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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 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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Entries in Modern Art (179)


Juan Gris: Formalizing Cubism

Juan Gris - Still Life before an Open Window, Place Ravignan - 1915 - oil on canvas, 115.9 x 88.9 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art (click photo for larger image)Juan Gris (1887-1927) was a Spanish painter born in Madrid who lived and worked in France most of his life. Closely connected to the innovative Cubism genre, his works are among the movement's most distinctive. Gris built upon the foundations of early Cubism and steered the movement in new directions. A member of the tight-knit circle of avant-garde artists working in Paris, Gris adopted the radically fragmented picture spaces of Picasso and Braque, imparting to his works a bold, graphic look. His paintings are immediately distinguishable from theirs, informed by his background as an illustrator, with a slick, almost commercial appearance, and crisp design elements throughout. While Braque and Picasso’s experiments were exploratory and highly theoretical, Gris is credited with formalizing Cubism into a definable approach.

Juan Gris was one of Gertrude Stein's favorite artists, and the only Cubist talented enough to make Picasso uncomfortable!


Rufino Tamayo: Strong Colors—Strong Styles

Rufino Tamayo - Women of Tehuantepec - 1939 - Oil on canvas - 33 7/8 x 57 1/8 in. (86 x 145 cm) - Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (click photo for larger image)Mexican Artist Rufino Tamayo (1889-1991) created paintings that draw on Mexican folk art and ceramics for their themes, and for their rich use of color and texture. But their sophisticated compositions are more closely indebted to Cubism. In the 1930s Tamayo painted tropical fruits, perhaps influenced by his experiences as a child working for his aunt's wholesale fruit business. Later his imagery became more grotesque, dominated by animals. From the mid 1940s onwards, he moved towards abstraction and placed greater emphasis on his use of strong colors.

The artist was born in Oaxaca, but following the death of his parents in 1911 he went to live with his aunt in Mexico City. He studied at the Escuela des Artes Plasticas, and in 1921 was appointed head of the Department of Ethnographic Drawing at the Archaeological Museum, which introduced him to folk art. 

From 1936-48, Tamayo was based in New York. Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler first studied with Tamayo at the Dalton School, and always claimed to owe him a great debt. After an exhibition which marked his return to Mexico (at the Pallacio des Bellas Artes, 1948) was bitterly attacked by the muralists for its disavowal of popular and accessible forms, Tamayo moved to Paris. He finally returned to Mexico City in 1964, donating his collection of Pre-Columbian art to Oaxaca to form the Museo de Arte Prehispanico de Mexico Rufino Tamayo. In 1981 his collection of modern art opened to the public at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City. Tamayo was an outsider in post-Revolutionary Mexico, politically neutral and opposing the muralists' commitment to a public, popular art.


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.


Modern Movements: An In-depth Series on Modern Art with Jill Kiefer

(click photo for larger image) (click photo for larger image)Jill Kiefer will be leading a six-week class on Modern Art this Spring at the Bethany Arts Community in Ossining. The series begins on Saturday, May 4th. Class times are 10 AM - NOON. Space is Limited, so please do  REGISTER NOW!


Peggy Guggenheim: A Major Force in the Art World

Peggy Guggenheim and Jackson Pollock in front of Mural (1943), CA. 1946, (Courtesy of (click photo for larger image)Socialite Peggy Guggenheim (1897-1979) was born into the wealthy Guggenheim family of New York City. The niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who founded New York’s Guggenheim Museum, she rose to prominence as an important collector of art. In 1912, when she turned 21, Peggy inherited $2.5 million (valued at $35.3 million today) and moved to Paris, where she befriended Man Ray, Constantin Brancusi, and Marcel Duchamp.

In 1938, she established a modern art gallery in London and began seriously collecting art, focusing on Surrealist and abstract art. Through Duchamp, she created many connections in the art world and exhibited works by important modernists like Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, and Max Ernst. After one year, she decided to shut the gallery and focus her efforts on creating a museum.

Peggy settled in Venice in 1949 and established the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to showcase her impressive collection of modern art. Today, it is still one of the biggest attractions in Venice and highlights Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism by both European and American artists.

In the summer of 1943, she commissioned a young and relatively unknown Jackson Pollock to paint a mural for her Manhattan townhouse. The work he produce (Mural) turned out to be his first large painting, and the largest work he would ever create.

Learn more about Peggy Guggenheim at Jill Kiefer’s presentation, TOMORROW—March 9th, at the Bethany Arts Community (at 4:00 PM). Admission is FREE! Search for more info about the artists mentioned here on What About Art?