Thursday, January 31, 2008

Georges Seurat, Part 1

Today marks a bit of a landmark: the first time I had to search my website to see if I’d already done a specific post. Luckily I had not. I have been oddly mute on the subject of Georges Seurat, especially considering that I’ve been studying him and his masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, for nearly two years. But not to worry, I won’t dump too much information on you.

Seurat studied art briefly at Ecole de Beaux-Arts. When he moved to Paris in 1880 he decided that before he complicated things with color, he would master the art of black and white drawing. You can find these black and white sketches scattered around the world. Seurat did many black and white studies for his large paintings, as well. Shown below is a study for La Grade Jatte. Notice this woman fishing on the left hand side of the painting, shown above.
In the 1800s, a lot of research was done on color. This research was extremely scientific and only scientists could understand the studies. A group of writers were able to interpret the research and make it clear to others, including painters. The color wheel was designed around this time which shows how different colors blend. This new information was of great interest to Seurat who experimented with the idea of color blending not on the palette or canvas but in the eye.

Seurat’s style of painting was called pointillism because he used the point of his brush to dab small dots of unmixed color onto his canvas that, when viewed from a distance, blended into a picture. Seurat was not the first to experiment with this. It was an old concept which many artists had discarded before him, including Johannes Vermeer in the 1500s. Seurat was dedicated to it, though, and continued to work in the pointillist style until his death. He also shared the idea with other artists, like Paul Signac who painted the Red Buoy (shown below).
If you really want to be correct when talking about Seurat’s style, you should call it “chromoluminarism” or “divisionism” rather than the better known “pointillism.” It is true that Seurat formed images using many tiny dots of paint (pointillism) but really he was trying to achieve something even more difficult. To color a tree using dots of many different shades of brown is a far easier thing to do than choosing white, red, and yellow and arranging many dots in such a way that the colors blend in the viewer’s eye to create brown. La Grande Jatte is really an astonishing achievement.

Because I’ve probably already overloaded you with information and I’m only halfway through, I’ll continue this tomorrow. Don’t forget to check back!

EDITED TO ADD: Georges Seurat, Part 2

EDITED TO ADD: Paint Your Own Pointillist Picture

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Create Your Own Art Nouveau Doll House

I won’t give you step by step instructions on how to make your own Art Nouveau doll house, but I will give you guidelines.

First, glue shoe boxes together to form rooms. You can make your doll house many stories tall or one long floor. Use extra cardboard to make a roof at the top. Let the glue dry. When you look at the room I made, you’ll notice that I used the box top to lengthen the floor. You can do this to your rooms as well. Just make sure to glue everything together.
Go look at the furniture pictures in my post on Henry van de Velde. Then, do a google image search for “Art Nouveau furniture.” This should provide all the inspiration you need. To make my chair and lamp, I used pipe cleaners. Pipe cleaners are good materials for this because much of the Art Nouveau furniture has twisty, curvy lines that are easy to make with pipe cleaners. I made my desk out of card board, construction paper, and pipe cleaners. The lamp shade is little piece of tissue paper that I decorated with crayon. It’s supposed to look kind of like a Tiffany lamp.
You can spend as much time as you want on your doll house. Maybe design and create one room a day for a week. Don’t forget to make a kitchen, living room, dining room, and a few bedrooms. Also, staircases are a great way to make the room itself look “Art Nouveau.” If you really want to get creative, try wallpaper the insides of your rooms with decorative paper or wrapping paper. You could even paint the “walls” if you make sure to do it well in advance of gluing your boxes together and arranging your furniture.

Have fun with this! I would love to hear from anyone who tries this project.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Art Nouveau: Henry van de Velde

Yesterday I posted about Art Nouveau in Paris and I mentioned Henry van de Velde who designed furniture for Siegfried Bing’s art gallery. Van de Velde was not from France but rather Belgium. It is not surprising that Bing would choose a foreign artist to design for his art gallery; he was an importer/exporter of art, after all.
Van de Velde was born in 1863. He studied painting from 1881 to 1884 and was influenced by such artists as Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a painting by van de Velde and the one shown below was all I could dig up on google. In 1892 he stopped painting altogether, turning his attention, instead, to interior design.
He designed and built his own house and several more prominent buildings, including the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo. You can see pictures of many of these buildings by clicking here.

What is especially important about van de Velde (as far as Art Nouveau) is that he was the first designer to use curved lines in an abstract style. This style is basically the definition of Art Nouveau.
Van de Velde did not design in the Art Nouveau style for his whole life. Art Nouveau went out of fashion around 1910 and he lived for another 42 years. As he evolved, he taught art to others, thus spreading his vision to a new generation of artists.
The furniture shown throughout this post was designed by van de Velde. Notice the curving lines and the elements drawn from nature.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Siegfried Bing and Art Nouveau in Paris

Art Nouveau, which I posted about all last week, began in Paris thanks to art dealer, Siegfried Bing. He was born in 1838 in Germany but moved to France in 1854 with his family. When his brother died, Siegfried inherited the family business which he developed into a hugely successful import-export business.

By importing Japanese art into France and exporting French artworks to Japan, Bing spread different artistic styles. This allowed artists to be influenced by works that they wouldn’t otherwise have come into contact with. This is how Art Nouveau began.

In 1895 he opened a gallery, the Maison de l’Art Nouveau, where he showed works by Art Nouveau artists, though they weren’t yet called that. The building was a sight to behold. The interior included furniture designed by Henry van de Velde and stained-glass windows by Tiffany.

An important development that allowed architects to venture into Art Nouveau was the creation of new building materials, such as steel, iron, and concrete. By using these materials, architects could build delicate, intricate facades rather than just building walls to protect the insides of their buildings. This helped the development of architectural Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau was an artistic style that could be applied to all aspects of life. You could live in an Art Nouveau house with Art Nouveau furniture, decorated with Art Nouveau paintings and sculpture. When in Paris, if you keep your eyes open, you will see buildings in the Art Nouveau style. If you need some direction, visit Peter Olsen’s post on ceramic buildings in Paris. Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Paris, check out the amazing photos he has posted.

Also on Peter’s blog is an excellent post on Hector Guimard and his famous Paris Metro entrances. In my first post on Art Nouveau, I included a poor photo of one of these entrances that I took when I went to Paris. Peter has many beautiful images on his site that you should rush to look at, lest you believe that my photo does justice to Guimard’s work.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Klimt's Studio

From 1912 to 1918, the final seven years of his life, Gustav Klimt worked in a cottage just outside of Vienna. It was in the countryside (though now the area has been developed) surrounded by fruit trees and a garden. The studio has fallen into disrepair and until November 2007 it was slated for demolition. That is until the Belvedere stepped in. The government of Austria has agreed to a nearly $3 million renovation (not that much money when you imagine how much is made from Klimt related merchandise) which will restore the cottage to its appearance in 1918. The building will be used as a Klimt museum where, among other things, visitors will be able to see the furniture the artist used when in the cottage.

This renovation is a great thing. Imagine standing in the very room where Klimt created his masterpieces, looking through the window at what he saw while he worked. It is not possible to visit studios of many of the great artists. The example that comes to mind is Vincent van Gogh’s yellow house in Arles which was destroyed in WWII.

For more information about the restoration of Klimt’s studio check out the art newspaper. At the site there is a much more detailed article than mine and includes a photo of the inside of the studio.

To see a picture of what the cottage looks like today, visit Art2u. You'll find a nice image along with an opinion on the upcoming restoration that you may find interesting. Keep in mind that the cottage was only one story when Klimt worked there and the upper floor will be removed.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was born in Austria to a poor, immigrant gold engraver. Klimt’s brother became a gold engraver like his father and Klimt began his career paintings murals and ceilings in buildings. His decorations and ornamentations grew in popularity and he remained in steady work. He would continue to develop his style of ornamentation throughout his life and it would become increasingly organic looking, in the Art Nouveau style. When Klimt was 30 both his father and his brother died and he had to provide for their families as well as for himself.

As Klimt dealt with the loss of his father and brother, his personal style of painting began to change. No longer did he want to paint straight-forward, historical pictures. He wanted to symbolically explore themes of psychology and he wanted to paint more pictures of women. He was very interested in the human body, particularly the female body. Five years after the deaths, in 1897, Klimt joined the emerging Vienna Secessionists and even acted as president for a time.

During his years with the
Vienna Secessionists, Klimt did paint many images of women. He also painted landscapes like the one shown below, Houses on Unteracht on Attersee Lake. In the 1890s he began taking yearly vacations to the Austrian lake, Attersee, with a female of his acquaintance and her family. It was this area that inspired his landscapes.
Beginning in 1894, Klimt’s work grew increasingly controversial. He took a few commissions for public works and did not produce what the patron or public felt was appropriate to be displayed. For example, three of these works showed Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence as nude women. After this, Klimt stopped taking public commissions.
In 1908 Klimt left the Vienna Secession movement and his art moved into a new phase. It was marked by widespread use of gold leaf. These are the paintings most people are familiar with, including The Kiss, shown above. As was always the case, Klimt worked slowly and carefully on each painting. This began even more important in this late phase because he had to apply tiny bits of gold leaf to his paintings.
One final interesting fact about Klimt is that his Adele Bloch-Bauer I (shown above) sold in 2006 at auction for more money than any other painting ever had before: $135 million!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Vienna Secession

Yesterday you read about Art Nouveau and the characteristics of art done in this style. Perhaps it would make more sense to post on the movement in Paris where artists most closely adhered to the definition of the style I gave yesterday but my interest has wandered to the Vienna Secession. This was basically the Art Nouveau movement as it happened in Austria.

In 1897 a group of artists in Vienna, Austria had had enough of mainstream art. They were tired of looking at and painting realistic scenes in the same style that had been used throughout history. They wanted something fresh. They wanted to use symbols in their art. They wanted to be able to paint idealized images in bright colors. So this group of artists separated from the Association of Austrian Artists and began their own society, called the Vienna Secession.

I told you yesterday that the Art Nouveau style was characterized by curvy, organic lines and that the art was often inspired by natural objects like Emile Galle’s Hand Surrounded by Algae and Shells. Because the members of the Vienna Secession were reacting against the more traditional artists of their area, they felt it was more important to have artistic freedom than to all create art in the same style. Their motto was, “To the Age its Art, to Art its Freedom.” The phrase was carved into their building and they felt free to create art as they pleased.

Below are paintings by several prominent members of the Vienna Secession. Notice the differences in styles between Richard Gerstl’s Self Portrait Laughing, Gustav Klimt’s The Tree of Life, and Oskar Kokoschka’s Bride of the Wind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Introduction to Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau was a popular art movement from around 1880 to 1915 which developed differently in many places around the world. For this reason, it would be complicated to explain the history of the movement in just one blog post. Today, you’ll get just an introduction to what makes Art Nouveau Art Nouveau.

The Art Nouveau style was applied not only to painting and sculpture but also to architecture, furniture, jewelry, fabrics, and all types of materials used for interior and exterior design. You can even find silverware done in the Art Nouveau style. One of the most famous Art Nouveau designs is the metro entrance created by Hector Guimard that can be seen all over Paris. The image shown below isn’t great but you can see that the post seem to grow like the stems of flowers and spread out into careful placed stalks. The design has even been copied and used elsewhere, including in places in Chicago.

The most distinguishing aspect is the overall look of an Art Nouveau object. Usually it consists of curvy lines with smooth surfaces. The object will look as if it has grown from nature. Often, the artist will use natural objects for inspiration such as seashells, flames, trees, flowers, and animals.

Furthermore, Art Nouveau was extremely closely linked to Symbolism, a movement in which artists tried to show truth using unrealistic or fantastical objects. This could include religious icons or mythical creatures.
The glass sculpture shown above is a hand which rises out of a sea and is covered with seashells and algae. In fact it’s called Hand, Surrounded by Algae and Shells by Emile Galle. As was often the case with Art Nouveau pieces, this sculpture has symbolic meaning. The hand represents mankind which is in harmony with nature. This is apparent by the way the waves and algae and shells and hand are all made of complimentary materials and all run together smoothly. The hand, however, is in danger of being overtaken by the sea, the power of nature, just as people as a whole are in endangered by the power of nature. While we are usually in control, there is always the possibility that a hurricane or tidal wave or storm will take away that control.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

An Update

Yes, I was sick. Very sick. But I feel much better now. Last night my computer got sick and I was without an internet connection. But look! We're both better now and I can resume posting. Check back later in the day for something real.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ukiyo-e Japanese Woodblock Prints

Ukiyo-e are Japanese woodblock prints. If you haven’t yet done the project from yesterday, consider doing a Japanese-inspired woodcut print. The most popular subjects for ukiyo-e were landscapes, like the ocean scene shown below, and performers from “the floating world,” such as geisha (the picture shown here is by Utamaro) and sumo wrestlers.
Ukiyo-e became popular in Japan in the 1620s when a lot of people were settling in cities. A class of artisans came into being and they were looking for a way to produce many copies of the same image as easily, quickly, and inexpensively as they could. This was particularly useful when it came to illustrating books. At this time, the ukiyo-e were not in color.

Prints grew in popularity, especially among people who were not wealthy enough to afford original paintings. The ukiyo-e were also used to advertise for kabuki theater.

Beginning in the 1860s, ukiyo-e could be produced in color. This involved creating several woodblock carvings (one for each color) for every picture and printing one color on top of the next. Below is an example of one of these color ukiyo-e that you have probably seen before. It is called The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai.
Towards the end of the 1800s, ukiyo-e fell out of popularity in Japan but they served as huge sources of inspiration for artists especially in Paris, such as Vincent van Gogh and Edgar Degas. This is something I did not mention when I first talked about these artists but now that you know all about ukiyo-e, expect it to come up much more often!

Just a warning, I’m afraid I may be coming down with the flu. It’s been going around and I feel the start of a cold. If it develops into the flu this may by my last post until Monday. But I certainly hope it doesn’t happen.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Create Your Own Woodcut Print

I decided that it would be too difficult to post about M.C. Escher without showing any images and, especially, without getting into a lot of really complex mathematical concepts that I don’t understand well enough to write about just yet (and definitely not in an interesting way). So instead, I’m posting about woodcut printing. This is, incidentally, how M.C. Escher created many of his works. At the end you’ll find instructions to make your own woodcut print.

When he creates a woodcut print, the artist first draws or prints an image onto a block of wood. Then he cuts away the background. That is, he cuts away everything that he doesn’t want to come out in color in the print. Then the artist rolls ink onto the woodblock. The ink will coat the image and leave the background clean. Finally, the woodblock is pressed onto paper and the image appears, exactly as shown on the woodblock but in reverse.

Create Your Own Woodcut Print

Supplies Needed:

Styrofoam Plate
Ink Pad

Gather your supplies. You can use the leftover Styrofoam plate after you finish a container of berries. Cut the edges off to create a flat surface. Protect your workspace with newspaper.

You should design your image first, on a scrap piece of paper. Then draw it onto the Styrofoam plate with a marker. Don’t press too hard.

Now, use your pencil to color in everything you didn’t mark with your marker. Feel free to press hard this time. This will leave the marker lines raised above the background. Those lines will pick up the ink and the part you colored in with pencil will not.

Press your ink pad onto the Styrofoam. Be sure to mark all the lines with the ink. Quickly but carefully press the Styrofoam onto your piece of paper.

And now you have a simple and safe woodcut print of your own. You can make as many copies of your print as you want in as many colors and on as many types of paper. Mix and match and have fun with it.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Negative and Positive Space

Positive and negative space are both needed to create a complete picture. Without background (negative space), the subject (positive space) of a work of art might become meaningless or you might be unable to locate it at all.

For example, Imagine a yellow rectangle with a purple circle in the center. The circle, in purple, is the positive space and the background, in yellow, is the negative space. The contrast of the yellow background allows you to see the circle.

Without the negative space you wouldn’t be able to locate the positive space. The whole image would just be purple and meaningless.

Of course, this could go the other way, too. If the circle and the rectangle were the same shade of yellow, it would be an image without any positive space. The whole image would be the yellow background. Again, this is meaningless.

Look at any painting. Every artist uses positive and negative space but M.C. Escher is a particularly good example of an artist using negative space to his advantage. Due to copywrite issues, I cannot reproduce any images here, but I will direct you to the official M.C. Escher website. When you get there, click on Picture Gallery, then Switzerland and Belgium, then the image Sky and Water. Look at the way positive and negative space define each other in the form of fish and birds.

Tomorrow I’ll post something more on Escher, without images of course.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Maurice Denis

Maurice Denis, like Paul Ranson, joined the Nabis when he saw Paul Serusier’s Talisman. He believed in all the things the Nabis stood for. Denis was an active member of the movement and published an article, Art Et Critique, in which he told of the Nabis beliefs.

Like the other Nabis, he was interested in symbolism, religious thought, and the decorative arts. He thought it was of particular importance that an artist chose the right subject and he was drawn to the bold colors of the Nabis. Below if a painting, Sunlight in the Terrace, in which Denis uses the bold colors of the Nabis in a similar way as Serusier did in his Talisman.
Denis was particularly interested in religious subjects. When you consider his body of work, this interest is clear. Below is just one example of a painting of a religious subject, Holy Women Near the Tomb.
Besides paintings, Denis illustrated books and musical scores, designed carpets and planned stained-glass windows. He decorated ceramics and even painted a mural on the ceiling of French composer, Chausson’s home.

Denis’ popularity grew ever greater and he received many commissions. Later in his life, he painted more ceiling murals, many in prestigious locations. These included murals at the Theater des Champs-Elysees, the Church of St. Paul in Geneva, and the Petit Palais in Paris

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Paul Ranson

Today’s post focuses on another of the Nabis, Paul Ranson. They all seem to be named Paul, huh? Paul Serusier and his inspiration, Paul Gauguin, and now Paul Ranson. There are plenty of others who are not named Paul, but I particularly liked Ranson’s Nabi Landscape, shown below. So today, Paul Ranson.
Ranson enjoyed a short life, from 1864 to 1909. Even as a child he enjoyed painting and his parents encouraged him to create art. He did not begin his education at Academie Julian, but it was there that he met Paul Serusier who introduced him to the new artistic movement of the Nabis.

Paul Ranson was interested, like the other Nabis, in symbolism, philosophy, and the decorative arts. He even designed tapestries, some of which were made by his wife. He especially liked to paint images of fantasy rather than those observed in nature. The main thing Ranson didn’t like about Impressionism was that (he believed) the artists chose random, unimportant subjects to portray and then did so without adding anything from their own minds.

Ranson played a central role in unifying the Nabis; he held weekly meetings in his home and wrote plays that the Nabis performed for writers and philosophers. Still, when Gauguin left for Tahiti, as you read yesterday, the Nabis gradually disbanded. Ranson continued painting in the Nabi style.

In 1908 he opened a school to teach the style and philosophy of the Nabis. When he died in 1909 his wife took over the school and other Nabis taught as they had the time and the desire.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Paul Serusier

At the beginning of his adult life, Paul Serusier did not seem to be in the position to found and form a new art movement, but he did just that. He formed the Nabi Movement in France that existed through the 1890s. You read about this on Monday and can click the link above to refresh your memory.

Serusier was born to a wealthy family in Paris in 1864. He earned two degrees from the Condorcet Lycee: one in philosophy and one in the sciences. He worked only a short time before going to the Academie Julian to study art. Here, he found his calling and made a great many friends, including Maurice Denis who also became a member of the Nabis.

At the Academie Julian, Serusier learned artist techniques in the traditional manner of copying the masters. It wasn’t until 1888 when he went to Pont-Aven and met Paul Gauguin that Serusier developed his own style. Gauguin encouraged Serusier to use bright colors and not hide his own ideas but show them boldly in his paintings. Gauguin guided Serusier to paint a colorful landscape on a cigar box lid which became known as “the Talisman” among Nabis. Below is another example of Serusier’s bright colors: Washerwomen at the Laita River Near Pouldu.
The group formed when Serusier returned to Paris and met often to discuss artistic ideas, especially what the Nabis found wrong or broken in the more established art world. They were very interested in symbolism and religious thought, as well.

When Gauguin went to Tahiti in 1891, the Nabis gradually disbanded. Eventually Serusier stopped using pure, bright colors, choosing instead to mix grey into his paints. His paintings also became more realistic, as you can see in the painting shown below, Rainshower.
In 1895, Serusier went to a monastery in Germany where he learned to paint using measurements and numbers. His new style did not appeal to his friends in Paris but he continued anyhow, committed to the new ideas.

He studied Egyptian and Italian art, as well as tapestries of the Middle Ages to further understand the decorative arts and to learn to simplify his paintings. In 1914 he published a book, “ABCs of Painting” which was a summary of his life’s studies in art.

He died in 1927.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

N.C. Wyeth

No, N.C. Wyeth was not a Nabi. I was busy watching Ohio State lose another National Championship (yay) and didn't write an entry on any of those artists. I had already finished this one. So enjoy it and tomorrow I promise to write something on topic.

Born in Massachusetts in 1882, N.C. Wyeth was an American illustrator and painter. He created illustrations for many magazines including Scribner’s and the Saturday Evening Post, and he drew advertisements for companies such as Coca-Cola and Cream of Wheat. He illustrated 112 books in his lifetime.

At age 21, Wyeth sold an illustration to the Saturday Evening Post, beginning his career. Not long after, the Saturday Evening Post asked him to illustrate a western story so he headed west to experience the area first hand. He fell in love with it and drew western-themed illustrations for about five years.

He married Carolyn Bockius in 1908 and began a family which grew to include five children.

He began illustrating classic books in 1911 with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. He read the book carefully and chose to illustrate scenes that were not described in great detail. This allowed Wyeth to add his own viewpoint of the scenes. He illustrated 111 more books.

Wyeth was also a painter. He used mostly oil paints and liked to make huge pictures. He completed murals for several banks and organizations in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the eastern-border states.

It is his illustration that he is best known for, however. Click here to read the complete Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, and view Wyeth’s illustrations.

Next time you read a book and come across a scene that his not described in great detail, try creating your own illustration, like N.C. Wyeth.
The painting shown above is Wyeth’s The Giant.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Les Nabis

In the 1890s a group of artists banded together in Paris. They called themselves Nabis, Hebrew for “prophets.” They were unified by a dislike of impressionism, a major art movement of the time as you have seen elsewhere in the blog. The Nabis thought the impressionists wanted only to capture fleeting moments on canvas. The Nabis wanted to create something they felt was more meaningful: they wanted to cause spiritual reactions in the viewers of their work.

What the Nabi paintings truly had in common, though, was a use of bold but muted colors used in unexpected ways to show real scenes and objects in unrealistic ways. They were greatly influenced by Paul Gauguin, much of whose work can be described just that way. Below is his Self Portrait with Halo in which you see the bold, primary colors placed next to each other in a way that should be overwhelming but isn’t. This was painted in 1889.
Also notice the serpent and the apple. Remind you of the story of Adam and Eve?

Paul Serusier loved Gauguin’s style and founded the Nabi Movement based on it. Serusier painted a wildly colorful landscape on the lid of a cigar box and thus began the movement. The Nabis called it “the talisman.” It is the painting shown below.
Serusier was able to attract many members to the new style of painting. In the next week I’ll post on some of these artists, as well as on Serusier.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

John James Audubon

Happy New Year! I know, I'm a little late. I had a fun vacation in Florida, though, and now I'm ready to write about art again. It's worth noting, I think, that I'm beginning this year with my 100th post! If you've never been here before, please flip through the other articles and projects and let me know what you think!

And now, on to John James Audubon...

For John James Audubon, painting began as a hobby. His major interest was studying birds. He was the first person to track the habits of birds by tying string around their ankles. When you go to the zoo, you’ll notice that many of the animals have tags somewhere, maybe clipped to their ears or attached around their legs. Audubon began this.
While he studied birds he made his living by running a general store in Kentucky. He experienced many successful years before the business failed and he had to close his doors. This led him to commit to his study nature and his paint because he now had the time to lend to his passions.
In order to paint and draw the birds, Audubon first killed them and arranged each into a natural position. This may seem like a terrible thing but by killing each bird and studying it before drawing, Audubon was able to create pictures that were more realistic than any done before them.
Audubon could not convince anyone in the United States to publish his drawings so he took them to England. His paintings were combined into a book called Birds of America and he became an instant success among the British who were fascinated by Audubon’s pictures of rural America. He even caught the attention of King George IV who made him a fellow of London’s Royal Society and he spoke at a conference that Charles Darwin attended.

After John James Audubon’s death, the Audubon Society was founded in his honor. The Society now prints the best (in my opinion) nature guides just like Audubon’s Birds of America was the best guide to American birds in its day.

Scattered through this article are copies of Audubon’s original paintings: the Roseate Spoonbill, the White Pelican, and the White Headed Eagle.

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