Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's Actually Cool Here This Morning

The seasons are going to change, before I have time to post these women of summer. Here are a few late Victorian ladies from Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938).

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) Eleanor Hyde 1906

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) Margaret Under the Elms 1895

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) A Lady 1891

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) My Wife, Emeline, in a Garden 1890
Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) Emeline, in a Garden 1890

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) Summer Idyll (also known as Girl and Pine Trees) 1899

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Robert Lewis Reid (1862-1939) at the Library of Congress

Robert Lewis Reid alternated between the easel & painting murals in public buildings. These at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress are worth note.

Robert Lewis Reid (1862-1939), Library of Congress 1896 Wisdom
Robert Lewis Reid (1862-1939), Library of Congress 1896 Understanding

Robert Lewis Reid (1862-1939), Library of Congress 1896 Knowledge

Robert Lewis Reid (1862-1939), Library of Congress 1896 Philosophy

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Robert Ryman at the Phillips Collection

If you live near Washington DC, try to get a chance to go to the Phillips Collection to see their Robert Ryman exhibit which brings together 26 small-scale paintings from private collections. Robert Ryman: Variations and Improvisations is the artist's first solo presentation in the Washington area, & it ends on September 12.

Untitled 1961

Robert Ryman was born in 1930 in Nashville, went to New York to study jazz, got a job as a guard at the Museum of Modern Art. He says that standing in the museum for hours at a time, he spent his time really looking, which trained his eye and helped him develop his artistic voice. From 1955 on, set himself up as the guy who painted white squares -- thousands by now. And he just keeps painting them, with variations, at the age of 80. When he talks about his paintings, I could almost swear it was my no-nonsense yoga instructor talking about yoga.

Series #33 (White)
"Music is an abstract medium, and I thought painting should also just be what it’s about and not about other things- not about stories or symbolism. I don’t think of my painting as abstract because I don’t abstract from anything. It’s involved with real visual aspects of what you are looking at- whether wood, paint, or metal- how it’s put together, how it looks on the wall and works with the light. I use real light, so there’s not an illusion of light. It’s a real experience. The lines are real. You see real shadow. The wall is involved with the painting." - Robert Ryman

Untitled 1958

"The square? I began with that in the 1950s. The square has always just been an equal-sided space that I could work with. Somehow it’s become so natural to me that I just don’t think of it any other way. It doesn’t have the feeling of a landscape or some kind of window or doorway that we usually associate with rectangles. It’s just a very neutral kind of space, and it seems to feel right to me because of my approach to painting." - Robert Ryman

Versions IV
"Of course, realism can be confused with representation. And abstract painting- if not abstracting from representation- is involved mostly with symbolism. It is about something we know, or about some symbolic situation. I don’t make a big deal about this realism thing. It just seems that what I do is not abstract. I am involved with real space, the room itself, real light, and real surface." - Robert Ryman

"Some of the paintings, particularly the smaller ones, had heavy edges and I used the sides as part of the composition. So sometimes the paint would go off the right or left side, and when you looked at the paintings obliquely you would see them in a different way." - Robert Ryman

Untitled 1959
"There is a lot of meaning, but not what we usually think of as meaning. It’s similar to the meaning of listening to a symphony. You don’t know the meaning, and you can’t explain it to anyone else who didn’t hear it. The painting has to be seen. But there is no meaning outside of what it is." - Robert Ryman

To Gertrud Mellon 1958

"The ‘Version’ paintings were on very thin fiberglass panels. I used that material because I wanted thinness and strength, but something that was so close to the wall that it would look almost like paper. It had a nice gray-green color, which I liked, and I could use that color as part of the composition and the painting itself." - Robert Ryman

Station 1994
"White has a tendency to make things visible. With white, you can see more of a nuance; you can see more. I’ve said before that if you spill coffee on a white shirt, you can see the coffee very clearly. If you spill it on a dark shirt, you don’t see it as well. So it wasn’t a matter of white, the color. I was not really interested in that. I started to cover up colors with white in the 1950s." - Robert Ryman

Untitled 1962-1963


From Romantic to Tonalist, New Englander Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905)

For the last 2 weeks, when we venture out onto our local interstate, I-83, we have noticed that there is much more traffic heading north than south. It has been unbearably hot here in the Mid-Atlantic, & our escapist guess is that most of these folks on on their way to visit the cooler, breezier New England Atlantic coast. One of the most famous 19th century painters of that area eventually became a Tonalist painter.

Port Clarence, Alaska Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) 1899

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) was one of America's prominent landscape & marine painters in the late 19th century. He received his first instruction in drawing during the late 1850s from Albert van Beest & William Bradford at New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) A Coastal View 1862

Gifford's early paintings, which featured dramatic seascapes with storm-tossed boats, reflected his natural respect for this subject as well as his lessons with the Dutch painter van Beest.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Barry Glacier in Alaska

Later, Walton Richetson, a New Bedford sculptor, shared his studio with Gifford.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Cliff Scene Grand Manan 1865
Much of his work focuses on the landscapes of New England, where he was born. He, along with Victorian contemporaries from the White Mountain & Hudson River Schools, helped immortalize the majestic cliffs of Grand Manan in the Bay of Fundy.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Beach and Cliffs at Nonquitt

In 1864, Gifford opened a studio in Boston; but in 1866, he settled in New York City.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Near the Coast 1885

One year later, he was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design & was made a full academician in 1878.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Seconnet Rock, New Bedford, Massachusettes 1865

In 1869, he sketched in Washington, Oregon, & California, & in 1870 made an extensive trip abroad, visiting England, France, Spain, Italy, Morocco, & Egypt. Four years later, he made a similar journey that included Corsica, Algeria, & parts of North Africa seldom visited by tourists. About 10 years later, he returned for a 3rd visit to the Middle East.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) The Coast of New England 1880

After this, Gifford divided his time between his New York studio & his summer home at Nonquitt, Massachusetts, with the exception of a 3 month voyage to Alaska in 1899. He was one of the early artists into Alaska, going there as a commissioned landscape painter for the Harriman Expediditon, which traveled up the coast of Alaska as far as Plover Bay in Siberia.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) The Hen and Chickens Lightship off Westport, Massachusetts, 1889

Beginning in 1877 & for nearly thirty years thereafter, he taught art classes at the Cooper Union School in New York.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Trees and Meadow 1885

One of the earliest Americans to take up the technique of etching, Gifford helped to establish the New York Etching Club in 1877.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) Water Possibly Niagara NY

During his 2nd trip abroad in 1874, Gifford visited the museum in Marseille, whose "fine collection of modern French paintings" may have reinforced his admiration for the Barbizon artists, which he had first seen in Boston several years before.

Robert Swain Gifford (1840-1905) On the Coast
Within a few years after his return, Gifford's style was largely purged of his previously overblown romanticism. Tonalism, characterized by stark, simpler compositions, wide spacious vistas, &, most typically, a cold, somber mood drawn from the barren dunes & rugged cedars of the coast, replaced his earlier style.