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DEATHS: 1942 WOOD — 1919 GILMAN — 1690 LE BRUN  
BIRTHS: 1621 COURTOIS — 1884 BECKMANN — 1837 MORAN
^ Born on 12 February 1621: Jacques Courtois “le Bourguignon”, French painter who died on 14 November 1676.
— Jacques Courtois and his brother Guillaume (1628-1679) were active in Italy and often known by the Italian forms of the names, Giacomo and Guglielmo Cortese. They came from Burgundy and both had the nickname Il Borgognone or Le Bourguignon. Jacques was a prolific painter of battle scenes, fairly close in style to those of Salvator Rosa, but more colorful. Courtois is an example of a painter who has escaped notice in terms of art history, because of both his isolation from his native Franche Comté (incorporated into France by Louis XIV) and his lack of association with Italian art, even though he spent his whole career in Rome. Courtois evolved the archetypal small battle piece, depicting plenty of violence and the smoke of combat, a format that was to remain standard right up to the end of the eighteenth century, though few of its exponents were French. Authentic works by Courtois frequently appear on the art market, but much of his oeuvre has till to be identified.

LINKS
–- Battle Between Turks and Christians (1660, 60x72cm; 922x1129pix, 188kb _ .ZOOM to 1844x2258pix, 733kb)
–- After the Battle (1660, 60x72cm; 922x1118pix, 45pix _ .ZOOM to 1844x2236pix, 609pix)
The Battle of Mongiovino (138x276cm) _ The painting is one of a series of battle pieces representing the victories of the patron, in this instance against the troops of Pope Urban VIII in 1643. The painting is signed in the center by the Italian name of the artist: Iacomo Cortesi.
La Bataille de Moïse, Josué défait les Amalécites (126x198cm; 445x700pix, 179kb) _ Le sujet est tiré de l'Exode (XVII, 8-16). Moïse se tenait sur la montagne au cours du combat qui opposait les Juifs et la Amalécites. Les Israélites l'emportaient tant qu'il étendrait les bras. Aaron et Hur le soutiendront jusqu'au coucher du soleil.
Josué arrêtant le soleil (126x198cm) _ Le sujet est tiré du Livre de Josué (X, 12-13). Josué demandera à Dieu d'arrêter le soleil et la lune pour remporter une bataille contre les Amoréens. Ce miracle répétera celui de Moïse durant la bataille contre les Amalécites.
Bataille d'Arbelles, 331 av. J.C. (188x328cm; 402x726pix, 78kb poor definition)
Rencontre de Cavaliers (74x96cm; 474x600pix, 85kb poor definition)
—(070211)
^ >Died on 12 February 1942: Grant DeVolson Wood, US Regionalist painter born on 13 February 1892.
— Grant Wood was born in Anamosa, Iowa. He lived most of his life in Iowa, and is known, along with Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, as the third in the Regionalist painters triad. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1912; and at the Academie Julian in Paris around 1920, and upon his return to Iowa began seriously painting. He died in 1942 in Iowa City.
— Grant Wood was one of the major exponents of Midwestern Regionalism, a movement that flourished in the United States during the 1930s. Perceptive insight combined with dry caricature make Wood's figurative paintings outstanding among the works of the US Regionalist school. His landscapes sometimes have an air of the deliberately primitive. The tension he sets up between his scrupulously veristic detail and the psychological impactof an overwhelming sense of "presence" raises his best work above most Regionalist painting to the level of truly memorable art.
      Grant Wood adopted the precise realism of 15th-century northern European artists, but his native Iowa provided the artist with his subject matter. American Gothic depicts a farmer and his spinster daughter posing before their house, whose gabled window and tracery, in the American Gothic style, inspired the painting's title. In fact, the models were the painter's sister and their dentist. Wood was accused of creating in this work a satire on the intolerance and rigidity that the insular nature of rural life can produce; he denied the accusation. American Gothic is an image that epitomizes the Puritan ethic and virtues that he believed dignified the Midwestern character.
—    Born and raised in Iowa, Grant Wood became one of the US's best-known Regionalists, along with Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry. He was trained in various crafts, woodworking, metalworking, and jewelry making, before attending painting and drawing classes at the Art Institute of Chicago (1913–1916). During the 1920s Wood traveled to Europe four times, visiting Paris, Italy, and Germany. The most important lessons he brought back were from Munich, where he was impressed by the contemporary art movement known as the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), which rejected abstraction in favor of an orderly, realistic art. He also admired the primitive Flemish and German painters, particularly the way in which they depicted mythological or biblical stories in contemporary costumes and settings, making them more relevant to the viewer than strict history paintings. Back in Iowa, Wood applied these ideas to his depictions of ordinary life. His work, like that of the other Regionalist painters, rejected the abstract modernist currents of European art in an effort to forge a realistic style that could depict typically American subjects. Wood first came to public attention in 1930, when his painting American Gothic won a medal at the Art Institute of Chicago. Unlike his modernist contemporaries, Wood remained committed to depicting regional life in America and, he hoped, the creation of a national style.
— Grant Wood was born on a farm near Anamosa, Iowa. After his father’s death in 1901, the Wood family moved to Cedar Rapids where Grant attended school and even at an early age revealed his artistic talent. He and his friend, Marvin Cone, made scenery for plays and drawing for their high school yearbook and both were enthusiastic volunteers at the Cedar Rapids Art Association. On the night of his high school graduation in 1910, Grant Wood boarded a train for Minneapolis where he enrolled in art school. He returned home in 1911 and began teaching in a one-room country school. In 1913, he moved to Chicago to attend the Art Institute and worked in a silversmith shop. Later, after serving in the Army as a camouflage painter, Wood once again returned to Cedar Rapids and taught art in the public schools.
      Between 1920 and 1928, the artist made four trips to Europe, the first with Marvin Cone, who remained a close friend throughout his life. While abroad, Grant Wood was exposed to current trends in European painting but concentrated on the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles. In this, he was several decades behind European painters but current with most US artists. Wood’s 1928 trip abroad was to Munich, where he supervised the execution of a large stained glass window he had designed for the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids. While in Munich, he responded with great enthusiasm to the paintings of the northern Renaissance masters, particularly the works of Hans Memling. He was attracted to the glowing colors, smooth surfaces, carefully defined outlines and decorative repetition of shapes and patterns which characterize the works of these artists. Such elements can be found in his mature works such as Woman with Plant and Young Corn.
      In 1932, Grant Wood and others founded the Stone City Art Colony, an art school and artist’s colony near Anamosa, Iowa, His hope was that the artists who participated in the Colony would create artworks expressing the unique character of the Midwest. “A true art expression,” he wrote, “must grow up from the soil itself.” In 1934, the artist was appointed Director of the PWAP (Public Works of Art Projects) in Iowa. A year later, Wood began teaching at the University of Iowa, an affiliation which continued until his death in 1942. During these same years, Wood also taught and lectured throughout the United States, becoming a spokesman for the concept of Regionalism in art. Grant Wood is recognized as one of the US’s outstanding regional painters. His American Gothic is one of the most recognizable images in Western art. He, along with Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, shaped the US’s vision of the Midwestern landscape and the people that inhabit it.

LINKS
— An extensive illustrated commentary: Going Back to Iowa: the World of Grant Wood
Self~Portrait (1932)
–- Dinner for Threshers (1934, 50x202cm; 1158x4742pix, 405kb)
Stone City, Iowa (1930)
Daughters of the Revolution (1932)
Return from Bohemia (1935)
–- The Perfectionist (1936, 64x50cm; 2076x1581pix, 405kb) half-length monochrome yellow woman in a blue dress; admire the crackled paint, unless you are a perfectionist.
–- Moses, the Baltimore News Vendor (1858, 61x38cm; 2258x1389pix, 293kb)
–- Tame Flowers (1939 lithograph with hand coloring, 16x25cm; 731x1102pix, 75kb)
American Gothic (725x597pix, 114kb _ ZOOM to 1438x1183pix, 123kb) _ Regionalism in US painting developed at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929. Exclusively Midwestern in origin, Regionalism portrayed US life as simple and rural, in direct contrast to the urban-based Realist paintings that had dominated the US art scene since the turn of the century. Unlike Realism, Regionalism left no room for social criticism. So went the theory. In reality, this may not have always been so. Since first shown at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930, Grant Wood's American Gothic has been fodder for speculation. In one camp were those who believed the painting was a celebration of "American" values; in the other were those who saw it as a satiric critique of the selfsame thing.
      The pair's dour expressions led many outside the Midwest to believe that Wood, a self-proclaimed Regionalist, was poking fun at rural life. Wood himself denied this in some interviews, but in others hinted that there were indeed some satiric elements present. (He wouldn't say which elements those were.) Wood's subjects spurred much of the debate. Was the pair a farmer husband and wife, or a father and daughter? Many Iowa farmers' wives objected to what they perceived as a negative portrayal, writing letters of complaint to the artist. Wood later revealed that the models were his 30-year-old sister Nan and their 62-year-old family dentist B. H. McKeeby.
      The subjects' motivations, even when considered as father and daughter, are unclear: The man may be a farmer holding a pitchfork, nothing more than a piece of farming equipment. Or he may not be a farmer at all, but a preacher, perhaps, jealously guarding his daughter from male suitors. Critics who interpret the woman as his daughter have often assumed that she was a spinster -- but just what kind of spinster is left to the imagination. Some see the stray curl at the nape of her neck as related to the snake plant in the background, each one symbolizing a sharp-tongued "old maid." Or the curl may be a sign that she is not as repressed as her buttoned-up exterior might indicate.
The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa (1931, 75x101cm) _ The notion that anyone can grow up to become president is one of the United States' most beloved and enduring myths. Herbert Hoover rose from humble beginnings in a small midwestern town to become the 31st president of the United States. The precise linear patterns and close attention to details in this painting are hallmarks of Grant Wood's Regionalist style.
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931) _ A year after American Gothic, Wood painted The Ride of Paul Revere, which makes no attempt at historical accuracy — for example, eighteenth-century houses surely would not have been so brightly lit. The picture has a dreamlike sense of unreality. The bird's-eye view makes the setting look like a New England town in miniature. Note the geometric shapes of the buildings and the landscape (even the treetops are perfectly round); the precisely delineated, virtually unmodulated light emanating from the buildings and raking across the foreground; the distinct, regularized shadows; and the way in which the forms in the darker background are almost as clear and visible as those in the brightly lit foreground. With his clean line and his even, unerring hand, Wood has thrown the scene into high relief, heightening reality so as to make it almost otherworldly, a quality that differentiates him from his fellow Regionalists. His precision evokes the work of eighteenth-century US limners.
Woman with Plant (1929, 52x45cm) _ Encircled by a frame of his own making, this portrait of Grant Wood's mother is one of his first works in the Regionalist style for which he became famous. Unlike earlier works which were either locales far from his roots or locations unspecified altogether, this can only be Iowa. Gone are the visible brushstrokes and the dappled sunlight; they are replaced with an incredibly smooth surface and a new solidness to his trees, hills and figures. Wood paints his mother as a symbol for all pioneer women and tells her story through the use of painstaking details such as her weathered hands, her wedding ring and the hardy plant she holds [this plant looks to me like the plant called “Mother-in-Law's Tongue” for its sharp-pointed leaves. Was Wood aware of that?]. She is so much a part of the land behind her that her eyes are the same color as the sky, her hands are the same color as the corn and her apron is the same color as the rolling hills.
— Young Corn (1931, 60x75cm) _ Painted the same year as American Gothic, this landscape was painted as a memorial to a teacher from Wilson School in Cedar Rapids and is an excellent example of Wood's mature vision of rural Iowa. The high horizon line provides ample room for Wood to explore various textures, giving the viewer a sense of the richness and productivity of the land; the message is that Iowa is a place of peace, prosperity and order. The stylized trees and crop furrows are classic Grant Wood; a detail of this painting was used for the Iowa Sequicentennial Commemorative stamp.
Spring Turning (1936) _ Grant Wood, along with Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, was a major US Regionalist painter. Spring Turning has been widely reproduced and is considered one of Grant Wood's masterpieces, second only in importance to his celebrated American Gothic. Grant Wood studied at the Academie Julian in Paris and made several trips to Europe. He returned to his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he found the source of inspiration for his entire artistic career. Spring Turning evidences that, like artists or seamstresses, farmers make abstract art out of their fields. In Spring Turning farmers guide horse-drawn plows to fashion the earth's surface into a gigantic quilt. The vast distances suggested in this picture are a result of the immense scale of the landscape in relationship to the figurative elements, e.g. the farmer and his horse-drawn plow, the cattle on the hillside. Grant Wood explained, "The rhythms of the low hills, the patterns of crops upon them, the mystery of the seasons, and above all, a feeling for the integrity of the ground itself -- these are my deep rooted heritage."
Arnold Comes of Age (1930, 68x58cm) _ What time of year is it--on the left side of the painting? And on the right side of the painting? There is more here than meets the eye! Arnold Comes of Age conveys quite convincingly the traditions of Flemish and late quattrocento portraiture into a US idiom. It was painted in 1930, the same year he completed American Gothic, the work which, more than any other, established the artist's style and regionalist identity.1 Arnold Comes of Age suggests some of the lessons Wood absorbed in Europe. This work portrait of the artist's young friend Arnold Pyle places the subject in the immediate foreground, centrally before a landscape filled with allegorical detail.. Next to the right elbow of this thin, pensive young man, a moth, symbol of metamorphosis, displays patterned wings. In the landscape beyond Arnold, symbolism underscoring the principle of change continues.
      Beneath a tree in startling pink foliage, are two young bathers. One stands on the bank of a river that flows across the middle ground of the work; the second figure — rather like a trecento painting in which the same character is shown in sequential actions — has already entered the water. To the left of the canvas stands another deciduous tree, so placed that only a few of its leaves are visible. These, however, are not pink but green. Beyond this tree and across the river, two shocks of corn stand in bright sunlight. On the right side of the painting, however, the field shows only neat rows of stubble. In the background are two trees, nearly perfect oval masses of foliage; these, however, are not in fall colors, but in the greens of summer. Thus in planes from foreground to background, and in 'panels' at the right and left of the subject, the bathers and the contrast of seasons underscore the passage of time. As the title accurately reports, this work is not simply a depiction of the artist's friend, but an allegorical portrait of Arnold Pyle's transition from adolescence to adulthood. It is a rendering that is not at all satiric, unlike a number of Wood's paintings, but an empathetic representation of a young man who gazes fixedly not at the viewer but, by implication, at his own future.
—(071228)
^ Born on 12 February 1884: Max Beckmann, German Expressionist painter who died on 27 December 1950.
— Beckmann was born into a farming family, which gave up its farm and moved to Leipzig after his birth. Beckmann drew from a young age, and in 1900 entered the Weimar Academy of Arts. He married Minna Tube in 1903, and the two moved to Paris. Beckmann also visited Florence and Geneva, before settling in Berlin in 1904. His earliest paintings show the influence of the impressionists. His work was popular, and he was able to make a living from his art.
      Beckmann served as a medic in World War I, but was dismissed after he suffered a nervous breakdown. His experiences in the war had a big effect on his art, and were an important factor in pushing his style in a more expressionist direction.
      Beckmann taught art in Frankfurt am Main from 1915, but was dismissed from his post by the Nazi Party in 1933. At the beginning of the 30s, he made visits to Paris to paint, and it was around this time that he began to use the triptych format, influenced in part by Hieronymus Bosch [1450 – 09 Aug 1516].
      His art was included in the notorious traveling exhibition Entartete Kunst of the Nazis, which opened in Munich on 17 July 1937. The next day Beckmann wisely moved to Amsterdam. In 1947, he moved again to the United States, first to Missouri and later to New York City. He died in 1950 of a heart attack while on his way to see an exhibition of his work at the Metropolitan Museum.
      Beckmann painted a number of self-portraits, including Self Portrait in Tuxedo (1927). Many of his other works represent scenes from everyday life. They often show grotesque, mutilated bodies, and are seen as commenting on the wrong-doings of the German government in the 1920s and 1930s as well as harking back to his World War I experiences.
— Beckmann was trained from 1900 to 1903 at the conservative Weimar Academy, where he was influenced by the idealistic classicism of his master, Hans von Marées. In 1904 Beckmann moved to Berlin, where he adopted the lush brushwork of the German Impressionist Lovis Corinth. In 1906 he joined the prestigious Berlin Sezession, and in the same year he met the Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch [12 Dec 1863 – 23 Jan 1944], whose morbid, curvilinear compositions influenced Beckmann to develop an Expressionistic style.
      Beckmann served as a medical corpsman in World War I. The shock of exposure to dead and maimed soldiers changed his art, filling it with the sordid, often horrifying imagery that characterizes his mature work. The distorted figures of The Descent from the Cross (1917) and its pendant, Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (1917), illustrate his new style. Many such paintings depict scenes of lust, cruelty, and pain in settings that have symbolic or allegorical overtones. Angular, harshly delineated figures are tightly grouped in a strangely compressed, flattened space that lends a disquieting tension to the scene. In The Night (1919), a scene of nightmarish sadism, the disquieting colors and violent forms convey Beckmann's pessimism over man's bestiality. The portraits, still lifes, and landscapes that he undertook in the 1920s are more conciliatory in mood.
      In 1933 the Nazis declared Beckmann's art “degenerate” and forced him to resign his professorship at the Städel School of Art in Frankfurt. He returned to Berlin, where he completed Departure (1933), the first of the large-scale allegorical triptychs that constitute his most important works.
      Finding the conditions in Germany intolerable, he fled to Amsterdam in 1937. In 1947 he moved to the United States, where he taught for three years at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Among the most important fruits of his years of exile are such triptychs as The Actors (1942), Carnival (1943), and Blindman's Bluff (1945). Although they retain many of his earlier violent themes, the late triptychs, especially his Argonauts (1950), completed on the day of his death, affirm Beckmann's belief in the ineradicable human spirit. His numerous self-portraits provide a moving record of the artist's spiritual experience.
— Beckmann, often hailed as Germany's greatest 20th-century artist, was one of the founders of what we now call modern art.
     In Beckmann's 1939 painting Woman with Large Shell and Wine Glass, the vibrant colors are applied with quick, edgy brushstrokes. This painting is a beautiful example of the joyous aspects of Beckmann's work that began during his Paris years.
     Max Beckmann is not known for his joyousness. Born in Germany (he died in the US) he is famous for brooding, symbol-laden self-portraiture, for his mastery of the morose. Sometimes mythic and always dramatic, Beckmann may well be the epitome of Expressionism, Germany's great contribution to modern art. It's a style critics came to love; Hitler to hate (and even some Hitler-haters concur with Hitler on this one point). But at the start, he was just a gifted, if romantic, realist.
     He was a very fine academic person; he studied the traditions, especially Rembrandt. He was an excellent draftsman; his anatomy was perfect. He had a perfect understanding of human structure.
      Beckmann's canvases grew with his ambition. The Titanic, painted in 1912, is as busy as turbulent, as theatrically tragic as the scene it depicts. But it was World War I that forged Beckmann's famed Expressionism. A medic on the front, the artist faced such brutality that he simply broke down. His post war work is radical, dark, and, above all, personally expressive, as in 1917's Christ Saving an Adulteress From Stoning, a Christ who looks a lot like Max Beckmann.
     Beckmann was one of the great stars in Germany, one of the hottest painters of the time. For what did he need to go to Paris? He wanted to be a cosmopolitan, a painter recognized on the European level such as Picasso, Matisse, and Braque were recognized internationally. In 1929, Beckmann moved to Paris, to exhibit there and get the French art world to take a German as seriously as it did its own.
     In Beckmann's Resting Woman with Carnations, a serene, sensuous figure is set against an intricate, decorative pattern of stylized stripes, tiles, and latticework. This may be compared to Henri Matisse's exotic Odalisque With Green Scarf (or Harem Woman), which was painted in 1926. The model in Beckmann's Resting Woman with Carnations also takes an alluring seated pose. Beckmann's model is his second wife, Quappi. He painted Quappi flamboyantly, dozens of times, in various stages of dress and undress. Part of his new Paris persona: Macho artist with sexy wife.
      Beckmann didn't just challenge Matisse, however, but Picasso as well. An example of Picasso's classical style of the 1920's is a portrait called The Reader. Beckmann's response is a woman reading.
      The German took up specifically French themes as well: The French seaside is serene to Matisse; to Beckmann, it's an occasion for a bizarre bathing scene.
      Rugby teams to France's Robert Delaunay are all color. By contrast, Max Beckmann's tangled web of soccer players by contrast bristles with dark feeling.
      Even Beckmann's still-lifes are emotional. Consider a marine comparison: Picasso's catch of the day, almost funny; Braque's flat, formal, elegant. Beckmann's creatures, however, convey menace and a sense of drama in the composition through these enormous teeth that the fish show, giving it a harshness and a forcefulness that goes away from a purely esthetic rendering of objects or shapes.
      Ultimately, Beckmann was rejected by France, and not long after, the king of German painting was spurned by his own country as well. A surviving photo shows how mildly this painting had begun in 1933: Beckmann, the proud sovereign; Quappi, his young queen. But in 1937, the Nazis had turned on him, confiscating hundreds of his paintings and taunting several in their infamous degenerate art show. Beckmann reworked this painting in 1937 when he was declared degenerate and made it more brooding and less of a self-portrait than almost like a dark and dramatic painting that almost forebodes the terrible things that are going to come.
     Beckmann fled to Holland in 1937, safe in part because his son was a surgeon in the Luftwaffe. There, he painted The Acrobats (1939 triptych: center 199x170cm, sides, 199x90cm each). He sees dark things, ugly things. The paintings take on a gloomy look. There's a Roman soldier with a spear that's a thinly disguised Nazi. There's a bellhop coming in. The bellhop in Beckmann's paintings is always a messenger bringing news of various kinds, usually bad. And the acrobats refers to people who make their living by creativity, who are onstage, disguising themselves, taking different roles, like Beckmann himself, who sometimes played the acrobat.
      It was after the war that, fed up with Europe, Beckmann was offered a teaching job in the US, at Washington University in St. Louis. There, art student Wally Barker became his assistant. St. Louis was in a sense Beckmann's Paris, but here, he ruled the roost at last. In 1950, receiving an honorary degree from Washington University, he summed up: "Greatness," he said in his speech, "depends alone on the fertile imagination of the individual. If you love nature with all your heart, new and unimaginable things in art will occur to you." New and unimaginable things: It might as well be the motto of modern art. And if Max Beckmann hasn't attained the stature of his French rivals, well, maybe it's because they're more important, or maybe because his nervy, odd imagery is just a bit harder to appreciate.

LINKS
Selbstbildnis als Krankenpfleger (1915, 55x38cm) _ Beckmann served in the medical services in eastern Prussia, then in Flanders and at Strasbourg. He was a witness to the first mustard gas attacks around Ypres. At Courtrai, he was present at operations that surgeons attempted on the wounded and made detailed drawings of them. His self portrait is built around three elements: the eye that scrutinizes, the hand that draws, and the red cross. There is hardly any color. A few months later, Beckmann was sent home to Germany after suffering a serious mental breakdown. He sought refuge in Frankfurt where he slowly took up painting again.
Self Portrait in Olive and Brown (1945, 62x50cm)
Self Portrait in Bowler Hat (1921 etching, 32x24cm; full size, 1262kb) _ Here Beckmann depicts himself as a dandy with a bowler hat, stiff collar, and cigarette. The profile of a cat sitting on a table behind him to the left and an ashtray and kerosene lamp to his right fill out the tight composition. Beckmann created about eighty self-portraits over a career that spanned virtually half a century. He used his own image and persona to delve into the complexities of the human soul, showing the variety of selves that make up an individual. In Self-Portrait in Bowler Hat Beckmann shows that he is every bit the modern man, confident in his powers of observation and cool, critical detachment.
Self-Portrait (1919 drypoint, 23x19cm; full size, 538kb)
Self-Portrait in Tuxedo (1927; 1104x749pix, 88kb)
Self-Portrait with Horn (666x609pix, 53kb _ ZOOM to 1000x912pix, 85kb)
Self-portrait with red scarf (1917; 636x487pix, 60kb)
Self-Portrait (1911 lithograph, 25x18cm; 878x706pix, 437kb)
The “Circus Beckmann” Crier (Self-Portrait) (1921 etching, 34x26cm; 408x307pix, 28kb)
Christ with a Woman Taken in Adultery (1917, 669x560kb, 158kb) _ Beckmann came out of a war very badly hurt, physically and mentally. In this picture you see this guy with blood all over his hands, the guy who's so superior to the adulteress. What Beckmann is actually saying here is a plea for mercy, protecting someone. Beckmann the painter used various modern devices, seeing his subjects from multiple points of view, for instance. You can look down on the feet of Christ. And about halfway up the picture you're looking straight across at him. And at the top of the picture, you're looking up, like we're seeing the underside of the guy's face. Different perspectives on one scene — it's what French Cubism was known for: Picasso's double faces, seen at once head-on and in profile; Braque's still-lifes, seen both straight ahead — the legs that hold up the table — and from above — the newspaper and the tabletop itself. Playing with perspective intrigued Beckmann, but he was more interested in emotions, in energy.
The Skaters (1932, 128x98cm; 1159x883pix _ ZOOM to 2318x1766pix, 3202kb)
Blind Man's Buff (1945, 206x439cm for 3 panels: 187x102cm left, 207x104cm center, 188x106cm right; 1/12 size _ ZOOM to 1/6 size, 3019kb) This is the most important of the five triptychs created by Max Beckmann while exiled in Holland between 1937 and 1947, a prudent exile considering the Nazi's inclusion of ten of his works in their exhibition of "degenerate art" in 1937. Like much of his art, Blindman's Buff is allusive and symbolic, inviting explication yet resisting explicit interpretation. Yet, the artist's use of the three-paneled format that was traditional to Medieval and Renaissance altarpieces evokes religious associations. Beckmann also drew upon classical sources, calling the figures at center "the gods" and the animal-headed man the "minotaur." Throughout the triptych, figures engage in sensual pleasures in a place where time, represented by a clock without XII or I, has no beginning or end. In sharp contrast on each wing are the blindfolded man and kneeling woman who, like prayerful donors in a Renaissance altarpiece, turn their backs to the confusion behind them.
Family Picture (1920; 650x1000pix, 183kb)
Dancing Bar in Baden Baden (1923; 1000x627pix, 117kb)
— Umberto (1500x638pix, 191kb)
— Afternoon (1946, 90x134cm; 750x1122kb, 168kb)
— The Argonauts (1950 triptych, center panel 80 1/4x48"; side panels each 74 3/8x33", 589x867pix, 101kb) _ The nine triptychs that Beckman created are an incredibly rich and varied repository of pictorial ideas and visions. Their form is a revival of the medieval altarpiece, a shrine whose wings were closed except on holidays when its gospel lore and legends of saints and martyrs were revealed. This historical connotation explains why the wings of Beckmann's triptychs, although they do not close, are usually much narrower than the center panel (see Departure and Temptation).
      The Argonauts is the most serene of Beckmann's post-Christian altarpieces. The earlier triptychs show many tortured, shackled, and maimed people, as well as some who are deceived, sadistic, and simply foolish. The figures in The Argonauts are healthy, self-reliant, and enterprising. The elements of lust and baseness were required in the earlier works to set off the spheres of the persecuted hero and the confused dreamer; now, in the last work, the hero as a dreamer, or the dreamer as a hero, has conquered the nightmarish aspects of life. Thus, in retrospect, The Argonauts triptych appears as the logical conclusion of Beckmann's lifelong "passing show."
      Beckmann initially called this work The Artists. The bearded, intense, contemporary artist in the left panel, not a self-portrait, was the first figure that Beckmann envisioned. Perhaps he saw this painter as the prime mover of the entire phantasmagoria, in whose mind a modern model is transmuted into the classical figure of Medea. The artist knows that the head on which the woman sits is only a hollow mask, not really a decapitated Greek, and that the sword is but a studio prop. The girl musicians in the right panel are already half-transformed into an antique chorus. In the center panel, the fantasy is victorious; there is no trace of present-day metier left, no smell of studio dust and oil paint, only the clear, salty breeze of antiquity. Art has conquered the prosaic everyday.
      The center panel illustrates, quite faithfully, an episode from Greek mythology. Beckmann had read Goethe's translation of an account by Philostratus from the third century BC concerning the Argonauts' voyage to the Black Sea. The young heroes Orpheus and Jason are shown embarking on their search for the Golden Fleece. Orpheus, by his song, has calmed the wild sea and has put down his lyre on the sand. The ancient sea-god Glaucus emerges from the waves to prophesy the fate of the bold travelers; their magic ship, the Argo, will carry them safely to the mist-darkened kingdom of Colchis where they will "liberate" not only the Golden Fleece but also the king's daughter, Medea. This tale is a reflection of the historical first expeditions of the seafaring Greeks to barbarian lands.
      Beckmann, to heighten the portent of the sea-god's prophecy, shows sun and moon darkened by a miraculous eclipse and new planets being born. The cosmic menace does not distract the keen youths from their purpose, and the ancient prophet points the way to their heroic, and finally tragic, pursuit. Accept your fate, he seems to admonish them, fulfill your task.
      This triptych recalls some of Beckmann's very early pictographs: the darkened sun had already appeared in The Descent from the Cross of 1917. The ladder, one of Beckmann's favorite symbols, led nowhere in the early Dream and thus made cruel fun of a poor mortal searching for an exit from his misery; in The Argonauts the ladder rises out of the primeval ocean straight up into blue eternity: there is a way out, it proclaims.
      But the most touching reminiscence is the reprise of the "golden youths" from Beckmann's first large-scale oil painting, Young Men by the Sea of 1905. This composition owes much to the art student's admiration for Luca Signorelli and Hans von Marées. The maturing Beckmann often came back to the gestalt of the slender, dreamy youths with their unselfconscious charm. The center panel of his last work presents them again: thoughtful, willing to risk much for a great purpose, manly, and radiant with the bloom of youth. Forty-five years of relentless artistic effort resulted in this seemingly spontaneous personification of the élan vital.
      Through much of Beckmann's career, critics objected to two supposed characteristics of his art: brutality and sex. Beckmann never quite knew why they singled him out, for sex and violence seem to pervade the huge battle scenes and the depictions of rape and martyrdom in so many museums of the world. Beckmann used to say, somewhat naively: "Really, I only wanted to paint beautiful pictures." In The Argonauts this intention is undeniably fulfilled. There is no violence here, and sex, too, has disappeared. The center panel is restricted to male figures, the right to females exclusively. This separation of the sexes, very rare in Beckmann's work, gives an atmosphere of otherworldliness to The Argonauts. Eros and aggression, which are the heritage of the human psyche, are sublimated into a spiritual adventure. A glowing love of beauty and harmony prevails in the end.
Departure (1933; 756x1130pix, 207kb) with commentary.
Temptation (709x1202pix, 200kb)
The Sinking of the Titanic (1912, 265x330cm; 514x641pix, 84kb _ ZOOM to 729x978pix, 122kb)
The Night (1919, 133x154cm; 554x646pix, 97kb _ ZOOM to 832x969pix, 111kb)
Hell of the Birds (1938, 120x160cm; 486x652pix, 84kb _ ZOOM to 771x961pix, 97kb)
— 27 etchings at FAMSF
26 Jun - 29 Sep 2003 MOMA exhibition (PDF)
 

Died on a 12 February:

2007 Juan Giralt Lerín [1940–], Madrid Spanish painter. —(100210)

1994 Donald Judd, US minimalist sculptor born on 03 June 1928. — LINKS — 060629)

1960 Jean-Michel Atlan, French painter, lithographer, and writer, born on 23 January 1913. The Jewish intellectual milieu in which he grew up led to his interest in philosophy and religion, and from 1930 to 1934 he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. While in Paris, however, he was confronted with modern painting for the first time, and his interest in poetry was awakened. Recognizing a means of expressing his interest in magical phenomena, in 1941 he began to paint and write poetry. His activity in the Résistance and his Jewish ancestry led to his arrest in 1942; by pleading insanity he was able to save himself but was confined to the Sainte Anne asylum, where he wrote poetry and painted. In the autumn of 1944, shortly after leaving the asylum, his first and only collection of poems, Le Sang profond, was published, and he exhibited drawings at the Galerie Arc en Ciel.

^ 1897 Homer Dodge Martin, US painter born (main coverage) on 28 October 1836. —(060211)

>1880 Ricardo Balaca y Orejas Canseco [31 Dec 1844–], Portuguese war painter. Su padre José Balaca [1810–1869] y su hermano Eduardo [1840-1914] fueron también pintores. Inició su formación en el taller familiar en Lisboa, y cursó sus estudios oficiales en la Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado, dependiente de la Academia de San Fernando. Especializado en el retrato y los cuadros de batallas, fue precoz participante en las Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes, concurriendo por vez primera en la de 1858, concediéndole entonces el jurado una mención honorífica de 2ª clase; igual distinción a la que conseguiría en 1860. También en las ediciones sucesivas de 1862 y 1864 mereció sendas menciones por sus cuadros titulados Batalla de Almansa y Episodio de la batalla de Bailén. Casado con Teresa Vergara Domínguez, cuyo retrato pintó, y de la que tuvo tres hijos, en 1876 fue comisionado por el Ministerio de la Guerra para viajar al Norte de España y reflejar en diversas pinturas escenas de la guerra civil. Realizó una enorme cantidad de dibujos con temas militares y escenas urbanas para publicaciones de la época, así como ilustraciones para una edición de Don Quijote.
Marqués del Valle de Tojo, Saturnino Giménez Enrich, y Joseph Luis Pellecier (1877; 4022x2805pix, 3082kb) drawing by Balaca engraved by Eugenio Vela._ El Marqués del Valle de Tojo, Don Vicente del Sol, era delegado de la Cruz Roja belga en la Guerra de Oriente (1875-1878). Junto a él, de pié, Saturnino Giménez Enrich, corresponsal de La Academia; y, sentado, Joseph Luis Pellecier, corresponsal de La Ilustración Española y Americana.
Battle of Almansa (1867; 699x987pix, 166kb). _ A la batalla d'Almansa (25 d'abril del 1707), les tropes filipistes van vèncer les de l'Arxiduc guerra: cremaren i destruïren Xàtiva, a la qual canviaren el nom pel de San Felipe, i convertiren els seus habitants en socarrats (apel·latiu popular que vol dir 'cremats').
Reception of Columbus, on his Return From his First Voyage, by Their Catholic Majesties, in Barcelona _ There is a US postage stamp based on this painting: the 15¢ commemorative Columbus Announcing His Discovery issued in 1893 on the occasion of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. —(100211)

1715 Jean-Baptiste Belin (or Blin, Blain) de Fontenay, French painter baptized as an infant on 09 November 1653. The son of Louis Blin, who may have specialized in flower painting, he is recorded from 1672 as being trained in the Paris studio of Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, whose daughter he later married. As a Protestant he was affected by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and he made a prudent public recantation of his faith before being presented at the Académie Royale in 1685. His morceau de réception, the Buste de Louis XIV, is a supremely confident painting. Over 1.8 m high, it shows the bust set on a plinth between two columns, overlooking a vase cascading with flowers, with fruit and armor heaped together below; it brings a new spatial coherence to the genre of the ‘table-top’ still-life as represented by the work of Jacques Linard, Sébastien Stoskopff, and Lubin Baugin.
face?

Born on a 12 February:


^ 1934 Mario Toral, Chilean painter. Desde sus primeras obras, el insistió en representar el cuerpo humano de diferentes formas: el desnudo transmutado, desintegrado o diáfano, con el objeto de hablar de sus propias experiencias y emociones. Otro elemento que se reitera a menudo en sus creaciones es la envoltura, la ensoñación y el misterio que de algún modo tiene que ver con la incógnita existencial del artista, la falta de certezas, las incertidumbres, las interrogantes inexplicables de la vida.
–- Gran Rostro (1985, 74x104cm; 481x799pix, 17kb) _ Very pale, almost monochrome and almost symmetrical face cropped to just eyes and nose, with, under each eye in the place of a tear, a tiny head profile beaming light outwards.
Torre de Babel II (1968, 120x221cm; 298x568pix, 42kb)
Cube and Face (1973, 152x152cm; 300x302pix, 46kb) so dark and devoid of detail that very little is seen. The face must be the tiny whitish smudge in the corner of the cube; in this image it is so small as not to be recognizable. Here it is in the size on the image and a 10x enlargement >>>
     _ This has prompted the pseudonymous Oral Marriott to introduce, besides the above mentioned detail further magnified, some plainly visible cubes and faces into the otherwise strictly abstract compositions
      _ Don't Make Faces at my 9x9x9-meter Cube House aka Buck Cube (2006; screen filling, 116kb _ ZOOM to 1864x2636pix, 613kb) and
      _ Who Wrote the Rubric to Put Cubes in my Face? aka Face Café (2006; screen filling, 120kb _ ZOOM to 1864x2636pix, 603kb)
— (Allegory?) (416x464pix, 54kb) —(060413)

>1915 Evaristo Acevedo Guerra [buried 04 Feb 1997], Spanish writer, humorist, painter. —(090426)

1905 Édouard Pignon, French painter, designer, and illustrator, who died in 1993. Born in Bully-les-Mines, near Lens, he was the son of a miner. He moved to Paris in 1927 where he worked in the Renault and Citroën car factories and attended evening classes in painting and sculpture. In 1931 he joined the Association des Artistes et Écrivains Révolutionnaires through which he met left-wing intellectuals such as Louis Aragon and André Malraux, and painters including Fernand Léger, Jean Hélion and Francis Gruber. From 1933 he painted series of Meetings and in 1936 the first version of the Dead Worker and Homage to the Asturian Miners. In 1936 he met Picasso and was impressed by Guernica in the Spanish Pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1937).

1902 Mario Mafai, Roman painter who died (main coverage) on 31 March 1965. —(080324)

1891 Marcel François Leprin, French artist who died in 1933.

1884 Maria Vassilieff (or Wassielieff), Russian French artist who died in 1957.

1882 Walter Vaes, Belgian artist who died on 03 April 1958.

1856 Maurycy Moses Gottlieb, Roman painter who died (main coverage) on 17 July 1879. —(090903)

1837 Thomas Moran, US painter who died (full coverage) on 25 August 1926.

1826 Paul Seignac, French artist who died in 1904.

.^ 1813 (08 Feb?) Carlos Morel, Argentine painter and lithographer who died on 10 September 1894. He studied drawing under Josef Guth at the University of Buenos Aires from 1827 to 1830. He was the first noteworthy Argentine artist, and the first to complete his training within the country. He began as a miniaturist, painting portraits in collaboration with another Argentine painter, Fernando García del Molino [1813–1899], including a portrait of the married couple Juan Manuel de Rosas and Encarnación Ezcurra (1836) and one of Encarnación Ezcurra (1839). In 1841 he published eight lithographs depicting regional customs and manners as part of a large series printed by the firm Ibarra. In 1842 he went to Rio de Janeiro; on his return in 1844 his album Usos y costumbres del Río de la Plata, including prints such as Washerwomen and Army Parade, was published by the Litografía de las Artes, the lithographic workshop of Luis Aldao in Buenos Aires. The prints were later widely reproduced in publications about Argentina during that period. Among Morel’s oil paintings, Cavalry Battle during the Regime of Rosas and Charge of the Cavalry Division of the Federal Army, together with the watercolor Gaucho Cavalry (all 1839–1840), testify to his ability as both a history painter and a painter of local customs; his genuine sympathy for such themes is expressed by his lively brushwork and dynamic compositions. The cruel persecution of Morel’s family by Juan Manuel de Rosas [30 Mar 1793 – 14 Mar 1877], dictator-governor of Buenos Aires from March 1835 to 03 February 1852, probably contributed to the artist’s mental instability, leading to his almost total seclusion during the last 50 years of his life. This factor, together with the disappearance of much of his work, led to his later neglect, although his reputation has since been rehabilitated. — Nació en Buenos Aires, el 08 Feb 1813, de la unión de don José María Morel y Pérez y de doña Juliana Miró. Hizo el estudio de las primeras letras en la ciudad natal, y luego cursó la enseñanza del dibujo en la Universidad de Buenos Aires desde el año 1827 a 1830, según consta en los libros de exámenes de aquella institución. El primer año, fue discípulo del pintor sueco José Guth, y les siguientes del italiano don Pablo Caccianiga. En el último año, obtuvo la clasificación de sobresaliente, dejando definitivamente la Universidad a fines de 1830, a los 17 años de edad. Para esa época, su nombre era considerado entre la gente culta como una promesa en el arte de la pintura, siendo elogiado por Marcos Sastre en su "Salón Literario". Sus óleos, acuarelas y litografías lo destacaron en ese sentido. Su paleta ejecutó escenas rosistas; pintó el Combate de la Caballería en la época de Rosas, y la Carga de la Caballería del ejército federal. Solamente tienen valor las obras realizadas por Morel hasta el 1845. Entre ellas se destacan, el Mercado de carretas en la Plaza Monserrat, cuadro en el que figuran una treintena de personajes, uno de los mejores compuestos de la primitiva pintura argentina. Se le atribuye la tela Payada en una pulpería, Caballería Gaucha y La Carreta; la acuarela titulada Montonero, nos da como los otros una idea de lo que debieron ser aquellas terribles luchas y la composición de esos ejércitos. Pintó también La Calle Larga de Barracas, tela de asuntos religiosos, y retratos de los que sólo se conocen las miniaturas de su cuñado José María Dupuy, del general José Félix Aldao y su esposa, la de Vicente Corvalán, la del general Juan Manuel de Rosas y doña Encarnación Ezcurra, ejecutadas conjuntamente, estas últimas, con su amigo Fernando García del Molino, en 1836. Realizó en 1839, dos retratos al óleo, que señalan su culminación en el género: los de Patricio Peralta Ramos y el de Macedonia Escardó. En 1840, hizo el de Florencio Escardó. Morel fue uno de los mejores litógrafos de la época. En sus láminas campea un notable sentido de la composición. Su primera estampa data de 1836: El descendimiento, y luego litografió la Catedral de Buenos Aires, dibujada por Pellegrini. Igualmente por la "Litografía de las Artes", publicó una pieza Caballo espantado, siendo de la misma época El ombú y coraceros. En 1839, para la "Litografía Argentina", de Gregorio Ibarra diseñó Morel ocho láminas, de las cuales las más hermosas y evocativas son Una hora antes de partir y La media caña, que fue descripta admirablemente por Hilario Ascasubi en sus versos. Entre los retratos litografiados por More1 sobresalen tres de Rosas; uno del doctor Felipe Arana, dibujado con gran soltura y firmeza de trazo, como también los de los doctores Vicente López, Manuel Insiarte, José María Gómez de Fronseca y Monseñor Mariano Medrano. En 1845, apareció el último y a la vez mejor trabajo que realizara: el álbum Usos y costumbres del Río de la Plata.
     Poco afecto a la política resista, nuestro biografiado embarcó rumbo a Río de Janeiro, a principio de 1842, regresando al país dos aires después, en que compuso los retratos señalados y su álbum. A partir de esa fecha, sólo ejecutó obras de mérito relativo, copias en su mayor parte, carentes de la fuerza expresiva de otras épocas. Así lo demuestra la tela: Combate de los bajíos de Arregui, que se conserva en el Museo Histórico Nacional, fechada en 1848. Pasó el resto de su vida pintando telas de asuntos religiosos que luego destruía, experimentando manifestaciones de declinación mental, que no le habrían impedido proseguir, al menos por un tiempo, su labor regular. Murió en Quilmes (Prov. de Bs. As.), el 10 de septiembre de 1894, a los 81 años. Fernando García del Molino, de quien fue íntimo amigo y hasta asociado, pintó al óleo un retrato de Carlos Morel, representándolo de recia contextura, tez de un moreno mate sonrosado y ojos y cabellera negrísimos.
Descanso en el camino (603x973pix, 101kb)
Caballería gaucha (blurry 599x1026pix, 78kb)
Carga de Caballería del Ejército Federal (44x54cm; too dark 510x626pix, 15kb)
–- Florencio Escardó (1840; 615x510pix, 16kb)
Macedonia Escardó (358x300pix, 60kb gif)

1802 François Diday, Swiss painter and engraver who had on 28 November 1877 his personal D-Day (death day). — {It was not in his honor that 06 June 1944 was called D-day.} — He was trained at the École de Dessin des Beaux-Arts in Geneva, then spent 18 months in Italy before studying with Antoine-Jean Gros in Paris in 1830. Neither France nor Italy made a great impression on him: from his first trip to the Bernese Oberland in 1827 he was certain that he wished to paint Swiss landscapes. His mountain and lake scenes of Geneva, Interlaken, and Brienz quickly established his reputation in Geneva as well as abroad. Diday was admired for his breadth of vision and the storm-laden atmosphere of his painting, which was coupled with great topographical accuracy, as in The Oak and the Reed (1843). He won official recognition in 1840, when his painting Evening in the Valley (1848, since destroyed) was bought by Louis-Philippe; two years later Bathers earned him the Légion d’honneur.

1792 Ferdinand de Braekeleer, Belgian artist who died on 16 May 1883. — Relative? of Henri De Braekeleer [1840-1888]?

1741 (infant baptism) Nicolaas-Frederik Knip, Dutch painter who was buried on 23 Mar 1809. He began his career in 1772 as a wallpaper painter in Tilburg and from 1786 was active in ’s Hertogenbosch. His work has an artisan character. He also painted signboards. He worked with other artists such as Quirinus van Amelsfoort [1762–1820], to whose landscapes he sometimes added staffage. Later he concentrated on flower and fruit still-lifes, which were of variable quality. He lost his sight in 1795. His children included Josephus Augustus Knip [03 Aug 1777 – 01 Oct 1847], whose landscape drawings are distinguished examples of Dutch Neo-classicism, and Henriëtta Geertruij Knip [19 Jul 1783 – 29 May 1842] and Mattheus Derk Knip [30 Dec 1785 – 24 Apr 1845], who produced flower and landscape gouaches, respectively, in the style prevalent in the Netherlands in the 19th century. The third generation consisted of prolific landscape and animal painters, including Hendrikus Johannes Mattheuszoon Knip [20 Aug 1819 – >1897], Augustus Josephuszoon Knip [11 Feb 1819 – 1860] and his sister Henriëtte Ronner-Knip [31 May 1821 – 02 Mar 1909]. The works of the Knip family raise major problems of attribution; there is such a close stylistic interrelationship that some form of collaboration must be assumed.


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