Posted in Art

Francisco Goya

Spanish romantic painter and Printmaker Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born 30 March 1746 in the village of Fuendetodos in Aragon. He studied painting from age 14 under José Luzán y Martinez and moved to Madrid to study with Anton Raphael Mengs. He married Josefa Bayeu in 1773; the couple’s life together was characterised by an almost constant series of pregnancies and miscarriages. He became a court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786 and this early portion of his career is marked by portraits of the Spanish aristocracy and royalty, and Rococo style tapestry cartoons designed for the royal palace.

Goya was a guarded man and little is known about his thoughts. He suffered a severe and undiagnosed illness in 1793 which left him completely deaf. After 1793 his work became progressively darker and more pessimistic. His later easel and mural paintings, prints and drawings appear to reflect a bleak outlook on personal, social and political levels, and contrast with his social climbing. He was appointed Director of the Royal Academy in 1795, the year Manuel Godoy made an unfavorable treaty with France. In 1799 Goya became Primer Pintor de Cámara, the then-highest rank for a Spanish court painter. In the late 1790s, commissioned by Godoy, he completed his La maja desnuda, a remarkably daring nude for the time and clearly indebted to Diego Velázquez. In 1801 he painted Charles IV of Spain and His Family.

In 1807 Napoleon led the French army into Spain. Goya remained in Madrid during the Peninsular War, which seems to have affected him deeply. Although he did not vocalise his thoughts in public, they can be inferred from his “Disasters of War” series of prints (although published 35 years after his death) and his 1814 paintings The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808. Other works from his mid period include the “Caprichos” and Los Disparates etching series, and a wide variety of paintings concerned with insanity, mental asylums, witches, fantastical creatures and religious and political corruption, all of which suggest that he feared for both his country’s fate and his own mental and physical health.

His late period culminates with the “Black Paintings” of 1819–1823, applied on oil on the plaster walls of his house the “Quinta del Sordo” (house of the deaf man) where, disillusioned by political and social developments in Spain he lived in near isolation. Goya eventually abandoned Spain in 1824 to retire to the French city of Bordeaux, accompanied by his much younger maid and companion, Leocadia Weiss, who may or may not have been his lover. There he completed his “La Tauromaquia” series and a number of other, major, canvases. Following a stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side, and suffering failing eyesight and poor access to painting materials, he died and was buried on 16 April 1828 aged 82. His body was later re-interred in Spain.

Goya is considered the most important Spanish artist of late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era. Immensely successful in his lifetime, Goya is often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. He was also one of the great portraitists of modern times.

Posted in Art

Raphael

Italian high Renaissance painter and architect Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was born on either March 28 or April 6, 1483 (depending on the Julian or Gregorian calender) in Urbino in the Marche region. His father Giovanni Santi was court painter to the Duke. The reputation of the court had been established by Federico III da Montefeltro, a highly successful condottiere who had been created Duke of Urbino by the Pope but died the year before Raphael was born. Federico was succeeded by his son Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, who married Elisabetta Gonzaga, daughter of the ruler of Mantua, Under them, the court continued as a centre for literary culture .Court life in Urbino was depicted by Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, Castiglione moved to Urbino in 1504, when Raphael was no longer based there but frequently visited, and they became good friends. Raphael mixed inthe highest circles throughout his life. His mother Màgia died in 1491 when Raphael was eight, followed on August 1, 1494 by his father. Raphael was thus orphaned at eleven; his formal guardian became his only paternal uncle Bartolomeo, a priest. Raphael had already shown talent, according to Vasari, His father’s workshop continued and, probably together with his stepmother. In Urbino, he also came into contact with the works of Paolo Uccello, previously the court painter and Luca Signorelli.VAccording to Vasari, his father placed him in the workshop of the Umbrian master Pietro Perugino as an apprentice he may have Also received training from Timoteo Viti, who acted as court painter in Urbino from 1495. Raphael is described as a “master”, (fully trained) in December 1500.

His first documented work was the Baronci altarpiece for the church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino in Città di Castello, halfway between Perugia and Urbino. Evangelista da Pian di Meleto, was also named in the commission. It was commissioned in 1500 and finished in 1501; sadly only some cut sections and a preparatory drawing remain. He also painted works for other churches including the Mond Crucifixion, the Brera Wedding of the Virgin and the Oddi Altarpiece ar Perugia. He also painted many small and exquisite cabinet paintings like the Three Graces and St. Michael, he also began to paint Madonnas and portraits. In 1502 he was invited to Siena by Pinturicchio, who was a friend of Raphael and considered him to be a draughtsman of the highest quality, to help with the cartoons, and designs, for a fresco series in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral. Although Raphael mainly worked in Northern Italy, he also spent a good deal of time in Florence. Raphael was influenced by Florentine art, whilst keeping his own developing style. Frescos in Perugia of about 1505 show a new monumental quality in the figures which may represent the influence of Fra Bartolomeo, who Vasari says was a friend of Raphael. Another major influence was Leonardo da Vinci,

Raphael’s figures became more dynamic and complex and he made drawn studies of fighting nude men, And portraits of young women that using the three-quarter length pyramidal composition of the just-completed Mona Lisa. Another of Leonardo’s compositional inventions, is the pyramidal Holy Family, . There is a drawing by Raphael in the Royal Collection of Leonardo’s lost Leda and the Swan, from which he adapted the contrapposto pose of his own Saint Catherine of Alexandria. He also perfected his own version of Leonardo’s sfumato modelling, to give subtlety to his painting of flesh, However these are much less enigmatic than Leonardo’s But retain the soft clear light of Perugino. Raphael’s Deposition of Christ draws on classical sarcophagi to spread the figures across the front of the picture space in a complex and not wholly successful arrangement. There is an influence of the Madonna in Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo in the kneeling figure on the right, but the rest of the composition is far removed from his style, or that of Leonardo. in 1508, Raphael had moved to Rome, where he lived for the rest of his life. He was invited by the new Pope Julius II, at the suggestion of his architect Donato Bramante, then engaged on St. Peter’s Basilica, who came from just outside Urbino and was distantly related to Raphael. Unlike Michelangelo, Raphael was immediately commissioned by Julius to fresco what was intended to become the Pope’s private library at the Vatican Palace. Several other artists and their teams of assistants were already at work on different rooms, many painting over recently completed paintings commissioned by Julius’s loathed predecessor, Alexander VI, whose contributions, and arms, Julius was determined to efface from the palace. Michelangelo, meanwhile, had been commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

This first of the famous “Stanze” or “Raphael Rooms” to be painted, now known as the Stanza della Segnatura after its use in Vasari’s time, influenced Roman art, and remains generally regarded as his greatest masterpiece, containing The School of Athens, The Parnassus and the Disputa. Raphael was given two more rooms to paint, displacing other artists including Perugino and Signorelli. He completed a sequence of three rooms, each with paintings on each wall and often the ceilings too. The death of Julius in 1513 did not interrupt the work at all, as he was succeeded by Raphael’s last Pope, the Medici Pope Leo X, with whom Raphael formed an even closer relationship, and who continued to commission him. Raphael’s friend Cardinal Bibbiena was also one of Leo’s old tutors, and a close friend and advisor. Raphael was clearly influenced by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in the course of painting the room. Vasari said Bramante let him in secretly. The first section was completed in 1511 and the reaction of other artists to the daunting force of Michelangelo was the dominating question in Italian art for the following few decades. Raphael, had already shown his gift for absorbing influences into his own personal style and One of the first and clearest instances was the portrait in The School of Athens of Michelangelo himself, as Heraclitus, which were influenced by the Sybils and ignudi of the Sistine ceiling. Other figures in that and later paintings in the room show the same influences, but still demonstrate Raphael’s own style this led Michelangelo to accuse Raphael of plagiarism. However These very large and complex compositions have since become regarded as among the supreme works of the grand manner of the High Renaissance, and the “classic art” of the post-antique West which give a highly idealised depiction of the forms represented.

After Bramante’s death in 1514, Raphael was named architect of the new St Peter’s. Most of his work there was altered or demolished after his death and the acceptance of Michelangelo’s design, but a few drawings have survived. He also designed several other buildings, and for a short time was the most important architect in Rome, working for a small circle around the Papacy. Julius had made changes to the street plan of Rome, creating several new thoroughfares, and he wanted them filled with splendid palaces. An important building, the Palazzo Branconio dell’Aquila for Leo’s Papal Chamberlain Giovanni Battista Branconio, was completely destroyed to make way for Bernini’s piazza for St. Peter’s, however drawings of the richly decorated façade and courtyard remain. The main designs for the Villa Farnesina were not by Raphael, but he did design, and decorated with mosaics, the Chigi Chapel for the same patron, Agostino Chigi, the Papal Treasurer. Another building, for Pope Leo’s doctor, the Palazzo di Jacobo da Brescia, was moved in the 1930s but survives; this was designed to complement a palace on the same street by Bramante, where Raphael himself lived for a time. The Villa Madama, a lavish hillside retreat for Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, later Pope Clement VII, was never finished, and his full plans have to be reconstructed speculatively. He produced a design from which the final construction plans were completed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Even incomplete, it was the most sophisticated villa design yet seen in Italy, and greatly influenced the later development of the genre; it appears to be the only modern building in Rome of which Palladio made a measured drawing.

In 1515 he was made “Prefect” over all antiquities unearthed entrusted within the city, or a mile outside. Raphael wrote a letter to Pope Leo suggesting ways of halting the destruction of ancient monuments, and proposed a visual survey of the city to record all antiquities in an organised fashion. The Pope’s concerns were not exactly the same; he intended to continue to re-use ancient masonry in the building of St Peter’s, but wanted to ensure that all ancient inscriptions were recorded, and sculpture preserved, before allowing the stones to be reused. The Vatican projects took most of his time, although he painted several portraits, including those of his two main patrons, the popes Julius II and his successor Leo X, the former considered one of his finest. Other portraits were of his own friends, like Castiglione, or the immediate Papal circle. Other rulers pressed for work, and King Francis I of France was sent two paintings as diplomatic gifts from the Pope. For Agostino Chigi, the hugely rich banker and Papal Treasurer, he painted the Triumph of Galatea and designed further decorative frescoes for his Villa Farnesina, a chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Pace and mosaics in the funerary chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo. He also designed some of the decoration for the Villa Madama, the work in both villas being executed by his workshop.

One of his most important papal commissions was the Raphael Cartoons (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum), a series of 10 cartoons, of which seven survive, for tapestries with scenes of the lives of Saint Paul and Saint Peter, for the Sistine Chapel. The cartoons were sent to Brussels to be woven in the workshop of Pier van Aelst. He also designed and painted the Loggie at the Vatican, a long thin gallery then open to a courtyard on one side, decorated with Roman-style grottesche. He produced a number of significant altarpieces, including The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia and the Sistine Madonna. His last work, on which he was working up to his death, was a large Transfiguration, which together with Il Spasimo shows the direction his art was taking in his final years—more proto-Baroque than Mannerist.

Raphael also collaborated with Marcantonio Raimondi to produce engravings, Raimondi created many of the most famous Italian prints of the century, and was important in the rise of the reproductive print. His interest was unusual in such a major artist; from his contemporaries it was only shared by Titian, who had alao worked with Raimondi. A total of about fifty prints were made; some were copies of Raphael’s paintings, but other designs were apparently created by Raphael purely to be turned into prints. Raphael made preparatory drawings, many of which survive, for Raimondi to translate into engraving. The most famous original prints to result from the collaboration were Lucretia, the Judgement of Paris and The Massacre of the Innocents (of which two virtually identical versions were engraved), The Parnassus (with considerable differences) and Galatea. Outside Italy, reproductive prints by Raimondi and others were the main way that Raphael’s art was experienced until the twentieth century. Baviero Carocci, an assistant who Raphael evidently trusted ended up in control of most of the copper plates after Raphael’s death, and had a successful career in the new occupation of a publisher of prints.

Raphael was also an excellent draftsmen and used drawings extensively to plan his compositions. Over forty sketches survive for the Disputa in the Stanze. He used different drawings to refine his poses and compositions. For final compositions scaled-up full-size cartoons were made, He also made unusually extensive use, on both paper and plaster, of a “blind stylus”, scratching lines which leave only an indentation, but no mark. These can be seen on the wall in The School of Athens, The “Raphael Cartoons”, as tapestry designs, were fully coloured in a glue distemper medium, as they were sent to Brussels to be followed by the weavers. Most Raphael drawings are rather precise—even initial sketches with naked outline figures are carefully drawn, and later working drawings often have a high degree of finish, with shading and sometimes highlights in white. They lack the freedom and energy of some of Leonardo’s and Michelangelo’s sketches, but are nearly always aesthetically very satisfying. He was one of the last artists to use metalpoint extensively, although he also made superb use of the freer medium of red or black chalk In his final years he was one of the first artists to use female models for preparatory drawings—male pupils (“garzoni”) were normally used for studies of both sexes.

From 1517 until his death, Raphael lived in the Palazzo Caprini in the Borgo, in a palace designed by Bramante. He never married, but in 1514 became engaged to Maria Bibbiena, Cardinal Medici Bibbiena’s niece. He is said to have had many affairs, but his deepest love was “La Fornarina”, Margherita Luti, the daughter of a baker (fornaro) named Francesco Luti from Siena who lived at Via del Governo Vecchio. He was made a “Groom of the Chamber” of the Pope, and a knight of the Papal Order of the Golden Spur. According to Vasari, Raphael’s premature death on Good Friday (April 6, 1520), which was possibly his 37th birthday, was caused by a night of excessive sex with Luti, after which he fell into a fever. Vasari also says that Raphael had also been born on a Good Friday, which in 1483 fell on March 28. During his acute illness, which lasted fifteen days, Raphael confessed his sins, receive the last rites, and to put his affairs in order, he left sufficient funds for his mistress’s care, entrusted to his loyal servant Baviera, and left most of his studio contents to Giulio Romano and Penni. Raphael was buried in the Pantheon. His funeral was extremely grand, attended by large crowds. The inscription in his marble sarcophagus, an elegiac distich was written by Pietro Bembo.

Posted in Art, music

Andy Warhol

Pop Artist Andy Warhol sadly passed away on 22nd February 1987, and being a big fan of Velvet Underground and the Artwork of American Artist Andy Warhol I thought I would pay tribute. Born August 6, 1928. He was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States of America dedicated to a single artist. Warhol’s artwork ranged in many forms of media that include hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. He was a pioneer in computer-generated art using Amiga computers that were introduced in 1985, just before his death in 1987. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons.

Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, and feature and documentary films. He coined the widely used expression “15 minutes of fame”. Many of his creations are very collectible and highly valuable. The highest price ever paid for a Warhol painting is US$100 million for a 1963 canvas titled Eight Elvises. Warhol’s works include some of the most expensive paintings ever sold. he started his career as a commercial illustrator, producing drawings in “blotted-ink” style for advertisements and magazine articles. Best known of these early works are his drawings of shoes. Some of his personal drawings were self-published in small booklets, such as Yum, Yum, Yum (about food), Ho, Ho, Ho (about Christmas) and Shoes, Shoes, Shoes. His most artistically acclaimed book of drawings is probably A Gold Book, compiled of sensitive drawings of young men. A Gold Book is so named because of the gold leaf that decorates its pages. In April 2012 a sketch of 1930s singer Rudy Vallee thought to be drawn by Andy Warhol was found at a Las Vegas garage sale. By the beginning of the 1960s, Warhol had become a very successful commercial illustrator. His detailed and elegant drawings for I. Miller shoes were particularly popular. They consisted mainly of “blotted ink” drawings (or monoprints), a technique which he applied in much of his early art. Although many artists of this period worked in commercial art, most did so discreetly. Warhol was so successful, however, that his profile as an illustrator seemed to undermine his efforts to be taken seriously as an artist.

Pop art was an experimental form made popular by Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, who would become famous as the “Pope of Pop”. His early paintings feature images taken from cartoons and advertisements, hand-painted with paint drips. Those drips emulated the style of successful abstract expressionists (such as Willem de Kooning). Warhol’s first pop art paintings were displayed in April 1961, serving as the backdrop for New York Department Store Bronwit Teller’s window display. his Pop Art contemporaries Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg had also featured. Eventually, Warhol Images featured just brand names, celebrities, dollar signs. He loved celebrities, so he painted them as well, frequently using silk-screening. In 1979, Warhol was commissioned by BMW to paint a Group 4 race version of the BMW M1 for the BMW Art Car Project. Warhol produced both comic and serious works; his subject could be a soup can or an electric chair. Warhol used the same techniques — silkscreens, reproduced serially, and often painted with bright colors — whether he painted celebrities, everyday objects, or images of suicide, car crashes, and disasters, as in the 1962–1963 Death and Disaster series. The Death and Disaster paintings included Red Car Crash, Purple Jumping Man, and Orange Disaster.

Warhol’s was also a sculptor and his most famous sculpture is probably his Brillo Boxes, silkscreened ink on wood replicas of Brillo soap pad boxes (designed by James Harvey), part of a series of “grocery carton” sculptures that also included Heinz ketchup and Campbell’s tomato juice cases.Other famous works include the Silver Clouds — helium filled, silver mylar, pillow-shaped balloons. A Silver Cloud was included in the traveling exhibition Air Art (1968–1969) curated by Willoughby Sharp. Clouds was also adapted by Warhol for avant-garde choreographer Merce Cunningham’s dance piece RainForest (1968).Warhol also made two cable television shows, Andy Warhol’s TV in 1982 and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes (based on his famous “fifteen minutes of fame” quotation) for MTV in 1986. Besides his own shows he regularly made guest appearances on other programs, including The Love Boat wherein a Midwestern wife (Marion Ross) fears Andy Warhol will reveal to her husband (Tom Bosley, who starred alongside Ross in sitcom Happy Days) her secret past as a Warhol superstar named Marina del Rey. Warhol also produced a TV commercial for Schrafft’s Restaurants in New York City, for an ice cream dessert appropriately titled the “Underground Sundae”.

During the 1960s, Warhol adopted the band the Velvet Underground, making them a crucial element of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia performance art show. Warhol, with Paul Morrissey, acted as the band’s manager, introducing them to Nico (who performed with the band at Warhol’s request). In 1966 he “produced” their first album The Velvet Underground & Nico, as well as providing its album art. His actual participation in the album’s production amounted to simply paying for the studio time. However After the band’s first album, Warhol and Lou Reed started to disagree more about the direction the band should take, and their artistic friendship ended, after Warhol’s death, Reed and John Cale re-united for the first time since 1972 to write, perform, record and release the concept album Songs for Drella, a tribute to Warhol.Warhol also designed many album covers for various artists starting with the photographic cover of John Wallowitch’s debut album, This Is John Wallowitch!!! (1964). He designed the cover art for the Rolling Stones albums Sticky Fingers (1971) and Love You Live (1977), and the John Cale albums The Academy in Peril (1972) and Honi Soit in 1981. In 1975, Warhol was commissioned to do several portraits of Mick Jagger, and in 1982 he designed the album cover for the Diana Ross album Silk Electric.

One of his last works was a portrait of Aretha Franklin for the cover of her 1986 gold album Aretha, which was done in the style of the Reigning Queens series he had completed the year before.Warhol strongly influenced the New Wave/punk rock band Devo, as well as David Bowie. Bowie recorded a song called “Andy Warhol” for his 1971 album Hunky Dory. Lou Reed wrote the song “Andy’s Chest”, about Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Warhol, in 1968. He recorded it with the Velvet Underground, and this version was released on the VU album in 1985. Warhol worked in fashion and met Edie Sedgwick. Warhol’s work in fashion includes silkscreened dresses, a short sub-career as a catwalk-model and books on fashion as well as paintings with fashion (shoes) as a subject. Warhol and his friends staged theatrical multimedia happenings at parties and public venues, combining music, film, slide projections and even Gerard Malanga in an S&M outfit cracking a whip. The Exploding Plastic Inevitable in 1966 was the culmination of this area of his work.

Andy Warhol also worked in theatre and his production Pork played at LaMama theater in New York for a two-week run and was brought to the Roundhouse in London for a longer run in August 1971. Pork was based on tape-recorded conversations between Brigid Berlin and Andy during which Brigid would play for Andy tapes she had made of phone conversations between herself and her mother, socialite Honey Berlin. The play featured Jayne County as “Vulva” and Cherry Vanilla as “Amanda Pork”. In 1974, Andy Warhol also produced the stage musical Man On The Moon, which was written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Warhol was an excellent photographer, whose pictures were mostly taken with a specific model of Polaroid camera that Polaroid kept in production especially for Warhol. This photographic approach to painting and his snapshot method of taking pictures has had a great effect on artistic photography. he took an enormous amount of photographs of Factory visitors, friends. Sadly though Warhol passed away on February 22nd, 1987 In New York City after making a good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia

Posted in Art

Michelangelo

Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni sadly died 18 February 1564. He was born 6 March 1475 in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. Several months after Michelangelo’s birth, the family returned to Florence, where Michelangelo was raised. Michelangelo’s father sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence as a young boy. The young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters. At thirteen, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. When Michelangelo was only fourteen, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist, which was highly unusual at the time. When in 1489, Lorenzo de’ Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended the Humanist academy which the Medici had founded along Neo Platonic lines. Michelangelo studied sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni. At the academy, both Michelangelo’s outlook and his art were subject to the influence of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day including Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano. At this time, Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Madonna of the Steps (1490–1492) and Battle of the Centaurs.

Michelangelo left the security of the Medici court Following Lorenzo de’ Medici’s death on 8 April 1492 and returned to his father’s house. In the following months he carved a wooden crucifix (1493), as a gift to the prior of the Florentine church of Santo Spirito, which had permitted him some studies of anatomy on the corpses of the church’s hospital. Between 1493 and 1494 he bought a block of marble for a larger than life statue of Hercules, which was sent to France and subsequently disappeared sometime circa 18th century. On 20 January 1494, after heavy snowfalls, Lorenzo’s heir, Piero de Medici, commissioned a snow statue, and Michelangelo again entered the court of the Medici.

In the same year, the Medici were expelled from Florence as the result of the rise of Savonarola. Michelangelo left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna. In Bologna, he was commissioned to finish the carving of the last small figures of the Shrine of St. Dominic. Michelangelo arrived in Rome 25 June 1496 at the age of 21. On 4 July of the same year, he began work on a commission for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, an over-life-size statue of the Roman wine god Bacchus.In November 1497, the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the Pietà. Michelangelo returned to Florence in 1499–1501 and was asked to complete a colossal statue portraying David as a symbol of Florentine freedom, to be placed in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and this was completed in 1504. Michelangelo also painted the Holy Family and St John, also known as the Doni Tondo or the Holy Family of the Tribune. He also may have painted the Madonna and Child with John the Baptist, known as the Manchester Madonna and now in the National Gallery, London, United Kingdom. In 1505, Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II.

He was commissioned to build the Pope’s tomb. During the same period, Michelangelo also took the commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took approximately four years to complete (1508–1512). Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky, but lobbied for a different and more complex scheme, representing creation, the Downfall of Man and the Promise of Salvation through the prophets and Genealogy of Christ. The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. The composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its center nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God’s Creation of the Earth; God’s Creation of Humankind and their fall from God’s grace; and lastly, the state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his family. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of the Jesus. They are seven prophets of Israel and five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are The Creation of Adam, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, the Prophet Isaiah and the Cumaean Sibyl. The fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Clement VII.

Michelangelo was also commissioned to reconstruct the façade of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence and to adorn it with sculptures. After this Michelangelo eventually left Florence for good in the mid-1530s. In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome., there was concern that Michelangelo would pass away before the dome was finished. However, once building commenced on the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring, the completion of the design was inevitable. Michelangelo sadly died in Rome at the age of 88 (three weeks before his 89th birthday). His body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro’s last request to be buried in his beloved Florence.

Posted in Art

Pop Art Day/ Jackson Pollock

PopArt day takes place annually on 28th January to commemorate the birth of the American Artist Jackson Pollock and inspire artists to create their own Pop Art. Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 28 January 1912, His parents. Stella and LeRoy Pollock were Presbyterian; and of Irish and Scots-Irish descent, respectively. LeRoy Pollock was a farmer and later a land surveyor for the government, moving for different jobs. Stella, proud of her family’s heritage as weavers, made and sold dresses as a teenager. In 1912, Stella took her sons to San Diego; Jackson was just 10 months old He subsequently grew up in Arizona and Chico, California. While living in Echo Park, California, he enrolled at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, from which he was expelled. He had already been expelled in 1928 from another high school. During his early life, Pollock explored Native American culture while on surveying trips with his father. In 1930, following his older brother Charles Pollock, he moved to New York City, where they both studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. In the early 1930s, Pollock spent a summer touring the Western United States together with Glen Rounds, a fellow art student, and Benton, their teacher.

Pollock was introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936 at an experimental workshop in New York City by the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. He later used paint pouring as one of several techniques on canvases of the early 1940s, such as Male and Female and Composition with Pouring I. After his move to Springs, he began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor and he developed what was later called his “drip” technique. Between 1938 and 1942 Pollock worked for the WPA Federal Art Project. Pollock became an Alcoholic and underwent Jungian psychotherapy with Dr. Joseph Henderson and later with Dr. Violet Staub de Laszlo in 1941–42. Henderson engaged him through his art, encouraging Pollock to make drawings. Jungian concepts and archetypes were expressed in his paintings. It is possible that Pollock might have had bipolar disorder (When I get depressed I find that drawing can have an uplifting effect, i think I would go mad without Autodesk Sketchbook, however I digress). In 1943 Pollock signed a gallery contract with Peggy Guggenheim in July 1943. He received the commission to create the 8-by-20-foot (2.4 by 6.1 m) Mural for the entry to her new townhouse. Pollock painted the work on canvas, rather than the wall, so that it would be portable. Pollock’s most famous paintings were made during the “drip period” between 1947 and 1950. He rocketed to fame following an August 8, 1949 four-page spread in Life magazine.

Then At the peak of his fame, Pollock abruptly abandoned the drip style. Pollock’s work after 1951 was darker in color, including a collection painted in black on unprimed canvases. These paintings have been referred to as his ‘Black pourings’ and show Pollock attempting to find a balance between abstraction and depictions of the figure. He later returned to using color and continued with figurative elements. Pollock also moved to the Sidney Janis Gallery, a more commercial gallery; the demand for his work from collectors was great. Unfortunately the extra pressure this put on him, plus personal frustration, worsened his alcoholism.

In 1942 Jackson met fellow artist Lee Krasner while they both exhibited at the McMillen Gallery. Krasner was unfamiliar, yet intrigued with Pollock’s work and went to his apartment, unannounced, to meet him following the gallery. In 1945 Pollock and Lee Krasner married and moved out of the city to the Springs area of East Hampton on the south shore of Long Island into a wood-frame house and barn at 830 Springs Fireplace Road which Pollock converted into a studio, where he perfected his big “drip” technique with which he would become permanently identified. Lee Krasner had an immense impact on Pollock’s art due to her extensive knowledge and training in modern art and techniques which influenced Pollack and helped her bring him up to date with what contemporary art should be and Pollock’s style became more organized and cosmopolitan.

Lee Krasner also introduced Pollock to many collectors, critics, and artists, including Herbert Matter. Jackson Pollock also influenced Lee Krasner’s, artwork and Krasner began to reproduce and reinterpret her husband’s chaotic “I Am Nature” paint splatters in her own work. In 1955, Pollock painted Scent and Search, his last two paintings. In 1956 he was making sculptures at Tony Smith’s home: constructions of wire, gauze, and plaster. Shaped by sand-casting, they have heavily textured surfaces similar to what Pollock often created in his paintings.

Sadly by 1956 Pollock and Krasner’s relationship began to crumble owing to Pollock’s continuing alcoholism and infidelity involving Ruth Kligman. Then tragically On August 11, 1956, Pollock died in a single-car crash in his Oldsmobile convertible while driving under the influence of alcohol. At the time Krasner was visiting friends in Europe and she abruptly returned on hearing the news One of the passengers, Edith Metzger, was also killed in the accident, which occurred less than a mile from Pollock’s home. The other passenger, Ruth Kligman, an artist and Pollock’s mistress, survived. Lee Krasner managed his estate For the rest of her life and ensured that Pollock’s reputation remained strong despite changing art world trends. The couple are buried in Green River Cemetery in Springs with a large boulder marking his grave and a smaller one marking hers.

Posted in Art

Edvard Munch

Norwiegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch sadly passed away 23 January 1944. Born 12 December 1863 in Ådalsbruk in Løten. He inherited his artistic talent from his mother and was related to painter Jacob Munch (1776–1839) and historian Peter Andreas Munch (1810–1863). Often ill for much of the winters and kept out of school, Edvard would draw to keep himself occupied, and received tutoring from his school mates and his aunt. Christian Munch also instructed his son in history and literature, and entertained the children with vivid ghost-stories and tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The oppressive religious upbringing by his Father, plus Edvard’s poor health and the vivid ghost stories, helped inspire macabre visions and nightmares in Edvard, who felt death constantly advancing on him. Munch would later write, “I inherited two of mankind’s most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity.” By his teens, art dominated Munch’s interests. At thirteen, Munch had his first exposure to other artists at the newly formed Art Association, where he admired the work of the Norwegian landscape school. He returned to copy the paintings, and soon he began to paint in oils.

In 1879, Munch enrolled in a technical college to study engineering, where he excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. He learned scaled and perspective drawing, but frequent illnesses interrupted his studies. The following year, much to his father’s disappointment, Munch left the college determined to become a painter. His father viewed art as an “unholy trade”.In 1881, Munch enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania. Munch demonstrated his quick absorption of his figure training at the Academy in his first portraits, including one of his father and his first self-portrait. In 1883, Munch took part in his first public exhibition and shared a studio with other students. During these early years in his career, Munch experimented with many styles, including Naturalism and Impressionism. Some early works are reminiscent of Manet, and he continued to employ a variety of brushstroke technique and color palettes throughout the 1880s and early 1890s, as he struggled to define his style. His idiom continued to veer between naturalistic, as seen in Portrait of Hans Jæger, and impressionistic, as in Rue Lafayette. He began to carefully calculate his compositions to create tension and emotion. While stylistically influenced by the Post-Impressionists, what evolved was a subject matter which was symbolist in content, depicting a state of mind rather than an external reality.

In 1889, Munch presented his first one-man show of nearly all his works to date. The recognition it received led to a two-year state scholarship to study in Paris. His picture, Morning (1884), was displayed at the Norwegian pavilion.He spent his mornings in the studio (which included live female models) and afternoons at the exhibition, galleries, and museums. Munch was enthralled by the vast display of modern European art, including the works of three artists who would prove influential: Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was particularly inspired by Gauguin’s “reaction against realism” and his credo that “art was human work and not an imitation of Nature”.By 1892, Munch formulated his characteristic, and original, Synthetist aesthetic, as seen in Melancholy (1891).In Berlin, Munch involved himself in an international circle of writers, artists and critics. During his four years in Berlin, Munch sketched out most of the ideas that would comprise his major work, including The Frieze of Life, His other paintings, including casino scenes, Ashes, Death in a Sick Room and The Scream which is one of his best known works and was painted in 1893,& has been widely interpreted as representing the universal anxiety of modern man. Painted with broad bands of garish color and highly simplified forms, and employing a high viewpoint, the agonized figure is reduced to a garbed skull in the throes of an emotional crisis. It is one of only a few paintings, among them “Whistler’s Mother, Wood’s American Gothic and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, whose impact is immediate & meaning can be seen straight away.

In December 1893, Unter den Linden in Berlin held an exhibition of Munch’s work, showing, among other pieces, six paintings entitled Study for a Series: Love. This began a cycle he later called the Frieze of Life – A Poem about Life, Love and Death. In 1896, Munch moved to Paris, where he focused on graphic representations of his “Frieze of Life” themes. He further developed his woodcut and lithographic technique. Munch’s Self-Portrait With Skeleton Arm. Munch also produced a multi-colored versions of “The Sick Child” as well as several nudes and multiple versions of Kiss. Munch returned to Christiania in 1897 and painted landscapes and his final painting in “The Frieze of Life” series, The Dance of Life . In 1900 he returned to Berlin, where he painted Girls on the Jetty to demonstrate the theme of feminine youth without negative connotations. In 1902, he displayed his works thematically at the hall of the Berlin Succession, producing “a symphonic effect”. Despite his success Munch’s self-destructive and erratic behavior continued, and after he got involved in an accidental shooting, his wife left him, this affected him deeply & he chanelled his bitterness into the paintings Still Life (The Murderess) and The Death of Marat I.

Between 1903 and 1904, Munch exhibited in Paris where the coming Fauvists, famous for their boldly false colors, likely saw his works and might have found inspiration in them. When the Fauves held their own exhibit in 1906, Munch was invited and displayed his works with theirs.During this time, Munch received many commissions for portraits and prints which improved his usually precarious financial condition. After an earlier period of landscapes, in 1907 he turned his attention again to human figures and situations. However, in the autumn of 1908, Munch’s anxiety, compounded by excessive drinking and brawling, had become acute. Subject to hallucinations and feelings of persecution, he entered the clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson where he received therapy for the next eight months Munch’s stay in hospital stabilized his personality, and after returning to Norway in 1909, his work became more colorful and less pessimistic. Further brightening his mood museums began to purchase his paintings and he was made a Knight of the Royal Order of St. Olav “for services in art”. His first American exhibit was in 1912 in New York & produced several full-length portraits of high quality of friends and patrons & also created landscapes and scenes of people at work and play, using a new optimistic style—broad, loose brushstrokes of vibrant color with frequent use of white space and rare use of black.

Munch spent most of his last two decades in solitude at his nearly self-sufficient estate in Ekely, at Skøyen, Oslo. Many of his later paintings celebrate farm life. Munch also continued to paint unsparing self-portraits, unflinching series of snapshots of his emotional and physical states. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis labeled Munch’s work “degenerate art” (along with Picasso, Paul Klee, Matisse, Gauguin and many other modern artists) and removed his 82 works from German museums.In 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and the Nazi party took over the government. Munch was seventy-six years old. With nearly an entire collection of his art in the second floor of his house, Munch lived in fear of a Nazi confiscation. Seventy-one of the paintings previously taken by the Nazis had found their way back to Norway through purchase by collectors (the other eleven were never recovered), including The Scream and The Sick Child, and they too were hidden from the Nazis. Munch died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on 23 January 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday. When Munch died, his remaining works were bequeathed to the city of Oslo, which built the Munch Museum at Tøyen which hosts a collection of approximately 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings, and 18,000 prints, the broadest collection of his works in the world

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Paul Cezanne

Prolific French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne was Born 19th January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France, At the age of ten Paul entered the Saint Joseph school, where he studied drawing under Joseph Gibert, a Spanish monk, in Aix. In 1852 Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon (now Collège Mignet), where he met and became friends with Émile Zola, who was in a less advanced class, as well as Baptistin Baille—three friends who would come to be known as “les trois inséparables” (the three inseparables). He stayed there for six years. From 1858 to 1861, complying with his father’s wishes, Cézanne attended the law school of the University of Aix, while also receiving drawing lessons. Hhe committed himself to pursuing his artistic development and left Aix for Paris in 1861, encouraged by Zola, who was already living in the capital at the time. In Paris, Cézanne met the Impressionist Camille Pissarro and Over the course of the following decade they went on many landscape painting excursions together, in Louveciennes and Pontoise.Cézanne’s early work is often concerned with the figure in the landscape and includes many paintings of groups of large, heavy figures in the landscape, imaginatively painted.

Later in his career, he became more interested in working from direct observation and gradually developed a light, airy painting style, but was also interested in the simplification of naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials.Additionally, Cézanne’s desire to capture the truth of perception led him to explore binocular vision graphically, rendering slightly different, yet simultaneous visual perceptions of the same phenomena to provide the viewer with a different aesthetic experience of depth than those of earlier ideals of perspective, in particular single-point perspective. Cézanne’s paintings were shown in the first exhibition of the Salon des Refusés in 1863, which displayed works not accepted by the jury of the official Paris Salon. Although in 1882 he exhibited Portrait of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, Father of the Artist, reading ‘l’Evénement his first and last successful submission to the Salon. Cézanne exhibited twice at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877). a few individual paintings were also shown at various venues, until 1895 when he had his first solo exhibition. He concentrated on a few subjects and was equally proficient in each of these genres: still lifes, portraits, landscapes and studies of bathers.

His work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. Both Matisse and Picasso considered Cézanne “ the father of us all”. Cézanne’s often repetitive, exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields. The paintings convey Cézanne’s intense study of his subjects. Cezanne sadly passed away, on 22nd October 1906 after he was caught in a rain storm for two hours while painting in a nearby field and contracted pneumonia. He is buried at the old cemetery in his beloved hometown of Aix-en-Provence.