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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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    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.
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    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
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    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.

Entries in Modernism (16)


Barbara Hepworth: Relationships to Space

Barbara Hepworth - Rock Form (Porthcurno) - 1964 - Bronze, Edition of 6, Cast No. 3 - 99-3/4 x 42 x 17 in. (253.4 x 106.7 x 43.2 cm) - Norton Simon Museum - Pasadena, CABritish artist Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) distinguished herself as a world-recognized sculptor during a period where female artists were rare. She evolved her ideas and her work as an influential part of an ongoing conversation with many other important artists of her time, working crucially in areas of greater abstraction while creating three dimensional objects. 

Hepworth’s development of sculptural vocabularies and ideas was complex and multi-faceted. It included the use of a wide range of physical materials for sculpting and an unprecedented sensitivity to the particular qualities of those materials in helping decide the ultimate results of her sculptures. The investigation of "absence" in sculpture as much as "presence," and deep considerations of the relationship of her sculptural forms to the larger spaces surrounding it were of keen interest to her.

The work featured here retains the curving planes of much of her work. She produced it at a time when an increased demand for her work led her away from stone sculpture to bronze. Hepworth had a prosperous career within the modernist movement in England.


Ad Reinhardt: Purifying Painting

Ad Reinhardt - One Year the Milkweed - 1944 - Oil on canvas - 94.2 x 119.3 cm (37 1/16 x 46 15/16 in.) - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967) was an abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered on the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as abstract expressionism.

Although commonly associated with the Abstract Expressionists, his work had its origins in geometric abstraction, a rarity for an American artist. He increasingly sought to purify his painting of everything he saw as extraneous to art, and he rejected the movement's expressionism. Although Reinhardt was, in turn, rejected by many of his peers, he was later hailed as a prophet by Minimalists.


Arshile Gorky: A Unique Approach to Color and Form

Arshile Gorky - Portrait of Master Bill - 1929-36 Oil on canvas - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) was an Armenian-American painter, who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism. He spent most his life as a national of the United States. Along with Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Gorky has been hailed as one of the most powerful American painters of the 20th century. 

Gorky put the biomorphic  forms of the Surrealists through the process of emphasizing more lyrical color and personal content. He developed a unique approach to color and form. His work reflects both his past and the cultural and historical milieu of New York in the 1940s.


Marsden Hartley: An American Expressionist

Marsden Hartley - Mount Katahdin, Autumn No. 1 - 1939-40 - Oil on canvas - Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (click photo for larger image)Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) was one of a circle of American modernist painters that included Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Arthur Dove and Charles Demuth.  

Hartley had his first solo exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery in New York. Extensive travels acquainted him with a variety of modern movements. He was first moved by Cézanne, and the Cubism of Picasso and Braque, then later by his contact with the German Expressionists. All of what Hartley absorbed contributed to a distinctive, personal style, seen best in his bold paintings of the harsh landscape of Maine. 

Maine held some very painful childhood memories for the artist, and yet it became his primary and most profound resource later in life. In his last ten years, Hartley alternated between New York City and Maine. When he was sixty-two years old, he made a pilgrimage to Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in the state. This painting commemorates that accomplishment and captures a view of the mountain beloved by decades of American writers and painters. This work “embraces the modernist potential of the famous mountain while capturing a vivid sense of Hartley’s intimate relationship to his native countryside.”

Hartley was also a poet and essayist, and his writings continue to move people.

I’ll be offering an art history class on Marsden Hartley next Fall at LMCCE. Keep your eyes open for that one.


Whistler: Elegance and Harmony

James McNeill Whistler - Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights - 1872 - Oil on canvas - 50.2 x 74.3 cm (19 3/4 x 29 1/4 in.) - Tate Gallery, LondonTonalism is a style of painting in which landscapes are depicted in soft light and shadows, often as if through a colored or misty veil. Imported to the U.S. by American painters inspired by the Barbizon School landscapes of the mid-19th century, it was a forerunner to the many schools and colonies of American Impressionism that arose in the first part of the 20th century—and which was the most popular art among members of America’s general public.

One of tonalism’s most influential practitioners was American painter James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) “whose approach was primarily aesthetic, aiming for elegance and harmony in the colors of a painting”. The artist was noted for his nocturnal painting, for his striking and stylistically advanced full-length portraits, and for his brilliant etchings and lithographs. He was one of the chief proponents of the ideas underlying the concept of “art for art’s sake”. 

Later in his life, Whistler felt somewhat out of step with the more modern approaches emerging. Nevertheless, in the early 1900s, many excellent judges of art considered Whistler to be one of the leading painters of the day. Within a relatively short time, however, the reputation of this versatile artist suffered a decline, and only in the last decades of the 20th century did his reputation begin to recover.

One of the downsides of the earlier Modern era—in all respects—is that it tended to disregard many of the achievements of prior errors. Consequently, there’s been (and remains) a great deal of catching up to do. In art, all achievements of the past and present need to be examined and acknowledged—and all artists should be encouraged and appreciated for whatever styles, subjects and techniques they choose to pursue.