One of the pioneers of Conceptual art, Sol LeWitt gave primacy to the originating idea of a work of art rather than to its execution. LeWitt had been developing these ideas in three-dimensional objects he called “structures.” Based on the unit of an open, rather than solid, cube, the works peel away what he perceived as the decorative skin on traditional sculpture, revealing their underlying skeleton, or structure.
Though he created structures in a range of scales and shapes — the permutations growing more intricate over the decades — LeWitt maintained the use of white cubes with a ratio of 1:8.5; that is, the open space between the edges of a cube is 8.5 times the width of each edge. Five Towers (1986), a later, more complex structure, rises more than seven feet high, culminating in four towers on each corner of a square, with a fifth tower in the center.
Robert Reed (1938 – 2014) considered Plum Nellie, Sea Stone (1972) as a landscape. In it, a clearly defined rectangle of exposed canvas draws the viewer’s eye to the middle of the painting. Bold purple strokes of paint jostle at the rectangle’s sides. The work is part of Reed’sPlum Nellie series, which was exhibited in his solo show at the Whitney in 1973. In addition to referencing its color palette, the title recalls the southern expression “plum nelly.” Reed remembered the phrase to near “damn near,” suggesting that his relationship to abstraction is as much about the process of getting there as it is about arriving at a destination.
There are not many philanthropists like Eli Broad, who died on April 30th, 2021 at the age 87. In his lifetime, Broad and his wife Edith amassed a personal collection of over 2,000 works of contemporary art, which they then donated to the city of Los Angeles (and the world), building a namesake museum to house them all for your enjoyment. Who does that? Amazing. You can read more about Eli Broad’s life of service in his obituary from the NY Times at This Link. Read all about my super fun visit to The Broad Museum shortly after it opened in 2015, and see some choice pieces of the collection, at This Link. RIP.
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For more than sixty years, Alex Katz has created paintings distinguished by their bold colors, sharp outlines, and subjects taken from his daily life. By simplifying facial features and using flat, unmixed colors in works such as Edwin, Blue Series (1965), Katz emphasizes the form of the painting above its content. Here, he has cropped the left side of the body, asserting the figure as a subject of abstraction. The painting depicts Edwin Denby, a modernist poet and dance critic as well as a close friend of artists including Katz, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, and Franz Kline. Katz credits Denby for his appreciation of abstraction. Refusing to reveal his subjects’ personalities or interior life, Katz’s paintings focus instead on technique and visual invention.
In 1880 Maria Berna, the American-born widow of a German diplomat, visited artist Arnold Böcklin in Florence, where she saw an unfinished version of this painting, Island Of The Dead (1880) — now in the Kunstmuseum Basel— on his easel. She commissioned the present work as a memorial to her husband, requesting the additions of the draped coffin and the shrouded female figure. Prodded by his dealer, Böcklin painted three other versions by 1886. This romantic image would become one of Germany’s most beloved, widely circulated through poor reproductions as well as a related etching in 1890 by Max Klinger (1857 – 1920).
Photographed In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The 151st anniversary of the founding of The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be celebrated with a custom Google Doodle, the creative treatment of the Google logo featured on the search engine’s homepage. The Met-inspired animated Doodle will launch in the United States at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13, and be viewable for 24 hours. The Doodle will appear in more than 20 countries.
Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877) often painted the rocky grotto at The Source of the Loue (1854), the river that flows through his native village, Ornan, in the French-Comte region of eastern France. This view is probably one of four he mentioned to the art dealer Jules Luquet in the spring of 1864 when he wrote, “I’ve been to the source of the Loue these last days and made four landscapes [measuring] about 1 meter 40.”
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.