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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.

  • 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.
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    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.

Entries in Art Deco (6)


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.


A.M. Cassandre: A Master of Design

A.M. Cassandre - Étoile du Nord - 1927 - Lithograph - 41 3/8 x 29 3/4" (105.2 x 75.5 cm) - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) - New YorkA.M. Cassandre (1901-1968) was a Ukrainian-born French Art Deco graphic artist, stage designer, painter and Printmaker. After studying art at L’Ecole des Beaux Arte and the Académie Julian in Paris, Cassandre gained a reputation with such posters as “Étoile du Nord” (featured here). His “Dubonnet” posters were among the earliest designed specifically to be seen from fast-moving vehicles, and they introduced the idea of the serial poster, a group of posters to be seen in rapid succession to convey a complete idea.

In 1926, Cassandre co-established the advertising agency “Alliance Graphique”. Shortly afterwords, he began experiementing with typography, designing several new typefaces. In 1939, he turned away from creating poster art, and devoted himself entirely to stage set design and painting.


“The Lone Traditional Easel Painter of the Art Deco Style”

Tamara de Lempicka - Woman with Arms Crossed - Oil on canvas - 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkTrained at the height of post-Cubist experimentation, Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980) was nevertheless a painter in the Art Deco style. Her faceted, geometric forms rendered in an Art Deco palette result in sublime portraits of figures that become objects. Her work is a unique synthesis of art and design created in a language that embodies all of the avant-garde movements of her day—along with her controversial bold sexuality.

“As a female painter representing the female nude, she subverted the conventional arrangement in which a naked woman is displayed exclusively for the viewing pleasure of the male onlooker. The result is a kind of egalitarian voyeurism.”

Whether one likes de Lempicka’s work or not, no one can deny that it is wholly her own. You can read (and see) more about her right here on What About Art? 


Meredith Frampton

Meredith Frampton - Still-life, 1932 - Oil on canvas, 1230 X 819 X 25 mm, Royal Academy of Arts, LondonBritish Art Deco painter Meredith Frampton (1894-1984) (  ) created highly finished portraits and still life works, sometimes with slightly Surrealist overtones. 


Tamara de Lempicka - In the Style of Noir

Tamara de Lempicka - Self-Portrait in the Green Bugatti, 1925, oil on wood, private collection (click photo for larger image)Tamara de Lempicka - Portrait of Tadeusz de Lempicki (Portrait of the Artist's Husband), unfinished, 1928, oil on canvas, Musée National d'Art Moderne, ParisPolish American painter Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980) is best known for her Art Deco-styled portraits. Sexy, bedroom-eyed women in stylish dress are rendered in haunting poses--and her compositions are not unlike those found on the Film Noir movie posters of the period. She studied painting at the Academe de la Grand Chaumiere, and was privately tutored by artist Maurice Denis.

In 1925, she exhibited her works at the first Art Deco show in Paris. She moved to America in 1939 and her works appeared exclusively at many galleries and museums.

In 1960, she changed her style to abstract art and began creating works with a spatula. But this wasn’t what the public wanted from Lempicka. After her husband died in 1962, she stopped painting altogether and moved to Mexico. Tamara was "the first woman artist to be a glamour star" - as can be seen in her photograph here. Her distinctive and bold artistic style developed quickly and epitomized the cool yet sensual side of the Art Deco movement.

Tamara de Lempicka is one of my favorite painters--but I doubt that she would have been one of my favorite people! She was notoriously snobbish, selfish and difficult. She immortalized her daughter, Kizette, in painting more than once--but spent very little time with her. The child’s grandmother was so angry with Tamara at one point--for disappointing Kizette by not coming home for Christmas--that she burned Tamara’s entire collection of costly hats--while Kizette looked on!