Tag Archive | Modern Art Monday

Modern Art Monday Presents: Stuart Davis, Percolator

Percolator
Photo By Gail

Influenced by the Cubist language of flat, overlapping planes and wedges, Stuart Davis (1892 – 1964) used geometric shapes in related colors to create this still life, Percolator (1927). Here, he deconstructs the cylindrical forms of a mass-produced, percolator coffeepot and renders the everyday object both abstract and undefinable. By choosing an industrially produced consumer product as his subject, Davis put a new spin on the spatial innovations of the previous decade’s European avant-garde art movements.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Let My People Go By Aaron Douglas

Let My People Go
Photos By Gail

Kansas-born Aaron Douglas (1899 – 1979) was the leading visual artist of the Harlem Renaissance, the great flowering of the arts in the 1920s and 1930s in New York’s predominantly African American neighborhood. Rendered in Douglas’s flat silhouetted style and with lavender and yellow-gold hues, this work, Let My People Go (1935-39), depicts the Old Testament story about God’s order to Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt.

Ministers, abolitionists , and politicians from the nineteenth-century through the Civil Rights era have related this story to the oppression of African Americans. Light Symbolizing God’s command radiates down and envelops the kneeling figure of Moses. Douglas derived this composition from a design he created in 1927 for God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, a collaboration with author and activist James Weldon Johnson.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Francis Picabia, Selfishness

Selfishness
Photo By Gail

In Francis Picabia’s Selfishness (1947-48), colorful rounds of saturated paint surround a large, crudely rendered phallic shape. This relatively simple composition is energized by heavily encrusted impasto and gestural paint-handling. Built-up ridges of oil paint score the surface, giving the work a dramatic, almost frenzied topography. This sense of substrate activity speaks to Picabia’s ongoing play with surfaces, which here takes the form of accumulation and opacity. The material thickening on display in Selfishness was an artistic strategy shared by others in postwar Paris. Participants in the turn to abstraction known as Art Informel also created works with heavily textured surfaces, and they, too valued direct expression. This work’s erotic imagery finds its echo in Picabia’s contemporaneous illustrated letters, which were an important element of his artistic practice.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art as Part of the Exhibit, Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Paul Signac, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (La Bonne-Mere) Marseilles

Notre Dame De La Garde
All Photos By Gail

After visiting Marseilles in late 1905, Paul Signac proceeded to paint two canvases in his studio: one showing the entrance to the port, and this view, facing the hill surmounted by Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the church nicknamed the Good Mother by seamen. Bright and boldly colored, the composition reflects Signac’s contact with the artists Henri-Edmond Cross and Matisse at Saint Tropez in the summer of 1904. The rectangular strokes of unmixed pigment, arranged like tesserae (an individual tile, usually formed in the shape of a cube) in a mosaic, are Signac’s variation on the innovative painting method pioneered by Georges Seurat.

Notre Dame De La Garde Detail
Painting Detail

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Spider Woman By Louise Bourgeois

Spider Woman Louise Bourgeois
All Photos By Gail

Throughout her long career, Louise Bourgeois (1911 – 2010) treated the motif of spiders across many different media, from drawings and prints to monumental outdoor sculpture. The theme was initially associated with her mother, a tapestry restorer, but grew to take on broader associations as a strong female protector against evil. this example, dating from the last decade of the artist’s life, represents a female spider with human face, contained with an eggs-shaped form. The vibrant scarlet ink is  color that Bourgeois favored in the late work.

Spider Woman Louise Bourgeois Detail

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: The Birth of Venus By Alexandre Cabanel

Birth Of Venus
Photo By Gail

The first version of Alexandre Cabanel’s  The Birth of Venus created a sensation at the Salon of 1863, which was dubbed the “Salon of Venuses” owing to the number of alluring nudes on view. Embodying the ideals of academic art, the careful modeling, silky brushwork, and mythological subject of Cabanel’s canvas proved a winning combination: the Salon picture was purchased by no leas that Napoleon III for his personal collection. In 1875 , Jon Wolfe commissioned the present, slightly smaller, replica from Cabanel.

Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

Modern Art Monday Presents: Voice of Space By René Magritte

The Voice of Space
Photo By Gail

Influenced by Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte sought to strip objects of their usual functions and meanings in order to convey an irrationally compelling image. In Voice of Space (of which three other oil versions exist), the bells float in the air; elsewhere they occupy human bodies or replace blossoms on bushes. By distorting the scale, weight, and use of an ordinary object and inserting it into a variety of unaccustomed contexts, Magritte confers on that object a fetishistic intensity. He has written of the jingle bell, a motif that recurs often in his work: “I caused the iron bells hanging from the necks of our admirable horses to sprout like dangerous plants at the edge of an abyss.”

The disturbing impact of the bells presented in an unfamiliar setting is intensified by the cool academic precision with which they and their environment are painted. The dainty slice of landscape could be the backdrop of an early Renaissance painting, while the bells themselves, in their rotund and glowing monumentality, impart a mysterious resonance.

Text By Lucy Flint.

Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.