Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Poetry of Nature: A Golden Age of American Landscape Painting - Hudson River School

Brandywine River Museum of Art

March 19 through June 12

A stunning array of over 40 paintings from the New-York Historical Society’s collection by renowned Hudson River School artists, including Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Albert Bierstadt, Jasper Cropsey, John F. Kensett, and William T. Richards, will be on view for the first time at the Brandywine River Museum of Art from March 19 through June 12. Painted between 1818 and 1886, the works illustrate America’s scenic splendor as seen through the eyes of some of the country’s most important painters.

“The Hudson River School created some of the most beautiful paintings in American art. Their works forged a new vision for landscape painting and embodied the expansive and optimistic spirit of 19th- century America,” noted Thomas Padon, Director of the Brandywine River Museum of Art.

In the first decade of the 19th century, the expansive landscapes of the Hudson River Valley and adjacent areas, such as the Catskills and the Adirondack Mountains, inspired an elite group of American artists known as the Hudson River School. Coming together under the influence of British émigré painter Thomas Cole (1801–1848), they shared a philosophy and appreciation for the natural landscape. Today their collective works are considered the first uniquely American art movement. In their idyllic depictions of the landscape, these artists conveyed not only the majesty of America, but an image of man living in harmonious balance with nature.

The Poetry of Nature: A Golden Age of American Landscape Painting opens with seminal works by Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand (1796–1886). The former artist first traveled up the Hudson in 1825. His tableaux capture the wildness of the American landscape. The latter frequently worked alongside Cole and was instrumental in leading the group after Cole’s untimely death in 1848. Cole’s romantic interpretations of the American landscape—represented in the exhibition by two paintings, one of a tranquil sunset view on the Catskill Creek and another of a sublime mountain landscape with jagged peaks piercing the clouds—demonstrate his mastery of perspective; he is able to convey vast open spaces and create rich atmospheric effects.

Durand favored tighter views and closely observed details of nature. Paintings in the exhibition will present his vivid compositions, from majestic mountain ranges to tranquil woodland interiors and studies of trees. Durand’s influential Letters on Landscape Painting (1855–1856), promoted the movement for plein air painting, calling such excursions, “hard-work-play.” As president of the National Academy of Design, he advocated for the landscape paintings by his Hudson River School colleagues at that institution and facilitated the patronage and rise of the Hudson River School.
Coinciding with an increase in leisure travel, the Hudson River painters also journeyed to regions noted for their beauty outside of New York State;   New Hampshire, coastal New England, and even the Brandywine Valley were among the areas featured in their works.

The exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society, which features one of the most renowned collections of Hudson River School paintings. Dr. Linda S. Ferber, the director emerita of The New-York Historical Museum and a leading authority on Hudson River School artists, is the curator for this extraordinary exhibition.

Excellent review (Some images added) - please read:

...“Woodland Brook” (1859), by Cole's close associate Asher Durand, has a grand scale and immersive quality, but is actually constructed of various elements to heighten the depth and drama of the scene.

The extremely detailed depictions of bark, leaves and dappled sunlight in “June Woods (Germantown)” by W.T. Richards adhere strictly to reality and serve to put you right on the shady path.
Speaking of drawing you in, the monumental “Autumn Woods” by Albert Bierstadt has such a razor-sharp glow in its depiction of fall foliage and a leaf-strewn stream that you can almost feel the autumn breeze.

Times of day were meticulously rendered as well,

shown in the glowing sky in “Seashore (Sunset on the Coast)” by John Kensett,

and the magnificent “Morning in the Blue Ridge Mtns., Virginia” by William Sonntag.

The clouds spread out for miles in “Sunset in the Berkshire Hills” by Frederic Edwin Church...

In the small painting “Catskill Mountains, Haying” by Thomas Hotchkiss, workers toil in a tiny field, still in harmony with nature but almost lost amidst all the natural splendor. 

People do actually play a large role in the foreground composition of “Hudson River Valley From Fort Putnam, West Point” by George Henry Boughton. They are shown, in their 1800s finery, as they take in the view from a footpath over the ruins of the fort from the Revolutionary War...
Another fine review

American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals

North Carolina Museum of Art
March 19, 2016 – June 19, 2016

Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Massachusetts
July 16, 2016 to November 6, 2016

This exhibition features 39 of the artist’s finest Shoals paintings in oil and watercolor, borrowed from distinguished museums and private collections. Taken together, these paintings offer a sustained reverie on nature and the pleasure of painting. They possess a rapturous sense of place: the blue Atlantic breaking against rocks and swirling in tidal pools, dense thickets of laurel wedged in granite crags, a splendid island garden with its gemlike blossoms, and the whole island world suffused with a silvered northern light.

The exhibition is jointly organized with the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, with the cooperation of the Shoals Marine Laboratory.

Hassam's many portrayals of the old-fashioned gardens, rocky coast, and radiant sunlight of the Isles of Shoals, Maine, are among his most cherished works and were represented extensively. Among them are the 1894 interior scene

The Room of Flowers (private collection)

and the 1901 view

Coast Scenes, Isles of Shoals,

the first canvas by the artist to enter the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Childe Hassam, Poppies, Isles of Shoals, 1891, oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 24 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Margaret and Raymond Horowitz, 1997.135.1

 Childe Hassam. Isles of Shoals, Broad Cove, 1911. Oil on canvas. Honolulu Museum of Art.

 Childe Hassam Isles of Shoals Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co


Childe Hassam (1859–1935) was the foremost American impressionist of his generation. Prolific in oil paintings and watercolors, he found his native New England to be a touchstone for his art. Hassam had a fascination with Appledore, the largest island of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire, and he traveled there almost every summer for thirty years.

This fascinating book traces Hassam’s artistic exploration of Appledore and reveals a complex portrait of the island created over time. John W. Coffey, working with the marine biologist Hal Weeks, revisits Hassam’s painting sites, identifying where, what, and how the artist painted on the island. Kathleen M. Burnside considers the range of the artist's stylistic responses to the island's nature. A photo essay by Alexandra de Steiguer reveals Appledore’s enduring beauty.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Georgia O’Keeffe opens at Tate Modern on 6 July 2016

6 July – 30 October 2016
Tate Modern, The Eyal Ofer Galleries

In July 2016 Tate Modern opens a major retrospective of American modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), the first UK exhibition of her work for over twenty years. Marking a century since O’Keeffe’s debut in New York in 1916, this ambitious and wide-ranging survey will reassess the artist’s place in the canon of twentieth-century art and reveal her profound importance. With no works by O’Keeffe in UK public collections, the exhibition will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for audiences outside of America to view her oeuvre in such depth.

Widely recognised as a founding figure of American modernism, O’Keeffe gained a central position in leading art circles between the 1910s and the 1970s. She was also claimed as an important pioneer by feminist artists of the 1970s. Spanning the six decades in which O’Keeffe was at her most productive and featuring over 100 major works, this exhibition will chart the progression of her practice from her early abstract experiments to her late works, aiming to dispel the clichés that persist about the artist and her painting.

Opening with the moment of her first showings at ‘291’ gallery in New York in 1916 and 1917, the exhibition will feature O’Keeffe’s earliest mature works made while she was working as a teacher in Virginia and Texas.

Charcoals such as

 No. 9 Special 1915

and Early No. 2 1915

will be shown alongside a select group of highly coloured watercolours and oils, such as  

Sunrise 1916

and Blue and Green Music 1919.

These works investigate the relationship of form to landscape, music, colour and composition, and reveal O’Keeffe’s developing understanding of synaesthesia.

A room in the exhibition will consider O’Keeffe’s professional and personal relationship with Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946); photographer, modern art promoter and the artist’s husband. While Stieglitz increased O’Keeffe access to the most current developments in avant-garde art, she employed these influences and opportunities to her own objectives. Her keen intellect and resolute character created a fruitful relationship that was, though sometimes conflictive, one of reciprocal influence and exchange. A selection of photography by Stieglitz will be shown, including portraits and nudes of O’Keeffe as well as key figures from the avant-garde circle of the time, such as Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) and John Marin (1870-1953).

Still life formed an important investigation within O’Keeffe’s work, most notably her representations and abstractions of flowers. The exhibition will explore how these works reflect the influence she took from modernist photography, such as the play with distortion in  

Calla Lily in Tall Glass – No. 2 1923

 and close cropping in Oriental Poppies 1927.

Georgia O'Keeffe
Jimson Weed/ White Flower No. 1 1932

One of the highlights of the major Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) retrospective opening at Tate Modern this summer will be the celebrated flower painting,Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1 1932. This iconic painting is an important example of the artist’s investigations into still life, and particularly the flowers for which she is most famous.

 The painting of a humble garden weed is being loaned to Tate Modern from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. This will be the first time the work is displayed outside the US since being acquired by the Museum in 2014. It is the most expensive painting sold at auction by a female artist.

The Jimson weed bloom is native to New Mexico and the focus O’Keeffe affords it in the painting reflects her growing affinity with the region in the 1930s - an association that would continue throughout her lifetime. Being fond of this particular plant, she allowed Jimson weed to flourish around her patio at her home in Abiquiu and made it the subject of multiple works, each time presenting a new viewpoint. The frontal perspective on the flower in Jimson Weed, White Flower No.1 1932 and the symmetry this gives the composition, makes it a particularly striking work in the series.

The painting reveals the profound influence O’Keeffe took from modernist photography – its concern with the study of form, use of close up or magnification and cropping - a practice that was influenced by her professional and personal relationship with husband and photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1865-1946), as well as her close friendships with a number of other photographers.

Widely recognised as a founding figure of American modernism, O’Keeffe gained a central place within the avant-garde art scene between the 1910s and the 1970s. Spanning the six decades in which O’Keeffe was at her most productive and featuring over 100 major works, the forthcoming exhibition at Tate Modern will chart the progression of her practice from her early abstract experiments to her late works from the 1950s and 1960s, aiming to dispel the clichés that persist about the artist and her painting.

O’Keeffe’s most persistent source of inspiration however was nature and the landscape; she painted both figurative works and abstractions drawn from landscape subjects. Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out of Black Marie’s II 1930 and Red and Yellow Cliffs 1940 chart O’Keeffe’s progressive immersion in New Mexico’s distinctive geography, while works such as Taos Pueblo 1929/34 indicate her complex response to the area and its layered cultures. Stylised paintings of the location she called the ‘Black Place’ will be at the heart of the exhibition.

Georgia O’Keeffe opens at Tate Modern on 6 July 2016, curated by Tanya Barson, Curator, Tate Modern with Hannah Johnston, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition is organised by Tate Modern in collaboration with Bank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Julian Schnabel - Infinity on Trial

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles 
March 18 - April 30, 2016

Blum & Poe is pleased to present forty years of painting by artist Julian Schnabel. This exhibition marks Schnabel’s first solo presentation with Blum & Poe.

After a hiatus from the West Coast art scene for nearly a decade, this first exhibition at Blum & Poe takes the form of a concise overview of an exhilaratingly divergent painting practice—making a forceful case for the historical importance of Schnabel’s oeuvre as well as his ever-growing relevance to a new generation of artists.

Twelve important paintings made between 1975 and 2015 will be displayed in the gallery’s ground floor. Together these paintings make manifest the scope and depth of Schnabel’s work—his groundbreaking material experimentation, his exceptional formal range and simultaneous mastery of both figurative and abstract idioms.  Not only will this exhibition serve as an introduction to this artist’s legendary work for younger viewers, it positions Schnabel as one of the great auteurs of the postwar period

Transcending the question of recognizable style, Schnabel’s practice, while wildly heterogeneous, is connected together by his unmistakable personal vision—his distinctive aesthetic touch, the audacity and freedom of his varied gestures, the insistence on the physicality of his surfaces, and the unapologetic emotional inflection in all of his works. As Schnabel wrote in an attempt to locate his unique approach to making work, “feeling cannot be separated from intellect…what is expressed is a feeling of love for something that has already existed, a response to something already felt.”

Giving evidence to Schnabel’s singular authorship, the distilled selection of paintings includes:  

The Patients and the Doctors (1978),

his first work deploying an abstracted mosaic of ceramic shards and sculptural picture planes; Jack the Bellboy (1975),

 an early wax painting that Schnabel considers his first mature painting; The Tunnel (Death of an Ant Near a Power Plant in the Country) (1982),

Julian Schnabel
Rebirth II, 1986
Oil, tempera on Kabuki theater backdrop
148 x 134 inches
© Julian Schnabel Studio

Rebirth II (1986) a painting that incorporates an antique Kabuki theater backdrop;

and The Edge of Victory (1987), a magisterial tableau made upon a tape-encrusted and stained boxing tarp from the old Gramercy Gym that Schnabel inscribed  and painted with sweeping white marks. 

Without regard to chronology, this selection of radical, foundational pictures is hung in relationship to works from the past fifteen years. 

These more recent examples feature one of Schnabel’s Goat Paintings from 2015, from a series begun in 2012;

a spray paint composition from 2014;

an abstract “pink” painting made in 2015 from the sun-faded canopy Schnabel found in Mexico;

and a regal full-length Portrait of Tatiana Lisovskaia As The Duquesa De Alba II (2014) referencing Goya.

Accompanying these compositions, the upstairs gallery features approximately forty drawings made between 1976 to the present that echo the formal and conceptual range of the paintings in the downstairs gallery.

In sum, this exhibition attempts to foreground the emotive punctum that runs throughout Schnabel’s work—otherwise stated, the wounding point or touching detail where his unconventional methods and materials are fused with emotive, tactile, and deeply narrative meaning.  Despite the range in dates in which these works have been made, looking at these pieces together reveal a consistent artistic “touch” or transformational element that Schnabel is able to imbue in the found materials he assimilates into his work.

Running throughout the exhibition is a pictorial vocabulary that is consistent throughout Schnabel’s career but takes on many forms.  The trope of the white stroke—curvilinear swirls of white paint that often disrupt both figurative and abstract compositions—or the haphazard traces of splashed purple pigment are seen in numerous paintings selected in the show. Likewise, dedications, proper names, and other literary references in titles are used to evoke a narrative imaginary that runs through Schnabel’s oeuvre.

As Schnabel wrote about the seminal painting Jack the Bellboy, featured in the last room of the exhibition, “The difference between the physical and pictorial elements of the painting confounded an easy viewing; it was hard to look at. It activated a sensation, like color blindness, that yielded a sensory disorder that I thought was an analogue for my emotional state. It was also about the third intangible element between the viewer and itself: the blind spot. It was like a sort of dyslexia where a letter’s proximity to another makes it disappear.”[1] In many ways Schnabel’s attempt to describe the alchemical reaction simultaneously generated by the retinal, conceptual, and emotional affects of his work could be applied to all of the paintings selected for this exhibition.

Schnabel’s work has been exhibited all over the world.  His paintings, sculptures, and works on paper have been the subject of numerous exhibitions: the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1982); Tate Gallery, London (1982); Whitechapel Gallery, London (1987); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1987); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1987); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1987); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1987); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1987); Musée d’Art Contemporain de Nîmes, France (1989); Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich (1989); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1989); Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (1989); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1989); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico (1994); Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (1995); Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (1996); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main (2004); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2004); Rotonda della Besana, Milan (2007); Tabakalera, Donostia-San Sebastián (2007); Museo di Capodimonte, Naples (2009); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2010); Museo Correr, Venice (2011); J.F. Willumsens Museum, Frederikssund, Denmark (2013); Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, CT (2013); Dallas Contemporary (2014); Dairy Art Centre, London (2014); Museu de Arte de São Paulo, (2014); NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, FL (2014); and University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2015).

[1] Julian Schnabel, CVJ: Nicknames of Maitre D's and Other Excerpts from Life (New York: Random House, 1987)64.

More images from the exhibition:

Marks of Genius: 100 Extraordinary Drawings from the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sotheby’s Evening Auction of Contempora ry Art in New York on 11 May 2016- Bacon, Twombly

A rare Francis Bacon self-portrait is set to come to auction for the first time in May, having remained in the same private collection since soon after it was painted over forty-five years ago. Widely acknowledged as the finest self-portrayal Bacon ever produced, 

Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970) will lead Sotheby’s Evening Auction of Contemporary Art in New York on 11 May 2016, with an estimate of US$22-30 million. 

While Bacon is renowned for capturing the tortured psychological depths of human existence in his portraits, the overwhelming positivity of Two Studies for a Self-Portrait renders this work almost unique in the artist’s oeuvre . Here we see an elated Francis Bacon on the cusp of his career-defining retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971 (Bacon was only the second living artist, after Picasso, to be afforded this honour), and in the throes of his relationship with George Dyer, whose suicide a year later was to haunt Bacon (and shape his art) for decades to come. 

Little known to the public eye, Two Studies for a Self-Portrait has been exhibited only twice before - first at the acclaimed 1971 Grand Palais retrospective and then most recently at Marlborough Fine Art Small Portrait Studies exhibition in London in 1993. 

However, perhaps the work’s iconic status lies in the fact it was chosen to adorn the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel’s definitive book 

Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits, confirming its position at the ab solute zenith of Francis Bacon’s most significant and enduring body of work. 

“Two Studies for a Self-Portrait goes straight in at number one of all the paintings I’ve handled in my career. Discovering a work such as this is like finding gold du st To my mind, the painting is worthy of a place alongside the very finest self-portraits of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso. It’s certainly among the greatest self-portraits ever offered at auction.” - Oliver Barker, Senior International Specialist in Contemporary Art

 “...he was never more brilliant, more incisive or more ferocious when it came to depicting himself. In this he helped revive a genre, and Bacon’s self-portraits can now be seen as among the most pictorially inventive and psychologically re vealing portraits of the Twentieth Century” - Michael Peppiatt in: Exhibition Catalogue, Rome, Galleria Borghese, Caravaggio Bacon , 2009-10

A masterpiece of self-analysis, Bacon’s dramatic brushstrokes, Impressionistic palette, use of corduroy fabric, and exigent marks recount the story of this work's creation as the artist brushed, smeared and lifted the paint in his drive to define his likeness. Photos of the artist’s Reece Mews studio in London show radiant pink, red, blue, and white hues smea red across his studio door, echoing those used in Two Studies for a Self Portrait as the artist scraped clean his brush as he reworked, and layered this canvas. Bacon created only two other self-portraits in this dual format. One of them, 

Two Studies for a Self- Portrait (1977) sold at Sotheby’s in February 2015 for £14.7m ($22.4m). 

2016 is set to be a red-letter year for Francis Bacon with exhibitions of his work planned at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (sponsored by Sotheby’s), at Tate Liverpool, and at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

The most significant publication on the artist for 30 years, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné , edited by Martin Harrison, is set to be released in the next few months.

Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné is a landmark publishing event that presents the entire oeuvre of Bacon’s paintings for the first time and includes over 100 previously unpublished works. The impeccably produced five-volume, slipcased publication, containing each of Bacon’s 584 paintings, has been edited by Martin Harrison, FSA, the pre-eminent expert on Bacon’s work, alongside research assistant Dr Rebecca Daniels. An ambitious and painstaking project that has been ten years in the making, this seminal visual document eclipses in scope any previous publication on the artist and will have a profound effect on the perception of his work.

Containing around 800 illustrations across 1,538 pages within five cloth-bound hardcover volumes, the three volumes that make up the study of Bacon’s entire painting oeuvre are bookended by two further volumes: the former including an introduction and a chronology, and the latter a catalogue of Bacon’s sketches, an index, and an illustrated bibliography compiled by Krzysztof Cieszkowski. Printed on 170 gsm GardaMatt Ultra stock in Bergamo, Italy at Castelli Bolis, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné are boxed within a cloth- bound slipcase, and supplied within a bespoke protective shipping carton.

In addition to the 584 paintings, the catalogue will contain illuminating supporting material. This includes sketches by Bacon, photographs of early states of paintings, images of Bacon’s furniture, hand-written notes by the artist, photographs of Bacon, his family and circle, and fascinating x-ray and microscope photography of his paintings.

 On 11 May 2016 Sotheby’s New York will offer Untitled (New York City) by Cy Twombly in the Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The work is the only painting from the famed Blackboard series executed with blue loops on grey ground and boasts a remarkable history. It was acquired by the current owner from the artist’ s studio immediately after it 2 was executed in 1968, and has not been seen in public since. Untitled (New York City) is expected to fetch in excess of $40 million.

 Untitled (New York City) is a one-off example of the artist’s most hallowed series of Blackboard paintings through which he forged a new visual language in a period of great convergence in postwar art. However, unlike every other Blackboard painting that bears white loops, in Untitled (New York City) Twombly used a blue, rather than white, wax crayon to create the endless ove rlapping loops on the wet paint. At over 28 square feet, the work belongs to the elite group of large-scale works by Twombly that can be found in the world's great museums including: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

The appearance of Untitled (New York City) at auction comes just six months after Sotheby’s set a record for the artist with 

Untitled [New YorkCity], 1968 from the collection of Los Angeles philanthropist Audrey Irmas. That work was the second Twombly Blackboard to exceed $65 million in the previous 18 months. 

The sale will also include a major late Twombly: Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V) . The appearance of the 2004 work in May marks the first time an example from the series, that is widely recognized as defining the artist’s late work, has appeared at auction. The painting is expected to fetch in excess of $20 million and will also be on view in Los Angeles alongside highlights by Franci s Bacon and Andy Warhol.