San Francisco is… The Walt Disney Family Museum

Celebrating the life and work of the man whose dream, ambition and perseverance made countless young lives happier, the Walt Disney Family Museum will warm you up and brighten your day, and it will bring back memories you thought were long forgotten.

Walt and Ruth Disney on the front of 1249 Tripp Avenue, Chicago before leaving for Marceline, Missouri ca. 1906


Walt ca. 1919


In 1917, the United States had ended its policy of  neutrality and joined the Allies in the war. By mid-1918, war fever had swept the nation. Although Walt was anxious to take part in this patriotic effort, he was too young to join the military. That summer, he learned about the American Ambulance Corps, a division of the Red Cross that needed drivers and had a lower age requirement. He went down to the office and enlisted, but quickly learned he needed a birth certificate in order to obtain a passport. Official birth certificates in those days were not regularly issued. Walt needed a notarized affidavit confirming his birthdate with signatures of both parents. Elias -his father- refused to sign the form declaring it a ”death warrant for his son”. Flora conceded, preferring to ”know where Walt was than having him run off”. With the signed and notarized affidavit, Walt still had one hurdle: the minimum age for the ambulance corps was 17 and he was only 16. As soon as Flora signed the paper, Walt grabbed the pen and changed his birthdate from 1901 to 1900, and with that he was finally on his way to France.


Walt in his Red Cross uniform, ca. 1919


Margaret Winkler
By contracting for the Alice Comedies in 1923, Ms. Winkler gave Walt his first national distribution.


The Disney family in front of the studio


Toasting their 41 years of marriage, July 13, 1966.


The Walt Disney Family Museum

July 8th, 2018

 

 

San Francisco is… vintage Disney movie posters

A collection of original live action movie posters from some of my childhood’s favourites – all on view at the lower level of the museum, bringing back sweet memories from many lifetimes ago – so familiar, yet so very distant.

Don’t you feel like settling down with a large class of wine and start (re)-watching? Only… where do you start?

The art of Disney movie posters from the 1960s and some of their Polish versions – titles below:

The Prince and the Pauper, 1962
Nikki, Wild Dog of the North, 1961
The Incredible Journey, 1963
Big Red, 1962
The Absent-Minded Professor, 1961

July 8th, 2017

San Francisco is… ”Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle”

You may not know the name Eyvind Earle but you certainly know his work, if Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan or Lady and the Tramp sound at all familiar. A visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum was firmly on our map, but Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle, a retrospective about the life and work of the artist behind some of Disney’s timeless stories that marked the childhood of kids all over the world -myself included- was a double win.

The exhibition featured more than 250 works, including concept paintings for Lady and the Tramp and artworks for Sleeping Beauty. But, more importantly, it included an extensive collection of Earle’s lush landscapes in the artist’s very distinctive style, as well as serigraphs, watercolours, sculpture, commercial illustrations (two examples of which we saw in the teaser, yesterday) – the extend of Earle’s work seems limitless.  Self Portrait Sketch, 1925 (age 9-10)


Botticelli Woman, 1936
Graphite on paper


Scratchboards created for
Horizon Bound on a Bicycle:
The Autobiography of Eyvind Earle (1991)
Ink on scratchboard


[In 1937, at the age of 21, Eyvind Earle bicycled across the country from Hollywood, California, to Monroe, New York, on a 45 day trip. He painted 42 water colors and wrote a 10,000 page diary along the way. At the conclusion of the expedition, Charles Morgan Gallery in New York exhibited all the watercolors.

Eyvind created many water colors during his life; during certain time periods they were his primary focus.  Occasionally he had shows which solely exhibited his watercolors, some of which have been declared to be his finest work.] (source) New York, 1939
Watercolour on paper


Little Girl, 1939
Watercolour on paper


Winter Oak, 1997
Oil on Masonite


Face 2, 1981
Ink on scratchboard


Bearded Man, 1980
Ink and varnish on scratchboard


Portrait of a Woman, 1981
Ink on paper


Portrait of a Woman, 1975
Ink on paper


[The sleek glow of his acrylics and oils is the result of a custom-made formula Earle created himself for the varnishes he used, often tinting them with glues. He also experimented with marine varnishes which were impervious to water and did not require the addition of glue. Because he needed to wait for the layers to dry, Earle often worked on up to thirty paintings at the same time.] (source)

”In nature when I look I see trees, some of them are such that they thrill me with their perfection and their sweeping lines and certain mood they seem to have. Windswept plains give me something that can’t be seen. In every tree I feel as though I could see the soul of that tree. It is alive. It is a person. And if beauty be related to the truth, harmony and balance must be there, and there must be movement because in nature all things move. And there are certain laws such as the law of duality. Everything has its opposite. Nothing is without its opposite. If I want a bright light in a painting, I must have a dark shadow. If I want a color to look very warm, I must have also a very cold color, and so on and on forever. But when I paint, I forget the things I know. I just sit there painting away, trying to get the feeling into my painting that I feel inside. Whatever beauty is, I feel it, and as long as I can I shall try to find more and more beauty, and to put it down so that others can see what I have seen.” – Eyvind Earle

Blue Tree, 1994
Oil on masonite


Tall Tree and Barn, 1969
Oil on canvas on wood


Green Forest, 1970
Acrylic on Masonite


Pastures in Early Spring, 1996
Oil on masonite


Mustard Field, 1974
Oil on masonite


Coastal Paradise, 1995
Oil on masonite


Where Eagles Fly, 1993
Oil on masonite


Giant Oak, 1996
Oil on masonite


Flower Fantasy, 1980
Watercolour on paper


Three Noble Horses, 1993
Oil on masonite


Hillside Magic, 1976
Oil on masonite


Orchard, 1984
Oil on canvas


Three Live Oaks, 1983
Oil on canvas


Concept paintings, c. 1959
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Gouache on paperboard


Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle was on show at The Walt Disney Family Museum, until beginning of January 2018.

July 8th, 2017

Haruko

Sometimes, in my dreams I am.
Chiura Obata (1885-1975)
Mother Earth, 1912 (reworked 1922, 1928)
Ink and colours on silk


Chiura Obata commenced this painting in 1912 as a portrait of his wife, Haruko, who had announced that she was pregnant with their first child. Obata reworked the painting in 1922, changing the title to Dusk in the High Sierra, and again in 1928, when he chose the final title, Mother Earth. The evolution of the title reveals Obata’s intention to endow his subject with greater resonance. The solitary female figure now serves as a universal personification of nature, fertility and maternity. The contrast between the giant, centuries-old redwood trees and the small seasonal flowers serves as a reminder of the cycles of nature – and of life itself.

Although Obata’s female model is Japanese, his universal title reflects his global perspective regarding nature and nationality: ”Above the border line of nationality everybody must feel a deep appreciation toward Mother Earth”. Obata’s timeless vision reaffirmed viewers’ perennial ties to nature in an increasingly technological age.

Treasures of the de Young

July 7th, 2017

Ode to beauty at the de Young

Timeless Beauty Beyond Gender.

John Koch (1909-1978)
The Bridge, ca. 1950
Oil on canvas


Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Easter Morning (Portrait at a New York Window), 1921
Oil on canvas


Sergeant Kendall (1869-1939)
Cypripedia, 1927
Oil on canvas


Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938)
Elizabeth Platt Jencks, 1895
Oil on canvas


Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862-1938)
The Blue Veil, 1898
Oil on canvas


Henry Brown Fuller (1867-1934)
Ebba Bohm, ca. 1905
Oil on canvas


Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Lady in Black with Spanish Scarf (O in Black with a Scarf), 1910
Oil on canvas


Would you have known this was a bloke, had there not been a title? Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Pierre-Edouard Baranowski, ca. 1918
Oil on board

A painting with an interesting background. Nothing to do with the gender-bending figure of Mr. Baranowski, it was its very origin and authenticity that were in doubt.


The artist is present in every stroke, her unique style instantly recognizable: Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Petunias, 1925
Oil on hardboard panel


Treasures of the de Young

░Treasures░of░the░de░Young░

Skipping the colourful psychedelia of the Summer of Love Experience didn’t mean the time we spent at the de Young would be any less fun – quite the contrary, as the works you are about to see will demonstrate.

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In contrast with the age of freedom and sexual liberation that was being celebrated next door, this is how courtship was done in Thomas Eakins’ time:  Thomas Eakins (1844-1916)
The Courtship, ca. 1878
Oil on canvas


Whistler depicted his former patron Frederick R. Leyland as a hideous peacock, surrounded by money bags and sitting astride Whistler’s house, which had to be sold. You see, Leyland had commissioned Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (Freer Gallery of Art) for his London townhouse. All was going according to plan, until Whistler decided to make some unauthorized alterations. Leyland was less than pleased, they argued bitterly and their relationship reached an all-time low when Leyland sued Whistler for the Peacock Room’s over-expenditures. Whistler had to file for bankruptcy but, with this painting, he still had the last laugh:James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor), 1879
Oil on canvas


A work by the earliest-known African American artist. A freed slaved and self-taught painter working in Baltimore, Maryland, Joshua Johnson portrays the daughter of a wealthy Baltimore merchant. Her Empire gown, stylish Napoleonic bangs, and Turkish shoes (known as ”straights” because the could fit on either foot) reveal the influence of French fashion in America. I do love her ”straights” – I wish all shoes were so soft they could fit on either foot!  Joshua Johnson (ca. 1763-ca. 1824)
Letitia Grace McCurdy, ca. 1800-1802
Oil on canvas


A dress made of glass for a head-to-toe modern Cinderella:Karen LaMonte (b. 1967)
Dress 3, 2001
Cast glass


This explosion of colour:
Richard Mayhew (b. 1924)
Rhapsody, 2002
Oil on canvas


The cool flatness of Samuel Miller’s children: Samuel Miller (1807-1853)
Young Girl with Flowers, ca. 1850
Oil on canvas mounted on board


Samuel Miller (1807-1853)
Young Boy with a Dog, ca. 1850
Oil on canvas mounted on hardboard


Treasures of the de Young

July 7th, 2017
  

 

 

San Francisco is… (re-)living the Summer of Love

2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the legendary San Francisco Summer of 1967 and the city celebrated it with a number of events, among which The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll at the de Young Museum. We passed up the exhibition because it ran along the same lines as the Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Countercultureon show at MAD in New York City, only a few months earlier.

But we could not, nor did we ever want to, let this slightly bonkers je ne sais quoi, San Francisco’s very own particular character formed throughout its fifty-year long trip from bohemia to hipsteria, from liberation to gentrification, go unnoticed. Love was (still) in the air this Summer of 2017 and we were ready to embrace it. Because, as another American legend rightly said:

Ultimately you can listen to only one thing, not your president, not your many misguided leaders, save a few… You must listen to your own heart and do what it dictates. Because your heart is the only thing which can tell you what is right and what is wrong.” – Joan Baez, 1965


July 7th, 2017

San Francisco is… the stunning views from Lands End

As if 4000 years worth of art, a spectacular French-inspired building that resembles the Parisian Palais de la Légion d’Honneur (here’s that ”European” feel again), and interesting exhibitions like the Degas and Paris Millinery Trade we’d just seen were not enough, Legion of Honor sits high on the grounds of Lincoln Park, in a unique setting. To reach it, you have to walk (or drive) through a glossy, perfectly manicured golf course. And on your return, you can – no, you must, take one of the Lands End trails, walk past rocky cliffs, shady cypress and eucalyptus trees, cross paths with local runners, find your way around a stone labyrinth, descent to Mile Rock Beach or just let your eyes rest on some of the most stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean you could have wished for.

Lands End

July 7th, 2017