Edward Burra

Paintings by Edward Burra

Born in South Kensington in March of 1905, Edward John Burra was an English painter, printmaker, and draftsman best known for his depictions of the urban underworld and New York City’s Harlem culture of the 1930s. He attended preparatory school at Northaw Place, located in Hertfordshire, until 1917 when he suffered from pneumonia and had to continue his education at home. His education ranged wider than most boys of his class, including a great understanding of French literature.

Burra struggled his whole life with rheumatoid arthritis and a debilitating blood disease which meant that he was never able to use an easel in the conventional way. He was basically forced to sit and work mostly in watercolor, unfashionable at the time, on thick paper laid flat on a table. The fluidity of the watercolor medium, though, allowed Burra to produce a smooth finish, even though he was working with an arthritic hand. Although Burra was briefly a member of the 1930s’ One Unit collective of Modernist artists , his ill health prevented him from actively joining artistic groups and cliques. He, for the most part, protected his privacy and went his own way in the art world.

Edward Burra began his art training in 1921 with a tutor, Miss Bradley, who lived in the coastal town of Rye, East Sussex. At the age of sixteen, he studied at the Chelsea School of Art for two years. From 1923 to 1925, Burra studied at the Royal College of Art under draftsman and etcher Randolph Schwabe and portrait and landscape painter Raymond Coxon. In his time at Chelsea, he established friendships which would support him his whole life; these included the costume designer Beatrice Dawson, photographer Barbara Ker-Seymer, and, perhaps his closest friend, William Chappell, a ballet dancer who became a fellow traveler and Burra’s introduction to avant-garde dance.

Burra delighted in travel. In the summer of 1925 while in Italy, he met landscape painter Paul Nash, who at that time was already well-know for his work as a war artist in World War One. In October of that year, Burra visited Paris accompanied by William Chappell and, in 1926, visited Paris and stayed in both Florence and Siena, Italy with his family. Later, in the mid 1930s, he landed in Harlem, New York, at the height of its cultural Renaissance; he had been fascinated with its culture since his early exposure to imported American jazz music. Burra’s paintings of the places he visited in the world were not made on location. Blessed with a photographic memory, he reworked images of Paris, Marseilles, and Harlem at his parents’ eleven-acre estate in Rye where he continued to live until his death.

Edward Burra has his first solo exhibition at London’s Leicester Galleries in 1929 which was followed with a second show in May of 1931. In October of 1929, he exhibited with the London Group and showed his woodblock prints at the Society of Wood-Engravers exhibition at London’s Redfern Gallery, this would be followed in November of 1942 with a solo exhibition of his paintings.  In October of 1931, Burra exhibited in the show “Recent Developments in British Painting”, alongside Paul Nash,, Ben Nicolson, John Armstrong and Edward Wadsworth, at Arthur Tooth & Sons gallery in London. Beginning in July of 1952, at the age of forty-seven, until his death, Burra had multiple solo exhibitions at the Lefevre Gallery, one of London’s most prestigious galleries. 

Edward Burra had a sharp eye for contemporary urban life and also a deep knowledge and affection for art of the past. His 1926 “Market Day”, showing two black sailors sauntering along a chaotic dockside, contains a wealth of detail from its merchant ships unloading and couples courting to the bowl of fruit balanced on the head of a woman and the jazzy necktie on one of the sailors. In his 1929 “The Two Sisters”, Burra took the eighteenth-century conventional genre of a group of people gathered socially and, showing his satirical wit, depicted the two women with pronounced rouge, lipstick and open dresses, being served by a maid who on closer look is a man in drag. Another work in 1929, “Dockside Cafe, Marseilles” shows clearly two male transvestites by the bar and a standing sailor wearing ballet shoes with criss-crossed ribbons. Burra’s life, however, cannot be read directly from his art. Although drawn to the clubs and cafés, he was a non-participating observer of these scenes which he stored in his memory for future works. 

Best known for his early images of city life, Edward Burra continued to develop his painting throughout his career. Beginning in the mid-1930s and into the war years, his work darkened with images of the cruelty of the war and the tragedy of the innocents who killed or were killed. In the 1950s, Burra started painting images of the British countryside, whose consoling pastures evolved into ones with rusting machinery, animal skulls, and an increasing sense of unease. In the 1960s through the mid-1970s, his work directly commented on the rapid change in the countryside around him. The farm tractors, lorries, and diggers in Burra’s work transform into monstrous machines ripping through the landscape. 

Following the death of his mother in the 1960s, Burra moved into a small cottage on the grounds of the family’s estate. His sister came to visit and there were occasional motoring holidays with his close friend William Chappell. Burra continued, however, to be obsessed with his painting to the exclusion of all else. After breaking his hip in 1974, his health declined quickly. Edward Burra died, at the age of seventy-one, in Hastings, East Sussex, on the 22nd of October in 1976.

Although he declined associate membership in the Royal Academy in 1963, Edward Burra accepted the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the CBE, in 1971. A retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Gallery in 1973; in conjunction with the exhibition, the Arts Council of Great Britain produced “Edward Burra”, a documentary on his life and work. In June of 2011, Edward Burra’s 1948 watercolor “Zoot Suits”, depicting two well-dressed men in Harlem, set a record at Sotheby’s for a work by the artist when it sold for 2,057,250 Pounds.

Tope Insert Image: Barbara Ker-Seymer, “Edward Burra”, 1933, Photograph, 4.5 x 3.5 cm, Tate Museum, London

Second Inser Image: Edward Burra, “Flowering Vegetables”, 1957-59, Watercolor and Pencil on Paper, 134.5 x 76.5 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Edward Burra”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print, Tate Museum, London

Bottom Insert Image: Edward Burra, “Ropes and Pullies”, 1942-43, Watercolor and Pencil on Paper, 109.9 x 76.8 cm, Private Collection

Marsden Hartley

Paintings by Marsden Hartley

Born in Lewiston, Maine on January 4th of 1877, Marsden Edmund Hartley was an American Modernist painter, poet, essayist and author.  The youngest of eight children, he remained, at the age of fourteen, with his father in Maine after the death of his mother, his siblings having moved to Ohio after the death. A year later in 1892, he joined his family in Cleveland, Ohio, where he began formal art training at Cleveland’s School of Art under a scholarship.

In 1898, Hartley relocated to New York City to study painting under Impressionist William Merritt Chase at the New York School of Art; he also associated with member artists from  the National Academy of Design. Hartley became a close friend and admirer of allegorical and seascape painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, whom he often visited at his Greenwich Village studio. He also read the writings of Walt Whitman and the American  transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau.

Between 1900 and 1910, Marsden Hartley spent his summers in the city of Lewiston, located in southern Maine, and the region of western Maine near the village of Lovell. During these summers, he painted what are considered his first mature works, images of Kezar Lake located near the town of Lovell, and Maine’s hillsides and mountains. In 1909, Hartley exhibited these paintings at his first solo exhibition in art promoter Alfred Stieglitz’s internationally-known Gallery 291, located in Manhattan. Impressed by Hartley’s work, Stieglitz introduced him to the work of the European Modernist artists, such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Matisse.

Hartley traveled to Europe in April of 1912, the first of many visits, and in Paris became acquainted with Gertrude Stein and her circle of  writers and artists. He was encouraged by Stein, along with poet Hart Crane and novelist Sherwood Anderson, to write as well as paint. Disenchanted after living in Paris for a year, Hartley relocated to Berlin in April of 1913 where he became friends with Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, and continued his painting. Of his work done in Berlin, two of his still life paintings, inspired by the work of Cézanne, and six charcoal drawings were included in the historic 1913 Armory Show in New York.

Marsden Hartley’s work during this period in Berlin was a combination of German Expressionism and abstraction; his work was also inspired by the pageantry of the German military, though his view of the military changed with the outbreak of war in 1914. In Berlin, Hartley developed a close relationship with a lieutenant in the Prussian Armed Forces, Karl von Freyburg, who was a cousin of Hartley’s friend Arnold Ronnebeck. Infatuated with Freyburg, Hartley would use him as a recurring motif in his works. Although Freyburg survived the Battle of the Marne, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross, he died on October 7th in 1914, at the age of twenty-four, during the Battle of Arras. Hartley was devastated at the announcement of Freyburg’s death.

The works Hartley produced shortly after Freyburg’s death were variations on his post-war themes. However, along with the regimental plumes in his paintings, there were now numbers and letters which had deep significance to Hartley. They included the “K.v.F.” of Freyburg’s initials, coded references to the Iron Cross, Freyburg’s age and regiment numbers, and black and white checkered patterns which referenced Freyburg’s favorite game, chess. Two examples of these memorial pieces are “Portrait of a German Officer” and “Portrait No. 47”, both painted in Berlin and seen in the images above.

Marsden Hartley returned to the United States in early 1916. He traveled and painted from 1916 to 1921 in Provincetown, New York, New Mexico, and Bermuda. Although his works still contained some German iconography, he also painted other subjects, often with homoerotic undertones. After an auction of one hundred of his works at New York’s Anderson Gallery in 1921, Hartley returned to Europe and created still lifes and landscapes using the drawing medium of silverpoint. 

Throughout the 1930s, Hartley spent summers and autumns in New Hampshire painting scenes of its mountains. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, he spent time painting in Mexico which was followed by a year in the Bavarian Alps. After a few months in Bermuda in 1935, Hartley traveled by ship to Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia, where he lived for two summers with the Mason family, who earned their living as fishermen. The deaths of the two Mason brothers, drowned in a hurricane, greatly affected Hartley and inspired a series of portrait paintings and seascapes. Hartley returned to Maine in 1937 where he remained for the rest of his life. He died in Ellsworth, Maine, at the age of sixty-six, on September 2nd of 1943.

Marsden Hartley was not overt about his homosexuality and often diverted attention to other aspects of his work. Most of his works, such as “Portrait of a German Officer”, a homage to Freyburg, and his 1916 “Handsome Drinks”, one of the first paintings Hartley did after his reluctant 1916 return to the United States, are coded in their reference to his sexuality. When he reached his sixties, he no longer felt unease and his works became more intimate, such as his two 1940 paintings “Flaming American (Swim Champ)” and the  “Madawaska-Acadian Light-Heavy”, seen in one of the above inserts. 

Top Inset Image: Marsden Hartley, “Green Landscape with Rocks, No. 2”, 1935-1936, Oil on Board, 33 x 45.4 cm, Brooklun Museum, New York

Second Insert Image: Richard Tweedy, “Marsden Hartley”, 1898, Oil on Canvas, 66 x 45.7 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Third Insert Image: Marsden Hartley, “Abstraction”, 1912-1913, Oil on Canvas, 118 x 101 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Marsden Hartley, “Madawaska-Acadian Light-Heavy”, 1940, 101.6 x 76.2 cm, Chicago Art Institute

Charles Burchfield

Charles Burchfield, “House of Mystery”, 1924, Watercolor over Graphite on Heavy Textured Cream Wove Paper Laid on Cardboard and Varnished, 74 x 60 cm, Art Institute of Chicago

Insert: Charles Burchfield, “Orion in December”, 1959, Pencil and Watercolor on Paper, 101 x 84 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC

Born in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio, Charles Ephraim Burchfield was a Modernist painter known for passionate watercolor scenes of nature and townscapes. During his life, he often drew inspiration from the urban atmosphere of Buffalo, New York, and the small town settings in Salem, Ohio. 

Charles Burchfield won a scholarship to attend the Cleveland School of Art, where he studied under the Modernist watercolor painter Henry G. Keller, graduating  in 1916. He developed his own particular style, working in a dry-brush technique, by the summer of 1915, sketching and painting around Salem, Ohio. Burchfield painted in an almost Fauvist style with broad areas of simple colors and, adding in 1917, visual motifs expressing human, often disturbing, moods. Painting consistently, he produced half of his life-time work while living in Salem from 1915 to 1917. 

Starting in 1919, initially to provide financially for his wife and children, Burchfield painted small-town and industrial scenes in the style of the Regionalist movement with the intent to sell them in the New York art market. After the approach in 1928 to the Frank Rehn Gallery in New York, the successful sales of his work enabled him to resign his wallpaper design employment at Birge & Co in Buffalo and paint full-time. These large watercolors of small towns and industries, often resembling oil paintings, which continued until 1943, are the ones most associated with him.

Attempting to regain a lost intensity, Charles Burchfield again returned in 1943 to the enthusiasm of his earlier work, developing large, visionary renditions of nature envisioned with heightened colors, swirling brush strokes, and exaggerated forms. Using the skills he mastered in his middle years, he attempted to show an era of human history where men saw spirits in natural objects and forces of nature. He also returned to watercolors done in his youth, reworking and enlarging them by adding sections of paper to the original sheets. 

Charles E. Burchfield died on January 10th of 1967 at the age of seventy-three, after spending most of his life in West Seneca, New York. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in the Village of East Aurora, New York. The largest collection of his paintings are in the collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo. 

Bernard Vista

Paintings by Bernard Vista

Born in 1968 in the city of Pakil in the Laguna Province of the Philippines, modernist painter Bernard Vista paints larger than life depictions of the rustic Philippine countryside and its people, focusing on their customs and traditions. He is a follower of the traditional ‘tipos dei pais’ art form, which showed Philippine’s different inhabitants in their native costumes worn during colonial times.

A graduate of the Fine Arts program of the University of Saint Tomas, Bernard Vista was influenced by his mentors: neo-realist painter  Cesar Legaspi and modern abstractionist painter H.R. Ocampo, both awarded as Filipino National Artists for their work.

Vista became a member of the Saturday Group of Artists established in July of 1968 by painter Cesar Lagapi. This group, which became a premier art institution in the country, introduced interactive painting activities and helped to financially support artists in difficulty. Vista is also a founding member of the Guevarra Group of Artists, along with painter and sculptor Dominic Rubio, sculptor Jerry Morada, and painters Gig and Vincent de Pio. 

Bernard Vista has had successful solo exhibitions at Galerie Joaquin in San Juan, Manila,  and Galerie Joaquin in Singapore. A former resident-artist at the Artesan Gallery in Singapore, Vistas’s work can be found in many private collections. 

Jeffrey Smart

Paintings by Jeffrey Smart

Influenced by the Australian modernism of the 1940s, Jeffrey Smart dedicated himself to the representation of the modern city. He executed each painting with classical precision and included repetitious architectural motifs, referencing the Renaissance perspective. Smart painted stark portrayals of contemporary life, choosing as his subject matter the highways, trucks, factories, and even the vacant lots of everyday scenes.

Jeffrey Smart was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1921. He studied part-time in the late 1930s at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts under painter Marie Tuck and Rupert Bunny, a master of figure composition. Beginning in 1939, Smart also trained at the Adelaide Teachers College for two years. In this period, Smart visited the studio of Adelaide-based artist Doritt Black, who introduced him to the rules of dynamic symmetry, as seen in the work of the Old Masters and developed by avant-garde artists such as Braque, Cézanne, and Léger. 

The 1940s were a period of artistic growth and raise to fame for Smart, who started to exhibit in group shows alongside other emergent Australian artists, including Jaqueline Hick and Horace Trennery, and was given in his first solo show at Kosminsky Gallery in Melbourne in 1944. In 1945, Smart painted “The Waste Land I” and “The Wasteland II”. These desolate rural views, inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem of the same name, point to the development of the artist’s distinctive hyper-clear and timeless version of landscape painting.

Between 1948 and 1950, Smart travelled to America and Europe, and then moved in Paris in 1949 to study at the Académie Montmartre under Fernand Léger. His several visits to European museum collections in this period will bring Smart to become particularly fascinated with the art of Giorgione, Giovanni Bellini, and especially Piero della Francesca, whose clarity of forms and rigorous use of perspective would greatly influence Smart’s works. In 1950, he lived on the island of Iachia in the bay of Naples, painting alongside contemporaries Donald Friend, Michael Shannon, and Jacqueline Hick. 

Upon his return to Australia in 1951, the artist settled in Sydney, where he will remain for the next twelve years. In the same year he won the Commonwealth Jubilee Prize for his 1951 painting “Wallalroo”, a scene from the daily life of that copper mining town. During his years in Sydney, Smart also worked as an art teacher and art critic at the Daily Telegraph while continuing to paint landscapes. Works from this period, such as the 1962 “Copper Park” and “The Cahill Expressway”, painted also in 1962, mark the beginning of Smart’s mature style, characterized by an increased hyper-clarity and meticulously crafted compositions.

The year 1963 was crucial in the artistic and personal life of Jeffrey Smart, who resumed his travels around Europe and permanently moved to Rome with Australian artist and partner Ian Bent. Thoughout the 1960s and 1970s, Smart’s artistic career gained momentum thanks to prominent solo shows and exhibitions in his homeland of Australia and around the world, including the 1967 solo exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in London and the American touring group show “The Australian Painters 1964-1966”. 

In 1971, Smart purchase a farmhouse in the countryside of Arezzo, a  small town in Tuscany, where he would remain for the rest of his life. This move marked the start of the most prolific period in the his career. Starting from the 1970s, Smart dedicated himself to interpreting the landscape of modern Italy, mixing his own personal and imaginary relationship with the land with his precision details of climate, life, and landscape. While most of his work includes landscapes, in the 1980s and 1990s, Smart produced a small number of portraits and self-portraits, contrasting the accurate likeness with visionary urban settings. 

Jeffrey Smart’s last work entitled “Labyrinth” was completed in 2011, at which time he officially retired. The artist died in Arezzo in 2013 at the age of ninety-two. Even though he lived as an expatriate for most of his life, the majority of his works is now housed by Australian museums and galleries. 

“My only concern is putting the right shapes in the right colors in the right places. It is always the geometry” —Jeffrey Smart

Francis de Erdelry

Francis de Erdelry, “The Welder”, 1942, Oil on Canvas, 51 x 41 Inches, The Wolfsonian-Florida International University

Born in Hungary in 1904, Francis De Erdely grew up during the first World War. Depicting the atrocities of war in his sketches and early paintings, the artist was eventually banished from Hungary by early Gestapo members. After his studies were completed at the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, he studied at the Real Academie de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid and at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

In 1944, Francis de Erdely made his way west, settling briefly in New York and then, finally in Los Angeles, where he found his place as an American artist. Along with fellow Modernist painters Bentley Schaad, Sueo Serisawa, and Richard Haines, De Erdely became instrumental in the West Coast Modernist movement. Depicting the regional minorities of African and Mexican heritage, he was interested in conveying a sense of strong social commentary.

Francis de Erdely exhibited widely  across the U.S. as well as in Australia and Belgium, gaining local as well as international recognition. After serving as Dean of the Pasadena Art Museum School in 1945, he became a faculty member at the University of Southern California. His academicism always emphasized awareness and sensitivity to the fragilness of the human condition, often showing humanity’s suffering in harsh, angular, distended compostions.

Francis de Erdely’s work is in the collections at the Chicago Institue of Art, The Melbourne National Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Luis Barragán

The Architecture of Luis Barragán

Luis Barragán was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His professional training was in engineering, resulting in a degree at the age of twenty-three. His architectural skills were self-taught. In the 1920s, Barragán traveled extensively in France and Spain and, in 1931, lived in Paris for a time, attending Le Corbusier’s lectures. His time in Europe, and subsequently in Morroco, stimulated an interest in the native architecture of North Africa and the Mediterranean, which he related to construction in his own country.

In the late 1920s, Barragán was associated with a movement known as the Escuela Tapatía or Guadalajara School, which espoused a theory of architecture dedicated to the vigorous adherence to regional traditions. His architectural practice was based in Guadalajara from 1927 until 1936 when he moved to Mexico City and remained until his death. Barragán’s work has been called minimalist, but it is nonetheless sumptuous in color and texture. Pure planes, be they walls of stucco, adobe, timber, or even water, are his compositional elements, all interacting with Nature.

Barragán has had a profound influence not only on three generations of Mexican architects, but many more throughout the world. In his acceptance of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, he said, “It is impossible to understand Art and the glory of its history without avowing religious spirituality and the mythical roots that lead us to the very reason of being of the artistic phenomenon. Without the one or the other there would be no Egyptian pyramids, nor those of ancient Mexico.”

Machado Silvetti

Machado Silvetti, “Asian Art Study Center”, 2016, Terra-Cotta Facade, Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida,

The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, is famed for its ornate Venetian-Gothic mansion named “Cà d’Zan”, meaning “House of John” referring to John Ringling, one of the famed owners of the Ringling Brothers Circus, who resided in the mansion with his wife. Construction started in 1924 on the mansion that was designed by New York architect Dwight James Baum. Baum’s design embodied the palazzos that line the Venice canals, emulating the Italian decor that the Ringlings fell in love with on their many trips to the Mediterranean.

The Boston firm Machado Silvetti used the showpiece structure of the mansion as a precedent for their design for the museum’s extension of the Asian Art Study Center. This new project included the conversion of approximately 18,000 square feet of preexisting gallery space from a temporary exhibition area to permanent galleries. Catering to the museum’s developing Asian collection, the scheme also included a gut renovation of the west-wing galleries, located to the southwest.

The most visually striking aspect of the project is the shimmering terra-cotta facade of the new addition. Asked for a monumental entrance to museum, Machado Silvetti created something unique to the site. More than three thousand jade-colored tiles clad the elevated extension, the color a nod to the  natural surroundings but in opposition to the original pink Italian buildings. The facade with the tiles’ large mass helps combat heat gain while also acting as a barrier wrapping the extension from the elements.

Studio Libeskind

Studio Libeskind, “Vanke Pavilion”, 2015 Milan Expo

The Vanke Pavilion is an exhibition hall and event space, designed by Daniel Libeskind’s architectural studio,  that was built for 2015 Milan Expo. Its design, based on the theme of the event, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” draws inspiration from ancient Chinese dragons which, legend has it, wielded power over weather and agriculture in early China.

The twisting exterior is clad in over 4,000 faceted porcelain tiles, resembling the scales of a gargantuan reptile. Each is embossed with a geometric motif and treated with a custom metallic glaze. This reflective coating causes the pavilion take on a fiery glow that shifts from red to gold depending on the angle of the sun. Ingeniously, the glaze also contains titanium dioxide which, when exposed to direct sunlight, breaks down organic deposits in the atmosphere, purifying the air around the pavilion.

Archea Associati

Archea Associati, Liling World Ceramic Art City, China

The Italian architectural firm Archea Associati designed a new architecture wonderland in Changsha, China, in collaboration with the Human Architectual Design Institute. Liling is a county-level city, known for its traditional porcelain and firework industries, in the Hunan province of China.

Liling Ceramic Art City is a new city section entirely devoted to ceramic art. It is a city, where the relationship between architecture, urban space, the material made by the company and industrial tradition merge into one.  The concept for the Liling design was inspired by the client, a leading producer of ceramic materials, who wanted to site a museum and a hotel in this industrial ceramics processing area. The designed buildings seek to spotlight its features and varied colors and production styles.

The entrance gate leads to the project’s core, an open square which is surrounded by a hotel, restaurants and three museums: two about calligraphy and one about ceramics. Residences and commercial services are located in the north-east area. All the buildings are connected via walkways below street level.

Fabio Novembre

Fabio Novembre, The S.O.S. Chair, 2003, Fiberglass, Polyurethane

Fabio Novembre was born in Milan in 1966. An architect since 1992, he became famous through a large series of design projects for restaurants, nightclubs and shops in Italy and abroad, as well as through his unique pieces of Italian furniture designed for Cappellini, Driade and Flaminia.

Novembre proposes works that highlight curvaceous forms and elegant and innovative lines. He often emphasizes sex within his creations. He stands on the boarders of provocation and poetry, contemporary art and design with his pieces.

The S.O.S. line is a joinable system of armchairs and chaise longue realized in a cubic form with a structure in lacquered matt black fiberglass. The sitting area is covered with a bielastic stitch spread in polyurethane and PVC, in a golden color.

Beatrice Cuming

Beatrice Cuming, “Chubb”, 1941, Oil on Canvas, Lyman Allyn Art Museum

The early 20th century in the United States was a time of rapid expansion and industrialization fueled in part by waves of immigration. A decade of exuberance followed World War I before the stock market crash of 1929 initiated the Great Depression of the 1930s. Abstraction and European modernism filtered into American art, while a realistic, regional style simultaneously held sway, resulting in a mix of subjects and styles.

Many artists were drawn to the energy and bustle of the modern city, awash in crowds and transformed by industry, skyscrapers and the automobile. Beatrice Cuming’s painting, “Chubb”, shows a submarine being built in the Groton, Connecticut shipyard during World War II. Cuming’s canvas affirmed New London’s long connection to the sea and celebrated industry at a time when the nation was consumed with the war effort.

Spencer Means, “Balcony at Casa Calvet”

Spencer Means, “Balcony at Casa Calvet”, Barcelona, Spain

Casa Calvet is a building, built between 1898 and 1900, designed by Antoni Gaudi for a textile manufacturer which served as both a commercial property and a residence. It is located at Carrer de Casp 48, Eixample district of Barcelona.

Gaudí scholars agree that this building is the most conventional of his works, partly because it had to be squeezed in between older structures and partly because it was sited in one of the most elegant sections of Barcelona. Its symmetry, balance and orderly rhythm are unusual for Gaudí’s works.

However, the curves, the double gable at the top, and the projecting oriel at the entrance are almost baroque in its drama. Modernist elements are evident in the isolated witty details. Bulging balconies alternate with smaller, shallower balconies.

Giorgio de Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico, “The School of Gladiators, The Fight”, 1928, Oil on Canvas

De Chirico always believed that his early academic training was vital in preparing him for his later work, and this conservative attitude set him apart from other modernists – particularly from the Surrealists who did so much to elevate his reputation. In the 1920s this outlook grew into a renewed belief in the value of craftsmanship and the Old Masters tradition, and it directed a shift in his style towards greater detail, richer color, and more conventionally accurate modeling of forms and volumes, as well as more emphatic references to Renaissance and Baroque art.

Giorgio de Chirico’s “The School of Gladiators: The Fight”, is part of a series of sixty paintings on the theme of gladiators, which de Chirico painted between early 1927 and 1929. Contrary to how he was executing his Metaphysical Period paintings of the 1910s, de Chirico in the 1920s applied thick, dense, short brush strokes. Moreover, the palette changed, becoming more hearty and brownish.

Tishk Barzanji

Illustrations by Tishk Barzanji

Tishk Barzanji is a visual artist who moved to London in 1997 and is based there. He studied Fine Art at Richmond upon Thames College, and Physics at Loughborough University. Barzanji’s work touches on the modernist movement and surrealism and is inspired by his childhood in Kurdistan. His process is about understanding the living space in a fast moving world and the human interactions within these spaces.

Walter Claude Flight

Walter Claude Flight, Title Unknown, (Swimmers). Date Unknown, Linocut Print

Walter Claude Flight was a world renown British printmaker born in London, England, in the year 1881. He attended the Heatherly School of Fine Art in London, England; and he subsequently taught at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London.

Flight was a member of a group called the ‘Seven and Five Society’, composed of seven painters and five sculptors that all produced modernist styles of art. The group included sculptor and printmaker Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hapworth. Flight was known for pioneering and popularizing the linoleum cut technique. He also painted, illustrated, and made wood cuts.

Influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism, Flight’s work expressed dynamic rhythm through bold, simple forms. His linocut prints show his interest in depicting speed and movement.

Kenton Nelson

Paintings by Kenton Nelson

Kenton Nelson was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.  He attended Long Beach State University and Otis Parsons Art Institute, and for the last 35 years has had his art studio in Pasadena, CA.  He has been on the faculty of the Otis Parsons Art Institute in Los Angeles and the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

Nelson traces his interest in painting back to his great uncle, Roberto Montenegro, renowned Mexican muralist and Modernist. The style of Nelson’s paintings have their origins in American Scene painting, Regionalism, and the work of the WPA artists of the 1930′s.

Nelson paints figures, landscape, and architecture bathed in light.  The objective in his paintings is to idealize the ordinary with the intention of engagement, using the iconic symbols and styles of his lifetime in a theatrical style to make leading suggestions.