Sixth and a Half

Times Fifty Sixth, equals the magic number that unlocks the mysteries of the Avenue That Does Not Exist.

You too can uncover its mysteries; but tread gently or you might upset the kind denizens of this strange, parallel world.

Popeye by Jeff Koons, 2009-2012
Granite and live flowers

Big, big Penny by Tom Otterness, 1993
Bronze

July 26th, 2017

Attaining Perfection

Imagine living in a world where these treasures were household items – not museum objects.

1/ Maurice Sterne
The Awakening, ca. 1926
Bronze

2/ Kem Weber
Vanity with Mirror and Stool, 1934

3/ John Vassos
RCA Victor Special Model K Portable Electric Phonograph, c.a 1935

4/ Emilie Robert
Pair of Gates, ca. 1900 (detail), France
Iron

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Adagio

Swaying into December with Grace.

Auguste Rodin
Pierre de Wiessant, Monumental Nude (Pierre de Wiessant, nu monumental), 1886, cast 1983, for The Burghers of Calais.
Bronze

The Burghers of Calais is a memorial to a group of fourteenth-century citizens who offered to sacrifice themselves to save their long-suffering city. It comprises six large figures. For each of four of the monument’s six figures, Rodin also executed a full-scale nude, among them this undraped version of the burgher Pierre de Wiessant. The practice of creating nude figure studies, which allowed artists to refine poses and understand how clothing should drape over the body, derives from the academic tradition that Rodin both embraced and rejected during his career. {source}

The full picture:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Getty & The Ladies

The rare instance of being a voracious womanizer who “could hardly ever say ‘no’ to a woman, or ‘yes’ to a man”, could momentarily be overlooked.

3/
Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, née Thérèse Feuillant, 1866
James Tissot (1836-1902)
Oil on canvas

4/
Jeanne (Spring), 1881
Édouard Manet (1832-1883)

Oil on canvas

Depicting young actress Jeanne Demarsy as the fashionable embodiment of spring, this portrait was part of an unfinished series of the seasons that Manet undertook at the end of his life. 

5/
Portrait of Jeanne Kéfer, 1885
Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921)
Oil on canvas

6/
Portrait of Princess Leonilla of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 1843
Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873)
Oil on canvas

7/
Mischief and Repose (1895)
John William Godward (1861-1922)
Oil on canvas

The Getty Center

July 18th, 2017

Nude || Not || Naked

Celebrating the human body (but the artist’s daughters seem less than impressed).

1/
Nude Study of an Indian Man, about 1878-79
Émile-Jules Pichot (1857-1936)
Charcoal and powdered vine charcoal with stumping and lifting

Little is known of Pichot, to whose talents as a draftsman this sheet attests. The drawing’s date, however, can be determined with some precision, for the same gaunt, bearded model (possibly a Hindu ascetic or a Sikh) appears in a drawing by Georges Seurat, a contemporary of Pichot and destined for greatness.

2/
Standing Male Nude, 1866
Gabriel Ferrier (1847-1914)
Charcoal with black chalk

This accomplished nude study executed when the artist was nineteen years old, predicted a bright future for Ferrier in the official art world. Largely forgotten today, he won the French Academy’s prestigious Rome Prize in 1872 and later received prominent commissions, including decorations for the Gare d’Orsay train station (today the Musée d”Orsay).

3/
Adolescent I, about 1891
George Minne (1866-1941)
Marble

This nude, emaciated youth defiantly exposes his body while simultaneously crossing his arms in a protective embrace, indicating shame and anguish. Minne was one of the major representatives of a circle of Symbolist artists and writers based in Ghent, Belgium.

4/
Dancer, 1912
Paolo Troubetzkoy (1866-1938)
Bronze

Countess Thamara Swirskaya (Saint Petersburg, 1890-Los Angeles, 1961), the famous Russian pianist and dancer depicted here, performed throughout Europe and the United States. J. Paul Getty, who purchased this piece in 1933, may have attended one of her shows in the U.S. She posed for this lively composition in 1909 in Paris, where Troubetzkoy, the son of a Russian prince and American mother, lived between 1905 and 1914.

5/
Double Portrait of the Artist’s Daughters, 1889
Adolf von Hildebrand (1847-1921)
Polychrome terracotta

Freestanding double-portrait busts are rare in European sculpture, and this is one of the few known examples. Hildebrand’s termination of the figures above the waist and his use of subtle colours are based on Italian Renaissance portraiture. This sensitive portrayal of the artist’s daughters, Silvia and Bertel, is remarkable among the sculptor’s normally restrained official portraits and monuments.

The Getty Center

July 18th, 2017

Taking sides

Do we really have to? I can’t decide.

Bust of Juliette Récamier, ca. 1801-2
Joseph Chinard (1756-1813)

Juliette Récamier (French, 1777-1849) was a socialite renowned for her literary circle, but perhaps even more for her beauty. At age fifteen, she married Jacques-Rose Récamier, a banker, thirty years her senior – and her mother’s longstanding lover. Rumor had it that Récamier was, in fact, her natural father and they got married so that she would become his heir(!) Apparently, the marriage was never consummated.

Prince Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, courted her; Prince Augustus of Prussia proposed but she refused to divorce her husband/father; the French Romantic writer François-René de Chateaubriand was a constant visitor of her salon. The courtship never seized; despite advanced age, ill-health and reduced circumstances having lost most of her fortune, Juliette remained as charming as ever.

In this bust, her friend Chinard, a brilliant portraitist, enhanced her charming features by slightly tilting her head, paying attention to details such as her hair and including her arms and delicate hands.

@ The Getty Center

July 18th, 2017

The Huntington | Art Collections

Legacy of railroad and real estate businessman Henry Edwards Huntington, his wife Arabella and their common love for the arts and literature, the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is another Los Angeles institution, alongside the Getty.

We skipped the Library in favour of the Art Collections and Gardens and in the coming days, you will see some of the reasons why.

Beginning with Mrs. Arabella Huntington, herself.
Portrait of Arabella Huntington, 1924 by Sir Oswald Birley (1880-1952)
Oil on canvas

Most famous for his portraits of the British royal family, here Birley unflinchingly renders the stern expression, direct gaze and strong, unidealized features of Arabella Huntington, founder, with her husband Henry, of the Huntington Art Collections. The portrait dates to the year of Arabella’s death, at a time when she was not only one of the richest women in the world, but also among America’s foremost art collectors. Shrouded entirely in black and seated before a nebulous backdrop, she reveals little of herself, presenting an impressive and enigmatic figure.


While the Huntingtons did not use all the furniture in their collection (some pieces were considered too precious), they did use these chairs. Look for Arabella Huntington sitting on one of them in her portrait. These chairs are upholstered in luxurious tapestries, a tupe of textile woven on a loom using thousands of short threads to create multicoloured scenes. Tapestries are heavy and robust, making them ideal for insulating walls and upholstering furniture. In the 18th century it would have been considered rude to sit on chair seats depicting human figures. Instead, these seats feature animal fables, fights and hunts. Allegories of the Arts and Sciences fill the chair backs with cupids and little boys while each chair crest displays motifs that match the corresponding allegory.  There are two of 93 carpets originally created to adorn Louis XIV’s palace in Paris. Designed to form one continuous decorative scheme, all 93 carpets would measure about 480 yards in lenght, or 4 football fields. In the 25 years it took to complete these carpets, the king had moved his court to Versailles. With no need for them in his new home, some were given away as diplomatic gifts. 


Sabine Houdon at four years old
Maker: Unidentified; after Jean-Antoine Houdon
Date: 1800-1900


Adam and Eve
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Engraving, 1504

Like the tiny mountain goat perched on the cliff in the background, Adam and Eve, along with the animals surrounding them, narrate a story of the precariously balanced equilibrium in Paradise just before the Fall. Each animal represents one of the four temperaments, or humours, of mankind: cat (choleric), hare (sanguine), ox (phlegmatic) and elk (melancholic). According to medieval theory, the Fall upset the natural balance and man’s soul suffered the contamination of bodily humours. 


La Tricoteuse endormi (Young Knitter Asleep)
Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805)
Oil on canvas, ca. 1759


Head of a Cherub
Louis-Claude Vassé (1716-72)


The Huntington

July 16th, 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.

***

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… the eclectic Legion of Honor

A haven for European Art spanning 4000 years; paintings, sculptures, decorative objects, frames as precious as the works they adorn, ancient art from the Mediterranean basin and  mummies from Egypt, all under this beautiful French neoclassical structure, a replica of the French Pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915, itself a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, an 18th-century landmark on the left bank of the Seine. Michael Sweerts (Flemish, Brussels 1618-1664 Goa)
Portrait of a Youth, ca. 1655-1661
Oil on canvas


Louis Léopold Boilly (French, 1761-1845)
After Clodion (Claude Michel)
Triumph of Amphitrite, ca. 1785-1799 (details)
Oil on paper mounted on canvas


Honoré Daumier (French, 1808-1879)
Third-Class Carriage, 1856-1858
Oil on panel


Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904)
The Bath, ca. 1880-1885 (detail)
Oil on canvas


Konstantin Makovsky (Russia, 1839-1915)
The Russian Bride’s Attire, 1889
Oil on canvas


William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
The Broken Pitcher, 1891
Oil on canvas


Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848-1884)
Sarah Bernhardt, 1879
Oil on canvas


John Anster Fitzgerald (British, 1823-1906)
Fairies in a Bird’s Nest, ca. 1860
Oil on canvas


Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, 1824-1887)
Mary Queen of Scots, ca. 1860-1869
Terracota


Celestial and terrestrial globes, Dutch, ca. 1600
Jodocus Hondius, the elder (Joos de Hondt, 1563-1612), cartographer
Metal, walnut and paper

Table from Italy, Bologna, 17th century
Walnut


Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917)
The Three Shades, 1898
Bronze


Paneled room
France, ca. 1680 and later
Painted and gilt wood and mirror


William Blake
”Time in advance… ”and ”Time, having passed on…,” from The Complaint, and the Consolation; or, Night Thoughts, by Edward Young

[Night Thoughts was first published in 1742 and its continuing popularity more than fifty years later inspired publisher Richard Edwards to bring out a new, deluxe edition, for which he commissioned William Blake to provide illustrations.]

Legion of Honor

July 7th, 2017