Obsession || Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso *Safe For Telework*

From the Scofield Thayer Collection.

Scofield Thayer (1889-1982) was editor and co-owner of the Dial, a journal that published writing and art by the European and American avant-garde from 1919 to 1926. An aesthete, he was a brilliant abstract thinker and a complex, conflicted personality. In the early 1920s, Thayer underwent psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud in Vienna. While in Europe, he assembled a large collection of some six hundred artworks – mostly works on paper – with staggering speed, acquiring them from artists and dealers in Vienna, London, Paris and Berlin.

While Pablo Picasso’s work had been shown in America, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele were unknown in this country at that time. Both artists were remarkable for their frank portrayals of female nudity and sexuality.

In 1924 a selection from Thayer’s collection was exhibited at a New York gallery and won acclaim, but it found little favour when shown in his native city of Worcester, Massachusetts. Offended by intolerant views toward provocative art, Thayer drew up his will in 1925, leaving his collection to The Met before retreating from public life until his death in 1982.

An exhibition of the bequest has been planned since its arrival at the Museum in 1984, but its diversity, unevenness and vast quantity proved a challenge. While a select group of paintings by artists of the School of Paris is always on view, the light-sensitive watercolours, drawings and prints have been rarely displayed. This exhibition, held on the centenary of the 1918 deaths of Klimt and Schiele, presented these erotic and evocative works together for the first time.

It ran from July through October 2018 at The Met Breuer.

Egon Schiele || Sorrow, 1914 || Drypoint


Egon Schiele || Squatting Woman, 1914 || Drypoint


Egon Schiele || Girl, 1918 || Lithograph


Egon Schiele || Reclining Nude with Boots, 1918 || Charcoal on paper


Egon Schiele || Standing Nude with Orange Drapery (recto): Study of Nude with Arms Raised (verso), 1914 || Watercolor, gouache and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Nude in Black Stockings, 1917 || Watercolor and charcoal on paper


Egon Schiele || Observed in a Dream, 1911 || Watercolor and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Two Reclining Nudes, 1911 || Watercolor and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Self-Portrait, 1911 || Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper


Egon Schiele || Seated Nude in Shoes and Stockings, 1918 || Charcoal on paper


Gustav Klimt || Reclining Nude with Drapery, 1912-13 || Graphite


Gustav Klimt || Two Studies for a Crouching Woman, 1914–15 || Graphite


Pablo Picasso || Fondevila, 1906 || Oil on canvas


Pablo Picasso || Head of a Woman, 1922 || Chalk on paper


Pablo Picasso || Erotic Scene (La Douceur), 1903 || Oil on canvas


The Met Breuer

August 19th, 2018

Saturday afternoon at the Met

Portraits, angels, ethereal figures, a lighthouse; I have them all to myself! Even on crazy busy weekends, the crowds disperse on all floors and into various galleries, engulfed by the vastness of space that is the Met, leaving me alone, to enjoy my favourite works in peace. Unless, that is, there is a popular exhibition – then it feels like the whole of New York has landed on that same floor, at the same time, making it really hard to appreciate the art. Popularity, like most things in this world, has its price…

Art:

1/
Fairfield Porter, 1907-1975
Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989), 1957
Oil on canvas

2/
Edward Hopper, 1882-1967
Tables for Ladies, 1930
Oil on canvas

In Hopper’s Tables for Ladies a waitress leans forward to adjust the vividly painted foods at the window as a couple sits quietly in the richly paneled and well-lit interior. A cashier attentively tends to business at her register. Though they appear weary and detached, these two women hold posts newly available to female city dwellers outside the home. The painting’s title alludes to a recent social innovation in which establishments advertised ”tables for ladies” in order to welcome their newly mobile female customers, who, if seen dining alone in public previously, were assumed to be prostitutes.

3/
Florine Stettheimer, 1871-1944
The Cathedrals of Broadway, 1929
Oil on canvas

4/ & 5/
Jean Dunand, 1877-1942 & Séraphin Soudbinine, 1870-1944
Pianissimo and Fortissimo, 1925-26
Lacquered wood, eggshell, mother-of-pearl, gold

Created for the music room of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s residence in Port Washington, Long Island, these screens are an artistic collaboration between the designer Jean Dunand and the sculptor Séraphin Soudbinine. While Soudbinine conceived the composition and carved the bas-relief figures of otherworldly angels and rocklike forms, Dunand lacquered the screen.  Guggenheim’s widow, Irene Rothschild, donated the screens to the Metropolitan following the death of her husband.

6/
Edward Hopper, 1882-1967
The Lighthouse at Two Lights, 1929
Oil on canvas

7/
Juan Gris, 1887-1927
Juan Legua, 1991
Oil on canvas

8/
Balthus, 1908-2001
Thérèse Dreaming, 1938
Oil on canvas

9/
Francis Bacon, 1909-1992
(Reflection on one of) Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1979-80
Oil on canvas

As Bacon remarked to David Sylvester in 1975, ”I loathe my own face… I’ve done a lot of self-portraits, really because people have been dying around me like flies and I’v nobody else left to paint by myself.”

10/
Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973
Bust of a Man, 1908
Oil on canvas

11/
Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973
Gertrude Stein, 1905-06
Oil on canvas

12/
Albert Bloch, 1882-1961
Summer Night, 1913
Oil on canvas

13/
Edgar Degas, 1834-1917
Young Woman with Ibis, 1860-62
Oil on canvas

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

February 17th, 2018

The Magnificent Seven @ The Art Institute of Chicago

|1|- 1875/1900, gilt bronze – by Antonin Mercié (1845-1916)

|2|- 1895/1902 – designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)

|3|- 1902 – designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)

|4|- Day (Truth), 1896/98, oil on canvas – by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

|5|- 1894, oil on canvas – by József Rippl-Rónai (1861–1927)

|6|- Figure with Meat, 1954, oil on canvas – by Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

|7|- Nude with a Pitcher, 1906, oil on canvas – by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Art and objects from the Art Institute of Chicago permanent collection.

November 4th, 2017

More Harvard Art

”So this is their home”, I silently exclaimed! A lot of the art in these galleries has been bequeathed to the Museums by former students. Please enjoy a fraction of this unimaginable wealth!

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin, 1888. Oil on canvas. Dedicating this work, van Gogh inscribed it ”To my friend Paul Gauguin” and send it to him. Shortly afterwards, however, their friendship deteriorated and Gauguin sold it for three hundred francs.
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), Astor Hotel, 1933. Mezzo-fresco (lime wash on plaster). Marsh’s Depression-era work focuses on urban landscapes and everyday life in America; his subjects include burlesque performers, unemployed workers on the Bowery and Coney Island beach scenes. He was particularly concerned with the exploitation of the nation’s millions of unemployed women and portrayed them as independent figures.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Seated Bather, ca. 1883-84. Oil on canvas. Renoir painted this figure and her drapery differently from the landscape, so that she appears to float in the setting. He also left her right foot unresolved where it meets the fabric, signaling that his pictorial approach was no longer a purely naturalistic enterprise.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), Mother and Child, ca. 1901. Oil on canvas. Following his visit to the Saint-Lazare prison hospital, an institution for Parisian prostitutes with venereal disease, Picasso produced a number of paintings of destitute mothers embracing their small children. This painting was executed on a reused canvas and another composition lies beneath this scene. That painting is a portrait of Picasso’s friend, the poet Max Jacob, who sits in his study surrounded by books. Some evidence of the image is still visible, particularly the contours of the face, which is roughly the same size as the mother’s head and is located above her knees.
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Three Pairs of Shoes, 1886-87. Oil on canvas. Made at a time when van Gogh was deeply engaged with still life, this composition is painted over another image of a large bouquet of flowers in a vase. It is one of a series of five paintings of shoes by the artist.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), Woman with a Chignon, 1901. Oil on canvas. Picasso painted this portrait during his early-career ”Blue Period”, so named for the colour that predominated in his work at the time. The muted palette, blocks of interrupted colour and abstracted forms with strong outlines typify the artist’s approach at this stage, one of the most celebrated of his career.

Harvard Art Museums

May 3rd, 2017