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

Hedda Sterne

The Artwork of Hedda Sterne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Marsden Hartley

Marsden Hartley, “The Warriors”, Oil on Canvas, 1913, Private Collection

Before Jasper Johns or Jackson Pollock, there was Marsden Hartley, America’s first great modern painter of the 20th century. He achieved this distinction in Paris and most of all in Berlin between early 1912 and late 1915. There he produced a stream of paintings that synthesized Cubism and other European modernisms, mixed in non-Western motifs and mysterious symbols and culminated in his lusty, elegiac German Officer paintings.

These canvases are memorials to Karl von Freyburg, the young German officer — possibly the great love of Hartley’s life — who was killed in the first weeks of World War I. Festooned with colorful patchworks of bright banners, checkerboards and bits of military regalia and insignia on black backgrounds, the paintings give Cubism a new legibility and emotionality, softening but also bulking up its fragile geometries into something more tactile and muscular.

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.

Claude Buck

Claude Buck, “Sunburst”, Gouache, Watercolor, Pencil, Pen and Colored Ink on Paper, 1913, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington DC

Claude Buck was born in New York City on July 3, 1890. His father was a traditionally trained, commercial artist, and introduced Buck to drawing at age 4. The young Buck copied Greek classics at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at age 14 entered the National Academy of Design, taking classes in still life with Emil Carlsen, figure drawing with Francis Jones, and figure painting George DeForest Brush. He studied there until age 22, receiving eight prizes. Buck then studied in Munich and upon his return began a busy schedule of exhibitions.

He moved to Chicago in 1919, teaching painting for some years at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (SAIC), and becoming a leading member of an avant-garde symbolist artists’ group known as the Introspectives. The group, whose members shared an approach to expressing subjective emotion and experience in their work, included, both Rudolph Weisenborn and Emil Armin. Buck, a modernist, was influenced by writers Edgar Allen Poe and William Blake and eccentric visionary painters Ralph Blakelock and Albert Pinkham Ryder.

He often depicted allegories and literary themes drawn from Romantic sources such as Poe’s poetry, operas by Richard Wagner, as well as classical mythology and the New Testament. He made highly finished still lifes and “hyperrealistic” portraits to support himself and his family. Buck spent the last years of his life in Santa Cruz, and is often considered a California artist despite his deep connections to Chicago.

David Urban

Five Oil Paintigs by David Urban, Corkin Gallery, Toronto

Born in Toronto in 1966,  David Urban studied poetry and painting at York University, earning a BFA in 1989. Urban received a Master’s degree in English Literature and Creative writing from the University of Windsor in 1991 (where he studied with Alistair MacLeod) and a second Master’s degree in Painting from the University of Guelph in 1993.

His work is represented in many private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada. In 2002, Urban curated Painters 15, an exhibition of established Canadian painters which was presented at the Shanghai Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Kelly Fearing

Six Etchings by Kelly Fearing

Kelly Fearing was one of the first Texas painters to reject the bluebonnets, cowboys and secondhand Impressionism that had been the mainstays of the state’s artistic output since the end of the 19th century. Along with the other members of the Fort Worth Circle, Fearing introduced Texas to European Modernists like Picasso and Miró. He helped introduce the Texas population to abstraction, surrealism and cubism, all new forms of art not previously promoted in the area.

Even in the 1940s, Fearing lived as an openly gay man. Like the later work of gay artist David Hockney, Fearing’s subjects were often pretextual reasons to introduce the subject of homoeroticism into the contemporary art world. One example of this is his 1950 “Male Bather”, an emerging, transitional work influenced by the work of Paul Klee, which exemplifies tthe  theme used by many artists of the time.

In a 2000 interview, Fearing said in reply to a question about the Fort Worth Circle: “We were considered way out at the time. But we were just doing what we liked.” This individualism made Fearing into one of Texas’ most important Modernists.

Charles Demuth

Five Watercolors by Charles Demuth

Painter Charles Demuth (1883-1935) was one of the earliest American artists to expose his gay identity through forthright, positive depictions of homosexual desire. As a leader of the American Modernist movement, Demuth was best known as a pioneer of the precisionist style* and as a master watercolorist.

Raised in a well-off merchant family, Demuth had the financial freedom to pursue his artistic vision without regard for public opinion concerning aesthetics or sexuality. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he started painting when a childhood illness rendered him unable to walk. Charles studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where the realist tradition of former faculty member Thomas Eakins prevailed. Eakins was himself a painter of major works of homoerotic content.

In 1912, Charles began a relationship with Robert Locher, also from Lancaster, who was to become his life partner. After spending two years in Paris, the two men went to New York City, enjoying the bohemian lifestyle of Greenwich Village. They also embraced the summer artist colony of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where Demuth associated with leftist writers and artists committed to sexual liberation.

Note: In regards to Charles Demuth’s “Turkish Bath with Self Portrait”, seen above, the watercolor sketch offers an illuminating depiction of the gay subculture in postwar New York. The setting is likely the Lafayette Baths, a Turkish bathhouse in the East Village. The artist, with dark hair and mustache, appears nude in the center of the frame. He talks with two other men: a blonde man swaddled in a towel, who faces away from the camera, and a fully undressed red-headed man who strikes a confident pose. Behind the trio, a man with indistinct features stands in a pool, water waist high, while a duo in the upper right corner of the canvas seem to be caught up in an intimate moment.

Demuth was likely open about his sexuality with his friends, and frankly depicted the evolving, underground gay scenes in New York and Paris. This image is striking in its open, candid depiction of desire and attraction between men. It was not intended for public exhibition during Demuth’s lifetime and historically it has great significance, visualizing the emergence of a sexual subculture organized along very different lines than male/female courtship. Since his death, Demuth’s watercolors of early-20th-century gay life have proven to be sources of inspiration and fellowship to later generations of American artists, including Andy Warhol, another Pennsylvania native.: