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Important Women Artists Today: Marlene Dumas (Part Three)

 

Welcome to my third and final video in my series on the most important women artists today. This video is on South African painter, Marlene Dumas, who uses her watercolors to confront a series of important issues including race, gender, and inequality. I hope you enjoyed this series and learned something new!

 

Photographs from http://www.marlenedumas.nl/ and Pinterest

Important Women Artists Today: Rachel Feinstein (Part Two)

Welcome to part two in my video series on the important women artists of today. This video is about American painter and sculptor, Rachel Feinstein, who is largely influenced by Baroque-era art and sculpture. Her work is hauntingly beautiful, whimsical, and full of mystery. Thank you for watching!

‘Roma’ 2017
‘Crucifixion’ 2003

‘Eva’ 2005

Women Artists Today: Cindy Sherman (Part One)

Welcome to part one of my video series on the most important women artists working today–Cindy Sherman, Rachel Feinstein, and Marlene Dumas. In this video, I talk about American artist Cindy Sherman, who works mostly in photography. The works mentioned in the video are included below. Enjoy!

Untitled #224. 1990 (After Bacchus by Caravaggio)
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #424, 2004
Untitled #216. 1989 (After Jean Fouquet ‘Virgin and Child’ and Parmigianino ‘Madonna with the Long Neck’)
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #193, 1989 (Madame de Pompadour)

Images via www.moma.org 

Jeff Koons at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I made it a point to stop by Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills to see Jeff Koons’ exhibition of his new work. The peices, in typical Koons fashion, were shiny, playful, and monumental in size. The exhibition included paintings from his new “Gazing Ball” series, wherein the viewer is literally placed in a classical painting (ranging from Manet to Titian) by a reflective ball and the new ballerina sculptures in mirror-polished stainless steel. The show was also supplemented by one his iconic balloon rabbits and a suspended heart sculpture.

The show was playful, bright, and engaging, and as always with Koons, unsuspectingly deep. The high-polish finish on the sculptures and Gazing Ball paintings placed the viewer right in the work, allowing them to be fully immersed and taken in by the art. This inclusivity is not an accident–much Koons’ work is about “your own possibilities as a human being. It’s about your own excitement, your own potential, and what you can become” (Jeff Koons). Hours after I left the gallery, I still found myself thinking about the hopeful message of the ballerinas, considering the meaning of the large bluebird decorated with flowers, and taking enjoyment in the simplicity of the large reflective heart hanging from the ceiling.

If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend visiting Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills to see this show which is on view until August 18th.

Bluebird Planter, 2010-2016
Detail of Gazing Ball (Titian Pastoral Concert), 2016
Balloon Rabbit, 2010-2016
Ballerinas, 2010-2014
Ballerinas, 2010-2014
Gazing Ball (Mailboxes), 2013

All photos taken by me.

John Currin: Renaissance Painting in the 21st Century

Artist John Currin was born in 1962 in Boulder, Colorado. He graduated from Yale with an MFA and has shown in the most prestigious art institutions in the world–including Gagosian Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, the Whitney, despite his young age. His work is a mix of diametrically opposed influences which makes him one of the most inventive and talented artists working today. His figures, which are often depicted in awkward poses or risqué scene,m evoke the all-American idealism of Norman Rockwell, but also the soft-idealized forms of 16th Century portraiture and figure painting. His work is equal parts 1950s kitsch, High Mannerist elegance, and modern day edge.

He paints mostly women–ranging from Titian-esque nudes,to pin-ups and dead-eyed soccer moms. His paintings can either draw you in with their satirical quirkiness, or repulse you with distorted faces and odd body positions and bizarre scenes. Currin often employs his wife, and fellow painter, Rachel Feinstein for the faces of many of the women in his works. Her looks also fit well within the antique-style of the paintings–she has Pre-Raphaelite red hair and fair skin and soft features. Currin’s mastery comes also not in his excellent handling of the paint, but his ability to put an odd twist on even the most traditional subject matter, beautiful faces, or pleasant settings.

One of my favorite Currin paintings is “Nude in a Convex Mirror” which was painted in 2015. It is done after a 1524 painting by Parmigianino, “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror.” I love this painting because only Currin can take a wholly serious old-Master painting (that was originally meant to be presented to the pope of Rome) and replace the male figure with a nude woman’s butt to make it totally modern, intriguing and even a little humorous.

Currin achieves his realistic, yet fleshy Caravaggio and Botticelli-esque flesh tones by working his canvases in originally 15th and 16th century technique. He works mainly in oil on canvas to achieve the rich depth to his paintings.  I think Currin is able to get away with some of his more outrageous paintings because the risqué subject matter is starkly offset by the brilliant and rich handling of the paint. A scene that may be dismissed as pornographic or silly is elevated by Currin’s adroit painterly hand and masterful quality of execution.

Currin’s work may hearken back to a bygone era of painting, however, his canvases are totally and entirely his own. He breathes new life into a time of great painting, that is usually unknown to many people, by reviving the style of masters such as Parmigianino and Carracci, and injecting it with modern humor that begs the viewer to confront our current cultural issues. He comments on our post-modern world through the lens of these antique paintings, and the result is a profoundly unique combination of satire, artistic prowess, and unfettered imagination.

  

 

A Visit to the Menil Collection: The Artists of the Coenties Slip

Yesterday I spent the day at the Menil Collection visiting the permanent collections (which I do often!) and the new exhibit about the artists of the Coenties Slip. It is called “Between Land and Sea: The Artists of the Coenties Slip,”and it focuses on the six main artists of the Slip in the second half of the 20th Century–Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, Jack Youngerman, Agnes Martin, Chryssa, and Leonore Tawney.

I was so excited to see this exhibit because I just recently began learning about the Coenties Slip and the amazing artistic history behind the area, which is in lower Manhattan, and the unique relationship between the artists who lived there. I have only read about the Slip in books, and about the influence of the artists on each other’s work (namely Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin), so seeing it in person was amazing and a very different experience. The works included were collages, sculpture, works on paper, and paintings.

It was also very interesting  to see the work of Leonore Tawney, Chyrssa, and Agnes Martin displayed together because both Tawney and Chyrssa, for a short time, were lovers of Martin. The connections between the women’s works are easily made, and even though all working in different mediums–Chryssa sculpture, Tawney weaving and collage, and Martin painting–the pieces’ work in conversation with each other so well. They’re minimalistic, geometric, muted in color, but at the same time extremely complex and methodically done. Some of the works also give nod to the aquatic surroundings of the Slip, such as Martin’s “Horizon” (1960) and Tawney’s “Seaweed” (1961). The influence of water and sea are clearly seen, and infuse the works with calm, ethereal, and still quality.

Also, very excitingly, some of Martin’s early works were on view, like an Untitled work that was done between the transition from abstract expressionism and her later Two-Dimensional grid paintings. It is rare to see any early work from Martin because she destroyed so much of it. She didn’t settle for anything less than perfection. It is also rare to see any works by the Greek sculptor Chryssa because she has largely been forgotten in art history. It is amazing that the Menil was able to bring these works to the public, and even better that they were displayed together.

The men displayed in the exhibit, Youngerman, Kelly, and Indiana, provide a pop of color to the exhibit. Kelly’s iconic bright tones are included in several collages and paintings, while Indiana’s pop-art style paintings and Youngerman’s layered canvases pay homage to the Slip. Similar to the women artists, though, the men are equally minimalistic and simple in their works. One of my favorites was a small Robert Indiana painting titled “Coenties Slip” (1960). It stood in contrast to his other canvases, it is small, brown, and representative of the geography of the slip. Between the white in the foreground is a brown wedge which is presumably representative of the “Slip.” Slip means a boat dock, or a space between land where a boat can be parked, and this painting is the only one in the exhibit which literally paints the Slip.

The work on the whole is geometric, muted, and pared down. This exhibit is a beautiful ode to one of the most legendary groups of New York artists. If in the area, I highly encourage seeing this exhibit!

“Between Land and Sea: Artists of the Coenties Slip” exhibit. Photograph by me
Robert Indiana, “Coenties Slip” 1960
Chryssa. Photograph by me
Agnes Martin, “Horizon” 1960
Leonore Tawney, “Seaweed” 196. Photograph from Leonore G. Tawney Foundation website

The Bryan Museum: A Trip to the Wild West

Opened in 2015 by James Perry and Mary Jon Bryan, the eponymous Bryan Museum is home to the largest collection of Texas historical artifacts. Centering on the history of the Wild West and Texas, the collection is home to 70,000 items, including books, saddles, rare maps, guns, and cowboy things. The collection is a comprehensive history of early Western America and early Texas, particularly the influence of Spain.

Although J.P Bryan is a Houstonian, the location for his collection was a strategic choice. On the website for the Bryan Museum, they explain that “Galveston is wonderful place to have a museum of the history of the Texas and the American frontier, because Galveston is where the sea meets the West.”

The museum building itself was built in the Renaissance Revival style, and was once an orphanage (from 1895 to 1984). The building, which underwent a meticulous restoration process in 2013, is a beautiful example of the historic homes in Galveston. It is even used as a wedding venue because of the ample outdoor space and beautiful Victorian greenhouse adjacent to the building. The building provided the ample space needed to house the Bryan’s enormous collection. James Perry Bryan, or J.P., started collecting Texana artifacts at the age of eight, and he continued to steadily grow his collection.

The collection is arranged chronologically, beginning with the Texas as a Spanish colony, which lasted from 1690 to 1821, then the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas Revolution, and Texas’s involvement with the Civil War, then ending with the creation of the manufactured cowboy by figures such as Buffalo Bill and performers from Wild West shows. The items in the collection are threaded together by a connection to Texas and Galveston, however, there are also Native American and Spanish artifacts.

Some of the stand out pieces in the collection are a Civil War-era Confederate shot-gun that is hidden in a violin and three Andy Warhol silk screens of famous figures of the Wild West–Union General Custer, famed Apache Chief Geronimo, and shooter Annie Oakley.  A wall holding many heavily-embellished Mexican-style saddles also drew in people. The impressive 21st century silver-work really lit up the room.

The Bryan Museum also works with other local museums to get special loaned exhibits to round-out the permanent collection. Now on view is ‘The “Stranger’s Disease”: Experiencing Yellow Fever in Galveston, 1837-1897.’ The exhibit provides a thorough look into what living in Galveston with Yellow Fever was like: teacups used to administer home-remedies, pictures of a face blistered with disease, and sketches of the original Galveston Medical College could be seen. The exhibit didn’t just focus on the history of Yellow Fever, but it also brought it into the present day by drawing comparisons between Yellow Fever and the current Zika outbreak.


As a seasoned museum goer, I feel like I have found a gem of Texas history in Galveston. This museum should not be missed, it provides an excellent immersive experience into the history of the place we all call home.

All photogaphs taken by me

Rothko and Richter, A 20th Century Landscape

The landscape is one of arts most enduring subject matters–however, depending on the artist and period, the execution of a landscape has been ever changing. When looking at Mark Rothko’s mid 20th century color-field paintings, the viewer almost steps inside of it into an abstracted landscape. Detached from the material world and without any context, the viewer mind is left able to project any scene onto the canvas. The colors on the canvas provide the only boundaries for the landscape. The color which are painted mostly in two sections, form a horizon line that separates the sky and the earth or water below. The Rothko colorfield paintings allow the viewer to create their own ideal landscape by leaving the subject matter vague and open to their own projections.

Conversely, German artist Gerhard Richter’s late 20th-century photorealistic landscapes are seemingly the antithesis of Rothko’s. Richter’s landscapes, however, still have the same painterly and abstract quality about them like Rothko’s color fields. Richter’s landscape show you one specific scene in such a realistic way that they are almost crossing into unrealistic territory. This connection between the totally abstract Rothko landscape and the photorealistic Richter one can be easily made when an examples of each artist’s landscape are viewed next to each other. For example, when looking at the first painting in this below and Mark Rothko’s completely black canvas from the Rothko Chapel, the viewer can see into the painting and see the exact scene that Richter paints to the right.

The connections between the genius abstract painter and the master painter of realism are more than what meets the eye. 

Mark Rothko, ‘Untitled’
Gerhard Richter, ‘Paysage Enneigé (flou)’ 1966
Mark Rothko, ‘Untitled’
Gerhard Richter, ‘Seascape (Brown, Smooth)’ 1969
Mark Rothko, ‘Blue’ 1969
Gerhard Richter, ‘Iceberg’ 1982
Mark Rothko, Untitled

 

Gerhard Richter, ‘Sommertag’ 1999
Mark Rothko, ‘Untitled (Yellow and Green)’, 1954
Gerhard Richter, ‘Apple Trees (Sketch)’ 1987

 

 

Sunday at the Museum ‘Cabinet’

I spent this Sunday wandering through the galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is what I do almost every weekend and I saw that the museum has recently made a few notable new additions to its permanent galleries, such as the new “cabinet.” A cabinet is a room where collectors display their works in a personal way and the one at the MFAH is certainly that. The room is a menagerie of objects ranging from creepy 17th century manuscripts and a wooden mirror carved with skeletons, to personal altarpieces and traditional Flemish portraits.

The display and curation of the cabinet reflects its origins as a personal collection room. The paintings are displayed in a gallery style instead of having all the paintings at eye-level and on one plane. Also, the lack of artist labels next to the paintings contribute to the feeling that the art is being viewed at a collector’s house rather than a museum. Also, the range of the art was wide–it did not stick to one particular region or period, making it feel truly personal.

I am so happy that the MFAH is exploring new ways to display their amazing collection of art. Here were a few of my favorite pieces from the cabinet!

My brother hudson photographing the paintings
Frederik Ruysch, Thesaurus anatomicus Octavus (Eight Anatomical Cabinet),  c. 1709.

Jan van Kessel, A Study of Butterflies, Moths, and Insects c. 1655.

Selfie with the portraits!

 

Georges Seurat, Works on Paper

Georges Seurat, the French post-Impressionist, is famous for his vibrant pointillism paintings of Sunday’s on the seine and Parisians at leisure, however, my favorite works by him, and the ones I believe are the most remarkable, are his drawings on paper. His drawings are dark, haunting, and romantic, and show his brilliant, scientific understanding of light and the way our eyes perceive images. Take a look at some of Seurat’s most brilliant drawings below.

All images via Pinterest