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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.
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    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.

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    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.
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Entries in Abstract Art (26)

Monday
Jul152019

Giacometti: An Existentialist 

Alberto Giacometti - Three Men Walking - 1949 - Bronze - 30 1/8 x 13 x 12 3/4 in. (76.5 x 33 x 32.4 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkSwiss artist Alberto Giacometti  (1901-1966) had a remarkable career that traced the shifting enthusiasms of European art before and after the Second World War. As a Surrealist in the 1930s, he devised innovative sculptural forms, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. As an Existentialist after the war, he led the way in creating a style that summed up the philosophy's interests in perception, alienation and anxiety.

In the late 1930s, Giacometti abandoned both abstraction and Surrealism, becoming more interested in how to represent the human figure in a convincing illusion of real space. He wanted to depict figures in such a way as to communicate a perceptual sense of spatial distance, so that viewers, might share in the artist's own sense of distance from his subject. The solution he arrived at involved whittling the figures down to the slenderest proportions.

Giacometti’s Surrealist works influenced such sculptors as Henry Moore (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?). His figurative work was instrumental in re-establishing the figure as a viable motif in the post-war period, at a time when abstract art dominated. 

“The rough, eroded, heavily worked surfaces of "Three Men Walking (II)" [featured here] typify his technique. Reduced, as they are, to their very core, these figures evoke lone trees in winter that have lost their foliage. Within this style, Giacometti would rarely deviate from the three themes that preoccupied him—the walking man; the standing, nude woman; and the bust—or all three, combined in various groupings.” (metmuseum.org)

Friday
Jul122019

Henry Moore: “Truth to Materials”

Henry Moore - Reclining Figure - 1935-36 - Elmwood - h. 19; l. 35; d. 15 in. - Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (click photo for larger image)Henry Moore (1898-1986) is widely regarded as the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and the most popular and internationally celebrated sculptor of the post-war period. He is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures, which are located around the world as public works of art. Moore also produced many drawings, including a series depicting Londoners sheltering from the Blitz during the Second World War, along with other graphic works on paper.

Non-Western art was crucial in shaping his early work. He often used abstract form to draw analogies between the human body and the landscape. 

The foundation of Moore's approach was direct carving, something he derived not only from European modernism, but also from non-Western art. At one point in his career, he abandoned the process of modeling (often in clay or plaster) and casting (often in bronze) that had been the basis of his art education, and instead worked on materials directly. He believed in the ethic of “truth to materials”—the idea that the sculptor should respect the intrinsic properties of media, letting them show through in the finished piece.

His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures. Moore's works are usually suggestive of the female body, apart from a phase in the 1950s when he sculpted family groups. His forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Many interpreters liken the undulating form of his reclining figures to the landscape and hills of his birthplace, Yorkshire.

Friday
May032019

Gino Severini: Futurism, Cubism and Pure Abstraction

Gino Severini - Dancer = Propeller = Sea - 1915 - Oil on canvas - 29 5/8 x 30 3/4 in. (75.2 x 78.1 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of New York, New York (click photo for larger image)Italian artist Gino Severini (1883-1966) is often labeled as a Cubist/Futurist painter because he found a unique way of synthesizing the styles of Cubism and Futurism. His teacher was future fellow futurist Giacomo Balla. The Futurists wanted to revitalize Italian art (and, as a consequence, all of Italian culture) by depicting the speed and dynamism of modern life. Severini shared this artistic interest, but his work did not contain the political overtones typical of Futurism. The group, as a whole, hoped to revitalize all of Italian culture through its art by glorifying war and mechanized power. This was not Severini’s objective.

“Like other artists associated with Italian Futurism, Severini was fascinated by the interactions of movement and matter and the dynamic speeds of the modern world. In his manifesto ‘Plastic Analogies of Dynamism’ (1913–14), written just before [the work featured here] was painted, he describes the sensory and visual ‘analogies’ that resonate across seemingly unrelated objects, from a dancing girl to a rushing express train to abstract forms.” (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

In around 1916, Severini embraced a more rigorous and formal approach to composition; instead of deconstructing forms, he wanted to bring geometric order to his paintings. His works from this period were usually still-lifes executed in a Synthetic Cubist manner

To learn more about Severini, Futurism, and Cubism, take What About Art? founder Dr. Jill Kiefer’s class on Modern Movements, beginning Saturday May 1st at the Bethany Arts Community. You can learn more and register HERE.

Friday
Mar152019

Alyssa Monks: Blurring the Line Between Realism and Abstraction

Alyssa Monks - I Said No - 2018 - Oil on Linen - 36 x 36 inches - Forum Gallery, New YorkAfter graduating from such prestigious programs as the Lorenzo de’ Medici art school and the New York Academy of Art’s Graduate School of Figurative Art, Alyssa Monks (born 1977) has become one of the leading forces in subject painting. Monks’ paintings have been featured in numerous exhibitions everywhere from Germany, to Georgia, to New York City. She has been awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant for Painting three times, and has become a member of the New York Academy of Art’s Board of Trustees.

She blurs and fuses layers of space in her almost photorealistic works, to create immersive abstraction that feels uniquely intimate and provocative. Of her own work Monks says, “My intention is to transfer the intimacy and vulnerability of my human experience into a painted surface.” While the artist’s complex works embody various techniques and styles, Monk’s response is, “I don’t think it’s the job of the artist to label their own work. I just paint it.”

Monday
Aug272018

Marcel Janco: Bridging Multiple Genres

Marcel Janco - Composition with Red Arrow - 1918 Plaster and casein on burlap, mounted on cardboard - 19 3/4 x 26 1/2 in. - The Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago, IL (click photo for larger image)Romanian-Israeli artist Marcel Janco (1895-1984) was born in Bucharest. In 1910–14 he exhibited at the salons in Bucharest and moved among modernist artists and poets. In 1916, while studying architecture, he was among the founders of Dada in Zurich. There he participated in the famous evenings at Café Voltaire where he was in charge of the stage and costume design. In the 1920s he was much involved in the Dada movement. He had ties with the Paris branch, participating there in an international exhibition of abstract art, and was one of the founders of the art and literature journal Contimporanul. He eventually drifted away from Dada and moved toward Constructivism, a style or movement in which assorted mechanical objects are combined into abstract mobile structural forms.

In 1940, following the rise of fascism in Romania, he immigrated with his family to Ereẓ Israel. In Israel, Janco participated in many important exhibitions including those of New Horizons and the Venice Biennale.Janco played a major role in the modernization of Israeli Art, importing the latest trends in Constructivism from Romania. Once established he joined local artists in developing a more abstract approach to depictions of the local landscape and also turned his attention to pertinent local themes. Janco's significance for avant-garde Israeli Art continues today, through the still-active artist's colony he established in Ein Hod.