Lucien Freud

Lucien Freud, “Rabbit on a Chair”, 1944, Pencil and Crayon on Paper, 48 x 31 cm, Private Collection

Born in Berlin in December of 1922, Lucien Michael Freud was a British painter and draftsman. He was the son of British architect Ernst L. Freud and the grandson of the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Lucien Freud’s “Rabbit on a Chair”, a pencil and crayon drawing executed in 1944, is one of his most refined and charming early works. It is a good example of his fascination with nature and his ability to express tone, texture, and shape.

Due to his upbringing and studies at London’s Central School of Art, Freud was probably familiar with Jean-Baptiste-Saméon Chardin’s finely executed watercolor and gouache depictions of rabbits or hares. and Albrecht Dürer’s 1502 “Young Hare”, widely produced in the early twentieth-century as a print. Dürer gradually animated his hare’s body by the use of a dry, small paintbrush to slowly build up the hair. Freud’s rabbit is executed with clean lines outlining the body of the animal and small pencil marks which move and curtl in the various directions of real fur.

Every fine detail of the rabbit, from its black whiskers and white tail to its mottled, golden-brown pelt, is a testament to Lucien Freud’s skilled draftsmanship. He used equal care in the execution of the rabbit’s resting place, a cane chair with its broken cane fronds and fallen shadows. Completed in two tones of mustard yellow and brown, the chair seat makes a geometrical and patterned backdrop for the rabbit. The seat’s vertical and horizontal lines fix the rabbit in place and draw the viewers’ eyes to the center of the picture plane. This use of background pattern also appears in Freud’s 1987 “Blonde Girl on a Bed”, in which the figure is depicted resting on a patterned bedspread.

Note: A short biography on the life and art of Lucien Freud, which included an image of his 1967-1968 “Two Men”, was published on this site in October of 2020. 

Insert Image: Clifford Coffin, “Lucien Freud”, March 1947 Studio Shoot, Silver Gelatin Print, Vogue Online September 2019

Jake Grewal

Drawings and Paintings by Jake Gerwal

Born in South London in 1994, Jake Grewal is an artist whose work, done in the mediums of oil paint, watercolor and colored pencils, expresses his own life experiences. 

In 2013, Grewal received his Foundation Diploma in Art and Design from Kingston University in London. He received his Bachelor of Arts with first-class Honors in Fine Art and Painting from the University of Brighton in 2016. Grewal completed a year of postgraduate studies at London’s Royal Drawing School in 2019 and, following that, undertook a month-long residency at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

Grewal’s autobiographical work is a blend of Romanticism and his South Asian heritage. His drawings and paintings are influenced by his early exposure to the Romantic artists who emphasized nature and individualism, such as painter and watercolorist William Turner, landscape artist Caspar David Friedrich, biblical artist John Martin, and visionary artist William Blake. 

Themes of love and loss, identity, violence, and adolescence are presented  in Grewal’s populated scenes of the natural world. Seen through a queer perspective, the two dominant aspects of his work are the natural idyllic world setting and the relationship between the nude male figures contained within. 

Grewal’s paintings and drawings have evolved over the years to a point where natural surroundings, often used as an allegory for the work’s narrative, has become an intrinsic feature of his observational work. A major influence on this evolution was a trip taken to Borneo where he viewed the extensive deforestation undertaken to increase palm oil production.

Jake Grewal had his first solo show, held at Very Lab, which was entitled “When I First Met You, I Was Younger”. His work has been exhibited at Baltic 39, a contemporary art center in Newcastle, where he won the 2016 Woon Foundation Prize. In 2019, Grewal’s work was exhibited at the “Looking for Validation” group exhibition at the Nayland Rock Hotel and at the “Full English” exhibition at the multi-discipline art program Platform Southwark, both in London. Among other exhibitions, his work has also been shown at Christie’s in London and the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.

Bottom Insert Image: Jake Grewal, Title and Date Unknown,Seed Pods, Colored Pencil on Paper

Guillermo Martin Bermejo

The Drawings of Guillermo Martin Bermejo

Born in 1971, Guillermo Martin Bermejo is a Spanish Postwar and Contemporary artist who is currently based in a small village north of Madrid. Influenced by the works of French novelist Marcel Proust and Swiss painter and graphic artist Otto Meyer-Andem, Bermejo’s pencil drawings reference both historical paintings and literature to form a very personal world. 

Drawn in pencil on pages from second-hand notebooks and the covers of paperback books, Bermejo’s  work, although deceptively simple in composition, is woven with his own life experiences and memories. While some of his drawings are simple portraits, others portray elaborate scenes which contain the settings and the traditions of village life in the mountainous area of norther Spain. 

Guillermo Bermejo’ stylized figures, often taken from history, appear in subtly altered scenes taken from renowned artworks,  These figurative scenes act, in a visual sense, as legends in which the total story is understood only through the underlying meaning of the objects placed in the tableaux. An example of this is found in Bermejo’s 2020 “Aschenbach’s Dream”,  a drawing which relates to an interpretation of Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice”, drawn with figures from Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film of the same name . 

Guillermo Martin Bermejo’s work has appeared at the 2018 exhibition at Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, the Museo Carmen Thyssea Malaga in 2017, and the 2016 exhibiton at the Fundación Santiago y Segundo Momes in Valladolid. His most recent solo exhibition , entitled “La Pleyade de la Espana Moderna”, was held in 2019-2020 at Madrid’s Museo Lázaro Galdiano. Bermejo also exhibited at the 2020 Modern and Contemporary Art Fair in London. He is  currently represented by the James Freeman Gallery in London.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid acquired a series of twelve drawings by Bremejo in 2020 for the collection. His works appear in a number of notable collections, including the Koc Collection in Istanbul, the Caja Collection in Madird, the Marine International Bureau in Mónaco, and the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

Étienne-Louis Boullée

Architectural Design by Étienne-Louis Boullée

Born in Paris in February of 1728, Étienne-Louis Boullée was a architect, theorist, and teacher. Though regarded as one of the most visionary and influential architects in French neoclassicism, he saw none of his most extraordinary designs come to life. 

Throughout the late 1700s, Boullée taught, theorized, and practiced architecture in a characteristic style consisting of geometric forms on an enormous scale, an excision of unnecessary ornamentation, and the use of repetitive columns and other similar elements of regularity and symmetry. Boullée’s focus on polarity, offsetting opposite design elements, and his use of light and shadow were highly innovative for the period.

Boullée studied under architects Germain Boffrand of the Académie Royale d’Architecture, and Jacques-François Blondel of the Ecole des Arts, where he studied until 1746. He was immediately appointed a professor of architecture at the newly established Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, under its director, civil engineer Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, This professorship gave Boullée access to public commissions and an opportunity to engage his architectural vision within France’s social and economic progress.

Étienne-Louis Boullée was elected to the Académie Royale d’Architecture in 1762, and was appointed chief architect to Frederick II of Prussia. From 1762 to 1778, he designed a number of private houses, most of which no longer exist, and several grand Parisian hotels, which included the Hôtel de Brunoy, demolished in 1939, and the still-existing Hôtel Alexandre, on the Rue de la Ville-l’Évèque. 

Boullèe’s reputation and vision as an architect rests mainly on his teachings and his drawn designs which span the years from France’s Revolution in 1784 to Napoleon’s rise to power and Egyptian expedition in 1790. Boullée’s project drawings, as a collection, represented  the necessary institutions for an ideal city or state. They displayed no direct political affiliations with any of the reigning doctrines or parties during this span of time; rather they adopted a belief in scientific progress symbolized in monumental forms, a dedication to celebrate the grandeur of a Nation, and, more often than not, a meditation on the sublime sobriety of death.

During this period, Boullée produced a continuous series of elaborate architectural designs beginning with a metropolitan cathedral and a colosseum for Paris, both designed in 1782. He designed a monumental-sized museum in 1783, which was followed by a cenotaph, or memorial tomb, for Isaac Newton in 1784. The design for a new reading room at the Royal Library was finished in 1785; and in 1787, Boullée finished plans for a new bridge over the Seine River.

In the late 1780s after the Revolution, severe illness forced Boullée to retire to his country house outside of Paris, where he finished the final architectural designs of his career. These included design plans for: a monument in celebration of the “Féte Dieu”, one of the most popular of the Revolutionary festivals; a monument to ‘Public Recognition’; and plans, finished in 1792, for both a national and a municipal palace. In silent protest against the terror spread by  the Revolution, Boullée also designed a reconstruction of the Tower of Babel which took the from of a pure cone on a cubic base, with a trail of figures winding in a spiral, hand to hand to the top; this sturcture would by seen by the nation as a symbol of hope for a unified people with a common language.

Étienne-Louis Boullée died in Paris on February 4th of 1799, at the age of seventy. During his life, he taught some of the most prominent architects of his day including Jean Chalgrin the designer of Paris’s Arc de Tromphe, and Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, who anticipated the use of simple modular elements in construction,. Boullée’s book “Architecture, Essai sur l’Art”, a collection of papers, notes and letters arguing for an emotionally committed Neoclassicism, was posthumously published in 1953.

‘Yes, I believe that our buildings, above all our public buildings, should be in some sense poems. The images they offer our senses should arouse in us sentiments corresponding to the purpose for which these buildings are intended.” — Étienne-Louis  Boullèe

Hedda Sterne

The Artwork of Hedda Sterne

Born Hedwig Lindenberg in Bucharest, Romania, in 1910, Hedda Sterne received a rich primary education that included the study of multiple languages, German philosophy, and art history. With the encouragement of Modernist painter and professor Max Hermann Maxy, Sterne began her formal art education in 1918. Her first teacher was the Realist sculptor Frederic Stock, a professor at the Bucharest National University of the Arts. 

As early as 1924, Hedda Sterne gravitated to the Constructivist, Dada, and Surrealist artist communities of Bucharest and Paris. She took classes in ceramics atVienna’s Museum of Fine Arts and, in 1929, enrolled at the University of Bucharest, where she studied under literary and art critic Tudor Vianu, and philosophers Nae Ionescu, and Mircea Florian. In addition to her early work with Frederic Stock, Sterne worked in the studio of Surrealist painter Marcel Janco, who was a co-founder of the Dada movement, and became a close friend with Surrealist painters Victor Brauner and his brother Théodore Brauner, realist painter Jules Perahim, classical painter Medi Wexler, and surrealist poet Gheorghe Dinu.

In the late 1930s, Sterne began her work in the mediums of painting and collage. Drawn to the Surrealist practice of automatism, a process which allows the subconscious mind control over the formation of a work, Sterne  developed her own unique style of collage. Sterne’s collage work was first recognized in 1939 at the Fiftieth annual Salon des Indépendants in Paris, where her work was singled out by painter Jean Arp, who recommended her work to art patron and collector Peggy Guggenheim. After the outbreak of World War II and the Bucharest pogrom, Sterne was able to acquire the necessary visas for travel, which enabled her to embark from Lisbon and sail to New York in October of 1941. 

Settling in Manhattan, Hedda Sterne established an apartment and studio on East 50th Street and soon developed a close friendship with Peggy Guggenheim, a close neighbor on Beekman Place. Sterne re-united with many Surrealistic artists she had known in Paris, including Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and André Breton. She also began a close friendship with author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whom she encouraged to illustrate his own book “The Little Prince”. Involved with the circle of New York School of artists, Sterne’s work was included in surrealism’s seminal exhibition in the United States, “The First Papers of Surrealism”,  held in October of 1942 at Manhattan’s Whitelaw Reid Mansion.

By 1943 Sterne’s work was regularly show in exhibitions at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery, including the 1943 “Exhibition by 31 Women”. In November of 1943, Sterne had her first solo show in the United States at the Manhattan’s Wakefield Gallery, organized by art dealer and collector Betty Parsons. This began a nearly forty-year collaboration between Sterne and Parsons, who represented her after the opening of her own gallery, the Betty Parsons Gallery, in 1947.

Throughout her career, Hedda Sterne’s diverse series of artwork were a reflection of the changing world around her.  In the 1940s, she began to draw inspiration from the motion, architecture and scale of her new New York surroundings.  Following a visit to Vermont with her husband and fellow artist Saul Steinberg, Sterne began studying farm machinery, as well as the construction sites and harbors of New York and post-war Paris. By the 1950s, these Machine paintings and drawings had evolved into a series about motion itself.   Often utilizing commercial spray paint to invoke a feeling of speed, Sterne’s large gestural canvases of the mid-1950s were inspired by city bridges and her travels on highways around the United States.

Hedda Sterne began, in the 1960s, to explore new themes in her work, expanding beyond the inspiration of her immediate surrounding to include her interests in science and philosophy.  The qualities of light and space were often a central focus of investigation in Stern’s work.  While on a Fulbright Fellowship in Venice in 1963, she experimented with mosaic and refined a series entitled “Vertical-Horizontals”, paintings that invoked an expansive, horizontal landscape, whose reach, however, was confined within a vertical format. Later in the decade, as drawing took on a more central role in her practice, Sterne developed dense and intricate organic abstractions in series entitled “Lettuces and Baldanders”.

In addition to exploring both physical and conceptual subjects in her work, Sterne also produced both geometric and organic abstractions.  Among her largest series of works on canvas are her 1980s “Patterns of Thought” paintings, in which she, now in her seventies, explored the universality of signs and symbols through prismatic geometric structures.  While doing this series, Sterne also developed various drawings and loose studies of nature, with elaborate organic structures and ghostly apparitions emerging from the page.

Hedda Sterne was a prolific artist who maintained  a daily practice of making art throughout a career that spanned nine decades. Her work intersected with some of the most important movements and figures of twentieth-century art. Even though affected by macular degeneration, she continued to create new work in her eighties and nineties; unable to paint by 1998, she still drew. Her vision and movement affected by two strokes between 2004 and 2008, Sterne passed away in April of 2011 at the age of one hundred.

In 1977 Hedda Sterne was honored with her first retrospective exhibition of her work at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. Her second retrospective entitled “Hedda Sterne: Forty Years” was held at New York’s Queens Museum in 1985. Her third retrospective was held in 2006, entitled “Uninterrupted Flux: Hedda Sterne; A Retrospective:, at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois.

Top Insert Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson, “Hedda Sterne”, 1961, Silver Gelaton Print.   Second Image: Edith Glogau, “Hedda Sterne, October 1932 Issue of Die Bühne Magazine, Vienna;   Third Image: Lilian Bristol, “Hedda Sterne in Her Studio with Her Portrait of Joan Mitchell”, 1955;   Bottom Image: Nina Leen, Hedda Sterne and New York School of Painters, January 1951 Life Magazine Photo

More information on Hedda Sterne’s life and a complete body of her work cna be found at the Hedda Sterne Foundation located at: https://heddasternefoundation.org

Felicia Chiao

Illustrations by Felicia Chiao

Born in Houston, Texas, Felicia Chiao is an industrial designer and illustrator who is currently residing in San Francisco. She attended Providence’s Rhode Island School of Design where she graduated in 2016 with a degree in Industrial Design. Chiao has experience in toy design, machining and shop work, sketching, and digital and physical prototyping. She balances her work at the global design and consulting firm IDEO with her greatest passion, drawing in her free time.

Traveling frequently due to work, Chiao carries an artist’s notebook with her, in which she daily draws illustrations. Her imaginative illustrations are traditionally done with Copic markers and gel-ink pens on brown paper. Much of Chiao’s work, often infused with a surrealistic atmosphere, are populated by a common humanoid protagonist, as well as black spirit-figures reminiscent of the creatures in Japan’s manga artist and animator Hayao Miyazaki. 

Felicia Chiao’s layered illustrations often depict her protagonists in mundane, everyday narratives and exhibiting states of anxiety and other complex emotions. Although the scenes appear whimsical, there is often, particularly in her most recent work, a sense of loneliness, foreboding, or confinement, a common feeling during this time of isolation.   

Chiao exhibited her work at the GR2: 8 x 8- Group Exhibition held by Giant Robot in July of 2020. Most recently she has a solo show at the GR2 Gallery through March 20th of 2021. The online show is at: https://www.giantrobot.com/collections/gr2-daydreams-felicia-chiao

For more information and images of her work, Felicia Chiao’s website is located at https://society6.com/feliciachiao/prints

Avel de Knight

The Artwork of Avel de Knight

Avel C. de Knight was a Paris and New York-based artist, educator, curator, and art critic. Born in New York City in April of 1923, he was the son of parents who immigrated to the United States from Barbados and Puerto Rico. De Knight studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn from 1942 to 1943, after which he served in the Army, in a segregated unit, until the end of World War II. 

After the war and with the aid of the GI Bill, De Knight traveled in 1946 to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, the Académie Grande Chaumière, and the Académie Julian. In Paris, he discovered an environment that reflected the kind of freedom that an artist of color from the United States needed. He was one of many African American artists living and working in postwar Paris, a group which included expressionist painter Herb Gentry, modernist painter Beauford Delaney, and abstract painter Ed Clark, the first American artist credited with exhibiting a shaped canvas. 

Returning to the United States after living ten years abroad, Avel de Knight settled into an apartment in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. In the 1950s, he would go on to win prizes and acclaim for his art, and supplement his income writing reviews as an art critic for the French language weekly “France-Amérique”. De Knight participated in his first group exhibition in 1953, which was held in the Village Art Center in New York City, where he was awarded the Village Art Center Prize for his work. He exhibited his work in one-man shows at the Sagittarius Gallery in New York City, his first solo show in 1957 and the second in October of 1959.

In addition to his painting and work as a critic, Avel de Knight taught at the Art Students League of New York and, as an academician well respected by the faculty and students, at the National Academy of Design for many years. Pursuing his cultural interests, de Knight spent two months in a cultural exchange program for the U.S. State Department in 1961 as an artist-lecturer in the former Soviet Union. During that time, he was particularly attracted to the regions influenced by Islam, such as Samarkand and Bukhara, just north of the Afghanistan border. This experience influenced his late 1960s “Mirage” series which coincided with the growing Black Arts movement in many of the urban centers throughout the United States.

Though Avel de Knight avoided any direct political statements in his work, his paintings and drawings during the latter part of the 1960s through the early 1970s can be viewed as celebrations of a perceived African aesthetic. Along with this sense of beauty, his work reflected the principles of classicism that he had internalized through his studies in Europe. From these sources, as well as Asian art and Ancient Western sculpture, de Knight was able to draw from a broad cross-section of historic world culture influences. 

De Knight’s interest in spirituality, which would be more explicit in his later work, was deeply rooted in his early experiences as a member of Manhattan’s La Iglesia Católico de la Milagrosa. Located on the fringe of “El Barrio,” the church was a Spanish National Parish that served a large Spanish-speaking community. In addition to images of hooded saints, one of the most powerful images was a life-size statue of Saint Sebastian pierced with arrows. Identified as the patron saint of the dying, and invoked as an intercessor against plague, the image of Saint Sebastian would be used by De Knight in his work as he saw the AIDS epidemic ravage the community he loved.

Avel de Knight was an Academician member of the National Academy of Design, a member of the American Watercolor Society, Audubon Society of Artists, and a member of the Audubon Society of Artists. He had a long and productive career until his death in 1995, and exhibited widely in both individual and group exhibitions. He won many awards, including the William A. Paxton Prize from the National Academy of Design and the Palmer Memorial Prize both from the National Academy School of Fine Arts, the Emily Lowe Award from the American Watercolor Society, and the Samuel F. B. Morse Medal from the National Academy School of Fine Arts.

Insert Top Image: Kurt Ammann, “Avel de Knight, Paris”, 1950

Insert Middle Image: Maurice Grosser, “Avel de Knight, Christopher Street, NYC”, 1961

Insert Bottom Image: Photographer and Date Unknown, “Avel de Knight”

 

Patrick Angus

The Artwork of Patrick Angus

Born in December of 1953 in North Hollywood, California, American painter Patrick Angus studied at the Santa Barbara Art Institute. Inspired by David Hockney’s book “72 Drawings”, he came to New York in 1980 to see the Picasso retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Angus settled in the city and started illustrating the emerging modern gay culture with visual narratives and humor which had not been visible to the general population at that time. 

Patrick Angus depicted not only the pleasant aspects of the scenes he witnessed; but he was also concerned with the unadorned sides of the persons and situations. The central theme that is expressed in many of Angus’s works is the longing for true, not only physical, intimacy. With his distinct observation skills, his compositions, and the use of light and expressive color, he depicted his observation of the scene, but also captured its atmosphere and the vulnerability of its individuals. The loneliness that Angus, as well as other gay men, often felt during this time and the attempts to offset it play an important role in Angus’ body of work.

Angus is known for his depiction of the gay New York scene in the 1980s, particularly its bar scenes, porn theaters, bathhouses, and strip shows. He is especially known for his large paintings of the Gaiety Theater, above the Howard Johnson’s restaurant at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway, with its nightlife of bold colors, flashing lights, and young male erotic dancers. Angus often created a dialogue in his work with references to known artists; such as Picasso and Manet,, by depicting them in his work, a practice common with the notions of post-modern art. 

An example of this dialogue is Angus’s 1979 “Los Angeles Drawings”, which capture his experience discovering the city and its inhabitants at the beginning of his career as an openly gay artist. These drawings, which features portraits of men together in everyday life, are a direct conversation with fellow painter David Hockney, who remained a mentor, a collector of Angus’s work, as well as a friend until his death. 

Patrick Angus died in 1992 at the age of 38 from the effects of AIDS, without receiving due recognition for his work during his lifetime. In recent years, however, his popularity increased with major retrospective exhibitions being held. An exhibition in early 2015 at Galerie Thomas Fuchs was followed by art fair presentations in Karlsruhe, Berlin, Miami, and other cities. A comprehensive monograph was produced in 2016 by art publisher Hatje Cantz with the participation of Galerie Thomas Fuchs. 

This monograph was followed in 2017 by a major exhibition entitled “Patrick Angus” at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany, on the occasion of which a publication was released by Distanz Verlag. In 2019 the Long Beach Museum of Art in California presented a retrospective of his work. The Leslie-Lohmann Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York later showed Angus’s work in the group exhibition “On Our Backs: The Revolutionary Art of Queer Sex Work”. 

Patrick Angus is represented in the collections of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, the Leslie-Lohmann Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and the Schwules Museum Berlin, and in many private collections.

Otto Greiner

Otto Greiner, Study for the “Triumph of Venus”, 1909

Otto Greiner was born on the 16th of December, 1869 in Leipzig, Germany. He began his artistic career in 1884 as an apprentice lithographer and etcher in his hometown. In 1888 Greiner was awarded a bursary which enabled him to study from 1888 to 1891 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich under illustrator and historical painter Sándor Liezen-Mayer.

At an exhibition in Munich, Greiner encountered the work of painter and sculptor Max Klinger, who was already a leading figure in the Symbolist movement. In the autumn of 1891, Greiner made his first journey to Rome, where he met Klinger, forming a close friendship, and the painter and printmaker Käthe Kollwitz, who became the first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts and receive  professor status.  

Otto Greiner returned to Germany and worked in Munich and Leipzig between the years 1892 and 1898. He returned to Rome where he settled permanently in 1898, moving into Max Klinger’s former studio near the Colosseum. Greiner was in contact with and highly regarded by the community of German artists living and working in Rome. 

In 1915, Greiner was forced to return to Germany because Italy sided with France and England in World War I. He settled in Munich, where many of his works were published in journals of the day. Otto Greiner died in Munich, after contracting pneumonia, on September 24th of 1916. 

A talented draughtsman, printmaker, and painter, Otto Greiner also produced a large body of studies, working in ink, charcoal, red chalk, gouache, and colored crayon. These studies show the precision of his working methods, and his confident handling of materials and techniques.In his finished paintings, Greiner specialized in the depiction of nudes, often placed in complex poses and set in Italianate landscapes, for which mythological subjects provided an excellent opportunity. He also painted portraits and produced an impressive oeuvre of prints. 

Note: Otto Greiner made several studies for the “Triumph of Venus”, his unfinished work that was destroyed in World War II. Three, which are known to exist, are: an oil on canvas study for the figure of Venus, c 1903, 120 x 79.5 cm, now residing in a private collection; the study of three male figures (shown above), 1909, location unknown ; and a preliminary sketch of the entire  work, date and location of this sketch is unknown.

Virgil Finlay

Artwork by Virgil Finlay

Born in July of 1914, Virgil Finlay was an American pulp science fiction, fantasy, and horror illustrator. Working in a range of materials from gouache to oils, he was most prominently known for his detailed pen and ink drawings using stippling, scratchboard, and cross-hatching techniques. In his thirty-five year career, Finlay created more than twenty-six hundred works of graphic art. 

Finlay was a childhood fan of science fiction, particularly the fantasy appearing in “Amazing Stories” and “Weird Tales” magazines in the late 1920s. He studied art in high school and was greatly influenced by the works of Pablo Picasso, Aubrey Beardsley, and Gustave Dore. At the age of twenty-one, Finlay submitted his art portfolio to editor Famsworth Wright of ”Weird Tales”, who debuted Finlay’s  work in the December 1935 issue.

Virgil Finlay’s work appeared inside sixty-two issues of “Weird Tales” and on nineteen covers. During this time, he also produced illustrations, both large and small, for “The American Weekly”, a Sunday newspaper supplement owned by the Hearst Corporation with over fifty million viewers, as well as several other pulp publications. 

During service in the US Army during World War II, Finlay saw combat in the Pacific Theater and produced posters and illustrations for the Morale Services of the war effort. After the war, he continued illustrating, turning to astrology magazines as the pulp magazine market declined, and started painting large abstract canvases.

In 1953 Virgil Finlay won one of the inaugural Hugo Awards for Best Illustrator. He had major surgery for cancer in early 1969, succumbing to a recurrence of the disease in January of 1971 at the age of fifty-six. Finlay was named Best Artist of 1945 in the fifty-year celebration of the Hugo Awards held in 1996.

“He came out of his coma. We left a sketch pad and pencils beside the bed. He did a drawing, went back into the coma, and died.”

—-Lail Finlay, Virgil Finlay’s daughter describing her father’s final hours

Louis Eugene Larivière

Louis Eugene Larivière, “Academic Drawing of a Nude Male with Arm Raised”, 1820, Black Pencil, Charcoal, and Stump on Paper, 58.6 x 43.7 cm, Private Collection

Born in Paris in December of 1800, Louis-Eugene Larivière was the second son of the painter André Philippe Larivière, and grandson of Charles Lepeintre, Painter to the Duke of Orleans. Three years separated Eugene from his elder brother, Charles-Philippe. The sons having   demonstrated natural abilities for painting, the father placed both with French painter Anne-Louis Girodet who in turn presented them to the Special School for Fine Arts: Charles-Philippe in 1813 and Louis-Eugene in February 1816.

Following in his older brother’s footsteps, Louis-Eugène Larivière participated in the historic composition competition as Girodet’s student. Ranked thirteenth, he did not enter the second round, but was noticed and, as a painter, was exempted from military service. Unfortunately, illness prevented Larivière from competing again in 1823; and the illness finished by carrying him off prematurely in June of 1923 at the age of twenty-one years old. 

A few family portraits by Louis-Eugène Larivière survive: one full of candor of his sister Pamela-Eugenie conserved at the Louvre; a protrait of his brother Edmond Larivière, and a “Self-Portrait”, both at the Museum of Picardy in Amiens. The works come from the collection of the painter Albert Maignan, the artist’s nephew by marriage who donated them to the Amiens Museum from the contents of the Lariviere brothers’ studio. 

A few male acacemy drawings by Eugene can be found at the Amiens Museum  similar to the image above. One of them is inscribed on the verso, “Eugène Larivière. 18 août 1817”, and countersigned by his teacher, the painter Pierre-Narcisse Guérin ,who corrected the student exercises of the Fine Arts students that day. Another academy drawing, dated 1818, and a few anatomical studies are know to exist in private collections. 

Toussaint Dubreuil

 

Toussaint Dubreuil, “Apollo Victorious Over the Python”, Date Unknown, Black Ink and Stone Wash on Paper, Private Collection

Born in 1561 in Paris, Toussaint Dubreuil was a French painter associated with the Second School of Fontanebleau, a period of the arts during the late Renaissance that, centered on the royal palace,  became crucial in the formation of Northern Mannerism in France.

A man of noble character, Dubreuil was a master lute player, horseman, and skilled as a jouster. His works, many of which have been lost, are in the late Mannerist style, with highly elongated and undulating forms and crowded compositions. Many of Duvreuil’s themes included mythological scenes and scenes taken from fictional literature by such writers as Italian poet Torquato Tasso, the French poet Pierre de Ronsard, and the ancient Greek novelist Heliodorus of Emessa.   

In twenty years Toussanint Dubreuil had mastered all the significant innovations of the Mannerists in Italy and France. Not content with being their brilliant heir, he had achieved recognition, outshining contemporary painters Martin Fréminet and Ambroise Dubois, as the uncontested master of the Second School of Fontainebleau. Late in his brief career, Dubreuil  began working in a new, eloquently clear style which in France paved the way for the Baroque Classicism of painters Laurent de La Hyre, Simon Vouet and Nicolas Poussin. 

First painter to King Henry IV, Toussaint Dubreuil, after a short career, passed away on November 22, 1602, leaving behind him the image of a painter being exceptionally intelligent and notably skilled in drawing and the nude.

Alan Spazzali

Three Artworks  by Alan Spazzali

Born in Trieste, Italy, Alan Spazzali is a photographer with Dutch citizenship. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree from the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole des Arts Decoratief in Paris. Spazzali’s post-graduate work was done at the Rietveld Modern Art Academy located in Amsterdam.

Inspired by the work of surrealist artist Max Ernst and the minimalist works of Joan Miro, Alan Spazzail, a private person by inclination, constructs his work using various mediums to present a personal and symbolic narrative to his images. His work has been exhibited at the Biennale of Modern Art in Buenos Aires, the Biennale Lorenzo in Florence, and the Biennale Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Alan Spazzali’s site is located at: https://alanspazzali.wordpress.com/inicio/

Koloman Moser

The Work of Koloman Moser

Born in Austria in 1868, Koloman Moser, instead of  applying his flair and art education to paintings, embodied the idea of “Gesamt Kunstwerk”, meaning all-embracing artwork, by designing architecture, furniture, jewelry, graphics, and tapestries meant to coordinate every detail of an environment. His work transcended the imitative decorative arts of earlier eras and helped to define Modernism for generations to come. Moser achieved a remarkable balance between intellectual structure, often geometric, and hedonistic luxury.

Collaborating with Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffmann, Moser was an editor and active contributor to “Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring)”, the journal of the Viennese Secession that was so prized for its aesthetics and high quality production that it was considered a work of art. The magazine featured drawings and designs in the artist movement “Jugendstil (Youth Style)”  along with literary contributions from distinguished writers from across Europe. It quickly disseminated both the spirit and the style of the Secession.

In 1903 Moser and Josef Hoffmann founded and led the “Wiener Werkstatte (Viennese Workshop)’, a collective of artisans that produced elegant decorative arts items, not as industrial prototypes but for the purpose of sale to the public. The plan, as idealistic then as now, was to elevate the lives of consumers by means of beautiful and useful interior surroundings.

Moser’s influence has endured throughout the century. His design sensibility is evident from the mid-century modern furniture of the 1950s and ‘60s to the psychedelic rock posters of the 1970s and remains a source of inspiration to those currently working within the field of applied arts.

For additional information and images, the Fine Arts Library of Harvard University has an online copy of the 1902 “Surface Decoration” by Koloman Moser. The portfolio of thirty lithographs can be seen at : https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/56214

Sergei Eisenstein

Drawings and Sketches by Sergei Eisenstein

People who are passionate about cinema are familiar with Sergei Eisenstein’s films and cinema theory; fewer people know of his enthusiasm for drawing. Ever since his childhood in the Latvian city of Riga, Eisenstein has been drawing, eventually producing five thousand works over the course of his lifetime, with only a short break in the 1920s when he made his first films. The drawings were playful, funny, provocative, and inventive. 

Drawing for Eisenstein was a means to develop a visually effective language, which he applied in his work as film director. He drew circus scenes, story boards for his films, sketches to map out his filming process, as well as erotic, sacrilegious, and sexual scenes. The drawings were private affairs to Eisenstein, sources for his amusement and also a form of freedom, emotionally and artistically, from the pressures, often political, he experienced in his work. Some of the drawings were in-jokes meant to be shared with close friends; and some drawings were given away as gifts.

In 1931, Sergei Eisenstein worked in various locations of Mexico on the film project “¡Que viva México!”, produced by Upton Sinclair and a small group of investors. During this time, which included an intimate affair with his Guanajuato guide Jorge Palomino y Cañedo, the production of Eisenstein’s drawings resulted in a dramatic increase. His interest in line and the interplay of figures showed his connection to the work of Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, whom Eisenstein first met in 1927, and whose work he greatly admired. At the end of his Mexican adventure, he told his friend Anita Brenner, that drawings were just as important to him  as film writing and film production.

“it was in Mexico that my drawing underwent an internal catharsis, striving for mathematical abstraction and purity of line. The effect was considerably enhanced when this abstract, ‘intellectualized’ line was used for drawing especially sensual relationships between human figures.” —Sergei Eisenstein, 1947

Drawings done after Eisenstein’s return to the Soviet Union are no less provocative than the Mexican ones, but they are more sparsely articulated. In these later works, Eisenstein used line only, minimizing the shading and shaping of figures. Included in these, we find two sketches for an unrealized film on Alexander Pushkin; several drawings done during the filming of his “Ivan the Terrible”; and а series that appears to have been inspired by George Grosz’s images of maimed war veterans.

After Eisenstein’s death, his widow, Pera Atasheva, gave most of his drawings to the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. She did not release a relatively small cache of about 500 drawings that had sexual subject matter, because Atasheva feared that they might be considered harmful to the Eisenstein’s legacy. Later, she passed them for safekeeping to Andrei Moskvin, a friend and the cameraman who had worked with Eisenstein on the filming of “Ivan the Terrible”. After perestroika, Moskvin’s descendants sold the drawings to a private collector in the west. 

Eisenstein’s drawings kept at the Russian State Archive were first shown in 2000 at the Drawing Center, a not-for-profit art institution, in Soho. New York, A first-show  exhibition of the drawings, once held safely by Andrei Moskvin, were shown at the contemporary art gallery Alexander Gray Associates in New York in early 2017.

Ubaldo Gandolfi

The Artwork of Ubaldo Gandolfi

Ubaldo Gandolfi was born in San Matteo della Decima, near Bologna, on 14 October 1728. His father, a man of some standing in society, allowed him to move to Bologna when he was barely over the age of ten in order to begin studying drawing. He studied under Baroque painter Felice Torelli before moving in 1748 to the school of painter Ercole Graziani the Younger. 

At the same time, Gandolfi began to frequent the Accademia Clementina and won the much-prized Fiori Award for attendance and for quality in the depiction of the nude in 1746. Gandolfi’s tireless practice of drawing from life, from posing models which became a constant feature of his mindset, was organized under the academic teaching of the anatomist Ercole Lelli.

Gandolfi’s first public success came in 1759 in the shape of an altarpiece with the “Assumption of the Virgin and Saints” for Castel San Pietro in Verona, preceded by a small rough clay model, now in the Uffizi Museum. The altarpiece owes a debt to the models of painter Guido Reni and to painters and teachers Ludovico and Annibale Carracci in the attitudes and gestures of its figures. Ubaldo’s renown grew to the point where he was made a full member of the Academy in 1760, and his work was  sought even by the Empress Catherine II of Russia.

Gandolfi’s colleagues in the Clementina entrusted him in 1766 with painting a fresco in the Eleventh Chapel in the Portico of St. Luke, depicting the Resurrection of Christ. “The Resurrection” is a magnificent example of Ubaldo Gandolfi’s fervent style with its evocative, theatrical character. For the senatorial nobility Gandolfi  produced ancient and modern myths, such as the “Four Seasons’” on a wall and “Aurora” on the ceiling at the Palazzo Segni Facchini.

In 1769 Gandolfi painted figurative frescoes for nobleman Conte Bentivoglio, who commissioned the decoration of the rooms on the ground floor of his palazzo in order to mark his term as magistrate. But Ubaldo Gandolfi’s ability to convey the solidity of his figures’ bodies was to allow the artist to produce superb results in secular fables, for instance in his 1770 paintings “Perseus and Andromeda” and “Diana and Endymion”, commissioned by  Senator Marchese Gregorio Casali; the “Mercury About to Behead  Argus” commissioned for the Marescalchi family palace; and the six mythological stories painted some time later for the Marescalchi family’s Palazzo Dall’Armi.

The painter’s renown grew in the field of religious painting thanks to his highly theatrical Baroque pieces, such as the Medicina Altarpiece in the church of San Mamante with its “Christ in Glory and Saints” or his “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata”, a composition of passionate gesture. This highly productive decade ended with a large canvas for the church of Sant’ Agostino in Imola, depicting “St. Nicholas of Tolentino Preaching to the Crowds”.

Throughout his career, Ubaldo Gandolfi produced portraits of young girls, children, apprentices, men and women portrayed from life, and old men with intense features. These works, for instance the “Young Woman” now hanging in the Louvre, were extremely popular in the 1770s. In his graphic work, Gandolfi produced numerous very fine studies from life, displaying a certain inclination to portray the natural, an inclination that showed prominently in his pen and ink studies of heads.

Ubaldo Gandolfi died of malaria in Ravenna, where he had just recently moved, on July 24, 1781.

Ethan Murrow

 

Ethan Murrow received his B.A. in Studio Arts with a focus on painting and printmaking from Carleton College in Minnesota. His Master of Fine Arts degree in drawing, painting and sculpture was awarded by the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Murrow is currently living in Boston where he is a professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.

Ethan Murrow creates large-scale graphite drawings that are translated form film and photographic narratives. His rendered drawings focus on innovative and explorative characters attempting with confidence and passion to succeed in their endeavors, despite the unlikely outcomes. Murrow incorporates the art of perspective with great skill; his use of vantage points render the scenes real but intentionally absurd. 

Murrow’s drawings are dependent on still captured photographic images. They resemble the look and feel of early cinema and black and white photography due to their grainy surface appearance and use of gray scale tones. The process of drawing is extensive, The sense of depth is developed by complex layering and mark-making, filling large areas of space on the drawing surface, sometimes measuring up to fourteen feet wide.

Ethan Murrow’s series “Zero Sum” consists of a body of work centered around the same single figure shown in different positions as the figure hurtles upward or falls downward through the air. The heavily bandaged figure appears poised in the air, contorted but floating peacefully. A combination of both awkwardness and beauty is achieved in this series.

Drawing inspiration from contemporary literature and historical articles of Victorian-era exploration and voyages, Murrow plays with these romanticized stories that hid the grim realities and human mistakes, by depicting a new set of explorers who are foolhardy and quite apt to fail. His “Narwhal Hoax” series shows pseudo-scientists faking their expeditions; his “Doomed Explorer” series show explorers on oddball quests who never show any doubt of success. 

Ethan Murrow’s work is represented by Obsolete Gallery, in Venice Beach, California; Winston Winston Wächter Fine Art, in New York City and Seattle; and La Galerie Particulière, in Paris. His work in in collections worldwide, including the Guggenheim Foundation. 

 

Edward Julius Detmold

Wasps by Edward Julius Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold, “Common Wasps”, From “Fabre’s Book of Insects”, 1935, Tudor Publishing Company

Painter, printmaker and illustrator Edward Julius Detmold was born in London in 1883 along with his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold. Provided patronage by their uncle Edward Shuldhan, the two brothers studied painting and printmaking under the tutelage of their uncle Henry Detmold, also an artist. In 1898, at the age of 13, the twins exhibited watercolors at the Royal Academy, and issued a portfolio of color etchings that same year that quickly sold out and brought them notoriety. In 1899 Edward and Charles began illustrating books jointly, begining with “Pictures from Birdland”, which was commissioned and published by J.M. Dent. This was followed by a portfolio of watercolors inspired by Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”.

The brothers’ tandem success, however, was ended with the sudden death by suicide of Charles in 1908. Edward Detmold threw himself into his work, beginning with an illustrated ” Aesop’s Fables” that included 23 color plates and numerous pen and ink drawings. This began a decade of intense productivity, in which the Detmold’s execptional eye for the detail and complexities of nature allowed him to achieve his place among the best illustrators of the Victorian era.

Edward Detmold continued to illustrate numerous books, including Maurice Maeterlinck’s “The Life of the Bee”, Camille Lemonnier’s “Birds and Beasts”, his own “Twenty Four Nature Pieces”, and Jean-Henri Fabre’s “Book of Insects”. However by 1921, after witnessing the horrific results of World War I and feeling a disillusionment with his own art, he had reached the end of his zenith. Though Edward Detmold went on to illustrate one last edition of “The Arabian Nights” in 1924, he had effectively ended his career with the publishing of a literary book of aphorisms entitled “Life”. He retired to Montgomeryshire, England, and died in 1957, also from suicide.

Tara Geer

fluent_in_darkness_2016

tryingtofly_hah-1

Top Image: “Fluent in Darkness”, Date Unknown, Charcoal, Pencil and Pastel on Paper, 30 x 40 Inches

Bottom Image: “Trying to Fly”, 2013, Charcoal, Pencil and Pastel on Paper, 47 x 55.25 Inches

Tara Geer was born in Boston, and received from Columbia University both her BA – a double major in Art and Art History, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa – and her MFA, receiving a teaching fellowship as well as the Louis Sudler Prize for excellence in the arts and the Joan Sovern Prize from Columbia’s School of the Arts.

Currently, she is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at Columbia and in Art and Art Education at Teachers College. Geer also trains teachers and staff in “Visual Thinking Strategies” at the Brooklyn Museum, El Museo, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, among others.

From observation, Tara explores life’s quiet details, the heft of an object, the spaces between close parts, the feel of a thing – externally informed but internally impelled. Her drawings are often large and kinetic charcoal universes, neither bodies nor landscapes but microcosmic resolutions of form and psyche. Sometimes they are exploding webs of cells and scaffolding, thumbprints and scrawl, while other times they are more figurative, familiar, discrete.