Category Archives: Art

Alfred Sisley – The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne

Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) was a  French landscape impressionist of English origin, who lived most of his life in Paris. Sisley is recognized as perhaps the most consistent. if not inspirational, of the Impressionists, never deviating into figure painting finding that the movement did not fulfill his artistic needs.

Modern, newly constructed bridges were often the focal point for compositions by Sisley and other Impressionists. The motif of the cast-iron and suspension bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne provides a sweeping diagonal thrust across this riverbank scene along the Seine painted in summer 1872. Sisley painted a more distant and less dramatic view of the same bridge that spring. The application of paint in flat, rectangular strokes and the crisp articulation of form are distinctive characteristics of the artist’s work in the early 1870s.

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Nigel Kennedy – Bach (Inventions on Violin and Cello)

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Roger de la Fresnaye – French Artist

Roger de La Fresnaye (11 July 1885 – 27 November 1925) – French cubist/fauvist painter.

He was born in Le Mans where his father, an officer in the French army, was temporarily stationed. The La Fresnaye’s were an aristocratic family whose ancestral home, the Château de La Fresnaye, was near Falaise. His education was classically based, and was followed from 1903 to 1904 by studies at the Académie Julian in Paris, and from 1904 to 1908 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. From 1908 he studied at the Académie Ranson under Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier, whose joint influence is evident in early works such as Woman with Chrysanthemums, 1909. This demonstrates the dreamlike symbolist ambience and stylistic character of work by the Les Nabis group.

From 1912 to 1914 he was a member of the Section d’Or group of artists, and his work demonstrates an individual response to cubism. He was influenced by Braque and Picasso but his work has a more decorative than structural feel and his prismatic colours reflect the influence of Robert Delaunay. He was a member of the Puteaux Group, an orphist offshoot of cubism led by Jacques Villon. His most famous work is The Conquest of the Air, 1913, and depicts a scene with himself and his brother outdoors with a balloon in the background (see below).

La Fresnaye served in the French army in World War 1 and his health deteriorated rapidly after the war. He never recovered the physical energy to undertake sustained work. In the later paintings that he did create, he abandoned cubist spatial analysis for a more linear style. He died in Grasse in 1925.

Cows in a Meadow

 
Conquest of the Air
 
Landscape at La Ferte-Soud Jouarre 
 
White House at Audierne
 
Still Life with Coffee Pot and Melon
 

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Clude Monet – Anglers

Here are two paintings, plus one early study, of Anglers by Claude Monet in the 1880s.
 
Anglers on the Seine at Poissy (1882)
 
 
Two Men Fishing (Study)
 
 
Two Men Fishing (1880-82)
 
 

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Summertime – Edward Hopper

Summertime, 1943
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Oil on canvas

A consummate American Scene painter of the 1930s and 1940s, Edward Hopper, my favourite american artist, depicted landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, representing the modern world around him as a lonely, alienating place.  Born in Nyack, New York, in 1882, he showed an early inclination towards the Visual Arts and attended the New York School of Illustrating and the New York School of Art where he studied with William Merritt Chase.  He also studied with Robert Henri whose paintings of unadorned, everyday city life propelled him to focus his artistic efforts on like subjects.  Drawn to exterior and interior architectural settings usually inhabited by solitary figures or groups of non-communicating individuals, Hopper captured the atmosphere of urban life through a style of painting that uniquely blended realism with abstraction.

Summertime conveys the feeling of a sweltering day in New York City.  The curtain on the window seems set in motion by an interior fan, emphasizing the lack of air.  The strong verticals and horizontals of the architecture and sidewalk, based on preparatory drawings of a particular building Hopper later altered in the finished painting, give the illusion of space horizontally and vertically extended beyond the picture plane.  A solitary female figure in a clinging dress, based on preparatory drawings of the artist’s wife, Jo, creates a counterpoint to the compositional, almost abstract, starkness of the background architecture and the play of light and cast shadows.  Hopper’s artistic manipulation of the scene to convey a mood of eerie loneliness within the formally balanced backdrop of an impersonal city block is most readily evident in the lack of eye pupils and the incorrectly formed shadow of the female figure.  Devoid of any specific narrative, the painting as a whole projects the vast emptiness of modern urban existence. (courtesy of Delaware Art Museum)

Here is the finished painting along with two earlier studies

 

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James Ensor – Views of Belgium

James Ensor

Belgian Expressionist Painter, 1860-1949
 
James Sidney Ensor was born in Ostend, Belgium, on April 13 1860 and — except for three years spent at the Brussels Academy, from 1877 to 1879 — he lived in Ostend all his life. His parents owned a souvenir shop.

After his studies at the Brussels Academy, Ensor started painting rather traditional way. His early works were of traditional subjects: landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and interiors painted in deep, rich colors and enriched by a subdued but vibrant light. In the 1880’s, Ensor style changed to a mixture of symbolism and expressionism. He also co-founded the avantgardist art group "Les vingt". He took his subject matter principally from Ostend’s holiday crowds, which filled him with revulsion and disgust. Portraying individuals as clowns or skeletons or replacing their faces with carnival masks, he represented humanity as stupid, smirking, vain, and loathsome. At age 18, James Ensor painted his most known work "Christ’s Entry Into Brussels". This controversial painting makes fun with the entry of Christ in Jerusalem. In 1892, Ensor’s art went through some more changes. Though he still made extensive use of his famous masks, Ensor decided to use pastel colours. In 1920 Ensor also wrote the music for the ballet "La Gamme d’Amour". James Ensor was made a Baron in 1930 by the Belgian king. He died in 1949 in Ostend, where there is now a museum devoted to his work.

In 1995, the state of Belgium recognized Ensor’s achievements by dedicating the 100-franc bill to him and his work.

 
Bathing Hut
Rooftops of Ostend
 
The Cab
 
The Flemish Flats Seen From the Dunes

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Bernini – The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa

Bernini, Gian Lorenzo
born Dec. 7, 1598, Naples, Kingdom of Naples [Italy]
died Nov. 28, 1680, Rome, Papal States
 
Italian artist who was perhaps the greatest sculptor of the 17th century and an outstanding architect as well. Bernini created the Baroque style of sculpture and developed it to such an extent that other artists are of only minor importance in a discussion of that style.
 
The greatest single example of Bernini’s mature art is the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria, in Rome, which completes the evolution begun early in his career. The chapel, commissioned by Cardinal Federigo Cornaro, is in a shallow transept in the small church. Its focal point is his sculpture of “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa” (1645–52), a depiction of a mystical experience of the great Spanish Carmelite reformer Teresa of Ávila. In representing Teresa’s vision, during which an angel pierced her heart with a fiery arrow of divine, although it has also been described as sexual, love, Bernini followed Teresa’s own description of the event. The sculptured group, showing the transported saint swooning in the void, covered by cascading drapery, is revealed in celestial light within a niche over the altar, where the architectural and decorative elements are richly joined and articulated. At left and right, in spaces resembling opera boxes, numerous members of the Cornaro family are found in spirited postures of conversation, reading, or prayer. The Cornaro Chapel carries Bernini’s ideal of a three-dimensional picture to its apex. The figures of St. Teresa and the angel are sculptured in white marble, but the viewer cannot tell whether they are in the round or merely in high relief. The natural daylight that falls on the figures from a hidden source above and behind them is part of the group, as are the gilt rays behind. “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa” is not sculpture in the conventional sense. Instead, it is a framed pictorial scene made up of sculpture, painting, and light that also includes the worshiper in a religious drama.
 

 
 
 
 
 

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