Happy Birthday Paul Klee

Today is the 135th birthday of the artist Paul Klee.   His work is the type that I am organically drawn to.  I still remember the first time I saw his art:  It was on the beginning of every chapter of a textbook my first year of college.  I flipped ahead through the entire book, just looking for his next piece.  I have no memory of the class, it was either and English or a Sociology and I am only really sure of that because of the building it was in.  But his art has stuck with me all along.  It made me understand that there is skill in being simple, that making things seem easy is quite technical.  I am sure that has been adopted into my everyday life to some extent.  The world is a better place because Paul was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.


NAME
: Paul Klee
OCCUPATION: Educator, Painter
BIRTH DATE: December 18, 1879
DEATH DATE: June 29, 1940
PLACE OF BIRTH: Münchenbuchsee bei Bern, Switzerland
PLACE OF DEATH: Muralto, Switzerland

BEST KNOWN FOR: Paul Klee is a Swiss and German painter whose highly individual style is best known by an often childlike perspective and spidery hieroglyph-like symbols.

Paul Klee (18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered colour theory, and wrote extensively about it; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are considered so important for modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo da Vinci‘s A Treatise on Painting had for Renaissance. He and his colleague, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the German Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humour and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.

A museum dedicated to Klee was built in Bern, Switzerland, by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Zentrum Paul Klee opened in June 2005 and houses a collection of about 4,000 works by Paul Klee. Another substantial collection of Klee’s works is owned by chemist and playwright Carl Djerassi and displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Klee suffered from a wasting disease, scleroderma, toward the end of his life, enduring pain that seems to be reflected in his last works of art. One of his last paintings, “Death and Fire”, features a skull in the center with the German word for death, “Tod”, appearing in the face. He died in Muralto, Locarno, Switzerland, on 29 June 1940 without having obtained Swiss citizenship, despite his birth in that country. His art work was considered too revolutionary, even degenerate, by the Swiss authorities, but eventually they accepted his request six days after his death. His legacy comprises about 9,000 works of art. The words on his tombstone, Klee’s credo, placed there by his son Felix, say, “I cannot be grasped in the here and now, For my dwelling place is as much among the dead, As the yet unborn, Slightly closer to the heart of creation than usual, But still not close enough.” He was buried at Schosshaldenfriedhof, Bern, Switzerland.

Today, a painting by Klee can sell for as much as $7.5 million.

 

Happy Birthday Diego Rivera

Today is the 128th birthday of the artist Diego Rivera.  His full name is a sentence.  I first experienced Diego Rivera at Interlochen Center for the Arts when I stumbled across a book of his work in the library.  I used to go to the library a lot in the summertime, it was cool and quiet and a nice place to read for a couple hours.  My aunt was the librarian, so that was nice.  I remember looking at the photographs of his murals and reading the dimensions and being absolutely amazed.  I remember loving the complexity in his artistry of simple subjects.  It is like he took his time to honor every detail of the task of bundling this basket of produce, it just was so wonderful to understand that art was partially bringing light to and celebrating the every day existence of everyone.  It became much more accessible and personal.  The world is a better place because Diego was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Diego Rivera
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: December 08, 1886
DEATH DATE: November 24, 1957
EDUCATION: San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Guanajuato, Mexico
PLACE OF DEATH: Mexico City, Mexico

Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez (December 8, 1886 – November 24, 1957) better known simply as Diego Rivera was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo (1929–1939 and 1940–1954). His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals among others in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City.[1] In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Rivera was an atheist. His mural Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda depicted Ignacio Ramírez holding a sign which read, “God does not exist”. This work caused a furor, but Rivera refused to remove the inscription. The painting was not shown for 9 years – until Rivera agreed to remove the inscription. He stated: “To affirm ‘God does not exist’, I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez; I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis.”

Happy Birthday Georgia O’Keeffe

“I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.”

Name:  Georgia O’Keeffe
Occupation:  Painter
Birth Date:  November 15, 1887
Death Date:  March 6, 1986
Education:  Art Institute of Chicago
Place of Birth:  Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Place of Death:  Santa Fe, New Mexico

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Georgia O’Keeffe is a 20th century American painter best known for her flower canvases and southwestern landscapes.

Artist and painter Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Known for her striking flower paintings and other captivating works, O’Keeffe was one of the greatest American artists of the twentieth century. She took to making art at a young age and went to study at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1900s. Later, while living in New York, she studied with such artists as William Merritt Chase as a member of the Art Students League.

O’Keeffe found an advocate in famed photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz. He showed her work to the public for the first time in 1916 at his gallery 291. Married in 1924, the two formed a professional and personal partnership that lasted until his death in 1946. Some of her popular works from this early period include Black Iris (1926) and Oriental Poppies (1928). Living in New York, she translated some of her environment onto the canvas with such paintings as Shelton Hotel, N.Y. No. 1 (1926).

After frequently visiting New Mexico since the late 1920s, O’Keeffe moved there for good in 1946 after her husband’s death and explored the area’s rugged landscapes in many works. This environment inspired such paintings as Black Cross, New Mexico (1929) and Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses (1931).

O’Keeffe died on March 6, 1986, in Santa Fe, Mexico. As popular as ever, her works can be seen at museums around the world as well as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

Happy Birthday Robert Mapplethorpe

Today is the 68th birthday of the photographer Robert Maplethorp.  The world is a better place for having him in it and still feels the loss from him leaving it.

 

NAME: Robert Mapplethorpe
OCCUPATION: Activist, Painter, Photographer, Sculptor
BIRTH DATE: November 04, 1946
DEATH DATE: March 09, 1989
EDUCATION: Pratt Institute
PLACE OF BIRTH: Floral Park, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Boston, Massachusetts

Best Known For:  Robert Mapplethorpe, recognized as a giant of late 20th century photography, is best known for his large-scale, highly stylized black and white portraits.

Mapplethorpe was born and grew up as a Roman Catholic of English and Irish heritage in Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Floral Park, Queens, New York. His parents were Harry and Joan Mapplethorpe and he grew up with five brothers and sisters. He studied for a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he majored in graphic arts,[1] though he dropped out in 1969 before finishing his degree. Mapplethorpe lived with his partner Patti Smith from 1967 to 1974, and she supported him by working in bookstores. They created art together, and even after he realized he was homosexual, they maintained a close relationship.

Mapplethorpe took his first photographs soon thereafter using a Polaroid camera. In the mid-1970s, he acquired a Hasselblad medium-format camera and began taking photographs of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, including artists, composers, and socialites. By the 1980s his subject matter focused on statuesque male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and highly formal portraits of artists and celebrities. Mapplethorpe’s first studio was at 24 Bond Street in Manhattan. In the 1980s, his mentor and lifetime companion art curator Sam Wagstaff gave him $500,000 to buy the top-floor loft at 35 West 23rd Street, where he lived and had his shooting space. He kept the Bond Street loft as his darkroom.

Mapplethorpe died on the morning of March 9, 1989, 42 years old, in a Boston, Massachusetts, hospital from complications arising from AIDS. His body was cremated and the ashes buried in Queens, New York, in his mother’s grave, marked “Maxey”.

Nearly a year before his death, the ailing Mapplethorpe helped found the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc. His vision for the Foundation was that it would be “the appropriate vehicle to protect his work, to advance his creative vision, and to promote the causes he cared about”. Since his death, the Foundation has not only functioned as his official estate and helped promote his work throughout the world, it has also raised and donated millions of dollars to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV infection.

Mapplethorpe worked primarily in the studio, particularly toward the end of his career. Common subjects include flowers, especially orchids and calla lilies, and celebrities, including Andy Warhol, Deborah Harry, Richard Gere, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, and Patti Smith. Smith was a longtime roommate of Mapplethorpe and a frequent subject in his photography, including a stark, iconic photograph that appears on the cover of Smith’s first album, Horses. Also, a Patti Smith portrait from 1986 recalls Albrecht Dürer’s 1500 self-portrait.

Other work includes homoerotic and BDSM acts (including coprophagia), and classical nudes. Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio series sparked national attention in the early 1990s when it was included in The Perfect Moment, a traveling exhibition funded by National Endowment for the Arts. The portfolio includes some of Mapplethorpe’s most explicit imagery, including a self-portrait with a bullwhip inserted in his anus. Though his work had been regularly displayed in publicly funded exhibitions, conservative and religious organizations, such as the American Family Association, seized on this exhibition to vocally oppose government support for what they called “nothing more than the sensational presentation of potentially obscene material.” As a result, Mapplethorpe became something of a cause célèbre for both sides of the American culture war. The installation of The Perfect Moment in Cincinnati resulted in the unsuccessful prosecution of the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati and its director, Dennis Barrie, on charges of “pandering obscenity”.

His sexually charged photographs of black men have been criticized as exploitative. Such criticism was the subject of a work by American conceptual artist Glenn Ligon, Notes on the Margins of the Black Book (1991–1993). Ligon juxtaposes Mapplethorpe’s 91 images of black men in the 1988 publication Black Book with critical texts to complicate the racial undertones of the imagery.

Happy Birthday Vermeer

The artist Jan Vermeer was born 328 years ago today (give a day or two).  Halloween is his official birthdate, but that ‘c.’ leads me to believe it is an educated guess.

NAME: Jan Vermeer
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: c. October 31, 1632
DEATH DATE: c. December 16, 1675
PLACE OF BIRTH: Delft, Netherlands
PLACE OF DEATH: Delft, Netherlands

BEST KNONW FOR: Dutch Golden-Age artist Jan Vermeer is best known for his Delft paintings including “Little Street,” “View of Delft” and his late “pearl pictures” like “The Concert.”

Born in Delft, Netherlands, circa October 31, 1632, Johannes Vermeer is one of the most highly regarded Dutch artists of all time. His works have been a source of inspiration and fascination for centuries, but much of his life remains a mystery. His father, Reynier, came from a family of craftsmen in the town of Delft, and his mother, Digna, had a Flemish background.

After his baptismal record at a local church, Vermeer seems to disappear for nearly 20 years. He likely had a Calvinist upbringing. His father worked as a tavern keeper and an art merchant, and Vermeer inherited both of these business upon his father’s death in 1652. The following year, Vermeer married Catherina Bolnes. Bolnes was Catholic, and Vermeer converted to her faith. The couple moved in with her mother, and would eventually have 11 children together.

In 1653, Jan Vermeer registered with the Delft Guild as a master painter. There’s no record of who he may have apprenticed under, or whether he studied locally or abroad. Vermeer definitely had at least a friendship with leading Delft painter Leonard Bramer, who became one of his early supporters. Some experts also believe that Vermeer may have been influenced by the works of Rembrandt through one of Rembrandt’s students, Carel Fabritius.

The influence of Caravaggio is apparent in Vermeer’s early works, including “The Procuress” (1656). The painter also explored mythology in “Diana and Her Companions” (1655-56) and religion in “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha” (c. 1655). By the end of the decade, Vermeer’s unique style began to emerge.

Many of Vermeer’s masterworks focus on domestic scenes, including “The Milkmaid” (c. 1657-58). This depiction of a woman in the midst of her work showcases two of his trademarks: his realistic renderings of figures and objects, and his fascination with light. Many of his works have a luminous quality, including the portrait “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (1665). This captivating portrait of a young woman inspired the 1999 novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, as well as a 2003 film adaptation of this book.

Vermeer enjoyed some success in Delft, selling his works to a small number of local collectors. He also served as head of the local artistic guild for a time. However, Vermeer was not well-known outside of his community during his lifetime.

Jan Vermeer struggled financially in his final years, due in large part to the fact that the Dutch economy had suffered terribly after the country was invaded by France in 1672. Vermeer was deeply indebted by the time of his death; he died in Delft circa December 16, 1675.

Since his passing, Vermeer has become a world-renowned artist, and his works have been hung in many prominent museums around the globe. Despite how much he is admired today, Vermeer left behind a small legacy in terms of actual works—approximately 36 paintings have been officially attributed to the painter.

Happy Birthday Bob Ross

Today is the 72nd birthday of the artist and public television personality Bob Ross.  There is a generation of people that watched The Joy of Painting sincerely (not ironically) and sincerely loved it.  The world is a better place because he was in it and feels the loss that he now isn’t.

bob-ross

NAME: Bob Ross
OCCUPATION: Painter, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: October 29, 1942
DEATH DATE: July 04, 1995
PLACE OF BIRTH: Daytona Beach, Florida
PLACE OF DEATH: New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Best Known For:  Known for his fast and easy “wet-on-wet” painting technique, Bob Ross reached millions of art lovers with his popular television program The Joy of Painting.

Bob Ross, television’s famous painting instructor, was born Robert Norman Ross in Daytona, Florida, on October 29, 1942. He was raised in Orlando, Florida. After dropping out of school in the ninth grade, Ross served in the U.S. Air Force. During his service, he took his first painting lesson at an Anchorage, Alaska United Service Organizations club. From that point on, he was “hooked,” a term he would use frequently during his years as a painting instructor.

After returning from the Air Force, Ross attended various art schools until he learned the technique of “wet-on-wet” from William Alexander (later his bitter rival), where oil paints are applied directly on top of one another to produce complete paintings (mostly landscapes) in less than an hour. Ross taught wet-on-wet to several friends and colleagues, and in the early 1980s, he was given his on show on PBS based on the technique.

bob ross 2

Ross’s instructional program, The Joy of Painting, premiered in 1983 on PBS, where it would run for more than a decade and attract millions of viewers. As a TV painting instructor, Ross became known for his light humor and gentle demeanor, as well as his ability to complete a painting in 30 minutes. The Joy of Painting would eventually be carried by more than 275 stations, spawning an empire that would include videos, how-to books, art supplies and certified Bob Ross instructors.

The Joy of Painting was canceled in 1994 so that Ross could focus on his health; the famous TV instructor and host had been diagnosed with lymphoma around that same time.

Ross died from lymphoma at the age of 52, on July 4, 1995, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The majority of his original oil paintings were donated to charities or to PBS stations. Today, Ross remains one of the best-known and highest-paid American painters. His legacy lives on through a number of facets, including a fan-based Twitter page of more than 15,000 followers.

Happy Birthday Robert Rauschenberg

Today is the 89th birthday of artist Robert Rauschenberg.

NAME: Robert Rauschenberg
OCCUPATION: Painter, Sculptor
BIRTH DATE: October 22, 1925
DEATH DATE: May 12, 2008
EDUCATION: Black Mountain College, Académie Julien, Kansas City Art Institute
PLACE OF BIRTH: Port Arthur, Texas
PLACE OF DEATH: Captiva, Florida

BEST KNOWN FOR: American artist Robert Rauschenberg is best known for paving the way for pop art of the 1960’s with fellow artist Jasper Johns.

American artist. Milton Ernst Rauschenberg was born on October 22, 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute (1946–7), the Académie Julien, Paris (1947), and with Josef Albers and John Cage at Black Mountain College, North Carolina (1948–50).

Traveling widely, he was based in New York City from 1950, where he and Jasper Johns paved the way for pop art of the 1960s. He worked with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York, as costume and stage designer (1955–64).

An imaginative and eclectic artist, he used a mix of sculpture and paint in works he called ‘combines’, as seen in The Bed (1955). From the late 1950s he incorporated sound and motors in his work, such as Broadcast (1959), and silk-screen transfers, as in Flush (1964).

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he experimented with collage and new ways to transfer photographs. In 1997 the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York City, staged a major exhibition of his works, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his work and its influence over the second half of the century.

Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg died on May 12, 2008 in Lee County, Florida.