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Articles on this Page
- 11/05/15--01:00: _Felice Casorati's C...
- 11/09/15--01:00: _Towards the End: Kl...
- 11/12/15--01:00: _Douglas DC-8 Interiors
- 11/16/15--01:00: _Towards the End: Ed...
- 11/19/15--01:00: _Al Parker's Mother-...
- 11/23/15--01:00: _Egon Schiele's Nice...
- 11/26/15--01:00: _Early Boeing 747s: ...
- 11/30/15--01:00: _In the Beginning: L...
- 12/03/15--01:30: _Molti Ritratti: Que...
- 12/07/15--01:00: _Paul Delvaux
- 12/10/15--01:00: _Some Artzybasheff E...
- 12/14/15--01:00: _Rockwell Kent Illus...
- 12/17/15--01:00: _Out of Character: P...
- 12/21/15--01:00: _Raymond Leech, East...
- 12/24/15--01:00: _Alfredo Ambrosi, Ae...
- 12/28/15--01:00: _Celebrity Artists: ...
- 12/31/15--01:00: _Marcel Rieder by La...
- 01/04/16--01:00: _Guilty Pleasures: N...
- 01/07/16--01:00: _Walter Everett: Two...
- 01/12/16--01:00: _In the Beginning: J...
- 11/05/15--01:00: Felice Casorati's Cool Portraits
- 11/09/15--01:00: Towards the End: Klimt's Portraits
- 11/12/15--01:00: Douglas DC-8 Interiors
- 11/16/15--01:00: Towards the End: Edvard Munch
- 11/19/15--01:00: Al Parker's Mother-Daughter Ladies' Home Journal Covers
- 11/23/15--01:00: Egon Schiele's Nicer Paintings
- 11/26/15--01:00: Early Boeing 747s: March 1970 Photos
- 11/30/15--01:00: In the Beginning: Lucian Freud
- 12/03/15--01:30: Molti Ritratti: Queen Victoria
- 12/07/15--01:00: Paul Delvaux
- 12/10/15--01:00: Some Artzybasheff Early-1950s Time Covers
- 12/14/15--01:00: Rockwell Kent Illustrations
- 12/17/15--01:00: Out of Character: Pierre Bonnard and Odilon Redon
- 12/21/15--01:00: Raymond Leech, East Anglian Vettriano
- 12/24/15--01:00: Alfredo Ambrosi, Aeropittura Artist
- 12/28/15--01:00: Celebrity Artists: Physicist Richard Feynman
- 12/31/15--01:00: Marcel Rieder by Lamplight
- 01/04/16--01:00: Guilty Pleasures: Noir Art of Glen Orbik
- 01/07/16--01:00: Walter Everett: Two Works in Progress
- 01/12/16--01:00: In the Beginning: Joaquin Sorolla
The Musée d'Orsay held an interesting (to me) exhibit titled Dolce vita ? Du Liberty au design italien (1900-1940)"Dolce Vita? From the Liberty to Italian Design (1900-1940)" (running 14 April - 13 September 2015). I visited it in July when I was in Paris for a few days.
There were four paintings on display by Felice Casorati (1883-1963) that caught my eye:
Casorati seems to have briefly experimented with with soft-care Modernism.
This has been cited as his most famous work.
The final two portraits are cool (as in "dispassionate," not the slang term referring to "good") in several ways. The poses are formal, the subjects seated and facing the painter and viewers. The subjects' poses are essentially symmetrical, though the settings are not. The subjects' faces show no emotion. Critics pointed out this sort of thing at the time, but Casorati shrugged the criticism off, commenting that, in effect, he was doing what he thought he should be doing.
Here are a few more portraits made during that phase of his career:
Casorati's style changed over his career, as can be seen in the first set of images. Perhaps I'll present more of his work later.
A few years ago I wrote about the early works of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). Now let's take a look at some portraits he made using a style different from that of his most famous paintings.
If you are interested in viewing the latter in person, the best place to go is Vienna, and once there, I strongly suggest visiting the Belvedere, which has his iconic "Kiss" (1907-08). More information regarding Klimt is here.
For what little it might be worth, I'm not enthusiastic about most of the people-related paintings he made during the last six or eight years of his life.
No decorative detailing here. Perhaps Klimt was in the process of reconsidering his style.
Although painted several years apart, Klimt used a similar composition for these portraits -- the subject facing the viewer, taking up roughly the middle third of the painting with the rest occupied by decorative elements to varying degree.
For much of his career, Klimt painted "busy," detail-filled paintings. Here the contrast in colors between the subject's flesh and most of the rest helps pull the lady's image into dominance.
I didn't fly often during the 1960s -- only 11 times by jetliner, the rest being military aircraft. Of those eleven flights, eight were on United Airlines Douglas DC-8s.
That was in the days when the U.S. government strongly regulated the airline industry -- routes for airlines were largely fixed in place, fares were high, and airlines had to compete mostly in terms of passenger service. Passengers, in turn, usually dressed up when on an airplane journey, men wearing jackets and neckties.
As can be seen below, Douglas DC-8 airlines had large windows, one per row of seats, giving passengers a fine view if a view was available. But this amenity, which provided plenty of legroom, prevented operators from increasing the number of seating rows. That "error" was soon corrected on later aircraft, as those of us who usually fly in "steerage" well know.
Below are some views of DC-8s and their accommodations.
This is an early photo showing Eastern's livery at the time it started flying DC-8s. Note how large the windows are. DC-8s had one window per side for each row of seats. This amenity prevented the addition of rows of seats that was possible for rival Boeing's 707 that had many smaller windows, a feature found on later-generation airliners.
It took several years before ramps from terminal waiting rooms to airliner doors became common. Here passengers are depicted using roll-away stairways.
This seems to be featuring the first-class section.
Although the DC-8 was designed to seat cabin-class passengers three-abreast on each side of the center aisle, SAS had three-and-two seating on a least some of its DC-8s. So the seats shown here might be a little wider than on planes used by United Airlines and other American lines.
Another publicity photo of cabin-class. Note the leg room, the window curtains and ... oh yes, the snack being served.
I'm not sure if this is the first-class section or the three-plus-two seating arrangement. What's noteworthy in this photo is the overhead compartment. Luggage, coats and such would usually be stowed (tossed, actually) there, but here we see mostly SAS-furnished blankets, pillows and such.
Edvard Munch (1863-1944) -- Wikipedia entry here -- was a modernist painter generally classified as a Symbolist. Although he often engaged in modernist desiderata such as distortion and color alteration, he never practiced Cubism or pure abstraction, so far as I know. Aside from some landscapes, his subject matter was people.
I wrote about his early work here, and dealt with his 1906 take on Mrs. Schwarz here.
The present post deals with paintings Munch made during the last decade or so of this life, during which he was experiencing vision problems of varying severity.
Munch tended to paint thinly over much of his career, especially so during his later years. In part this might be because, stylistically, his paintings were often little more than sketches. Another possible factor would have been that by painting thinly, his expenses for paint were minimized for his generally fairly large canvasses.
Al Parker (1906–1985) was the top dog in "slick" (smooth, good quality paper) magazines during the 1940s and 50s according to many fellow-illustrators, men who themselves were at the top of their game.
Biographical information on Parker can be found here and here. David Apatoff deals with a recent book about Parker here.
Today, he is not nearly as well known to the general public as Norman Rockwell. But that could be said as well for successful contemporaries such as Coby Whitmore, Jon Whitcomb and Edwin Georgi whose work appeared in many of the same slick magazines as Parker's. Beside being very good at what he did, Rockwell's fame is based on the fact that he painted cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post, America's leading general-interest magazine in its day, and those illustrations were self-contained stories. On the other hand, Whitmore, Whitcomb, Georgi and Parker mostly illustrated fiction pieces in magazines, the illustrations themselves often evoking the story subject, but not in themselves being self-contained visual narratives.
Worse for Parker from an historical standpoint was his strongest professional attribute, an ability to change his style, sometimes in the form of creating new illustration style fashions. This is in contrast to some other illustrators who had strong, easily-recognized styles that provided fame and fortune ... until fashions changed and they wound up having trouble getting work. Parker's career was long and successful, but it can be difficult to immediately identify many of his illustrations without looking for his signature.
There is one major exception to the previous statement. Below are examples from his long-running series of mother-daughter matching outfit covers for Ladies' Home Journal, the leading women's magazine in American for many years.
These images are the largest I could find for those covers. They are included because they clearly demonstrate Parker's ability to alter his style.
Egon Schiele (1890-1918) died young -- not from dissipation, but from the great influenza epidemic of 1918 that also snuffed out his wife who was carrying his child. Biographical information can be found here.
The death of a young artist (under age 40, say, and Schiele died at 28) often gives thought as to how he might have evolved his work had he lived a full life. No certain answers, obviously, and I'm not about to speculate much about Schiele.
Simply by looking at the large number of works he created during his short career, it is clear that Schiele was obsessed with sex and the grotesque. A large proportion of his paintings and drawings are flat-out pornographic. How much of this was due to immaturity rather than a mental condition is hard to say a century after his time, but it's possible that he might have later moved in the direction of more socially acceptable subjects.
As for me, I think he had talent, though I find much of his work of little interest, unlike that of Gustav Klimt who kept serious porn to his sketchbooks while creating intriguing paintings.
Below are examples of Schiele's art that stray from his obsessions.
The Boeing 747, the original "jumbo jet," had its maiden flight 9 February 1969 and first flew commercially 22 January 1970. These facts and much more are detailed here in a Wikipedia entry.
Below are some photos I took in March 1970 of 747s at Paine Field, Everett, where they were built, and at Boeing Field, Seattle, where test facilities were located. A number of 747s at Paine lacked engines and paint, part of initial teething problems for Boeing and the engine maker.
Nothing special about these photos, though they might be of interest to any airplane buffs reading this blog.
Lucian Freud (1922-2011), grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, is considered by the Art Establishment to be a leading British 20th century modernist. His Wikipedia entry is here.
Alas, I fail to see much merit in Freud's work aside from that he painted subjects in a largely representational manner. After due consideration, if I had to characterize his works using one word, it would be: Icky.
As for his early works, they too were essentially representational, though shapes were simplified and distorted to one degree or another. The following images were found on a BBC web page.
Painted about the time Freud was an art student.
For some reason all three of the above portraits feature heads where the part above the eyes is compressed.
This is an example of Freud's mature style.
Victoria (1819-1901) became Queen of the United Kingdom in 1837, about the time photography emerged.
In theory, that makes it possible to compare photos of her with painted portraits. However, based on some Googling on my part, it seems likely that most photographs of her were taken during the last half of her reign. I was able to find a few that provide comparisons with most of the paintings I selected.
As for the paintings, because they are of a monarch, they tend to be cautiously done, perhaps even a bit more so than commissioned portraits of others.
Victoria was about 35 years old when this was taken.
Painted around the time of her coronation.
Winterhalter was a go-to portrait artist for royalty and nobility.
This shows Victoria with Prince Albert who died 14 December of that year.
Winterhalter seems to have firmed up her chin for this official portrait.
Victoria was about 80 when this was painted.
Paul Delvaux (1897-1994) was a Belgian painter who settled on a 1920-vintage style by the 1930s and kept at it for the rest of his long career with few changes in subject matter. Biographical information is here.
His strongest influence seems to have been Giorgio de Chirico, and therefore his works have been variously classed as Magic Realism, Metaphysical Art or Surrealism ... the terms can overlap.
As can be seen below, Delvaux usually included women, often unclothed, in his paintings. Men, if they appeared, were normally fully dressed. Settings were often at dusk or night, usually in towns or cities. Generally his subjects are static, no action shown and little implied. People and other subjects are slightly simplified and distorted. In sum, what the viewer sees is clearly not quite real.
Boris Artzybasheff (1899-1965), was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Russian Empire, and in 1919 left Russia for the United States in the wake of the Communist Revolution. I have no information regarding art training, but he did make illustration his profession, usually as a book illustrator during the first part of his career. Biographical information via the Society of Illustrators can be found here, and an appreciation by Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. is here.
Artzybasheff began illustrating for Time, Inc. in 1940, making more than 200 magazine cover illustrations over the next quarter century when Time magazine was at its peak as a serious, influential publication. The images below are from the early 1950s when he was at his most productive and inventive.
The Korean War had been on for a year and the USA was in the process of rearming for the Cold War. At the nerve center of these activities was the Pentagon, subject of this Time cover showing all that red tape.
Lt. General Vasily Stalin (1921-1962), son of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Vasily began to get into trouble the following year, even before his father died. After that, his career collapsed.
The Space Age was still in gestation, but Artzybasheff considers the use of unmanned probes for exploration.
Harold S. Vance, President of Studebaker shown with the sensational new Starliner styled by Raymond Loewy's team.
Joseph Stalin (1878 - 5 March, 1953). Given the lead time for publications in those days, I suspect that Artzybasheff's illustration had been completed before Stalin's death, perhaps intended for a cover story still in the planning stage. By the way, news that he was ill came out only two or three days before his death. Before that, there was little inkling that Stalin might die, so Time editors had no strong reason to set up an issue dealing with it in advance -- though it's possible that they might have anyway, in newspaper obituary-writing fashion.
3-D movies were a big, but brief, sensation in 1953. Here Artzybasheff switches from machines and portraits to a cartoon style.
James H. (Dutch) Kindelberger, Chairman of North American Aviation, builder of the F-86 Sabre shown here battling a Russian MiG-15. Compare to the MiG-15 he pictures for the Vasily Stalin cover, above.
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) was a painter and illustrator whose style varied little over his long career. But it was a spare, modernist-leaning style in synch with the Art Deco and Moderne mood from the mid-1920s through the 1930s when his career was at its peak. Today, like so many other artists of his time, he is largely forgotten by the public at large. Biographical information is here.
Perhaps due to architectural training or maybe inherently, Kent had a strong sense of design of the monumental sort. Even small illustrations such as bookplates (see below) have a lot of visual heft. This style also was in keeping with his politics, glorifying the proletariat and winning him the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967 as testimony for being "useful."
The present post deals with Kent's illustration; I might post about his painting another time.
I recently saw the Seattle Art Museum exhibit"Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art" that featured mostly small paintings from a variety of artists active 1860-1900, approximately. In other words, it covered pre-Impressionist modernism as well as Post-Impressionism, with perhaps less than half the works being mainstream Impressionism.
That was fine by me, because I mostly find the pre- and post- more interesting than hardcore Claude Monet type Impressionism. A character failing, I suppose, but that's why I call myself a Contrarian.
What caught my eye were a few works that struck me as being out-of-character for the artists who painted them. That prompted this post along with the new "Out of Character" theme.
The artists in question were Odilon Redon (1840-1916), biography here, and Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Wikipedia entry here. Below are the paintings I noticed in the exhibit along with some examples of their more typical work.
Redon is usually considered a Symbolist.
These crisp Brittany scenes are strikingly different from the smudgy Symbolism associated with Redon. What puzzles me are the dates attributed to these works. Given their similarity of style and setting, I think they were painted around the same time. I'd guess closer to 1880 than 1890.
The typical Bonnard painting has a busy surface often (though not here) with dabs of color atop bits of near-complementary colors.
But this Bonnard is extremely clean. Perhaps it's just a study because I don't see a signature.
I recently stumbled across images of Raymond Leech (1949 - ) paintings. As this biographical sketch indicates, Leech is based in England's East Anglia and paints coastal scenes, some of which are found at the link.
But other Leech paintings strongly remind me of those by his Scottish contemporary Jack Vettriano (1951 - ) ... Wikipedia entry here.
What we have are steamy (to varying degrees) scenes featuring beautiful, often not fully-clothed women and men usually wearing suspenders (braces, in the UK) and often with hats. I don't know enough about Leech to say if he is following Vettriano's lead or got there first.
As for style, Vettriano paints in a slightly flat, simplified, almost-poster style whereas Leech is more "painterly," where brushstrokes are featured. Below are a few Vettiano examples followed by some of Leech's work.
Alfredo Gauro Ambrosi (1901-1945) -- Wikipedia entry in French here -- was not the most famous or best practitioner of Aeropittura, a late form of Futurism, but I thought it would be worth presenting some of his paintings here.
I posted on Aeropittura here and about Tullio Cruli, perhaps the best of the lot, here.
Aerial view of Rome's Coloseum from the northwest.
Related to the upper painting of the Colosseum, but the city view is extended to around the Piazza Venezia where Mussolini's famous speech-site balcony was located.
Italo Balbo, head of Italian aviation, led two long-distance formation flights across the Atlantic, the first to Rio in 1930, a later one to the USA in 1933.
This commemorates the Gabriele D'Annunzio-led 9 August 1918 Flight over Vienna, an exceptionally long-distance operation during the Great War.
Portrait of airplane designer and builder Giovanni Caproni.
A World War 2 scene.
My guess is that it is amateur artists who keep most art supply stores in business. And without that demand, there might be fewer makers of paint and equipment and prices of their wares might well be a lot higher. So let us not look down our noses at the unwashed amateur art masses.
I suppose I myself quality as an amateur artist because, while I have a college degree in an art field, I never sold any of my output. Then there are plenty of people without formal training who have sold their work, yet can be considered amateurs because they have other sources of income to deal with most of their living expenses.
A sub-class of this latter group is people who are famous for other aspects of their lives, yet found time to dabble in art. One example is Richard Feynman (1918-1988), holder of the Nobel Prize in Physics, amateur safecracker, percussionist, member of a Rio de Janeiro Samba band, teetotaling (eventually) barfly and friend of Las Vegas show girls, seeker of Tanna-Tuva, member of the atom bomb development team, student of Portuguese, and other intriguing exploits. His Wikipedia entry is here.
Background on his experience in drawing and painting is here. His part-time teacher was Jirayr Zorthian (1911-2004), biography here. An online collection of Feynman's images (which I used to illustrate this post) is here.
Considering that he at first felt that he had no artistic aptitude and that he was occupied by many other activities including his position on the Caltech faculty, I find his work surprisingly good. Of course, if I saw some of his pieces at an art show, I would pay them little or no attention if I was unaware of who did them (and he did sign most of his work with the nom-de-palette "Ofey" in order to create distance from his professional self).
The wife of his teacher.
Sketchbook page. Feynman usually handled mouths well, but had trouble with eyes, as this and other examples here indicate.
Interesting that some doodles are graphs. Despite his claim of lacking drawing ability before he took informal lessons, he had invented Feynman Diagrams, a visual means of simplifying computation of complex, asymptotic effects of photon transfers of energy from electron to electron.
Marcel Rieder (1862-1942) was an Alsacian who spent most of his life and career in Paris, as this brief Wikipedia mentions.
It also states that he started as a Symbolist, but by 1894 shifted to what I'll call a kind of "soft-symbolism" featuring beautiful young women seen by lamplight, often by tables set for dining. In some cases, the settings are interiors and in others the background is a lake or sea. As for the watery backgrounds, Rieder and his subjects have the good taste to be by lovely Lake Annecy in east-central France near the Alps or on the Mediterranean Côte d'Azur.
Rieder's paintings are pleasant to view. I prefer the outdoor settings because the large areas of blue serve as counterpoint to the smaller lamplit spots.
Glen Orbik (1963-2015) died of cancer all too soon. He was a talented artist who divided his time between teaching and creating superhero images and crime-noir paperback book cover illustrations (also working in some other genres). A short Wikipedia entry is here, and here is a biographical note on his Web site.
Like most of the rest of mankind's efforts, paperback book cover art falls mostly in the "competent" category, with some examples being truly lousy. And of course there are some artists whose work stands out, transcending what many might consider "trashy" subject matter. So I think it was for Orbik. The guy had a solid, painterly style along with the ability to create interesting dramatic settings and artistic compositions. I need to add that his book cover illustrations had to include space for the title, author's name and other elements, so this context needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating composition.
His web site lists the following illustrators as inspiration: "Robert McGinnis, Gil Elvgren, Dean Cornwell, Mead Schaeffer, Andrew Loomis, John Buscema... and a healthy dose of Norman Rockwell." For some reason he didn't note his teacher Fred Fixler, whose commercial work included paperback book cover illustration.
Orbik's style is characterized by strong, well-placed brushwork based on a framework of solid drawing ability -- yes, he did use photo references, as do most illustrators. Take a look.
Walter H. Everett (1880-1946), a student of the great Howard Pyle, was an exceptionally good illustrator who had a couple of character flaws. One was an inability to meet deadlines, a trait that surely impeded his career. Another problem emerged late in life when he destroyed many of his works. Some assert that he got rid of what he considered lesser stuff, and there might be something to that idea because a number of fine paintings of his still exist.
I wrote about Everett here and here. The Kelly Collection holds an important Everett: a link is here. Armand Cabrera provides some biographical information here.
Cabrera's post is illustrated using examples mostly from an early phase of his career, before he developed his mature style. It is Everett's mature illustrations that astonish me. Fortunately, there are at least two examples of his work that seem to be unfinished because of their appearance and the lack of a signature. They therefore provide interesting clues as to how Everett went about building up his classic images.
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) has regained a measure of the fame he enjoyed in his lifetime. For a summary of his life and career, click here.
Sorolla incorporated little of mainstream modernism in his paintings. On the other hand, his mature style was freer than what Academy graduates were trained in. As best I can tell, his training was Academic in sprit, if not in every respect. Regardless, his early major works dealt with themes and styles that could meet with Academic approval.
This painting made when he was about 40 contains many elements of Sorolla's signature style and subject matter. The Valencia (probably) seashore, a boat, oxen in the water, naked children bathing, and an older girl or young woman in damp clothing.
A number of his early paintings were either historical scenes or social commentary, themes he largely abandoned in his 30s as he found his true artistic vocation.
Around this time Sorolla painted several paintings with similar appearance and subject matter to this. He would occasionally return to genre scenes until they became a major theme in his Provinces of Spain series for Archer Huntington.
More social commentary. Dark scene in dark surroundings.
He sometimes painted religious subjects.
Finally, near Sorolla's beloved seacoast. Still missing is the bright sunshine found in his famous works.
I'm tossing in this painting to remind viewers of Sorolla at his mature best. This painting shows his wife and a daughter at the shore. It's one of my favorite paintings. To see it in person, all you have to do is go to Madrid and visit the Museo Sorolla housed in his former home/studio.