365 Days of Art: October 22 – Cezanne Dies

October 22, 2014

Paul Cezanne, The Pool, 1876

Paul Cezanne, The Pool, 1876

October 22, 1906

Paul Cezanne dies. He’s very important to 20th century art, and ushers in ideas about abstraction, especially reducing forms to their essential shapes, which other artists run with. He paints the same mountain over and over, dozens of times, to really investigate it. Watching Mt. Rainier now, with all of its different colors and moods, I can really appreciate that you can never nail it exactly. One of my favorite Cezanne tricks is that he never washes a brush without first daubing some of that color in another spot of his canvas. That’s why you’ll see patches of blue in his grounds and trees, and patches of ochre and brown in his skies. He believes that everything is inter-related, and this provides continuity for the eye.

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365 Days of Art: October 21 – Delacroix Writes to Brother About Patriotism, Guggenheim Museum Opens, Warhol Invites Self to Party at Leather Bar

October 21, 2014

Liberty Leading the People, by Eugene Delacroix, 1830

Liberty Leading the People, by Eugene Delacroix, 1830

October 21, 1830

Eugene Delacroix, who has been working on Liberty Leading the People, writes to his brother:

My bad mood is vanishing thanks to hard work. I’ve embarked on a modern subject — a barricade. And if I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.”

Guggenheim Museum, NYC

Guggenheim Museum, NYC

October 21, 1959

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opens on Fifth Avenue in the stunning spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s one of my favorite buildings because it’s so weird. It’s the first American museum to be built from scratch, rather than converted from a private residence.

Fun fact: Ellsworth Kelly recalls a not-yet-famous Andy Warhol, dressed in a suit for the opening reception. Not only does Andy eavesdrop on a private conversation, but he hears others discuss plans to go to an after-party at a gay leather bar, then stuns everyone by inviting himself along.

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365 Days of Art: October 20 – Peggy Guggenheim Opens Art of This Century Gallery

October 20, 2014

Peggy Guggenheim at Art of This Century

Peggy Guggenheim at Art of This Century

October 20, 1942

Peggy Guggenheim opens the Art of This Century art gallery at 30 W. 57th Street in New York.

A press release calls gallery a “research laboratory for new ideas” that will “serve the future instead of recording the past”. Guggenheim specializes in the work of European modernists and Surrealists like Picasso, Mondrian, and Klee, as well as emerging American artists like Joseph Cornell. Later, she’ll become known for launching the careers of the Abstract Expressionists, particularly Jackson Pollock.

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365 Days of Art: October 19 – Henry Ossawa Tanner Wins French Art Award

October 19, 2014

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Daniel in the Lions' Den, 1907-1918 (recreation of the original, award-winning 1895 work, which was lost)

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, 1907-1918 (recreation of the original, award-winning 1895 work, which was lost)

October 19, 1900

Henry Ossawa Tanner, a black painter who moved to France to escape American racial prejudice, wins the silver medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris for his painting Daniel in the Lions Den. He is one of Thomas Eakins’ all-time favorite students from their days at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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365 Days of Art: October 18 – Canaletto is Born

October 18, 2014

October 18-Canaletto-Piazza San Marco w Basilica

October 18, 1697

Giovanni Canal, the Venician landscape painter better known as Canaletto, is born.

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365 Days of Art: October 17 – MoMA Hangs a Matisse Upside-Down!

October 17, 2014

Henri Matisse, Le Bateau (The Boat), Paper Cut, 1953

Henri Matisse, Le Bateau (The Boat), Paper Cut, 1953

October 17, 1961

The Museum of Modern Art hangs Henri Matisse’s Le Bateau upside-down–the mistake isn’t noticed or corrected for six weeks! Insert your modern or abstract art joke here…

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365 Days of Art: October 16 – Vincent Describes a Painting He Hasn’t Painted Yet

October 16, 2014

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1888

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1888

October 16, 1888

Vincent writes a descriptive letter to his brother:

My dear Theo,

At last I can send you a little sketch to give you at least an idea of the way the work is shaping up. For today I am all right again. My eyes are still tired but then I had a new idea in my head and here is the sketch of it. Another size 30 canvas. This time it’s just simply my bedroom, only here colour is to do everything, and giving by its simplification a grander style to things, is to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.

The walls are pale violet. The floor is of red tiles.

The wood of the bed and chairs is the yellow of fresh butter, the sheets and pillows very light greenish-citron.

The coverlet scarlet. The window green.

The toilet table orange, the basin blue.

The doors lilac.

And that is all – there is nothing in this room with its closed shutters.

The squareness of the furniture again must express inviolable rest. Portraits on the walls, and a mirror and a towel and some clothes.

The frame – as there is no white in the picture – will be white.

This by way of revenge for the enforced rest I was obliged to take.

I shall work on it again all day, but you see how simple the conception is. The shadows and the cast shadows are suppressed; it is painted in free flat tints like the Japanese prints. It is going to be a contrast to, for instance, the Tarascon diligence and the night café.

I am not writing you a long letter, because tomorrow very early I am going to begin in the cool morning light, so as to finish my canvas.

How are the pains – don’t forget to tell me about them.

I know that you will write one of these days.

I will make you sketches of the other rooms too someday.

With a good handshake.

Ever yours, Vincent

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1888

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1888

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365 Days of Art: October 15 – Fascist Propaganda Discusses Artworks, Lee Krasner Has First Solo Show

October 15, 2014

Palermo devastated by American bombing, May 1943

Palermo devastated by American bombing, May 1943

October 15, 1943

Radio Rome provides this bit of Fascist propaganda:

The first ships left Sicily for London today with precious works of art, some of which will go to the British Museum and some to private collections”.

The idea is to create suspicion surrounding Americans interested in artworks (i.e., the Museum and Fine Arts Archives Program, AKA the Monuments Men). Given that American bombs have devastated Palermo just months earlier, feelings are already running high. A healthy dose of national pride doesn’t hurt either…what red-blooded Italian/Sicilian wants to see his or her cultural treasures going to private collectors in London, for pete’s sake??

Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1948

Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1948

October 15, 1951

Lee Krasner has her first solo show at Betty Parsons Gallery.

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365 Days of Art: October 14 – Marshall Telegram to Eisenhower Shows Concern for Artworks

October 14, 2014

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples

October 14, 1943

During World War II, it’s common to lodge Allied soldiers in cultural institutions. While many of them are emptied of their portable treasures, stationery pieces like frescoes, mosaics, even hidden artworks, remain. For example, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, provides bunking quarters, as well as a pharmaceutical ward where flammable alcohol is stacked up next to priceless frescoes. One of the duties of the men and women of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Program (MFAA, but more commonly called Venus Fixers or Monuments Men) is to ensure that soldiers aren’t improperly billeted in cultural institutions.

Amid concerns about whether soldiers would be respectful enough of their surroundings, or treat them like “saloons”, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall cables General Eisenhower to say:

protection of artistic and historic monuments in Italy is subject of great concern to many institutions and societies”.

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365 Days of Art: October 13 – Alice Neel Dies

October 13, 2014

Alice Neel, Dana Gordon

Alice Neel, Dana Gordon

October 13, 1984

Alice Neel dies. She is a highly regarded painter, especially revered by feminists in the 1970s and beyond, though her mother once told her that her options were limited due to her gender.

She lives through various personal tragedies, which fuel her portraiture. Despite the death of her infant daughter, her husband’s kidnapping of another and leaving for Cuba, a nervous breakdown, an unstable boyfriend who burned hundreds of paintings, the loss of her job at the Works Progress Administration, and other trials, she perseveres with her painting. She comes into her own in the 1970s with the women’s movement.

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365 Days of Art: October 12 – Gunpowder Blast Kills Carel Fabritius

October 12, 2014

Carel Fabritius, View of Delft, 1652

Carel Fabritius, View of Delft, 1652

October 12, 1654

The city of Delft’s gunpowder reserves, which are being stored in a former convent, explode; the blast kills somewhere between 500-1000, including painter Carel Fabritius (a student of Rembrandt).

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365 Days of Art: October 11 – AIDS Quilt is Displayed for First Time

October 11, 2014

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, 1987-present

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, 1987-present

October 11, 1987

The AIDS Quilt is displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I saw a piece of it for the first time on the UC Berkeley campus in the late 80s or early 90s, and it remains one of the most moving sights I’ve ever seen.

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365 Days of Art: October 10 – Leonardo Shows Three Paintings to Possible Patron, Watts Towers Kill Stress Test

October 11, 2014

Leonardo, St. John the Baptist, 1513 - 1516

Leonardo, St. John the Baptist, 1513 – 1516

October 10, 1517

Leonardo shows three of his paintings to the Cardinal of Aragon: Portrait of a Florentine Lady commissioned by Giuliano de’ Medici, Young St. John the Baptist, and St. Anne.

Simon Rodia, Watts Towers, 1921-1955

Simon Rodia, Watts Towers, 1921-1955

October 10, 1959

Before the planned demolition of Watts Towers, a DIY art project created over 34 years by one man without the use of machines, bolts or rivets, engineers and architects perform a required structural stress test. Steel cable is attached to each tower and a crane is used to exert force. The towers do not shift at all, let alone fall, and the test eventually ends when the crane breaks down. The towers still stand.

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365 Days of Art: October 9 – Nicholas Roerich is Born

October 11, 2014

Nicholas Roerich, Overseas Guests, 1901

Nicholas Roerich, Overseas Guests, 1901

October 9, 1874

Nicholas Roerich, Russian painter and philosopher, is born. His gentle inspiration in banners around town in Johnson, VT, with calls to make the world a better place through creating positive artwork and contributions, were an inspiration to me at Vermont Studio Center.

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365 Days of Art: October 8 – Serial Art Vandal Arrested After Attacking Rembrandts

October 11, 2014

Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph, 1656

Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph, 1656

October 8, 1977

Serial art vandal Hans Bohlmann is arrested, after vandalizing four paintings, including two Rembrandts, the day before. Bohlmann is known for targeting faces in his attacks, which I’m sure a psychologist would have plenty to say about. Unlike some vandals, Bohlmann also doesn’t limit himself to artwork; he’s also known for setting a fire in a church and spraying swastikas on hundreds of tombstones. Like many serial criminals, he enjoys reading about his crimes in the papers and very much enjoys his notoriety.

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