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Max Beckmann: “I do not weep: I loathe tears, for they are a sign of slavery”

Self-Portrait in Bowler Hat
Max Beckmann was born into a middle-class family in Leipzig, Saxony. From his youth he pitted himself against the old masters. His traumatic experiences of World War I, in which he served as a medic, coincided with a dramatic transformation of his style from academically correct depictions to a distortion of both figure and space, reflecting his altered vision of himself and humanity.
He is known for the self-portraits painted throughout his life, their number and intensity rivaled only by Rembrandt and Picasso. Well-read in philosophy and literature, he also contemplated mysticism and theosophy in search of the “Self”. As a true painter-thinker, he strove to find the hidden spiritual dimension in his subjects. (Beckmann’s 1948 “Letters to a Woman Painter” provides a statement of his approach to art.)
Beckmann enjoyed great success and official honors during the Weimar Republic. In 1925 he was selected to teach a master class at the Städelschule Academy of Fine Art in Frankfurt. Some of his most famous students included Theo Garve, Leo Maillet and Marie-Louise von Motesiczky. In 1927 he received the Honorary Empire Prize for German Art and the Gold Medal of the City of Düsseldorf; the National Gallery in Berlin acquired his painting The Bark and, in 1928, purchased his Self-Portrait in Tuxedo.
His fortunes changed with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, whose dislike of Modern Art quickly led to its suppression by the state. In 1933, the Nazi government called Beckmann a “cultural Bolshevik” and dismissed him from his teaching position at the Art School in Frankfurt. In 1937 more than 500 of his works were confiscated from German museums, and several of these works were put on display in the notorious Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich. For ten years, Beckmann lived in poverty in self-imposed exile in Amsterdam, failing in his desperate attempts to obtain a visa for the US. In 1944 the Germans attempted to draft him into the army, despite the fact that the sixty-year-old artist had suffered a heart attack. The works completed in his Amsterdam studio were even more powerful and intense than the ones of his master years in Frankfurt, and included several large triptychs, which stand as a summation of Beckmann’s art.
After the war, Beckmann moved to the United States, and during the last three years of his life, he taught at the art schools of Washington University in St. Louis (with the German-American painter and printmaker Werner Drewes) and the Brooklyn Museum. He suffered from angina pectoris and died after Christmas 1950, struck down by a heart attack in Manhattan.
Many of his late paintings are displayed in American museums. Max Beckmann, a native of the very heart of Germany, exerted a profound influence on such American painters as Philip Guston and Nathan Oliveira.

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Balthus: “I refuse to confide and don’t like it when people write about art”.

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Balthasar Klossowski  de Rola (February 29, 1908 in Paris – February 18, 2001 in Rossinière, Switzerland), best known as Balthus, was an esteemed but controversial Polish-French modern artist.
 

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Odilon Redon

self-portrait, 1880
// // Bertrand-Jean Redon, better known as Odilon Redon (April 20, 1840 – July 6, 1916) was a French Symbolist painter, printmaker, draughtsman and pastellist.

“Those were the pictures bearing the signature: Odilon Redon. They held, between their gold-edged frames of unpolished pearwood, undreamed-of images: a Merovingian-type head, resting upon a cup; a bearded man, reminiscent both of a Buddhist priest and a public orator, touching an enormous cannon-ball with his finger; a spider with a human face lodged in the centre of its body. Then there were charcoal sketches which delved even deeper into the terrors of fever-ridden dreams. Here, on an enormous die, a melancholy eyelid winked; over there stretched dry and arid landscapes, calcinated plains, heaving and quaking ground, where volcanos erupted into rebellious clouds, under foul and murky skies; sometimes the subjects seemed to have been taken from the nightmarish dreams of science, and hark back to prehistoric times; monstrous flora bloomed on the rocks; everywhere, in among the erratic blocks and glacial mud, were figures whose simian appearance–heavy jawbone, protruding brows, receding forehead, and flattened skull top–recalled the ancestral head, the head of the first Quaternary Period, the head of man when he was still fructivorous and without speech, the contemporary of the mammoth, of the rhinoceros with septate nostrils, and of the giant bear. These drawings defied classification; unheeding, for the most part, of the limitations of painting, they ushered in a very special type of the fantastic, one born of sickness and delirium.”

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Moise Kisling. Master at depicting the female body.


Moise Kisling was a Polish painter. Born in Krakow, Poland, he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow, where he was encouraged to go to Paris, France.
In 1910, Kisling moved to Montmartre and a few years later to Montparnasse. At the outbreak of World War I he volunteered for service in the French Foreign Legion, and in 1915 he was seriously wounded in the Battle of the Somme, for which he was awarded French citizenship.
Kisling lived and worked in Montparnasse where he was part of the renowned artistic community gathered there at the time. He became a close friends with many of his contemporaries, including his neighbor, Amedeo Modigliani, who painted him in 1916 (today at the Musee d`Art Moderneas).
His style used in painting landscapes is similar to that of Marc Chagall, but, a master at depicting the female body, his surreal nudes and portraits earned him the widest acclaim.
Kisling’s art represents a synthesis of influences often found among members of the School of Paris, whose work combines French characteristics with ideas from non-French painters. Under the influence of Derain, Kisling learned to control his natural exuberance and love of color. Nevertheless, his close and caring friendship with Modigliani, a friendship that lasted until the latter’s death, perhaps, goes some way towards accounting for the faint melancholy tone that inhabits the brilliant colors in some of Kisling’s portraits. Throughout his latest works, Kisling’s bursting Slavic color and luxurious design are the signature of an individual style that is both lively and exciting.

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N. C. Wyeth: “If you paint a man leaning over, your own back must ache.”

Newell Convers Wyeth was born on October 22, 1882, in Needham, Massachusetts. Growing up on a farm, he developed a deep love of nature. His mother, the daughter of Swiss immigrants, encouraged his early artistic inclinations in the face of opposition from his father, a descendant of the first Wyeth to arrive in the New World in the mid-17th century. His father encouraged a more practical use of his talents, and young Convers attended Mechanic Arts High School in Boston through May 1899, concentrating on drafting. With his mother’s support he transferred to Massachusetts Normal Art School and there instructor Richard Andrew urged him toward illustration. He studied with Eric Pape and Charles W. Reed and then painted with George L. Noyes in Annisquam, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1901.


On the advice of two friends, artists Clifford Ashley and Henry Peck, Wyeth decided to travel to Wilmington, Delaware, in October 1902, to join the Howard Pyle School of Art. Howard Pyle, one of the country’s most renowned illustrators, left a teaching position at Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry in Philadelphia to open his own school of illustration in Wilmington. Pyle was an inspired teacher and Wyeth an attentive pupil. The master emphasized the use of dramatic effects in painting and the importance of sound, personal knowledge of one’s subject, teachings Wyeth quickly assimilated and employed throughout his career. The astute young man recognized the value of Pyle’s instruction, writing to his mother just after his arrival, “the composition lecture…opened my eyes more than any talk I ever heard.” (BJW, p. 21) In less than five months, Wyeth successfully submitted a cover illustration to the Saturday Evening Post.

www.ncwyeth.org/ncbio.htm

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Vincent Willem van Gogh. Happy Birthday Vincent!!

“As for me, I am rather often uneasy in my mind, because 
I think that my life has not been calm enough; all those bitter disappointments, 
adversities, changes keep me from developing fully and naturally in my artistic career.”

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands on March 30, 1853. His mother had given birth to an already dead baby (stillborn) one year earlier, also on March 30. That baby had also been named Vincent. Over the course of his 47 years, Vincent painted some of the most renowned paintings of our time and went a little crazy in the process.

Vincent van Gogh’s Early Years
Vincent van Gogh quit school when he was only 15 and headed off to England in 1869. There he began a career not as a painter but as an art dealer with the firm Goupil & Cie. Van Gogh spent seven years with the firm, but became unhappy and decided to try his hand teaching at a Catholic school for boys. In the following years, Vincent went from job to job, living in various cities in Europe. Finally in 1880, van Gogh decided to head to Brussels to begin studies in art. During the next ten years, Vincent van Gogh painted 872 paintings.

The Famous Vincent van Gogh
Although Vincent van Gogh is a world-famous artist today, he did not get much 
recognition during his lifetime. Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive, which was Red Vineyard at Arles. For most of his life he was very poor, often spending his money on art supplies instead of food.

Vincent van Gogh’s Dark Side
Vincent also suffered from severe depression and was admitted to an asylum 
in December 1888, after chopping off his own ear. He would be in and out of asylums for the next year. It is thought that Vincent van Gogh was actually epileptic (a condition of the brain that causes seizures) and that is why people thought he had fits of insanity throughout his life. While in the asylum Vincent painted one of his best-known paintings, Starry Night. In mid-May 1890, Vincent left the asylum and spent the last few months of his life in Auvers, France. On July 27, 1890 Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Two days later he died with his younger brother, Theo, by his side.


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Vincent Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853

Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch postimpressionist painter whose work represents the archetype of expressionism, the idea of emotional spontaneity in painting. Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, son of a Dutch Protestant pastor. Early in life he displayed a moody, restless temperament that was to thwart his every pursuit. By the age of 27 he had been in turn a salesman in an art gallery, a French tutor, a theological student, and an evangelist among the miners at Wasmes in Belgium. His experiences as a preacher are reflected in his first paintings of peasants and potato diggers; of these early works, the best known is the rough, earthy Potato Eaters (1885, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam). Dark and somber, sometimes crude, these early works evidence van Gogh’s intense desire to express the misery and poverty of humanity as he saw it among the miners in Belgium.

In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother Thйo van Gogh, an art dealer, and became familiar with the new art movements developing at the time. Influenced by the work of the impressionists and by the work of such Japanese printmakers as Hiroshige and Hokusai, van Gogh began to experiment with current techniques. Subsequently, he adopted the brilliant hues found in the paintings of the French artists Camille Pissarro and Georges Seurat.

In 1888 van Gogh left Paris for southern France, where, under the burning sun of Provence, he painted scenes of the fields, cypress trees, peasants, and rustic life characteristic of the region. During this period, living at Arles, he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues associated with such typical works as Bedroom at Arles (1888, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh), and Starry Night (1889, Museum of Modern Art, New York City). For van Gogh all visible phenomena, whether he painted or drew them, seemed to be endowed with a physical and spiritual vitality. In his enthusiasm he induced the painter Paul Gauguin, whom he had met earlier in Paris, to join him. After less than two months they began to have violent disagreements, culminating in a quarrel in which van Gogh wildly threatened Gauguin with a razor; the same night, in deep remorse, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear. For a time he was in a hospital at Arles. He then spent a year in the nearby asylum of Saint-Rйmy, working between repeated spells of madness. Under the care of a sympathetic doctor, whose portrait he painted (Dr. Gachet, 1890, Musйe du Louvre, Paris), van Gogh spent three months at Auvers. Just after completing his ominous Crows in the Wheatfields (1890, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh), he shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died two days later. The more than 700 letters that van Gogh wrote to his brother Thйo (published 1911, translated 1958) constitute a remarkably illuminating record of the life of an artist and a thorough documentation of his unusually fertile output—about 750 paintings and 1600 drawings. The French painter Chaim Soutine, and the German painters Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst L

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Max Weber


Max Weber was born in Russia and at age ten emigrated with his family to the United States, settling in New York City. From 1898 to 1900 he studied art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with the noted painter and printmaker Arthur Wesley Dow, and from 1905 to 1908 he attended art classes in Paris, including those at Matisse’s newly opened academy. Returning to New York in 1909, Weber developed an important, though short-lived, friendship with Alfred Stieglitz, whose gallery, 291, promoted European and American modernism. 

Weber is considered one of America’s earliest modernists, and his long career witnessed many stylistic changes. Through the 1920s his work paid homage to such European artists as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Rousseau as well as to tribal African art. After 1930, when he developed a consistently identifiable style, one that was lyrical and Expressionistic, his imagery focused on romanticized landscapes, docile domestic scenes, and emotional religious themes. Throughout his career Weber exhibited consistently at galleries and museums, and in 1930 he was honored with a retrospective at the recently opened Museum of Modern Art.

From 1914 to 1918 Weber taught classes in art history, art appreciation, and design at the Clarence H. White School of Photography in New York. The experience of sitting in a darkened auditorium during a slide talk is amply conveyed in this pastel, about which he wrote: “A lecture on Giotto was given at the Metropolitan Museum. The late hastening visitor finds himself in an interior of plum-colored darkness . . . upon which one discerns the focusing spray-like yellowish-white light, the concentric, circular rows of seats, [and] a portion of the screen.” In other paintings and drawings of the period, he evoked the illuminated stages at music and dance performances and the shimmering screens of the cinema. In a 1915 newspaper article he stated that his aim at the time was to express “not what I see with my eye but with my consciousness . . . mental impressions, not mere literal matter-of-fact copying of line and form. I want to put the abstract into concrete terms.”

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Norman Rockwell: “It wouldn’t be right for me to clown around when I’m painting a president.”

Born in New York City in 1894, Norman Rockwell always wanted to be an artist. At age 14, Rockwell enrolled in art classes at The New York School of Art (formerly The Chase School of Art). Two years later, in 1910, he left high school to study art at The National Academy of Design. He soon transferred to The Art Students League, where he studied with Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman. Fogarty’s instruction in illustration prepared Rockwell for his first commercial commissions. From Bridgman, Rockwell learned the technical skills on which he relied throughout his long career.

Rockwell found success early. He painted his first commission of four Christmas cards before his sixteenth birthday. While still in his teens, he was hired as art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, and began a successful freelance career illustrating a variety of young people’s publications.

At age 21, Rockwell’s family moved to New Rochelle, New York, a community whose residents included such famous illustrators as J.C. and Frank Leyendecker and Howard Chandler Christy. There, Rockwell set up a studio with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe and produced work for such magazines as Life, Literary Digest, and Country Gentleman. In 1916, the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, the magazine considered by Rockwell to be the “greatest show window in America.” Over the next 47 years, another 321 Rockwell covers would appear on the cover of the Post. Also in 1916, Rockwell married Irene O’Connor; they divorced in 1930.

read more www.nrm.org

Max Ernst. (2 April 1891 – 1 April 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet.

Max Ernst, 1942 by Arnold Newman
Max Ernst: “Painting is not for me either decorative amusement, or the plastic invention of felt reality; it must be every time: invention, discovery, revelation.”
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