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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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    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
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Entries in Surrealism (24)


André Masson: Exquisite Forms

André Masson - Ibdès de Aragon - 1935 - Oil on canvas - 743 x 1660 x 54 mm - Tate Gallery, London (click photo for larger image)André Masson (1896-1987) was a French painter, sculptor, illustrator, designer and writer. He began the study of art at age eleven.

Masson initially experimented with Cubism but later became more heavily involved with Surrealism. He embraced the idea of automatic drawing, which was a form of spontaneous composition intended to express impulses and images arising directly from the unconscious.  Eventually, however, he found that practice too restrictive. “A natural draftsman, he used sinuous, expressive lines to delineate biomorphic forms that border on the totally abstract. 

Masson made a series of paintings of Spanish landscapes from 1934 to 1936, when he was living in Catalonia, including the one featured here, of Ibdes, a village in Aragon.


Jean Arp: Making Something from Something…

Jean Arp - Torso, Navel, Mustache-Flower - 1930 - Oil on wood relief - 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 x 1 1/2 in. (80 x 100 x 3.8 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (click photo for larger image)German-French artist Jean Arp (also known as Hans Arp 1886-1966) could turn anything into a work of art—and that’s exactly what he did!

Although his work is non-representational, it is all rooted in nature and very organic in form. He was also one of the first artists to let chance and randomness become part of his work.

Arp is best known for his multilayered, painted wood reliefs. By the time Arp created the work featured here, he had already perfected his assemblage technique: he drew designs on cardboard templates and had a carpenter execute them in wood. 

Arp was born in Alsace and studied at the Strasbourg School of Arts and Crafts, at Weimar (1905-7) and the Academie Julian, Paris (1908).  In 1912 he went to Munich where he knew Kandinsky and exhibited semi-figurative drawings at the second Blaue Reiter exhibition in 1912. In 1913 he exhibited with the Expressionists at the first Hebrstsalon (Autumn Salon) in Berlin. Aware of the developments within the French avant-garde through his contacts with such figures as Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Robert Delaunay, Arp exhibited his first abstracts and paper cutouts in Zurich in 1915, and began making shallow wooden reliefs and compositions of string nailed to canvas. In 1916 he was a founding member of Dada in Zurich, and he participated in the Berlin Dada exhibition of 1920. Arp is also associated with the Surrealist movement.


Salvador Dali: The Paranoia-Critical Method

Salvador Dali - Swans Reflecting Elephants -1937 - Oils on canvas - 51 cm × 77 cm (20.08 in × 30.31 in) - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)The painting featured here is from what is known as Salvador Dali’s (1904-1989) “paranoiac-critical period”. It contains one of Dali's famous double images. Dali's "paranoia-critical method" was discussed in his 1935 essay entitled "The Conquest of the Irrational." He explained the process as a "spontaneous method of irrational understanding based upon the interpretative critical association of delirious phenomena." Dali used this method to represent the hallucinatory forms, double images and visual illusions that filled his paintings during the 1930s. 

Swans Reflecting Elephants uses the reflection in a lake to create the double image seen in the painting. “The three swans in front of bleak, leafless trees are reflected in the lake so that the swans' heads become the elephants' heads and the trees become the bodies of the elephants. In the background of the painting is a Catalonian landscape depicted in fiery fall colors, the brushwork creating swirls in the cliffs that surround the lake, to contrast with the stillness of the water.”


Jean Arp: Art Made of Anything

Jean Arp - Shirt Front and Fork 1922 - painted wood - inside the National Gallery of Art’s East Building, located on the National Mall, Washington. D.C. (click photo for larger image)Hans (Jean) Arp (1886-1966) was a French-German-American artist painter, sculptor, collagist and poet. Active in both the Dada and Surrealist movements, Arp was an artist who “could (and did) make anything into art. He’s among the first artists who regarded chance as a collaborator in the artistic process. He made it a point not to title his works until after they were completed, as a way of minimizing the influence of conscious mind on his art.

Arp’s works are abstract (as opposed to purely non-representational) and were always grounded in nature and reality. He was a master at placing recognizable forms into an unrecognizable context. Truly a “transitional figure” — Arp’s work forms a link between two of the most powerful movements of Modern Art.


Where Arts Collide – Movies About Artists – “Frida”

Salma Hayek as Frida KahloThe IMDB (Internet Movie Database) describes the film “Frida” as “a biography of artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), who channeled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work.” Critics generally found “Frida” (2002) to be visually exciting and emotionally stimulating. Director Julie Taymor certainly went to great lengths to bring authenticity to the movie, filming it entirely in Mexico, and for everyone on the project it was a labor of love. Salma Hayak and Alfred Molina delivered outstanding performances as Frida and Diego, and all members of the supporting cast were excellent. Most noteworthy were Roger Rees, as Frida’s father, Guillermo Kahlo, and Geoffrey Rush as Leon Trotsky.