Henri Matisse a great French artist

18 April 2012

Henri Emile Benoît Matisse was born in the textile town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis (France) on the last night of the year, 31 December 1869. Henri Matisse wasn’t born to a rich family. His father was a grain merchant whose family were weavers.

Henri Matisse began to paint in 1889, when his mother had brought him art supplies during the period of recovery after appendix surgery. In 1891 Matisse returned to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian. Matisse began painting still-live and landscape paintings in the traditional Flemish style. Most of his early artworks tend to be gloomy as they employ a dark palette. Matisse’s drastic change of profession deeply disappointed his father.

Caroline Joblaud was Matisse’s early lover for four years. At the beginning of artist career when Matisse strived to affirm his artistic direction and professional career, he met Caroline Joblaud. She was his early lover who gave Matisse his first daughter Marguerite in 1894. The daughter was warmly accepted in new family after Matisse’s marriage to Amélie Noellie Parayre in January 1898. Matisse and his wife had had two sons, Jean and Pierre.

Influenced by the works of the post-Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Van Gogh, Paul Signac and Gauguin, and also by Japanese art, Matisse decided to make color a crucial element of his artworks. After years in poverty, Matisse went through his “dark period” (1902-03), and moved to naturalism. Soon after Matisse lost the desire to paint and decided to leave his artistic career. Fortunately, Matisse found an opportunity to earn some money painting a frieze for the World Fair at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Matisse’s first solo exhibition took place in 1904, but it wasn’t a successful one. Characterized by its spontaneity and roughness of execution as well as use of raw color straight from the palette to the canvas, Matisse was considered spearhead the Fauve movement in France. Matisse’s paintings of this period are: Woman with a Hat, The Open Window and the View of Collioure. From 1906 -1917 he lived in Paris. Many of his finest artworks were created during this period. In 1906, Matisse created a series of 12 lithographs, nudes. The same year these lithographs were exhibited at the Druet Gallery in Paris.

Unfortunately, Matisse works in the Fauve style were more admired by foreigners than by the French. It was the Russians and the Americans who bought significant collections of his early work almost as quickly as it was created. The paintings created by the talented artist Matisse we see in the Paris museums today were mostly acquired after the artist’s death.

In 1911, Matisse’s friends organized and financed the Académie Matisse in Paris, in which Matisse instructed young artists. This private and non-commercial school became one of the principal crossroads of modern painting for a number of European and American artists.

The Matisse’s art of the next period was profoundly influenced by Easter art. He travelled to Morocco and created there many of his masterpieces.

In 1917, Matisse moved to Nice to distance himself from wartime activity. The principal subject of his paintings of this period remained the female figure. In 1929, Matisse traveled to America to sit on the jury of the 29th Carnegie International. In 1930, he travelled to Tahiti and New York, also he spent some time in Maryland, Baltimore, and Merion, Pennsylvania. Americans were prominent among Matisse’s patrons throughout his career.  The foundational Matisse monograph was written during his lifetime by Alfred Barr.

Matisse and his wife were divorced in 1939. During the mid-1930s, he created distinctive series of pen-and-ink drawings. He made hundreds of drawings, original prints and illustrated books. In 1941 Matisse was diagnosed with cancer and, following surgery, he started using a wheelchair. Matisse died of a heart attack at the age of eighty-four, on November 3, 1954.

Max Ernst a famous German artist

13 April 2012

A prolific German artist Max Ernst was born on 2 April 1891 in Brühl, near Cologne. Despite the fact that Max Ernst never received any formal artistic training, he became one of the most prominent German artists. During 1910-1914 Max Ernst studied psychiatry and philosophy at Bonn University. Also, he took a deep interest in painting.

At the beginning of the First World War Ernst was call up for military service, where he served in the field artillery till the end of the war. Even during the war Max Ernst never dropped his interest in art. During the war, in 1916, Ernst he participated in the “Sturm” exhibition which took place in Berlin.

After demobilization Ernst decided to stay in Cologne. There, Ernst with his friend Johannes Alfred Grünwald, founded a group of Dadaists. In 1920 they organized an exhibition at the Winter Brewery in Cologne. But the exhibition was closed by the police with reference to obscenity. The works of this period are the following: Fruit of a Long Experience, The Hat Makes the Man, Dada-Gauguin, etc.)

In 1922, Ernst’s Dadaist friends, Gala and Paul Eluard, André Breton, Tristan Tzara, and others invited Max Ernst to Paris. The same year he moved to the city of romance. There he painted A Reunion of Friends, where he depicted himself and all his friends. During the early Parisian period the Max Ernst successfully combined the techniques of painting, collage in large-scale paintings with enigmatic plots, e.g Teetering Woman, 1923; Oedipus Rex, 1922; Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale, 1924; Teetering Woman, 1923; etc.)

Max Ernst supported the Surrealists. Ernst invented a new technique named frottage (pencil rubbings on paper or canvas). The painting Eve, the Only One Left to Us was created using this technique. In the late 1920s Ernst in his artworks showed dark forests, gloomy cliffs, mysterious caves, dead moonlight, figures and faces which appear like ghosts.

Max Ernst created large-sized pictures, used frottage and grattage techniques. In 1938 he settled in Saint Martin d’Ardèche in the South of France. There he painted his famous artwork The Robing of the Bride. Also, Ernst produced books of his collages.

At the beginning of the Second World War Max Ernst was arrested by French authorities. In few weeks later he was discharged. Soon after German army occupied France, he was arrested by the Nazis. Fortunately with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, a sponsor of the arts, Ernst managed to escape and move to America.

In 1941-1945 Ernst lived in NY, where he shared his knowledge and experience with younger American painters, thus leaving a profound influence on the development of American modern art. In the USA Ernst got interested in sculpture. In 1953 Max Ernst returned to Europe and settled in France. He died on 1st April 1976 in Paris, one day before his 85th birthday.

Belgian painter René Magritte

6 February 2012

The Belgian painter was born on November 21, 1898, in Lessiness, a small city in the province of Hainaut. Little is known about the early life of René Magritte. In 1910 his family moved to Châtelet south of Brussels. Magritte’s mother was mentally ill. In 1912, she committed suicide. When she was found, her dress was covering her face. Critics suggeste that this was the source of several oil paintings Magritte did between 1927 and 1928. From 1916 to 1918 René Magritte studied in Brussels at the Academie des Beaux-Arts. In 1922 Magritte married Georgette Berger.

From 1922 René Magritte works as a drawer in a factory that makes wallpapers. Also, he earns money making different advertisements for fashion shops. Early paintings of this artist are made in Impressionism and Cubism styles and his later works in Futurism. Most of René Magritte’s works of this period are female nudes. In 1926, his first surreal oil painting, The Lost Jockey was produced.

Surrealist style of René Magritte is full of magic and mystery. René Magritte described everyday objects but in his own way. He changed the texture and proportions of images combining real objects with abstract figures. In 1929 René Magritte painted his most famous painting “La trahison des images” (Betrayal of the Images). The next year Magritte returned to Brussels and lived there.

The first exhibition of talented artist René Magritte took place in the gallery “Le Centaure” in Paris. He moved to this romantic city in 1927 and soon got in touch with many famous people like Max Ernst, André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia and others, who played an active role in the circle of Surrealists.

During his life René Magritte wrote numerous articles in which he was explaining his concept of the possibilities of art. René Magritte died of pancreatic cancer on 15 August 1967, and was interred in Schaerbeek Cemetery.

The paintings of René Magritte are shown in a plenty of exhibitions of surrealist art all over the world. In 1936 his works were exhibited in New York. Then, there were two retrospective exhibitions in 1965 and in 1992.

Alphonse Mucha a Czech painter and decorative artist

6 January 2012

Alphonse Mucha was born on 24 July, 1860 in Ivancice, Moravia (modern Czech Republic). From childhood Mucha dedicated himself to drawing. In Moravia he worked at decorative painting jobs, mostly painting theatrical scenery. Mucha moved to Austria (Vienna), in 1879, where he worked for a well-known theatrical design company. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed that company and Mucha came back to Moravia where he worked at decorative and portrait paintings. Mucha was commissioned to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals. Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov was so impressed with the results that he decided to pay for Mucha’s study at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.

When Alphonse Mucha moved to Paris he began his study at the Academie Julian. During that time along with his studies, Mucha worked at creating advertising illustrations and magazines. About Christmas 1894, Mucha volunteered to produce an advertising poster for a play featuring Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris at that time. Within two weeks the job was completed and Bernhardt was so pleased with the results that she began a six-year contract with talented Czech artist Mucha.

Mucha often painted beautiful young women frequently surrounded by flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. After seven years of hard work in Paris, Mucha became a successful artist. He used pale pastel colors to produce his lovely masterpieces.

In 1900 Mucha designed the Bosnia-Herzegovina Pavilion where there was a World’s Fair in Paris. In Prague, where he settled later, Mucha decorated the Theater of Fine Arts, and other places around the city. After World War I, when Czechoslovakia won its independence, Mucha was honored to design the new postage stamps, banknotes, and other government documents for the new state.

During his life Mucha created many works: paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs. Mucha made several trips to America. He was also commissioned from U.S. patrons to paint many portraits. At that time Mucha was already married to Maruška (Marie/Maria) Chytilová. With her Mucha had two children (daughter and son).

In 1909 Mucha went to Prague. There he was working on a series of murals for the Lord Mayor’s Hall. Mucha also began to plan out his life’s fine art masterpiece. It took 18 years of his life to complete this project – The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech and the Slavic nation. In 1919 the first eleven canvases were completed and exhibited in Prague, and America.

When the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia, Mucha was among the first arrested. He returned home after a Gestapo questioning session and died on July 14, 1939, in Prague.

Paul Cézanne the father of modern art

3 January 2012

Paul Cézanne was a French painter born on January 19, 1839, in Aix-en-Provence. In 1852 Paul Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon, where he met Émile Zola. Their friendship had an immense influence on both of them. Later, this friendship was broken as Zola wrote a novel about unsuccessful artist. Cézanne was the prototype of this artist.

In 1862, Cézanne went to Paris to study art. Cézanne’s early artworks were painted in dark tones. The artist painted his artworks representing contemporary life, life as it was without any idealization or stylistic affectation. Cézanne had developed a painting style that involved working outdoors. He may stand before nature during a long time and paint it.

Cézanne’s works received critical commentary when he exhibited his works with other impressionists in 1874 and 1877. To the exhibition which was held in 1877 Cézanne submitted 16 paintings. After this exhibition, Cézanne did not exhibit publicly for almost 20 years.

Cézanne’s left most of his works unfinished and destroyed many others. Among his the most famous paintings are the following: In the Man in a Blue Cap, Washing of a Corpse, House of the Hanged Man, the Portrait of Victor Choque, Portrait of Victor Choquet, Bay of Marseilles from L’Estaque, Mont Sainte-Victoire, the Cardplayers, the White Sugar Bowl, and the Great Bathers.

Cézanne had attained the status of a legendary figure. His paintings reveal a profound depth of feeling. Cézanne had synthesized the basic expressive and representational elements of painting in a highly original manner.

In 1886 he married Hortense Fiquet, a model with whom he had been living for 17 years, and his father died the same year.

While painting outdoors in the fall of 1906 Cézanne was overtaken by a storm and became ill. Cézanne died in Aix on October 22, 1906.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir a developer of the Impressionist style

29 December 2011

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841 in France. He worked in a porcelain factory where he called attention to himself with the help of his drawing. During his early years, Renoir often visited the Louvre. There he studied the French painters and their works. Renoir’s family wasn’t reach and there was time when he did not have enough money to buy paint. Still, he continued to work and in 1864 the world saw his first exhibition. He showed his paintings at the Paris Salon. In 1874 six of Renoir’s paintings were shown in the first Impressionist exhibition. During the same period of time, two of his paintings were hung with Durand-Ruel in London.

In 1881, he visited Algeria and Spain. He traveled to the last country to admire the paintings of Diego Velázquez. Then, Renoir traveled to Italy to see the masterpieces of Titian and Raphael. In 1882 Renoir again traveled to Algeria where he contracted pneumonia. In 1883, he spent the summer in Guernsey, creating fifteen paintings in little over a month.

In 1885 he became a father. The child was named Pierre, and his mother name was Aline Victorine Charigot, whom Renoir married in 1890. They had three sons.

Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the fact that he was wheelchair-bound, Renoir continued to paint. He was very talented and hardworking artist. Renoir mainly painted landscapes, portraits, but the main focus was on female nudes. The largest collection of Renoir’s works—181 paintings in all—is at the Barnes Foundation, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with paintings, Renoir created sculptures. He moved to the warmer climate. Renoir died on December 3, 1919.

He created several thousand paintings. Among the most famous are: The Bathers (1884–1887), Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (1876), Grandes Baigneuses (1887), and Girls at the Piano (1892).

Modigliani a talented Italian painter and sculptor

29 December 2011

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was born on July 12, 1884 into a Jewish family in Livorno, Italy. He was the fourth child in the family. His first education began at home, his mother was the one who taught him until Modigliani was 10. When he was about 11 years old Modigliani had his first pleurisy attack. A few years later he was diagnosed with typhoid fever and later with tuberculosis. Modigliani started to paint from a very early age. During two years (from 1898 to 1900) Modigliani worked in Micheli’s Art School where he studied Renaissance art. Guglielmo Micheli was Modigliani’s first art teacher. Modigliani explored landscape, portraiture, still life, and the nude.

In 1902, Modigliani registered to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. A year later he moved to Venice, where he became a student of the Istituto di Belle Arti. In Venice Modigliani first smoked hashish. This had an immense influence on his further lifestyle and behavior.

In 1906 Modigliani moved to Paris where he renting a studio. From the time of his arrival in Paris, Modigliani cultivated the reputation of hopeless drunk and drug user. Modigliani, suffering from tuberculosis, used drugs to self-medicate. The drink and drugs helped ease his physical pain and allow him to continue to create his art. Modigliani was very productive painter sketching and making as many as a hundred drawings a day.

Modigliani’s style cannot be categorized with those of other artists. He developed his own truly unique style of painting. Modigliani also was a talented sculptor. His sculptures were exhibited in the Salon d’Automne of 1912.

Modigliani enjoyed the writings of Nietzsche, Carducci, Comte de Lautréamont, Baudelaire, and others, and developed the belief that disorder and defiance are the only routes to true creativity. In 1910, he met Anna Akhmatova (Russian poet), his first serious love. After a year, however, they broke up and Anna returned to her husband. On December 3, 1917, Modigliani’s first one-man exhibition opened at the Berthe Weill Gallery. On November 29, 1918, Modigliani became a father. Modigliani died on January 24, 1920.

Mexican icon Frida Kahlo

18 December 2011

One of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo, was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Her unique personality can be characterized by a deep sense of independence and rebellion against mediocre social and moral habits combined with a very individual sense of humour. Frida Kahlo was known for her jovial spirit. Her father, Wilhelm, was a German photographer who had immigrated to Mexico where he met and married her mother Matilde. She had two older sisters, Matilde and Adriana, and one younger sister, Cristina.

Almost all her life was marked by physical suffering. She contracted the polio at the age of five. In 1925 , when she was a student, occurred a horrible event that changed all her life. She was involved in a bus accident . She suffered several serious injuries as a result, including fractures in her spine and pelvis.

After staying at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks, Kahlo returned home. There she began painting and finished her first self-portrait the following year. Lots of her works were painted lying in bed. Because of these physical conditions Frida couldn’t have any children, which was a big tragedy for her. She married Diego Rivera (twice), but also had a lot of lovers, men and women, such as Leon Trotsky and André Breton’s wife. She met Diego Rivera in National Preparatory School, which she attended. Rivera was creating a mural called The Creation in the school’s lecture hall. Becoming more politically active, Kahlo joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.

In 1932, Kahlo added more graphic and surrealistic elements to her work. Her painting, Henry Ford Hospital (1932), was telling the story of her second miscarriage. In 1938, Frida Kahlo had an exhibition at a New York City gallery, selling half of the 25 paintings shown there. Kahlo also received two commissions. In 1939, Kahlo went to Paris where she exhibited some of her paintings and developed friendships with such famous artists as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. Later that year she divorced Rivera. During this time, one of her most famous works, The Two Fridas (1939) was created. The painting showed two versions of the artist sitting side by side, with both of their hearts exposed. These figures are believed to represent “unloved” and “loved” versions of Frida Kahlo. Frida remarried Diego Rivera in 1940.

Throughout her life Frida Kahlo was seeking a variety of treatments for her chronic physical pain, but all with little success. Despite this she continued to paint and support political causes. In many of her works we can notice that she oftentimes shared her physical challenges with the help of her art. This we can see in her painting Broken Column (1944), for example.

About a week after her birthday, Kahlo died on July 13, 1958. It was reported to be caused by a pulmonary embolism, but there have also been rumors that this was a suicide death.

In 1983, Hayden Herrera wrote a book “A Biography of Frida Kahlo”. In 2002, her life was the subject of a film entitled Frida. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won for Best Makeup and Original Score.

Edvard Munch a controversial artist of the 20th century

15 November 2011

Edvard Munch was born on December 12th, 1863, in Løten, Norway, the son of Christian Munch, a military doctor. His childhood artist spent in Kristiania, now better known as Oslo, the capital of Norway. At the age of 17 he started to study the arts. His tutor was quite famous in Norway naturalist painter Christian Krohg. Edvard’s talent was evident by his early realist paintings. Tragic events that Edvard faced in his youth (his mother, brother, and one of his sisters died of tuberculosis) had very deep impact on his artistic vision.

In 1886, Munch began working on his first truly personal piece – “The Sick Child“. Death, illness and mental anguish were the themes that Edvard Munch explored. The painting was based on memories of his favorite sister Sophie’s fight with tuberculosis. At the age of 26, Edvard Munch had his first exhibition (show) at The Norwegian Students’ Association in Kristiania. The show was a successful one due to the fact that he presented his lighter, less anguished artworks. He was awarded a travel grant which allowed him to return to Paris for the next three years. At that time Munch’s father died. Edvard Munch returned to Paris to study. His next show (in at the Artists’ Association in Berlin) wasn’t so successful as a previous one as critics denounced his work as that of an anarchist, and closed the exhibit. Despite this fact Munch following works were included in several exhibits. The artist lived and worked in Berlin and Paris for many years.

The Scream” is considered to be the most famous Munch masterpiece. He began working on sketches for this painting in 1891. There were several versions of “The Scream”, from black and white illustrations to several paintings, using several different techniques. In 1893, in an exhibit on Unter den Linden Munch presents some of the paintings from his Frieze of Life series. The next year, such artworks as the Madonna and Ashes were born.

In 1902, fighting with alcoholism and sadness over an ill-fated romance, Munch tried to commit suicide, but failed. , wounding his hand instead. After these tragic events Munch made several paintings which featured representations of his love lost. In 1908, he moved to a psychiatric hospital where he spent several months recovering from a nervous breakdown.

In 1909, Munch returned to Norway. There he was commissioned to create murals for the Aula of the University of Kristiania. He was given a permanent gallery at the Sonderbund Internationale Ausstellung in Cologne, while his paintings were sought by many galleries world-wide. The artist always aimed to paint the impressions of his soul, and not his eyes. And it was appreciated.

This talented artist has created hundreds of paintings, etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs. His art is controversial, but still catches attention of millions. This prolific artist died on the 23rd of January 1944 in his sleep at the age of 81.

William Morris Hunt – great American painter

11 November 2011

“Follow your own individual taste, and somebody will appreciate it.” (William Morris Hunt) Hunt, William Morris, (March 31, 1824 – September 8, 1879), American painter, was born at Brattleboro, Vermont. Hunt attended Harvard but withdrew. His mother decided to give him an opportunity to study the arts in the best academies in Europe. He studied in Düsseldorf and Paris.

He established art schools at Newport, Rhode Island, Brattleboro, Vermont, Faial Island in the Azores, and finally at Boston, where he introduced the ideals and methods of the Barbizon school. Hunt was among the biggest proponents of the Barbizon school in America. One interesting fact is that Hunt is considered to be the first American master to admit female students into his classes. In 1855 Hunt was married in Paris to Louise Dumaresq Perkins. They had five children.

His earliest works were usually figure pieces; he then painted portraits. In 1878, the year before his death, Hunt turned to landscapes. Hunt painted a series of lovely views of Niagara Falls. His later works also include the “Bathers” and “The Allegories” for the Senate chamber of the State Capitol at Albany, New York.

Among his best-known paintings are Girl at a Fountain, and a landscape (Metropolitan Mus.); a portrait of Chief Justice Shaw (courthouse, Salem, Mass.); and The Flight of Night (Pennsylvania Acad. of the Fine Arts). Hunt was a popular portrait painter. From 1850 to 1877 he was Boston’s leading portrait and landscape painter. Among his best paintings of this genre are those of William M. Evarts, Mrs Charles Francis Adams, the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, Senator Charles Sumner, William H. Gardner, and Judge Horace Gray. Unfortunately, many of Hunt’s paintings and sketches were destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872.

J. F. Millet had a lasting influence on Hunt’s style and manner of painting. After Millet’s death, Hunt went to the New Hampshire shore to recover from a depression. Despite health problems, he continued to create, and was working on his last sketch three days before his death in 1879. William Morris Hunt was buried beside other family members at Weathersfield, Vermont. The Library of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is named in honor of the great painter William Morris Hunt.

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