Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848–1900

+ JMJ +

It's Mother's Day today!  Aside from eating out, I requested that our family go see the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, which ends next weekend.  So we went, and it was one of the better exhibits that the NGA has presented in recent years.

The last 2 exhibits we saw -- “Warhol: Headlines” (the NGA's first exhibit dedicated solely to Andy Warhol from September 25, 2011 – January 2, 2012) and the Roy Lichstenstein retrospective (October 14, 2012 – January 13, 2013) -- had interesting pieces, especially some of the more famous ones.

Image: Andy Warhol, A Boy for Meg, 1962, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, 1971.87.11

A Boy for Meg, 1962
Oil on canvas
Andy Warhol (1928–1987)

 "Hot Dog with Mustard," 1963

"Hot Dog with Mustard," 1963 
 by Roy Lichtenstein
Source:  Baltimore Sun

 Lichtenstein's 1965 work 'Sunrise': Lichtenstein had the sort of art education that has disappeared in the Western world. He learnt anatomical drawing, Renaissance techniques, botany, art history, mechanical drawing, portraiture, design, watercolour, oil and mural painting.

"Sunrise," 1965
by Roy Lichtenstein
Source:   The Telegraph, UK

But as a whole, those exhibits weren't as engaging as this one, which was organized by Tate Britain in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

The only things I didn't like about the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit were:

1.  The anti-Catholic descriptions of a few paintings.
2.  The Pre-Raphaelite woman look (especially featured in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's paintings, like the one below)

Lady Lilith (1866-1868) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
 Source: Culture 24 (UK)

-- big-boned women with wide faces, wide cheekbones, big lips, big eyes, big hair parted in the middle and flaming red hair -- they look like brazen hussies!  I prefer fine-boned women, who look more feminine, rather than masculine.

Otherwise, we all enjoyed the exhibit! 

Overview from the National Gallery of Art:

The first major survey of the art of the Pre-Raphaelites to be shown in the United States features some 130 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art objects. The young members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in 1848, shook the art world of mid-19th-century Britain by rejecting traditional approaches to painting. Combining scientific precision, an innovative approach to subject matter, and brilliant, clear colors, Pre-Raphaelitism was Britain's first avant-garde art movement.

From McClatchy DC:

In September 1848, three artists in England created the “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais — a small group that ultimately grew to seven.

They had a “commitment to fundamental change,” art historians, Tim Barringer of Yale and Jason Rosenfeld of Merrymount Manhattan College, write in the exhibition’s book.  They wanted to break with the conventional styles of the Royal Academy established in 1768 by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

“They believed that art had become decadent, and rejected their teacher’s belief that the Italian artist Raphael represented the high point of aesthetic achievement,” said Diane Waggoner, associate curator of the National Gallery.

“Instead they looked to earlier art from before the time of Raphael — or ‘pre-Raphael’ — whose bright colors, flat surfaces, and sincerity they admired.”

The young painters, between 18 and 22, looked “to history and to literature for inspiration,” taken from the writings of Dante, Shakespeare and the Bible.

Read more here:

These canvases, though diverse in subject, embodied the Brotherhood's initial aims in their keen observation of the natural world and depiction of subjects that lead the viewer to contemplate moral issues of justice, piety, familial relationships, and the struggle of purity against corruption. 

Here are some of my favorites:

 Jesus Washing Peter's Feet, 1852-56
Oil on Canvas
by Ford Madox Brown

Source:  Fine Art Connoisseur

From Tate Britain:   This picture illustrates the biblical story of Christ washing his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.  It has an unusually low viewpoint and compressed space.  It originally depicted Jesus only semi-clad.  This caused an outcry when it was first exhibited, and it remained unsold for several years until Ford Madox Brown reworked the figure in robes.  Brown was never invited to join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but he was a close associate of the group.  Several members modelled for the disciples in this picture, and the critic F. G. Stephens sat for Christ.

Peace Concluded, 1856
 by John Everett Millais

From the Minneapolis Institute of Arts website:   At first glance this appears to be a family portrait complete with realistic details of middle-class English decor.  In fact, it is a staged scene of domestic harmony, celebrating the end of the Crimean War.  The father, a wounded officer, holds a copy of the Times announcing the war's end.  One daughter clasps his combat medal.  On the mother's lap, four animals from the toy Noah's Ark represent the four belligerents:  Britain (lion), Russia (bear), the Ottoman Empire (turkey), and France (rooster).  The girl at the left holds a dove with an olive branch in its beak, a symbol of peace.  Millais belonged to a group of English painters called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  Their work emphasized close observation of nature and the depiction of contemporary events.

 Portrait of a Girl, Sophie Gray 
by John Everett Millais
Source:  Pictify

From the Pictify website:   This hypnotic veiled portrait of melancholy portrays the younger sister of his wife Effie Gray, 14 years old at the time.  It's an unusual portrait ... Millais did not exploit light to his advantage ... to show us a noble maiden.  (He instead) portrays a bourgeois girl with a disconcerting expression, vulnerable and provocative .... The fleshy mouth is clenched in a gesture of defiance, her chin tilted upward with determination.  His blends dark hair with the background bordeaux .... Pale skin is in stark contrast to the reddened cheek; the coat of arms embroidered heart on the chest suggests the awakening of female sexuality and desire.  The painting was created in the fall of 1857, when Effie was living with her parents and sisters in the House in Perth.

Ophelia, 1851-52
by John Everett Millais
 Source:  The Guardian (UK)

Ophelia, 1851-52
by John Everett Millais

 From Wikipedia

The painting depicts Ophelia, a character from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, singing while floating in a river just before she drowns. The scene is described in Act IV, Scene VII of the play in a speech by Queen Gertrude.

The episode depicted is not seen onstage, but exists only in Gertrude's description. Ophelia has fallen into the river from a tree overhanging it, while gathering flowers. She lies in the water singing songs, as if unaware of her danger ("incapable of her own distress").  Her clothes, trapping air, have allowed her to temporarily stay afloat

"Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up."

But eventually ...

"her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay"
"to muddy death."

Ophelia's death has been praised as one of the most poetically written death scenes in literature.

Millais's Ophelia has since come to be admired for its beauty and its accurate depiction of a natural landscape.  It has been estimated to have a market value of around £30 million, or just under $47 million.


Pre-Raphaelite Art: William Morris

+ JMJ +

File:George Frederic Watts portrait of William Morris 1870.jpg

Detail of a portrait of William Morris 
by George Frederic Watts
Oil on canvas, 1870
Source:  Wikipedia

Image of work

Printed Fabric Design - Wey, 1882 – 1883
Pencil, watercolour on paper with white heightening.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wayne Thiebaud: Selected Works (1963 - 1988)

+ JMJ +

Wayne Thiebaud, drawing cartoons featuring the character "Aleck" at Mather Army Air Field, 1944.   [Source

Things About Thiebaud

Thiebaud, Wayne - Display Cakes - Bay Area Figurative Movement - Oil on canvas - Other/Unknown theme - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - San Francisco, CA, USA

Display Cakes, 1963
Oil on canvas
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Wayne Thiebaud was born in 1920 in Mesa, Arizona. He moved with his family to Long Beach, California, at age nine.

Thiebaud, Wayne - Balls - Bay Area Figurative Movement - Oil on canvas - Other/Unknown theme - Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - Washington, DC, USA

Balls, 1963
Oil on Canvas
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Washington, DC, USA

Thiebaud grew up during the Great Depression. He was a boy scout and worked in restaurants.


Lemon Meringue, 1964
From the series, Delights, 1965 
Etching and Drypoint on Paper

In high school, he played basketball.


Half Cakes, 1964
Woodcut on Paper

He took art classes and started drawing cartoons.


Stick Candy, 1964
Etching on Paper

 He also worked on stage sets for theater productions.


Color Lipstick, 1964/1988 
Hard-ground and Drypoint Etching

Perhaps this experience with stage lighting gave him the idea to put bright light in his paintings.

Cherry Stand, from "Delights," 1964-65

As a teenager Thiebaud held several jobs, making posters for a movie theater and painting signs.

Lemon Cake - Wayne Thiebaud

Lemon Cake, 1964

One summer, Thiebaud worked in the animation department at the Walt Disney Studios. 

Three Strawberry Shakes - Wayne Thiebaud

 Three Strawberry Shakes, 1964

He drew the "in-between frames" (drawings positioned between key changes in movement in order to make animation play smooth) for such cartoons as Goofy and Pinocchio.

Thiebaud, Wayne - Man Sitting - Back View - Bay Area Figurative Movement - Oil on canvas - Portrait - Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art - St. Joseph, MO, USA

Man Sitting - Back View, 1964
Oil on canvas
Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art
St. Joseph, MO, USA

In the 1940s, Thiebaud went to junior college and then served in the Army as an artist and cartoonist.

Eight Lipsticks, 1964

He married and settled in Los Angeles and worked as a commercial artist and illustrator. 

Powder with Puff, 1966
Milwaukee Art Museum 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA 

At age twenty-nine, he went back to college and received degrees in art, art history, and education.

Glassed Candy - Wayne Thiebaud

Glassed Candy, 1969 
Pastel on Paper

He began teaching art to college students and decided to become a serious painter himself.

Glasses, 1970-71
 From Seven Still-Lifes and a Rabbit
Lithograph in Colors 


In 1961, Thiebaud's food paintings—images of cakes, pies, candy, gumball machines, and deli counters painted with thick paint in bright colors—were exhibited in New York.  

Gumball Machine, 1971
From Seven Still Lifes and a Silver Landscape portfolio
Color Linocut

They were a big hit!

Shoe Rows - Wayne Thiebaud

Shoe Rows, 1975
Aquatint / Etching

Though some scholars called Thiebaud a Pop artist because he painted popular consumer goods, he said he painted them out of nostalgia.


Shoe Rows, 1975

They reminded him of his boyhood and the best of America.

Cakes, 1963
Oil on canvas


Thiebaud explained:  "My subject matter was a genuine sort of experience that came out of my life, particularly the American world in which I was privileged to be . . . . I would really think of the bakery counters, of the way the counter was lit, where the pies were placed, but I wanted just a piece of the experience. From when I worked in restaurants . . . [it was] always poetic to me."

Big Suckers, 1971
Private Collection

 Thiebaud painted things other than food.

Candy Cane, 1971
Unique Lithograph in Colors

He made still lifes of neckties, eyeglasses, lipsticks, even cows and dogs.

Candy Stick Rows, 1980
Color Lithograph

He also painted large portraits of human figures, applying thick paint in bright colors against stark white backgrounds.

Big Candy, 1980
Color Lithograph

Thiebaud went on to paint cityscapes—from the steep hills of San Francisco to the colorful landscapes of the Sacramento Valley in California. 

 Dark Cake,1983
Color Woodblock

Wayne Thiebaud retired from full-time teaching in 1990. He lives in Northern California and continues to paint.

City Edge, 1988
Spitbite Aquatint and Soft-ground Etching

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wayne Thiebaud (American) ~ Art and Bio # 1

+ JMJ +

Thiebaud, Wayne - American artist

Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920)

Biographical Text from Metro Art Work:

Wayne Thiebaud is an American painter whose most famous works are of cakes, pastries, toys and lipsticks. His last name is pronounced "Tee-bo."

Wayne Thiebaud, Sausalito

Sausalito, 1954
Watercolor and Pencil

He is associated with the Pop art movement because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists. He has also been seen, due to his true to life representations, as a predecessor to Photorealism.

“Pies, Pies, Pies” (1961)
Oil on Canvas

Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work. 

Delicatessen Trays, 1961 
Oil on Canvas  [Source]

Thiebaud was born to Mormon parents on November 23, 1920 in Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A.


Desserts, 1962
Oil on Canvas

His family moved to Long Beach, California when he was six months old. Thiebaud spent over ten years working in New York and Hollywood as a cartoonist and advertisement designer.

Delicatessen Counter - Wayne Thiebaud

Delicatessen Counter, 1962
Oil on Canvas   

These stints were interrupted for four years, from 1942 to 1946, while Thiebaud served as a member of the United States Army Air Force. Wayne Thiebaud's formal art training was paid for by the G.I. Bill.

Cake Counter, 1963
Oil on Canvas 


He studied at San Jose State College and the California State University, Sacramento. 

Wayne Thiebaud, Pie Counter, 1963  64.11
Pie Counter, 1963
Oil on Canvas


He received a teaching appointment at Sacramento Junior College in 1951, while still in graduate school. He remained there for eight years after which he joined the University of California, Davis as an art professor, where he is a professor today.  He currently (2007) teaches one class per year. 

Yo-yos, 1963
Oil on Canvas

Thiebaud's first solo exhibition was at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento, and between the years of 1954 and 1957, he produced eleven educational films for which he was awarded the Scholastic Art Prize in 1961.

Cake Slices - Wayne Thiebaud

Cake Slices, 1963

In the spring of 1962, Thiebaud exhibited for the first time at the Allan Stone Gallery in New York. 

Wayne Thiebaud, Banana Splits from Delights Portfolio

Banana Splits from Delights Portfolio, 1964

This exhibition was followed by his first solo museum show - in San Francisco at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. 

Four Ice Cream Cones, 1964
Oil on Canvas

Today, Thiebaud's art dealer continues to be Allan Stone (1932-2006), the man who gave him his first "break" decades ago. The Allan Stone Gallery is currently located in New York City.

Lemon Meringue Pie - Wayne Thiebaud

Lemon Meringue Pie, 1964

Later that year he was included in the landmark group exhibition, New Realists, at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York.

Lunch Table, 1964
Oil on canvas

Thiebaud is best known for his paintings of production line objects found in diners and cafeterias, such as pies and pastries.

Suckers, 1967

Many wonder if he spent time working in the food industry, and in fact he did. As a young man in Long Beach, he worked at a cafe named Mile High and Red Hot, where "Mile High" was ice cream and "Red Hot" was a hot dog.

Half Cakes, 1970
From Seven Still Lifes and a Silver Landscape Portfolio
Black & White Silkscreen

Wayne Thiebaud, Gumball Machine

Gumball Machine, 1971
Linoleum Cut

He was associated with the Pop art painters because of his interest in objects of mass culture, however, his works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists, suggesting that Thiebaud may have had a great influence on the movement.

Large Sucker, 1971
From Seven Still Lifes and a Silver Landscape portfolio
Color Lithograph

Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.

Cake Slice, 1979

In addition to pastries, Thiebaud has painted landscapes, streetscapes, and popular characters such as Mickey Mouse.

Wayne Thiebaud, Daffodil

Daffodil, 1979
 Soft ground etching and aquatint 

His recent paintings such as 'Sunset Streets' (1985) and 'Flatland River' (1997) are noted for their hyper realism, and are in some ways similar to Edward Hopper's work, who was fascinated with mundane scenes from everyday American life.

Boxed Balls, 1979
From Recent Etchings II Portfolio
  Aquatint and Drypoint Etching

Thiebaud includes Giorgio Morandi as one of his inspirations. He also admires the work of Vermeer, Diego Velasquez, Degas and lots of other talented artists.