Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Yrjö Saarinen

I am working on a couple of large posts on modern Finnish painting to be posted in the near future, in the meantime here is something to enjoy. I know nothing of the artist beyond the following - he attended no art school, didn't own any art books, and had never been abroad. He "was not interested by the doings of other people" and he worked as a sign painter to sustain himself financially.

There is plenty to explore in Finnish painting! A remarkable work to start with...

"Lepohetki" 1942. By Yrjö Saarinen (1899-1958,) Finnish.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Anita Rée (1885-1933)

Anita Rée came from an old Jewish merchant family. She was born in Hamburg, in 1885, the younger of two daughters. On the advice of Alfred Lichtwark she studied painting and classical techniques under Arthur Siebelist. In 1910 she shared a studio with Franz Nölken who together with Friedrich Ahlers-Hestermann introduced her to the new French painting. She then spent six months in Paris studying under Fernand Leger. From 1913 onward she worked as an artist in Hamburg and after the death of her father in 1916 with financial difficulties. She was one of the founders of the Hamburg Secession and remained a member until her death, regularly exhibiting with the group. Critics recognized her talent early. A three year sojourn, between 1922-25, in Positano in southern Italy was a major influence on her further development. She consolidated her former work into a new individual style in landscapes and portraits. The Italian paintings were enthusiatically received in Hamburg and she acquired the reputation of an outstanding national artist. Her charachter and artistic style was best represented in her portraits of women and children. Around 1930 she received commissions for three large works: she created wall paintings in two Hamburg schools in which she incorporated her own life experiences ("The wise and foolish virgins" and "Orpheus") and an altar piece for the Ansgar Church in Langenhorn. These works were not realised without difficulties.

Problems with state and church officials, attacks in the NSDAP press, and finally personal disappointments led this psychically and physically fragile artist to flee to the island of Sylt. Lonely and suffering the fear of persecution she was deeply concerned by the disbanding of the Hamburg Secession and the political developments in Germany. At the age of forty-eight she did not feel able to emigrate. She who had been conversant with the idea of suicide since 1916 took her own life in December 1933 by taking barbitone. She wrote to a woman friend: "I can no longer live in such a world and have no other wish than to depart that to which I no longer belong ..." She left behind a considerable fortune. Her estate was divided among her friends. A monograph and exhibition in 1987 has made her today, after long years of oblivion, the most famous of the Hamburg Secessionists.

From - http://www1.uni-hamburg.de/rz3a035//secession.html

Her work labours somewhat under the influence of Cezanne but that can be overlooked, after all whose paintings didn't to some extent at this time? She works interestingly with paint and I believe she also used pastel and charcoal on canvasses, as the delicate, fading look of the works below illustrate. Her work appears to mature from thin and pale portraiture into more fully realised works in the 20's and 30's, although examples of her later work are hard to find. The still life with the death mask and skull below is particularly well executed and makes for a successful and somewhat haunting work by this underappreciated artist.

A book on Ree's work was published in 1986 but is now scarce and long out of print. Several images I have been able to collect follow -

"White Trees" 1925

"Still Life with Hebbel's death mask" 1915

"Jeune Chinois" 1919

"Portrait of the Peasant Lionarda" 1921

"Self Portrait" 1915
"Teresina" 1925

Georg Nicolaj Achen (1860-1912)

"Interior" 1901.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Michiel Sittow (1469-1526)

"Portrait of Diego de Guevara" 1515/1518. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA.

"Portrait of a Woman (thought to be Catherine of Aragon)" 1503/1504. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

"The Assumption of the Virgin" c.1500. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA.


Saturday, 26 January 2008

Tavik Frantisek Simon (1877-1942)

Simon was a painter but is it his beautiful sepia toned etchings rather than his oils that leave a lasting impression.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Twelve landscapes by Stanislaw Kamocki

Stanislaw Kamocki (1875-1944,) left, studied under two of the most well respected and globally recognized Polish painters of the 20th century - Jacek Malczewski and Leon Wyczolkowski. The greatest influence on his work however was the Ukrainian born Jan Stanislawski, a competent landscape painter of some fame but one held nowhere in the regard of the two former artists. Stanislawski was a painter of dense, melodic landscapes often featuring tangles of flowers, foliage and grass, usually growing in bright expanses illuminated by blistering sun and framed by purple, pink and blue skies that almost have the viewer shading their eyes.

"Beehives in the Ukraine" Jan Stanislawski, 1895

"Widok na osobite" Jan Stanislawski, 1901

"Bodiaki pod slonce" Jan Stanislawski,1895

Stanislawski was painterly in his approach, often painting with thinned oils, working in layers and on grounds pre-painted with ochres and reds. He worked with thick oil paint too, but it's application was impressionistic, fleeting and varied depending on the subject. Kamocki's approach was somewhat different, he worked mainly alla prima in a pared down and simplified palette and slapped on thick impasto in uncompromising strokes. Painterly flicks, blending and smoothing are usually absent on the canvasses of Kamocki, he was a direct and emotional painter who worked with awkward angularity and on somewhat severe terms.

It is remarkable that despite the heavy handling of line and form Kamocki easily achieves the realistic light and weather effects that are present in the work of his teacher. His brushwork lends a rhythm and muscularity to everything he paints - from the self portrait above to the clouds and the grass of his landscapes, he did not deviate from his signature approach even when dealing with the slight and the delicate. The similarities are obvious between the two, with Kamocki apparently taking off exactly where his Stanislawski left him, albeit in a simplified and far more successful modern style. Like his predecessor he paints woodlands, hedges, grass, trees. Landscapes with towns in the far distance and skys full of huge, dramatically lit clouds. Churches and houses standing alone bathed in light, and for the most part, not a human being to be seen.

Twelve of Kamocki's paintings are reproduced below, click to enlarge:

Unknown, 1907?

"Zima" 1910

"Kwiety przed chata" 1905

"Motyw z Radziszowa" 1907

Unknown 1910?

"Pejzaz wiejski" 1907

"Roztopy" 1910

Unknown 19??

"Widak na klasztor w Czernej" 1908

"Klosy" 1907

"Kosciol w Pawla w Sandormierzu" 1910

"Kosciol w Woli Radziszkowskiej" 1907

The Woodcuts of Josef Vachal

1884-1969. Fairly well known, I know. Poet and writer, activist, print maker, painter, graphic artist and creator of a myriad of beautiful and collectable book plates (available on eBay regularly for as low as $30 +/-) More to come on him.