M.C. Escher was a skilled print-maker who produced amazing works of art that experimented with space and time, geometry, artistic composition, playing around with values in a drawing, capturing reflection, and so much more. This particular Escher exhibit is the first exhibition of its kind in a Boston museum featuring original prints and drawings. The exhibit consisted of over 50 of Escher's masterpieces, most of which were under-appreciated by the mainstream art world. I even learned that M.C. stands for Maurits Cornelis Escher. Escher loved Tessellations, arrangements on a two-dimensional surface of shapes that interlock without gaps or overlapping. The majority of Escher's prints are woodcuts, which he preferred for the art he was personally creating.
In the artwork "Day and Night" shown above, Escher explores the balance between two dimensional and three dimensional forms. The black and white birds in his woodcut are flying in opposite directions, morphing into a landscape below. Escher plays with the ideas of symmetry and contrast. The right and left sides of the paper are mirror images of each other. The white birds appear over a nighttime landscape, and the black birds appear over a daytime landscape.
For those interested: A Lithograph is printed from a flat surface, most often stone, where the artist would draw on stone with a greasy crayon. The stone after being treated so that the crayon will work with the printing ink on it and the stone surface is kept wet to repel the ink. A Woodcut is a relief print where the artist carves into a wooden block to create areas that are raised that will hold the ink that will be printed. A Linocut is a relief print made by gouging and cutting a piece of linoleum, then inking it, and printing it. Linocuts are preferred when printing flat areas of color since the linoleum has no grain as compared to wood. Some of Escher's works are Mezzotints, which is a labor intensive process, so Escher stopped doing it soon after starting it!
Shown here above, are two studies for "Drawing Hands" (shown below), completed around 1948 with graphite pencil. It's fascinating to see how these hands are drawing one another into existence. The two hands are in a never-ending state of drawing and appear to be bringing life to the other. On a technical note, it's very cool to see how Escher depicts the tendons and veins of the hand with only slight changes of value in light and dark.
In the Self-Portrait shown above, it's interesting to note that it is a very serious drawing that has a tremendous amount of detail in it. However, there are a lot of abstract elements in this Self-Portrait such as his wavy hair.
Many of Escher's works of art focused on impossible structures. They are akin to optical illusions, where the buildings seem to violate the laws of gravity and physics.
The theme of Reflection appears often in Escher's work. Below the distorted perspective of a room is captured in the reflection of a silver sphere. And shown below, in "Eye" he captures the reflection of a skull.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which is always an incredible experience. There are always new exhibits to see as well as a chance to see some of one's favorite works of art since visiting last.
Henri Matisse, perhaps one of the most famous artists in the world, was the subject of a fascinating exhibit. The "Matisse in the Studio" exhibit pushed the limits of how one experiences Matisse's work. Having seen his artwork countless of times at museums all over the world, including visiting the Matisse Museum in the south of France, I've never quite have seen artwork presented in this unique format.
Henri Matisse was an artist who revolutionized 20th Century art. This international exhibition examines the critical importance of the objects in Matisse's studio and how they influenced his creative process and finished artwork.
The exhibit has a number of thematic sections that each focus on different stages of his career as an artist. Matisse didn't limit his work to one medium like painting or sculpture, but also did many drawings, cut-outs, collages, prints, and more. What makes this exhibit particularly fascinating is that the artwork is presented next to the objects that helped inspire Matisse's creativity and served as subject matter for much of his work. Matisse found inspiration everywhere: In sculpture, in a chocolate pot, textiles, furniture.
Below, the pewter jug served as inspiration for the painting below. You can see how the curved lines of the jug, the waviness, are imitated in the lines of the background tapestry, the woman's robe, and the actual jug he painted as a vase of flowers. As you can see in the close-up photos below, the wavy lines are not painted on, but Matisse rather scratched the paint off the surface of the canvas. This reminds me of how I used this technique in some of my artwork. You can see some of those paintings here and here.
Show above is a table that appears in the painting to the left. And below is a female torso Roman sculpture that Matisse used to create the "Formes, Plate IX" for the illustrated book "Jazz". Matisse used cut paper as its own medium. He also uses Guache paint on paper that he cut and pasted on canvas to create "Mimosa" and "Panel with Mask". The movie, "A Model for Matisse" discussed the relationship between Matisse and his longtime friend and nun, Sister Jacques-Marie. Their relationship began when she started working for him as his nurse, but later she often served as a model for Matisse's most famous artworks. The nun also helped paint the paper that Matisse used for his cutouts. The sister was instrumental in helping Matisse design the Vence Chapel (the Chapelle du Rosaire), one of his greatest accomplishments in his career as an artist. The two large cutouts were designs for the robes that the priests were to wear while celebrating Catholic Mass.
The "Matisse in the Studio" exhibit runs from April 9, 2017 to July 9, 2017. For more information, please visit www.mfa.org.
Art of the Americas. Level 3
Below is just a few snapshots I took during this visit to the MFA, some of my old favorites as well as some new favorites. Below from are some wonderful photos of Piet Mondrian's work, "Composition with Blue, Yellow, and Red," Georgia O'Keefe's "White Rose with Larkspur No. 2," Joseph Stella's "Old Brooklyn Bridge" large, oil on canvas painting, Pablo Picasso's sculpture, and his "The Bull" series completed in 1945 and 1946.
Also below are two of Jackson Pollock's incredible paintings, along with a close up shot of his drip-work, splattering, etc. and lastly, I've included a piece by Charles Sheeler titled "On a Shaker Theme" and an incredible work of art by Stuart Davis, "Apples and Jug" where he takes the traditional still-life and transforms it into his modernist universe, with elements of cubism and even of advertising imagery.
In the Contemporary Art galleries, two pieces struck me on this visit. One is Carmen Herrera's, "Blanco y Verde (#1)", Acrylic on Canvas. Originally from Havana, Cuba, Herrera studied painting in New York. The simplicity of the forms here was really striking. I love the exactness of her straight lines, and her minimal use of color. We don't know if there is a background or a foreground, and we almost lose our-self within the painting completely. Carmen Herrera recently had a retrospective exhibit of her work a the Whitney Museum of American Art a few months ago.
Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross
This powerful exhibit recently opened in March and will be on view through July 30, 2017.
“Memory Unearthed” is a very moving exhibit that provides a rare glimpse of life during the Holocaust. Holocaust Survivor, Henryk Ross took this incredible display of photographs of life inside the Lodz Ghetto from 1940 to 1944.
Henryk Ross was confined to the Lodz ghetto in 1940 and enlisted by the Nazi regime as a bureaucratic photographer taking photos for Jewish identification cards, for propaganda materials, etc. Secretly, Henryk Ross documented the horrible living conditions and persecution of the Jews under the Nazis. Ross his the photos and negatives before the last of the Jews were sent from the ghetto to the Auschwitz and Chelmno death camps. The photos seen in this exhibit survived because Ross buried the photos and negatives hoping to provide a historical record of the persecution of the Jews.
All the photos were very powerful to see. However, there was one piece of artwork that I found completely incredible and breathtaking from an artistic perspective. I've included the photo below. It is actually a modern print from an original 35mm negative, depicting Ghetto police escorting residents for deportation. The image itself and the unfortunate and horrifying circumstances in the photo are very compelling. But beyond the face value of what is happening in the photo, you can see that the negative is partially destroyed, burned, or deteriorating. From one perspective, the visual piece of artwork is quite beautiful and striking. And from another perspective, it is quite ugly, off-putting, sad, and even symbolic. This exhibit helps us Never Forget the horrors of the Holocaust and its victims of persecution and death.
Overall, this was an incredible visit to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. With every visit, there are new things to see, experience, learn, and explore.
This past week I had the pleasure of visiting two of my favorite Art Museums in the Boston area. What I love about art museums is the special combination of new temporary exhibitions and spectacular permanent collections.
The Rose Art Museum
The first museum I’ll write about is the Rose Art Museum, located in Waltham, Massachusetts. On a personal note, the Rose Art Museum is special to me because it is part of Brandeis University, my alma mater. As part of my art education at Brandeis university, I had the unique opportunity to tour the Rose’s amazing permanent collection—however, not exhibited on the walls of the museum, but rather in the museum’s storage vault. In the mid-1990s, I saw incredible works from the collection from Roy Lichtenstein to Andy Warhol to Willem de Kooning to Jasper Johns. With over 8,000 works of art, mostly from American Artists from the 1960s and 1970s, the Rose Art Museum is one of the leading art museums in the world. Use the following link to see the digital collection: http://rosecollection.brandeis.edu/
This week the Rose Art Museum was exhibiting a temporary retrospective exhibit on the artist Rosalyn Drexler. The exhibit, “Rosalyn Drexler: Who does She Think She Is?” recently closed, but I believe it is traveling to other museums in the coming months.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston
The following day I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which houses one of the world’s best and diverse collections of fine art including contemporary art, art of Asia, Oceana, Africa, Europe the Americas, art of the ancient world, and jewelry, musical instruments, prints, drawings, and photographs. Although I didn’t get to see everything in the museum, I was able to see some of my favorite works of art again as well as see some new things and very cool new temporary exhibits.
And while I’m more of a contemporary and modern art kind of guy, I was particularly impressed with the story behind a 13-foot-tall statue of a classical sculpture of Juno. The Roman marble lady is the largest Classical sculpture in any museum in the United States. But perhaps even more fascinating was where the statue was found; It was found in the backyard of a Brookline, Massachusetts home (a suburb of Boston). The statue that is dated to about the year 1633 was purchased at the end of the 19th Century in Rome and brought to Brookline, Massachusetts to be placed as part of a formal garden.
The Danish artist, Jeppe Hein’s work entitled “PLEASE…” is a neon light installation from 2008. Hein is fascinated with the relationship between the viewer and his artwork and the art really isn’t complete without the viewer’s participation. I really can relate with Jeppe Hein and his work because some of my artwork also has a similar element to it. My paintings entitled “Close Your Eyes” and “You Have To Read This” come to mind when thinking about Hein’s work. With “Close Your Eyes” I’m trying to convey to viewers a bit of edginess or something to make you think twice about what you are seeing. I really enjoy the irony of creating art that is visual, and then the message of the painting instructs you not to look at it. “Close Your Eyes” was selected in the prestigious Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts Annual Juried Art Exhibit a few years ago. The six works of art are pictured here. http://www.jeppehein.net/
Throughout the museum (and around the Museum and even in Faneuil Hall in Boston) is the Megacities Asia exhibit, which runs until July 17, 2016. Megacities are cities with populations of more than ten million. These megacities are increasing in numbers and changes the lives of so many people. I was really impressed with the works of the artists Ai Weiwei and Choi Jeong Hwa. Choi Jeong Hwa’s “Breathing Flower” located just outside the museum was very moving. http://aiweiwei.com/
The Art Connection
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