Monday, September 19, 2016

Drawings: Recently Acquired by the Art Insitute


A Sunlit Path through a Wood  Thomas Gainsborough English, 1727-1788  1750/59

When paintings enter the collection of a major museum, they may, or may not, ever be seen again.

Display space is limited.

But works on paper can always be seen by members -- so every acquisition makes the museum experience a little bit better.

This selection of acquisitions made over the last 25 years is mostly focused on 19th C. French, English, and Belgian works.  Many of them were purchased, rather than received as gifts, so they give some idea of the museum's priorities.

The museum already had 13 drawings by this artist -- did they really need one more?

But this one really is delightful.

I used to wander through the parks of Cincinnati looking for vistas to sketch - though my compositions were never as triumphant as this one.  19th Century American urban parks inherited their pastoral ideals from the kind of English estates on which Gainsborough made this sketch.

Here's the image that appears on the museum website -- much better than the one taken by my camera - and about as good as looking at the original.

Georges Lemmen,  Belgian, 1865-1916 Portrait of Anna Boch, 1894

Love this pointillism.

                               Jean-Jacques Henner French, 1829-1905
Landscape with a Pond, c. 1879

This is a small (4" X 6") , but  very effective rustic scene.
This artist was new to me -- and new to the A.I.C. collection as well.

John Douglas Miller, 1889,  after Bouguereau's first whisper of love


This is a preparatory watercolor, used in the transfer of a painted image to a printed one.
The technique is astounding - and  this detail is rather breezy and enjoyable.

Kathe Kollwitz 1905 sharpening the scythe

With 28 other prints and drawings by this artist in the collection  - I'm not sure I would have purchased this one.

Though it would make good cover art for a heavy metal band.

Ludwig Meidner, self-portrait 1922


What a mug!  The museum already had one of his many self portraits -- but this drawing is so good, I could not have resisted acquiring it either.

Jean François Millet
 French, 1814-1875
Landscape - Hillside in Gruchy, Normandy, 1869/70

I like this drawing more than his many paintings that I have seen.
  It's more whimsical and less ponderous.

Peter de Wint – in Wales between Bangor and Capel Curig 1830-s


Reminds me of the watercolors that the Prince of Wales did for the covers of the Leonard Bernstein Sony recordings about 25 years ago.

Neither artist is exceptional - but they deliver a good sense of place.


Camille Pissarro, Young Peasant Drinking Her Cafe au Lait, 1879-80

This drawing is interesting because it was preparatory  to a painting in the museum's collection.

William Turner of Oxford, 1842

This artist is new to me -- as well as to the museum.

Both his name and his style resembles a canonical artist - and by contrast, demonstrates why J.M.W. is so much better known.

It's the difference between charm and power.

François Boucher  French, 1703-1770  Academic Study of a Reclining Male Nude, c. 1750

Gallery signage tells us that Boucher drew this so that copies could be distributed to art teachers around the country.

It has an academic flavor, in contrast to the soft porn for which he is best known.

Gustave Caillebotte French, 1848-1894  Self-Portrait with a Hat, c. 1879

It's fascinating to see anything associated with the Art Institute's  monumental "Paris Street, Rainy Day"(1877).

This self portrait was done two years later.  Another recent acquisition was a preparatory study for that painting.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot French, 1796-1875
Standing Male Nude, 1843

Corot found great success with  nymphs dancing in the twilight, but he was also an exceptionally good all-around artist

Corot French, 1796-1875 Venus Disarming Cupid, 1852/57

And here's another one of his dancing nymphs - probably knocked off in about ten minutes.

Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806) after  Caravaggio The Supper at Emmaus, 1760/61

Not a great drawing, but a good one - delivering a sense of divine visitation without the chiaroscuro of the original.

The  original Caravaggio painting came to Chicago a few years ago.

Cocteau , 1924 – nightmare

A  very talented young man - who made Queer Art a century before it became fashionable.

Adolph Menzel 1815–1905 In a Railway Carriage (After a Night's Journey),

My friends love the realism of this scene -  but I dislike this drawing as much as I dislike having to sleep on trains or buses.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Frank Varga : Alleluiah

I chanced upon this relic of mid-20th Century sculpture on Friday. It's the only permanent installation in a small, hall-way art gallery in Concordia University Chicago (in River Forest).

It's quite appropriate for a Christian institution that has a respected music program.

How did it get here?  Is there a bronze cast somewhere else on campus? Why doesn't the artist show it on his website? 

It's in  the great tradition of European sculpture, though it's not an outstanding example.

It begins, but does not complete, a composition. It's awkward, and the energy is a bit limp.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Milwaukee Art Museum - Summer 2016

Ludwig Meidner, self portrait 1912 (age 28)

We drove up to Milwaukee this weekend to see  the Tom Benton show -- and I hated it.
The period movie snippets (especially from John Ford's "Grapes of  Wrath") looked so much better -- probably because the images were continually changing.

But I always enjoy visiting this museum -- so here is what made the trip worthwhile:


Now I'm a fan of Ludwig Meidner.  He looks a bit crazy - but he managed to survive as a German Jewish painter into the 1960's.  Very few paintings in the M.A.M. have as much impact as this one.

The face is quite expressive - even as it feels like the random drips and ash marks on a large wabi sabi jar.

Lovis Corinth, Portrait of Dr. Karl Schwarz, 1916

What a fine painting by a skilled, mature master who turned expressionist late in life.

Gustav Caillebotte, Boating on the Yerres, 1877 (detail)
What struck me here is the wind blowing through the three trees  dancing in the background

Victor Jean Baptiste Barthelemy Binet, (1849-1924)  Near Quilleboeuf, Normandy

This delightful detail seems so connected to a specific place as the specks of white flower step space deeper behind the picture plane.  
No biography of  Binet on the internet - and this piece appears far superior to most of the other paintings of his online.
This ridge could just as well be in Wisconsin as France.

Robert Henri, 1918,  Betalo Nude (detail)

What a delicious passage of pink against green.

If the above small area of detail were blown up to wall size, it would surpass anything done by the pop artists of the 60's.

Joan Mitchell, 1960

According to Wikipedia:

 During the period between 1960 and 1964, she moved away from the all-over style and bright colors of her earlier compositions, instead using sombre hues and dense central masses of color to express something inchoate and primordial. The marks on these works were said to be extraordinary: "The paint flung and squeezed on to the canvases, spilling and spluttering across their surfaces and smeared on with the artist's fingers."The artist herself referred to the work created in this period of the early 1960s as "very violent and angry

Your reaction to this painting probably depends on how much you enjoy the presence of angry, frustrated women.

Helen Frankenthaler, "Hotel Cro Magnon", 1958

The lovely expression of a rich, happy,  and beautiful young woman. (she was 30 at the time)

 Carl Spitzweg, "Harvest in the Tyrolean Alps", 1858

I would like to load a knapsack with bread, cheese, and grape juice - and then move right into this painting to stay for an afternoon.

The contrasting scale of the cliffs and the two women is so enticing.

And the space feels so cool, quiet, and majestic.  A natural cathedral.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kipper Collection of Asian Jewelry and Ritual Objects

As a vicarious experience of exotic lands, this is a very enjoyable exhibit.

Regenstein Hall has been  filled with vitrines of jewelry and other precious objects, while its walls have been covered with photo-murals from the places where the objects originated.

So there's all of the visual pleasure of visiting Asian and Middle-Eastern countries without the expenses, risks, and hassles of actually going there.

What a gorgeous, fanciful swirl of gem stones to hang from a lady's nose.

It echoes and  complements her smile.


(post in progress)

















An amazing object.





Love these "geometric snake earrings"