Happy Birthday Miss Jones by Norman Rockwell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a Student Activity, please … Check HERE!

Monemvasia by Konstantinos Maleas

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

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

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

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

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

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Salvador Dali or Pavlos Samios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden in Corfu by Angelos Giallinas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odilon Redon and Pandora’s Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean Monday Feast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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