Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, Spanish Artist, 1881–1973
Mother and Child, ca. 1921, Oil on canvas, 142.9 × 172.7 cm, Art Institute, Chicago, IL, USA
https://www.artic.edu/artworks/109275/mother-and-child

Mother’s Day is an age-old tradition that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who held spring festivities to honour Rhea, Μήτηρ θεών, the Mother of the Gods. Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day, the 8th of May in 2022, with a poem by Lola Ridge (1873-1941)… Your love was like moonlight / turning harsh things to beauty, / so that little wry souls / reflecting each other obliquely / as in cracked mirrors . . . / beheld in your luminous spirit / their own reflection, / transfigured as in a shining stream, / and loved you for what they are not… and the painting Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso at the Art Institute of Chicago…  https://poets.org/poem/mother-1

Picasso’s painting of 1921 exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, depicting a Mother and Child has an interesting story to tell! More so, the relationship Picasso had with the Art Institute and the city of Chicago, a city the artist never visited, is interesting, and goes back in time! In 1913, for example, the Art Institute of Chicago became the first American art museum to present Picasso’s work when it hosted the Armory Show from March 24 to April 16. In 1923, a gift to the Institute by Robert Allerton, a businessman and Art Institute trustee, a drawing of a Young Woman and a Man (1905), became the first Picasso work of art to enter the Institute’s collection. In 1926, The Old Guitarist (1903–04), became the first Picasso painting to be put on permanent display, definitely a daring step at the time. In 1954, the Art Institute acquired Picasso’s painting Mother and Child (1921). Today, the Art Institute of Chicago has in its collection 357 works of art created by Pablo Picasso. https://www.timeout.com/chicago/art/the-art-institute-of-chicago-celebrates-picasso

The Picasso-Art Institute relationship gets especially interesting in 1968 when William Hartmann of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architect company, visited Picasso and showed him a photograph of the artist’s painting Mother and Child as exhibited at the Art Institute. Picasso, according to Stephanie D’Alessandro, Curator of Modern Art at the Art Institute on the 2013 Exhibit Picasso and Chicago, upon seeing the photograph disappeared and came back with a fragment of a painting depicting a seated man. Give this to Chicago. They’ll know what to do with it, the artist apparently said to Hartman. Picasso’s gift, the Art Institute experts realized, had once been part of the Mother and Child composition in the Institute’s collection. When we X-rayed the painting [to see the layers that had been painted over, D’Alessandro explained …we discovered that the man was originally dangling a fish over the child’s head. What a story… https://www.timeout.com/chicago/art/the-art-institute-of-chicago-celebrates-picasso

Pablo Picasso, Spanish Artist, 1881–1973
Mother and Child and Fragment of the “Father”, ca. 1921, Oil on canvas, 142.9 × 172.7 cm, Art Institute, Chicago, IL, USA
https://www.artic.edu/artworks/109275/mother-and-child

Between 1921 and 1923, when the Chicago painting of Mother and Child was created, Picasso was a happy man! He was married to Olga Khokhlova, a Russian dancer of the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev, and the father of a boy named Paulo (Paul, b. February 4, 1921). During this relaxed period of time, Picasso produced according to the Art Institute experts, at least twelve works on the subject of mothers and children, returning to a theme that he had explored during his Blue Period. But whereas those figures are frail and anguished, his classical-period figures, with their sculptural modeling and solidity, are majestic in proportion and feeling. The 1921-1923 paintings were influenced by ancient Roman Art monumentality, figurative Renaissance frescoes, the finely modeled odalisques of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the late, oddly proportioned female nudes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and his own family life. https://www.artic.edu/artworks/109275/mother-and-child

Pablo Picasso, Spanish Artist, 1881–1973
Mother and Child and Fragment of Mother and Child (as presented in the Art Institute of Chicago 2013 Exhibition Picasso and Chicago), ca. 1921, Oil on canvas, 142.9 × 172.7 cm, Art Institute, Chicago, IL, USA
Photo Credit: https://www.dallasnews.com/arts-entertainment/travel/2013/03/09/exhibit-looks-at-chicagos-love-affair-with-picasso/

The Mother and Child painting by Pablo Picasso at the Art Institute of Chicago is majestic in proportion and feeling. The depicted infant sits on the mother’s lap and reaches up to touch her. The woman, dressed in a Grecian gown, gazes intently at her child. Behind them stretches a simplified background of sand, water, and sky. Picasso’s treatment of the pair is not sentimental, but the relationship expresses the serenity and stability that characterized his own life at this time. https://www.artic.edu/artworks/109275/mother-and-child

For a PowerPoint on the 1921-1923 theme of Picasso’s Mother and Child, please… Click HERE!

Suzanne Valadon

Suzanne Valadon (Marie-Clémentine Valadon), 1865-1938
Self Portrait with Family (Suzanne Valadon is in the center, flanked by André Utter and her mother, with her son at the foreground), 1912, oil on canvas, 97 x 73 cm, Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
https://www.centrepompidou.fr/fr/ressources/oeuvre/cyjjkkA#&gid=viewer-lightbox&pid=0

The French artist Suzanne Valadon is the protagonist of a unique Exhibition at the Barnes, in the heart of Philadelphia, that introduces to the general public a late 19th – early 20th-century Woman of extraordinary qualities. The Exhibition will be open to the public until the 9th of January, 2021, and so far, the Artist and the Exhibition have been described as… A thrilling tour of [her] portraits, nudes, still lifes, and drawings by The New York Times, or… A brilliant artist making breathtaking paintings that have the flat, colorful solidity of Gauguin, but a piercing intelligence and emotional insight by The Washington Post, or… She is a maverick artist, who often drew from her own life to create a body of work that envisions the 20th-century woman by WHYY, and Breathing new life into rebellious early 20th-century art by the Broad Street Review. https://www.barnesfoundation.org/whats-on/exhibitions/suzanne-valadon?gclid=CjwKCAjwzaSLBhBJEiwAJSRokgRhEY928WI-tXfLFrUON5esRwP3uD8RRKR9pNAu2rdgIPlxP88W8hoCkC4QAvD_BwE

Maurice Utrillo and his mother Suzanne Valadon, c. 1890 by an unknown photographer
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M_Utrillo_et_sa_m%C3%A8re_S_Valadon_vers_1890.jpg

Born Marie-Clémentine, Suzanne Valadon, was born into poverty, as the daughter of an unmarried domestic worker. She grew up in Montmartre, the bohemian quarter of Paris, supporting herself from the age of ten with odd jobs: waitress, nanny, and circus performer. A fall from a trapeze led her in a new direction…that of modeling for some of the most important artists of her time. She was more than a model… she became the muse and the friend of artists like Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Miguel Utrillo, who agreed to give Maurice, Valadon’s son, born out of wedlock, his last name and legally recognize him as his son. Suzanne was artistic. She loved to draw while in the company of her artists/friends, practice her skills by observing them paint, and with the encouragement and tutelage of her mentor Edgar Degas, learn how to master the art of drawing and etching techniques. Valadon soon transitioned from an artist’s model into a successful artist with …a complicated personal life. She was a free spirit and a bohemian in every sense of the word… Suzanne Valadon, her second husband André Utter, and her son Maurice Utrillo were known as the trinité maudite (cursed trinity) because the family environment was characterized by violent outbursts, reconciliations, and alcoholism. https://nmwa.org/art/artists/suzanne-valadon/ and https://www.messynessychic.com/2021/10/15/renoirs-art-model-was-the-greatest-painter-you-never-heard-of/?fbclid=IwAR33WEcmDTxJ4n84O07M7RIJ1rv5WaCZb8Xtc8auSwKRndJhQPfTpaliFZI and https://www.arts-spectacles.com/Valadon-Utrillo-et-Utter-la-trinite-maudite-entre-Paris-et-Saint-Bernard-1909-1939-du-16-octobre-au-12-fevrier-2012_a6460.html

Suzanne Valadon (Marie-Clémentine Valadon), 1865-1938
Self-Portrait, 1898, Oil on Canvas, 40×26.7 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suzanne_Valadon_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

The artist is famous for her unapologetic female and male nudes… bold, controversial, and provocative! My favourite Valadon painting is her 1912 Self Portrait with Family…odd, disturbing, and unconventional. https://www.centrepompidou.fr/fr/ressources/oeuvre/cyjjkkA#&gid=viewer-lightbox&pid=0

Suzanne Valadon (Marie-Clémentine Valadon), 1865-1938
Self Portrait with Family (Suzanne Valadon is in the center, flanked by André Utter and her mother, with her son at the foreground), 1912, oil on canvas, 97 x 73 cm, Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Portrait_de_famille%2C_1912_-_Suzanne_Valadon.jpg

The Centre Pompidou painting shows Suzanne Valadon in the center, flanked by André Utter, her second husband, her mother Magdeleine Valadon, and her son in the foreground, Maurice Utrillo. Suzanne Valadon is the only one directly facing the viewer, but she does so tentatively, with her hand on her chest… Utter and Madame Valadon are gazing to their right, each foreseeing a different future: the young man looks confident and rather content, while the woman – all wrinkled and slightly hunchbacked, with the corners of her mouth turned downwards – appears resigned. Maurice Utrillo’s depiction earns the most sympathy, for he seems to be the most miserable and out of place, gazing melancholically with his head leaning on his hand, as if he simply cannot muster the energy to stand or sit upright… What an unusual family portrait! https://artschaft.com/2018/05/23/suzanne-valadon-family-portrait-1912/

For a Student Activity inspired by the Exhibition at the Barnes, in Philadelphia, please… Check HERE!

Suzanne Valadon (Marie-Clémentine Valadon), 1865-1938
Portrait of the painter Maurice Utrillo, 1921, Collection of the City of Sannois, Val d’Oise, France, on temporary loan to the Musée de Montmartre, Paris
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maurice_Utrillo,_par_Suzanne_Valadon.jpg

A Religious Scene in Thessaloniki

Walter S. George, ? – 1962
Watercolour Painting of the North Inner Aisle Mosaics in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki, 1907 (Mosaics date to the  century), Sheet No. 2, Watercolour on Paper, 35.56x 45.72 cm, Photographic Library of the Warburg Institute, London, UK
Konstantinos Males, Greek artist, 1879-1928
Religious Scene, oil on card laid on canvas, 67 x 47 cm, Private Collection
https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Religious-Scene/7FC6668E4C9D5951

I have to confess; I was not familiar with Konstantinos Maleas’s painting Religious Scene in Thessaloniki depicting the Enthroned Virgin with Child and attendant Angels. I do not own the 2000 Adam publications book on Maleas by Prof. A. Kottidis, where, apparently, on page 83, the painting Religious Scene was first presented (another embarrassing confession!). To my defense, I am familiar with a painting of the same religious scene (Mary, Child, and Angels) by Walter S. George, a British architect, who, in 1909, while still a student at the Royal Institute of British Architects, was commissioned by the British School at Athens to go to Thessaloniki and participate in a project to publish a corpus of its Byzantine Monuments including the mosaic composition of the Enthroned Mary. Is it a mere coincidence? https://www.politeianet.gr/books/9789605003616-kotidis-antonis-adam-konstantinos-maleas-1879-1928-110647

Walter S. George, ? – 1962
Watercolour Painting of the North Inner Aisle Mosaics in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki, 1907 (Mosaics date to the  century), Sheet No. 2, Watercolour on Paper, 35.56x 45.72 cm, Photographic Library of the Warburg Institute, London, UK

The years George was working in Thessaloniki, 1906/7-1909 were crucial for the city and the British interest in Byzantine Art. On the 1st of August 1907, the Ottoman authorities embarked on major renovations on Casimir Camii, originally the Byzantine Church of Hagios Demetrios, and in the course of repairs, an unexpected discovery occurred… unknown, magnificent mosaics, quite well preserved, on the wall of the North Inner Aisle of the almost dilapidated Church came to light, astonishing the world! George put himself to work, and on the 1st of September 1909, he delivered a set of eighteen sheets of coloured drawings to his patrons at the  Byzantine Research and Publication Fund in London. Sheet No.2 of the set, depicts the Mosaics over spandrel C of the inner aisle colonnade and, extending asymmetrically, over arches 3 and 4 (from left to right). The discovered mosaics, among them the Enthroned Virgin, were of high quality and well preserved, stirring the interest of Byzantinologists around the world who rushed to Thessaloniki to study and document them.

Carte Postale of the Church of Saint Demetrios before the fire of 1917 https://docplayer.gr/41759103-3-os-ai-5-os-ai-naodomia.html
Konstantinos Males, Greek artist, 1879-1928
Religious Scene, oil on card laid on canvas, 67 x 47 cm, Private Collection
https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Religious-Scene/7FC6668E4C9D5951

Konstantinos Maleas is one of my favourite early 20th century Greek artists. A Romios by birth, and a graduate of the Great School of the Nation in Constantinople, Maleas studied Architecture in Paris and eventually Painting, at the École des Arts Décoratifs, and under the tutelage of the Neo-Impressionist Henri Martin (1901-1908). After completing his studies in Paris, Maleas returned to Istanbul, traveled extensively in the Middle East and Egypt, published his exploits, got married, and in November 1913, settled in Thessaloniki as chief engineer of the city’s Municipality.

Maleas’s Thessaloniki of 1913 was no more the city Walter S. George documented in 1907/9. During the course of the First Balkan War, advancing without hindrance, the Greek Army found itself outside Thessaloniki, exactly on the eve of the Hagios Demetrios’s feast day. Late in the evening of the 26th of October, 1912, Hassan Tashin Pasha, Commander of the Turkish Eighth Army Corps, signed the protocol authorizing the surrender of the city to Constantine, Heir Presumptive, and Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army at the time. After almost half a millennium of Ottoman rule, Thessaloniki became a Greek city once again. The Church of Hagios Demetrios and its beautiful mosaics were a Byzantine monument, residents and sightseers felt drawn to visit, pay their respects, photograph… and rarely, like Konstantino Malea document in painting! His beautiful Religious Scene is yet another testament of how important these newly discovered mosaics were among specialists like Walter S. George and art aficionados like Konstantinos Maleas. https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Religious-Scene/7FC6668E4C9D5951

Then, disaster stroke on the 5th of August 1917… a  great fire swept through the thriving city of Thessaloniki destroying two-thirds of the city’s center, including the magnificent Church of Hagios Demetrios and leaving more than 70,000 homeless. The beautiful Mosaics of the Church’s North Inner Aisle discovered in 1907 were gone forever! Few photographs and even fewer paintings, created with care and sensitivity by artists like Walter S. George and Konstantinos Maleas are all that remains. …..

For a Student Activity on Maleas’s A Religious Scene in Thessaloniki, please… Check HERE!

The Laughing Boy by Robert Henri

Robert Henri, American Artist, 1865–1929
The Dutch Joe (Jopie van Slouten), 1910, oil on canvas, 60.96 × 50.8 cm, Milwaukee Art Museum, WI, USA http://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=13533
Frans Hals, Dutch Artist, 1582/83-1666
Laughing Child, circa 1620-1625, oil on wood, Diameter: 27.94 cm, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), CA, USA https://useum.org/artwork/Laughing-boy-Frans-Hals-1625
The Laughing Boy (Jopie van Slouten), 1910, oil on canvas, 61 × 50.8 × 2.5 cm, Birmingham Museum of Art, AL, USA
https://www.artsbma.org/collection/the-laughing-boy-jopie-van-slouten/

Published on October 14, 2018at the Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews, I read: Frans Hals was rediscovered as a modern idol two hundred years after his death. He was admired, even adored by late 19th-century artists such as Édouard Manet, Max Liebermann… Vincent van Gogh…  and American artist Robert Henri, I would like to add. They were all impressed by his loose touch and rough painting style, which came across as ‘Impressionist’… Comparing paintings by Frans Hals to work by the artists whom he inspired gives insight into how modern Frans Hals was in their eye and why they used to say that ‘Frans Hals, c’est un moderne’. The Laughing Boy by Robert Henri is a painting that shows how Frans Hals influenced an American artist of the Ashcan School as well… https://hnanews.org/frans-hals-and-the-moderns/

Robert Henri Photo Portrait, circa 1897, Black and white photographic print, 19 x 9 cm, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington DC, USA
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_Henri_1897.jpg

About 1900, a group of Realist artists set themselves apart from and challenged the American Impressionists and academics. They came to be known as the Ashcan School and Robert Henri was a leading figure among them. The Ashcan School artists selectively documented an unsettling, transitional time in American culture that was marked by confidence and doubt, excitement, and trepidation. Ignoring or registering only gently harsh new realities such as the problems of immigration and urban poverty, they shone a positive light on their era. Along with the American Impressionists, the Ashcan artists defined the avant-garde in the United States until the 1913 Armory Show introduced to the American public the works of true modernists Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and others. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ashc/hd_ashc.htm

Robert Henry Cozad (1865-1929 ) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Theresa Gatewood Cozad and John Jackson Cozad, a gambler and real estate developer. The family, in a true “Wild West” story of land dispute and fatal pistol shooting, fled from Cincinnati to Denver, Colorado where young Robert changed his name to Robert Earl Henri, and in 1883, the family moved to New York City, and then, to Atlantic City in New Jersey. In 1886, a twenty-one years old Robert Henri enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, one of the finest Art Schools in the US at the time, where he studied under Thomas Anshutz. Later, in Paris, Henri studied at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts. From 1888 to 1891, when he returned back to Philadelphia, Robert stayed and traveled in Europe where he came to admire greatly the work of Francois Millet, and embrace Impressionism. Back in the United States, Robert Henri gradually became a fine Art teacher and an acclaimed artist, a leading member of the Ashcan School, an organizer, and a contributor artist of a landmark show entitled “The Eight” in N York. Robert Henri was an avid traveler, an influential Art teacher, and a great mentor to women artists in the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Henri

The Laughing Boy (Jopie van Slouten), 1910, oil on canvas, 61 × 50.8 × 2.5 cm, Birmingham Museum of Art, AL, USA
https://www.artsbma.org/collection/the-laughing-boy-jopie-van-slouten/
Robert Henri, American Artist, 1865–1929
The Dutch Joe (Jopie van Slouten), 1910, oil on canvas, 60.96 × 50.8 cm, Milwaukee Art Museum, WI, USA http://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=13533

During the summers of 1907 and 1910, Henri worked in the Netherlands, where he became captivated with the work of Frans Hals (1580-1666), the Dutch painter known for using lively brushwork to create animated portraits. Hals, according to the Birmingham Museum of Art in the US, made a number of pictures of laughing children, which Henri sought to emulate in his own paintings of Dutch youths. Henri described the subject of this canvas, Jopie van Slouten, as “a great, real human character to paint.” Robert Henri painted a second portrait of the Dutch boy, known as Dutch Joe, and exhibited it in the Milwaukee Art Museum. For his second portrait of young Jopie van Slouten, Henri said: “Jopie thought it was a great joke to pose, and I thought him a great, real character. I consider it one of my successes in an effort to record a boy as he was.” http://collection.mam.org/details.php?id=13533 and https://www.artsbma.org/collection/the-laughing-boy-jopie-van-slouten/

Frans Hals, Dutch Artist, 1582/83-1666
Laughing Child, circa 1620-1625, oil on wood, Diameter: 27.94 cm, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), CA, USA https://useum.org/artwork/Laughing-boy-Frans-Hals-1625

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Between October 13, 2018, to February 24, 2019, in Haarlem, in the Netherlands, a very interesting exhibition took place titled Frans Hals and the Moderns. This exhibition showed the enormous impact of Frans Hals on modern painters. It was for the first time, that portraits of the famous 17th-century Dutch artist were presented alongside modern artistic reactions to his work… like the Laughing Boy by the American Robert Henri. https://www.franshalsmuseum.nl/nl/event/frans-hals-en-de-modernen/

View of the 2018 Exhibition in Harlem titled: Frans Hals and the Moderns
https://www.franshalsmuseum.nl/en/event/frans-hals-and-the-moderns/

Happy Birthday Miss Jones by Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell, 1894-1978
Happy Birthday Miss Jones, Saturday Evening Post cover March 17, 1956, The original oil on canvas painting is part of the collection of filmmaker George Lucas.
https://prints.nrm.org/detail/261035/rockwell-happy-birthday-miss-jones-school-teacher-1956

On the 5th of October, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day, by acknowledging the critical role teachers play in achieving inclusive, quality education for all… and recognizing that during the pandemic …teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue… I would like to celebrate World Teachers’ Day with a Poem, The School Where I Studied, by Yehuda Amichai, and a Painting, Happy Birthday Miss Jones by Norman Rockwell. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldteachersday

I passed by the school where I studied as a boy / and said in my heart: here I learned certain things / and didn’t learn others. All my life I have loved in vain / the things I didn’t learn. I am filled with knowledge, / I know all about the flowering of the tree of knowledge, / the shape of its leaves, the function of its root system, its pests and parasites. / I’m an expert on the botany of good and evil, / I’m still studying it, I’ll go on studying till the day die. / I stood near the school building and looked in. This is the room / where we sat and learned. The windows of a classroom always open / to the future, but in our innocence we thought it was only landscape / we were seeing from the window. / The schoolyard was narrow, paved with large stones. / I remember the brief tumult of the two of us / near the rickety steps, the tumult / that was the beginning of a first great love. / Now it outlives us, as if in a museum, / like everything else in Jerusalem.https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/40662/the-school-where-i-studied

The 17th of March 1956, Saturday Evening Post Magazine Cover Page with Norman Rockwell’s painting Happy Birthday Miss Jones
https://picclick.com/Saturday-Evening-Post-Magazine-March-17-1956-Norman-284335404003.html

On the 17th of March 1956, The Saturday Evening Post published Happy Birthday Miss Jones, one of my favourite Norman Rockwell paintings. The artist had a long-standing collaboration with The Saturday Evening Post, which he considered to be the greatest show window in America. The collaboration started in 1916 when the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for the magazine and continued over the next 47 years. By 1963, when the collaboration with the Post ended, 322 Rockwell paintings had appeared on the cover of the magazine. https://www.nrm.org/about/about-2/about-norman-rockwell/

Photo half-length portrait of Norman Rockwell, facing left, arms folded, 1921, Library of Congress, USA
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rockwell-Norman-LOC.jpg

I would like to draw your attention to page 82 of Picturing America, and how masterfully the controversy over Rockwell the artist, or Rockwell the illustrator, is addressed… Rockwell had been born into a world in which painters crossed easily from the commercial world to that of the gallery, as Winslow Homer had done. By the 1940s, however, a division had emerged between the fine arts and the work for hire that Rockwell produced. The detailed, homespun images he employed to reach a mass audience were not appealing to an art community that now lionized intellectual and abstract works. But Rockwell knew his strengths did not lie in that direction: “Boys batting flies on vacant lots,” he explained in 1936, “little girls playing jacks on the front steps; old men plodding home at twilight, umbrella in hand — all these things arouse feeling in me.” https://picturingamerica.neh.gov/downloads/pdfs/Resource_Guide/English/English_PA_TeachersGuide.pdf

In 1956 his feelings motivated him to pay tribute to his own 8th Grade teacher who had encouraged him to draw. Using a real Elementary School classroom in his hometown, Stockbridge, as his reference, and local models, Rockwell painted Happy Birthday Miss Jones to popular praise. The composition is highly organized, the colour tones are warm (even the greys), and the light is soft. This is a familiar scene we have all experienced, a moment we cherish, and a Norman Rockwell painting we love!

The original oil on canvas painting is part of the collection of filmmaker George Lucas and was on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American Art in 2010. A pencil on joined paper study of the painting, also owned by Lucas, was also on display alongside the original painting. http://www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com/1956-happy-birthday-miss-jones.html#ixzz73lTatp76

It’s worth watching! …a Video on Rockwell’s painting of Miss Jones created by the Saturday Evening Post, on May 22, 2019… https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2019/05/rockwell-video-minute-happy-birthday-miss-jones/

For a Student Activity, please … Check HERE!

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas

Konstantinos Maleas, 1879-1928
Monemvasia (Houses at Monemvasia), 1920-28, oil on cardboard, 50 x 57.5 cm
https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/504_Maleas_en.html

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas is one of my favourite paintings…of a city rugged, wildly beautiful, and very historic according to the Byzantine Chronicle of Monemvasia …Τότε δη και οι Λάκωνες το πατρώον έδαφος καταλιπόντες οι μεν εν τη νήσω Σικελίας εξέπλευσαν, οι και εις έτι εισίν εν αυτή εν τόπω καλουμένω δέμεννα και δεμενίται αντί Λακεδαιμονιτών κατονομαζόμενοι και την ιδίαν των Λακώνων διάλεκτον διασώζοντες. Οι δε δύσβατον τόπον παρά τον της θαλάσσης αιγιαλόν ευρόντες και πόλιν οχυράν οικοδομήσαντες και Μονεμβασίαν ταύτην ονομάσαντες διατο μίαν έχειν των εν αυτώ ειςπορευομένων την είςοδον εν αυτή τη πόλει κατώκησαν μετά και του ιδίου αυτών επισκόπου. (…That was the time (maybe 9th century) when the Laconians abandoned their Homeland, some traveled to Sicily – where they live until today, in Demenna, and are called Demenitai instead of Lacedaemonians – still using the Laconian Dialect. Some others discovered an inaccessible place, by the sea-​​shore, where they established a new city, and they named it Monemvasia, because it has only one entrance. This is the city they inhabited along with their Bishop.) https://chilonas.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/cea0ce91cea1ce91cea1cea4ce97ce9cce91-ce94-cea7cea1ce9fce9dce99ce9ace9f-ce9cce9fce9dce95ce9cce92ce91cea3ce99ce91cea3.pdf

Maleas’s painting of Monemvasia belongs to the Bank of Greece which acts as a guardian and disseminator of Greek culture through the activities of its Centre for Culture, Research, and Documentation. In 1928 the Bank began collecting artworks, gradually forming a core of creations by painters of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, who stand out in Greek art history. Up to this day, the Collection comprises around 3,000 works of painting and printmaking, as well as a small number of sculptures, dating until nowadays and highlighting different aspects of Greek art. What an amazing achievement! https://www.bankofgreece.gr/en/the-bank/culture and https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/index_en.html#home-slider

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas, one of the masterpieces acquired by the Bank of Greece for its Art Collection, is a painting created by the artist during his mature, later period. In 2018, an Exhibition at the Benaki Museum, titled Frames of Reference from the Bank of Greece Collection was organized to celebrate the 90-year anniversary of the Bank’s start of operations, and Maleas’s painting of Monemvasia was presented with great acclaim. https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/index_en.html#home-slider

The Exhibition experts introduce us to the painting in a masterful way… We are standing on high ground, facing a slope that winds down to the sea and the distant horizon. In the background, the rock of Monemvasia stands grandiose. The landscape is depicted in overlaid colour zones, for us to observe, successively, the slope, the trees, the sea and the rock. The choice of clear and bright colours is interesting, as they capture the intensity, the glow, and the purity of Greek light. The painterly world of Maleas, who has brought a new perspective to modern Greek painting, is defined by geometry. He designs his landscapes with a penetrating look, expressiveness, and wisdom. Details are simplified, reduced to the essentials. The pines are elliptical in shape, the cypress has the form of a cone, and the sea is rendered with a single shade of blue. Yet, the composition as a whole is far from simplistic, as the streamlined individual elements, coupled with the use of very bright colours, bestow it with pulse and rhythm. https://museum.bankofgreece.gr/topoianaforas/modern_greek_art/504_Maleas_en.html

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Salvador Dali or Pavlos Samios

Salvador Dali, 1904 – 1989
Figure at the Window, 1925, Oil on papier-mâché, 105 x 74,5 cm, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia https://en.opisanie-kartin.com/description-of-the-painting-by-salvador-dali-woman-at-the-window/
Pavlos Samios, 1948 – 2021
Awaiting, 1983, Acrylic on canvas, 130 × 88 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/samios-pavlos-awaiting
https://www.iefimerida.gr/politismos/paylos-samios-kafeneia-pethane

“She opened her curtains, and looked out towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields beyond outside the entrance-gates. On the road there was a man with a bundle on his back and a woman carrying her baby; in the field she could see figures moving – perhaps the shepherd with his dog. Far off in the bending sky was the pearly light; and she felt the largeness of the world and the manifold wakings of men to labor and endurance. She was a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining…” wrote George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans, 1819-1880) in Middlemarch. I believe her quotation can be a wonderful introduction for my new BLOG POST, Salvador Dali or Pavlos Samios, inspired by Awaiting, a beautiful painting by Pavlos Samios in the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/window

Mid-July 2021 and with COVID still ON, I am constantly in front of my open windows or balcony doors searching for signs of a summer break… eager to be freed. Two paintings, by Salvador Dali and Pavlos Samios, inspire me to dream, hope, and be …merry!

Pavlos Samios, 1948 – 2021
Awaiting, 1983, Acrylic on canvas, 130 × 88 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/samios-pavlos-awaiting
https://www.iefimerida.gr/politismos/paylos-samios-kafeneia-pethane

Pavlos Samios is an artist I particularly like. His painting Awaiting in the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens is a favourite of mine. I also like what I read in his notes: In the early 1980s, the idea of ​​Surrealism and the Metaphysical School greatly influenced me. In Paris, he continues there is little sun and the sea is far away, and yet, I dream of an unforgettable summer and I create a number of very nostalgic paintings. Fantastic buildings in the sand… The feeling of a desirable girl in a special place, on an untouched island. https://goulandris.gr/el/artwork/samios-pavlos-awaiting

On the 25th of November 2019, I “published” my first BLOG POST ON the amazing Art Collection of the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens I am constantly surprised how much this new addition to the Athenian Art Gallery circuit will enthuse me… https://www.teachercurator.com/category/basil-and-elise-goulandris-foundation-athens/

Salvador Dali, 1904 – 1989
Figure at the Window, 1925, Oil on papier-mâché, 105 x 74,5 cm, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia https://en.opisanie-kartin.com/description-of-the-painting-by-salvador-dali-woman-at-the-window/

When I first saw Samios’s Awaiting, I immediately thought of Salvador Dali and his1925 portrait of his sister Anna Maria in Figure at the Window, exhibited at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. A wonderful painting that “travels” you to magical places. I particularly like how the Spanish Museo experts describe the painting as a masterpiece of Dali’s series of portraits of Anna Maria and how Rafael Santos Torroella stated that the painting is a marvel for the skill with which it combines the occupied spaces and the empty spaces, giving them equal compositional importance to such an extent that the fact that he has simply eliminated one of the window casements (the left one) escapes the viewer, who does not even notice the anomaly, despite the fact that this is precisely where so much of the enigmatic beauty radiating from the painting, with its pure serenity, resides. https://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/collection/artwork/figura-finestra-figure-window

For a Student Activity on Salvador Dali or Pavlos Samios, please… Check HERE!

Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas

Angelos Giallinas, 1857-1939
Garden in Corfu, early 20th century, Watercolour on Paper, 39×72 cm, Averoff Museum, Metsovo, Greece https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/garden-in-corfu/?lang=en

“…Tell me, the open codes of flowers, / Lick up the glance to pocket a whole mind. / Nothing precipitates, is left behind, / The island is all eyes. / The silence ponders, notes, and codifies. / We discover only what we set out to find.     /     I am at a loss to explain how writing / Turns this way this year, turns and tends – / But the line breaks off as voices do, and ends…” writes Lawrence Durrell about a One Grey Greek Stone, but somehow I think of the gloriously colourful Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas… My mind plays games… https://poem-today.tumblr.com/post/184801455775/a-poem-by-lawrence-durrell

Angelos Giallinas, an accomplished representative of the Watercolour medium and the genre of Landscape, is one of my favourite modern Greek painters. A Corfiote by birth, Giallinas first studied in his native Corfu at the private art school of Charalambos Pachis (1872 to 1875) but continued his studies in Venice, Naples and Rome, where, exposed to the medium of Watercolour, he decided to adopt it and excel in its intricacies. By 1878, he was back to Corfu busying himself travelling extensively to Constantinople, Asia Minor, Egypt, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland, participating in the Panhellenic Exhibitions in Athens and presenting his first solo showing in 1886 at the Athenian Club. His talent was noticed by the British Ambassador to Greece, Clare Ford who commissioned Giallinas to paint for him seven albums of landscapes from Venice, Spain, Rhodes and Istanbul. Ford also arranged exhibitions in Athens and in London, which ran from 1891 to 1892, and introduced Giallinas to the European Court nobility. “Giallinas worked for King George I of Greece, and through this connection was patronised by George’s sister, Queen Alexandra, and King Edward VII when Prince and Princess of Wales. Later, Queen Mary, as Duchess of York, visited three exhibitions of Giallinas’s work in London.” https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/giallinas-angelos.html and https://www.rct.uk/collection/929332/garden-in-greece-or-corfu

Angelos Giallinas was never idle. Throughout his artistic career, he exhibited both in Greece and in Europe. His participation at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris was one such important affair while his grand solo exhibition at the Galerie D’Art Geo of 1918 is another. In 1902 he founded his own private Art School at Corfu. In 1907/8 he was commissioned to decorate with murals the Achilleion Palace in Corfu, built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria as her country residence. https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/giallinas-angelos.html

According to the Averoff Museum experts “Angelos Giallinas expressed himself primarily in watercolor. A large portion of his oeuvre comprised landscapes from the island of Corfu, his birthplace and home following his studies in Rome, Naples, and Venice. An extensive traveler, Giallinas made a multitude of watercolor renderings of views and scenes of the places he visited, work that he exhibited repeatedly in Greece as well as abroad. He was associated with the Scuola di Posilipo, founded in Naples by the painter Giacinto Gigante and the best-known school of watercolor technique. Giallinas brought images to paper with a sensitivity and spontaneity particular to this medium, without neglecting the careful attention to detail, which he rendered with an expert knowledge of drawing and the precise arrangement of areas of pure, bright color.” https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/garden-in-corfu/?lang=en

Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas in the Averoff Museum in Metsovo is typical of the artist’s style. A poetic image of springtime, this colourful watercolour echoes the artist’s training in a Classicistic style of Romanticism and presents a well-balanced composition, attention to detail, sensitivity to light rendering and colouristic nuances. What is it not to admire…

For a Student Activity on the BLOG POST Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas, please… Check HERE! https://www.teachercurator.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Giallinas-CorfuGAG-StAct.docx

Corfu Garden http://www.mediterraneangardensocietyarchive.org/87-corfu.html

Odilon Redon and Pandora’s Box

Odilon Redon, 1840-1916
Pandora, 1910/1912, oil on canvas, 143.5 x 62.9 cm, NGA, Washington DC, USA https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.46531.html#bibliography

It is nature also who orders us to obey the gifts she has given us. Mine have led me to dreams; I submitted to the torments of imagination and the surprises she gave me under my pencil; but I directed and led those surprises in accordance with the laws of the organism of art which I know, which I feel, with the single goal of producing in the spectator, by sudden attraction, the whole evocation, and the whole enticement of the uncertain within the confines of thought… writes Odilon Redon in his journals To Myself: Notes on Life, Art, and Artists… and I think of Odilon Redon and Pandora’s Box in Washington DC, at the National Gallery. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/288740.Odilon_Redon

Odilon Redon is one of my favourite artists. As a student, I knew little of him. As a young teacher of Art History I hardly ever used his work… until, preparing for a Lesson Plan on the Myth of Pandora, I rediscovered his Pandora painting at the NGA and the Museum’s wonderful suggestions for Student Activities. My students responded positively to his imaginary world… and I was hooked!

Odilon Redon, 1840-1916
Self-Portrait, 1880, oil on canvas, 33.3×52 cm, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, France https://www.wikiart.org/en/odilon-redon/self-portrait-1880

I like how Odilon’s work is described at ARTSY… “Known for his unique blend of artistic naturalism and symbolic subject matter, Odilon Redon was highly influential among the late 19th century French avant-garde circle. Working in charcoal, pastel, oil, and lithography, Redon created imaginative scenes that, while often based in the supernatural, were nonetheless executed in a highly representational manner. Redon considered this descriptive accuracy essential, writing “every time that a human figure does not give the illusion that it is … about to come out of the picture frame to walk, act or think, the drawing is not a truly modern one.” Redon was influenced by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé and admired by the painters Gustave Moreau and Gustave Klimt—as such he is often remembered as a Symbolist, though Redon preferred autonomy and never actually considered himself part of the group.” What more could I add… https://www.artsy.net/artwork/odilon-redon-ari

My students and I are captivated by the Myth of Pandora and the elusive way Odilon presents her story… Off-centre, Pandora stands in front of an atmospheric background, misty and hazy, luminous, ethereal and a touch, mysterious. The power of the artist’s mind creates organic forms, indistinct and intangible. The colours the artist uses are subtle, understated, yet joyous, warm and earthy. The box in Pandora’s hands is small, easily discerned buts not ostentatious… http://www.hellenicaworld.com/Art/Books/en/BeyondTheVisibleTheArtOfOdilonRedon.html

Painted by: The Niobid Painter
The Creation of Pandora,
460BC-450 BC, Attic Red Figure Calyx krater, attributed to the Niobid Painter, Archaic period, British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1856-1213-1

The myth of Pandora is beautifully told by the experts of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC… According to Greek mythology, in the beginning the earth was free from toil and misery. The land was covered with flowers and the rivers flowed with milk and honey. Earth was inhabited only by men, who had been created by Prometheus. He made them of clay and modeled them after the gods, which angered Zeus, the king of the gods. When Prometheus offended Zeus again by stealing fire from heaven to give to man, Zeus exacted revenge. He ordered Hephaestus, the god of the forge, to create Pandora, the first woman. The gods gave her many traits including beauty, curiosity, charm, and cleverness. Hence her name “Pandora,” meaning “all gifted” or, alternately, “a gift to all.” Before he left Pandora on earth, Zeus handed her a beautiful box saying, “This is my own special gift to you. Don’t ever open it.” As Zeus anticipated, Pandora’s curiosity got the best of her, and she opened the box, ending earthly paradise. From the small chest flew troubles and woes—sorrow, disease, vice, violence, greed, madness, old age, death—to plague humankind forever. However, Zeus did not realize that hope had been secretly added to the box by Promethesus. When Pandora opened the box and released trouble and woe into the world, hope was there to help people survive. https://www.nga.gov/education/teachers/lessons-activities/origin-myths/pandora.html

For interesting Student Activities, please click and explore the NGA site… https://www.nga.gov/education/teachers/lessons-activities/origin-myths/pandora.html

The myth of Pandora’s box by Iseult Gillespie at TEDEd is worth exploring… https://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-myth-of-pandora-s-box-iseult-gillespie

For a PowerPoint on the Myth of Pandora Teacher Curator prepared, please… Click HERE!

Odilon Redon, 1840–1916
Pandora, 1914, oil on canvas, 143.5 x 62.2 cm, the MET, NY https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437383

Clean Monday Feast

Spero Vassiliou, 1903-1985
Clean Monday Feast, 1950, oil on wood, 125×78, Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art
https://paletaart.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/%CE%B2%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%B9%CE%BB%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF%CF%85-%CF%83%CF%80%CF%8D%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%82-spyros-vassiliou-1903-1985/#jp-carousel-4424

Could Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1–20) introduce us to the theme of Clean Monday with his Old Testament verses? “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Are the following Matthew verses (Matthew 6:14–21)  indicative of the Greek Orthodox festive, springtime atmosphere of Clean Monday? “When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret…” I like to think that the painting Clean Monday Feast by Spero Vassiliou embodies Matthew’s recommendations and presents the glorious Greek Clean Monday at its best!     https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Isaiah%201:1%E2%80%9320&version=nrsv     and     https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew%206:14%E2%80%9321&version=nrsv

Austerity and Affluence… two words that best describe, in my humble opinion, Vassiliou’s painting Clean Monday Feast in the Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art. Let me explain…

Austerity… in the green, tripod, metal table, centrally displayed, full of traditional νηστίσιμα(fasting foods) humble delicacies that mark the beginning of Lent… for the day, Clean Monday, when relatives and friends celebrate the upcoming period of humility, self-criticism and mutual forgiveness. Vassiliou’s green coloured table displays a piece of Lagana, the unleavened popular bread of the day, Throubes, sun-dried black olives, crunchy spring onions, the grocer’s halva with tasty almonds, the heart of tender lettuce, a deep yellow plate full of crisp, local “greens,”  a white plate with salty, but so tasty red fish roe, and retsina, the Greek resinated white wine, popular in Greece for at least 2,000 years.

Affluence… in the love the artist held for the simple things of everyday life, insignificant at first sight, yet eloquent, meaningful and deeply moving for all the initiates of Greek Clean Monday rituals. Spero Vassiliou’s family tradition for Clean Monday was to invite his friends for a day’s feast on the roof(ταράτσα) of his house, below the Acropolis of Athens! The 1950 painting, titled Clean Monday Feast, is glowingly colourful, brightly sunny, gloriously festive!

Spero Vassiliou “studied painting at the “School of Arts” (later Athens School of Fine Arts) from 1921 to 1926. He was among the students who struggled for the reorganization of the School and who attended the studio of the newly elected professor, Nikos Lytras.” An active member of the Greek Artists Association, Vasiliou put together solo exhibitions as early as 1929, participated in creating stage design and costumes for about 140 plays, and won the prestigious Academy of Athens Award for designing the frescoes in the church of Saint Dionysius Areopagites in Athens. By the late 1940s, Vassiliou was an active member of the Greek intelligentsia representing a style linked to surrealism or pop art with a dominant dose of “aspects of contemporary Greek life in a picturesque and vivid way, sometimes inspired by folklore forms…”     http://dp.iset.gr/en/artist/view.html?id=1080

Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art – The original Historic Building in Symi Square
https://www.rodos-palace.gr/discover-rhodes/510/Museums-and-Antiquities/

The painting Clean Monday Feast by Spero Vassiliou is part of the Collection of the Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art. The driving force behind the creation of the Municipality Museum was Andreas Ioannou, “a distinguished scholar of modern Greek art, writer and prefect of Dodecanese.” He foresaw the leading role Rhodes could play as a cultural center of international fame and decided, back in the 1950s, to create an emblematic Museum of Modern Greek Art. “For this reason he came in contact with the leading Greek artists, acquired their emblematic works and housed them in the historic building of Symi Square at the entrance of the Medieval City of Rhodes, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”     https://www.mgamuseum.gr/el/to-mouseio/  

Today, the Municipality Museum has 4 very distinct Art Galleries. The original Historic Building on Symi Square is the center where Engravings of the 19th – 20th centuries, Publications and Posters will be exhibited. The “Nestorideion Melathron” houses the Museum’s permanent collection of 20th century Modern Greek Art, including Vassiliou’s Clean Monday Feast. The Modern Art Centre, situated at the main thoroughfare in the Medieval Town “Palaio Syssitio,” has been chosen as the center for the first permanent exhibition dedicated to the famous and characteristic Rhodesian Ceramic Art. Finally, in 2010, the Museum inaugurated a new center dedicated to the cultural activities of the island.     https://www.mgamuseum.gr/el/to-mouseio/

Get enthused by Spero Vassiliou’s Painting Clean Monday Feast and prepare a Student Activity inspired by the depicted Kites! Use a List of ONLINE sites to find out what best suits your students! Click HERE!