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

░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