Monday, December 31, 2012

Lea


Lea Colie Wight  "Self Portrait"  2008
Lea Colie Wight is a Philadelphia based painter specializing in figurative work and still-life. She studied at the Minneapolis  College of Art and Design and Studio Incamminati, studying with the artist Nelson Shanks. She is now an instructor at Studio Incamminati.  The piece above was featured on the cover of American Artist Magazine (November 2009.)

Lea Colie Wight  "Self-Portrait"  2012

Wight maintains studios in New Jersey and in Philadelphia, PA. She is represented by Haynes Galleries, New Masters Gallery and Main Street Gallery. The artist's website can be seen here

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nayanaa

Nayanaa Kanodia  "The Magic of Moscow"
Nayanaa Kanodia is an Indian artist who works in the tradition of l'art naif. She was in fact, essentially self-taught, as her original university training was in the field of economics. A short apprenticeship with the artist Anjolie Ela Menon convinced Kanodia she was on the right track, and she has not looked back. Her work has been exhibited widely in India and abroad and is in many collections including that of the Musee International d'Art Naif in Paris. 

"The Magic of Moscow" was painted after a tour of Russia, where the artist was delighted by the fairy-tale architecture and flattered by the interest shown in her clothing (saris.) "At home, the sari is everyday attire" she explains, "but the people of Moscow found it as unusual and fascinating as I did their architecture."


Nayanaa Kanodia  "The Artist Couple"
"The Artist Couple" does not portray any particular people Kanodia knows, but is more a playful exploration of what it might be like to be part of such a creative team. (She includes herself as the portrait model.) Kanodia describes her work overall as a reflection of the changing face of the Indian nation. The artist's website can be found here.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Anchers

Anna or Michael Ancher  "Assessing the Day's Work" 1883
This painting is sometimes attributed to Michael Ancher (1849 – 1927) and other times to Anna Ancher (1859 – 1935.) Whoever actually painted the scene, it depicts the two artists at the end of the work day discussing their day's work. The artists met on the Danish Island of Skagen, a fishing community and rustic resort, which became well-known as an an artist's colony. Anna Ancher's parents owned the hotel on the island, making her the one native member of the group known as the Skagen Painters. Michael and Anna married in 1880. At that time there was a great deal of societal pressure for married women to devote themselves entirely to domestic life, but despite this pressure Anna Ancher continued painting after marriage. She was completely and unreservedly supported in this by her husband, even after the birth of their one child. 


Michael Ancher "Anna Ancher teaching her Daughter to Draw" 1888

In fact, Michael Ancher seemed to be very proud of his talented wife, and drew and painted her frequently throughout their courtship and marriage. In this painting he shows her teaching their daughter Helga to draw, using a small wooden gnome as a model. Helga Ancher (1883-1964)  grew up to become an artist, like her parents.


Michael Ancher "Helga Painting Daffodils" 1896
Michael Ancher "Anna Ancher Painting in the Studio"
I was unable to find a date for this last painting, but the brightness of the palette, the high key of the colors, makes me wonder it might be a somewhat later work. Michael Ancher studied at the Royal Danish Academy of the Fine Arts, and he had a harder time than many of the other painters of the Skagen school in breaking away from the traditional "brown gravy" academic mode in painting. This may be one reason he so respected the work of his wife Anna who quickly developed her own artistic voice and was considered a pioneer in the observation of light and color. Anna Ancher grew up observing the many artists who came to the island of Skagen and later studied in Copenhagen at the Vilhelm Khyn School of Painting and also in Paris with Puvis de Chavannes. 

The Skagen residence of Michael and Anna Ancher is now a museum, run by the Helga Ancher Foundation. The husband and wife artist team are currently featured on the DKK1000 (the Danish 1,000 kroner bill.) They are both wearing their painting hats.




Friday, December 28, 2012

Taking Some Flack

Audrey Flack "Self-portrait Holding Charcoal Stick" 1956 Miami University Art Museum

Audrey Flack (b. 1931) was an early pioneer of photorealism, and was the first photorealist to have work purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, in 1966. She was also one of the first and few women to make it into an early revision of Janson's History of Art, after an awareness spread that this venerable backbone of art historical education contained not a single reference to any woman artist past or present. "Mary Cassatt and I, we got in together!" Flack has said of that notable achievement.

Flack studied studio art and art history at the Cooper Union, Yale University and New York University. She has received honorary doctorates from the Cooper Union and from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Flack's work encompasses many mediums including painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture. She is also a well-regarded writer with many works to her name. (In fact, her book Art & Soul was a big influence on me when I was in art school.)

Audrey Flack  "Self-Portrait with Dark Face"  1960  Miami University Art Museum
Flack is currently known for her sculptures, but these two early works combine expressionistic painting and realistic drawing, a stage before the artist dove into photorealism. They show the importance of self-reflection or perhaps more accurately, self-announcement.  This had to be crucial for an artist attempting to create a place for herself in a time (the 1950s) so inhospitable to the female of the art species that women artists were excluded from the basic art history discussion.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Self Portrait With Headphones

Kristy Gordon  "Self-Portrait with Headphones"  2006

Canadian artist Kristy Gordon attended the Ontario College of Art and Design but is currently living in New York City where she is studying in the master's degree program at the New York Academy of Art. She has received numerous honors and is the recipient of an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant. Independent curator Rachel Marsden has said of the artist's recent work, "Kristy Gordon embraces self-reflection through intimate portraiture. Situations and identities are frozen through her honest realist yet dream-like surrealist works. A sense of fragility runs through the brush marks, stating a true emotional connectivity with the subject and almost a sense of fear through the process of self-discovery."

Gordon writes a lively blog documenting her creative process which can be seen here: http://kristygordon.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 24, 2012

Very Probably...

Jeanne-Philiberte Ledoux  "Lady Artist in her Atelier" (Very Probably a Self-Portrait)  location unknown
Jeanne-Philiberte Ledoux (1767-1840) was born in Paris. She was the daughter of architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux, and became a pupil of painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze with whom she studied both pastel and oil painting. Some of her works were mistakenly attributed to Greuze in the past, although it seems that art historians have become more aware of her work and some mis-attributions have recently been corrected.

Ledoux was contemporaneous with Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun, but far less is known about her. She apparently worked in both pastels and oils, and was noted mainly for her portraits of girls and women, and occasionally young boys. She participated intermittently in the Paris Salons, between 1793 and 1819 exhibiting in ten of these events. Her work is in several museum collections, including the Bowes Museum in England, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

 A charming painting of Ledoux as a child with her father, painted by Greuze, can be seen here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

With Children in the Mirror

Zinaida Serabriakova  "Self-Portrait with Children in the Mirror"  1917 Private Collection
For some reason I can't stop thinking about the Russian artist Zinaida Serebriakova (1884-1967) lately, and some kind soul sent me this painting which I had never seen before. So, something about Serabriaova's tender attachment to her children is in the air right now.

Serabriakova came from an illustrious art family but suffered much upheaval in her life, including the early loss of her husband, banishment to another country and concomitant separation from her beloved children. I am amazed nobody has turned this woman's life into a movie yet.. she was really something and lived through a lot of world changes. To see my earlier post on this artist click here or just click on her name in the side bar.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter Portrait

Ellen Eagle "Winter"  2006
Ellen Eagle is an american artist whose subjects are usually friends and family members. Her preferred medium is pastel. She attended California College of the Arts, and also studied privately with portraitists Daniel Greene and Harvey Dinnerstein. She has received numerous awards including two grants from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. Eagle teaches at the Art Students League of New York and also at the National Academy of Design. She has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, and is currently represented by Forum Gallery in NYC.

Eagle's sensitive yet sure touch is all her own, yet her beautiful portraits, almost tremblingly alive, evoke memories of Chardin and Avigdor Arikha.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elin

Elin Danielson-Gambogi "Self Portrait, Sun" 1900
Ateneumin Taidemuseo, Helsinki, Finland
Elin Danielson-Gambogi (1861-1919) was lucky enough to have her talent recognized at a young age, and to be born at a time when opportunities for women's higher education in Finland were blossoming.  She was one of the first generation of women to study at the Art School of the Finnish Art Society, and this group of female artists are often collectively referred to in Finnish art history as the "painter sisters' generation".

Danielson-Gambogi quickly earned prominent status in Finnish art circles, which was unusual for an artist of her gender at that time. She was seen as a kind of female Akseli Gallen-Kallela; "the fluency and sureness of her brush is at times astonishing to have come from a woman's hand," praised the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper. While highly regarded as an artist, Danielson-Gambogi ran into difficulties negotiating the "office politics" of the Finnish Art Society's School, where she was teaching by the late 1880's. She left Finland for Italy in 1895, and Italy soon became her second home.


Raffaelo Gambogi "La Pittrice: Portrait of Elin Danielson-Gambogi"


The artistst's husband Raffaelo Gambogi (1874-1942) painted this charming sketch of his wife at the easel.  Raffaelo Gambogi met Elin Danielson while he was studying art in Florence. The couple married in 1898. 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Painter Painting the Painter's Wife

Fairfield Porter "Jane Freilicher and Anne Porter" 1954 
This little gem of a painting is a bit of an art mystery. I first glimpsed it in a stranger's Tumblr account, and later saw it again pinned to another person's Pinterest board. I have searched extensively online, but am still stumped about the painting's actual whereabouts. It rarely appears in searches and when it does appear with provenance it is cited as belonging to the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York. However, multiple searches of that museum's site and even an email to the staff (unanswered) have left me wondering if it is really there at all. If anyone has an answer please let me know! 

Jane Freilicher (born 1924) and Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) were great friends who often painted together.  Freilicher would frequently visit with Porter and his wife Anne at their family home on Long Island. Porter painted her on numerous occasions although this is the only painting I could find that shows her in the act of painting. She and Porter were both strongly influenced by the work of Bonnard and Vuillard and what Porter (an art writer as well as a painter) once wrote of her applies equally to himself, “… when she has to choose between the life of the painting and the rules of construction, she decides to let the rules go." Freilicher and Porter's work is so closely aligned that they exhibited in many of the same galleries and have had many exhibits together, even (as re Porter) posthumously.

Freilicher received her B.A. from Brooklyn College and her M.A. from Columbia University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. She has exhibited widely and is currently represented by Tibor de Nagy Gallery in NYC.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Artist with her Mother Artist

Rolinda Sharples  "Self-Portrait with Mother" 1814 Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, UK

Rolinda Sharples  (1793–1838) was born in England, emigrated to the United States with her family as a young child, and then moved back to the mother country after the death of her father in 1811. Sharples' parents and three brothers were all professional artists. Her mother pictured above was the artist Ellen Wallace Sharples (1769-1849) (who had perhaps even a more fascinating personal history than her daughter!)

Rolinda Sharples was one of the first female British artists to attempt multi-figure compositions, and one of her best known works in that genre, Clifton Assembly Rooms (1817), is often seen on covers of Regency-era novels such as those by Jane Austen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Plein Air for Camphill painters!

Nancy Bea Miller "Betsey Batchelor Painting at Beaver Farm" 2012
These two paintings of women in the act of painting are from this year's Plein Air for Camphill, a non-traditional plein air event which benefits Camphill Special School in Kimberton, PA (USA.)

My son attends this school which is the only Waldorf school for kids with special needs in the whole of North America, although there are several other Camphill schools across the globe. Because this is the only one on this continent kids come from all over to attend this special program, and I do mean all over: Henry has had classmates from Kodiak Island, Alaska and from Bermuda!  There is a huge demand for this type of education for certain children and the school has been trying to expand to accommodate more students. They bought a nearby farm where the older students could be housed and food for the school could be raised and when I saw this beautiful place I realized I needed to get my artist friends involved in raising further funds. Hence the concept of Plein Air for Camphill, which is now a popular semi-annual event. This year's exhibition comes down later today but work will continue to be sold from the online gallery for the next several months:

Plein Air for Camphill 2012 Online Gallery

One note, the online gallery has not yet been updated since the show's opening reception where there were lots of sales, so there will be many, many, more "sold" notices appearing tomorrow. If you were interested in purchasing a piece, please don't get your hopes dashed if it is no longer available!

David Lee "Plein Air for Camphill (Molly Bolger Jenssen at work) "  2012



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Showing her Teeth

Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun  "Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat" 1782
 National Gallery, London, England 

I cannot really say anything that will add much to the the towering presence that is Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. She was one of the foremost artists of her day, and is considered one of the foremost women artists of all time. In her lifetime which spanned from 1755-1842 she completed over 600 works of art. She painted masterfully in all genres but was most noted for her portraits.

Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun  "Self-Portrait" 1790
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
In 1787, she caused a minor public scandal by exhibiting a self-portrait in which she is shown smiling with her mouth slightly parted, in shocking disregard of painting conventions stretching back to antiquity. This painting may have been her "Madame Vigée-Lebrun et sa Fille" (1786). The court gossip-sheet Mémoires secrets commented: ‘An affectation which artists, art-lovers and persons of taste have been united in condemning, and which finds no precedent among the Ancients, is that in smiling [Madame Vigée-Lebrun] shows her teeth.’ Vigée-Lebrun ignored the scandal and what is more, continued to flagrantly show her teeth, as we can see in the above painting from 1790. 

Marie-Victoire Lemoine "The Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter"
1796  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Like most artists, Vigée-Lebrun also taught the craft of painting, and was a popular instructor. This painting is a tribute to Vigée-Lebrun by one of her former pupils, Marie-Victoire Lemoine (1754–1820.) It is thought to depict Vigée-Lebrun as instructress and Lemoine as pupil. if so, the difference in size of the two artists possibly is intended to convey Lemoine's humble perception of their relative artistic statures rather than any actual height difference. In 1796 Vigée-Lebrun had fled France and was living in St. Petersburg, this change necessitated by the French Revolution and her known royalist sympathies.  Lemoine loyally attempted to keep alive in France the memory of her former teacher with this touching, if slightly veiled, homage



Monday, November 26, 2012

Self Portrait

Enjeong Noh  "Self-Portrait"  2001

Enjeong Noh is a contemporary painter based in California. Originally from Korea, where she received a B.A. in Literature from Seoul National University in 1992, Noh came to the U.S. to study at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. She is represented by the Lora Schlesinger Gallery in Santa Monica, California.

Noh paints still life and figure, and her work in both genres blends similar elements of representation and symbolism. She has said of her aesthetic impulse, "I am a female voyeur. With the intertwined psychological milieu of Asia and America, and art and literature, that shapes my thinking, I endeavor to portray the mystery and complexity of being."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Painting with Baby

Karen Winslow  "Self-Portrait with Daughter Annie"  1988
Karen Winslow is one hardcore mother-artist. While many of us will admit to the occasional quick session at the easel with a dozing toddler on our laps, very few people I know have done any painting standing at the easel with fully awake baby on the hip. Winslow, a contemporary oil painter based in Vermont, gets the Mother's Medal of Heroic Painting for this feat.  Winslow herself says of this piece, "This was painted in 1988, and my Annie is now married with kids of her own."



Katy Schneider  "Self Portrait with Olive and Easel"   1998
Katy Schneider also must be awarded the same prize for painting with baby in arms. Schneider is a contemporary painter based in Massachusetts whose work is concerned mainly with scenes of her own domestic life.  The mother of three children Schneider's small oil paintings are like amazing little snapshots in oil paint of her growing children and evolving family relationships. While Schneider's paintings show the particulars of her own life they somehow go beyond the individual and tap into a more universal consciousness of what contemporary life feels like to those experiencing it. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thamar with Apprentice

artist unknown "Thamar Painting, with Apprentice"  ca. 1403
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Thamar, also known as Tamar and Thamyris and Timarete, is not a myth or a legend, but was a real person, a Greek painter who lived in the 5th century B.C. In those days, people commonly followed in the trade or practice of their parents and Thamar was the daughter of Micon the Younger of Athens, a well-known and respected painter.  She was one of six women artists mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History compendium. Of Thamar Pliny says, "she scorned the duties of women and practised her father's art."  She was best known in Pliny's time for a panel painting of the Goddess Diana (Artemis) which was displayed in the Goddess's temple at Epheseus. Unfortunately, the temple, along with Thamar's work, was destroyed in either a Goth invasion in the Third Century or  by an anti-pagan mob led by Saint John Chrysostom in the 400s A.D. (Historians disagree on who gets the credit for the destruction.)

This painting of Thamar at work is from Bocaccio's De Cleres et Nobles Femmes, an edition made specially for Philip the Bold in around 1403. It is fascinating and delightful on several counts, particularly: 

1) Thamar's clothing and setting have been modernized into that of an early 15th Century French woman. This "updating" is typical practice for medieval artists. Also contemporary to the times is her painting equipment, including the presence of an apprentice busily grinding pigment (looks like lapis lazuli) for his Mistress. If Thamar did indeed scorn the duties of women, this is probably not her son, in typical Greek family workshop tradition, but instead may depict an apprentice contracted in the more typical medieval fashion through a guild. Women artists did belong to some medieval guilds and did indeed take on apprentices and journeymen, just as their male contemporaries did, although very often a female "master" was attached in some way (even just nominally) to a male, either a Husband, Father or Uncle. Still, such an arrangement was not at all uncommon, and the unknown artist making this painting would have "placed" Thamar in the terms of his/her own times.

2) Thamar has been Christianized as well as modernized. Instead of the pagan goddess Diana, or other Greco/Roman deity, we see Thamar painting a Virgin and Child. Ironic, considering Thamar's renunciation of traditional female roles! But very charming.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lively Lovely Laura

Laura Knight  "Self-Portrait" 1913  Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand
Every painting and photograph I've seen of artist Laura Knight makes me think she must have been a fun and companionable person. She definitely had a warm and playful sense of humor that sneaks into many of her pieces

Knight (1877-1970) was quite an "envelope pusher" right from her earliest days.  Born in England, she survived abandonment by her father as an infant and the death of her mother as a pre-adolescent. By lying to the authorities about how old she was she assumed the care of her remaining sibling, providing for her decimated family of two by teaching art and doing odd jobs.  It is not clear how, but she eventually managed to attend the Nottingham School of Art, where despite her rocky start in life she was still one of the youngest students ever to enroll. Other "firsts": Knight was the first woman artist to be made a Dame of the British Empire (1929), and the first woman elected to to the Royal Academy (1936.) She was also the first woman artist to be honored with a retrospective at the (notoriously hidebound) Royal Academy (in 1965.) Another "out of the box" achievement for this good-natured go-getter was her being appointed an official War Artist for the British War Office, during WW2. In this role she she was one of only three British women war artists who travelled abroad. After the war she served as Britain's official artist at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals. An example of her trial work is The Dock, Nuremberg (1946.)


Alfred Munnings "Dame Laura Knight, Painting" Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, England 

This action portrait was painted by Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) and I suspect the title of the piece was later amended to include the honor Knight received in 1929.  Because although the piece is undated, from Knight's hairstyle and manner of dress alone, I propose that it can be dated around 1910-18, especially as this was also during the period the Knight and her husband were part of an art colony in Cornwall, that included Munnings. (This was a fertile period artistically and important to all the many participating artists, who later came to be called The Newlyn School.

Laura Knight was known to look up to and admire Munnings. She later described her friend with these words, " His extraordinary vitality, his joy in his work, none of us could forget him. He was a fighter. He fought the wind that shivered his easel and canvas. He fought the heat and cold. He fought the shifting sun and the changing shadows."  The two artists shared a strong aesthetic and a similar joie de vivre. They would often go out painting together while in Cornwall. While the friendship was entirely platonic, it was a source of jealousy and ire for Knight's husband, Harold Knight (1874-1961.)  In fact, in a fascinating bit of Art History Sleuthing, in 2009 a portrait of Munnings made by Henry Knight around 1911 was found carefully concealed beneath another canvas, of Laura Knight's! It is conjectured that Harold Knight disposed of the painting he did of Munnings, whom he came to despise and dislike, and that Laura Knight rescued it and concealed it beneath a blank canvas that she later painted on. It sounds like a dramatic  device in a made for TV movie but it is true and you can read a more detailed account here.



Harold Knight  "Sir Alfred Munnings Reading Aloud" 1911
 current location unknown

Knight died at age 92, apparently still full of beans and painting very close to the end. She painted over 250 major oil paintings in her lifetime, and was one of the rare and lucky artists who received well-deserved recognition and appreciation both during her lifetime and afterwards!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Paintbrush


Katherine Stone "The Paintbrush (Self-Portrait)" 2008
Katherine Stone was born in Maine to Canadian parents and has dual US-Canadian citizenship. She currently lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, the painter David Gluck. Stone recently posted this essay on the couple's shared blog Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff
Why I love being married to an artist  1.  They share your artist flakiness.  "You forgot to make dinner reservations?  Perfect!  I forgot it was our anniversary." .... 3.  They think it's a BRILLIANT idea to buy that viking helmet off of ebay, and by the way, they saw a whale harpoon at the flea market and they bought it for you ...

The artist has a keen sense of humor, but a very serious commitment to her vocation.  This evocative self-portrait contains some text in the background in what appears to be Elizabethan secretary hand, the first stanza of a poem by Emily Dickinson:

I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.
Stone says, "I interpret the poem as being about making a bargain with fate. Offering your all in exchange for the one thing you want. In my case, painting." 
Stone has received numerous awards for her work from such organizations as the Art Renewal Center and the Portrait Society of America.She is represented by the M Gallery of Fine Art in Charleston, SC.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Art Class

William H. Johnson  "Art Class" ca. 1939-40
Luce Foundation Center for American Art
This was painted when William Henry Johnson (1901-1970) was teaching art classes in a Harlem community center funded by New Deal initiatives such as the WPA. To me, it's a beautiful  example of the very cusp of the artist's most mature style, when his work was segueing from expressionism into what he is now most known for, his "folk" style. I think this piece with its deliberately primitive or "faux naive" look is just emerging from the German Expressionist influence of artists like Kirchner and Muellerevolving into Johnson's own very unique visual language.

Having taught night classes myself I can attest to how perfectly Johnson has caught the bodily weariness yet spiritual eagerness of the night student.

Johnson was born in South Carolina but left his home to study at the National Academy of Design in New York City. Despite his acknowledged talent, Johnson was passed over for a traveling scholarship and his teacher Charles Hawthorne personally funded the young artist for a study tour of Europe. This act of faith had a profound effect on Johnson, who remained working in Europe for over half his career, where he had great success and exhibited widely. He returned to the US in the 1930s with his Danish wife, the textile designer Holcha Krake, where he continued his vibrant career of teaching and painting and exhibiting.  His wife died in 1944 and this sent Johnson heading back to Europe for a time to be with her family, but he returned to the US after falling seriously ill in 1947. He entered the State Hospital at Islip, New York where he remained for the rest of his life. Sadly, his illness precluded his painting after 1956.

 I'll end by quoting directly from the website of the William H. Johnson Foundation for the Arts, "This is merely the brief summary of a life marked by great happiness and great tragedy..."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nocturne

Alia El-Bermani "Nocturne (self portrait)" 2006
Contemporary painter Alia El-Bermani is the mother of two young children and this painting shows a dedicated artist squeezing some studio time into a full domestic life after the children have gone to bed. As many mother-artists have found, that quiet alone time in the studio, even just a short space of time, can be enough to "grease the engine" for another busy day to come.

El-Bermani attended the Laguna College of Art and Design, where she won many of that institution's student awards. She is represented by Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara California and The Loft Gallery in Puerta Vallerta, Mexico. El-Bermani is included in the current Converge exhibition in NYC.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Portrait Exchange

Bertha Wegmann "Portrait of Jeanna Bauck"  1881  Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
Swiss-Danish painter Bertha Wegmann (1847-1926) first met her close friend painter Jeanna Bauck when they were art students together in Munich. The couple moved together to Paris in 1881, where this painting was created, and Wegmann's career went from strength to strength: in 1881 and 1882 she exhibited at the Paris Salon, winning both an honorable mention for one painting and a medal for another. Not long after this she returned to Denmark where in 1883 she became the first woman ever to be elected to the Plenary Assembly of the Academy of Art.  She exhibited widely and was one of the first women to be awarded the gold medal of Ingenio et Arte,  the highest honor given to a Danish citizen by that nation's monarch.

Jeanna Bauck "The Danish Artist Bertha Wegmann Painting a Portrait"  late 1870s
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

There is not a lot of biographical information about Swedish-German painter Jeanna Bauck (1840-1926.) Listed as primarily a landscape painter, Bauck traveled extensively to the Alps, the Black Forest, and seaside in search of subject matter, but she was also known for her portraits, particularly of children.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

At the River's Edge

Emily Brown "At the River's Edge" 1998 The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts   

Contemporary landscape painter Emily Brown's work is centered in observation and emotional response to the natural world. Brown shies away from no aspect of the natural environment, and depictions of steaming compost heaps are as of much interest to the artist as leafy glades in the sunlight. However, Brown does not usually depict the figure, and this painting is rare in containing both the suggestion of human presence and in its also being obviously a self-portrait (we see the artist's hand and brush.) What is more typically Brown-like is the focus on the detailed flotsam and jetsam of the river's edge, on which the artist's shadow is fleetingly imprinted.

Brown has received numerous official accolades for her work; among other honors she has been awarded grants from the Pew Foundation, The Independence Foundation and the Leeway Foundation. Her work is in many major collections, including the permanent collections of the  Farnsworth Art Museum, the Michener Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This piece "At the River's Edge" is part of the Linda Lee Alter Art By Women Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In fact, you can go see the piece in person, as it is hanging on the wall right now at PAFA in the exhibition The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making their World which opened yesterday (November 16, 2012) and which runs through April 7, 2013.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Self Reflections

Karen Kaapcke "Self Portrait as Insomniac" 2011/12


New York City-based artist Karen Kaapcke uses self-portraiture as a way to examine the extraordinary yet commonplace phenomenon of the life cycle, both its growth and decay. An external representation of a process that is both internal and external, indeed, systemic, self-portraiture lends itself to the unflinching gaze of the artist/scientist/philosopher. More prosaically, if you are a figurative painter who paints from life it is not always possible to have a model at your command, especially at 3 o'clock in the morning!

Karen Kaapcke "Self Portrait with Armoire" 2011
Kaapcke in fact has an advanced  degree in Philosophy but went on to study art at The Art Student's league and also at the the National Academy of Design. The teacher who has most influenced her is Ted Jacobs with whom she has studied in NYC and in France.

Karen Kaapcke "Self Portrait with Unilluminated Lamp" 2012


Kaapcke has exhibited widely in the US, participating in exhibitions at the Butler Institute of American Art and the Salmagundi club, among other places. She is currently part of Converge, an exhibition (opening tonight in NYC!) that celebrates over 30 classically trained artists who are part of the contemporary art scene. Says the curator Allison Malafronte of this group, of whom Kaapcke is an excellent example, "All [the artists in the show]bring intelligent thought and reflective examination to the works they create. They each have a desire to reach beyond surface appearance and paint something of meaning and significance."

Karen Kaapcke "Self Portrait While the Houseguests are Occupied" 2010

Kaapcke takes a piercing look at what it is like to be a woman with a young family living in New York City. While non-journalistic in approach, nonetheless, these scattered moments of stillness in her busy days appeal through their honesty and sensitivity. This last piece, "Self Portrait while the Houseguests are Occupied" was the first piece of Kaapcke's I ever saw, and although it caught my eye visually, the title made me laugh in appreciation, and take a closer look at the artist's entire oeuvre. Who doesn't know that feeling of momentary relief when even the most delightful and anticipated guests have plans that take them temporarily out of your orbit? Kaapcke's special genius is most apparent when she captures such heartfelt but hard to express moments in a life, elusive emotions brought on by day to day circumstances we all share.