Rooms by the Sea

Edward Hopper, American Artist, 1882–1967
Rooms by the Sea, 1951, Oil on canvas, 74.3 × 101.6 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA https://www.edwardhopper.net/rooms-by-the-sea.jsp

John Keats (1795-1821), as a true Romantic… dwells in Solitude, alone, in pleasant surroundings rather than in a city populated by murky buildings… O solitude! (he writes) if I must with thee dwell, / Let it not be among the jumbled heap / Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,— / Nature’s observatory—whence the dell, / Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell, / May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep / ’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap / Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell. / But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee, / Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind, / Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d, / Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be / Almost the highest bliss of human-kind, / When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee. Edward Hopper (1882–1967) with his painting Rooms by the Sea creates, visually, an Icon of his own Solitude! https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46561/ode-on-solitude and https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/52939

Ever since Hopper visited Cape Cod, back in 1930, he fell under its spell… As Gregory Dicum of the New York Times wrote… At low tide, the warm water of Cape Cod Bay recedes to expose banks of smooth sand, which swarm with kids, dogs, and blissfully vacationing parents. As the sun sinks toward Provincetown, it cuts through a hazy summer sky, shimmering off the quicksilver bay. Hopper was enchanted! Summers on Cape Cod were welcoming and joyful… so in 1934, he and his wife, Josephine, built a modest summer house/studio, a classic Cape, but for a huge north-facing window. For nearly 40 summers, Hopper returned to this simple dwelling to enjoy and paint… the ease of an open landscape of beach, heath, and woodlot.

Arnold Newman, American Photographer, 1918-2006
Portrait of Edward Hopper, Aug. 14, 1960, in Truro, Mass., in front of his Cape Cod Studio https://alanclaude.com/blogs/news/edward-hoppers-cape-cod-studio

In 1951, a mature Edward Hopper painted Rooms by the Sea, a view of what Hopper would have seen out the back door of his studio… the expanse of the Cape Cod sea and the bright sunlight. What an interesting, awkward,  composition! A white, wide wall dominates the center of the composition, dividing his canvas into two distinctive parts. The left side depicts an ordinary room glared with boring tones. The right side, bathed in sunshine, presents the vastness of the sky and the energy of the sea. This is the painting of an artist who liked us to focus on mood more than detail, and the mood is that of silence and solitude. Let’s not forget that the original title of the discussed painting was Rooms by the Sea. Alias the Jumping Off Place. https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/52939 and https://www.edward-hopper.org/rooms-by-the-sea/

Edward Hopper, American Artist, 1882–1967
Two Studies for Rooms by the Sea (recto and verso), 1951, Charcoal, 21.4 × 27.8 cm, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/132659

The Art Critic Clement Greenberg persuasively described Edward Hopper as a bad painter but a superior artist. I would like to wrap this presentation up with what Greenberg further wrote: “Hopper is not a painter in the full sense; his means are second hand, shabby, and impersonal, But his rudimentary sense of composition is sufficient for a message that conveys an insight into the present nature of American life for which there is no parallel in our literature, though that insight in itself is literature.” So interesting… Reviewed Work: Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography by Gail Levin, by: Alan Rutenberg, The American Scholar, Vol. 65, No. 4 (Autumn 1996), pp. 628-631 https://www.jstor.org/stable/41212573

For a PowerPoint on Hopper’s Cape Cod, please… Check HERE!

An interesting Video, titled Summer On Cape Cod with Edward Hopper, by curator Joachim Homann of Harvard Art Museums… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9KzVQ_9qQI

Hand With Seaweed and Shells by Émile Gallé

Émile Gallé, French Artist, 1846–1904
Hand With Seaweed and Shells, 1904, Glass modeled under heat with inclusions of metallic oxides, veins, applications in low and high relief and wheel engraving, 33.4 x  13.4 cm, Musée d’Orsay
https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/exhibitions/hand-seaweed-and-shells-emile-galles-artistic-testament-196300 and https://gr.pinterest.com/pin/51791464437097192/

Charles Baudelaire wrote… Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer! / La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme / Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame, / Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.     /     Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image; / Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton Coeur / Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur / Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.     /     Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets: / Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes; / Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes, / Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!     /     Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables / Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords, / Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort, / Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables! Could the amazing Hand With Seaweed and Shells by Émile Gallé in the Musée d’Orsay celebrates the symbolic role of the sea as well? https://fleursdumal.org/poem/113

The French designer Émile Gallé, a pioneer glassmaker of the late 19th, and early 20th centuries was a leading creator of the Art Nouveau style. According to the POLA Museum of Art experts, Art Nouveau is characterized by curvilinear lines inspired by natural organic forms. Gallé was at the forefront of glass art in this style. He produced a succession of outstanding artworks incorporating his knowledge of the natural sciences, particularly botany and biology, and his outstanding technical expertise. The art production by Gallé, with their plant, insect, animal, and sea creature motifs, can be compared to the act of collecting nature. https://www.polamuseum.or.jp/en/exhibition/20180317s01/

Back in 2004, Musée d’Orsay organized an exhibition titled La Main aux algues et aux coquillages. Le testament artistique d’Emile Gallé to celebrate the centenary of Émile Gallé‘s death (1846-1904). As the title indicates the Exhibition was centered on the artist’s ultimate masterpiece, generously donated to the museum by his descendants in 1990, Hand With Seaweed and Shells. https://archivesdunord.com/5291–p-galle-le-testament-artistique-p-.html

Hand With Seaweed and Shells is the last work of crafted glass produced by the master from Nancy and represents the culmination of his technical mastery. It was exhibited at the Decorative Art Exhibition in Nancy in October 1904, a month after the artist’s death. This exceptional glass sculpture has been hot when modeled, metal oxides were used, and the engraving has been made in relief at the base. The artist used the marbling technique and glass applications in low and high relief. Finally, the engraving was done with the help of a wheel. https://www.wikiwand.com/fr/La_Main_aux_algues_et_aux_coquillages and https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/hand-with-seaweed-and-shells-emile-gall%C3%A9/3QH1q7j-jzvqaw

Émile Gallé, French Artist, 1846–1904
Hand With Seaweed and Shells (Details), 1904, Glass modeled under heat with inclusions of metallic oxides, veins, applications in low and high relief and wheel engraving, 33.4 x  13.4 cm, Musée d’Orsay https://www.panoramadelart.com/main-galle and https://art.rmngp.fr/fr/library/artworks/emile-galle_la-main-aux-algues-et-aux-coquillages_inclusion_grave-a-la-roue-verre_cristal-matiere_application-a-chaud_1904

According to the Musée d’Orsay experts, Hand With Seaweed and Shells is a strangely and ambiguously connoted work questioning if the artist’s work depicts a Hand coming out of the water or if it shows a Hand slowly sinking into it. Does it symbolize life or death? Is it an allusion to Aphrodite being born from the foam in the Ionian sea, or to Ophelia floating along the current? Is this Hand, despite appearances – fineness of the fingertips, shells looking like rings – really a woman’s hand, or is it the artist’s own hand? Whatever the answers are, this is exceptional… a work of art inspired by the world of the sea. https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/exhibitions/hand-seaweed-and-shells-emile-galles-artistic-testament-196300

For a PowerPoint on Émile Gallé and the World of the Sea, please… Check HERE!

SS Normandie Poster by Cassandre

Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, known as A.M. Cassandre, Ukrainian-French Artist, 1901-1968
SS Normandie, 1935,lithograph in colours, printed by Alliance Graphique, Paris, 98 x 61cm, Private Collection
https://d2mpxrrcad19ou.cloudfront.net/item_images/1207624/11871155_fullsize.jpg

SS Normandie was the ultimate transatlantic ocean liner – assuredly of the 1930s, but perhaps of the entire 20th century. She had abundance – she was novel, innovative, glittering, exceptionally advanced, truly sensational. Her French creators, designers and decorators sought perfection… SS Normandie Poster by Cassandre says it all! https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-brief-but-glorious-career-of-ss-normandie/

SS Normandie ocean liner was a showcase of French technological prowess and Art Deco design.  Her purpose was distinctly threefold: To be the largest liner afloat (the first to exceed 60,000 tons and 1,000 feet in length), to be the fastest ship, and, thirdly, to be an extraordinary floating center of ‘everything French’ – from food to decor to style and fashion. A.M. Cassandre was invited… to create a Poster for her May 29, 1935, inaugural crossing to New York. The artist responded… and created his most iconic work, and the best-known image of the Normandie ocean liner. The simplicity and symmetry of Cassandre’s frontal view of the looming hull of the liner immediately convey its gigantic scale and streamlined elegance. https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-brief-but-glorious-career-of-ss-normandie/ and https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1405126/normandie-poster-cassandre/

SS Normandie departing Le Havre on her maiden crossing to New York, May 29, 1935
https://www.prints-online.com/french-liner-normandie-leaving-le-havre-may-1935-4383271.html

As Cassandre explained… A Poster unlike a painting, is not, and is not meant to be, a work easily distinguished by its – manner – a unique specimen conceived to satisfy the demanding tastes of a single more or less enlightened art lover. It is meant to be a mass-produced object existing in thousands of copies like a fountain pen or automobile. Like them, it is designed to answer certain strictly material needs. It must have a commercial function. Cassandre’s revolutionary designs introduce a new visual vocabulary, graphic concepts, and challenges that artists found difficult to surpass.  http://hogd.pbworks.com/w/page/18698596/am%20Cassandre%20-%20Dubonnet%20poster

Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, known as A.M. Cassandre, 1901-1968
https://www.grapheine.com/en/history-of-graphic-design/cassandre-the-magnificient

Cassandre’s work, almost a hundred years later, is still identified as a masterpiece of the Art Deco style… precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colours. In the SS Normandie poster, Cassandre’s sky is always blue and the sea is always green and the (mechanized) black prow cuts through the (natural) waves, leading a flock of white gulls, as it sets world speed records. What an intimidating, and dramatic composition! This is the first time an artist depicted a ship with an exaggerated and massive bow. This is the first time an artist brilliantly used thirteen white birds, on the left flank of the ship’s prow to further illustrate the massive size of the ocean liner, and give life to his composition. The artist foregrounded the modern technology on the front of the ship, dramatizing the power and speed of its huge engines while allowing the passenger cabins to flare out at the edges. Heralded by the French flag, the ship is tipped with streaks of red, acting as explanation points. https://arthistoryunstuffed.com/the-art-deco-posters-of-cassandre-part-two/

An advertisement for the Normandie and her first arrival in New York City on June 3, 1935, stated that The arrival in New York Harbor of the gigantic superliner Normandie will inaugurate a new era of transatlantic travel. She will set new standards of luxury and speed, steadiness comfort, and safety…not merely the largest liner afloat (79,280 tons)…but in almost every respect a new kind of liner! https://vmfa.museum/piction/6027262-328930764/

For a PowerPoint on Cassandre’s work, please… Check HERE!

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!