Tag Archive | Modern Art Monday

Modern Art Monday Presents: Elizabeth Murray, Terrifying Terrain

Terrifying Terrain
Photos By Gail

Elizabeth Murray belonged to a generation of postmodern artists that challenged the austerity and impersonality of Minimalism and post-painterly abstraction by working in different techniques and styles simultaneously, blurring perceived boundaries between traditional media. Composed of multiple, irregularly shaped canvases that are seemingly combined haphazardly, Terrifying Terrain (1989 – 90) is a sculptural painting  — or a painted sculpture? — that conjures the precariousness of an awe-inspiring rock-climbing trip in Montana. Jagged, overlapping planes convey the mountainous landscape that the artist experienced there, as well as the constant threat and fear of falling. The opening in the middle simulates the effect of a climber’s vertiginous view down into a ravine.

Terrifying Terrain

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Robert Indiana, Purim: The Four Facets of Esther

Purim: Four Facets of Esther
Photo By Gail

Robert Indiana (19282018) was closely associated with the hard-edged painting and Pop Art movements. Using the formal vocabulary of advertisements, his work often explores the power of words and numbers. In Purim: The Four Facets of Esther II (1967), he represents Stars of David and elements of the Biblical story of Esther, who was Queen of Persia in the fifth century BCE. Esther saved her fellow Jews from destruction, the feat to which Indiana refers in the fourth panel.

The Jewish Museum (where this photo was taken) commissioned this print in an edition of ninety for its annual Purim fundraising ball in 1967.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Stuart Davis, Men and Machine

Stuart Davis, Men and Machine
Photo By Gail

Heralded for his abstract visual evocations of jazz, Stuart Davis‘s art also responded profoundly to the industrial age. Men and Machine (1934) features two men standing before a schematically rendered structure with their backs to the viewer. Likely representing a construction site with the foreman and investor looking on, the painting alludes to New York’s interwar construction boom. Highlighting the degree to which industrialism was associated with masculinity, Davis’s painting, consisting of primary colors on a white background, also testifies to the artist’s respect for Piet Mondrian.

Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Fernand Leger, The Builders

The Builders
Photo By Gail

The quintessential painter of the machine age, Fernand Leger observed the effects of modern technology in the trenches as a soldier in the French army during World War I. Featuring workers whose bodies appear to be assembled from standardized industrial parts, The Builders (1920) exemplifies the style he developed after the war. Unlike the toiling laborers of Thomas Hart Benton’s mural, America Today, the builders here fuse seamlessly with the scaffolding and gears around them, as though they are part of one, harmonious machine. In the 1930s and 1940s. Leger would go on to make his own murals, featuring abstracted images of industry and machine power.

Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jackson Pollack, Easter and The Totem

Easter and The Totem
Photo by Gail

After 1952, dripping and pouring paint were no longer the primary means of expression for Jackson Pollack.The totemic forms at the left and right in Easter and The Totem (1953) reflect his renewed interest in using a brush to paint quasi-figurative images. The bright colors and expansive spaces anchored by large swaths of black suggest the influence of Henri Matisse, who was the subject of a large retrospective that Pollack would have seen at MoMA the previous year. The push and pull between abstraction and figuration is a thread that weaves through Pollack’s entire career. As he said in the last year of his life, “I am very representational some of the time and a little al of the time.”

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Yves Tanguy, He Did What He Wanted

He Did What He Wanted
Photo By Gail

He Did What He Wanted (1927) was included in Yves Tanguy’s first solo show at the Galerie Surréaliste, Paris, in 1927. Before the exhibition opened, Tanguy and Surrealist leader André Breton invented titles for the paintings based on a 1922 book called Treaty of Metapsychics by Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner for medicine, which explored mysterious forms of cognition — a subject that resonated with the Surrealist interest in the unconscious and in dream states. The title of this work refers to a phenomenon Richet describes in which hypnotized subjects refuse to obey external commands. In early works, such as this one, Tanguy defined his signature style: a vaguely geological, otherworldly terrain strewn with symbols and enigmatic creatures. His biomorphic forms, rendered with a painterly treatment of surface that approaches abstraction, had a profound impact on postwar painters such as Matta and Arshile Gorky.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Still Life With Cake By Raphaelle Peale

Still Life with Cake
Photo By Gail

Still Life With Cake (1818), a typical still life by Raphaelle Peale (17741825), the son of Charles Willson Peale, may have been the picture exhibited in 1819 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as Still Life—Wine, Cakes, Grapes, &c. A similar picture dating from the same year is in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Peale’s tightly-grouped still lifes are often permeated with a delicate melancholy akin to that which characterized the life of the artist; he was an alcoholic who suffered the effects of arsenic and mercury poisoning caused by his work as a taxidermist in his father’s museum. His spare, essential style may have been influenced by the Spanish still lifes he studied in Mexico and by the works of Juan Sanchez Cotan, exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1818.

Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.