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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.

Entries in Design (2)


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.


Medieval Design: Striking Patterns of Symmetry and Color

Byzantine Egypt - Coptic - Fragment of Wall Hanging with confronted cocks and running dogs - 4th-6th century - Woven wool and linen - 12 13/16 x 24 5/16 in. - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (click photo for larger image)Medieval approaches to design tended to be quite symmetrical—and the results are colorful and rich in imagery and flourishes. Animals, both real and fantastic, occupied an important place in medieval art and thought. Artists readily employed animal motifs, along with foliate designs, as part of their decorative vocabulary. Animal forms appear in the jewelry, Bibles, and gospel books of the Middle Ages—and in utilitarian objects, as well. 

Animals carried a rich variety of symbolic associations often drawn from the past. The lamb, for example, served as an important sacrificial animal in ancient Near Eastern religious rites, including those of the Israelites. Christians adopted the lamb as a symbol of Christ, emphasizing his sacrifice for humanity. The griffin, regarded in antiquity as an attendant of Apollo and a keeper of light, retained its role as a guardian figure for the dead even in later Christian contexts.

In the fragment featured here, a pair of boldly colored cocks with red crests, heart-shaped wattles and wings, and colorful feathers face one another over a pyramid of grape clusters. All of this is set into a deep blue background. The feet of the cocks interrupt a series of grape leaves and vine tendrils. “Behind the birds two hunting dogs charge toward one another. The attention given to the roosters' claws and spurs and the inclusion of hunting dogs suggest that the birds are sporting animals, a subject entirely appropriate for a domestic textile. In the early Byzantine period, images of prosperity were favored themes for furnishings in the homes of the elite and the aspiring.”

We know the names of very few artists and designers from the Middle Ages. Artists were considered to be lowly craftspeople, and most of the work was completed in workshop environments—with many artisans participating in the completion of a single work.