging proto-Renaissance ideas. There is not an over-fussiness of details, and there is a fair amount of clearer space. The tendancy toward horror vacui (a tendency to fill up every inch of space with details) is also not present here.

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