Tag Archive for: prints

I know some things I would have done differently

Photo Collecting: additions

Last Sunday Sean and I went to the Radschlagermarkt (a.k.a. GroBmarkt) in Dusseldorf. This massive flea market is being held once every month and it is well worth the visit. This trip, I was especially excited for the gentleman I bought some photo’s from last time would be back for this market, and he promised to bring a box of images for me to look through. When first seeing the material, I was not too impressed – but, even between very very mundane and boring personal photos there can be some hidden gems. If you know what you like, and what you are looking for.

One thing I always dread in these images are the tiny little (often blurred) people looking expectantly at the camera. Hands up all who have been guilty of doing this one time or another:

awful portraits 1 awful portraits 2

We don’t know who they are and frankly, why would we care? But, as the amateur photographer of today can get lucky with a photo every now and again, so could an amateur photographer back then.

Personally, I think the composition on these images is not that bad, except for image 1 is taken from so far away that we cannot properly see who’s on the photo – and image 2 – even though I quite like the use of negative space – is not very well lit or focused if it was meant to be a portrait.

 

Sometimes, just like in these times, an amateur photographer can display a core of talent, or get lucky, resulting in beautiful (be it still quite personal) images:

 

 

Apart from those images, which I all like for different reasons, I also got a stack of little holiday snapshots, sized ca. 6 x 6 cm. I am not quite sure what I’ll do with them, I’m toying with the idea of framing them as a long made-up panorama, or perhaps as a grid-like collage. Another option would be to transfer them onto another surface. I’ll think about it before rushing into anything. I love how some of the images conjure up the feeling of Italy or of Florida in the 50′s, with warm sunny stretches of beach, terraces and relaxation.

 

 

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Artist: Edvard Munch

Taken from a previous article, today’s artist is Edvard Munch. I know just one of his famous works ‘the Scream’ and it will be interesting to see what else this man did.

Edvard Munch was born on the 12th of December 1863 in Ådalsbruk in Løten, Norway as the second child with four siblings. The family moved to Christiania (now Oslo) in 1864 when his father, Christian Munch, was appointed medical officer at Akershus Fortress. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1868, as did Munch’s favourite sister in 1877. Often ill for much of the winters and kept out of school, Edvard would draw to keep himself occupied, and received tutoring from his school mates and his aunt. Christian Munch also instructed his son in history and literature, and entertained the children with vivid ghost stories and tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The military pay his father received was very low and the family lived in poverty, which featured in many of Munch’s early drawings and watercolours.

Christian’s positive behaviour toward his children, however, was overshadowed by his morbid pietism. Munch wrote, “My father was temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious—to the point of psychoneurosis. From him I inherited the seeds of madness. The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born.”The oppressive religious milieu, plus Edvard’s poor health and the vivid ghost stories, helped inspire macabre visions and nightmares in Edvard, who felt death constantly advancing on him.

By his teens, art dominated Munch’s interests.At thirteen, Munch had his first exposure to other artists at the newly formed Art Association, where he admired the work of the Norwegian landscape school. He returned to copy the paintings, and soon he began to paint in oils. In 1879 Munch enrolled in a technical college to study engineering, where he excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. He learned scaled and perspective drawing, but frequent illnesses interrupted his studies. The following year, much to his father’s disappointment, Munch left the college determined to become a painter. His father viewed art as an “unholy trade”, and his neighbors reacted bitterly and sent him anonymous letters. Munch himself adopted an undogmatic stance toward art, writing in his diary his simple goal: “in my art I attempt to explain life and its meaning to myself.”

In 1881, Munch enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania where his teachers were sculptor Julius Middelthun and naturalistic painter Christian Krohg. In 1883, Munch took part in his first public exhibition and shared a studio with other students.He came under the influence of Hans Jæger, the local nihilist who lived by the code “a passion to destroy is also a creative passion” and who advocated suicide as the ultimate way to freedom. After numerous experiments, Munch concluded that the Impressionist idiom did not allow sufficient expression. He found it superficial and too akin to scientific experimentation. Under Jaeger’s commandment that Munch should “write his life”, meaning that Munch should explore his own emotional and psychological state. Munch began a period of reflection and self-examination, recording his thoughts in his “soul’s diary”. This deeper perspective helped move him to a new view of his art.

Regardless of these new views, Munch still struggled to define his style throughout the 1880s and early 1890s.His idiom continued to veer between naturalistic, as seen in Portrait of Hans Jæger, and impressionistic, as in Rue Lafayette. His Inger On the Beach (1889) hints at the simplified forms, heavy outlines, sharp contrasts, and emotional content of his mature style to come. While stylistically influenced by the Post-Impressionists, what evolved was a subject matter which was symbolist in content, depicting a state of mind rather than an external reality.

In 1889, Munch presented his first one-man show of nearly all his works to date. The recognition it received led to a two-year state scholarship to study in Paris under French painter Léon Bonnat. Munch arrived in Paris during the festivities of the Exposition Universelle (1889) and roomed with two fellow Norwegian artists. Munch was enthralled by the vast display of modern European art, including the works of three artists who would prove influential: Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—all notable for how they used color to convey emotion. Munch was particularly inspired by Gauguin’s “reaction against realism” and his credo that “art was human work and not an imitation of Nature”, a belief earlier stated by Whistler.

That December, his father died, leaving Munch’s family destitute. He returned home and arranged a large loan from a wealthy Norwegian collector when wealthy relatives failed to help, and assumed financial responsibility for his family from then on.

By 1892, Munch formulated his characteristic, and original, Synthetist aesthetic, as seen in Melancholy, in which color is the symbol-laden element. During four years in Berlin, Munch sketched out most of the ideas that would comprise his major work, The Frieze of Life, first designed for book illustration but later expressed in paintings. He sold little, but made some income from charging entrance fees to view his controversial paintings.Already, Munch was showing a reluctance to part with his paintings, which he termed his “children”.

In December 1893, Unter den Linden in Berlin held an exhibition of Munch’s work, showing, among other pieces, six paintings entitled Study for a Series: Love. This began a cycle he later called the Frieze of Life — A Poem about Life, Love and Death. Around the turn of the century, Munch worked to finish the “Frieze”. He painted a number of pictures, several of them in larger format and to some extent featuring the Art Nouveau aesthetics of the time. He made a wooden frame with carved reliefs for the large painting Metabolism (1898), initially called Adam and Eve. This work reveals Munch’s preoccupation with the “fall of man” myth and his pessimistic philosophy of love. The entire Frieze showed for the first time at the secessionist exhibition in Berlin in 1902.

“The Frieze of Life” themes recur throughout Munch’s work but find their strongest outpouring in the mid-1890’s. In sketches, paintings, pastels and prints, he taps the depths of his feelings to examine his major motifs: the stages of life, the femme fatale, the hopelessness of love, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy, sexual humiliation, and separation in life and death. Munch hated to part with his paintings because he thought of his work as a single body of expression. So to capitalize on his production and make some income, he turned to graphic arts to reproduce many of his most famous paintings, including those in this series.

Still attracting strongly negative reactions, in the 1890s Munch did begin to receive some understanding of his artistic goals, as one critic wrote, “With ruthless contempt for form, clarity, elegance, wholeness, and realism, he paints with intuitive strength of talent the most subtle visions of the soul.”One of his great supporters in Berlin was Walter Rathenau, later the German foreign minister, who greatly contributed to his success.

In 1896, Munch moved to Paris, where he focused on graphic representations of his “Frieze of Life” themes. He further developed his woodcut and lithographic technique. Munch’s Self-Portrait With Skeleton Arm (1895) is done with an etching needle-and-ink method also used by Paul Klee. Many of the Parisian critics still considered Munch’s work “violent and brutal” but his exhibitions received serious attention and good attendance.His financial situation improved considerably.

Munch returned to Christiania in 1897 where he also received grudging acceptance, where one critic wrote, “A fair number of these pictures have been exhibited before. In my opinion these improve on acquaintance.”In 1903-4, Munch exhibited in Paris where the coming Fauvists, famous for their boldly false colors, likely saw his works and might have found inspiration in them. When the Fauves held their own exhibit in 1906, Munch was invited and displayed his works with theirs. During this time, Munch received many commissions for portraits and prints. After an earlier period of landscapes, in 1907 he turned his attention again to human figures and situations.

However, in the autumn of 1908, Munch’s anxiety, compounded by excessive drinking and brawling, had become acute. As he wrote later, “My condition was verging on madness—it was touch and go.”Subject to hallucinations and feelings of persecution, he entered the clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson. Munch’s stay in hospital stabilized his personality, and after returning to Norway in 1909, his work became more colorful and less pessimistic. Further brightening his mood, the general public of Christiania finally warmed to his work, and museums began to purchase his paintings. He was made a Knight of the Royal Order of St. Olav “for services in art”. His first American exhibit was in 1912 in New York.

As part of his recovery, Dr. Jacobson advised Munch to only socialize with good friends and avoid public drinking. Munch followed this advice and in the process produced several full-length portraits of high quality of friends and patrons—honest portrayals devoid of flattery. He also created landscapes and scenes of people at work and play, using a new optimistic style—broad, loose brushstrokes of vibrant colour with frequent use of white space and rare use of black—with only occasional references back to his morbid themes.

Munch spent most of his last two decades in solitude at his nearly self-sufficient estate in Ekely, at Skøyen, Oslo. To the end of his life, Munch continued to paint unsparing self-portraits, adding to his self-searching cycle of his life and his unflinching series of snapshots of his emotional and physical states.

The outbreak of World War I, found Munch with divided loyalties, as he stated, “All my friends are German but it is France that I love.” In the 1930s, his German patrons, many Jewish, lost their fortunes and some their lives during the rise of the Nazi movement.
In 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and the Nazi party took over the government. Munch was seventy-six years old. The Nazis labelled Munch’s work “degenerate art” (along with Picasso, Paul Klee, Matisse, Gauguin and many other modern artists) and removed his 82 works from German museums.With nearly an entire collection of his art in the second floor of his house, Munch lived in fear of a Nazi confiscation. Seventy-one of the paintings previously taken by the Nazis had found their way back to Norway through purchase by collectors (the other eleven were never recovered), including The Scream and The Sick Child, and they too were hidden from the Nazis.

Munch died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on January 23, 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday. His Nazi-orchestrated funeral left the impression with Norwegians that he was a Nazi sympathizer.The city of Oslo bought the Ekely estate from his heirs in 1946 and demolished his house in May 1960.

When Munch died, he bequeathed his remaining works to the city of Oslo, which built the Munch Museum at Tøyen (it opened in 1963). The museum hosts a collection of approximately 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings, and 18,000 prints, the broadest collection of his works in the world. It currently serves at Munch’s official Estateand has been active in responding to copyright infringements, as well as clearing copyright for the work, such as the appearance of Munch’s The Scream in a 2006 M&M advertisement campaign. The U.S. copyright representative for the Munch Museum and the Estate of Edvard Munch is the Artists Rights Society.

One version of The Scream was stolen from the National Gallery in 1994. In 2004 another version of The Scream along with one of Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum in a daring daylight robbery. All were eventually recovered, but the paintings stolen in the 2004 robbery were extensively damaged. They have been meticulously restored and are on display again.

My favourite images:

 

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Artist: Andy Warhol

I have finally gone and done it – writing about Andy Warhol wasn’t exactly top of my list when I started this blog. I know the man had a long and well recorded history in the arts and that he put a lot of emphasis on money. I’m hoping to find out that there was something more to his art. Wishful thinking maybe?

Andrew Warhola, better known as Andy Warhol was born on the 6th of August 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as the fourth child of coal miner Andrij Warhola and his wife Julia. His parents were working-class Rusyns (or Lemkos) emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková), located in today’s northeastern Slovakia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warhol’s father immigrated to the US in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol’s grandparents.

In third grade, Warhol had chorea, the nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever and causes blotchiness on the skin. He became a hypochondriac, developing a fear of hospitals and doctors. Often bed-ridden as a child, he became an outcast at school and bonded with his mother. At times when he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.

Warhol showed early artistic talent and studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (now Carnegie Mellon University). In 1949, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine illustration and advertising. During the 1950s, he gained fame for his whimsical ink drawings of shoe advertisements for I. Miller.

His first one-man art-gallery exhibition as a fine artist was on July 9, 1962, in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles. The exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. Andy Warhol’s first New York solo pop exhibit was hosted at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery in November 1962. It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of iconic American products such as Campbell’s Soup Cans and Coca-Cola bottles, as well as paintings of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Troy Donahue, Muhammad Ali and Elizabeth Taylor. He also used imagery like newspaper headlines or photographs of mushroom clouds, electric chairs, and police dogs attacking civil rights protesters.

He founded his studio “The Factory” during these years, and gathered around himself a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. He began producing prints using the silkscreen method, slowly phasing out the handmade element to his art which became both popular and controversial. Warhol employed several assistants to produce his prints for him.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art hosted a Symposium on pop art in December 1962 during which artists like Warhol were attacked for “capitulating” to consumerism. Critics were scandalized by Warhol’s open embrace of market culture. This symposium set the tone for Warhol’s reception. A pivotal event was the 1964 exhibit The American Supermarket, a show held in Paul Bianchini’s Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical U.S. small supermarket environment, except that everything in it – from the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc. – was created by six prominent pop artists of the time, among them the controversial (and like-minded) Billy Apple, Mary Inman, and Robert Watts. Warhol’s painting of a can of Campbell’s soup cost $1,500 while each autographed can sold for $6. The exhibit was one of the first mass events that directly confronted the general public with both pop art and the perennial question of what art is.

During the ’60s, Warhol also groomed a retinue of bohemian eccentrics upon whom he bestowed the designation “Superstars”, including Nico, Joe Dallesandro, Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling. These people all participated in the Factory films, and some – like Berlin – remained friends with Warhol until his death. Important figures in the New York underground art/cinema world, such as writer John Giorno and film-maker Jack Smith, also appear in Warhol films of the 1960s, revealing Warhol’s connections to a diverse range of artistic scenes during this time.

On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and art critic and curator Mario Amaya at Warhol’s studio. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She authored the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a separatist feminist attack on males. Solanas appears in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol however, was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life and the incident would have a profound effect on Warhol’s life and art.

Compared to the success and scandal of Warhol’s work in the 1960s, the 1970s were a much quieter decade, as Warhol became more entrepreneurial. According to Bob Colacello, Warhol devoted much of his time to rounding up new, rich patrons for portrait commissions– including Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, his wife Empress Farah Pahlavi, his sister Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon, Diana Ross, and Brigitte Bardot. Warhol’s famous portrait of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong was created in 1973. He also founded, with Gerard Malanga, Interview magazine, and published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975).

Warhol had a re-emergence of critical and financial success in the 1980s, partially due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of prolific younger artists, who were dominating the “bull market” of ’80s New York art: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, David Salle and other so-called Neo-Expressionists, as well as members of the Transavantgarde movement in Europe, including Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi.

By this period, Warhol was being criticized for becoming merely a “business artist”. In 1979, reviewers disliked his exhibits of portraits of 1970s personalities and celebrities, calling them superficial, facile and commercial, with no depth or indication of the significance of the subjects. They also criticized his 1980 exhibit of 10 portraits at the Jewish Museum in New York, entitled Jewish Geniuses, which Warhol – who was uninterested in Judaism and Jews – had described in his diary as “They’re going to sell.” In hindsight, however, some critics have come to view Warhol’s superficiality and commerciality as “the most brilliant mirror of our times,” contending that “Warhol had captured something irresistible about the zeitgeist of American culture in the 1970s.”

Warhol died in New York City on February 22nd, 1987. According to news reports, he had been making good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep.

Warhol’s will dictated that his entire estate – with the exception of a few modest legacies to family members – would go to create a foundation dedicated to the “advancement of the visual arts”. In 1987, in accordance with Warhol’s will, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts began. The Foundation serves as the official Estate of Andy Warhol, but also has a mission “to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process” and is “focused primarily on supporting work of a challenging and often experimental nature.”

The Artists Rights Society is the U.S. copyright representative for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for all Warhol works with the exception of Warhol film stills. The U.S. copyright representative for Warhol film stills is the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Additionally, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has agreements in place for its image archive. All digital images of Warhol are exclusively managed by Corbis, while all transparency images of Warhol are managed by Art Resource.

My favourite images:


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