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.
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.
Actor Mel Gibson rose to stardom in the 1979 film Mad Max, an action movie set in a dystopian future. In 2006, Gibson directed and cowrote Apocalypto, a dystopian fantasy set in the past. Drawing on durable colonialist tropes, Apocalypto portrays the indigenous civilizations of a pre-Colombian Central America as irredeemably brutal and doomed; the film ends with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. During the time that elapsed between the release of these two films, Gibson’s life took many sordid turns that land Apocalypto’s melodramatic tagline — “No One Can Outrun Their Destiny” — an ironic air. Mel Gibson Story (2010) by Jonathan Horowitz illustrates the actor’s downward spiral through a five-panel metamorphosis of the two movie posters.
In 1911, while staying at Spurveskjul, his rented home near Copenhagen, Vilhelm Hammershoi undertook a group of self-portraits that encapsulate his reputation as a painter of tranquil, light-filled interiors. This composition (1911) shows the artist at work, with his left hand raised, as if reflected in a mirror. The sunlit door and window behind him are two of his signature motifs. Left unfinished, the painting was kept by the artist’s wife, Ida, and then her descendants, until 2014. A closely related painting is in the Statens Museum for Kunst (Art), Copenhagen.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Stuart Davis typically painted local modern subjects in rhythmic compositions with bold colors. Among his sources of inspiration were “skyscraper architecture; the brilliant colors on gasoline stations; chain store fronts and taxi cabs“ and jazz music. Long before postwar artists mined the world of trademark brands, Davis incorporated imagery from logos, commercial signage, and packaging into his paintings, such as the branded bag of tobacco in Lucky Strike (1921). Championed by the visionary dealer Edith Halpert at her downtown Gallery, Davis’s work was met with both enthusiasm and confusion despite being engaged with the stuff and forms of modern life in New York in the 1920s.
Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
99 Cents Dream (2020) is part of an eponymous series from photographer Graham MacIndoe taken primarily in New York City since March 2020, when the pandemic changed our lives practically overnight. MacIndoe took the opportunity to venture out into different parts of the city and was captivated by the quietness of the streets, the feeling of isolation, and people walking through the unfamiliar landscape of shuttered stores and restaurants. The estrangement of human interaction he often saw and felt made him view the city and its inhabitants differently. Things he may not have noticed before, like gestures, graffiti and shadows, became more pronounced because of the mostly empty sidewalks and streets. Many of the scenes he encountered brought to mind the book Lanark by the Scottish author Alisdair Gray, which in part describes the city and its disappearing residents. These pictures are about displacement and a lack of belonging and a feeling that something is not quite right, which of course was the case before Covid-19 arrived.
Photographed in The National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, Manhattan.
This large study amply covers Norwegian artist Thomas Fearnley’s interest in rendering effects of light and reflection in water, as well as the flora growing on its banks. He painted this picture on September 23rd, 1837, in Surrey, during an extended sojourn in England. Fearnley learned to sketch directly before nature from his teacher Johan Christian Dahl, but this work also betrays the artists encounters with paintings by influential landscape painter John Constable.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art n NYC.