Matisse and Jazz

Henri Matisse once said… “Jazz is rhythm and meaning.” My students love to explore Matisse’s oeuvre and his Illustrated Book Jazz is a particular favourite. They like the brightly coloured pochoirs, his fluid lines and the energy every single illustration transmits. My new BLOG POST, Matisse and Jazz is inspired by two illustrations in Jazz, exhibited in Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens. It is dedicated to my students…

What is Jazz?

According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History … “Jazz is a kind of music in which improvisation is typically an important part. In most jazz performances, players play solos which they make up on the spot, which requires considerable skill. There is tremendous variety in jazz, but most jazz is very rhythmic, has a forward momentum called “swing,” and uses “bent” or “blue” notes… Jazz can express many different emotions, from pain to sheer joy… ” https://americanhistory.si.edu/smithsonian-jazz/education/what-jazz

What is the definition of Jazz?

“The origin of the word jazz has resulted in considerable research, and its history is well documented. It is believed to be related to jasm, a slang term dating back to 1860 meaning pep, energy, zest for accomplishment, drive, energy… The earliest written record of the word is in a 1912 article in the Los Angeles Times in which a minor league baseball pitcher described a pitch which he called a jazz ball because it wobbles and you simply can’t do anything with it”.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz     and     https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jasm

Is Matisse’s Illustrated Book Jazz doing justice to the word?

I believe it does…The book’s title might be musical, but the illustrations are “experimental, and improvisational in nature” …just like Jazz music. “The designs were initially intended as covers for Verve, a French art magazine published by Tériade. In 1947, Tériade issued the compositions in an artist’s portfolio. The book included 20 colour prints, each about 16 by 26 inches (41 by 66 cm), as well as Matisse’s handwritten notes expressing his thoughts throughout the process. Tériade gave it the title Jazz, which Matisse liked because it suggested a connection between art and musical improvisation. Despite the low number of books printed, Jazz was well received.”     https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/353770     and     https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/151.2014.4/      and     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_(Henri_Matisse)

In Athens, Greece, the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation exhibits two Matisse Pochoirs from Jazz… The Nightmare of the White Elephant, and The Cowboy.

Henri Matisse, 1869 – 1954
The Nightmare of the White Elephant, Jazz, 1947, Coloured pochoir on Arches paper, on double-page, 172/250, 42 × 65 cm, original edition, printed by Edmond Vairel (French, 20th century), published by Tériade for Éditions Verve (French, 1943–1975) in Paris, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/matisse-henri-the-nightmare-of-the-white-elephant-jazz

“Matisse’s assistant Lydia Delectorskaya recorded his (Matisse’s) descriptions of the various images. According to her notes, in The Nightmare of the White Elephant, the white elephant is performing its act standing on a ball, under dazzling circus lights, while memories of his native black forest assail him like red tongues of fire, with all the violence of arrows.”   https://www.artic.edu/artworks/230693/the-nightmare-of-the-white-elephant-from-jazz     and     https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/matisse-henri-the-nightmare-of-the-white-elephant-jazz     

Henri Matisse, 1869 – 1954
The Cowboy, Jazz, 1947, Coloured pochoir on Arches paper, on double-page, 172/250, 42 × 65 cm, original edition, printed by Edmond Vairel (French, 20th century), published by Tériade for Éditions Verve (French, 1943–1975) in Paris, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/matisse-henri-the-cow-boy-jazz

“Matisse is well known for creating rich, lush blacks as shown here. The deep hue of The Cowboy, the lasso, and the woman stand in stark contrast to the light, bright colours of the background.”     https://www.artic.edu/artworks/230703/the-cowboy-from-jazz     and     https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/matisse-henri-the-cow-boy-jazz    

For a PowerPoint on Jazz, please… check HERE!

Watercolours by Howard Carter

Under the protection of the gods, marked and dated “Howard Carter 1908 “, watercolour on paper, 62 x 46 cm, private collection
https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-la-decouverte-des-tresors-de-carter.html
 “…Carter painted Under the Protection of the Gods (1908), a composite fantasy that depicts a vulture — representing the goddess Nekhebet, protector of Upper Egypt — above a solar disc wrapped in a cobra — representing the goddess Wadjet, protector of Lower Egypt. It’s likely that the iconography of the watercolour was inspired by some of Carter’s finds in Thebes, including the 18th Dynasty Tomb of Tetaki and a 15th Dynasty tomb with nine coffins.”     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/date/2014/11/page/3

“…as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words, ‘Yes, wonderful things.” This is how Howard Carter, the famous archaeologist, describes his discovery in 1922 of the Tomb of Tutankhamen. In my new BLOG POST, I want to introduce Watercolours by Howard Carter… his first steps on Egyptian Archaeology.

Statue of the Goddess Sakhmet, ca. 1390–1352 BC, New Kingdom – 18th Dynasty – reign of Amenhotep III, Granodiorite, 210 x 47.5 x 95.5 cm, the MET, NY

Could the Statue of the Goddess Sakhmet at the MET in New York be responsible for Howard Carter’s love for Egyptology? Well… According to THE HISTORY BLOG, young Carter was a frequent visitor to Didlington Hall, the estate William Amhurst Daniel-Tyssen, a patron of the accomplished artist and illustrator Samuel John Carter, Howard’s artist father, visited on several occasions on painting commissions. Didlington Hall is where the young Carter, home-schooled and trained in the arts by his father, first became exposed to Egyptology.

“Amherst was an avid collector of Egyptian antiquities. He, his wife Margaret Mitford (whose father had a passion for all things Egyptian as well) and their seven daughters traveled frequently to Egypt, constantly acquiring new artefacts. A whole wing of Didlington Hall was dedicated to housing his vast collection. Seven statues of the lion-headed warrior goddess Sekhmet guarded the door of the museum, one for each of the Amherst daughters. …The Amherst family didn’t just give Howard Carter the chance to explore Egyptian art through their extensive collection. It was their recommendations and contacts that secured him his first job in Egypt. He was just 17 years old when he was hired as a tracer — someone who copies inscriptions and artwork found in excavations onto paper for later study — for the Egyptian Exploration Fund (EEF) in 1891. This was an essential job in the age before colour photography. Watercolours were the only accurate recreations of tomb decorations available.”     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/33258

Howard Carter, 1874-1939
Hoopoe Bird, 1891, from the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan, watercolour on paper, EES Lucy Gura Archive. https://www.ees.ac.uk/reuniting-the-carter-watercolours
“Carter was most interested in making carefully coloured drawings of the more
interesting and important details among these mural decorations”     https://www.academia.edu/8582513/The_Archaeological_Survey

Young Carter distinguished himself as a tracer for his artistic abilities, dedication and diligence. In 1891, hired by the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF), Carter assisted an Amherst family friend, Percy Newberry, in the excavation and recording of Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan. His Watercolours are accurate, innovative and charming.

Howard Carter, 1874-1939
Horus, 1895, Watercolour copy of a painted scene showing the Horus falcon from the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, Griffith Institute, University of Oxford
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p023dbvk/p023d3x7

Carter’ first steps to field “archaeology were taken on his next assignment at El-Amarna under pioneering Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1892. He was still an artist, recording artefacts as they were discovered, but Petrie allowed him to dig too, and Carter made some significant finds.” From 1894 to 1899, he worked with Édouard Naville at Deir el-Bahari, where he recorded the wall reliefs in the temple of Hatshepsut, joined in the excavation process of the temple and learned restoration techniques as well. Watercolours by Howard Carter of the Deir el-Bahari period are among his finest, as he frequently stated that “When reproducing an ancient art, let us, by all means, be accurate, and employ every kind of mechanical aid to obtain that objective; but let that mechanical aid be our assistant, not our master.”

Howard Carter, 1874-1939
Hieroglyphs, 1891, Deir el-Bersha, Tomb of Djehutihotep II – Temples of Sesostris II and Sesostris III, watercolour on paper, 42.3 x 28.7 cm, Griffith Institute, University of Oxford
http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/4GI_wd_072.html

In 1899, Carter was “appointed Inspector of Monuments for Upper Egypt in the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS), and …supervised the systematic exploration of the valley of the Kings by the American archaeologist Theodore Davis.” His successful career, however, came to a halt because of a violent confrontation between Egyptian site guards, under Carter’s permission, and a group of aggressive French tourists. Carter resigned his position and for the next years “had something of a hard scrabble existence. He sold his watercolours or guided tours to make a living.” In 1907 “he hit the jackpot. French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero, Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service who had given Carter the Chief Inspector General job, introduced him to George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Carnarvon had deep pockets and was keen to fund archaeological excavations. He got the necessary licenses and made Carter the Supervisor of Excavations in Thebes.”  The rest is history…     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/33258     and     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Carter

The student Activity on Watercolours by Howard Carter is inspired by the work on The Middle Kingdom Tombs at Deir el-Bersha, the Reconstruction of tomb wall-scenes using watercolours from the Griffith Institute Archive and the Tomb of Djehutihotep in particular, please… Click HERE!

Reconstruction drawing of the tomb of Djehutihotep (Drawing M. Hense)
“When reproducing an ancient art, let us, by all means, be accurate, and employ every kind of mechanical aid to obtain that objective; but let that mechanical aid be our assistant, not our master.” Howard Carter
https://www.digital-epigraphy.com/projects/recording-djehutihotep-digital-epigraphy-in-a-middle-kingdom-governors-tomb-at-dayr-al-barsha-part-1

Thalia Flora-Karavia

Thalia Flora-Karavia, 1871-1960
A Girl dressed in the traditional costume of Gida, 1905, pastel on paper, 0,73×0,40 cm, Athanasios Zahos Collection   

The outbreak of the First Balkan War in October 1912 found the painter Thalia Flora-Karavia in Munich. She hastily returns to Alexandria and undertakes the obligation of sending NEWS from the Front to the Alexandrian Ephimeris-Newspaper of the Greek Diaspora, which was published by her husband Niko Karavia. As she notes and I paraphrase… ” At that moment, the hostilities were in Macedonia, my particular homeland; shocking as it was…I wanted to watch the liberation struggle up close; with my pencils and crayons and the obligation to write for the Alexandrian ” Newspaper of the Greek Diaspora “, I passed through Athens to obtain the relevant ministerial permit and set off for Thessaloniki… Greek at last “.     https://www.kozanilife.gr/2016/10/24/thaleia-flora-karavia-polemika-sxedia-skitsa-siatista/

Born in Siatista in 1871, Thalia Flora-Karavia belonged to a generation of artists who followed the 19th-century Greek tradition of studying Art in Munich. She never attended the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, she could not do so as a woman. She did, however, take classes in design and painting in a private school, studying beside artists such as Nikolaos Vokos, Paul Nauen, Anton Ažbe and Walter Thor. Thalia Flora-Karavia followed the campaigns of the Greek army during the Balkan War of 1912-1913,  keeping a diary and sketching various impressions which she published in 1936 in a book entitled Εντυπώσεις από τον πόλεμο του 1912-1913. Μακεδονία-Ήπειρος (Impressions from the War of 1912-1913. Macedonia-Epirus). Today, Thalia Flora-Karavia, known as the painter of the Balkan Wars par excellence, impresses us with her unique personality, patriotic ethos, rich artistic abilities, and distinctive talent to catch the “moment” of countless Balkan War protagonists.     https://womennart.com/2020/05/27/who-was-thalia-flora-karavia/     and     https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/flora-karavia-thaleia.html

 Greek painter Thalia Flora-Karavia with Evzona, Preveza – October 1912, photograph in the Παναθήναια magazine, Γ. Μπόντα Archive

By November 25, 1912, the painter was in Thessaloniki, just a month after the city’s Liberation. She witnessed exciting days, historical developments and emotional moments… Hosted by the architect Athanasios Zachos and his wife Pagona, Thalia Flora-Karavia explored the city… its famous harbour, the Byzantine Churches, even Villa Allatini where the deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid was held under house arrest during the period 1909-1912. She also travelled to Thessaloniki’s countryside, in primitive conditions and by whatever means she could find…constantly recording her impressions! Could the small sketch of A Girl dressed in the traditional costume of Gida, be one of those impressions or was it painted earlier? I can’t tell but I like it a lot! Άγνωστα Έργα της Θάλειας Φλωρά-Καραβία στη Θεσσαλονίκη by Alkis Charalampidis is a good article to start your exploration.     https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/makedonika/article/viewFile/6049/5787

Thalia Flora-Karavia, 1871-1960
Refugees in Thessaloniki, December 1912, coloured drawing on paper, 0,46 X 0,305, Γ΄ ΣΣ/NRDC-GR Collection

Starting November 25, 1912, the painter travels with the Greek Army… visiting places where neither a journalist nor another citizen is allowed to be, and only in Art are such sacred privileges given… recording little of blood-stained fields and more of everyday life of the soldiers in the rear and the portraits of interesting men and women, priests, nurses, gendarmes, members of the Royal Family, her friends and hosts, refugees… Thalia’s Flora-Karavia artworks from the Balkan Wars are unique primary sources that document four months of incredible “adventures.” She was a sensitive eyewitness and a thoughtful observer who defied every difficulty and prejudice, recording moments of humanity under peril.     https://www.thinkfree.gr/thaleia-flora-karavia-kentro-istorias/

For a Student Activity on Thalia Flora-Karavia and Thessaloniki’s 1912 Liberation, please… Check HERE!

My Grade 2 students are happy with what they accomplished!
They are little STARS!!!

Louise Glück and William Waterhouse

William Waterhouse, 1849-1917
Penelope and the Suitors, 1912, oil on canvas, 129.8 x 188 cm, Aberdeen Art Gallery

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to the US poet Louise Glück… “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal. Louise Glück and William Waterhouse created Penelope’s Song and Penelope and the Suitors respectively. Could the thread between Penelope’s teeth be the “detail” that connects them? Little soul, little perpetually undressed one…     https://emuseum.aberdeencity.gov.uk/objects/2543/penelope-and-the-suitors?ctx=834e759eb70bc93f740b9ba0ca929699d45a9ea3&idx=0 and     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/     and     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/#interview

Brian Henry is so right when he writes… “Since Homer introduced that wily traveller Odysseus to the world, countless poets have attempted to resurrect the tale and make it their own. Odysseus’ ten-year voyage home has become an undeniable part of our collective unconscious.” The Odyssey is the greatest narration of the western civilization, and according to BBC, Homer’s famous epic is No. 1 of its Culture’s list with the 100 “fictional stories that shaped the world”. How successful is it for a contemporary poet to compare with the Odyssey?  Once more, I will quote Brian Henry, who believes that Louise Glück’s “weaving” in Meadowlands “is a dualistic narrative that juxtaposes an ordinary contemporary marriage against Odysseus’ famous one.”

Reading through Louise Glück’s Meadowlands, it is apparent that the poet “is less interested in the man (Odysseus) and more intrigued by the people around him – Penelope, Telemachus, Circe…” and, “…as suitors swarm the house, cleaning out the cupboards and basically wrecking the place, Penelope stoically weaves…” I particularly like Penelope’s Song, the book’s opening poem, as “it captures perfectly her (Penelope) vacillating personality. …The poem is worth quoting in full because it evinces both Glück’s mastery of this psychological complexity and her always-engaging language.”     Brian Henry’s 1998 article The Odyssey Revisited in the National Journal of Literature and Discussion:      https://www.vqronline.org/odyssey-revisited     and     https://yougoculture.com/news/first-place-odyssey-bbcs-list

Painted by William Waterhouse in1912, Penelope and the Suitors stirred much debate and discourse. Inspired by Homer’s famous story of fidelity and marital devotion, Waterhouse presents a crucial event in Penelope’s life… “For many years, her husband Odysseus had been absent at the siege of Troy. Pressed to make a second marriage, she stalls for time, telling the crowds of suitors that they must wait until she has finished weaving a shroud for her father-in-law. During the day she works at her weaving and at night, still convinced that Odysseus will return, she undoes all her day’s work.”

William Waterhouse was an enthusiastic follower of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the work of Rossetti in particular. Penelope is the central figure of the composition, dark-haired, dressed in dusk red, turns her back to the persistent suitors who woo her with all their persuasive might. My favourite “touch” is the thread between her teeth… it somehow unnerves me…

Penelope and the Suitors, completed in 1912, was the last of John William Waterhouse’s paintings on a mythological theme exhibited at the Royal Academy. Commissioned by Aberdeen Art Gallery, it was first displayed at its exhibition on New Year’s Eve 1911 before being returned to the artist for amendment and completion and then shown at the Royal Academy in the summer of 1912. The following year it was exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts.”     https://engole.info/penelope-and-the-suitors/     and     https://emuseum.aberdeencity.gov.uk/objects/2543/penelope-and-the-suitors?ctx=834e759eb70bc93f740b9ba0ca929699d45a9ea3&idx=0

For all of my POSTS, I try to introduce a PowerPoint or a Student Activity to facilitate my teacher/readers. For Student Activity on… Louise Glück and William Waterhouse, please… Click HERE!

Poet Louise Glück, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the 2015 National Humanities Medal and the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature.     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/     and     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/#interview

Aristide Maillol and La Méditerranée

Aristide Maillol, 861–1944
La Méditerranée, between 1923 and 1927, marble , 110.5 x  117.5 x  68.5 cm, Musée d’ Orsay, Paris

I like what Aristide Maillol said or wrote about Art! To his biographer, for example, Judith Cladel (1939 – 1944) he remarked I seek beauty, not character. For me portraiture and statuary are completely opposed to each other.”He is also quoted saying “I make [figures] in which I try to give an impression of the whole…” and “A [figure] interests me when I can bring architecture out of it.” Can I do justice to what he said in my new POST on Aristide Maillol and La Méditerranée? This is my wish…https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Aristide_Maillol

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, as he turned from a career as a painter and a graphic and tapestry designer to concentrate on sculpture, Aristide Maillol was shaping what would become the leitmotif of his career. The subject that inspired him was the female nude, carefully observed but transmuted by underlying geometric forms into a kind of architecture, evoking the timeless rather than the individual. Without losing sight of nature, Maillol strove for simplicity, balance, and serenity in composing his beloved type of full-bodied, youthful beauty.” This is how Alison Luchs describes Aristide’s Maillol’s first steps to sculpture and I have nothing else to add! Every summer as I lay on the Aegean shores, enjoying the golden sun and the blue of the sky… as I feel the freshness of the sea breeze on my skin, I think of Maillol’s  La Méditerranée, his vision on female beauty, and enjoy definitive summer bliss!    https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.93096.html

Aristide Maillol is a French artist who started as a painter, matured artistically as a tapestry designer and finally reached international fame as a sculptor. Born on December 8, 1861, in Banyuls-sur-Mer, a small town located in the south of France in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales of the French region Languedoc-Roussillon, Maillol is today famous for his unique statues of monumental female nudes that closely resemble the statues of Greek Classical antiquity. It all started in 1881, when Maillol, a young man of twenty, moved to Paris to study art and become a painter. It was a tough decision he took, but four years of dire struggle later, he was accepted in the École des Beaux-Arts to study art under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel. Interested in the avant-garde of the time, Maillol befriended Paul Gauguin who encouraged him to pursue his growing interest in decorative art, and specifically to take up tapestry design. In 1893 he opened a tapestry workshop in his hometown producing tapestries of the highest technical and aesthetic quality, so much so that he is considered today as the man responsible for reviving this old art form in France. In 1895 his experimentation with sculpture began, a new passion flourished and the rest is history…     http://www.artnet.com/artists/aristide-maillol/     and     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristide_Maillol

It took Maillol five years, a creative process that started in 1900 and culminated in 1905, to finalize his first major success as a sculptor. La Méditerranée is the “image of a woman seated on the ground, her head bent forward, one leg at rest on the earth with the foot crossing under the archway formed by the opposite raised knee.” A series of drawings, small clay or larger statuettes in plaster, were among his first attempts, until in 1905, the “final plaster version, 110 centimetres high and called simply Woman, appeared in the center of a room at the Salon d’ Automne in Paris.” It caused a sensation and Maillol’s friend André Gide wrote that Maillol’s Woman “is beautiful, she means nothing; it is a silent work. I believe one must go far back in time to find such complete neglect of any preoccupation beyond the simple manifestation of beauty.”

Aristide Maillol, 1861–1944
La Méditerranée, c. 1906, marble, 21.6 x 17.2 x 12.7 cm, National Gallery, Washington DC

As popular as it became, Aristide Maillol was asked to create many versions of his original La Méditerranée plaster statue and he did! His greatest patron, the German count Harry Kessler, commissioned a full-sized stone version, now at Winterthur, Oskar Reinhart Collection, and the French state commissioned a marble statue of La Méditerranée in 1923 that is now exhibited in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. The artist created bronzes of the statue as well cast from the exhibited plaster, exhibited today in the Jardin du Carrousel, in Paris and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. A smaller version in marble, now in the National Gallery in Washington DC, equally enchanting, differs from the large versions in the way the artist placed the woman’s left hand closer to her cheek than to the top of her head.

The Woman was baptized La Méditerranée in the early 1920s with Aristide Maillol saying “I had thought of calling her Young Girl in the Sun; then, on a day of beautiful light, she appeared to me so alive, so radiant in her natural atmosphere that I baptised her Mediterranean. Not The Mediterranean, a sea that we know well. That’s not what I was after. My idea in sculpting her Mediterranean spirit? That’s why I chose her name and why I want her to keep it.”

“Does she not incarnate the land of light, the region of radiant intelligence, the Greco-Roman zone where she had her birth and the ancient race that populates its shores?” Wrote the critic Judith Cladel.

Valuable information was drawn from     https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.93096.html     and     https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire_id/the-mediterranean-3182.html

For a Student Activity, please…check HERE!

Maillol tapestry workshop in Banyuls, around 1895 © archives Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol Foundation, Paris

Grant Wood and the Revolutionary Spirit

Grant Wood, 1891-1942
Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931, Oil on Masonite, 76.2 × 101.6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, Photograph: © 1988 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art © Estate of Grant Wood / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Listen, my children, and you shall hear  /  Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,  /  On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-five;  /  Hardly a man is now alive  /  Who remembers that famous day and year…Wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow back in 1860. Grant Wood and the Revolutionary Spirit is my new POST on a 20th-century painting capturing the most important moment in the story of Paul Revere.    https://poets.org/poem/paul-reveres-ride

Eight years of Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and Art in America came to a halt. Some prominent Colonial artists were in England at the time, studying, and remained there, others, disagreeing with the violence, embraced neutrality. Yet some, although safe in Europe, returned to fight and take part in building a new nation. They all managed to give a view of the period with portraits, historical scenes and more. From architectural buildings to furniture, silverware, glass and porcelain, adorned with symbols of patriotism and national pride, people were proud of their new nation and showed it.

Grant Wood is an American artist who has never lost his “Revolutionary” vision and spirit. He was born in 1981, on a farm in rural Anamosa, Iowa, but unfortunate circumstances, his father’s unexpected early death, forced the family to move to Cedar Rapids where Wood, a High School student by then, was introduced to Art. As a school graduate, he first moved to Minnesota and Chicago later, where he took Art Classes with Ernest A. Batchelder and Charles Cumming until 1916 when he returned to Cedar Rapids to take care, financially, of his mother and sister, working as a home builder and decorator. The end of World War I changed Wood’s career as he began teaching Art at McKinley Middle School. In the 1920’ Wood travelled to Europe, and in 1925, he gave up teaching to focus on his art full-time encouraged by his friend David Turner, “the savvy and energetic mortician,” and the people of Cedar Rapids who “like a revelation… their clothes, their homes, the patterns on their table cloths and curtains, the tools they used” kindled his creativity as he “suddenly saw all this commonplace stuff as material for art. Wonderful material!”

If the 1920’ were Wood’s formative years, the 1930s saw Wood’s artistic maturity and recognition as a leading figure of the American Regionalist movement, a rather conservative and traditionalist style that appealed to popular American sensibilities and the need for an American cultural identity. His famous painting American Gothic won a medal at the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual exhibition in 1930, the Institute bought the painting, and Wood, thirty-nine years old, saw his reputation rise among his colleagues. Back in Cedar Rapids, he joined forces with Ed Rowen and created the quaint Stone City Art Colony, where they taught classes through Coe College. In 1934, his life changed dramatically when he accepted a position as professor of Art at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. His appointment to the University of Iowa was ill-fated as a series of unpleasant events professionally stressed him and personally harassed him…  https://www.theartstory.org/artist/wood-grant/life-and-legacy/

In 1931 Wood painted a charming, captivating and enchanting painting titled The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. In Picturing America Teachers Resource Book we read “Wood was a self-consciously “primitive” painter who emulated the unpretentious, unschooled manner of American folk artists… The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere goes one step further to capture a child’s point of view. A bird’s-eye perspective (like the view from an airplane) allows us to survey a vast sweep of countryside and gives the New England village the ordered clarity of a town made of toys: the country church and surrounding houses are simple geometric shapes, as though constructed of building blocks; the trees are crowned with perfect green spheres, like those a child would try to draw… The rolling landscape beyond is left sleeping in a darkness that is broken only by tiny glimmers from faraway windows. To complete this evocation of a childhood dream, Wood whimsically portrays Paul Revere’s trusty steed—“flying fearless and fleet,” in Longfellow’s words—as a rocking horse.”     https://picturingamerica.neh.gov/downloads/pdfs/Resource_Guide/English/English_PA_TeachersGuide.pdf

Upper Elementary and Middle School students find the historic event of Paul Revere riding on the night of April 18, 1775, to alert the colonial militia to the approach of British forces exciting and fascinating. We discuss historic events, we read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, explore and discuss Wood’s painting Using Picturing America Teachers Resource Book. Finally, for homework, I usually assign them to do an Activity you can access… HERE!

When Fashion becomes Art

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, 1871-1949
Delphos Champagne pleated silk Dress with separate gold stencilled empire waistband, armholes and side seams decorated at the hem with white, blue and yellow Murano glass beads, 1920, private collection
Delphos Dress, ca. 1920, Collezioni di Museo Fortuny, inv. MFN01711 ©Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Museo Fortuny
The Charioteer, 478-474 BC, bronze, Delphi Archaeological Museum

“It’s not the quantity, but the quality of light, that makes things visible.” Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo once said. When Fashion becomes Art is my new POST on Fortuny’s quest for high quality, the shimmering glow of silk, body movement and the Delphos Dress.

It is 1909, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo creates the Delphos Dress inspired by the Statue of the Charioteer at Delphi. “The sculpture depicts the driver of the chariot race at the moment when he presents his chariot and horses to the spectators in recognition of his victory. Despite the severity of the moment, the youth’s demeanor encapsulates the moment of glory, and the recognition of his eternal athletic and moral stature, with abundant humility.” Fortuny, fascinated by the beauty of the Charioteer but focused on the Xystis, the typical Chiton all Charioteers wore while driving in a competition, designed the Delphos Dress as a unique, timeless and iconic 20th century garment. Helen von Nostitz visited Fortuny in his Venetian Palazzo and wrote “There were Mycenaean patterns and the garment of the Charioteer of Delphi with its  bold and noble drapery. The splendor of the garments glowed between the simple wooded pillars, like the sun setting on the lagoon; from deep orange to radiant carmine, the symphony of color played all tones. Fortuny stood next to them almost austere…” Gabriele Brandstetter, Poetics of Dance: Body, Image, and Space in the Historical Avant-Gardes, Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015     https://books.google.gr/books?id=brDlBgAAQBAJ&pg=PT114&lpg=PT114&dq=Charioteer+Delphi+garment&source=bl&ots=Qj_Xair0zi&sig=ACfU3U3xXLNQ3kwQZLaq9SBLkldlClKVxQ&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiLvP7S9svqAhVQyaQKHSjRCP4Q6AEwEXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Charioteer%20Delphi%20garment&f=false

Lillian Gish in Fortuny, 1920 
Isadora Duncan in a Delphos Dress with her daughter
Mrs. William Wetmore
modelling a Delphos Dress in front of Fortuny fabric. Originally published in Vogue, December 15, 1935

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, painter, set designer, photographer, inventor and technology aficionado, was born to an artistic family, in Granada Spain, in May 11, 1871. His father, Mariano Fortuny y Marsal, was a successful genre painter and an avid collector of antiquities and artefacts. His mother, Cecilia de Madrazo y Garreta, was a noted collector of textiles. Fortuny was only three years old when his father died and his mother decided to move to Paris so that her family will be close to their cousin Coco de Madrazo, an artist in the circle of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Mariano Fortuny, growing up in a very artistic and theatrical environment, an artist himself, developed two very distinct passions, first, how to best apply the latest lighting technology to the performing arts and galleries of art, and second, how to create inimitable and stunning textiles for timeless fashion designs. Whatever he did, he successfully “blended art and technology with science and craftsmanship, giving him a unique ability to understand and control the entire creative process from raw material to finished product.”    

In 1888 Mariano Fortuny moved to Venice, where the family’s interest in antique textiles reignited. His wife Henriette Nigrin, a young woman he had met in Paris, shared his aesthetics and the family collection of ancient textiles inspired him to explore the world of fashion. In 1906 he opened his textile/fashion workshop at the Palacio Pesaro degli Orfei creating original fabrics and costumes using modern techniques, his own patents and secrets impossible to solve even today.

His Delphos Dress is immortalized in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past as “faithfully antique but markedly original.” It created a sensation, as in an era when rigid corsetry was still the norm, it daringly hugged the body revealing the silhouette and body contours. At first, actress Sarah Bernhardt and dancer Isadora Duncan became enamoured with it and fashionably wore it, ignoring convention. Then… it became history! Today we are still intrigued by its “distinctive fine pleats, whose method of creation remains a tantalising mystery,” the way Fortuny silk was  “dipped in a dye bath multiple times, enriching the colour of the fabric, which fluctuated according to light and movement” and how “The edges of the dress were finished off with strings of small Venetian beads that served both as an ornament and to weigh the dress down, giving it its distinctive drape.”     https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20190617-the-designer-who-freed-the-female-body

Mariano Fortuny’s Venetian house is a Museum, unfortunately, closed to the public since 2017 for restoration.      http://fortuny.visitmuve.it/en/home/

A Video, short, but worth seeing: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/la-naissance-d-une-robe-unique-la-delphos/qgJiyD72_413Jw?hl=fr

For a Student Activity on the Delphos Dress, please… check HERE!

A portrait of the legendary Couturier is exhibited alongside his first creation in the clothing sector, and one that made famous the name Fortuny, the printed silk Scarf Knossos  (Credit: Archivio Fotografico Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia/ Marcello Venturini)

Matisse Cut-Outs

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954
Polynésie, la mer, 1946, paper cut-outs painted in gouache glued on paper on canvas, 196 x 314 cm, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Henri Matisse once said… “There is no interruption between my older paintings and my Cut-Outs. Just that with an increasing sense of the absolute, and more abstraction, I have achieved a form that is simplified to its essence.” My students love Matisse Cut-Outs!

It all started back in the late 1940s when scissors assisted Matisse in turning almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary creative medium and thus… initiate his unique and famous Cut-Outs. There is something magical about Matisse’s Cut-Outs… they offer us such pure, candid, unreserved joy, our life, just by looking at them, becomes gratifying and amusing!

‘It was like drawing, but with scissors… there was sensuality in the cutting’
Henri Matisse on the Cut-Outs
Matisse working at the Hôtel Régina, Nice, c. 1952 on The Parakeet and the Mermaid
© Hélène Adant – Centre Pompidou – Mnam – Bibliothèque Kandinsky – Hélène Adant
https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-31-summer-2014/it-was-drawing-scissors-there-was-sensuality-cutting

“Matisse would cut painted sheets into forms of varying shapes and sizes—from the vegetal to the abstract—which he then arranged into lively compositions, striking for their play with colour and contrast, their exploitation of decorative strategies, and their economy of means. Initially, these compositions were of modest size but, over time, their scale grew along with Matisse’s ambitions for them, expanding into a mural or room-size works. A brilliant final chapter in Matisse’s long career, the cut-outs reflect both a renewed commitment to form and colour and an inventiveness directed to the status of the work of art, whether as a unique object, environment, ornament, or a hybrid of all of these.”    https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1429?locale=en

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954
Large Decoration with Masks, 1953, Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and ink on canvas, 35360 x 9964 mm, National Gallery of Art, Washington
https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-30-spring-2014/his-brilliant-final-chapter

Matisse is a favourite artist among my students and I always enjoy teaching a Unit on his life achievements, culminating with his amazing Cut-Outs!  Whether I teach Grade 1 Mythology, Grade 4 Cultural Geography, or High School Art History, Matisse’s Cut-Outs are always there to enrich my curriculum in the most remarkable way. Getting a taste of their fascinating stories, my students “read” them, in ways, appropriate to their level, they are always 100% engaged … and my teaching gets to be more than gratifying!

Student Work on a Matisse Cut-Outs RWAP (by Haylee M.)

Matisse Cut-Outs Lesson Plan

Essential Questions: What conditions, attitudes, and behaviours encouraged Matisse to take creative risks?

Goals: Facilitate students to understand and connect Matisse’s use of Colour from Fauvism to the Cut-Outs.

Enduring Understanding: Henri Matisse was a French painter in the early 20th century, known as one of the founders of Fauvism, an art movement that is identified with the emotional and bold use of colour,  and the creator of the Cut-Outs technique.

Steps to Success  

At first, I Introduce the Lesson to my students and present the Essential Questions we will work on. Then, I show a Youtube Video on Matisse’s Cut-Outs (Here is my favourite    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLgSd8ka0Gs) and Being Inquisitive I initiate a conversation. The Lesson continues with my PowerPoint, more discussion follows and the Unit on Matisse’s Cut-Outs culminates with students achieving an Enduring Understanding of our Lesson and performing an Assessment Activity.

For my Matisse PowerPoint, please… Check HERE!

The student RWAP (RWAP stands for Research-Writing-Art-Project) is… HERE!

Student Work on Matisse Cut-Out RWAP, please… Check HERE!

Student Work on a Matisse Cut-Outs RWAP (by Kalypso I.)

Virtual Spanish Weekend

Toledo now and by El Greco!

A dear former student of mine, Juan N., a young doctor, is fighting Covid 19 in Spain so that we can all stay Safe… at HOME! My weekend proposal is to have a… Virtual Spanish weekend… Visit Toledo… Meet El Greco… and send positive vibes to Juan…

Pythagoras of Samos once said that… Do not seek for happiness. It is always within yourself. During COVID 19 Days, happiness is so close… It’s our family and friends and Art within us all…

We may not be able to travel to Spain right now… but we can do it Virtually! Stay in the comfort of your HOME! Snack on something deliciously SPANISH! …and ACTION!

Let’s travel to Toledo

and …meet El Greco! the Cretan artist of the Renaissance who chose Toledo as his final destination of artistic voyaging and exploration. El Greco, born Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, was so unique, scholars believe his art belongs to a no conventional school.

Toledo, Spain: The Art of El Greco https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/artist/el-greco-domenikos-theotokopoulos/b031da57-6a7e-43f2-a855-293275efc340

Explore El Greco in the Prado Museum with lots of valuable information and multimedia references https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/artist/el-greco-domenikos-theotokopoulos/b031da57-6a7e-43f2-a855-293275efc340

El Greco, View of Toledo, famous painting in the MET, New  York https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/metropolitan-museum/82nd-and-fifth/nature/v/my-first-time

Movie Time in Spain …and more ACTION!

El Cid is a 1961 epic historical drama film that romanticizes the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called “El Cid” (from the Arabic as-sidi, meaning “The Lord”), who, in the 11th century, fought the North African Almoravides and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain. The film stars Charlton Heston in the title role and Sophia Loren as Doña Ximena. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054847/

The story of the uncompromising artist, Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known to the world as El Greco. Based on the fictionalized biographical movie, El Greco: the Painter of God, it was released in 2007. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0905329/

Life and events of the man who realized one of the most important discoveries of the 19th century: Altamira’s Caves and its Paleolithic Paintings. The film chronicles the groundbreaking discovery of stone age cave paintings in the Cave of Altamira in Cantabria, Spain, and the subsequent controversy by leading religious and scientific figures of the day. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3014910/

SNACKS …Español style! Tapas ideas everybody will… love! https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/collections/tapas

For the original document, please… click HERE!

A Roy Lichtenstein Trilogy

Roy Lichtenstein (Textile) Lee Rudd Simpson, Sunrise Dress, 1965, white satin one-piece dress, silk-screen print by Roy Lichtenstein, Kyoto Costume Institute
Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, 1965, Enamel on steel, One from an edition of five, 57.5 × 91.5 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Roy Lichtenstein, Sinking Sun, 1964, oil and magna on canvas, 68 x 80 in. 172.7 x 203.2 cm, private collection

A Roy Lichtenstein Trilogy is about the artist’s 1965 fascination with landscapes depicting the Sun. In 1964, Lichtenstein started experimenting with Landscapes, exploring aspects of the Sea and the Sky, including his famous painting of the Sinking Sun. His explorations were in various media, including paintings, enamel on metal, like the example exhibited in the Basil &Elise Goulandris Foundation, drawings, collages and Lithographs.

In a 1967 Interview with John Coplans, Roy Lichtenstein reflected on his Sinking Sun painting: “There is something humorous about doing a sunset in a solidified way, especially the rays, because a sunset has little or no specific form. It is like the explosions. It’s true that they may have some kind of form at any particular moment, but they are never really perceived as defined shape… It makes something ephemeral completely concrete.” (Lichtenstein interviewed by John Coplans cited in Exh. Cat., Pasadena, Art Museum, Roy Lichtenstein, 1967)

Roy Lichtenstein, Sinking Sun, 1964, oil and magna on canvas, 68 x 80 in. 172.7 x 203.2 cm, private collection

Lichtenstein’s Sunrise at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens is a fine example of his 60’ turn to Landscape representations. A leading figure in 20th century American Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein used comic book representation and advertising imagery to further enhance his quest for visual perception. The Goulandris’s Sunrise of 1965, enamel on metal, rich texture, improves upon his hard-edged, Pop stylized landscape imagery and heightens the Pop Art Culture. His colour palette, reduced to the three primary colours of red, yellow and blue reminds us of what the artist has said: “I use colour in the same way as a line. I want it oversimplified – anything that could be vaguely red becomes red. It is mock insensitivity. Actual colour adjustment is achieved through manipulation of size, shape and juxtaposition”.  (Roy Lichtenstein interviewed by G. R. Swenson cited in Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein, 1968)

Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, 1965, Enamel on steel, One from an edition of five, 57.5 × 91.5 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/lichtenstein-roy-sunrise

The Roy Lichtenstein Trilogy comes to an end with the Sunrise Dress! now in the Kyoto Costume Institute. It “…caused a stir when worn by Lichtenstein’s friend, Letty Lou Eisenhauer, to the opening of the artist’s 1965 exhibition at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris.” The Sunrise dress was accompanied by a simple white coat, “a wearable work of art…the dress being the painting and the coat… a simple white cover-up, concealing the painting until its time to be revealed, for the utmost dramatic effect!” https://www.kci.or.jp/en/archives/digital_archives/1960s/KCI_242?fbclid=IwAR0mjI__BNzqkPN-WUOA-SVQ4OVndv7-gIQk5bJ6WNKx44RLE427hUguvnE

Roy Lichtenstein (Textile) Lee Rudd Simpson, Sunrise Dress, 1965, white satin one-piece dress, silk-screen print by Roy Lichtenstein, Kyoto Costume Institute

The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens provides an interesting Audio Guide for their visitors… https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/lichtenstein-roy-sunrise

For a Roy Lichtenstein PowerPoint, please… check HERE!