Art History Posts



  • Pre-Raphaelites | The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of British painters that formed in 1848.  They formed to rebel against the art establishment during the time.  Mannerism was the traditional style of painting, which was developed and pioneered by the great Renaissance painters Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michaelangelo.  Mannerism, while beautiful, has a very artificial and contrived feel.  This style was used to paint so much of the sacred art in churches in Europe.  The Pre-Raphaelites rejected the lavish and complicated compositions of Mannerism, favoring mythological themes, natural poses, and the imitation of nature.  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)
  • Joan Mitchell: It turns out that Mitchell also had “colored-hearing” synesthesia, or that she would see shapes and colors while listening to music.  She also haseidetic memory (aka photographic memory) which means that instead of remembering, she would quite literally relive the past.  Albers goes on to explain:

    ” ‘I carry my landscapes around with me’ she often said, in the form of images that ‘roosted inside’ her.   As involved as she was with trees, rivers, fields, clouds, weather, and so on, she did not work out-of-doors, but rather mentally ‘framed’ whatever spoke to her: ‘the motion is made still like a fish trapped in ice.  It is trapped in the painting.  My mind is like an album of photographs and paintings.’ “ (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)



  • Franz Klein: Kline was best know for his large scale minimalist paintings.  The canvases were black and white, with large gestural brush strokes.   I always imagined the works were influenced by Asian art – particularly Japanese calligraphy.  I also assumed that Kline was influenced by other abstract painters.  However, curator Dr. Robert S. Mattison argues that these black and white paintings were influenced by Kline’s memories of Pennsylvania.  Considering that Kline’s hometown of Wilkes-Barre was in the heart of coal country, I see this connection immediately.  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)


Monet & Etretat: Etretat is a small farming and fishing town near in the Normandy region of France.  It attracts tourist far and wide for the naturally formed bluffs and cliff formations.  According to the Musee d’Orsey, Monet first visited this area in the winter of 1868 and returned every year between 1883-1886.  Monet made countless paintings of this coastline, each showing a different time of day or weather pattern.  I love this series of paintings.  When I find a really special place, I take endless photographs and make drawings and paintings of what I observe.  There is a small trail in the woods near my home that is really special to me.  This is what I base a lot of my own paintings off of, as well as a large portion of my Instagram feed.  Since this type of technology wasn’t available at the time, Monet had to paint rapidly to capture the ambient light and atmosphere. (To continue reading this post, please click here.)
  • Syd Solomon & Camouflage California: A native Pennsylvanian, Solomon painted as a teenager and later attended the Art Institute of Chicago.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Solomon enlisted into the armed services.  He became responsible, in fact, for designing camouflage to disguise important naval and air bases during World War II.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Solomon was enlisted to help create camouflage for the California coast around San Francisco. He arrived in England on D-Day 2 and met artists Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. They worked together to create camouflage for ports on the English Coast. He later designed camouflage systems for the desert war in Northern Africa. The artist has said that the aerial reconnaissance he did during WWII, influenced his ideas about abstract art.”  (Source: (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)


  • The Studio Boat:  The University College of London recently conducted a study that proved looking at artwork triggers pleasure responses in the brain.  Here are their findings: During the study, participants underwent brain scans while eyeballing paintings by artists such as Monet, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci. When they saw something they liked, blood flow in certain parts of the brain increased by about 10 percent – the equivalent of gazing at a loved one, according to the researchers. (Source(To continue reading the original post, please click here.)




  • Significant Others: Lee Krasner & Jackson Pollock:  They both agreed that painting should be removed from any type of allegiance – art could be non-representational, it could break with tradition, it should make the viewer think.  But their approach when working at the canvas was starkly different.  I think this is evident in their paintings.  Pollocks work is reactionary.  The wild gestures, the flinging and splattering of paint, the capturing of energy – it all illustrates how he felt.  There is a sense of risk, insecurity, ambition, anxiety, curiosity, and fear.  It seems like the chaos inside his mind took over while he painted.  What drove him to drink is what also drove him to paint.  The reasons for Krasner are all together different.  Painting was a means of escape.  It allowed her to shed guises of gender and marital status.  None of these things mattered while she painted.  Wagner argues that her method “keeps the self out of it”.  But I find this a bit hard to believe.   Krasner avoided certain methods of application and color while her husband was alive to affirm her own separate identity.  I think painting gave Krasner an outlet to create the self she wanted to be, even if she did not allow herself certain modes of expression.  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)




Significant Others: Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant: Grant was a free spirit.  Compassionate, friendly, and unpretentious.  He was happy to paint, and live in the freedom that the Bloomsbury group afforded him.  He encouraged Bell, learned from her, and influenced her.  There relationship was described as the following:
Where Vanessa was timid and tentative, Duncan would be audacious, and when he was disoriented she would be authoritative.  She would straighten out his muddles, laugh at his perplexities, and when, as so often happened, her self-confidence failed her, he would support and reassure her.  The enterprise was never ‘art’ at the cost of a life lived or life at the expense of oeuvre.(81)
(To read the original post, please click here)



  • Significant Others: Jasper Johns & Robert Rauschenberg:  Relationships can have profound effects on our careers and the work that we produce.  Unhealthy relationships are harmful on so many levels.  Aside from the emotional damage, they can impose limitations on creativity, expression, and experimentation.  My post about Lee Krasner & Jackson Pollock illustrates this point.  After reading that essay, I was feeling pretty dismal about relationships.  Do they always have to impede personal development and growth?  Healthy relationships impact our creativity and professional careers, too.  Obviously the level of impact varies from couple to couple.  I’ve seen lots of healthy relationships, and know that a good partner will support your career and hobbies.  But I’ve never really seen a healthy relationship where two people were in the same creative field and supported each other.  The most encouraging essay from Significant Others was The Art of Code: Jasper Johns & Robert Rauschenberg by Johnathan Katz.  (To read the original post, please click here)
  • Kazimir Malevich: Kazimir Malevich (1879 – 1935) was a Russian-born abstract painter.  He is most known for starting the art movement Suprematism. Malevich conceived the idea of Suprematism around 1913, which focuses on basic geometric forms painted in a limited range of colors.  Malevich believed that the true power of art was it’s ability to evoke emotion in the viewer.  By using simple geometric forms, there was no way for political or social meanings to be imparted on the work of art.  He explained: “Under Suprematism, I understand the primacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist, the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.”  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)
  • Tantric Art: Tantra definitely has a very steamy reputation in the West. The very name generally conjures up sexually explicit images in most people’s minds. Yet reducing Tantra down to a practice of mastering the Kama Sutra is an incomplete picture.  Tantra is a Hindu form of meditation and ritual that started in the Fifth Century. So what does that mean, exactly? Like all sects of Hinduism, Tantraic philosophy explains that life is nothing more than a manifestation of divine energy. Everyone – everything – is created from the same energy. Life, with it’s ups and downs, can distract us from this universal truth. Much in the same way that external demands can prevent us from scheduling time to relax, the experience of life can make us forget our divine nature. Tantra uses meditation and ritual as a way of allowing practitioners to remember this truth.  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)



John Little: John Little (1907-1984) was a student of Hans Hofmann and painted with Jackson Pollock in post-war New York.  Lisa N. Peters of Spanierman Modern describes his work quite succinctly: His canvases are characterized by dynamic and explosive movements, conveying the searching, restlessness of his era, yet he also brought them a sense of resolution and balance.  For Little, the picture plane was akin to a magnetic field, and he contained opposing forces, of buoyancy and gravity, of varying densities of form and color, of splintering and fusion, and of pressure and release through a process of animated involvement that is evident in his charged surfaces.  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)



William Merritt Chase:  Chase was born in Indiana, and later moved to New York to paint.  He was always willing to grow as an artist, and used different elements from painting styles, like Tonalism (dark or neutral hues used to paint the atmosphere or mist), Impressionism (visible brush strokes, depiction of light and its changing qualities), and Realism (depicting the subject exactly as it is).  His willingness to learn and adapt made him a revered teacher.

What I think made him an interesting painter, aside from sheer skill, was his ability to render the details of clothing.  Garments from this time period are in many museum collections.  The similarities between Chase’s portraits and the surviving garments are very strong.  (To continue reading the original post, please click here.)
Fashion, Impressionism, & Modernity? |Hopefully, institutions everywhere will adopt and clearly explain photography policies that encourage socially sharing images.    The Scientific American recently published an article explaining the importance of posting on sites such as Facebook.  Sharing images via social media are influential.  Here is why:One of the big ways that the people around us exert these influences is through the use of norms, those messages that we send out about what’s acceptable, appropriate, and, well, normal. Descriptive norms simply describe the way that things are, whereas prescriptive norms offer a mandate about how things should be. . . .Quite possibly the most important takeaway point from all of the research that’s been done on norms is just how powerful descriptive norms can be. When people try to change behavior, they often focus on prescriptive norms, telling people what they should do. We often underestimate just how strongly we respond to what other people actually do.”  (Quotation from The Scientific American(To continue reading the original post, please click here.)
2Pierre Bonnard. Self-Portrait
Happy Birthday, Bonnard | Pierre Bonnard (3 October 1867 – 23 January 1947) was a French painter and printmaker.  Bonnard trained as a lawyer, but learned painting as a hobby.  Soon enough, his passion for art took over and became his career.  In 1891 he met Toulouse-Lautrec, and began exhibiting his artwork publicly.   Enthralled by the spiritual act of creating, Bonnard joined Les Nabis, a group of young artists committed to capturing the symbolic and spiritual aspects of life in their paintings.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)