365 Days of Art

365 Days of Art: December 31 – Brunelleschi Wins Competition to Top Duomo with Lantern

December 31, 1436 Wardens for the Santa Maria Fiore cathedral meet in Florence to award the winner of a competition to top the Duomo with a lantern. There are five entries, and Brunelleschi wins. This is a like an Oscar-winner having to audition for a bit part, though: Brunelleschi has already built the duomo, inventing […]

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Dwight Eisenhower examining paintings in bunker in World War II.

365 Days of Art: December 29 – Eisenhower Orders Soldiers to Take Responsibility for Protecting World’s Art

December 29, 1943 In an extraordinary memo, General Dwight Eisenhower clearly and directly charges each soldier with the responsibility of protecting the world’s cultural treasures: To: All Commanders Today we are fighting in a country which has contributed a great deal to our cultural inheritance, a country rich in monuments which by their creation helped

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Man in robes hangs from noose, with arms behind his back; his face looks like a skull.

365 Days of Art: December 28 – Leonardo Sketches Hanged Corpse

December 28, 1479 Leonardo sketches the hanging of corpse of Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli, who is executed for last year’s murder of Giuliano de Medici. That murder is organized by the Pazzi family, in a power grab, as they hope to replace the incredibly influential Medici family as political and civic leaders. A gang of

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365 Days of Art: December 27 – NYC Mayor Doesn’t Understand Gorky’s Work

December 27, 1935 At the opening for a group exhibition that features one of Arshile Gorky’s sketches, for his airport mural, New York City Mayor Fiorella La Guardia meets Gorky, views his work, and tells a reporter: I am conservative in my art, as I am a progressive in my politics. That’s why I perhaps

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Diego Rivera poses next to small artwork.

365 Days of Art: December 26 – Diego Conquers NY

December 26, 1931 New York art critic Henry McBride describes Diego Rivera as “the most talked-about man on this side of the Atlantic.” At this point, he’s installed as artist-in-residence at special studio space within MoMA, creating a total of eight “portable murals” that are exhibited for five weeks from December to January. The exhibition,

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365 Days of Art: December 25 – Cornell Prefers His Exhibitions to Fall on Christmas

December 25 This is one of the most important dates on the calendar for Joseph Cornell, because he is born the day before, on December 24. His associations with happy childhood memories lead him to try to arrange all of his exhibitions to coincide with his birthday, and therefore, most of them fall on Christmas

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Las Meninas depicts members of the Spanish royal court serving the young princess, as well as the court painter.

365 Days of Art: December 24 – Las Meninas Saved from Fire; Over 500 Other Works Burned

December 24, 1734 Las Meninas by Velasquez is saved from a devastating fire by throwing it out the window. The fire at the Alcazar, where the Spanish royal family lives, originates in the rooms of French painter Jean Ranc. Alarm bells are mistaken for the call to Christmas Eve Mass, so the fire takes hold

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365 Days of Art: December 21 – Donors Raise $68M to Keep Painting in Philly

December 21, 2006 A group of Philadelphia donors raises $68,000,000 to keep the painting The Gross Clinic by favorite son Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia. A month earlier, the painting breaks auction records (highest price for an Eakins painting, and highest price for an American portrait) when it sells jointly to the National Gallery of Art

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Two women bundled in winter clothes carry picket signs and march on sidewalk.

365 Days of Art: December 12 – Artists Protest Whitney to Demand More Female Inclusion, Cornell Hosts a Party

December 12, 1970 Artists with police whistles protest at the opening of the Whitney Annual because of the few women the Whitney historically exhibits. Faith Ringgold recalls: In the fall of 1970 Poppy Johnson, Lucy Lippard and I, formed an ad hock [sic] women’s group to protest the small percentage of women in all past

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Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.

365 Days of Art: December 11 – Stolen Mona Lisa Recovered in Hotel Room, Séraphine Dies

December 11, 1913 By appointment, antiques dealer Signor Geri and director of the Uffizi Gallery Signor Poggi arrive at Leonardo Vincenzo’s Florence hotel room to inspect what Leonardo claims is the stolen Mona Lisa. Leonardo removes underwear, shoes, a shirt, and a false bottom from a trunk, to reveal the Mona Lisa. Geri and Poggi

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Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.

365 Days of Art: December 10 – Art Thief Tries to Negotiate Return of Mona Lisa

December 10, 1913 A man enters Geri’s antique shop in Florence, and after waiting for the other customers to leave, announces that he is in possession of the stolen Mona Lisa. The man gives his name as Leonardo Vincenzo, and says he has the painting in his hotel room. He explains that he has stolen

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Technical drawing of various gears and machinery shown from different angles.

365 Days of Art: December 7 – Judges Consider Brunelleschi’s Proposal for Duomo

December 7, 1418 Judges consider the model that Brunelleschi submits for the competition to build a Duomo for Florence’s cathedral. His proposal includes not only building techniques to make such a large structure possible (a self-supporting shell with a rib structure, and using brick laid in rotating herringbone patterns) but also the use of machines

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365 Days of Art: November 30 – National Portrait Gallery Censors AIDS Film

November 30, 2010 The National Portrait Gallery removes a film from the first-ever gay portraiture exhibition, Hide/Seek, after receiving complaints from a Catholic organization and members of Congress. The video, created by David Wojnarowicz, features footage of ants crawling on a crucifix, and is made in the heyday of the AIDS epidemic. It is a

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365 Days of Art: November 29 – Mona Lisa Thief Contacts Antiques Dealer

November 29, 1913 Two years after the theft of the Mona Lisa, the thief contacts an antiques dealer named Alfredo Geri. Geri has innocently placed an ad in several Italian newspapers to advertise his business as “a buyer at good prices of art objects of every sort.” The thief, who signs the letter as “Leonardo,”

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Earnest young Renoir dressed in a suit, seated on chair, with his feet drawn up and elbows resting on knees.

365 Days of Art: November 28 – Bazille Killed on Battlefield

November 28, 1870 Impressionist painter Frédéric Bazille dies on the battlefield during the Franco-Prussian War. He is fighting with the Zouaves, a light infantry regiment, and has been frustrated at the lack of action. Today, in a minor battle, his officer is injured and Bazille takes command. He leads an assault on the Prussians, is

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Fireworks appear as dots of light and haze in dark, smoky background.

365 Days of Art: November 26 – Whistler v. Ruskin Libel Trial Concludes

November 26, 1878 The two-day trial, filed by James Abbott McNeill Whistler against art critic John Ruskin, concludes. In July 1877, Ruskin writes a heavy-handed and extremely critical review of Whistler’s work in a group show, that causes Whistler to sue him for libel: For Mr. Whistler’s own sake, no less than for the protection

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Pollock stands on a large canvas unrolled in a field, among paint cans, crouching and concentrating, holding a paintbrush.

365 Days of Art: November 25 – Namuth Films Pollock; Pollock Spirals Downward

November 25, 1950 Photographer Hans Namuth films Jackson Pollock painting on glass, in order to capture, from below, the particular beauty of paint falling in the “action painting” or Abstract Expressionist style, and the “dance” that Pollock executes around a painting. This day’s shooting is the culmination of a months-long project by Namuth to portray

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365 Days of Art: November 22 – Benton Writes About His Work; Bernstein Continues to Protest NEA

November 22, 1967 Thomas Hart Benton writes a letter to Matthew Baigell: …The better part of our history, cultural history, certainly was the outcome of rural pressures on the centers of cultivation and policy-making. This lasted until the turn of the century and beyond (note effects of rural members in state legislatures). Of course this

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Pencil sketch of abstract shapes, some of which resemble limbs, claws or heads.

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, 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

365 Days of Art: November 17 – Duke of Milan Ships Out Leonardo’s Bronze, Gorky Writes Optimistic Note About Prolific Summer of Drawing Read More »

NYC landscape and architecture depicted from different viewpoints, including absurdist details like a large toilet on top of a column, with female figure, body parts in trash can and a dress on a hanger.

365 Days of Art: November 16 – Frida Writes a Letter from US, AIDS Exhibition Opens (Under Duress) After Grant Partially Restored

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

365 Days of Art: November 16 – Frida Writes a Letter from US, AIDS Exhibition Opens (Under Duress) After Grant Partially Restored Read More »

Black cliffs flank white sandy beaches with blue surf.

365 Days of Art: November 15 – Homer is Published, O’Keeffe is Born, Bernstein Protests NEA, Vandal is Sentenced

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

365 Days of Art: November 15 – Homer is Published, O’Keeffe is Born, Bernstein Protests NEA, Vandal is Sentenced Read More »

Stained glass window depicts flowering trees and irises on waterfront, with mountains behind and sky behind.

365 Days of Art: November 13 – Tiffany Trademarks Term for His Glass, Frida Writes a Letter

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.

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Three similar paintings depict a man nearly enclosed by a transparent structure, which is situated within a larger empty room.

365 Days of Art: November 12 – Art Forger Convicted, Replica of David Installed on Roof as Originally Intended, Bacon Sets Auction Record

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

365 Days of Art: November 12 – Art Forger Convicted, Replica of David Installed on Roof as Originally Intended, Bacon Sets Auction Record Read More »

A three-story tall, brightly painted metal mobile, with arms that swing, sits in a city plaza.

365 Days of Art: November 11 – Calder Dies, Vietnam Vet Shoots Avedon Photo

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 of the subjects of the photo, women attending a Daughters of the American

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Organically abstract geometric shapes, some of which appear to have eyes, seem to cavort with more geometric shapes and lines.

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 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

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 Read More »

Framed by abstract sculpture, Peggy Guggenheim and Jackson Pollock stand in front of one of his paintings.

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 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

365 Days of Art: November 9 – Pollock’s First Solo Show Opens, John Meets Yoko at Gallery, Emma Thompson’s Journey Opens in NYC Read More »

365 Days of Art: November 6 – NEA Withdraws Grant for AIDS Exhibition

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

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Pollock stands on a large canvas unrolled in a field, among paint cans, crouching and concentrating, holding a paintbrush.

365 Days of Art: November 5 – Pollock Moves to Long Island, Obama Portrait Joins NYC Exhibition After Presidential Election

November 5, 1945 Jackson Pollock moves from New York City to Long Island, to a farmhouse in Springs. This is a shocking move at the time, since NYC is the center of the art world. The yard and barn where he keeps his studio become the backdrops for some of the most iconic Pollock moments:

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Colored head of King Tut gazes into distance.

365 Days of Art: November 4 – King Tut’s Tomb is Discovered, Florence Flood Damages Millions of Artworks

November 4, 1922 Howard Carter discovers King Tut’s tomb. November 4, 1966 The Arno River floods Florence, killing 113 and damaging millions of masterpieces. The scramble to deal with the sheer volume of works, as well as the race against time to avoid further damage by mold, leads to new developments in art conservation.

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Glass-fronted box contains cockatoo and watches on display.

365 Days of Art: November 3 – Joseph Cornell Writes a Polite Letter, Matisse Dies, 100 Trucks Full of Confiscated Artwork Head to Germany

November 3, 1938 Joseph Cornell writes a letter to an employee named Iris Barry at MoMA’s Film Library. He’s a very polite correspondent: Dear Miss Barry, Between the increasing activity of the Film Library and an injury I sustained on my vacation a few weeks ago, it hasn’t been very convenient for me to speak

365 Days of Art: November 3 – Joseph Cornell Writes a Polite Letter, Matisse Dies, 100 Trucks Full of Confiscated Artwork Head to Germany Read More »

God creating Adam by the touch of a finger, from the Sistine Chapel.

365 Days of Art: October 31 – Completed Sistine Ceiling Unveiled, Egon Schiele Dies

October 31, 1512 On All Saints Eve, an important date on the Catholic calendar, exactly four years and four weeks after beginning the project, the entire Sistine Ceiling is unveiled for Pope Julius and 17 cardinals for evening vespers. Vasari, the art historian, writes: When the work was thrown open, the whole world could be

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Ellen DeGeneres, posing in clown makeup, photographed by Annie Liebowitz.

365 Days of Art: October 30 – Hide/Seek Opens

October 30, 2010 Hide/Seek, the first major museum exhibition to explore themes of sexual identity in portraiture, opens at the National Portrait Gallery. More than 100 works of varying media by artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Jasper Johns, Annie Liebowitz, and Andy Warhol, are on display. The show not only explores the contributions of LGBTQ artists,

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Two women restrain a man, while one beheads him.

365 Days of Art: October 29 – Tortured Witness Testifies Against Artemesia, George Luks Dies After Bar Fight, Art Forger Goes on Trial

October 29, 1612 The manuscript from the trial of Artemisia Gentileschi’s rapist shows that Artemisia’s studio assistant gives testimony against the victim, his boss…while being tortured. Nicolo Bedino, who ground and mixed colors for Artemisia, is stripped naked and hung from a rope while testifying that he had delivered letters from her to several men.

365 Days of Art: October 29 – Tortured Witness Testifies Against Artemesia, George Luks Dies After Bar Fight, Art Forger Goes on Trial Read More »

19th century woman in elegant dress sits comfortably on couch while young man reads to her.

365 Days of Art: October 28 – Manet Marries Childhood Piano Teacher (and Baby Mama)

October 28, 1863 Edouard Manet marries Suzanne Leenhoff, the childhood piano teacher his father hired to provide music lessons to Edouard and his brother. After a relationship of more than ten years, they finally marry after Manet’s father dies. At the time of the wedding, Leenhoff has an 11-year old son named Léon Koëlla, who

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A free and minimal line drawing of a tired-looking woman with her head in her hand.

365 Days of Art: October 27 – Egon Schiele Completes Last Artworks, Lichtenstein is Born, Pinacoteca Vaticana Opens

October 27, 1918 Egon Schiele completes his final two artworks, drawings of his wife in bed with the Spanish flu. She dies the next morning, as did 20 million others in this worldwide epidemic. Schiele himself dies three days afterwards, also of the flu. October 27, 1923 Roy Lichtenstein is born. October 27, 1932 The

365 Days of Art: October 27 – Egon Schiele Completes Last Artworks, Lichtenstein is Born, Pinacoteca Vaticana Opens Read More »

Beautiful woman in toga-like dress sits and gazes calmly.

365 Days of Art: October 25 – Picasso is Born, Krasner and Pollock Marry, Breton Excommunicates Matta for Affair with Gorky’s Wife

October 25, 1881 Picasso is born. Two fun facts about Picasso: his father was a drawing professor, and while most people think he couldn’t draw because of his focus on abstraction and Cubism, Picasso himself was excellent at drawing. October 25, 1945 Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock marry. October 25, 1948 André Breton excommunicates Matta

365 Days of Art: October 25 – Picasso is Born, Krasner and Pollock Marry, Breton Excommunicates Matta for Affair with Gorky’s Wife Read More »

Smiling Diego and Frida sign paperwork in front of witness.

365 Days of Art: October 24 – Frida Writes a Letter About Diego’s Affair, Bacon’s Love Commits Suicide

October 24, 1934 Frida writes to her pal and confidante, Dr. Eloesser: I have suffered so much in three months that it is going to be difficult for me to feel completely well soon but I have done everything I can to forget what happened between Diego and me [referring to his affair with her

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Bearded Vincent at easel, lovingly painting sunflowers outside.

365 Days of Art: October 23 – Gauguin Moves in with Vincent; Art Exhibition Takes on Chicago Mayor’s Brutality

October 23, 1888 Paul Gauguin arrives in Arles to live with Vincent van Gogh in the Yellow House. This is something Vincent has wanted for some time, but his dreams of an art community dissipate as he and Gauguin repeatedly clash. By the end of the fall, Gauguin moves out and Vincent infamously cuts off

365 Days of Art: October 23 – Gauguin Moves in with Vincent; Art Exhibition Takes on Chicago Mayor’s Brutality Read More »

Stark shadows delineate the curving architecture of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, against a crisp sky.

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, 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.” October 21, 1959 The Solomon

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

Confident Peggy Guggenheim reclines on modern rocking chair in sleek-looking art gallery with paintings on wall behind her.

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

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,

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Man in toga, surrounded by lions, sits on stone slab in a patch of sunlight in a large room with no other sign of comfort.

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

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

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

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

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

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, stationary 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

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

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. October 10, 1959 Before the planned demolition of Watts Towers, a DIY art project created over 34 years by one man without the

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

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

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Expressive presentation of overlapping symbols such as flags, checkerboards, military ribbons, numbers and initials.

365 Days of Art: October 7 – Lover’s Death Inspires Hartley Portrait, Rothko Painting Vandalized

October 7, 1914 Marsden Hartley’s lover, Karl von Freyburg, dies in World War I; his death inspires Hartley to paint Portrait of a German Officer. October 7, 2012 Art vandal Wlodzimierz Umaniec uses indelible, dripping ink to scribble his name and a slogan (“12 a potential piece of yellowism”) on Rothko’s 1958 painting Black On Maroon

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365 Days of Art: October 6 – Archers Destroy Leonardo’s Clay Model, Velázquez Becomes Royal Painter

October 6, 1499 Louis XII of France invades Milan, and allows his archers to shoot target practice at Leonardo’s 25-foot clay model for an equestrian statue. For shame! The Duke of Milan commissions the statue in 1482 (that’s 17 years ago–see how slow Leonardo is?); he and Leonardo intend it to be the largest statue

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God creating Adam by the touch of a finger, from the Sistine Chapel.

365 Days of Art: October 4 – Following Extended Break, Michelangelo Resumes Work on Sistine Chapel

October 4, 1511 After a break of 14 months to accommodate a halfway unveiling ceremony as well as Michelangelo’s travel to Milan to get money from Pope Julius, Michelangelo and his team finish rebuilding their scaffolding and resume work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. After the opportunity to critique his work from the ground without

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365 Days of Art: October 1 – Nazi Radio Vilifies Monuments Men

October 1, 1943 Nazi radio announces: The US President of the European Monuments and Art Treasures Committee, an organization consisting of thieves and Jews, said in a statement to the Press that a large number of maps are being distributed to US soldiers to enable them to trace artistic treasures easily. A well-known gangster has

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365 Days of Art: September 30 – Nazis Set Fire to Villa, Destroying Paintings, Glass Collection, and Documents

September 30, 1943 Nazi soldiers set fire to a villa outside of Naples, which temporarily houses the contents of the Filangieri Museum and State Archives of Naples. In addition to 85,978 historical documents, the fire destroys 44 paintings by Van Eyck, Boticelli, Chardin, and Pontormo, as well as a priceless collection of ceramic, glass, and

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365 Days of Art: September 29 – Caravaggio is Born; Pollock Enrolls in Benton’s Class

September 29, 1571 Caravaggio is born. He leads a reckless life and makes some great paintings. September 29, 1930 Jackson Pollock enrolls in Thomas Hart Benton’s class at the Art Students League. Oh look, two a-holes in one room together! Pollock’s issues are fairly well-known, but you can read Benton is his own words here

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365 Days of Art: September 28 – Monks Pay Leonardo Final Payment for Unfinished Commission

September 28, 1481 The monks of San Donato a Scopeto in Florence make a payment to Leonardo da Vinci for their commission of Adoration of the Magi. This will be their final payment, since Leonardo, notoriously slow in completing commissions, never finishes this one because he leaves Florence for Milan. The unfinished work has been

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365 Days of Art: September 27 – Munch Museum Celebrates Return of Damaged Paintings

September 27, 2006 Munch’s The Scream and Madonna go on view in a special five-day exhibition to celebrate their return to the Munch Museum–damages and all–after being stolen by masked gunmen two years earlier. Before conservation begins, 5,500 people view the damaged paintings.

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365 Days of Art: September 26 – Eakins Writes an Earnestly Insulting Letter

September 26, 1867 Thomas Eakins writes in a letter to his sister Fanny: Dear Fanny,Your letter speaking of Mrs. Lewis’s sickness has given me great concern and for many days I have been anxiously awaiting & wanting another letter though almost dreading it, and although as you know I never was over fond of Sally

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365 Days of Art: September 24 – Barnes Foundation Announces Plans to Move

September 24, 2002 The Barnes Foundation, possibly the best collection of Post-Impressionist works in the world, announces a petition to move from Merion, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. The need for a petition, and the reason this request rocks the art world so thoroughly, is because collector Albert C. Barnes has left his collection of personal favorites

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Ink sketches of birds flying, at three different angles.

365 Days of Art: September 22 – Leonardo Studies Birds, Michelangelo Seeks Payment, Artists Reject Pop Art Newcomer, Search Leads to Nazi Loot

September 22, 1507 Leonardo makes studies of birds in flight. September 22, 1510 Exactly halfway through painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo departs Florence, where he’d taken a break to visit his family, for Bologna to confront Pope Julius II about not being paid according to his contract. The two already have a long history

365 Days of Art: September 22 – Leonardo Studies Birds, Michelangelo Seeks Payment, Artists Reject Pop Art Newcomer, Search Leads to Nazi Loot Read More »

Frida Kahlo self portrait with back brace and architectural column as spine.

365 Days of Art: September 17 – Frida Kahlo Severely Injured in Bus Accident

September 17, 1925 As a teenaged Frida Kahlo rides through Mexico City, her bus is hit by a train. In the collision, an iron handrail breaks off and pierces through her body, from abdomen to vagina. The sheer force of the impact peels her clothes from her body, and in a moment that’s straight out

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An abstract painting with light shapes against dark, hard-edged background shapes.

365 Days of Art: September 15 – Gorky Marries; David Struck by Hammer

September 15, 1941 Driving back home to New York from an exhibition in San Francisco, Arshile Gorky and Mougouch (Agnes Magruder) are married in Nevada. September 15, 1991 A 47-year old art vandal attacks Michelangelo’s David with a hammer. While declaring that a 16th-century painter’s model has given him orders to do so, he breaks

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Vivid paintings on columns and ceiling of long gallery in Vatican Museum.

365 Days of Art: September 14 – Hitler Issues Orders to Commandeer the Vatican’s Artworks; Vandal Slashes a Rembrandt

September 14, 1943 SS General Karl Wolff, Supreme Leader of All SS Troops and Police in Italy, receives the following instructions from Hitler: As soon as possible I want you and your troops to occupy the Vatican and Vatican City, as part of the German counter measures against this unspeakable “Badoglio treachery,” secure the Vatican’s

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Marble statue of David with his slingshot.

365 Days of Art: September 13 – Michelangelo Begins Carving, Childe Hassam Travels to Gloucester, Art Vandal Prepares to Attack, Boston MFA Exhibits Stolen Painting

September 13, 1501 About a month after signing the contract for his first commission, Michelangelo picks up his tools early in the morning and begins carving the statue of David. He will work on it for over two years. September 13, 1900 American Impressionist Childe Hassam arrives in Gloucester, Massachusetts to paint. The area is

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Detail of cave painting, a reindeer with antlers near abstract symbols.

365 Days of Art: September 12 – Dog and Teens Discover Lascaux Cave Paintings; Nan Goldin is Born

September 12, 1940 A group of French teenagers chase their dog down a hole and accidentally discover the most awesome cave paintings of all time at Lascaux, France. The prehistoric paintings are at least 15,000 years old, cover the walls and ceiling, and mainly depict animals. The degree of delicacy in these 600+ paintings is

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Picasso's Guernica painting is about the horrors of war.

365 Days of Art: September 10 – Picasso’s Guernica Returns to Spain After 42-Year Exile

September 10, 1981 Picasso’s anti-war mural, which he insists must never rest on Spanish soil until democracy is restored there, returns to Spain after 42 years. Although Picasso doesn’t live to see this happen (he dies in 1973), it seems like his posthumous salute to Spain’s democracy after decades of dictatorship. The painting is inspired

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John Waters poses confidently for camera while standing in art gallery.

365 Days of Art: September 9 – Director John Waters Discusses Art Collecting

September 9, 2003 Director, photographer, writer and art collector John Waters declares on the television series ART:21: I love collecting art because it makes other people insane.” He buys his first piece of art (a reproduction by Miró from a museum gift shop) at eight years old, and realizes the power of art when his

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Landscape photo which eerily suggests blood-spatter in the snow, in the shape of a grave, or a cross.

365 Days of Art: September 8 – Ana Mendieta Falls to Her Death; Husband Carl Andre Arrested for Murder

September 8, 1985 Ana Mendieta dies at age 32, after falling from her 34th floor apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village; her husband, sculptor Carl Andre is charged with her murder. Though there are no eyewitnesses, the doorman and neighbors overhear a violent, drunken argument between the newlyweds, as well as a woman repeatedly screaming

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Young Apollinaire, with pipe and suit, sits on chair among paintings and African statuary.

365 Days of Art: September 7 – Apollinaire is Arrested for Theft of Mona Lisa

September 7, 1911 Seventeen days after the Mona Lisa is stolen without anyone noticing, police arrest the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. As a critic and surrealist, he’s suggested in the past that the Louvre should be burned down, and he rooms with someone who’s been stealing antiquities. He’s held for five days, during which time he

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Gaunt woman in bed with eyes closed, shrouded in a gauzy covering that partially obscures face.

365 Days of Art: September 5 – Monet Paints Wife on Deathbed, Oldenburg Protests Police Brutality

September 5, 1879 Monet’s wife Camille dies of cancer at age 32, and he paints a portrait of her on her deathbed. While Monet’s portrait and correspondence seem to show real feeling over her death, he doesn’t treat Camille very well while she’s alive. She gives birth to their first child alone and penniless, with

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365 Days of Art: September 4 – Thieves Steal 13 Paintings in Montreal

September 4, 1972 Thieves steal 18 paintings from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It is the largest art theft in North America until the Boston Museum of Fine Arts robbery almost 20 years later. They enter through the skylight, tie up the guards and steal a rare Rembrandt landscape (he usually paints portraits), two

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Abstract shapes with some anthropomorphic qualities seem to collide in a friendly way.

365 Days of Art: September 3 – Barnett Newman Protests Police Brutality

September 3, 1968 Protesting police brutality in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, painter Barnett Newman demands that his painting be removed from an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. America is stunned in front of their televisions, watching cops in riot gear executing “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago,” as Senator Abraham

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Small rowboat with two women approach women represented as barrels, leaking water from holes.

365 Days of Art: September 1 – Amy Cutler Show Opens in Sweden

September 1, 2011 A solo show of new works by Amy Cutler, one of my favorite artists, opens at Galleri Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm. Her very mysterious, yet funny, paintings often feature groups of women engaged in group activities that simultaneously bring them together, yet show the rifts and competition in their dynamic. There is

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Graph of employment of artists for Federal Art Project of WPA in 1936.

365 Days of Art: August 29 – The Federal Art Project of the WPA is Created

August 29, 1935 The Federal Art Project (FAP) is established as part of the Works Progress Administration and FDR’s New Deal. Like all WPA programs, its goal is to create jobs. Most of the jobs involved creating public art for government buildings like schools, libraries, airports and the like. One of the great features is

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Mary lovingly cradles Jesus' limp body in her lap.

365 Days of Art: August 27 – Michelangelo Takes 1st Commission, Krakatoa Colors Sky for The Scream, and Guernica is Displayed for 1st Time in US

Another big day in the history of art! August 27, 1498 At age 25, Michelangelo receives his first big commission: a statue of Mary and Jesus for a cardinal. He selects the Carrera marble himself from the quarry and carves the statue from that single piece of stone. The 450 ducats he’s paid make him

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Under an awning, well-dressed men and women socialize over lunch.

365 Days of Art: August 26 – Renoir Is Drafted Into the Army

August 26, 1870 Pierre-Auguste Renoir is drafted into the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the French Army. Several other of his Impressionist peers, including Monet, also serve in the Army because they are too poor to buy themselves an exemption. In fact, Monet credits his time in the Army looking at different landscapes as invaluable training

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Painting of organic shapes in yellows, oranges, and grays which are based on Nature.

365 Days of Art: August 25 – Georgia O’Keeffe is Inspired by Arthur Dove

August 25, 1915 Georgia O’Keeffe writes a letter to her friend Anita Pollitzer and mentions she has received a copy of the book Cubists and Post-Impressionism by Jerome Eddy. The significance is that this is the first time she sees Arthur Dove’s work, which she later says makes a lasting impression on her. There are

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Portrait of 17th century man with ruff collar is ruined by a dark liquid dripping from face.

365 Days of Art: August 24 – Serial Art Attacker Strikes Rubens Portrait with Acid

August 24, 1977 Hans-Joachim Bohlmann, serial art attacker, damages the painting Archduke Albrecht by Rubens by assaulting it with acid. Still in the beginning of this career, he nevertheless starts out in a prolific way. A psychologist would have some fun noting that almost all of Bohlmann’s attacks are on the face and especially the

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Two masked thieves carrying paintings to getaway car in front of Munch Museum.

365 Days of Art: August 22 – The Scream is Stolen by Masked Men

August 22, 2004 Gun-wielding men in masks raid the Munch Museum in broad daylight and steal The Scream (one of several versions),as well as Munch’s Madonna. About seven months later, a suspect is arrested, but the paintings are still missing. For ten months, the museum is closed for a overhaul of security systems. The city

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Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.

365 Days of Art: August 21 – Mona Lisa is Stolen, but Theft Goes Unnoticed

August 21, 1911 The Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre, but it takes 24 hours to notice that it is missing. What in the world?? Yes, guards, and visitors too apparently, believe that the famous painting has been officially removed for photographs or other legitimate museum business. The same visitor has to report his

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Aerial view of Duomo in Florence, Italy.

365 Days of Art: August 19 – Art Competition to Design Duomo is Announced

August 19, 1418 An art competition is announced in Florence to design a dome over the unfinished cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The reason it has been incomplete for 140 years, since 1296, is because current technology (centering and buttressing) can’t yet bridge a span that large without collapsing. This is an ingenious problem,

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A painting of Pope Julius II, wearing red robes and sitting ona gold throne.

365 Days of Art: August 18 – Pope Falls Ill; Michelangelo Fears Sistine Ceiling Won’t Be Finished

August 18, 1511 Michelangelo, halfway through painting the Sistine ceiling, fears for the future of his project when Pope Julius II, at age 67, comes down with a severe fever. It’s severe enough at his age that everyone assumes he’ll die. In an unstable time, with enemies circling, his strong personality and sheer force of

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Marble statue of David with his slingshot.

365 Days of Art: August 16 – Michelangelo Signs Contract to Work on David

August 16, 1501 Michelangelo signs a contract with the Office of Works of Florence Cathedral to sculpt his famous David. The road to get to this point has been a long one, though. About 100 years earlier, the same Office decides to commission twelve sculptures to serve as buttresses for Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral.

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Newspaper collage of accounts of attack on Frank Lloyd Wright household.

365 Days of Art: August 15 – Employee Commits Mass Murder at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Estate

August 15, 1914 Frank Lloyd Wright’s cook kills Wright’s mistress and six others on what was supposed to be his last day of work. Julian Carlton arrives at Wright’s estate, Taliesin, in Wisconsin earlier in the summer with excellent references. Though he starts off on the right foot, he begins to show signs of paranoia,

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

365 Days of Art: August 14 – Construction Begins on the Not-Yet-Leaning Tower of Pisa

August 14, 1173 Construction begins on the Tower of Pisa. They don’t know it at the time, but the work won’t be completed for 199 years! At this point, the foundation and first floor are begun, but are poorly thought out and executed. The soil is unstable, and the foundation only measures three meters; together,

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A painting of a wrestler with his head upside down on the mat.

365 Days of Art: August 13 – George Luks is Born

August 13, 1867 George Luks (pronounced Lewks) is born. New York City is his muse, inspiring him with subjects like immigrant families and underground sporting events–unpolished, active figures that require a faster painting approach. He is a member of the Ashcan School, named after the metal garbage can, so-called because of these gritty inspirations that

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Keith Haring painting of energetic stick figures in motion.

365 Days of Art: August 10 – Keith Haring Discusses AIDS Diagnosis

August 10, 1989 Rolling Stone publishes an interview with Keith Haring, in which he discusses his AIDS diagnosis vis a vis his career: No matter how long you work, it’s always going to end sometime. And there’s always going to be things left undone. And it wouldn’t matter if you lived until you were seventy-five.

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Magazine spread shows defiantly confident, denim-clad Jackson Pollock leaning against one of his paintings

365 Days of Art: August 8 – Life Magazine Asks If Jackson Pollock is the Greatest Living Painter in the US

August 8, 1949 Life, the wildly popular magazine, publishes an article on Jackson Pollock which catapults him to celebrity status, and brings fine art into the pop culture mainstream. Entitled “Jackson Pollock: Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?”, it also establishes the macho, alpha-male persona of the Abstract Expressionists by portraying

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Mary Cassatt painting of two women drinking tea.

365 Days of Art: August 6 – Sister-in-Law Calls Mary Cassatt Disagreeable

August 6, 1880 Mary Cassatt’s sister-in-law, Lois, lays out her true feelings in a letter to her own sister Harriet: …the truth is I cannot abide Mary and never will. I have never heard her criticize any human being but in the most disagreeable way. She is self-important and I can’t put up with it.

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365 Days of Art: July 30 – Vincent Becomes Youngest Art Dealer in Firm, and Vincent is Laid to Rest

July 30, 1869 Van Gogh becomes the youngest employee of the art dealers firm of Goupil & Compagnie in The Hague. July 30, 1890 Twenty one years later, Vincent’s funeral is held. His coffin is placed for viewing in his room at the inn in Auvers, surrounded by his last paintings, and the tools of

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Diane Arbus photo of two young, female identical twins.

365 Days of Art: July 26 – Three Events About Women in the Art World: a Suicide, a Congressional Debate, and a Job Interview

Three events today, about women in the art world: July 26, 1971 Diane Arbus commits suicide. She is a photographer, known for her black-and-white, usually head-on photos of folks that might make other folks cringe: a man in rollers and make-up, presumably half-way through his transformation to drag queen (this photo is spat on by

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Side-by-side portraits of Adam and Eve.

365 Days of Art: July 25 – Nazis Send Telegram About “Rescue” of Two Paintings Admired by Hitler

July 25, 1944 SS General Karl Wolff sends a telegram to Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, reporting on the “rescue” of two paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder (the diptych Adam and Eve), noting how much Hitler had admired them when he’d seen them in Florence, and asking “whether these art treasures should be brought to the

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An unfeeling man stands over a woman's bloody corpse on a bed; blood spatter is everywhere

365 Days of Art: July 23 – Frida Writes Letter to Diego After His Affair with Her Sister

July 23, 1934 Frida writes a letter to Diego, who has been carrying on an affair with her sister Cristina for about a year: . . . all these letters, liaisons with petticoats, lady teachers of “English,” gypsy models, assistants with “good intentions,” “plenipotentiary emissaries from distant places,” only represent flirtations, and that at bottom

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Marble statue of David with his slingshot.

365 Days of Art: July 21 – Fun, Bonus Post – Jerusalem Rejects a Gift From Florence

Bonus post, because the main post today was so heavy. July 21, 1995 The city of Florence, Italy offers a gift to the city of Jerusalem: a replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David, which Jerusalem rejects because they find it pornographic. They do agree to accept a different, fully clothed statue instead.

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365 Days of Art: July 20 – Robert Smithson Dies While Surveying Sites for Environmental Artwork

July 20, 1973 Robert Smithson dies in a plane crash, while surveying sites for his work Amarillo Ramp in the vicinity of Amarillo, Texas. He is known as an earthworks artist, who also uses photography and film to document his environmental installations. Spiral Jetty is his best-known work, visible depending on the level of the

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Arshile Gorky sits on a picnic blanket with his head in his hand.

365 Days of Art: July 19 – Hitler Kicks Off Degenerate Art Fair, Gorky Returns Home to Connecticut

July 19, 1937 Hitler opens The Entartete (or Degenerate) Art Fair in Munich with an enraged speech about the “great and fatal illness” of art, while the exhibition itself is designed to invite public mockery of “garbage.” The show features over 650 artworks and books, culled from a cache of about 16,000 works stolen from

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St. Paul lays on the ground beneath a horse, who is about to kick him.

365 Days of Art: July 18 – Caravaggio Dies, and Gorky’s Wife Writes About Gorky’s Mental State

July 18, 1610 Caravaggio dies at age 38; the cause of death is unknown but rumors posthumously swirl around the painter: that he died of syphilis, or malaria, or was killed by one of his many enemies. In 2010, Italian forensic scientists announce that they believe they’ve found Caravaggio’s remains, and that he died of

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365 Days of Art: July 16 – Gorky Physically Confronts Matta, and His Wife Leaves Him

July 16, 1948 Arshile Gorky physically confronts Matta over sleeping with his wife Agnes (aka Mougouch), and she leaves Gorky on the advice of his own doctor. The morning after a huge fight, Gorky’s wife initially thinks they’ve cleared the air. She writes a letter to Matta to let him know that Gorky knows about

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Peggy Guggenheim wears huge sunglasses while posing with her dogs beside the Grand Canal in Venice.

365 Days of Art: July 13 – Peggy Guggenheim Arrives in US with Plans to Open Art Gallery

July 13, 1941 Peggy Guggenheim arrives in the US from Europe with plans to open an art gallery. This simple-sounding plan leads to the creation of Art of This Century, probably the most influential art gallery ever, with her artists becoming commercially successful, and introducing the fine arts into pop culture. She is known for

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Profile of an elderly woman in austere, black clothing seated in a chair in a plain room.

365 Days of Art: July 11 – James Abbott McNeill Whistler is Born

July 11, 1834 James Abbott McNeill Whistler is born. His motto is “art for art’s sake.” One of his best moments (which we’ll cover later in the year) is filing suit against the art critic John Ruskin who unnecessarily slams his work; his bon mots and Oscar Wildesque zingers in the courtroom have everyone laughing

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A portrait of John Salisbury, circa 1820.

365 Days of Art: July 9 – Portrait Subject Describes Sitting for Gilbert Stuart

July 9, 1823 Stephen Salisbury, from Worcester, Massachusetts (holla!) writes home to his son about having his portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart at Stuart’s studio in Boston: Your aunt &c. has prevailed on me to Sit before Stuart for a likeness, which he has accomplished to their Satisfaction, as well as my own.” His wife

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365 Days of Art: July 5 – Gorky is Released from the Hospital; Fears for Painting Career

July 5, 1948 Arshile Gorky is released from the hospital following his car accident, wearing a leather and metal collar that leaves his painting arm immobilized. His wife Agnes (nicknamed Mougouch) later writes: After the accident, everything was awful as far as Gorky was concerned. Everything just collapsed. When he came home he had to

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Poster advertises the American Negro Exposition.

365 Days of Art: July 4 – American Negro Exposition Opens with Juried Art Show

July 4, 1940 The American Negro Exposition, with a national juried art exhibition, opens in Chicago and commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dioramas featuring highlights of 7,000 years of African and American history grace the Chicago Colisseum hallway. Murals reflect accomplishments by African Americans over the past 75 years. All but one

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Line drawing of Vincent van Gogh's girlfriend cradling a newborn.

365 Days of Art: July 2 – Van Gogh Visits Girlfriend in Hospital After Birth of Her Baby

July 2, 1882 Vincent van Gogh visits his figure model and girlfriend, Sien, in the hospital, after the birth of her baby (Vincent is not the father). He writes to his brother Theo about how beautiful the baby is, and of his great joy at meeting him. But he sounds an ominous note when he

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Expressive, abstract painting by Willem de Kooning.

365 Days of Art: July 1 – De Kooning Begins Teaching, Lennon’s 1st Exhibition Opens, and A Crowd Protests Mapplethorpe’s Cancellation

July 1, 1948 Willem de Kooning begins teaching at Black Mountain College, an experimental art college near Asheville, North Carolina. Famous colleagues include Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. July 1, 1968 John Lennon’s first art exhibition, with Yoko Ono, entitled You are Here, opens in London. July 1, 1989 On the

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A storeroom with famous paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and others leaning against each other, the walls, and the floor.

365 Days of Art: June 30 – Hitler Authorizes Degenerate Art Exhibition; Commission Created to Confiscate More Artwork

June 30, 1937 Hitler signs an order authorizing the Degenerate Art Exhibition, and Joseph Goebbels accordindgly creates a commission to oversee the confiscation from museums and private art collections any remaining artworks that are deemed modern, subversive, or otherwise contrary to the German spirit. This is an extension of Nazi policy to persecute Jews and

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Richard Diebenkorn painting shows a person standing in the sun overlooking a coastal landscape.

365 Days of Art: June 29 – Richard Diebenkorn Describes Struggling with Watercolor

June 29, 1985 In an interview, Richard Diebenkorn (one of my favorite artists ever) describes reworking an old watercolor while he was in the Marines during WWII, stationed in Hawaii. He says he vowed he “was going to get it even if he had to make the black white and the white black.” I know,

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Yayoi Kusama's dozens of phallus-shaped, polka-dotted sculptures on ground, reflected in multiple mirrors and repeated again and again.

365 Days of Art: June 27 – 15th Anniversary Exhibition Closes at Yokohama Museum of Art

June 27, 2004 The exhibition And or Versus: Adventures in Images, which is the 15th anniversary exhibition of the opening of the contemporary/modern Yokohama Museum of Art in Yokohama, Japan, closes. It features work by artists as varied as Salvador Dali, Richard Long, Yayoi Kusama, and Andy Warhol. The image above is from Kusama’s solo

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Painting of a crowd of 17th-century Dutch folks, having a good time.

365 Days of Art: June 25 – Serial Art Attacker Ignites Painting

June 25, 2006 Serial art attacker Hans-Joachim Bohlmann pours lighter fluid on the painting Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster (1648) by Bartholomeus van der Helst and sets fire to it. Luckily, most damage occurs in the varnish layer, where it’s easier to treat. Bohlmann is sentenced to

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Van Gogh painting of a Zouave soldier in his distinct and colorful uniform.

365 Days of Art: June 23 – Van Gogh Writes a Self-Critical Letter About Zouave Painting

June 23, 1888 Vincent Van Gogh writes a letter to Emile Bernard, and references the painting above. What I’ve been doing looks very ugly – a drawing of a seated Zouave [pronounced zoo-AHV, a soldier in the French Army, based in North Africa, with a distinct uniform], a painted sketch of the Zouave against a

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Abstract painting with uncharacteristically dark color palette and lack of detail

365 Days of Art: June 22 – Monet Writes Nasty Letter to His Eye Surgeon

June 22, 1923 Monet writes a letter excoriating his eye surgeon, Dr. Charles Coutela, who had performed a cataract operation on Monet’s right eye in January, when Monet was 82. I might have finished the Décorations which I have to deliver in April and I’m certain now that I won’t be able to finish them

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An American Impressionist painting of a harbor on a sunny day.

365 Days of Art: June 20 – John Henry Twachtman Writes a Letter About His Studio

June 20, 1902 John Henry Twachtman writes in a letter that he’s rented a studio in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he’s about to spend his third summer. He will die in less than three months of a brain aneurysm, but the paintings he creates in Gloucester in the last three summers of his life are some

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Mixed media Louise Nevelson sculpture consisting of various items collected together in handcrafted shelving and painted black.

365 Days of Art: June 18 – Chicago Tribune Reveals Nevelson Estate in Turmoil

June 18, 1989 The Chicago Tribune discloses that the late sculptor Louise Nevelson’s son and her personal assistant (and perhaps closeted lover) are locked in a legal battle over her estate. And it gets messy. Mike Nevelson takes 35 sculptures from Diana MacKown which she says were a gift from Louise, and he says don’t

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Graphic and shadowy portrait of Andy Warhol with hand to mouth

365 Days of Art: June 14 – Time Magazine Blames Warhol for RFK Assassination

June 14, 1968 In the aftermath of the attempted murder of Andy Warhol and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy within three days of each other (RFK’s assassination pushed Andy Warhol off the cover of Life magazine that week), Time‘s art critic Piri Halasz wrote: To the extent that Warhol’s art and life-style embody and

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Several suitcases are placed near each other; one is opened to reveal it's packed with blocks of cheese.

365 Days of Art: June 11 – Dieter Roth Exhibition Receives Humorous Review

June 11, 1970 Dieter Roth’s first US exhibition receives a tongue-in-cheek review in the International Herald Tribune, which says that the gallery owner “will sell it to anyone with $21,000 and a bad cold.” The reason for the bad cold is that the exhibition stinks. Literally stinks. Inspired by an artist whose work Roth thinks

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Talking Heads album cover, featuring a painting by Rev. Howard Finster.

365 Days of Art: June 10 – Howard Finster Artwork Featured on Album Cover

June 10, 1985 Folk art is brought into the mainstream a bit when Talking Heads feature Howard Finster’s artwork on their album Little Creatures. The Reverend Howard Finster is one of my favorite artists, and you can read more about him here. He was a collector (of dental molds, “wore-out art supplies,” glass jars, bicycles,

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An abstract painting with light shapes against dark, hard-edged background shapes.

365 Days of Art: June 9 – Gorky’s Newark Airport Murals Unveiled; Said to Look Like Atlantic City Hangover!

June 9, 1937 Arshile Gorky’s murals for the Newark Airport murals are unveiled. A reporter at the opening reception collects bystanders’ reactions, and prints them in the Newark Ledger the next day. My favorite is that the artwork looks “like a hangover after an Atlantic City convention!” Poor Gorky. You know my heart goes out

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Sepia-tinted photo from early 20th century depicts two Sioux chiefs on horseback on the plains.

365 Days of Art: June 6 – NYT Reviews Edward Curtis’ Photographic Book of Native American Research

June 6, 1908 The New York Times publishes a review of Edward Curtis’ first volume of research on all the Native American tribes in the United States, including photographs. An excerpt: Nothing like it has ever before been attempted for any people. He has made text and pictures interpret each other and both together present

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A very thin and ill man lays on colorful, patterned sheets and pillows.

365 Days of Art: June 5 – Felix Partz Dies of AIDS; Is Memorialized in Photo

June 5, 1994 Artist Felix Partz dies of AIDS, and his collaborator AA Bronson documents the event in a heartbreakingly grotesque photograph. This is a real photo–even if it looks staged, or like a drawing based on a photograph–that shines light on AIDS, if only because it’s so hard to wrap your head around. Bronson

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Front page of NY Daily News completely filled with photo and headline about Andy Warhol shooting

365 Days of Art: June 3 – Nazis Legalize Art Theft, Peggy Guggenheim Visits Brancusi During WWII Bombing, and Andy Warhol is Shot

This is a cruel and violent day in the history of art: June 3, 1938 The Nazis pass a law legalizing art robbery of “Entartete Art” [Degenerate Art], which sets the stage for many Jews to be robbed of their art collections. June 3, 1940 Peggy Guggenheim recalls visiting Constantin Brancusi’s studio while the Germans

365 Days of Art: June 3 – Nazis Legalize Art Theft, Peggy Guggenheim Visits Brancusi During WWII Bombing, and Andy Warhol is Shot Read More »

A painting of trees and a small clearing within a forest.

365 Days of Art: June 2 – Gauguin Painting Sells for 76 Francs

June 2, 1894 The Gauguin painting, Forest Interior (Sous-Bois), is bought by one Ambroise Vollard in Paris, for 76 francs; the money goes to benefit the widow of Gauguin’s dealer. After Gauguin went to Tahiti in 1891, he consigned a few paintings to a collector and dealer named Julien-François Tanguy, who died three years later.

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A. haunting painting of moonlight over a rock formation and water.

365 Days of Art: June 1 – Society of American Artists Forms

June 1, 1877 The Society of American Artists forms, as an alternative to the National Academy, which they find too conservative. Initial members include sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Julian Alden Weir, John Henry Twachtman, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, with most of the best-known artists of the day becoming members. The Society eventually merges

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Framed by abstract sculpture, Peggy Guggenheim and Jackson Pollock stand in front of one of his paintings.

365 Days of Art: May 31 – Art of This Century Closes After Five Influential Years

May 31, 1947 Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery, Art of This Century, closes its doors. Peggy wanted to return to Europe, and confided that the gallery business had completely tired her out. Although it was only open for five years, I’d have to say it became one of the most influential art institutions ever by bringing modern

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A painting of a stylized goldfish against a dark background, by Paul Klee.

365 Days of Art: May 30 – Three Exhibitions Close at MoMA

May 30, 1937 Three exhibitions close at MoMA: Twelve Modern Paintings, featuring Paul Klee, Joan Miro, and Jean Arp, Prehistoric Rock Pictures, and a Cezanne show. Director Alfred Barr made comparisons between all three and saw the Modern and Prehistoric shows as companion pieces, sharing elements like primitive figures, scratched surfaces, and distorted scale and

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Mary lovingly cradles Jesus' limp body in her lap.

365 Days of Art: May 21 – Man Attacks Michelangelo’s Pietà

May 21, 1972 Laszlo Toth, an unemployed geologist, climbs onto Michelangelo’s Pietà, grabs a hammer from underneath his coat, and smashes away at the sculpture 15 times. A fireman and several undercover guards pull him away, while several civic-minded bystanders grab fragments of the statue that have fallen to the floor and run (to his

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August Savage works on a bronze sculpture.

365 Days of Art: May 20 – NY World Publishes Article About Augusta Savage’s Rejection Due to Racial Bias

May 20, 1923 The New York World publishes an article on Augusta Savage, the artist whose application to a summer art program in France is denied because she is Black. The backstory: A summer art school in France offers grants for 100 American women to study for free in the program. Augusta applies, and the

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A stylized drawing of a couple having sex.

365 Days of Art: May 18 – Egon Schiele Calls Himself “Shattered” Over Trial

May 18, 1912 Egon Schiele writes to his friend Arthur Roessler, who had been away from Vienna during Schiele’s arrest and trial on charges of child molestation, abduction, and pornography, which comes to be known as the Neulengbach affair: … I am still completely shattered. — During the trial one of my pieces which had

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A painting of a picnic lunch in the forest, with men in suits and a nude woman.

365 Days of Art: May 15 – The Salon des Refusés Opens to the Public

May 15, 1863 The Salon des Refusés (literally, The Exhibition of Rejects), an exhibition of artwork rejected by the annual Paris Salon exhibition, opens to visitors. The exhibition is organized by Napoleon III to quiet his more vocal critics, and probably to prove to the public that they should have trusted the judgment of the

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Two women restrain a man, while one beheads him.

365 Days of Art: May 14 – Artemisia Ghentileschi Testifies at the Trial of Her Rapist

May 14, 1612 Artemisia Gentileschi testifies at the trial of her rapist, Agostino Tassi, a friend of her father’s (the painter Orazio Gentileschi): . . . as I have said, I trusted him and would never have believed that he would dare rape me and do damage both to me and the friendship he had

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Michelangelo's painting of Adam, Eve, and the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

365 Days of Art: May 10 – Michelangelo Begins Work on Sistine Chapel Ceiling

May 10, 1508 Michelangelo writes this note to himself about the Sistine Chapel: On this day, May 10, I, Michelangelo, sculptor, have received on account from our Holy Lord Pope Julius II five-hundred papal ducats toward the painting of the ceiling of the papal Sistine Chapel, on which I am beginning work today. Today, we

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365 Days of Art: May 9 – Nelson Rockefeller Fires Diego Rivera

May 9, 1933 After growing tensions over Diego’s depiction of Vladimir Lenin, Nelson Rockefeller fires Diego Rivera from his work on the Rockefeller Center murals in NYC. The building’s manager and 12 security guards order Diego to stop working, and present him with a termination letter and a check for his services. The scaffolding around

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Abstract painting with uncharacteristically dark color palette and lack of detail

365 Days of Art: May 8 – Monet Complains of “Spoiling” Paintings Due to Failing Eyesight

May 8, 1922 Monet writes to the author Marc Elder about his failing eyesight, specifically, cataracts: …in the end I was forced to recognize that I was spoiling them [the paintings], that I was no longer capable of doing anything good. So I destroyed several of my panels. Now I’m almost blind and I’m having

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365 Days of Art: May 6 – NEA Director Says Institution Is “Going Down the Tubes”

May 6, 1992 The Interim Director of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Anne-Imelda Radice, tells the House Appropriations Committee that the organization is in danger of “going down the tubes” due to artworks and exhibitions that include sexuality. She was appointed by George H.W. Bush after he asked her predecessor to resign in

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A light painting of tree trunks and a grassy meadow.

365 Days of Art: May 4 – Vincent Writes About His Mental Illness, Asks to Leave Asylum

May 4, 1890 Vincent van Gogh writes to his brother Theo about his desire to leave the asylum at St. Remy: The surroundings here are beginning to weigh me down more than I can say – heavens above, I’ve been patient for more than a year – I need some air, I feel overwhelmed by

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A drawing of Egon's Schiele's prison cell.

365 Days of Art: May 2 – Egon Schiele’s Friends Correspond While He Is in Jail

May 2, 1912 Egon Schiele’s friend Dr. Oskar Reichel writes to Arthur Roessler, informing him of Schiele’s imprisonment on charges of child molestation, abduction, and pornography, which comes to be known as the Neulengbach affair: B. [Heinrich Benesch] visited him. He was imprisoned in Neulengbach and was in a dreadful state. There are miserable conditions

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A huge stone statue located within a carved niche in a wall of rock.

365 Days of Art: April 30 – Chinese Pilgrim Describes Now-Destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas

April 30, 630 A Chinese Buddhist pilgrim by the name of Xuanzang visits the Bamiynan Buddhas and notes that the area contains “more than ten monasteries and more than a thousand monks.” He also noted that the two giant Buddha statues were “decorated with gold and fine jewels.” You can read more about the destruction

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Organic abstract shapes, including circles and stripes, overlaps each other.

365 Days of Art: April 29 – Rothko’s Friend Writes a Letter; Recalls Visit

April 29, 1982 Twelve years after Mark Rothko’s suicide, the Italian writer Gabriella Drudi writes a letter to the art critic Dore Ashton, and recalls visiting Rothko at his house on East 95th Street in NYC: We went together to visit the house. There was happiness. The festiveness of the poor when they finally know

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A painting of a picnic lunch in the forest, with men in suits and a nude woman.

365 Days of Art: April 28 – Napoleon Issues Press Release About Planned Art Exhibition

April 28, 1863 Emperor Napoleon III issues a press release, regarding the planned Salon des Refusés (literally, Exhibition of the Rejected Ones): An exhibition will open on 15 May…Artists have until 7 May to withdraw their works…After this date works that have not been withdrawn will be placed on show. Here’s the backstory: This statement,

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Leonardo's painting of Virgin of the Rocks.

365 Days of Art: April 27 – Arbiters to Leonardo: After 23 Years, Finish the Painting!

April 27, 1506 Arbiters in Milan, who have gotten involved in a dispute between Leonardo and a patron, rule that Leonardo is required to finish the commissioned Virgin of the Rocks within two years, and will be paid 200 lire. Notoriously slow on his follow-through, he had accepted the commission 23 years earlier with no

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Brightly colored abstract painting on paper.

365 Days of Art: April 26 – Helen Frankenthaler Exhibition Opens at Andre Emmerich Gallery

April 26, 1990 Frankenthaler: Paintings on Paper opens at André Emmerich Gallery. Helen Frankenthaler loved paper since she was a child, and worked on paper exclusively at the end of her life, for at least a decade. Like many artists, she found working on paper to be easier while traveling, and when studio space was

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Leonardo's painting of Virgin of the Rocks.

365 Days of Art: April 25 – Leonardo Accepts a Commission

April 25, 1483 Leonardo signs a contract with the Milanese Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception in San Francesco Grande; they have commissioned him to produce several paintings including Virgin of the Rocks, and to polychrome their altarpiece in Milan. Interestingly, art historians believe that Leonardo sold this painting, instead of fulfilling the commission. Later, he

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Diego Rivera poses next to small artwork.

365 Days of Art: April 24 – Art and Politics Collide for Diego Rivera and Little Mermaid

Two instances of politics colliding with art today: April 24, 1933 With Diego Rivera’s mural for Rockefeller Center two thirds of the way finished, the NY World-Telegram inflames tensions between the artist and patron by publishing this headline: Rivera Paints Scenes of Communist Activity and John D. Jr. Foots Bill” Then: April 24, 1964 Oh

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Paintings of figures on cave walls.

365 Days of Art: April 22 – Scientists Announce Discovery of World’s Oldest Oil Paintings

April 22, 2008 Scientists announce they have proved the world’s first-ever oil paintings were made in caves that were discovered behind, and after the destruction of, two giant statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Ironically, the dynamiting of the statues by the Taliban in 2001 revealed the caves and art behind them. Scientists discovered that paintings

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A painting of a sorrowful Virgin Mary.

365 Days of Art: April 21 – Serial Art Vandal Throws Acid at Five Dürer Paintings

April 21, 1988 Hans-Joachim Bolhmann, who we’ve met before this year, throws two bottles of sulfuric acid on five paintings by Albrecht Dürer in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek. The injured works include Lamentation for Christ, the Paumgartner Altar and Mater Dolarosa or Virgin of Sorrows. The Virgin of Sorrows is hit directly in her face, and

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Simple line drawing of injured figures.

365 Days of Art: April 18 – Exhibition of Spanish Civil War Drawings Closes at MoMA

April 18, 1938 The exhibition Luis Quintanilla: An Exhibition of Drawings of the War in Spain, for which Ernest Hemingway wrote the catalog, closes at MoMA. Quintanilla was a distinguished leader of the opposition to the Fascists, director of the Republic’s intelligence services in the Basque country, and earned a spot on General Franco’s first

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Michelangelo's marble statue of Moses.

365 Days of Art: April 17 – Pope Julius Refuses to Meet with Michelangelo Regarding Tomb Commission, Stiffs Him on Money, and Causes Him to Flee Rome in Despair

April 17, 1506 Michelangelo is turned away by Pope Julius II in his latest attempt to meet and move forward on the commission for Julius’s tomb. Adding insult to injury, the Pope doesn’t cover the freight charges for the marble which Michelangelo has already selected and shipped to Rome. “Overwhelmed with despair,” Michelangelo tells his

365 Days of Art: April 17 – Pope Julius Refuses to Meet with Michelangelo Regarding Tomb Commission, Stiffs Him on Money, and Causes Him to Flee Rome in Despair Read More »

Side-by-side self portraits of Matisse and Picasso.

365 Days of Art: April 16 – Apollinaire Compares the Studio Habits of Picasso and Matisse

April 16, 1911 Apollinaire, the poet and friend of Picasso, writes in the Le Mercure de France about the differences in studio practice between Picasso and Matisse. These kinds of side-by-side comparisons stoked their professional rivalry: On the contrary, Picasso, who is a Spaniard, takes delight in cultivating the disarray in his studio, where you

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The winged, headless statue of Nike of Samothrace.

365 Days of Art: April 15 – Brunelleschi Dies, Da Vinci is Born, Nike of Samothrace is Unearthed, Impressionists Exhibit Together, and Thomas Hart Benton Reveals Himself to Be a Fool (Again)

April 15, 1446 Filippo Brunelleschi, father of Renaissance architecture and engineer of the Duomo, dies. April 15, 1452 Leonardo da Vinci is born. April 15, 1863 An excavation on the Greek island of Samothrace unearthed a winged female statue carved from white marble, known as the Nike of Samothrace, or Winged Victory of Samothrace. It’s

365 Days of Art: April 15 – Brunelleschi Dies, Da Vinci is Born, Nike of Samothrace is Unearthed, Impressionists Exhibit Together, and Thomas Hart Benton Reveals Himself to Be a Fool (Again) Read More »

Black cliffs flank white sandy beaches with blue surf.

365 Days of Art: Bonus Birthday Post: April 14 – Georgia O’Keeffe Leaves Hawaii

I try to feature artists who are female, gay, or of color whenever possible, but the fact is, most of recorded art history involves men. Because today is my birthday, and because there are two events involving female artists, here’s a bonus post. April 14, 1939 Georgia O’Keeffe leaves Honolulu, a trip paid for by

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A young girl stretches while holding one of her braids.

365 Days of Art: April 14 – Mary Cassatt’s Dad Writes About Her Painting

April 14, 1886 Letter from Mary Cassatt’s father about Mary’s painting, Girl Arranging Her Hair: Mame [Mary] is feeling pretty well and working like a beaver…on a little red-headed girl in demi-costume, dressing her hair before a glass. The two or three experts and artists who have seen it praise it without stint. As for

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Reclining Frida Kahlo is surrounded by people; some are excited, most seem concerned; a self-portrait is visible on the wall

365 Days of Art: April 13 – Ordered on Bed Rest, Frida Attends Her Solo Exhibition in Four Poster Bed

April 13, 1953 Advised by her doctors that she is too ill to attend the opening reception of her first solo show in Mexico, and that she needs to rest, Frida Kahlo transports her bed to the gallery and attends from there. She greets visitors from her four poster bed, situated in the middle of

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A painting of Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire; she gazes at herself in a mirror while in a roomful of men.

365 Days of Art: April 12 – Thomas Hart Benton Gives a Pompous, Sexist Interview

April 12, 1935 An interview with Thomas Hart Benton is published in the New York Sun. He sounds delightful. [I am going to Kansas City] because since the depression [New York City] has lost its dynamic quality. On the upswing, New York is grand — when it is building buildings, tearing down buildings, making and

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A bold Lee Krasner painting with blocks of patterned lines.

365 Days of Art: April 11 – Lee Krasner Gives Interview, Recalls Mondrian

April 11, 1968 Lee Krasner gives an oral history interview with Dorothy Seckler and remembers a time when Piet Mondrian gave her a mini-critique. An excerpt of the interview: LEE KRASNER: Now I’ll tell you something Mondrian said to me about my painting which does interest me enormously. This was at the time that I

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Side-by-side portraits of Frank Lloyd Wright and his lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney.

365 Days of Art: April 10 – Frank Lloyd Wright Secretly Purchases Property Under His Mother’s Name

April 10, 1911 Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother Anne signs a deed for property in Wisconsin, on behalf of her son, which was purchased with money he borrowed from a friend. By using his mother’s name, Wright was able to secure the 31.5-acre property without attracting any additional attention to the affair he was having with

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Leger's painting features stylized figures among city windows.

365 Days of Art: April 9 – Peggy Guggenheim Buys Art as Hitler Invades

April 9, 1940 In the midst of World War II, on the same day that Nazi Germany invaded Norway, Peggy Guggenheim bought Fernand Léger’s Men in the City; Léger called himself “astonished by her sang froid.” Since 1939, despite the ongoing war Hitler was waging in Europe (where she was living), Peggy had kept to

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Monet's painting of a woman and child atop a hill, under a parasol to protect from the sun.

365 Days of Art: April 8 – Monet’s Father Advises Him to Abandon Pregnant Girlfriend

April 8, 1867 Monet’s father instructs him to abandon his pregnant girlfriend. At this time, men of his Monet’s class didn’t usually marry their mistresses. Monet did marry her three years later, perhaps–it was suggested– more due to a rebellious streak, than out of love or even obligation to his growing family. Camille modeled for

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365 Days of Art: April 7 – Mapplethorpe Exhibition Opens, Leading to Obscenity Charges

April 7, 1990 An exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, entitled The Perfect Moment, opens at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center; within hours, the Center and its director, Dennis Barrie, are indicted on obscenity charges. I saw this exhibition when it traveled to the University Art Museum in Berkeley, CA. It was stunning, and at times shocking

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Raphael's painting of his lover, La Fornarina.

365 Days of Art: April 6 – Raphael Dies; Cracks Appear in Vatican Walls

April 6, 1520 Raphael dies at age 37, after a night in which he “indulged in more than his usual excess” according to the biographer Vasari. The excess in question was not only the usual suspects, but particularly Raphael’s mistress Margherita Luti, known as La Fornarina (the baker’s daughter). Vasari alleges that Raphael didn’t tell

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Aerial view of Duomo in Florence, Italy.

365 Days of Art: April 5 – Lightning Strikes Duomo; Portends Medici Death

April 5, 1492 The Duomo of Santa Maria de Fiore is struck by lightning, causing several tons of marble to fall to the street on the north side of cupola, in the direction of Villa Careggi. This is the home of Lorenzo de’ Medici, grandson of Cosimo de’ Medici, whose patronage made the Duomo possible.

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A painting of two Tahitian women in a tropical location.

365 Days of Art: April 1 – “Evil” Gauguin Painting is Attacked

April 1, 2011 A museum visitor at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC leapt at Paul Gauguin’s painting, Two Tahitian Women, tried to tear it from the wall, and pummeled it with her fists while yelling that it was “evil.” Luckily, the painting was protected by plexiglass, and the woman was quickly apprehended.

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A painting of a stylized goldfish against a dark background, by Paul Klee.

365 Days of Art: March 29 – Serial Art Vandal Strikes for First Time

March 29, 1977 At the Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hans-Joachim Bohlmann damaged the painting The Goldfish by Paul Klee by spraying sulfuric acid on it. This was the first of many attacks on artwork in Bohlmann’s career as a serial vandal; he damaged over 50 artworks between 1977 and 2006, causing millions in damage, and untold hours

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Organic abstract shapes, including circles and stripes, overlaps each other.

365 Days of Art: March 28 – Rothko Exhibits Multiform Paintings

March 28, 1949 Mark Rothko exhibits his so-called multiform paintings at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Though not as well-known or well-loved as his iconic three-threshhold paintings, they are by far my favorites. I wrote a paper once that theorized that they were inspired by Rothko’s love of opera, with the composition representing the stage, and

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Aerial view of Duomo in Florence, Italy.

365 Days of Art: March 25 – Brunelleschi’s Duomo is Consecrated by Pope

March 25, 1436 The finished Duomo (dome), designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore (St. Mary of the Flowers) is consecrated. Pope Eugenius, along with seven cardinals, 37 bishops, art patron Cosimo d’Medici, and nine members of the Florentine government, dedicated the Cathedral and its dome to Mary. In Catholicism,

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A painting of the Madonna and child.

365 Days of Art: March 23 – Undercover Sting Locates Stolen Art

March 23, 1976 Italy’s Art Squad runs an undercover sting and recovers three Renaissance masterpieces stolen the year before from the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in the Ducal Palace in Urbino. The theft, of Piero della Francesca’s Senigallia Madonna, another Piero called The Flagellation of Christ, and Raphael’s The Mute Woman occurred on February 5,

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Abstract Expressionist painting that is mostly red, with blue and yellow striped accents.

365 Days of Art: March 21 – Vandalism of Newman Painting Leads to Botched Conservation and Lawsuits

March 21, 1986 Barnett Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III was slashed open with a boxcutter, by an unbalanced painter who did it in the name of art. Sort of. Here’s the story. By purchasing the painting, the Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art (Stedelijk Museum) opened itself up to controversy. To put

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A storeroom with famous paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and others leaning against each other, the walls, and the floor.

365 Days of Art: March 20 – Nazis Destroy Approximately 5,000 Artworks in Bonfire

March 20, 1939 Under orders from Hitler, the Berlin Fire Department burned 1,004 paintings and sculptures and 3,825 watercolors, drawings and prints in a massive bonfire in its courtyard. These 5,000 artworks had been seized from galleries and museums across Germany over the previous several years, in a purge of anything that wasn’t deemed to

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A trio of people sing or play piano together in the drawing room of a home.

365 Days of Art: March 18 – Thieves Steal 13 Works in Biggest Art Theft EVER

March 18, 1990The largest art robbery in history occurs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where 13 paintings valued at $100 million are stolen. Disguised as Boston police officers, the two thieves claimed to be responding to a call. In Boston, in the early morning hours of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, this sounded

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Ants crawl on a crucifix.

365 Days of Art: March 17 – Hide/Seek Opens at Tacoma Art Museum

March 17, 2012 Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture opens at the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington. This show, which originated at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, is the first major museum exhibition to focus on gender and sexuality. It drew international attention not only for this reason, but also because of

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Las Meninas depicts members of the Spanish royal court serving the young princess, as well as the court painter.

365 Days of Art: March 14 – Velázquez is Licensed by the Guild as Master Painter

March 14, 1617 Diego Velázquez is licensed by the guild as a master painter. The guild was pretty much the only conduit for jobs and respect in the European art world at that time. In the guild system, there was a strict hierarchy of apprentice, then journeyman, then master (sometimes called “master craftsman,” “master tradesman,”

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Greek marble statuary; some are headless.

365 Days of Art: March 13 – Elgin Marbles and Their Poor Conservation Are Subject of Letter

March 13, 1858 The Elgin Marbles, sculptures taken from the Acropolis in Athens, and their poor conservation were the subject of a letter, written by the superintendent of the “moving and cleaning the sculptures” at the British Museum: I think it my duty to say that some of the works are much damaged by ignorant

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Iconic van Gogh painting of swirling constellations and stars over a night landscape.

365 Days of Art: March 12 – Bequest of Art Collection Sets Foundation for MoMA

March 12, 1931 Art collector Lillie Bliss dies and bequeaths her art collection to found the Museum of Modern Art, with one condition: that the fledgling museum is established financially by the end of three years, or it will forfeit the artworks. Exactly three years later, on March 12, 1934, after raising $600,000, MoMA proves

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The painting of a nude reclining woman is marred by several slashes in the canvas.

365 Days of Art: March 10 – Suffragette Slashes Velázquez Painting as Political Statement

March 10, 1914 Suffragette Mary Richardson slashed a Velázquez painting at the National Gallery in London, in revenge for the arrest of a fellow suffragette the day before. The painting was The Rokeby Venus (now titled Venus at the Toilet). Richardson grabbed what the newspaper called a “meat chopper” from under her cloak, smashed the

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365 Days of Art: March 8 – Little Mermaid Is Vandalized in Connection with International Women’s Day

March 8, 2006 The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is vandalized (not for the first time): a dildo is attached to the statue’s hand, green paint is dumped over it, and the words March 8 are written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism is connected with International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on

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A group of protesters stand under the American flag with a sign that says "The perfect moment to stop censorship."

365 Days of Art: March 7 – Arts Groups Meet to Strategize, Combat Censorship

March 7, 1992 With funding for the arts under direct attack by conservative politicians, a coalition of arts groups met to strategize on how to proceed. Lest you think this is 2010 (Hide/Seek, anyone?) let’s put this in context. Trouble had been brewing ever since an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, called The Perfect Moment,

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Loose, surrealist painting by Arshile Gorky.

365 Days of Art: March 6 – Gallery Forgets to Mail Invites So Almost No One Attends Gorky’s Opening

March 6, 1945 The exhibition Arshile Gorky opens at the Julien Levy Gallery, featuring paintings created during the previous year, including How My Mother’s Embroidered Apron Unfolds in My Life. André Breton, who helped Gorky title the paintings, writes a glowing foreword for the catalogue. Here’s the kicker: because Levy had forgotten to mail out

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Impressionist painting of trees casting linear shadows across a path.

365 Days of Art: March 5 – Pissarro Complains to Manet, and Gorky Undergoes a Colostomy

There are two events today worth writing about. The first gives an inside look at the Impressionists, who are often thought of as a unit, rather than individuals with competing agendas. The second…I just feel bad for Arshile Gorky. He had a hard time. March 5, 1886 Camille Pissarro writes a passionate, desperate letter to

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A published reproduction of a black-and-white photo.

365 Days of Art: March 4 – Halftone Engraving Used to Print Photographs in Newspaper

March 4, 1880 Halftone engraving, used to print photographic images in shades of gray, was used for the first time when the Daily Graphic was published in New York City. An editorial ran at the same time, stating: This process has not yet been fully developed. We are still experimenting with it. We feel confident

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People walk by a large, empty niche in a wall where sculptures used to stand.

365 Days of Art: March 3 – Reconstruction of Dynamited Buddhas Is Discussed

March 3, 2011 Ten years and one day after the Taliban initiated their destruction, UNESCO convened a conference to discuss possible restoration of two 6th century Buddha statues. One result of the conference was a list of 39 recommendations for the site in Bamiyan, Afghanistan where two large niches in the side of the cliff

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The Bamiyan Buddha statues are destroyed by dynamite.

365 Days of Art: March 2 – Taliban Dynamites Historic Buddha Statues

March 2, 2001 The Buddhas of Bamiyan, two 6th century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Afghanistan, were dynamited by the Taliban. The total demolition was effected in stages, and took several weeks to complete. I remember the awful anticipation of the clock ticking down on this one. I, and all my friends

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Quiet, poignant abstract painting by Gorky.

365 Days of Art: March 1 – Plane Crashes; Arshile Gorky Artwork Destroyed

March 1, 1962 American Airlines Flight 1 crashes in Jamaica Bay, Queens about two minutes after takeoff. Ninety five people and fifteen abstract works by Arshile Gorky are aboard, all en route to Los Angeles. All crew and passengers are killed. The artwork, on its way to an exhibition is LA, is destroyed. This is

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August Savage works on a bronze sculpture.

365 Days of Art: Leap Year Bonus, February 29 – Augusta Savage Born

February 29, 1892 Augusta Savage (born as Augusta Fells) was born, as she said, “at the dark of the moon.” She was a Black sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She was influential as a sculptor, teacher, and advocate for equal rights, though, to her great disappointment, her political activism came to overshadow her artistic

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A newspaper headline proclaims "Defaced Picasso."

365 Days of Art: February 28 – Picasso Painting Vandalized in Vietnam War Protest

February 28, 1974 Tony Shafrazi spray-painted Picasso’s painting Guernica, which hung in the Museum of Modern Art, with the words “KILL LIES ALL.” Luckily, the paint was easily removed due to heavy varnish on the painting’s surface. Shafrazi was protesting the announcement, the day before, of the release on bail of U.S. Lieutenant William Calley,

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

365 Days of Art: February 27 – Italy Requests Aid for Leaning Tower of Pisa

February 27, 1964 The government of Italy requested aid in preventing the Tower of Pisa from falling over, as the slant of the famously leaning tower had continued to grow over the years. It was considered important to stop subsequent leaning while retaining the current tilt; it wouldn’t do for this tourist attraction to suddenly

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Glass-fronted box contains cockatoo and watches on display.

365 Days of Art: February 26 – Joseph Cornell Feeds the Birds, and Writes a Letter

February 26, 1963 Joseph Cornell, a birdwatcher and well-known lover of nature, writes a letter to his dealer Robert Schoelkopf in which he details some of his activities on this winter day: Some extra peanuts were thrown to the bluejays–a more generous scattering of sunflower seeds for the squirrels, a coagulated hunk of dark brown

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A Toulouse-Lautrec print advertises the Moulin Rouge.

365 Days of Art: February 25 – Paper Reports Donation of Toulouse-Lautrec Collection

February 25, 2011 The Globe and Mail (Toronto) reported the donation of a collection of lithographs by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The collection was one of the largest in the world that was privately held, and belonged to a New Yorker by the name of Ross Scott. He’d died two years previously, willing the collection of

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Painting of the shepherds arriving after Christ's birth.

365 Days of Art: February 23 – Italian Priest Recommends Rubens for a Job

February 23, 1608 P. Flamminio Ricci, Padre Superiore of the Roman Congregation, writes to the Oratorium Congregation in Fermo to recommend Peter Paul Rubens for a painting job. He writes: E flammingho ma da putto allevato in Roma.(He is Flemish but as a boy was raised in Rome). The canvas (not an altarpiece, which would

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