November 20, 2014
November 20, 1929
Salvador Dalí has his first one-man show at a gallery in Paris. The work above is included in the exhibition.
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November 19, 2014
November 19, 1665
Nicholas Poussin, the French Baroque painter who mostly works in Rome, dies.
November 19, 1923
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright marries artist Maude Noel.
November 18, 2014
November 18, 1931
The Whitney Museum of American Art opens on West 8th Street in New York City.
It goes through a couple of iterations before becoming a museum, beginning with Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s empathy for the struggles faced by young, unknown, American artists at the turn of the century. As a sculptor herself, Whitney understands how difficult it is for artists to show or sell their work.
By 1914, she regularly presents exhibitions of lesser-known artists in a studio, and by 1929, she’s collected over 500 artworks, which she offers to the Met, along with an endowment. Incredibly, they refuse.
In response, she decides to open her own museum with a very different agenda than the Met’s. She decides that her museum will focus only on American artists.
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365 Days of Art: November 17 – Duke of Milan Ships Out Leonardo’s Bronze, Gorky Writes Optimistic Note About Prolific Summer of Drawing
November 17, 2014
November 17, 1494
Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan, sends all of the bronze that Leonardo has collected for casting a statue of a horse to his father-in-law, who makes it into cannon.
November 17, 1946
Arshile Gorky writes to his friend Vartoosh Mooradian:
This summer I completed a lot of drawings — 292 of them. Never have I been able to do so much work, and they are good too.”
This productive summer is one of the bright spots of Gorky’s year. His unlucky streak begins with a fire in his studio in January, caused by a stove he’s installed only the month before. The fire ruins almost all of his work. Two months later, he undergoes a colostomy for rectal cancer, and goes to his in-laws’ house in Virginia to recuperate. He draws the landscape in the fields during the day, and scenes by the fireplace each night.
365 Days of Art: November 16 – Frida Writes a Letter from US, AIDS Exhibition Opens (Under Duress) After Grant Partially Restored
November 16, 2014
November 16, 1933
Frida writes a letter to her friend Isabel Campos that she is “dreaming about my return to Mexico”:
New York is very pretty and I feel better here than in Detroit, but in spite of this I am longing for Mexico…Yesterday we had snow for the first time…there will be nothing to do but dress in woolen underwear and put up with snow. I do not feel the cold so much because of my famous long skirts but sometimes I feel a cold draft that could not even be prevented by twenty skirts. I still run around like crazy and I am getting used to these old clothes. Meanwhile some of the gringa-women are imitating me and trying to dress a la Mexicana but the poor souls only look like cabbages and to tell you the naked truth they look absolutely impossible. That doesn’t mean that I look good in them either but still I get by (don’t laugh).”
The painting above is a humorously critical painting about her time living in the US.
November 16, 1989
This is not seen as a victory, however. The grant money is revoked based on content in the catalogue, and the partially restored grant specifically will not fund the catalogue. This decision, leaves artists and others, like composer Leonard Bernstein who rejects a medal from the White House over this incident, feeling that the NEA is playing dirty.
To understand a little more of the emotion and feeling of betrayal surrounding this incident, consider Goldin’s personal statement about the show, called Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing:
Over the past year four more of my most beloved friends have died of AIDS. Two were artists I had selected for this exhibit. One of the writers for this catalogue has become too sick to write. And so the tone of the exhibition has become less theoretical and more personal, from a show about AIDS to an issue to more of a collective memorial.”
The offending part of the catalogue, written by David Wojnarowicz, who himself will later die of AIDS, criticizes members of Congress and a Catholic cardinal whose stances against safe sex education are widely seen as jeopardizing more lives. The NEA’s reaction to this essay, along with their cancellation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s entire show just six months earlier, is seen as a disturbing trend that dirties the waters of the art world with right-wing politics and specifically punishes those who speak out about the AIDS epidemic.
Wojnarowicz feels so strongly about the gallery director’s decision to accept the partial grant that he does not attend the opening, saying:
I don’t feel that civil or constitutional rights are a worthy trade for money.”
Interestingly, Wojnarowicz, who will die in less than two years of AIDS, angers certain politicians again in 2010 over a different art exhibition. A different generation of right-wing politicians, outraged over his work about AIDS, threaten to remove government money from the Smithsonian Institution and directly cause the removal of Wojnarowicz’s film from the exhibition Hide/Seek.
365 Days of Art: November 15 – Homer is Published, O’Keeffe is Born, Bernstein Protests NEA, Vandal is Sentenced
November 15, 2014
November 15, 1862
Winslow Homer’s The Army of the Potomac-A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty a wood engraving based on a painting, is published in Harper’s Weekly.
November 15, 1887
Georgia O’Keeffe is born.
November 15, 1989
The composer Leonard Bernstein declines a National Medal of Arts, awarded to him by the White House, in protest of the NEA rescinding a grant for an art exhibition on AIDS. As a gay man and AIDS activist, Bernstein says he cannot stand by without making a statement, especially as the NEA is responsible both for recommending him to the White House and for revoking the grant money.
November 15, 2007
A woman who vandalizes a painting by kissing it with red lipstick is sentenced in court for the crime. The painting is a panel of the Cy Twombly triptych Phaedrus, of which she says:
It was just a kiss, a loving gesture…I thought the artist would understand…. It was an artistic act provoked by the power of Art.”
Her sentence is to pay €1,000 to the painting’s owner, €500 to the Avignon gallery that showed it, and €1 to Twombly.
November 14, 2014
November 14, 1840
Claude Monet is born.
I appreciate all of his contributions to art history (dedication to working in series, careful observation of atmospheric conditions and how they change perception, working outside the establishment) and have spent quite a bit of time teaching his work. I didn’t realize what a scoundrel he is, until beginning this project, and how he receives a free pass in art history for it. You never hear what a dirty scoundrel he is. If this blog were giving out awards for that, he’d get one.
November 14, 2014
November 13, 1894
Louis Comfort Tiffany trademarks the term Favrile (from the old French word for handmade). He will use this word to describe all of his glass, enamel and pottery.
This piece is lovely, and is one of my favorites in the Met.
November 13, 1934
Frida writes a letter to her friend Dr. Eloesser:
I believe that by working I will forget the sorrows [Diego’s affair with her sister Cristina] and I will be able to be a little happier…I hope my stupid neurasthenia will soon go away and my life will be more normal again–but you know it is rather difficult and I will need much willpower to manage to be enthusiastic about painting or about doing anything. Today was Diego’s saint’s day and we were happy and it is to be hoped there will be more days of this kind in my life.”
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365 Days of Art: November 12 – Art Forger Convicted, Replica of David Installed on Roof as Originally Intended, Bacon Sets Auction Record
November 14, 2014
November 12, 1947
Han van Meegeren, one of the most famous art forgers ever, is convicted of fraud and sentenced to a just one year in prison. He never serves any time, since he dies of a heart attack on December 30, before going to prison.
November 12, 2010
A fiberglass replica of David is installed on the roofline of the Duomo in Florence, so that the world can see the artwork as the original commissioners intended for it to be exhibited. This installation is for one day only.
November 12, 2013
Francis Bacon’s triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, sells for $142.4M at Christie’s, the most ever paid for a work of art. In an exciting moment for live auctions, the bidding keeps pace for ten minutes. When it finally stops, the crowd bursts into applause, and two losing bidders leave the room.
November 14, 2014
November 11, 1976
Alexander Calder dies.
November 11, 1986
Ellis Nelson enters the Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis, pulls a gun from his coat, and shoots two holes in an original Richard Avedon photograph hanging on the wall. The bullets strike two the subjects of the photo, women attending a Daughters of the American Revolution convention, one in the chest, and one in the eye. Nelson surrenders and by way of explanation says: “That photo always bugged the hell out of me.”
The owner of the Black Forest Inn, who was given the photo by Avedon himself, decides not to repair it, but to leave it as a tourist attraction. He has said that: “[Folks] like to stick their fingers in the holes and take pictures.”
It may be a coincidence that Nelson, a Vietnam veteran, vandalizes the photo on Veterans’ Day.
365 Days of Art: November 10 – Frida and Diego Arrive in SF, NY Times Reports on Nazi Looting, Gorky Exhibits at the Whitney, Hockney Faxes an Artwork
November 14, 2014
November 10, 1930
Frida and Diego arrive in San Francisco, where he has mural commissions to work on.
November 10, 1943
The New York Times reports “Unique Collection of Art Treasures Taken Away by Germans in Italy”, referring to the trucks carrying artwork for Goring’s birthday party.
November 10, 1936
Arshile Gorky’s painting Organization is exhibited the Whitney’s Third Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. From here on, he will regularly be included in the Whitney’s shows.
November 10, 1989
David Hockney, exploring new technology, faxes 144 sheets to the 1853 Gallery, in front of a live audience. The 144 sheet together make an image called Tennis.
I guarantee this is the most boring live event ever. And I’m sure some of you are asking “What’s a fax?”.
365 Days of Art: November 9 – Pollock’s First Solo Show Opens, John Meets Yoko at Gallery, Emma Thompson’s Journey Opens in NYC
November 13, 2014
November 9, 1943
Jackson Pollock’s first solo show opens at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery. He has not yet painted the dripping works for which he’ll be most famous.
November 9, 1966
John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at her art opening at Indica Gallery in London. The work above impresses Lennon; after climbing to the top of the ladder and using the magnifying glass to read the word “Yes” on the ceiling, he is sufficiently interested to stay at the exhibition, and ends up meeting Ono. He says that most artwork is “anti” instead of positive and her optimism moves him.
November 9, 2009
Emma Thompson’s Journey opens in NYC. It is a multi-media art installation produced by Thompson, with contributions from artists like Anish Kapoor, journalists and social workers. The exhibition is constructed in seven connecting cargo trailers and documents the typical journey a young girl takes into the world of the international sex trade.
This is an extremely moving piece, and one sensory experience that will always stay with me is the trailer made to look like a room where several girls in the trade will live and work. The trailer smells dank and contains several twin beds, which feature creaking and moving mattresses, as if someone is actively bouncing on them. There is various garbage on the ground and mantle: panties, random pens, wrappers. There is a sink, as I recall, which only drives home the idea of the need to cleanse oneself from what is happening in the room. The decorations, such as they are, are garish, with crimson walls and cloying wallpaper. The air is hot and humid, as if there are no windows to open and too many people breathing at once.
More than any other, this piece showed me the power of art installation.
November 13, 2014
November 8, 1948
November 13, 2014
November 7, 1929
The Museum of Modern Art opens in NYC. Its first exhibition is Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh.
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November 13, 2014
November 6, 1989
The New York Times reports that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has cancelled a grant for a show about AIDS, called Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing. The withdrawal of funds reportedly stems from an essay in the catalogue that criticizes two members of Congress and a cardinal of the Catholic church, for their opposition to educating Americans on how not to contract AIDS.
This is the second time in six months that the NEA has cancelled previously-approved money for an art exhibition. A culture wars controversy over the cancellation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s exhibition of photographs has not even died down when this news is reported.