Artists

I’ve decided this will start up again in January 2018.  One artist a month.  Twelve in a year.  It can’t be that hard.  I’m going to try my best.  The fact I’m most like Vincent van Gogh is no surprise.  Just let’s hope I don’t follow his path of drinking (a non-issue) and smoking (really not an issue anymore).  Phew!  Now if I can get control of other areas of my life, and by that I mean by big, thinking brain, then I will be half-settled.

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July 4, 2017: Mary Cassatt

Born: May 22, 1844
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, United States
 
Died: June 14, 1926
Château de Beaufresne, near Paris, France

Mary Cassatt is an American painter and printmaker although she lived most of her life in France.   Her mediums were pastel, oil, gouache, watercolor, and graphite.  Her upbringing is what you would call privileged as she belonged to the upper/middle class.  Much of her influence came from her mother who was also well-educated and read.  She never married and dedicated her life to artwork even in the years when she was partially blind, had rheumatism, and other physical ailments. 

She was what you would also call a pioneer as she sided with women’s rights, but did not like to be viewed as adhering to one particular concept or thing.  She consistently demanded the same treatment as her male comrades in the art world and did not compromise herself.  Her subjects ranged from family members to Parisian models. 

She formed an intimate friendly relationship with Edgar Degas, as they had common interests and backgrounds.   It was in France she felt most at home although she returned to the East Coast out of necessity.   She was resistant to change in her later years and struggled to find a place in the art world.  Her work would later be recognized for their brilliance especially after her death.  No one can say she was not great at capturing the human subject in her intimate portraits.  Many of her works are in notable galleries and have sold for as much as four million dollars. 

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Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

June 11, 2017: Katsushika Hokusai

Born: October 31, 1790

Died: May 10, 1849

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There’s an eerie thing when you read about an artist, and recognize certain elements of yourself in them.  The main one being I often wanted to change my name.  I have less of an urge to do this now, but I think about it from time to time.  Would I pick a Korean name?  Would I pick a more Western name?  Would I pick a fictional name?

Hokusai, as he was called, attached various names to himself throughout his career.  He had chosen around thirty different names, often mirroring changes to his artistic styles, and overlapped at times.  A woodblock artist, he creating prints and paintings using subject matter of people, landscapes, and flora and fauna.  He also produced erotic pieces, which was used by all classes, and known as shunga.

During the height of his career, he produced brush paintings, known as surimono, and two collections of landscapes, Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital and Eight Views of Edo. This was also the time when his skill was recognized, partly due to self-promotion and taught students thirsty for his knowledge.  He paid equal attention of his work in published books as with his actual works.

His most famous work, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, includes the recognizable Great Wave off Kanagawa.  There were 36 prints in total, and included ten additional prints later.  The longevity of his work can also be seen in his twelve manga volumes (9 published before 1820 and 3 published posthumously).  He created the series in between the years 1830 to 1832.

As is the occurrence of artists finding influence in others, he served as inspiration to Impressionist painters.  He cultivated and reinforced the path for Western countries and artists to view Japanese artistic contributions as legitimate.  He desired to live into his hundreds, but died at the age of eighty-eight.  What more could he have possibly achieved?  Probably a great deal, but with everyone and everything, it must all come to an end.

1760 Childhood Name: Tokitarō

1779 First Name Change: Shunrō

1793-1797 Name Change: Tawaraya Sōri

1798 Name Change: Hokusai Tomisa

1811 Name Change: Iitsu

Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

June 6, 2017: Jan van Eyck

Born: c 1380-1390 in Maaeseik/Belgian Province

Died: July 9, 1441 in Bruges/Flemish Region

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Portrait of a Man, 1443

Jan van Eyck was a Netherlandish Renaissance painter.  His subject matter had religious figures and overtones including the Madonna and baby, Jesus’s crucifixion, and was also a successful portrait artist.  I remember being amazed at his level of detail in his paintings.  His most iconic piece being the Arnolfini Portrait.  Painters of his caliber at the time were much like the current painters of photo realism today.

His securement in the artistic world was equally due to his court painting and commissioned portraits.  This brought him financial stability, and in turn, he was able to not feel the strain of producing work to feed himself.  He worked alongside his brother, Hubert van Eyck, on some paintings. 

He was a meticulous painter, leaving nothing to chance, including his unique way of signing his name to his works and how he used frames to enhance the worlds unfolding on the canvas.  Whether you view his signature and dating of his work as condescending or spirited, he dared to affirm what he already knew about himself.  He was a permanent influence during his time, and by him creating no doubt about the authenticity of his works, he protected his legacy.

Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

May 14, 2017: Wassily Kandinsky

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A Russian painter and art theorist, Wassily Kandinsky, was born in Moscow in 1866.  He was all encompassing where he taught design and painting classes in his later years, as well as educating about the importance of spiritual connection found in artistic mediums.  He was fascinated with color and what it represented.  This led to his enrollment into Munich Academy at the age of 30 in 1896.  He was also influenced by Monet during this time, furthering his connection to color, which led to his own in depth exploration.

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Odessa Port, 1898
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Akhtyrka, 1901
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Murnau, train & castle, 1909

Kandinsky was also fascinated with abstraction especially in the years between 1911 to 1914.  I view him as a type of sponge much like myself.  I want to gain more knowledge and learn it all. 

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The Cow, 1910
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The Rider, 1911
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Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913

There was a transition to his later work where circles become an integral part of his paintings.  He became enamored in geometric shapes and their representations as can be seen during the time he taught hungry students about design, color theory, and elements of painting.  What I wouldn’t have given to attend a class of his or live in any major thriving artistic community during this time.

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Circles in a Circle, 1923
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Soft Hard, 1927

Kandinsky was what you might call an independent: politically and culturally and artistically.  He laid roots where his heart felt was right as he left Germany and Russia for good, settling in France where he lived until he died in 1944.

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Brown with Supplement, 1935
Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

April 9, 2017: Vincent van Gogh

Fine Artists can be described in many different ways.  They can be categorized with personality traits only they seem to have.  A popular theory is any kind of artist has to be a little mentally unstable because what else drives him or her to create artwork.  The first painter I’m discussing is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t set creative boundaries.

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Self Portrait, 1887

Vincent van Gogh really needs no introduction.  People know him because he cut his left ear during one of his many bouts of depression.  He was a Post-Impressionist painter with his most obvious work titled The Starry Night, 1889.  Have you ever gotten as close as possible to a van Gogh painting?  Man, those brush strokes.  Damn, those vibrant colors.

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The Starry Night, 1889

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Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888

He was born in March 1853, and died in 1890 due to complications from a self-inflicted gun shot.  He was a smoker and drinker.  He suffered from insomnia.  Oh, the problems of a creative person.  His vast collection of works included landscapes, portraits, and still lifes.  I wonder if somewhere in another parallel or perpendicular universe, if van Gogh knows how influential and inspirational artist he became.  I sure hope so as it would be a shame if he didn’t.

Old Man at the Fireside, 1881
A Pair of Shoes, 1887
Painter on His Way to Work, 1888
Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

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Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

April 1, 2017: Reflections on Art

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The words “art” and “artists” is as expansive as the words “war” and “warriors.” There are many different kind of art and artists as there are different methods of warfare and those who do the warring. The underlying principle where people take the role of artist or soldier or any kind of profession that entails you are in it for life until your last breath is needing over wanting.

This page will be dedicated to the artists admired for all their genius artwork and recognized for all their conflicting attributes.  It reminds me of the privilege of visiting museums within an arm’s reach.  My skill and fortitude was never that of the masters or even when they were novices.  I hold no illusion I’m a decent artist because frankly it serves more as an emotional outlet.  This doesn’t stop me from the occasional dabbling in painting, drawing, ceramics, weaving, and photography.

Well-known artists succeed on grand scales and on more private levels.  Artists have the overwhelming need to create all hours of the day and night, and if not with their hands, then with their brains.  Sometimes, this is all an artist knows and does within any 24 hour span of time.   Creation is equal to comfort.  Form is equal to familiarity.  Few artists attain great wealth in their creative endeavors, but all artists understand the importance of actualizing something from nothing including myself.

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