Harry Sternberg

The Artwork of Harry Sternberg

Born to Russian-Hungarian parents in New York City in July of 1904, Harry Sternberg was an American printmaker, painter and educator. The youngest of eight children, he spent his childhood in Brooklyn  where, at the age of nine, he began art classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Sternberg studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1922 to 1926. He rented a studio in the Greenwich Village area after graduation and began a career in etching, painting, and printmaking. 

Sternberg had his first exhibition of work in 1931 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, one of the first exhibitions held at the museum’s West 8th Street address in the West Village area. In 1933, Sternberg was added as an instructor to the staff of the Arts Student League of New York, a position he would hold for the next thirty-five years. Among the students he trained were Charles Wilbert White Jr, known for his chronicling of Afro-American related subjects; painter and graphic artist Isabel Bishop, known for her scenes of everyday life in Manhattan; and artist and teacher Knox Martin, who became one of the leading members of the New York School of artists and writers.

After meeting painter Frida Kahlo and her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera, in 1934, Harry Sternberg became more active in union and socialist causes. He became involved with the government’s Works Progress Administration, WPA, in 1935 as a technical advisor to the Graphic Art Division of the Federal Art Project, a New Deal program to fund the visual arts in the United States. After being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1936, Sternberg spent a year studying the conditions of workers in steel mills and coal mines. The drawings, etchings and paintings from this period, depicting life in the industrial areas of the United States, later influenced the composition of his mural designs.  

Sternberg painted his first WPA mural. commissioned by the Department of the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture, for the lobby of the Sellersville Post Office in Pennsylvania. The twelve-foot long 1937 “Carrying the Mail”, depicting the placing of mail in a letterbox and its delivery, was executed in tempera on canvas. Upon its completion, Sternberg traveled to Chicago, where he studied the city’s history, architecture, and industry for his next commissioned mural. 

In 1938, Harry Sternberg created his twenty-four foot mural, “Chicago: Epoch of a Great City”, for the Lakeview Post Office in Chicago’s West Side. The painting shows the different stages of the city’s growth and its great industries in four areas: steel, electric power, the stockyards, and the manufacture of farm equipment. In the central portion of the mural is a scene depicting the great Chicago fire of 1871; located above that scene, is an image of the vibrant, modern-day Chicago. Due to years of exposure, a two-year restoration project for the mural was undertaken by Parma Conservation of Chicago from 2001 to 2003.

In addition to teaching at the Art Students League in New York, Sternberg also taught printmaking from 1942 to 1945 at the New School for Social Research. After retiring from the Student League and moving with his family to California, he established a studio in the city of Escondido where he continued to work as an artist. Sternberg also taught painting at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts until 1969. He participated from 1969 to 1978 in the Orme School Fine Arts Festival which exposed students to the instruction and work of professional artists. In 1990, Sternberg published “Sternberg: A Life in Woodcuts”, a collection of his prints produced over the years. 

A major retrospective exhibition of his life and oeuvre was presented in 2000, entitled “No Sun Without Shadow: The Art of Harry Sternberg”, at the Museum of the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Harry Sternberg died in November of 2001. He is the author of two books: “Composition: The Anatomy of Picture Making” and”Woodcut”.

You Insert Image: Harry Sternberg, “Poodle and the Clown”, circa 1950s, Lithograph, 40.6 x 30.5 cm, Private Collection

Middle Insert Image: Photographer Unknown,”Harry Sternberg in Studio”, Date Unknown

Bottom Insert Image: Harry Sternberg, “Chicago, Epoch of a Great City”, 1937, Mural Detail (Welder), Lakeview Post Office, Chicago

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly, “Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance VI”, 1951, Cut and Pasted Color Coated Paper and Pencil on Four Sheets of Black Paper, 94.6 x 94.6 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Born in Newburgh, New York in May of 1929, Ellsworth Kelly was an American painter, printmaker and a sculptor who was associated with Color Field painting, Minimalism, and the hard-edge painting style. Introduced to ornithology, the study of birds, at an early age by his grandmother, he developed a passion for form and color which he carried into his future works. Encouraged by his early teachers to pursue an artistic career, Kelly studied, starting in 1941, at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, which he attended until his induction into the Army in 1943.

Entering into military service, Kelly requested to be assigned to the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion which took many inducted artists. During World War II, he served with others in its deception unit, known as the Ghost Army, which used inflatable tanks and other elements of subterfuge, including the art of camouflage, to mislead the enemy forces. Kelly served with the unit until the end of the war’s European phase. From 1946 to 1947, he used the G.I. Bill to study at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts. 

During his time in Boston, Ellsworth Kelly exhibited in his first group show at the Boris Mirski Gallery and taught art classes at the Norfolk House Center in Roxbury. In 1948, he moved to Paris to study at its School of Fine Arts. Kelly immersed himself in Paris’s artistic resources and met such American artists as composer John Cage and dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, French surrealist artist Jean Arp and Romanian abstract sculptor Constantin Brâncuși , whose simplification of natural forms had a lasting influence on him.

In 1954 Kelly returned to the United States and settled in New York City. In May of 1956, and again in the fall of 1957, he had exhibitions at Betty Parson’s gallery. Three of Kelly’s works, “Atlantic”, “Bar” and “Painting in Three Panels”,  were selected for the Whitney Museum of American Arts’s exhibition entitled “Young America 1957”; all three works were considered radically different from the other entries in the show.

Ellsworth Kelly left New York City in 1970 and settled in Spencertown, a hamlet about one hundred-thirty miles north of the city. His husband, the photographer Jack Shear, joined him in 1984. Kelly worked in a twenty-thousand square foot extended studio in Spencertown until 2005. At that time, the couple moved to a small 1815 colonial house which they shared until Kelly’s death in December of 2015, at the age of ninety-two.

Ellsworth Kelly made his first abstract paintings in 1949. His 1950 “Seine”, consisting of black and white rectangles arranged by chance, was inspired by the dispersal of light on the surface of water. This was followed by a series of eight collages in 1951 entitled “Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance I to VIII”, produced  by using number slips of different colors arranged on a large square grid. Kelly’s work gradually increased in size and became more abstract with a focus on shape and masses of color on the canvas plane.

Starting in the 1960s, Kelly started painting on angular and, later,  shaped canvases; the first shaped work was his 1966 “Yellow Piece”. His 1968 “Green White” marks the first appearance of the triangle in his work, a shape which reoccurs throughout his career.  In 1971, Kelly produced a series of fourteen paintings entitled “Chatham Series”, each painting consisting of two panels painted in balancing monochrome colors and joined together. In 1979, he used curves in two-color paintings made of separate panels. In his later works Kelly distilled his palette and worked on rectangular panels of many coats of white, on top of which is placed a shaped black canvas.

An artist of many mediums and styles, Ellsworth Kelly produced many drawings of plants from the late 1940s onward. In the 1960s, he took up printmaking and, from 1964 to 1966, produced his “Suite of Twenty-Seven Lithographs”, during his stay in Paris. His 1988 “Purple/Red/Gray/Orange” at eighteen feet in length may be the largest single-sheet lithograph ever made. From 1959 onwards, Kelly made freestanding folded sculptures; in 1973 for his large-scale outdoor sculptures, he switched mediums to steel, aluminum, or bronze. Kelly produced a total of one hundred and forty sculptures in his lifetime.

Top Insert Image: Onni Saari, “Ellsworth Kelly in his Broad Steet Studio, New York”, 1956, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Ellsworth Kelly, “Colors for a Large Wall”, 1951, Oil on Sixty Four Canvas Panels, 240 x 240 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Third Insert Image: Ellsworth Kelly, “Spectrum IV”, Oil on Thirteen Canvas Panels, 297.2 x 297.2 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Bottom Insert Image: Ellsworth Kelly, “Meschers”, 1951, Oil on Camvas, 149.9 x 149.9 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York

John Cavanaugh

The Sculptural Work of John Cavanaugh

Born in Sycamore, Ohio in September of 1921, John Cavanaugh was an American sculptor who lived and worked in the Du Pont Circle area of Washington D.C.. The third son of four born to poor, intensely religious parents, he lost his father to suicide in 1929. Recognizing her son’s artistic talent and seeing no local options where he could study, Hilda Cavanaugh, John’s mother, sent him to the Ursulan convent in Tiffin, Ohio. In 1938, Cavanaugh relocated to Urbana, Ohio, to study art under painter and designer Alice Archer Sewall James. After his studies with James which included sculpture, Cavanaugh registered at Ohio State University, with initial studies in Literature and English Composition. After adding sculpture courses in his second year, he graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in 1945. 

In 1946, John Cavanaugh met and married Janet Corneille in Columbus, Ohio. After a move to Boston where John studied at the Swedenborgian Theological School, the couple had a son together, who due to hydrocephalic syndrome died shortly after birth. A second son, Jon, would later be born in 1951. In 1948, after a move to Iowa, Cavanaugh enrolled at the University of Iowa to study engraving and sculpture. To further his education, he again enrolled at Ohio State University where he continued his sculptural work with experiments in ceramic, cast stone, wood, and sheet metal.

Cavanaugh won the National Sculpture Society’s Purchase Prize in 1951 for his sculpture, “Goose”, which was purchased by Syracuse University’s  Everson Museum. In 1955, he had his first solo exhibitions at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and the Cranbook Academy of Art in Michigan. With the added recognition to his growing reputation, Cavanaugh was given a faculty position at the Columbus Museum School in Georgia where he taught modeling classes. During this period, he began a sculptural series of haunting large-headed children, possibly in reference to his first-born child, which he repeated through the 1960s and 1970s.

In the mid-1950s, John Cavanaugh began working at North American Aviation, a major aerospace manufacturer responsible for a number of historic aircraft. Using metal salvaged from the company’s salvage yard, he created the 1954 hammered metal “Goat Head”, which won the 1954 Ohio Ceramic and Sculpture Exhibition’s highest honor. Through his working at the NAA, Cavanaugh was able to set up a studio space in Columbus, Ohio. The year of 1956 was a difficult one for Cavanaugh. With growing doubts about his sexuality, his marriage, his art and religious beliefs, he left in September of that year for New York, leaving his wife and son, extended family and friends behind. His mother disowned Cavanaugh and tried to turn his three brothers against him; he never saw his mother again and only reconciled with his brothers after her death. Cavanaugh, however, stayed on good terms with both his wife, Janet, and his son. 

Old friends from Ohio helped John Cavanaugh settle on Staten Island; he supported himself by working part-time as an industrial designer and producing window displays and murals for Resident Display in Greenwich Village. Several months after his arrival, John Cavanaugh met Dorothea Denslow, who was acting Director and founder of the New York Sculpture Center in Brooklynn. In return for work at the Center, he received free studio space for his terracotta sculptural work. By 1958, Cavanaugh had his self-confidence back and was regularly working  on new creations. In 1959, he met Greenwich Village resident Philip Froeder, who was studying architecture at Columbia University in New York. They soon became partners, a relationship which lasted until Cavanaugh’s death. 

During the early 1960s, Cavanaugh began to produce bronze castings of his terracotta work, either as a single cast or in small editions. In 1962, he started using lead as a sculptural medium, which enabled him to quickly produce larger-scale sculptures without the prohibitive cost of bronze. Cavanaugh met the established hammered-copper sculptor Nina Winkel during this time; she became an increasingly important influence and support to him. In 1963 Cavanaugh had his first solo exhibition at the Sculpture Center, where he showed forty-seven works in lead, bronze and terracotta to positive reviews.

John Cavanaugh and Philip Froeder moved to Washington D.C. in 1963, where they both set up studio/exhibition spaces in the neighborhood of Du Pont Circle. After his first studio show in 1964 led to major commissions, Cavanaugh presented twice yearly studio exhibitions  from 1964 to 1984; these amounted to eight hundred works in lead, ceramic stoneware and bronze, of which two hundred were life-sized. He also had five additional solo shows in New York’s Sculpture Center, single shows at Ohio State University in 1964, and a show at Indiana’s Ball State University in 1976. 

Cavanaugh regularly exhibited with the National Sculpture Society in New York, which now awards the John Cavanaugh Silver Medal on an annual basis. A recipient of numerous awards, he was awarded the 1984 New York Foundry Prize of the National Sculpture Society. Many of his works are in the public spaces and adorn the facades and walkways of homes in Washington D.C. Cavanaugh’s major commissions include several major works for the Marriott, the Landmark Corporation and the Crown Tower apartment complex in New Haven, Connecticut, among others.

In the early 1980s, John Cavanaugh was stricken with illness, found to be related to cancer from working with lead. During his last two years he worked with intensity; however, by June of 1984, he did not have the strength to hammer the lead into shape. Cavanaugh turned to specialized glass painting and, using a combinations of plastic and was, sculpted pieces to be cast in bronze. By December of that year, he had produced over seventy wax models for casting, including five life-sized figures. John Cavanaugh died in Washington, D.C., on January 9th in 1985.

Cavanaugh’s life partner, Philip Froeder,  fulfilled Cavanaugh’s wish for a final exhibition called “The Spirit of Motion is Almost Balanced”. He also founded the John Cavanaugh Foundation to promote and support the work and ideas of Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh’s sculpture “Demeter” can be seen in the Friendship Garden of the U.S. National Arboretum; his sculpture  of Olive Risley Seward is installed in a private residence in Southeast Washington, near Seward Square.There are several sculptural plaques done by Cavanaugh on buildings in the Dupont Circle area. 

The john Cavanaugh Foundation is located at: http://www.cavanaughfoundation.org

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

Clive Smith

Paintings by Clive Smith

Born in St. Albans, England in 1967, Clive Smith is a British painter currently living and working in New York. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts from Kingston Polytechnic in 1988, he moved to New York City where he worked until 1991 for fashion companies in New York, Paris and Naples. Smith then worked until 1996 as a men’s clothing designer for Gap’s clothing division, Banana Republic. From 1995 to 1997, he studied painting and drawing at New York City’s Art Students League under painter Peter Cox, who was best known for his landscapes.  

As a painter, Clive Smith is interested in how contemporary painting discusses modern social issues. His realistic portraiture work of two decades  possess a high degree of naturalism, executed in a style which is reminiscent of the middle-career work done by painter Lucian Freud. These stark portraits, which often present a sense of melancholy, are painted with a palette of blues, beiges, grays, browns and ochres. The body language of the singular figures, and even those in groups, most often projects a sense of isolation and vulnerability.

In 1998, Smith won the BP Award Third Prize in London’s National Portrait Gallery’s annual exhibition and, in  1999, won the BP First Award. The BP Award is the most important portrait prize in the world, and is considered the most prestigious competition in contemporary art.  

After researching advances within genomic technology and hybridization and grafting techniques in plants, Smith produced two new series of paintings: the 2015-2019 “Speculative Birds, Mammals and Insects on Books”, a series of paintings on books depicting new creatures whose patterns and colors could match the DNA of a specific painting, and the 2018-2019 “Transgenic Bouquets”, images of newly-composed plant species painted on wood panels in the manner of the Dutch Masters. 

Clive Smith expanded the range of his work with other series: “Beak, Claw, Hand and Brush” which depicted, on large canvases, bird nests positioned on decorative plates: “Speculative Bird Paintings”, a series of bird images whose feathered forms match known paintings; and “Different But the Same”, a series in time containing drawings and canvases  showing multiple images of a person generated over the course of days and months.

Clive Smith had his first solo exhibition in 1999 at Gallerie DeBellefeuille in Montreal, Canada. He has had multiple solo exhibitions at the Marlborough Galleries located in New York, London, and Madrid. Smith’s most recent solo show was at the Marc Straus Gallery located in the Lower East Side of New York City. 

His work is in many public collections such as the Cleveland Museum of Art; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City; and the National Portrait Gallery, London, which commissioned and now holds Smith’s portrait of Sir Ian McKellen.

Clive Smith’s website is located at: https://www.clivesmithstudio.com

Middle Insert Image: Clive Smith, “Miró Tragopan (Tragopan toward the Rainbow)”, Speculative Birds, Mammals and Inscects on Books Series, 2019, Oil, Gouache and Pencil on Found Book

Bottom Insert Image: Clive Smith, “Comfort Mound”, 1999, Oil on Canvas, Size Unknown

Alex Folla

The Paintings of Alex Folla

Born in 1980 in Oggiono, a northern town in the Province of Lecco, Alex Folla is a contemporary Italian artist. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Painting at Milan’s Accademia di Brera and a Masters Degree in Visual Arts from the Accademia di Bella Arti in the city of Carrara. He currently lives and works in Milan, Filorera located in the Italian Alps, and Moscow.

Trained in the history and techniques of the Renaissance and Baroque artists from Michelangelo to Caravaggio, Alex Folla uses his classical training to tackle contemporary life though metaphoric images. He creates profoundly technical and pictorial realistic images which incorporate such human issues as the frailty of the body, illness, holiness and strength. In many of his works, Folla takes traditional sacred imagery and, using its classical composition and his stylistic choice, reconstructs it to form symbolic images of a more contemporary nature.

In his 2016 show “BulleTime”, Alex Folla based his work on the idea of martyrdom  and reinterpreted the classical images of the Christian martyrs in a more contemporary way. The figures of the martyrs, often substituted with either a self-portrait or one of  friends, were painted in seventeenth-century techniques with gold leaf backgrounds used in early traditional Byzantine paintings. Folla’s paintings in this series are contemporary in appearance by his use of the “bullet time” cinematic technique, a slow-motion film shot enabling you to see every moment of the scene, typically when the protagonist dodges the incoming bullet. With the use of this technique from movie culture, Folla focuses the attention of the viewer towards each of the paintings’ figures, who are seen moving from their position as if to avoid an object’s trajectory and their inevitable martyrdom.

Alex Folla’s paintings have appeared in multiple group exhibitions throughout the world including the 2010 Castello Dei Pico Exhibition, where he won the Volturno Morani Prize; the 2014 International Alla Prima Exhibition in New Delhi; the 2016 LA Art Show in Los Angeles; the 2014 and 2016 SWAB International Exhibitions in Barcelona; and the 2017 Ostrale 17 Biennale in Dresden, Germany, among others.

Alex Folla’s fist solo exhibition, entitled “Black and White”,  was in 2013 at Milan’s Union Gallery. Since then, he has had multiple solo shows including two at Moscow’s Triumph Gallery: “Miracles” in 2014 and “#unknownmonk” in 2015; the 2014 “Football Players” at the Savina Gallery in St. Petersburg; the 2016 “bulleTime” at Los Angeles’s Building Bridge Gallery; and the 2016 “#unknownmonk 2.0” at Los Angeles’s Italian Institute of Culture in collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Additional images, exhibition dates and contact information can be found at the artist’s site located at: http://www.alexfolla.org/saints3.html

Top Insert Image: Alex Folla, “Patrocio”, 2020, Oil and Gold Leaf on Canvas, 145 x 145 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Alex folla, “Aiace”, 2020, Oil and Gold Leaf on Canvas, 145 x 145 cm

John Minton, “Portrait of Kevin Maybury”

John Minto, “Portrait of Kevin Maybury”, 1956, Oil on Canvas, 129.4 x 98.8 cm, Tate Museum, London

In April of 1956,  painter John Minton took a one-year hiatus without pay from his position as head of the Painting Department of London’s Royal College of Art. This was at a period in his career when his figurative style of painting was being overtaken by the new movement of Abstract Expressionism. Minton was having profound doubts about the relevance of painting in the modern world and doubts about his own ability as a teacher and a painter.

Shortly after leaving the Royal College, Minton accepted a commission to design stage sets for two productions at London’s Royal Court Theater, “Don Juan” and “The Death of Satan”. These two plays, to be presented by the English Stage Company, were written by playwright Ronald Duncan and had been previously performed, “Don Juan” in 1953 and “The Death of Satan”, a comedy performed in 1954.

While working at the theater, John Minton met Kevin Maybury, an Australian carpenter working in the scenery department. A relationship developed and by the winter of 1956 Maybury had moved into Minton’s Chelsea house at 9 Apollo Place. Although Minton made several portrait drawings of Maybury, the”Portrait of Kevin Maybury”, shown above, is the only painting of Maybury known to be done by Minton. 

Finding himself out of sync with the new abstract expressionist movement, John Minton found himself left by the wayside in the painting world. He suffered psychological problems and turned to self-medicating with alcohol. In January of 1957, John Minton died, at the age of thirty-nine, from an overdose of sleeping pills in what was ruled a suicide.

After Minton’s death, Kevin Maybury subsequently had a distinguished career as a stage manager in South Africa and was the first person to earn a lifetime achievement award for services to South African theatre. Kevin Maybury died. at the age of eighty-four, in July of 2013 at his home in Johannesburg.

The “Portrait of Kevin Maybury”, most likely painted at the workshop in The Royal Court Theater during the summer of 1956, shows Kevin Maybury, posed and informally dressed,  holding a collapsible ruler and surrounded by the tools of his trade. The surface of the canvas is composed of geometric forms upon which tools lie at angles. The right side of the canvas is dominated by the easel which seems to lie flat on the plane of the canvas surface. This combined with the tilted up floor shortens the depth of the image.

Top Insert Image: Michael Ayrton, “John Minton”, October 1941, Oil on Panel, 41 x 33.5 cm, Private Collection

Middle Insert Image: John Minton, “Kevin Maybury Having a Nap”, 1956-1957, Ink and Wash on Paper, 25.2 x 37 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: John Minton, “Kevin Maybury and Spanish Boy”, Pen, Ink, Gouache and Crayon on Paper, 37.3 x 27.3 cm, Private Collection

 

John Minton

The Artwork of John Minton

Born in Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire in December of 1917, Francis John Minton was an English illustrator, painter, stage designer and educator. He studied art at St. John’s Wood School of Art in northern London from 1935 to 1938.  Minton was introduced to the work of the French Neo-Romantic painters by his fellow student Michael Ayrton, who would become renowned for his writings and sculptural work. Between 1938 to 1939, he spent eight months studying art in France, often in the company of Ayrton, until the start of the second World War necessitated his return to England.

In 1941, John Minton joined the Pioneer Corps, a division of the British Army combatant corps used for light engineering tasks. He received a commission in a light infantry regiment in 1943, but was discharged in the same year on medical grounds. While in the army, Minton, collaborating with Michael Ayrton, designed sets and costumes for actor and theater director John Gielgud’s 1942 production of “Macbeth”. In the same year, they presented their paintings in a joint exhibition at London’s Leicester Galleries. Minton’s intense, realistic work was expressed in dark color schemes and included a self-portrait and cityscapes of streets and bombed buildings.

During the war years, Minton met painters Adrian Ryan and Lucian Freud and developed a close friendship which soon became an intimate sexual relationship with both men that lasted until the late 1940s. After he had seen Freud’s portrait of Francis Bacon, Minton commissioned in 1952 his own portrait from Freud. Between 1943 and 1946, Minton taught illustration at London’s Camberwell College of Arts. He often attended late night sessions at The Colony Room Club, a private members’ drinking and social club known for its debauchery, and visited jazz clubs that dotted London’s Soho district. 

After he left Camberwell College, John Minton served as the head of the drawing and illustration department at the Central School of Art and Design from 1946 to 1948. During these years, he  continued his own work and shared a studio, first with painters and theater set designers Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, and later with painter Keith Vaughan, all of whom were artists of the Neo-Romantic circle in that immediate post-war period. 

Minton began a prolific period of work after 1945; besides entries in group exhibitions, he had seven solo shows at London’s prestigious Lefevre Gallery before 1956. Minton, in addition to creating his paintings and illustrative work, also became a tutor of painting in 1949 at the Royal College of Art, where he taught until the year before his death. By the mid-1950s with the arrival of the newly popular American Abstract Expressionism, Minton’s commitment to figural composition had begun to be ween as out-dated. 

John Minton returned to the world of the theater and accepted a commission to design stage sets for two productions by playwright Ronald Duncan for London’s Royal Court Theater, “Don Juan” and “The Death of Satan”. While working at the theater, he met Kevin Maybury, an Australian carpenter working in the scenery department. A relationship soon developed and, by the winter, Maybury had moved into Minton’s house in Chelsea. Maybury became the model for several drawings by Minton and also posed for a portrait in which he is shown seated in his workshop surrounded by the tools of his trade. 

Finding his work out of fashion and suffering from psychological problems, Minton began to self-medicate with alcohol. In April of 1956, he left the Royal College of Art on a one-year unpaid leave; his departure caused by a lack of confidence in his own ability as both teacher and painter, and by deep-seated doubts about the relevance of painting in the modern world. He started suffering from extreme mood swings and became more dependent on alcohol. John Minto was found dead on the 22nd of January in 1957. The coroner’s verdict was suicide. 

John Minton’s final work, an ambitious large-scale painting, was incomplete at the time of his death and depicted a gravely injured man surrounded by distraught onlookers.  On the day before Minton’s death, the painter Ruskin Spear had visited him at his studio and was told that Minton identified the dying figure with Hollywood actor James Dean, who had died two years previously in a car accident. The painting, known as the 1957 “The Death of James Dean”, is clearly unfinished; there were indications through friends that Minton never intended to finish it as he was worried about not being able to break out of his past style.

Minton’s range of work was wide and included designs for stamps, textiles and wallpapers; posters for the London Transport system and Ealing Studios, a television and film producer; large scale paintings for the Royal Academy and the Dome of Discovery exhibition space at the 1951 Festival of Britain; and numerous landscapes of the British countryside. However, he is best remembered for his illustrative work for books, both interior work and book jackets. Among these are poet Alan Ross’s travel book “Time Was Away-A Notebook in Corsica”, author Herbert Ernest Bates’s “The Country Heart”, and two ground-breaking cook books by food writer Elizabeth David.

Note: A history of the relationship between John Minton, Lucian Freud and Adrian Ryan, interspersed with images of their work, can be found at the online Museum Crush magazine located at: https://museumcrush.org/art-sex-and-death-the-unholy-trinity-of-freud-minton-and-ryan/

Top Insert Image: Rollie McKenna, “John Minton”, 1951, Bromide Print, 24.5 x 19.4 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Second Insert Image: John Minton, “John Minton”, circa 1953, Oil on Canvas, 35.6 x 25.4 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Third Insert Image: John Minton, “The Life Model”, 1948, Oil on Canvas, 63.5 x 76 cm, Private Collection 

Bottom Insert Image: John Deakin, “John Minton, Soho”, 1951, Gelatin Silver Print, Michael Hoppen Gallery

Wayne Howarth

The Artwork of Wayne Howarth

Based in North West England, Wayne Howarth is a British artist, the son of illustrator Walt Howarth who was known for his interior and cover art of such British serial comics as Doctor Who, The Avengers, and Tarzan .After graduating from Liverpool Polytechnic in 1979, Wayne Howarth became a successful interior designer for many high profile clients throughout Great Britain. In 2009, Howarth changed the focus of his career to drawing, a passion he has had since childhood.

Howarth’s portraiture work is most often done in a combination of mediums. Harris’s figurative images, mainly done in pencil, are combined with surface pattern designs taken from textiles and wall coverings, which are then rendered by Howarth in acrylics and watercolors. Gold and copper leaf are also occasionally applied to the background patterns for embellishment.

Wayne Howarth’s work and contacts, including image purchases and  commissions for portraits, can be found at the artist’s site located at: https://www.waynehowarthillustration.com

John Craxton

Paintings by John Craxton

Born to pianist and composer Harold Craxton and his wife Essie in October of 1922, John Leith Craxton RA, was an English painter. Considered too young to attend nude life drawing at the Chelsea School of Art, he instead studied at Paris’s Academie Julian and later at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in 1929. With the outbreak of war in Europe, he returned to London and completed his training at Westminster School of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts.

Rejected for military service, Craxton attended Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, and had his first solo exhibition was in London in 1942 at the Swiss Cottage Café. In 1943, Craxton traveled through the Pembrokeshire woodlands with artist and designer Graham Sutherland, who had recently begun painting surreal, organic landscapes in oils. Returning to London, he had his first major solo show in 1944 at the Leicester Galleries, known for its exhibitions of modern international artists.

John Craxton’s work was considered part of the Neo-Romantic revival which sought to provide meaning and content to the modern existence. His early works done before 1945 showed the influences of artists Graham Sutherland and painter and printmaker Samuel Palmer whose visionary Shoreham landscapes had a great effect on both Craxton and Sutherland. Craxton was also heavily influenced by his friend and patron Peter Watson, a wealthy gay English art collector who provided financial assistance to Craxton, as well as Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud among others.

With the end of the Second World War, John Craxton began to travel extensively from 1946 to 1966, during which time he visited Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Istanbul, and Italy. However, his main interest was in Greece, and especially the island of Crete, where he permanently settled in 1970 with return visits to Paris and London. Writing in his memoirs, American painter and food writer Richard Olmey remembered Craxton’s visits to Paris during the summer of 1951: “Most nights, John Craxton, a young English painter, arrived to share my bed; we kept each other warm. He moved in a bucolic dreamworld, peopled with beautiful Greek goat herders. Soon he left for Greece.“

In 1951, Craxton designed the stage sets for the production of French composer Maurice Ravel’s longest work, “Daphnis et Chloé”, a retelling of the romance tale from the second century concerning the love between the goatherd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloé. Craxton was able to use his experiences in Greece as a basis for his set designs. The Sadler’s Wells Ballet, now The Royal Ballet, performed Ravel’s work at Covent Garden in central London. In 1968, Craxton produced costumes and scenery for one more ballet: the 1968 performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “Apollo” performed at the Royal Opera House.

John Craxton exhibited his works in England and Greece, with a major retrospective of his work shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1967. He his work has appeared in print magazines; he also illustrated English writer Patrick Leigh Fermor’s series of books, and  produced lithographs for several anthologies edited by poet and critic Geoffrey Grigson. Elected a Royal Academician in 1993, Craxton also became a British Honorary Consul of Crete. He died at the age of eighty-seven in November of 2009. He, never married, was survived by his long-term partner whom he met in the early 1970s, Richard Riley. 

Top Insert Image: John Craxton, “Tree Trunk and Ruin”, 1944, Watercolor, Ink and Gouache on Paper, 21 x 14.5 cm, Private Collection

Middle Insert Image: Wolfgang Suschitzky, “John Craxton in Hydra, Greece”, 1969, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: John Craxton, “Self Portrait”, 1946-1947, Oil on Paper, 32.3 x 23.2 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

Simkha Simkhovitch

Simkha Simkhovitch,”Fishermen”, 1948, Pencil, Watercolor and Gouache on Paper on Board, 73.3 x 45.7 cm, Private Collection 

Born in the city of Novozybkov in June of 1885, Simka Faibusovich Simkhovitch was a Russian artist. He began drawing at the age of seven when confined to his room with a severe case of measles. In 1905, Simkhovitch started studying at the Grekov Odessa Art School, one of the oldest art schools in the Ukraine. Upon his graduation in 1911, he received a recommendation for admittance to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, which was considered a notable honor at that time. 

Though he began courses in architecture, sculpture and painting, Simkhovitch was dismissed from the Imperial Academy in December of 1911 due to the quota on Jewish students and was drafted into the army. During the first World War, he served as a private until his demobilization in 1912, at which time he reenrolled at the Imperial Academy. Like many others, Simkhovitch was caught in the chaos of the Russian Revolution in 1917; however, he survived and continued his work under the new Soviet government. 

In 1918, Simka Simkhovitch exhibited paintings and sculptures in an exhibition of Russian Jewish artists and, in 1919, placed first in “The Great Russian Revolution” competition with his painting “Russian Revolution”. This painting was added to Saint Petersburg’s historical State Museum of Revolution’s collection. Simkhovitch exhibited his work at the 1922 International Book Fair held in Florence, Italy. Two years later, he traveled to the United States for the purpose of illustrating Soviet textbooks; however, once in the country, he made the decision to immigrate and remain in New York City.

Initially supporting himself by portrait commissions and commercial art, Simkhovitch was hired to paint a theatrical screen for the play “The Command to Love” which was playing at Broadway’s Longacre Theater. This started his career as a screen painter for the theater and brought him to the attention of screenwriter Ernest Pascal, known for his screenplay of “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, who gave him work as an illustrator. Pascal, in turn, introduced Simkhovitch to gallery owner Marie Sterner who purchased two paintings and held solo exhibitions of his work at her gallery in 1927 and 1928. These shows were followed by a solo exhibition of his circus paintings, also at the Marie Sterner Gallery, in 1929.

Simka Simkhovitch moved in the early 1930s with his wife, Elsa, and his three daughters to Conneticutt where he established a studio in his house. There he continued to produce works by commission during the Great Depression years. After a solo exhibition at New York City’s  Helen Hackett Gallery in 1931, Simka Simkhovitch became one of the featured artists at the 1931 exhibition held at San Fransisco’s California Palace of the Legion of Honor located in Lincoln Park. Coordinated by Marie Sterner, the exhibition featured four of Simkhovitch’s watercolors, including his “Nudes”, now in a private collection. 

Beginning in 1936, Simkhovitch began working with the Works Progress Administration, WPA, painting murals for public buildings in the United States. His first work was a 1938 mural for the Jackson, Mississippi, post office and courthouse. Painted on the wall behind the judge’s bench, “Pursuits of Life in Mississippi”, a depiction of black workers engaged in manual labor amid scenes of white professionals and socialites, was eventually covered over in later years during renovations due to its stereotypical imagery. 

In 1936 after winning a competition for the work, Simkhovitch received a commission for four murals at the Beaufort, North Carolina, post office. Upon his return to Conneticutt, he painted the four mural panels depicting the 1886 tragedy of the schooner Crissie Wright, driven onto rocks off the coast of Beaufort, North Carolina, during a winter storm, which resulted in the deaths of all six sailors, four frozen to death. These panels were installed in the Beaufort post office in 1938. The completed mural was  later restored in the 1990s by Elisabeth Speight, the daughter of two muralist who had worked with the WPA.

In February of 1949, Simka Simkhovitch purchased a home in Milford, Conneticutt for his family; the property included a barn which was to be his studio. While in the process of moving, he developed pneumonia and died two weeks later on the 25th of February, at the age of fifty-six. Simkhovitch’s work is in private collections and in numerous museums, including the Polish National Museum in Krakow, the Dallas Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art in Washington DC,  and the Whitney Museum in New York City. A collection of his papers is housed in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.

Top Insert Image: Simka Simkovitch, Title and Date Unknown, (Picnic), Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Middle Insert Image: Simkha Simkhovitch, “Self Portrait with Family”, Date Unknown, Private Collection 

Bottom Insert Image: Simka Simkovitch “Boxers”, 1932. Oil on Canvas, Private Collection 

J. Carino

The Artwork of J. Carino

Based in Riverside, California, J. Carino is a figurative artist whose work illustrates the interconnection between man with his sense of self-awareness and the natural world, both literal and symbolic. A  2011 graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York City, he works in a variety of mixed-media techniques and often uses distortion and abstraction in the construction of his work’s figures.

Carino’s images depict nude, queer figures, often monumental in size, who are set in landscapes both idyllic and suffused with danger. Applying ideas from his study of the decorative arts, he explores the concepts of queerness, self-identity, queer intimacy, sensuality, and man’s relationship with the natural world through images of richly colored and patterned, layered figures and flora. During the evolution of his work’s creation, Carino often adds and removes the layers of landscape and figures to achieve the desired result.

J. Carino’s work has appeared in multiple exhibitions both in the United States and overseas. These include both the Act 1 and Act 2 Summer Stage exhibitions at Auxier/Kline in New York, the 2021 online “Eye Candy” exhibition by the WB Gallery,  the 2020 Art Pride International, and, in the United Kingdom, the 2022 collective “Come Out & Play” at London’s BEERS gallery and the 2019 exhibition at Rye’s McCully & Crane Gallery, among others. 

“Like many queer people, there is a dichotomy of wanting to be seen as a whole person, sexuality included, but also the fear of people seeing too much. My figures, often self portraits, inhabit landscapes of abundance and fertility, lush with ferns and fruit, like an eden where these fears dissipate. Through my work, I explore the complicated influence of intimacy, sexuality, and being seen, especially as it relates to gay relationships and our ability to connect with one another and ourselves.” —J. Carino

J. Carino’s work can be found at the artist’s site located at https://www.jcarinoart.com  and  also at the following gallery locations  https://linktr.ee/j.carino.art

Bottom Insert Image: J. Carino, “Self Portrait”, Date Unknown, Mixed Media on Paper

Piero Fornasetti

The Artwork of Piero Fornasetti

Born in Milan, Italy in November of 1913, Piero Fornasetti was an eclectic artist who was an important figure in the Italian design scene. A prolific creator of designs, he was involved in many aesthetic disciplines including painting, drawing, graphic design, and product design. In the course of his career, Fornasetti created over ten thousand works and was responsible for one of the largest outputs of diverse objects and furniture of the twentieth-century. 

The first child of a wealthy family, Fornasetti was already at the age of ten drawing and displaying an innate inclination towards art. In 1932, he enrolled at the Academia di Brera, Milan’s public academy of fine arts; however, two years later he was expelled for insubordination. Although he applied to Milan’s Superior School of Arts Applied to Industry, Fornasetti was unable to adhere to the schools dogma due to his rebellious nature. 

Beginning in the early 1930s, Piero Fornasetti began a individual and comprehensive study of  engraving and printing techniques. With this knowledge and his developed technical skill, he began to print artist books and lithographs for many of the great artists of the time, including composer and playwright Alberto Savinio, painter Fabrizio Clerici, and painter and writer Giorgio de Chirico. The Fornasetti Art Printshop became the source of quality printing for many artists of his generation. Fornasetti, through his constant experimentation, later developed a printing method for graphic effects on silk; this innovation brought him  to the attention of designer and publisher Gio Ponti, with whom Fornasetti would develop a close creative partnership. 

From the early 1940s and onward, Fornasetti produced a vast series of limited edition graphic works, which included calendars, holiday gifts, and images for advertising, theater, posters, and publications. He produced sketches and drawings for the Esino Lario School of Tapestry, whose fine silk tapestries were produced by local village girls. In 1940 Fornasetti began to publish his own work in the architectural design magazine Domus, and for two years designed a series of almanacs for Gio Ponti. Taking refuge in Switzerland in 1943 during the war, he continued his graphic work, expanding into watercolors, oil portraits, drawings in ink, and the creation of theatrical sets for Albert Camus’s 1938 “Caligula”.

Upon his return to Milan, Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti began a close creative partnership which centered on architectural concepts in design and decoration. With the beginning of the 1950s, they put their theories into practice developing new simple and functional designs for the interiors of homes, apartments, cinemas and even ship cabins. Their initial project, the “Architettura” trumeau, a furniture design concept seen in an image above, was exhibited at the 1951 Triennale IX in Milan. This piece of furniture became an icon of Italian design in the interwar years of economic growth. 

Fornasetti is best known for his designs using fanciful motifs such as the moon, sun, playing cards, animals, and other surrealist imagery; most of which were executed in black and white. In 1952, he began work on his iconic and best known series, “Tema a Variazioni (Theme and Variations)”, a facial portrait of opera singer Lina Cavalieri, who was renowned at the time as a true archetype of a classical beauty. This image continues to appear today on a series of everyday objects from porcelain and fabrics to furniture and wall coverings. This portrait series entered into the world of theater as set designs in  Fornasetti’s production of Mozart’s two-act opera, “Don Giovanni”. These designs were used in the December 2016 performances at Milan’s Teatro dell’ Arte and in the  January 2017 performances at Florence’s Teatro della Pergola.

In 1970, Piero Fornasetti, along with a group of friends, operated the Galleria dei Bibliofili, where he exhibited his own work and the work of other contemporary artists. His paintings at this time contained both layered abstractions, with interacting colors done in various techniques, and figurative works done in a new pictorial style, where bodies and faces were composed of fruits and bottles. After the death of Gio Ponti in 1979 and the opening of London’s “Themes and Variations” design gallery in 1980, Fornasetti’s work and his idealogical concepts of form/function gained new interest both at home and abroad. 

Piero Fornasetti died in October of 1988 during a minor operation in hospital. In 2013, Silvana Annicchiarico, the director of the Triennale Design Museum, dedicated a first retrospective of Fornasetti’s work at the museum; this exhibition later went on tour to Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza. A 1987 collaboration between Fornasetti and fashion writer and publisher Patrick Mauriés, which became a monograph entitled “Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams”, was published posthumously in 2015 with an introduction by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. Piero Fornasetti’s work can be seen in the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Note” An example of the range of Piero Fornasetti’s oeuvre can be found at the online Fornasetti website located at: https://www.fornasetti.com/bd/en/

Soufiane Ababri

Drawings by Soufiane Ababri

Born in Rabat, Morocco in 1985, Soufiane Ababri is a multi-media artist who works in the fields of drawing, sculpture, film, and performance art. He graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 2010 and earned his Masters of Arts at Paris’s École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in 2014. Ababri divides his life and work between the cities of Paris, France, and Tangier, Morocco. 

Although he works in many medias, Soufiane Ababri is best known for his homoerotic drawings of men portrayed in settings which depict a flourishing queer subculture. His scenes, either  humorous or infused with emotion, are drawn from his life as a gay Moroccan immigrant in Europe. Ababri’s most acclaimed series, “Bed Works”, was initiated in 2016 and is still continuing today. These pencil portraits of men, drawn while lying down in bed, are conveyed in bold, energetic colors and explore Ababri’s interest in the nuances of masculinity and male intimacy. 

Having a strong interest in sociology, Ababri’s oeuvre also deals with the idea of visual experience as an exercise in introspection, that is the artist sees the world as the world sees him. Ababri’s work, built from layers of personal and intimate events, also uses literary works, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 “Little Prince” and poet Frank O’Hara’s “A True Account of Talking to the Sun”, to examine the tensions, stigmas,  and ambivalences in present day  society. 

Soufiane Ababri’s 2020 “Tanned But Still Angry” series consisted of seventeen colored pencil on paper drawings that Ababri developed over several years in reaction to police violence. These drawings depicted real scenes and situations experienced by Ababri himself and fellow members of the LGBT and POC communities. Fueled by the deaths of Adama Traoré in 2016 and George Floyd in May, the series not only powerfully displays injustice, but also, often poetically, emphasizes the need for equality.

Soufiane Ababri’s most recent solo show, the 2021 “Bunch of Queequeg”, named after the “Moby Dick” character, included all works from the continuing “Bed Work” series and was held at Praz-Delavallade in Los Angeles.The triptych drawing from that exhibition, seen in the above images, shows Ababri as Queequeg in the middle panel, with Ishmael in tight-fitting shorts on the right panel and three skewered severed heads on the left panel. In this work, Ababri considers not only the literature of colonialism and its lasting effects on daily life and culture, but also its presence in our most intimate relationships.

Ababri’s installation / performance pieces include the 2017 “Moving Frontiers: Do and Undo” at the Espace Doual’Art in Doula, CM; the 2018 “Humes l’Ordeur des Fleurs Pendant Qu’il en est Encore Temps” held at the Marathon des Mots in Toulouse, France; the 2018 “Here is a Strange and Bitter Crop” at Space in London; the 2019 “Tropical Concrete Gym Park” at the Glassbox in Paris; the 2019 “Memories of a Solitary Cruise” held at The Pill in Istanbul; and the 2020 “Something New Under the Little Prince’s Body” at the Dittrich & Schlechtriem in Berlin.

Soufiane Ababri has exhibited in Berlin, Brussels, and Istanbul. His work is in the collections of Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Pointou-Charente and Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, and Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, Pays de la Loire. In 2021 Ababri’s work was included in the Glasgow International Festival for Contemporary Art. 

Note: Photos of Soufiane Ababri’s performance and artwork, as well as  contact information, can be found at: https://soufianeababri.com

An interesting article, written by Joey Levenson, on Soufiane Ababri’s newest book and his use of intimacy as a means of social construct analysis can be found at: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/soufiane-ababri-art-100821

Jesús Carrillio

Paintings by Jesús Carrillio

Born in the Andalusian town of Córdoba, Jesús Carrillio is a Spanish multi-media artist who also uses the name Eltío Esse. He works in the fields of painting, photography, computer graphics and film making, Interested in drawing and color from an early age, Jesús Carrillio received his initial lessons in art from his older brother, the painter José Maria Carrillio. 

At the age of sixteen,  Jesús Carrillio attended the Priego Landscape School where he did landscape painting influenced by the school’s impressionistic style. His formal art training began at Granada’s Padre Suárez Institute where he studied art history, art theory, and aesthetics. In 1990, Carrillio attended the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Granada, where he majored in painting.

After graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Jesús Carrillio moved in 1995 to the seaside city of Brighton, England, where he painted and worked as a postman. Three years later, he moved to Salamanca, Spain, where he enrolled in its University to study design and both audiovisual and multimedia techniques. Influences on Carrillio’s expressionistic work are the Italian and Flemish paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries , and his attraction to African culture and art.

Carrillio often uses computer software to enhance his painted images. Both his film and video art, as well as his unique animated and static GIFs,  are designed to be viewed as projections at performances and installation projects. Carrillio’s photographic work and digital paintings are printed on brushed aluminum panels, a process in which, while darker areas of the image appear matte, the lighter areas of the image have a unique shimmer.

More information on Jesús Carrillio’s work, including commissioned pieces and contact information, can be found at his Artfinder site located at: https://www.artfinder.com/artist/eltioesse/

Nebojša Zdravković

Paintings by Nebojša Zdravković

Born in Belgrade in 1959, Nebojša Zdravković is a Serbian artist known for his precise drawing and dynamic color palette. He graduated with a Masters Degree in the Arts and was granted a scholarship by the Spanish government for his post-graduate studies in Madrid. 

Zdravković’s images of male eroticism are executed using a highly expressive color range in a classic impressionistic style. He paints primarily from life, using models for reference, with a particular focus on the effect of light upon his subjects and the posed surroundings.

Nebojša Zdravković, who lives and works in Belgrade, is a member of theAssociation of Fine Artists of Serbia, ULUS. His work has been exhibited at many group shows and at solo exhibitions in Paris, London, Belgrade, Athens, and Cyprus. Zdravković had solo exhibitions at London’s Adonis Art Gallery in 2002 and 2003.  

Kris Knight

Paintings by Kris Knight

Born in 1980 in Windsor, Kris Knight is a Canadian painter who has been interested in art since a young age. He moved to Toronto at the age of nineteen and studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he majored in Painting and Drawing, with minors in Curating and Criticism.

The majority of Knight’s work, often painted in series, has been portraits based on real people, mostly close friends and family members. He has also produced self-portraits, collaged images taken from mass media, and works on the themes of loss, bonding and secrets. The subjects of Knight’s work have mostly been either young or androgynous-appearing men, who are portrayed in mute color tones effecting a powdered or translucent appearance. His pastels and tonal oil paintings, set in both theatrical and ordinary settings, combine nostalgia and romanticism in their exploration of life’s experiences.

Inspired by an eighteenth-century style of painting, Knight’s work draws from the movements of Romanticism, Symbolism and artwork of the Rococo period. Having had an interest in the era of the French Revolution since a child, he was also inspired by the portraiture work of French painters Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Baron Joseph Ducreux. Additional influences came from the works of portrait painter Thomas Lawrence, Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin, and John Singer Sargent, considered the leading portrait painter of his day.

Kris Knight painted his “Lost and Found” series in 2012. This series of portraits dealt with disenchanted youths who subtly play the roles of hunter and the hunted. Often shown wearing furs and masks, the paintings explored the emotional state of being lost and the process of recovery. His 2013 series “Secrets Are Things We Grow” explored secrets that people keep and the bond that forms once a secret is revealed to those held close. The use of patterns and symbols of nature are used to represent the growth of secrets over time.

In 2014, Knight painted his “Smell the Magic” series, which had its premiere, sponsored by Gucci, at the Spinello Project’s pop-up gallery in Wynwood, Florida. The paintings in this series were done with brighter color tones; an influence of surrealism can be seen in the use of Ouija board pointers for eyes and overlaid flower blossoms on faces. In 2017, Knight had a solo exhibition at Art Toronto which contained work in a smaller scale with a more theatrical approach. These works focused on the subject of performance in everyday life and the roles portrayed to others.

Kris Knight began involved in the fashion industry early in his career. His paintings were used for four 2012 covers for Fashion for Men magazine and, in 2014, his paintings’ pastel color palette was credited for Gucci’s men’s ready-to-wear fall and winter collection. Collaborating with Gucci, Knight created several botanical floral prints, based on a previous work in 1966, which were incorporated into creative director Frida Giannini’s designs for Gucci’s Cruise 2015 seasonal wear. Knight’s work was later shown at the group exhibition, “Carte Blanche a Christin Lacroix”, at Paris’s Musée Cognacq-Jay in November of 2014.

Kris Knight’s work is represented by the Spinello Gallery in Miami, Florida, and at Paris’s Galerie Alain Gutharc. His website, which includes upcoming exhibitions, can be found at: https://krisknight.com/home.html .

Middle Insert Image: Kris Knight, “Let’s Not Speak So Heavy”, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 35.6 x 27.9 cm

Andrés Miró Quesada

Paintings by Andrés Miró Quesada

Born in Lima, Andrés Miró Quesada is a Peruvian painter whose narrative works depicting male figures generate a sense of playful eroticism and sensuality. He studied at Lima’s Alexander von Humboldt College, a German international, school from kindergarten to bachelor degrees. Miró Quesada graduated in 2009 with a degree in Visual Arts from Lima’s  Corriente Alterna School in Miraflores, where he received a silver medal for his work.

Miró Quesada’s work is very cinematographic in nature; the narrative scenes he creates appear as frozen frames from a film. Starting with an initial idea, he takes photographs of the scene until he is satisfied with its composition.After this  composition is passed onto a canvas, Miró Quesada begins the fluid process of painting, in which the final idea is personalized by his addition of a broader range of colors and tones, and  alterations in scale.

Andrés Miró Quesada has exhibited in various collective exhibitions including “Set/Action” at the Vértice Gallery in San Isidro, Peru; the “Play” exhibition at the Luis Miró Quesada Garland Room, a non-profit contemporary art center; and the October 2014 collective exhibition “Homo Ludens/Urbe Ludens”, directed by the Vértice Gallery, at the El Olivar Cultural Center in Lima. Miró Quesada also presented his work in a 2015 solo exhibition, entitled “Amateur” in the Ricardo Palma Cultural Center in Miraflores, Peru.

Emilio Baz Vlaud

The Artwork of Emilio Baz Vlaud

Born in Mexico City in 1918, Emilio Baz Vlaud was a painter whose work mostly included portraiture and scenes in the style of  Costumbrismo, images of local Hispanic life, customs, and mannerisms executed in  both artistic Realism and Romanticism.  Influenced by the Magical Realism movement that spread through the art and literary worlds after the first World War, Vlaud was known for his meticulous brushwork and his trompe-d’oeil technique. 

Emilio Baz Vlaud, at a very early age, had great skill in the arts. He would often watch his older gay brother, Ben-Hur Baz Vlaud, a 1926 graduate of the Academy de San Carlos and twelve years his senior, working on his own precisionist drawings and paintings. At the age of seventeen, Emilio Vlaud executed his first self-portrait, the 1935 “Self Portrait as a Teenager”, a highly refined work that is closely related to a self-portrait painted by his brother in the same year. In his self-portrait, Emilio shows himself with perfectly combed hair and dressed in a white shirt. He is  holding a green pencil at an angle, a position which visually divides the canvas in two,  and is shown gripping his elbow with his left hand. 

Emilio Baz Vlaud entered the Academia de San Carlos in 1938 where he initially studied architecture before changing his vocation to painting. He later took courses at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, where he studied under the strict training of painter Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, an openly gay artist whose work is often linked to the works of metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico. Vlaud made several visits over the years to his older brother who had moved to New York City and was working as a successful commercial illustrator for magazines, such as Newsweek and Time. 

In 1950, Emilio Vlaud relocated to San Miguel Allende, situated in the far eastern part of Guanajuato. He exhibited his work in several collective exhibitions, where he showed his work alongside such prominent artists as painters and muralists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. In 1951, Vlaud had his first solo exhibition; his flamenco-inspired technique of applying dry oil paints to surfaces by means of small strokes of a short brush were praised by critics and his fellow artists. During his eight year stay in San Miguel Allende, he received a gold medal for artistic merit from the University of Guanajuato. 

In 1962, Emilio Baz Vlaud entered the Monastery of Santa María de la Resurrecion for the purpose of studying psychoanalysis. After several years, he abandoned these studies to return to his vocation as a painter. Although Vlaud is mostly know for his portraiture and scenes done before 1955, he also went through an intense period of abstraction during the 1970s. In 1984, his work was presented at a collective exhibition entitled “Siete Pintores (Seven Painters)” at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Emilio Baz Vlaud died in 1991. 

Insert Images:

Emilio Baz Viaud, “Self Portrait as a Teenager”, 1925, Watercolor, Pencil and Dry Brush on Board, 60 x 39.7 cm, Private Collection

Emilio Baz Vlaud, “El Coco”, circa 1955, Oil on Masonite, 50 x 40 cm, Blaisten Collection

Emilio Baz Vlaud, “Self Portrait in Blue Shirt”, 1941, Watercolor, Pencil and Dry Brush on Board, 100 x 65.5 cm, Blaisten Collection, Mexico City