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Articles on this Page
- 04/22/15--01:00: _Walter Dean Goldbec...
- 04/24/15--01:00: _Walter Schofield: S...
- 04/27/15--01:00: _George Henry: The "...
- 04/29/15--01:00: _David Curtis, Contr...
- 05/01/15--01:00: _Christopher Nevinso...
- 05/04/15--01:00: _The Gottlieb - Raeb...
- 05/06/15--01:00: _Dan Sayre Groesbeck...
- 05/08/15--01:00: _Towards the End: Ge...
- 05/11/15--01:00: _Is It Time to Re-Re...
- 05/13/15--01:00: _An Unusual Presiden...
- 05/15/15--01:00: _Intriguing Old San ...
- 05/18/15--01:00: _Picasso & Company a...
- 05/21/15--01:00: _Jugendstil's Jugend...
- 05/25/15--01:00: _Charles Dana Gibson...
- 05/28/15--01:00: _William Logsdail: F...
- 06/01/15--01:00: _Frank Gehry's Mangl...
- 06/04/15--01:00: _John Lavery's Glasg...
- 06/08/15--01:00: _Ludwig Dill: Conser...
- 06/11/15--01:00: _Alexander Leydenfro...
- 06/15/15--01:00: _Sergius Hruby: Sens...
- 04/22/15--01:00: Walter Dean Goldbeck, Who Could Have Been Really Good
- 04/24/15--01:00: Walter Schofield: Structural Impressionist
- 04/27/15--01:00: George Henry: The "Glasgow Boy" Years
- 04/29/15--01:00: David Curtis, Contre-Jour Painter
- 05/01/15--01:00: Christopher Nevinson's Urban Paintings
- 05/04/15--01:00: The Gottlieb - Raeburn Connection
- 05/06/15--01:00: Dan Sayre Groesbeck: Illustrator, Muralist, Man of Mystery
- 05/08/15--01:00: Towards the End: George Henry
- 05/11/15--01:00: Is It Time to Re-Redefine "Art"?
- 05/13/15--01:00: An Unusual Presidential Portrait
- 05/15/15--01:00: Intriguing Old San Antonio Towers
- 05/18/15--01:00: Picasso & Company and the Art Price Bubble
- 05/21/15--01:00: Jugendstil's Jugend Magazine's Style Varied
- 05/25/15--01:00: Charles Dana Gibson: More Than Pretty Girls
- 05/28/15--01:00: William Logsdail: From Cityscapes to Portraits
- 06/01/15--01:00: Frank Gehry's Mangled Buildings
- 06/04/15--01:00: John Lavery's Glasgow Exposition Sketches and Paintings
- 06/08/15--01:00: Ludwig Dill: Conservative Secessionist
- 06/11/15--01:00: Alexander Leydenfrost: Illustrating Technical Stuff
- 06/15/15--01:00: Sergius Hruby: Sensual Symbolist
The image above is called Light of New York, painted by Walter Dean Goldbeck (1882 - 1925) around 1911 for a General Electric advertisement and later used as the 1 August 1914 cover illustration for Judge magazine and later as a sheet music cover illustration. A good deal of information on it can be found here, along with a few scraps of biographical information.
Goldbeck, born in St. Louis and died at age 43 in New York City, apparently did portraiture along with commercial art and flirted with Modernism in some of his Fine Art paintings. So far, not much of his work can be found via a Google search.
The illustrations by Goldbeck that I did find varied in quality from mediocre to interestingly well-done. Too bad he died at a comparatively young age.
Walter Elmer Schofield (1867-1944) was a Philadelphian with English roots that were deepened by his marriage to an Englishwoman. Background regarding him can be found here and here.
Regarding his training and practice, this link states: "Born in Philadelphia, Schofield attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with Thomas Anshutz, and the Académie Julian in Paris, where his teachers included William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He built lasting friendships with Ashcan School painters Robert Henri, William Glackens, and John Sloan. In 1901 he and his young family moved to England; thereafter, he spent summers in Cornwall and fall through spring in the United States." The last years of his life were spent in England, probably due to the war.
Images of Schofield paintings I found on the Internet dating from his early 40s onward strike me as being impressionistic with regard to use of color, and somewhat inconsistently at that. One image below of a painting done in his late 30s is more purely Impressionist in its colors and brushwork. From around 1910 onwards, Schofield retained a rough brushing style, but made his images more structural by adding outlining and more clearly defined color areas. The result was a solid appearance that I happen to prefer to classic Impressionism of the Monet-Passarro variety.
George Henry (1858–1943) was a prominent member of a group of Scottish painters known as the Glasgow Boys. The "Boys" were strongly influenced by the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage whose works were exhibited in London 1878-82. Glasgow Boys paintings tended to be toned-down, featuring earth colors such as browns, ochres, faded greens and such -- in line with what northern Europe offered in dreary terms of light and foliage for a good part of the year.
Not much biographical information on Henry was on the Internet when I drafted this post, so make do with this brief Wikipedia entry. More can be found in Roger Billcliffe's book about the Glasgow Boys.
I find Henry and most other "Boys" interesting because their works show us that there was a lot more going on in the art world of the 1880s than the Impressionism and post-impressionism in France that histories of art still focus on.
Two fairly early landscapes.
One of Henry's best-known paintings.
The brushwork, color usage and clutter suggests the influence of E.A. Hornell, a fellow Glasgow Boy. They spent a year and a half in Japan around 1894 and jointly painted "The Druids" (see below).
This somewhat distorted and decorative painting is considered significant by art historians and critics because of its use of modernist elements.
Another painting with more modernist influence than usual for Henry. By the early 1900s he reverted to a more traditional painting style, even eliminating Glasgow Boys elements.
Henry and Hornell made paintings featuring young girls. Henry did this for a comparatively short time, but the latter part of Hornell's career was largely based on such subject matter.
A work jointly painted with Hornell. This painting has always fascinated me, so I visit it whenever I'm in Glasgow.
David J. Curtis (1948- ) is an English painter adept both in watercolor and oil. His background is unusual in that he led an engineering team at Hawker-Siddeley till 1988 when he began painting full-time. (Another engineer-artist that comes to mind is R.G. Smith, who painted aviation scenes with impressive atmospheric environments.) Curtis' Web site is here, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters page dealing with him is here.
A good many works by Curtis are of the contre-jour kind, where the light source (the sun, in Curtis' images) is behind the subject. Normally, artists have the light source behind the painter or towards one side or another, illuminating the subject directly or from an angle. James Gurney discusses contre-jour painting here.
Needless to say, to be an effective contre-jour painter, one must have a very good color sense. This Curtis has. He also has a feeling for making strong, interesting compositions.
Christopher Richard Wynne (C.R.W.) Nevinson (1889-1946) was part of the first generation of strongly modernist British painters, befriending and later feuding with, for example, Wyndham Lewis. Nevinson was influenced early in his career by Futurism and Cubism, though he seldom plunged very deeply into their desiderata. Perhaps innate English conservatism and practicality held him back more than he thought or wished.
A fairly long Wikipedia biography is here, and I wrote about his Great War paintings here.
This post features his depictions of various cities. As is often the case for artists of his time, he never really settled into a signature style. Actually, he did have a style used during the first two or three years of the Great War that he is best known for. But he didn't stick with it. The images below are arranged in approximately chronological order.
Adrian Gottlieb (b. 1975) is one of the most skilled portrait artists at work in America. The biographical note on his website is here, though as of the time I'm drafting this post (early April), it looks like it needs some updating.
My most recent encounter with his work was this March at the S.R. Brennen Fine Arts gallery in Palm Desert, California (web site here). One Gottlieb painting caught my eye to the degree that I pulled a scrap of paper from my pocket and wrote a note to myself.
What struck me was that it was done in the spirit of a Sir Henry Raeburn portrait that I am familiar with. I do not know if Gottlieb was aware of that particular Raeburn work, so what I show below might be simple coincidence. And if Gottlieb did know the Raeburn painting, it was an excellent source of inspiration.
This is the Adrian Gottlieb painting I saw at Brennen's.
This painting can be found at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. I wrote about it here.
Dan Sayre Groesbeck (1879 - 1950), illustrator, muralist and Hollywood movie industry artist, was born and died in California, is known to have served in Russia's east coast while in the Canadian army, but much of his first 40 years of life is poorly documented and was subject to exaggerations and other distortions by the man. His formal art training seems to have been minimal, but he succeeded because he had a knack for capturing people's looks, clothing styles and, especially, visualizing dramatic situations and settings. Which is why he became the go-to concept artist for famed director Cecil B. DeMille and others from the early 1920s until his death.
As noted, Groesbeck's life and half of his career are difficult to pin down, but I offer this link as a reasonably good source.
Here are examples showing Groesbeck's mature style.
George Henry (1858–1943) lived into his mid-eighties, and his career consisted of two stylistic phases with a transition point around the time he was 40. For this post, I'll consider the second phase as "towards the end" even though it lasted for decades. However, Henry (biographical link here) did his most interesting work during the first part of his career as a prominent member of of a Scottish group of painters known as the Glasgow Boys.
Henry's Glasgow Boys phase lasted into the mid-1890s when he and fellow "Boy" E.A. Hornell spent more than a year in Japan. Henry's paintings made there retained many characteristics of his Scottish works. Perhaps because of changing fashions and the need to support himself as an artist, Henry soon thereafter began painting in a more traditional fashion. So whatever modernist traits were used in Glasgow Boys art were largely abandoned and few others were incorporated to even a slight degree thereafter.
Below are examples of Henry's post- Glasgow Boys painting. Dates are included where known, but most seem to have been made between 1900 and 1930.
An example of Henry's Glasgow Boys era painting to set the scene -- not one of his better ones, however.
His Glasgow Boys paintings were set out of doors, but now he tries an interior scene.
Henry also did portrait work to make a living.
An interesting, and not characteristic Henry painting -- though the landscape in the background has his touch (see "Sussex Landscape" below).
Here Henry recalls Japan with a kimono-clad British woman. The treatment of the foliage weakly echoes his Glasgow Boys work.
Henry painted landscapes while a Glasgow Boy. The color schemes were fairly similar to this, but the subject matter was depicted in a more decorative manner.
I'll guess this was painted around 1910 or 1915, and like it a lot. I think Henry made the woman's face interesting, and the toned-down color scheme is pleasing. It might have been improved by reducing the sharpness of detail for her left hand (it pulls the viewer's eye too far to the right).
The Wall Street Journal's Arena section for 9 April had this article by Kelly Crow about the new home of New York City's Whitney Museum. I gather that some artists, presumably those of the Installation Art ilk, will be allowed to pound nails in floors along with other tasks while setting up their exhibits.
Which brought to mind that I'm not inclined to purposefully view any kind of Installation Art. Matter of fact, I do not consider Installation Art to be art at all. Nor most (all?) of what they call Concept Art. Nor Video Art. Nor Performance Art. Nor a whole bunch of Other Art.
I am not prepared to propose a definition of Art, probably a hopeless task. Well, actually, I will sort of propose something like a definition of art after laying a little groundwork.
Nowadays, it seems that just about anyone can proclaim himself an Artist. A few credentials such as a college degree or studio training are helpful, but not necessary: consider the case of postmodernist icon Jean-Michel Basquiat. Having proclaimed himself Artist, said Artist or a supporter proclaims that whatever he's making or doing is Art. And the Art Establishment often goes along with the gag, as it did with Basquiat.
Therefore, in today's world, anything can be Art, provided an Artist or Art Critic or Art Expert says so. The result of this is that the word Art has been rendered essentially meaningless.
My humble proposal is to reserve the word Art for what were called Fine Arts back in the late 19th century.
This might seem to rule out illustration, for example. Which would be too bad, because there are plenty of examples of 1890-1960 illustration that are as good as or better than much of what passed as Fine Art. On the other hand, if painting / graphic arts (in general, not just Academic works) is one of the Fine Arts, then many forms of illustration would qualify.
What my proposal rules out is much of what passes for Art today. I recognize that lines still have to be drawn, but that's the way the world is. For instance, surely someone would claim that Tracey Emin's Bed is actually sculpture, which it clearly isn't: It's a publicity stunt.
Setting aside that sort of quibble, the next task is to invent a name (or names) for all those newfangled non- Fine Arts that have emerged over the last century or so. Right now, I have no decent ideas, but I'll let you know if and when I do.
I just returned from a trip to Texas and other states along the Gulf of Mexico. My wife enjoys visiting museums associated with presidential libraries, so we stopped by the George W. Bush library in Dallas and the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin (skipped the George H.W. Bush library in College Station due to constraints).
I'm not as big a fan of such places as she is, though I found the Franklin D. Roosevelt library (when I visited in 1971) and the Ronald Reagan library interesting. One item that struck me at Lyndon B. Johnson's library was a portrait by Ft. Worth artist Wayne Ingram. It was painted in 1968, LBJ's last full year in office, but was not the "official" portrait of the man. Because it was unofficial, its style was freer like some society works done by the painter (about whom I found next to nothing on one of my typically brief Google searches).
The multiple-views approach Ingram used can be a bit contrived, but is a huge improvement over the Cubist conceit that Picasso and the rest were providing simultaneous multiple views in a single depiction. Ingram includes two ghosted portraits of LBJ that do not detract from the primary portrait. His painting style is a skilled blend of naturalism and abstraction that also borders on being contrived. Nevertheless, the painting is striking.
My wife had never been to Texas. After several years of talking things over, we decided to go there last month to satisfy her curiosity. Texas is a prosperous, fast-growing business-friendly, income tax-free state. Generally a nice place to live, but from my perspective it lacks five-start tourist sites.
Probably the most famous Texas site is the Alamo, where a group of Texans were wiped out in a famous battle against a Mexican army. That's the main building in the foreground, its well-known curved facade top having been added decades after the fight.
But the building that intrigued me was the tall structure in the background. It was completed in 1924 as the Medical Arts Building, but now is the Emily Morgan Hotel, named after a woman (disputedly) associated with the events of 1836. A sketch of the building's history is here.
Not far away, also in the Riverwalk district of downtown San Antonio, is the Tower Life Building. According to the link, it was completed in 1929 as the Smith-Young Tower.
I have always liked the American skyscrapers built from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s, most of which were in Gothic and Art Deco (or Moderne, in those days) style. The Tower Life Building is no exception. It's a fine example from that era.
Bubbles of the market kind are irrational. That's because the intrinsic value of what is being bought and sold is lost in the game of buying something in the hope (and perhaps for some, the expectation) that it can be sold to someone else at a good profit.
Of course the buying and selling of things, ideally gaining profit, is the basis of non-purely-socialist economies that have advanced beyond the barter stage. And while it has been asserted that something's true value is what people are willing to spend to obtain it, there is also the fact that "bubbles" occur -- the most famous being the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s. In the case of tulip, stock market or art auction bubbles, the realization that a bubble has occurred implies that price and intrinsic value were out of synch.
Unlike tulips and, say, dot-com stock prices in 1999, art bubbles are harder to detect in part due to the slower pace of the market. Nevertheless, prices for paintings by a given artist usually vary over the timespan of decades.
In recent days, sensationally high prices were recorded for modernist artists at actions, especially the 11 May 2015 Christie's auction in New York as reported here and here.
Here are some paintings that comprised the bubble.
As I discussed here, Picasso was well past his creative prime by the 1950s when the painting above was made. Aside from the fact that I consider Picasso a grossly overrated artist, I find it hard to believe that this painting was purchased for it intrinsic merits -- it almost surely was a matter of speculation.
Some people view Rothko paintings with a large dose of mystical awe. Eighty-plus million dollars strikes me as being an expensive way to get a "high."
Of similar vintage to a previous record-setting Picasso, his portrait of his mistress Dora Maar.
I admire Warhol as perhaps the art world's consummate con-artist (that was his main artistic talent). Nearly $60 million for a silk screen print?!?
Ugly, but the most beautiful feature for the auction house was the name of the painter.
Die Jugend or simply Jugend, meaning "Youth," was a German magazine published 1896-1940 and best known today for its name being lent to Jugendstil, as Art Nouveau was called in that country.
Links dealing with the magazine are here and here. The latter is to the German Wikipedia site, but you can click on a button for a rough translation to English. It is useful for a listing of contributors to the publication.
A brief discussion of Jugendstil is here, and the Wikepedia entry on Art Nouveau, with a section on Jugendstil, is here.
Below are some Jugend covers, the earliest from the time they embodied Jugendstil, and one from later on when Art Nouveau was passé and Weimar culture reigned. One detail that interests me is that the magazine's covers in the early years differed dramatically, depending on the style and taste of the artist doing the cover illustration. Moreover, there seems to have been no set Jugend logotype; the cover artist supplied his own typography.
Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944) was an American illustrator who was famous as the creator of the Gibson Girl, married well, had many important artists as friends, and earned enough money to buy an island in Maine.
He is the subject of a profile in Illustration Magazine issue 47, and his Wikipedia entry is here.
Leafing through the magazine, I soon realized that there was more to Gibson than just those Girls. The man was a master of capturing expressions on a large variety of faces. Plus he was a highly skilled pen-and-ink artist.
Some of this can be seen in the image above from Heritage Auctions. It's from the About Paris illustrations from about 1905. Note how he was able to fade the background subjects using careful linework and perhaps slightly watered-down ink.
William Logsdail (1859-1944) was born in the hill city of Lincoln in the English Midlands and received his initial art training there before going to Antwerp for further study. So it might be said that his training was probably competently done for the times, but not at the elite level. But training can only take someone part of the way; personal factors come to the fore once a career is launched. In Logsdail's case, architecture was a strong interest, so his best known works include scenes of the cities of Venice and London. He could portray people as well, so by the early 20th century switched to portraiture for a more reliable income stream. His Wikipedia entry is here.
I don't believe I've ever seen a Logsdail painting in person, so my evaluation of the London scenes below must be tentative. The impression I have is that although they seem fairly tightly done, this is slightly loosened by his use of color and atmospheric perspective. Some other works shown below are painted more loosely, though his portraits of the 1900s generally seem to have a high degree of finish.
An interesting point of view. Shown is the central tourist zone square-on. Most artists choose to paint from the opposite side of the Grand Canal and sight down it.
Some of the better American illustrators of 1895-1930 painted scenes much like this.
Here Logsdail sights along the canal, but this view is in the opposite direction from the usual depictions.
Another unconventional viewpoint. The Church is usually shown with the canal or its shoreline in the foreground, rather than from a subsidiary canal as done here. This viewpoint is one a photographer might select, though Logsdail was a plein-air artist in those days and didn't use reference photos so far as I know.
An historical document, this is.
Having visited Taormina a year ago, I can vouch that Logsdail did a good job of capturing the scene. That's Mt. Etna in the background. Today, the shoreline is built up and large tourist hotels can be found.
Portrait of the well-known Victorian artist. The style is similar to that used by the Glasgow Boys school.
Curzon had been Viceroy of India before this was painted.
A posthumous portrait of Curzon's first wife.
Frank Gehry (b. 1929) is a famous architect who I wouldn't commission to design a doghouse.
Unfortunately, people and organizations having pockets far deeper than mine seem to be thrilled to hire the old fellow to create yet another twisted, smashed-up appearing structure. No accounting for taste, as they've been saying for centuries.
I will grant Gehry one thing. Classical examples of modernist architecture or "International Style" (as the Museum of Modern Art called it in the 1930s), are almost always boring to look at and not human-friendly. Gehry's buildings are far from boring. They are appalling. Also not human-friendly.
My limited experience with Gehry buildings (Los Angeles' Disney, Seattle's EMP -- see images below) is that their interiors are confusingly laid out. The exteriors generally try to hide the fact that these are buildings with some sort of structure that supports them. By visually denying the logic and solidity of a building, they are disorienting, upsetting, denying their proper nature. Which does not mean that I necessarily favor structural clarity über alles -- that was a major defect of International Style.
Gehry, his buildings, and perhaps those who commissioned them, strike me as being sad victims of perpetual adolescence; aging juvenile show-offs, if you will.
Here are some examples of Gehry's work, images found here and there on the Web.
Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) is perhaps known as a portrait painter (I wrote about his portraits of his wife here). But he was pretty much an all-rounder, painting village scenes, doing wartime art, interiors, and finally poolside views of sunny south Florida. A short Wikipedia entry about him is here.
The present post deals with career-building works he painted at the 1888 Glasgow International Exposition. Lavery made a number of oil sketches along with a few finished paintings, including a major one of Queen Victoria and a multitude of assembled dignitaries that helped him win portrait commissions thereafter.
A finished painting.
One of the sketches. Note the Van Houten plaque ubder the mantle.
Wilhelm Franz Karl Ludwig Dill (1848-1940), who called himself Ludwig Dill, was a founding member of the Munich Secession artists group. A brief Wikipedia entry on Dill is here.
In 1894 he became second president of the group after Bruno Piglhein's death. He was appointed professor at the Karlsruhe fine arts academy in 1899, so resigned and was replaced by Fritz von Uhde.
Although Dill was supportive of modernist tendencies in painting, his own works were fairly conservative. His mature style tended to simplification through use of broad brushwork as well as somewhat decorative composition. His favored subjects were trees and boating scenes from the Venice Lagoon, especially towards its southern end and the town of Chioggia.
"Fishermen in Venice" show Dill's earlier traditional style.
The title doesn't translate easily into English, but refers to a landscape featuring woods and water. Modernist influence is clearly found here.
"Morning" and the painting above it are characteristic of Dill's tree paintings, though Der Morgen seems more of a sketch than his usual tree art.
No tile or date for this, but it shows that he didn't exclusively paint trees and boats. However, he tended to avoid painting people other than small, incidental figures in his boat paintings.
"Sailboats in a Canal" is in a style different from the paintings below that also are said to be from around 1890, so I wonder when it was made.
"Arrival of the Fishboats" and the following painting are done in a decorative, broad-brush style that yields a modernist feeling without much distortion of the subject matter.
Pellestrina is a barrier island to the Venice Lagoon.
"Boats in Harbor" apparently was painted later than the images above and incorporates a slight shift towards Expressionism and away from Dill's faintly Romantic earlier views.
American readers born before, say, 1950 might recall leafing through copies of Life Magazine or other publications and coming across illustrations by Alexander Leydenfrost (1888-1961). What most viewers didn't realize was that Leydenfrost was an Hungarian Baron who moved to the United States in 1923 to escape the aftermath of the Great War. By 1930 he was working as an industrial designer for Norman Bel Geddes, and at the end of the decade moved into illustration full-time. Those and other details can be found in this short Wikipedia entry.
After a fling in Planet Stories, a science-fiction magazine, Leydenfrost built his illustration career depicting current and futuristic machines and settings. This was not a large step away from making certain kinds of industrial design presentations. However, he had an artistic sense that set him apart from those simply skilled in product rendering, which is why his scenes were usually dramatic and halfway believable even if they dealt with future possibilities.
This was a spread in the magazine's 50th anniversary issue. Click on the illustration to enlarge.
There's not a lot regarding Sergius Hruby (1869-1943) on the Internet other than examples of his artwork. Some biographical information is here, and a much shorter mention is here.
In brief, his Czech name to the contrary, he was born in Vienna, studied art and made his career there.
Hruby can best be classified as a Symbolist of the Art Nouveau variety. Many of the images he created featured nude or partly-clad women and were in the form of illustrations for printed reproduction. What I find interesting is that his style changed little over most of his career, unlike many other artists of his generation who chased modernist artistic fashions.
It's also worth noting that Hruby's works draw one's interest because, in part, they are unconventional. That is, the humans he depicts are done in representational style with little in the way of simplification and none of the distortion often found in mainstream symbolist works. From that basis, he places those humans in strange situations using dramatic or unusual compositions.
That's a rough translation, the title might also be rendered as "Unequal Souls" or even something more freely put in English.
Click on it to enlarge.
At least this one is dated, and was made when he was in his early sixties, still evoking 1900 sensibilities.