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.
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.
Bertold Loffler’s most important painting, Youth Playing the Pipes of Pan (1912), reveals his passion for classicism, from the garlanded youth and draped female attendants to the vase at their feet, depicting Pan, the Greek god of untamed nature, playing a double flute. The flat, stylized composition and the bold patterns on the women’s cloaks reflect Loffler’s work as a designer for the cutting-edge Austrian artists’ association the Wiener Werkstätte. Eduard Ast, a major patron of the group, acquired the canvas and hung it in the dining room of his newly-built villa in Vienna, across the hall from Gustav Klimt’s painting of the mythological heroine Danaë(1907 – 08), which is in a private collection.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
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.
On his second stay in New York, Jose Clemente Orozco (1883 – 1959) made many works reflecting the city’s urban expansion and social dimension. The Subway (1928) presents several commuters on New York’s emblematic public transportation system, which first opened in 1904. The shadowy, stone-faced passengers impart a sense of melancholy to the scene, contrasting with the shiny train poles. A highly regarded artist in Mexico, Orozco struggled to find recognition in New York despite showing at several local galleries and completing a five-panel mural cycle at the New School in 1931.
Cubist Landscape (1912) was inspired by a trip that Diego Rivera made to Spain on 1911, where he encountered the olive trees of Catalonia. The serrated blue ridge in the painting evokes Montserrat, a mountain in the region. The work exemplifies the idiosyncratic approach to Cubism that Rivera developed in the 1910s, when he lived in Paris. He saw these early works, which combine a sun-drenched palette with kaleidoscopic planes and abstract patterning, as a way of beginning to forge a specifically Mexican modernism. “My Cubist paintings,” he said, “are my most Mexican.”
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.