Art movements and -isms

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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Colorful and spiritual, Redon's painting features objects that resemble butterflies and sea anemones.

365 Days of Art: February 18 – Art Collector Buys Six Odilon Redon Works

February 18, 1909 Six works by Odilon Redon were sold to art collector Lillie Bliss at the Armory Show in New York. The works (Silence, Roger and Angelica, Le Petit Prelat, Druidesse, Pegasus and Le Jour) are mostly black and white prints or charcoal drawings from his early period. The painting above is more typical

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The peaked roofs of a white house shine in the sun as two women sit on the deck.

365 Days of Art: February 16 – Edward Hopper Poses for Raphael Soyer, Disses Abstract Art

February 16, 1963 Edward Hopper poses for the second time for Raphael Soyer, who is painting his portrait. Soyer noted the occasion, as well as their conversation in his diary: A professor, head of an art department, recently asked him to participate in an art symposium with the nonrepresentationalist Motherwell and others. “I said nix.

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The Gross Clinic painting depicts a professor lecturing before a 19th century class of students.

365 Days of Art: February 13 – Thomas Eakins Forced to Resign Teaching Position Due to Scandal

February 13, 1886 Thomas Eakins is forced to resign from the Philadelphia Academy of Art after controversy over the use of male models in an art class that includes women. The story is more complicated than this may sound, and the resignation was the consequence of a series of questionable behaviors on Eakins’ part, coupled

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An artist in a futuristic costume and hat reads from papers at a podium.

365 Days of Art: February 2 – Dada Diary Announces Formation of Cafe Voltaire

February 2, 1916 Hugo Ball writes in his Dada Diary about the formation of Cafe Voltaire in Zurich. He includes a press notice which says: Cabaret Voltaire.Under this name a group of young artists and writers has been formed whose aim is to create a center for artistic entertainment. The idea of the cabaret will

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A Mike Kelley installation in a gallery.

365 Days of Art: January 31 – Mike Kelley Dies by Suicide

January 31, 2012 Mike Kelley, described variously as “one of the most influential American artists of the past quarter century and a pungent commentator on American class, popular culture and youthful rebellion” by the New York Times, and as a proponent of “clusterfuck aesthetics” by the Village Voice (which I think was a compliment), commits

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An autochrome photo portrait.

365 Days of Art: January 30 – Special Five-Day Photo Exhibition Closes to Keep Works from Fading

January 30, 2011 A special five-day exhibition of never-before-exhibited autochrome photographs, using low-oxygen enclosures to keep them from fading, closes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some background: what are autochromes? They’re photos made from a process that was developed in the early 20th century, transparent color images on glass that must be viewed either

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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: January 23 – Peggy Guggenheim Visits Pollock’s Studio for the First Time

January 23, 1943 Peggy Guggenheim visits Jackson Pollock’s studio for the first time. She was one of the most important art patrons ever, paying him a salary, giving him his first exhibition in 1950, and nurturing Abstract Expressionism (along with many other European and American artists, as well as Surrealism). Although the movie Pollock depicts

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Large, vertical mural is the backdrop for a stairwell; the mural features figures, especially a large woman in the center.

365 Days of Art: January 17 – Diego Rivera Begins Work on His First Mural in US

January 17, 1931 Diego Rivera, the great Mexican artist and muralist, begins work on the first of his murals in the United States. The mural Allegory of California graces the stairwell of the City Club (formerly the Pacific Stock Exchange Club). (By the way, the Club is considered the best interior in the Art Deco

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A black and white photo depicts an abstract series of paintings.

365 Days of Art: January 16 – Arshile Gorky Leaves the WPA to Work on Mural for World’s Fair

January 16, 1939 Arshile Gorky temporarily leaves the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (which created employment during the Great Depression) to work on a mural called Man’s Conquest of the Air (now destroyed) for the Aviation Building at the New York World’s Fair.

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An elderly man in red robes plays with a small child on his lap, with an Italian landscape circa 1500 visible out the window.

365 Days of Art – January 11: Birth and Death of Domenico Ghirlandaio

January 11, 1449 Domenico Ghirlandaio, a Renaissance painter, was born in Florence, Italy. One of his students was Michelangelo. They were not close, perhaps because Ghirlandaio was threatened by his student’s talent. Ghirlandaio was known for being aggressive and cutthroat, and once sent his brother out of town for an extended period in order to

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Wore Out Art Supplies

Every time I throw away an abused, no-longer-serviceable paintbrush, I think of the Reverend Howard Finster: “LIFE:TIME ART-SUPPLIES WORE OUT BY HOWARD FINSTER” Just look at all those dried-up Sharpies! He staple-gunned every single one he ever used–along with every pencil nub, every squeezed-out tube of paint–all around the walls of this little outdoor building.

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Paradise Gardens

I should have met the Reverend Howard Finster in 2000. He used to sit on his front porch in Summerville, GA once or twice a week, at a scheduled time, to make himself available to his fans. That included banjo players looking to jam, young art students, fans of the musical group REM…I didn’t realize

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