1501, 2019

Basquiat, The Original Street Artist

By |January 15th, 2019|Categories: Artists, Contemporary|24 Comments

Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1985, AP

Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1985

He was a street kid, a teen runaway who had slept on benches in New York parks. But he was also a handsome privileged boy from an affluent Brooklyn neighborhood who had gone to private school. 

He couldn’t draw worth a darn.  He was a street graffiti artist.  He painted the same painting over and over. He spoke 3 languages.  As an adult, his best friend/competitor was Andy Warhol.  

Paramount, 1985 Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Paramount, 1985
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
Private Collection

Jean-Michel Basquiat…his paintings are poetic, full of classical history, messy, charming, huge yet intimate.  Everyone remains fascinated by him—the life is compelling, the person bewitching, the canvases impossible to turn away from—we either “get it” or don’t. His paintings sell today for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat

Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, 1982
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Private Collection

Basquiat invented a new language.  

Words jumped out at him, from the backs of cereal boxes or subway ads, their double and hidden meanings.  He was fascinated by the interior parts of the body as seen in an x-ray, sports figures, evil cats, 3 pointed crowns, kings, musicians, police, soap, teeth.

Fallen Angel Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981

Fallen Angel, 1981
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Private Collection

Jean-Michel Basquiat became a world sensation and died at age 27 from a heroin overdose.

**If you happen to be in Paris! You have 5 more days (closing January 21, 2019) to see a Basquiat blockbuster exhibition at the new and fabulous Louis Vuitton Museum.

2606, 2018

Outsider Art is Now on the Inside!

By |June 26th, 2018|Categories: Artists|28 Comments

What is an Outsider Artist anyway?

….the artist is naive…a loner…never been in an art school or gallery…makes disturbing images…has a vision…

William “Bill” Traylor

Construction with Exciting Event, 1939-42
Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor was most likely born around 1853. He was a slave on a cotton plantation in Alabama. Traylor began drawing at the age of 82 and his “studio” was on the sidewalks of Montgomery, Alabama. Only after his death was he recognized as a great talent.

The rough-edged drawings have an uneven geometry that turns every human gesture into a mangled dance.

THE SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM (SAAM) mounted the first-ever major exhibition devoted to the work of an artist born a slave.

Gertrude Morgan

Jesus is my Airplane, 1970
Sister Gertrude Morgan

Sister Gertrude Morgan was a poet, a preacher, an artist, and a singer who loved Jesus. She called Jesus her husband, her doctor, and her airplane (yes, airplane), and claimed to have met with him in visions throughout her life.

Born on a farm in Alabama in 1900, Sister Gertrude left school after third grade so that she could help her family with the farm work.

Preaching the gospel tirelessly in the streets of New Orleans, Sister Gertrude founded an orphanage and ministered to the sick and the inmates of Orleans Parish Prison for years.

Sister Gertrude’s paintings were little figures of herself in a white bridal gown standing beside a pudgy little Jesus wearing a tuxedo. Other images pictured her and Jesus in an airplane flying around heaven.

She was adamant that her paintings were divinely inspired and indeed, perhaps they were.

Sister Gertrude died in 1980, at eighty years of age. Her paintings have been exhibited and celebrated in prestigious museums such as the American Folk Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Jesus is My Airplane” sold to a private collector for $20,700.

Henry Darger

Jenny and Her Sisters are Nearly Run Down be Train, 1970
Henry Darger Jenny and Her Sisters are Nearly Run Down by Train Henry Darger

Henry Darger’s story is heartbreaking, but he left the world a treasure trove of art.

Tragedy found Henry Darger early and often. When he was 4 years old, his mother died. Unable to care for him, Darger’s father placed him in an orphanage.

At 16, Darger ran away and for the next 64 years lived alone as a recluse in a rented room while working as a janitor in Chicago.

Darger died at 81.

His landlord, cleaning out Darger’s rooms, made a startling discovery:  alone in his room, Darger had created hundreds of beautiful, large paintings illustrating an epic fairytale he had written over 60 years.

A brilliant artist, hidden from the world in the guise of a lonely janitor, Henry Darger has become internationally known and is represented in major museums throughout the world.

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1403, 2018

The Artist We Love To Hate

By |March 14th, 2018|Categories: Abstract Expressionist, Artists, Classical, Contemporary, Film, Modern|0 Comments

Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, 1964

Double Portrait of Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, 1964
Francis Bacon
Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Was Francis Bacon really the greatest painter of the 20th century, or just a fascinating crazy mess?

Margaret Thatcher described him as “that man who paints those dreadful pictures”…..Yet, the Tate Museum in London sold out two Francis Bacon retrospective shows.

You may love or hate his work but Francis Bacon was famously known for his magnificent paintings of bold and emotionally charged raw energy.

Bacon paints as if he were an old master from 400 years ago. His paintings drip with opulent color and a velvet magnificence. The pain and brutality that punches through them heightens their strange beauty.

Three Studies of Lucian Freud Triptych, 1969
Francis Bacon
Private Collection

Artist Francis Bacon was born in Ireland and had a dreadful childhood at the hands of a cruel father. He lived through the grisly carnage of WWI and WWII and seems to have been driven mad by the temptations and horrors of the 20th century.

No wonder his brush creates ghastly wounds and knotted masses of flesh. No wonder he paints distorted human figures, grappling couples, screaming popes, and hysterical businessmen in suits. They leer at us from the canvas, seeming to say, “Look what humankind has done to itself.”

Left: Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1650
Diego Velázquez, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome
Right: Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953
Francis Bacon, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa

In 1650 AD, Pope Innocent X was arguably the most powerful man in the world, “God’s representative on Earth.” He was also a suspicious, bitter, lewd and corrupt ruler of the church.

Esteemed Spanish artist Diego Velázquez painted a beautiful portrait…but subtly hinted at Pope Innocent’s corrupt character and deep-seated deceit.

Nothing subtle about Bacon’s interpretation of Innocent. Innocent X is a screaming victim, ludicrously drag-attired, trapped in evil, and manacled to an “electric chair.” As Hugh Davies, an authority on Bacon, writes, Francis Bacon gave us a “candid camera glimpse” of the pope.

This painting is the pride and joy of the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa and is valued at more than $50,000,000.

Visit Francis Bacon’s studio, unbelievable!
Click here if you are unable to view the video.

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412, 2017

Wondrous Event, Wondrous Art

By |December 4th, 2017|Categories: Artists|23 Comments

1437 A.D.

The Annunciation, 1437-1446 Fra Angelico

The Annunciation, 1437-1446
Fra Angelico
Convent of San Marco, Florence, Italy

The Annunciation (the announcement) is that key moment in Christian history when the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she will give birth to a son by miraculous means.

Fra Angelico, monk and artist of the 15th century, frescoed (meaning painted on wet plaster) The Annunciation, one of the most revered masterpieces of all time.  Artists down the centuries have been mightily influenced by this classic work.

600 years later, 2017

Annunciation 2, after Fra Angelico, 2017, David Hockney

Annunciation 2, after Fra Angelico, 2017
David Hockney

David Hockney, the great 80-year-old British artist, reports that during his first year in art school he came upon Fra Angelico’s painting of The Annunciation.  He was stunned by its beauty and symmetry.  Sixty years later, he is still painting his interpretation of this masterpiece.

1907-1914 Cubism and Picasso astonishes art world

Annunciation, 1934, Roy de Maistre, Private collection, Switzerland

Annunciation, 1934
Roy de Maistre
Private collection, Switzerland

Cubism (objects and figures radically fragmented) heavily influenced Australian artist Roy de Maistre in his painting Annunciation.

1961-2030 Pop art transcends to fine art

The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012, Grayson Perry, Woven tapestry in wool, silk, cotton, acrylic and polyester, Currell Collection

The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012
Grayson Perry
Woven tapestry in wool, silk, cotton, acrylic and polyester, Currell Collection

Grayson Perry, 60, tackles subjects that are universally human: religion, identity, gender, social status, and sexuality. He tries to deal with them with humor yet with a sense of the sacred.

The Annunciation is filled with symbols! Watch this…
Click here if you are unable to view the video.

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