Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1943
Dorothea Tanning (American, 1910-2012)
Oil on canvas
16 1/8 x 24 in.
Tate Modern, London

We've lost 2 artists this week, one to old age and one to life itself it seems, so I thought I would focus on them for some daily art. Dorothea Tanning died yesterday at the age of 101. Who do you think of when you hear the term Surrealism? Most people start with Dali and go from there. One of my favorites has always been Dorothea Tanning. The painting I've posted is one of her most well known, but I highly recommend spending some time looking at others. There is a great website dedicated to her and her work at I will admit, that while I enjoy spending time with surrealist works, I've never quite gotten the hang of talking about them, though now as I start reading I realize that I never spent much time with Surrealism after I developed my interest in psychoanalysis and art (which would seem like it should have been obvious, but alas). I am going to share quote of Tanning from the short essay about the work from the Tate Modern.

Tanning has said: ‘It’s about confrontation. Everyone believes he/she is his/her drama. While they don’t always have giant sunflowers (most aggressive of flowers) to contend with, there are always stairways, hallways, even very private theatres where the suffocations and the finalities are being played out, the blood red carpet or cruel yellows, the attacker, the delighted victim....’ (Letter to the author, 1999)

Check out the full summary of the work.

I do now have quite the fascination with sunflowers though. One of the things I do love about the paintings of Tanning's I have seen and other surrealists such as Leonora Carrington, Yves Tanguy, and Max Ernst, is how intimate they are, this is not a large painting, you can stand in front of it and really spend time with the strange and wonderful story and detail.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Small Girl with a Cat

A Small Girl with a Cat
Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)
Petit Palais, Geneva

I just came across this fabulous painting in a book at work, The Cat: 3500 Years of the Cat in Art. This is not an artist I'm familiar with nor is it the best painting I've ever seen, but I love how the girl is holding the cat and the pink in black. The media and size of the painting are unknown. It does look like the artist was a fan of cats:

Steinlen was most well known for his illustration work in France, designing fabulous posters like the one to the left. Yay for cats!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa
Spanish, 1955-
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Sculpture Garden
Images courtesy of my honeymoon

So, I greatly apologize, as I do not know the title of this piece (I did some work trying to figure it out but am not up for pulling out all the librarian stops right now). There are many other wonderful works by Jaume Plensa that you can peruse and do to some similarity among works, other titles could give you an idea of what this one could be.

This sculpture is part of a sculpture garden along side one of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts new buildings. I'm always excited to catch site of a Plensa. Even though this one is quite small compared to some of the artist's work on a grander scale, you can give it different kind of personal attention than his larger than life works. I saw my first (knowingly) on a trip to the Frederik Meijer Gardens of Grand Rapids. Check theirs out here. I say knowingly because I had already seen the fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park more than once but never took the time to check out who the artist was. See Crown Fountain. I apologize for that sentence being in italics, blogger won't let me fix it.

I have not given Plensa the time and care he deserves, so please do check out his website, hit Google images and find a Plensa to experience in person!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ceramic Horn

Ceramic Horn
France, late 18th or early 19th century
Glazed pottery
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 89.4.1115

How cool is this horn? Sadly this hunting horn was used for decorative display only. Covered in blue flowers, the horn also bears an unidentified coat of arms. Check the image out full-screen and zoom.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Delhi Durbar of Akbar II

The Delhi Durbar of Akbar II
Mughal Period, ca 1820
India, Delhi School
Painting on ivory with carved ivory frame
Painting: 18 1/4 x 14 1/2 in
Toledo Museum of Art, 2004.55

This beautiful Indian miniature on ivory is one of my favorite pieces at the TMA. It's description in our Masterworks catalogue uses the word dazzling, and it is quite on point. For more close up details check it out here. This painting commemorates a durbar (an imperial audience or state reception) and represents an image of Mughal power with the emperor, Akbar II, the resplendence of court, costumes, jewels and more. The ivory frame is carved in deep relief and depicts vignettes of Hindu deities. These type of paintings were produced in court schools of painters as souvenirs for high dignitaries and emperor's guests at the durbar.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Jehan Georges Vibert
French, 1840-1902
The Marvelous Sauce, ca. 1899
Oil on wood panel
25 x 32 inches (63.5 x 81.3 cm)
Bequest of Elisabeth H. Gates, 1899

A nostalgic painting for me, I remember seeing this painting on every trip to the Albright Knox Art Gallery when I was growing up. It's been one of the collection highlights of the Albright Knox Art Gallery for quite a long time.
A quick search for Vibert brings up my one of the more fascinating art websites out there, Check out their mission statement. They would be quite opposed to much of the art I post on this blog, but they do their historical research well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rococo meets contemporary

Rachel Feinstein
Eva (parasol), 2005
pastel on paper
39 x 27-1/2 inches
Courtesy Marianne Boesky
*image from

A chat with a new colleague at the museum got me thinking about the artists I wrote about in my thesis oh so many 7 years ago. The artist who prompted my interest of Rococo and Baroque art in contemporary art was Rachel Feinstein. I saw a show of hers in a gallery when I was thinking about topics and I was hooked. This pastel has always been one of my favorites. Feinstein works in a variety of media including sculpture. It's quite hard to a do a quick search of her on the web because her and her husband, the artist John Currin, are quite the socialites and most of what one immediately finds are glamour shots and lot of articles sans images.