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ART “4” “2”-DAY  13 December
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^ Died on 13 December 1961:
Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses
, US Folk painter born on 07 September 1860.
— Truly a senior artist, Moses only began a serious painting career at the age of 78 and kept at it until the grand old age of 100! This exhibition documents not only her signature folk imagery but engages the onlooker in Moses's extraordinary career, her love of life, and her savvy marketing skills. Visitors will follow a checkerboard design, starting with the outside banner. (One of Moses's favorite images was a Vermont checkerboard house.) Throughout the exhibition, "Grandma Says" chat signs (about life on the farm, candle making, the seasons, old age) will introduce the rich chapters of her life's story: Birth of an Artist:
      Moses's first seventy-five years constitute her "early years." A "corner of Grandma's studio," complete with a replication of the view out her window, her kitchen table palette, brushes, and paint are all displayed, plus rarely seen examples of the artist's handiwork, early yarn paintings and dolls.
      Classic scenes of ice skating, harvesting, hunting, and socializing with the neighbors follow in the tradition of Flemish and Dutch genre painting. Even without formal training, Moses captured the essence of what it meant to be part of the land and a participant in rural activities. One such activity now seeing a revival is quiltmaking, and, within the exhibition, our visitors will see a quilting bee in progress. Children and adults can design their own quilt by placing modular quilting shapes on a large felt board, and a farm play bench will also be part of an interactive corner.
      Images of happier, simpler times before the Great War, the Depression, and World War II are here: apple butter making, tapping maple trees, milking cows, shoeing horses--yet Moses also knew how to cope with city slickers. A "marketing corner" displays her many awards, products, fabric designs, and a taped interview with Edward R. Murrow.
      Facing failing vision and arthritis in her hands, Moses switched to painting with her left hand but never let up on the number of pictures produced per year, although her work became broader and more painterly in technique. The legend of Grandma Moses is one of senior citizen wizardry, a marvel of crusty ingenuity and independent living. (At the health center where she spent her final days, she once stole her physician's stethoscope, warning him: "You take me back to Eagle Bridge and you'll get back your stethoscope.") Presidents, Hollywood figures, art collectors, reporters, all mourned the death of Grandma Moses. Her pictures allow us to recreate her life, her joy of painting, and her wonderful vision of the world.

—      Grandma Moses was the spry, indomitable "genuine American primitive" who became one of the US's most famous painters in her late seventies. The simple realism, nostalgic atmosphere and luminous color with which Grandma Moses portrayed homely farm life and rural countryside won her a wide following. She was able to capture the excitement of winter's first snow, Thanksgiving preparations and the new, young green of oncoming spring. Gay color, action and humor enlivened her portrayals of such simple farm activities as maple sugaring, soap-making, candle-making, haying, berrying and the making of apple butter.
      In person, Grandma Moses charmed wherever she went. A tiny, lively woman with mischievous gray eyes and a quick wit, she could be sharp-tongued with a sycophant and stern with an errant grandchild. Cheerful, even in her last years, she continued to be keenly observant of all that went on around her. Until her 101st and last birthday, 07 September 1961, she rarely failed to do a little painting every day.
      Grandma Moses, whose paintings hang in nine museums in the United States and in Vienna and Paris, turned out her first picture when she was 76 years old. She took up painting because arthritis had crippled her hands so that she no longer could embroider. She could not hold a needle, but she could hold a brush, and she had been too busy all her life to bear the thought of being idle.
      Two years later a New York engineer and art collector, Louis J. Caldor, who was driving through Hoosick Falls saw some of her paintings displayed in a drug store. They were priced from $3 to $5, depending on size. He bought them all, drove to the artist's home at Eagle Bridge and bought ten others she had there.
      The next year, 1939, Grandma Moses was represented in an exhibition of "contemporary unknown painters" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She did not remain unknown for long. A one-person show of her paintings was held in New York in 1940, and other one-person shows abroad followed. Her paintings were soon reproduced on Christmas cards, tiles and fabrics in the US and abroad. She was the guest of President and Mrs. Harry S. Truman in 1949 at a tea at which the President played the piano for her. NY Governor Rockefeller proclaimed the painter's 100th and 101st birthdays "Grandma Moses Days" throughout the state, declaring in 1961 that "there is no more renowned artist in our entire country today."
       But to say that she was a US painter is less than the full portrait of Grandma Moses; European critics called her work "lovable," "fresh," "charming," "adorable" and "full of naive and childlike joy." A German fan offered his explanation for her wide popularity:
      "There emanates from her paintings a light-hearted optimism; the world she shows us is beautiful and it is good. You feel at home in all these pictures, and you know their meaning. The unrest and the neurotic insecurity of the present day make us inclined to enjoy the simple and affirmative outlook of Grandma Moses."
      As a self-taught "primitive," who in childhood began painting what she called "lambscapes" by squeezing out grape juice or lemon juice to get colors, Grandma Moses has been compared to the great self-taught French painter, “le douanier” Henri Rousseau, as well as to Breughel. Until the comparisons were made, she had never heard of either artist.
      Grandma Moses did all of her painting from remembrance of things past. She liked to sit quietly and think, she once said, and remember and imagine. "Then I'll get an inspiration and start painting; then I'll forget everything, everything except how things used to be and how to paint it so people will know how we used to live." She would sit on an old, battered swivel chair, perching on two large pillows. The Masonite on which she painted would lie flat on an old kitchen table before her. There was no easel. Crowding her in her "studio" were an electric washer and dryer that had overflowed from the kitchen.
      For subject matter, Grandma Moses drew on memories of a long life as farm child, hired girl and farmer's wife. Her first paintings had been sent to the county fair along with samples of her raspberry jam and strawberry preserves. Her jam had won a ribbon, but nobody noticed those first paintings. She would paint for five or six hours, and preferred the first part of the session because, as she said, her hand was fresher and "stiddier." At night, after dinner, she liked to watch television Westerns, not for the drama but because she liked to see horses.
      Grandma Moses spent a lot of her time on what she called her "old-timey" New England landscapes. She painted from the top down: "First the sky, then the mountains, then the hills, then the trees, then the houses, then the cattle and then the people." Her tiny figures, disproportionately small, cast no shadows. They seem sharply arrested in action.
      She learned as a child to observe nature when her father took the children out for walks. He was a Methodist, but never went to church, and he allowed his children to believe what they wanted. Instead of going to church, they went for long walks in the woods.
      Grandma Moses had had a hard life most of her many years, but neither her fame nor her advanced years cut into her formidable production. During her lifetime she painted more than 1000 pictures, twenty-five of them after she had passed her 100th birthday. Her oils have increased in value from those early $3 and $5 works to $8000 or $10'000 for a large picture. Otto Kallier, owner and director of the Galerie St. Etienne in New York and president of Grandma Moses' Properties, Inc., will not discuss her earnings, but they are reliably estimated to have reached nearly $500'000.
      Grandma Moses Story Book, an anthology for children illustrated by forty-seven color reproductions of her paintings, was published in 1961, and 20'000 copies were sold before publication.
      Grandma Moses, the former Anna Mary Robertson was born at Greenwich NY,one of five daughters and five sons of Russell King Robertson and the former Margaret Shannahan. What little formal education she had was obtained in a one-room country school. At the age of 12 she left home to work as a hired girl. She worked in the same capacity until she was 27 years old, when she was married to Thomas Salmon Moses. He was the hired man on the farm where she was doing the housework. The couple took a wedding trip to North Carolina. On the way back, they decided to invest their $600 savings in the rental of a farm near Staunton VA.
      They remained in Virginia for twenty years. Ten children, five of whom died in infancy, were born to them. In addition to caring for the children and running the house, Mrs. Moses made butter and potato chips, which she sold to neighbors. The couple returned to New York State and began farming at Eagle Bridge. Mr. Moses died there in 1927. For several years his widow continued to operate the farm with the help of her son, Forrest. But she had to give up farm chores, and then embroidery, when arthritis attacked her hands.
      She had been embroidering in wool pictures that were reminiscent of Currier and Ives prints of country scenes. Grandma Moses' first paintings were copies from the prints and post cards. Gradually, however, she began to compose original scenes, drawn from her memories of farm life in past generations.
      My Life's History, her autobiography, was published in 1951. In it Grandma Moses expressed her basic philosophy:
      "I look back on my life like a good day's work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be."
      On the day of her death, President Kennedy said: "The death of Grandma Moses removed a beloved figure from American life. The directness and vividness of her paintings restored a primitive freshness to our perception of the American scene. Both her work and her life helped our nation renew its pioneer heritage and recall its roots in the countryside and on the frontier. All Americans mourn her loss."

Fall (1958) — The Shepherd Comes Home, yarn picture. — All Out for Sport (1949) — A Beautiful World (1948) — My Hills of Home [Flash]
Early Sugaring Off (1944, 89x114cm) _ Grandma Moses' colorful and lively Early Sugaring Off, with its sprinkling of glitter to add a sparkle to the snow, is a prime example of American Primitive art. Born Anna Mary Robertson in Washington County, New York. Having never had an art lesson, at age 76 she began painting simple, but realistic scenes of rural life. She had her first one-woman show at age 80 and painted 25 pictures in the year after her 100th birthday. Critics have praised her work for its freshness, innocence, and humanity.
The Old Hoosick Bridge (1947) _ Grandma Moses captured with paint her memories of a long rural life. She first took up a paintbrush in 1937 at the age of 77. Several years later, the US discovered her paintings and immediately fell in love with this elderly artist from Upstate New York. Why? Certainly Grandma Moses’ personal charm had much to do with it. A spunky, earthy woman, she charmed America with her country ways, her homespun aphorisms, and her pride in her canned jams and preserves. Her paintings were true to their creator. They depicted scenes Grandma Moses remembered — some from her childhood, others from her years as a farmwife. Covered bridges, for example, were “land marks in days gone by.” The Old Hoosick Bridge captured one particular structure that, in her words, “is no more.” Perhaps in that sentiment lies the appeal of Grandma Moses’ paintings, for she seems to capture a style of life that people in the US like to believe once was, but sadly “is no more.”

^ Born on 13 December 1821: Joseph Noël Paton, Scottish painter who died on 25 or 26 December 1901.
— Paton was born in Woolers Alley, Dunfermline, where his father, a fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, was a damask manufacturer. Joseph Paton showed strong artistic inclinations in early childhood, but had no regular art training, except a brief period of study in the Royal Academy School in 1843. He gained a prize of £200 in the first Westminster Hall competition, in 1845, for his cartoon The Spirit of Religion, and in the following year he exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy his Quarrel of Oberon and Titania. A companion fairy picture, The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania went to Westminster Hall in 1847, and for it and his picture of Christ bearing the Cross he was awarded a prize of £300 by the Fine Arts Commissioners. His first exhibited picture, Ruth Gleaning, appeared at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1844. Throughout his career his preference was for historical, allegorical, fairy and religious subjects, in a style close to that of the Pre-Raphaelites. Among his most famous pictures are The Pursuit of Pleasure (1855), Mors Janua Vitae (1866), Oskold and the Ellé-maids (1874), and In Die Malo (1882). Sir Noel Paton. also produced a certain amount of sculpture, more notable for design than for fine execution. He was appointed Queen’s Limner for Scotland in 1866, and was knighted in 1867. He published two volumes of fine poems, Poems by A Painter (1861) and Spindrift (1867).. He was also well known as an. antiquary, his hobby being the collection of arms and armor. Sir Noel died in Edinburgh.
Oberon and the MermaidSir GalahadHow an Angel rowed Sir Galahad across the Dern Mere (1888) — Sir GalahadUndine

^ Died on 13 December 1693: Willem van Velde Sr., Dutch artist born in 1611.
— When Willem van de Velde was sixty-two, King Charles II refused to allow him to continue risking his life at sea. Yet even on shore this artist never stopped drawing and painting ships. A contemporary noted: "He had a Model of the Masts and Tackle of a Ship always before him." Van de Velde's father was a seaman, but little is known of his early life. He moved to Amsterdam in 1636 and traveled with Dutch trade ships to the Baltic during the early 1640s. Later, he drew and painted the Dutch fleet during the Anglo-Dutch war, sometimes as the official recording artist, sometimes as an independent observer, witnessing battles from the deck of his small boat. Van de Velde regularly collaborated with his son Willem, also a painter. His other son, Adriaen van de Velde, became a landscape painter. When the French invaded Holland in 1672 the family moved to England, quickly gaining recognition from King Charles II. In his drawings, mostly executed in pen and gray wash, van de Velde paid particular attention to the details that differentiated ships, such as figureheads, stern carvings, and gunports. Naval historians now use his ship portraits to study the rig and build of vessels in his day.
The Battle of Livorno (1655) — The Battle of Terheide (1657) — The Council of War on board De Zeven Provinciën (1667) — Figures on Board Small Merchant Vessels (1654, 21x32cm)
^ Died on 13 December 1619: Lodovico Carracci, Italian artist born on 21 April 1555.
Bargellini Madonna (1588, 282x188cm) _ Lodovico Carracci derived his Baroque type of composition from certain pictures by Titian, adding to these a celestial plane, by which the upper part of the picture is filled with great beauty. The Renaissance 'Sacra conversazione', in which all the people were motionless, has become a living conversation, in which men and saints are admitted in familiar terms into the presence of the sacred figures.
The Dream of Saint Catherine of Alexandria (1593) _ We recognize this sleeping figure as Saint Catherine by the fragment of spiked wheel in the lower left corner, which was the instrument of an attempted martyrdom. Here Lodovico Carracci represented her legendary dream in which Mary and the infant Christ, accompanied by angels, appeared to her. Plighting his troth, Christ placed a ring on Catherine's finger, and through this mystic marriage she became his bride. To cast the event as a dream, rather than having Saint Catherine receive the ring while awake, is Lodovico's innovation. Two angels at the left look on with protective tenderness, while others barely emerge amid the vaporous bronze radiance at the right -- spirit becoming matter. The figures, solid and robust, bask in an indeterminate setting. A languorous warmth pervades the scene and slows the composition. At the same time, the quirky folds and pleats cascading down Catherine's garments impart a vertiginous sensation -- the dizziness of sleep. Lodovico was the eldest of the three Carracci, the family of Bolognese artists who inaugurated the age of the baroque. His depictions of saints in states of visionary ecstasy were highly prized in an age when the purpose of religious art was to arouse intensely pious emotions in the spectator. _ detail
The Virgin Appearing to St Hyacinth (1594, 375x223cm) _ The painting is from the church of San Domenico, Bologna.
^ Died on 13 December 1736: Gaspar (or Kaspar) Wittel (or Vittel, Vanvitelli), Dutch artist born in 1653
— Dutch painter, known in Italy as Gaspare Vanvitelli. He received his first training at Amersfoort, Holland, although he was in Rome by the time of the Jubilee of 1675. He worked as a draughtsman on a scheme for regulating the Tiber and this probably gave him the idea of making large and very accurate topographical drawings which could be worked up into 'vedute'; he therefore be the link between Dutch topographical painters like van der Heyden and later Italian 'vedutisti'. He is now recognized as an extremely important forerunner of painters like Carlevaris, Canaletto and Pannini, since there are dated Roman vedute by him of 1681.
      He went to Venice in the 1690s and there is a dated veduta of 1697 (Prado, Madrid), which antedates Carlevaris. He was in Naples in 1700, when his son Luigi, later the great Neapolitan architect, was born. He spent his last years in Naples and Rome, where he died. He was nicknamed 'Gaspare degli Occhiali' from at least 1712, and his short sight may have prevented his working after c. 1730. Old sale-catalogues often refer to e.g. 'Two landskip by Ochiali'.
St Peter's in Rome (1711, 57x11cm) _ Van Vittel (Gaspare Vanvitelli in Italy) specialized in topographically accurate views of cities. Portraits of cities and specific buildings were not new in his days, Dutch and Flemish contemporaries in Italy also made urban views. However, van Wittel was the first Italianate to concentrate on the category. Van Wittel's topographical views are called 'vedute'. Although the term was used in Italy to characterize pictures of Rome and its environs long before van Wittel appeared on the scene, he is rightly credited with establishing vedute as an independent category of painting. In his time the term began to be used to characterize portrayals of other cities and their sites. Van Wittel's own oeuvre includes some of Venice, Florence, Bologna, Naples, and other places on the Italian peninsula. Strictly speaking one can speak of vedute of Amsterdam, Paris, London, Dresden, St. Petersburg, and so forth, but customary usage confines the term to topographical views of Italy. Van Wittel starts in Italy by following the tradition established in the sixteenth century of depicting the sights of the city in prints which culminates in the following century in Piranesi's peerless etchings of Rome. What sets van Wittel apart from earlier printmakers of Roman urban buildings and spaces was the practice he soon began of translating his views into paint. The market for his views of the Eternal City was good. During a period of more than thirty years he produced several versions of the most important sights. His innovative sun-drenched vedute done in light tonalities had little influence in his native land but they had an enduring effect in Italy where they set examples for leading eighteenth-century Italian veduta painters including Pannini in Rome and Guardi and Canaletto in Venice.
View of the Piazza del Popolo, Rome (1678 etching) _ Van Wittel starts in Italy by following the tradition established in the sixteenth century of depicting the sights of the city in prints which culminates in the following century in Piranesi's peerless etchings of Rome. One of van Wittel's etchings is a panoramic view of Piazza del Popolo, doubtlessly based on a lost drawing, made from the top of Porta del Popolo, the main entrance to the city for travellers arriving from the north.
“Black is like the silence of the body after death, the close of life.”
— Vasiliy Vasilyevich Kandinsky in 1911
^ Died on 13 December 1944: Vasiliy Vasilyevich Kandinsky, Russian Expressionist painter, dies in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He was born on 16 December (04 December Julian) 1866.
— article about Kandinsky: Towards Abstraction
     Russian-born Kandinstky was one of the first creators of pure abstraction in modern painting. After successful avant-garde exhibitions, he founded the influential Munich group “Der Blaue Reiter” (1911-14) and began completely abstract painting. His forms evolved from fluid and organic to geometric and, finally, to pictographic ( e.g., Tempered ÉlanTempered Élan, 1944 – thumbnail >).
— Kandinsky, himself an accomplished musician, once said “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”' The concept that color and musical harmony are linked has a long history, intriguing scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton. Kandinsky used color in a highly theoretical way associating tone with timbre (the sound's character), hue with pitch.
der blaue Reiter— Born in Moscow , Kandinsky spent his early childhood in Odessa. His parents played the piano and the zither and Kandinsky himself learned the piano and cello at an early age. The influence of music in his paintings cannot be overstated, down to the names of his paintings "Improvisations", "Impressions", and "Compositions." In 1886, he enrolled at the University of Moscow, chose to study law and economics, and after passing his examinations, lectured at the Moscow Faculty of Law. He enjoyed success not only as a teacher but also wrote extensively on spirituality, a subject that remained of great interest and ultimately exerted substantial influence in his work.
      In 1895 Kandinsky attended a French Impressionist exhibition where he saw Monet's Haystacks at Giverny. He stated, “ was from the catalog I learned this was a haystack. I was upset I had not recognized it. I also thought the painter had no right to paint in such an imprecise fashion. Dimly I was aware too that the object did not appear in the picture...” Soon thereafter, at the age of thirty, Kandinsky left Moscow and went to Munich to study life-drawing, sketching and anatomy, regarded then as basic for an artistic education.
      Ironically, Kandinsky's work moved in a direction that was of much greater abstraction than that which was pioneered by the Impressionists. It was not long before his talent surpassed the constraints of art school and he began exploring his own ideas of painting – “ ...I applied streaks and blobs of colors onto the canvas with a palette knife and I made them sing with all the intensity I could...”
      Now considered to be the founder of abstract art, Kandinsky had his work exhibited throughout Europe from 1903 onwards, and often caused controversy among the public, the art critics, and his contemporaries. An active participant in several of the most influential and controversial art movements of the 20th century, among them the Blue Rider which he founded along with Franz Marc and the Bauhaus which also attracted Klee, Lyonel Feininger [1871-1956], Geiniger, and Schonberg, Kandinsky continued to further express and define his form of art, both on canvas and in his theoretical writings.
      His reputation became firmly established in the United States through numerous exhbitions and his work was introduced to Solomon Guggenheim, who became one of his most enthusiastic supporters. In 1933, Kandinsky left Germany and settled in the classy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. The paintings from these later years were again the subject of controversy. Though Kandinsky was out of favor with many of the patriarchs of Paris's artistic community, younger artists admired him. His studio was visited regularly by Miro, Arp, Magnelli and Sophie Tauber. Kandinsky continued painting until June 1944. His unrelenting quest for new forms which carried him to the very extremes of geometric abstraction have provided us with an unparalleled collection of abstract art.
Autumn in Bavaria (1908, 33x45cm) — Painting with Green Center — Cemetery & Vicarage in Kochel (1909) — Gabriele Münter (1905) — Picture with a Black Arch (1912, 186x193cm) — Colorful Ensemble (1938) — Murnau with Church I (1910, 65x50cm) — Improvisation 7 (1910, 131x97cm) — Composition IV (1911, 159x250) — Composition V (1911, (190x275cm) — Composition VI (1913, 195x300cm) — Composition VII _ Composition VII (1913, 200x300cm) — Fragment 2 for Composition VII (1913, 88x100cm) — Composition VIII (1923, 140x201cm) — Composition IX (1936, 114x195cm) — Composition X (1939, 130x195cm) — In the Blue — Black Spot I (1912, 100x130cm) — Ravine Improvisation (1914, 110x110cm) — On White II (1923, 105x98cm) — Small Pleasures — Black and Violet (1923) — Contrasting Sounds (1924, 70x50cm) — Yellow, Red, Blue (1925, 127x200cm)
Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle) _ Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle) (1913; 145x120cm) Neither Marc nor Macke were abstract painters. It was Kandinsky who found that the “interior necessity”, which alone could inspire true art, was forcing him to leave behind the representational image. He was a Russian who had first trained as a lawyer. He was a brilliant and persuasive man. Then, when already in his thirties, he decided to go to Munich in 1897 to study art. By the time Der Blaue Reiter was established, he was already “abstracting” from the image, using it as a creative springboard for his pioneering art. Seeing a painting of his own, lying on its side on the easel one evening, he had been struck by its beauty, a beauty beyond what he saw when he set it upright. It was the liberated color, the formal independence, that so entranced him.
      Kandinsky, a determined and sensitive man, was a good prophet to receive this vision. He preached it by word and by example, and even those who were suspicious of this new freedom were frequently convinced by his paintings. Improvisation 31 has a less generalized title, Sea Battle, and by taking this hint we can indeed see how he has used the image of two tall ships shooting cannonballs at each other, and abstracted these specifics down into the glorious commotion of the picture. Though it does not show a sea battle, it makes us experience one, with its confusion, courage, excitement, and furious motion.
      Kandinsky says all this mainly with the color, which bounces and balloons over the center of the picture, roughly curtailed at the upper corners, and ominously smudged at the bottom right. There are also smears, whether of paint or of blood. The action is held tightly within two strong ascending diagonals, creating a central triangle that rises ever higher. This rising accent gives a heroic feel to the violence.
      These free, wild raptures are not the only form abstraction can take, and in his later, sadder years, Kandinsky became much more severely constrained, all trace of his original inspiration lost in magnificent patternings. Accent in Pink (1926, 101x81cm) exists solely as an object in its own right: the “pink” and the “accent” are purely visual. The only meaning to be found lies in what the experience of the pictures provides, and that demands prolonged contemplation. What some find hard about abstract art is the very demanding, time-consuming labor that is implicitly required. Yet if we do not look long and with an open heart, we shall see nothing but superior wallpaper. [but if we look long enough we will see that it is not superior to wallpaper].
^ Vassily Kandisky
      Le surréalisme est orphelin. Depuis longtemps considéré, à côté de Mondrian, comme l' “inventeur” de la peinture abstraite dans le courant des années 1910 et comme l’un de ses principaux théoriciens, Kandinsky a vu, après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, sa position remise en cause par l’apparition de nouvelles formes d’art abstrait, et le renouveau même de la peinture figurative. Mais, depuis le début des années 1970, l’ensemble de son œuvre a commencé à faire l’objet d’un nouvel examen : elle ne cesse aujourd’hui de redéployer toute sa richesse et sa complexité pour retrouver la place centrale qu’elle mérite d’occuper dans l’histoire de l’art européen de la première moitié du siècle.
      Kandinsky, né à Moscou, fit des études de droit, puis renonça à une carrière universitaire pour entrer à l'Académie des beaux-arts de Munich, où il étudia de 1896 à 1900. Il exécuta ses premiers tableaux dans un style naturaliste puis, à la suite d'un voyage à Paris au cours duquel il fut marqué par les œuvres des fauves et des impressionnistes (la série des Meules de Claude Monet fut notamment pour lui une révélation), sa peinture devint très fortement colorée et moins organisée (Tableau à l'archer, 1909).
      À partir de 1909, il réalisa des peintures qui allaient plus tard être considérées comme les premières œuvres entièrement abstraites de l'art moderne!; elles ne faisaient en effet référence à aucune réalité tangible et tiraient leur inspiration et leurs titres de la musique (Improvisation II, Marche funèbre, 1909). Il décrivit d'ailleurs le processus qui le mena à l'abstraction dans un ouvrage autobiographique, " Regards " en arrière, qui fut publié en 1913.
      En 1911, Kandinsky forma, avec des expressionnistes allemands le groupe Der Blaue Reiter dont le titre associe le bleu, couleur préférée de Kandinsky, aux chevaux que Marc Franz privilégiait tout particulièrement dans ses propres œuvres. Pendant cette période, Kandinsky produisit aussi bien des œuvres abstraites que des œuvres figuratives, toutes étant caractérisées par des couleurs brillantes et des motifs complexes. En 1912, il publia à Munich Du spirituel dans l'art, ouvrage qu'il avait commencé à rédiger dès 1910. Ce premier traité théorique sur l'abstraction lui permit de répandre ses idées en Europe et lui conféra une importance historique de tout premier ordre. L'influence exercée par Kandinsky sur l'évolution artistique du XXe siècle s'accrut par son activité d'enseignant (à Moscou puis au Bauhaus de Weimar, ensuite à Dessau. Point, ligne, plan, publié en 1926, expose les principaux fondements de son enseignement. Après la Première Guerre mondiale, les abstractions de Kandinsky tendirent à une géométrisation progressive, à mesure qu'il abandonnait son précédent style fluide en faveur de signes clairement marqués. Ainsi sa Composition VIII n° 260 (1923) est-elle uniquement faite de droites, de cercles, d'arcs et d'autres formes géométriques simples. Dans des œuvres beaucoup plus tardives, comme Cercle et Carré (1943), il affine ce style de façon élégante et complexe, parvenant à des représentations esthétiquement très équilibrées.
      Kandinsky fut l'un des artistes les plus influents de sa génération; l’explorateur de l’abstraction pure. Il peut être considéré comme l'artiste ayant tracé la voie de l'expressionnisme abstrait. Kandinsky est mort à Neuilly-sur-Seine, où il s'était installé dès 1933.

Happened on a 13 December:
1913 It is announced by authorities in Florence, Italy, that the Mona Lisa has been recovered. It was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris on 22 August 1911

Died on a 13 December:

1926 Théodore van Rysselbergue, Belgian artist born on 28 November 1862.
1912 Antonio Ermolao Paoletti, Italian artist born on 08 May 1834.
1890 François Louis David Bocion, Swiss artist born on 30 March 1828.
1867 Arthur Grottger, Polish artist born on 11 November 1837.
1716 Charles de Lafosse, French artist born on 15 June 1636.

Born on a 13 December:
1923 Antoni Tàpies, Spanish Abstract Expressionist painter. — LINKS
1903 John Piper, British painter who died in 1992. — LINKS — [If you wanted a painting from this artist, you had to pay the Piper]
1872 Jan Zoetelief Tromp, Dutch artist who died in 1947.
1839 Paul Albert Girard, French artist who died on 24 February 1920. — Relative? of Marie-François Firmin-Girard [1838-1921]?
1836 Franz Seraph von Lenbach, German artist who died on 06 May 1904. — LINKSMarion Lenbach, the Artist's Daughter (age about 12, I guess) (1900, 149x105cm).
1821 Sir Joseph Noël Paton, Scottish painter who died on 25 or 26 December 1901. — LINKSOberon and the MermaidSir GalahadHow an Angel rowed Sir Galahad across the Dern Mere (1888) — Sir GalahadUndine
1815 Johann Gottfried Steffan, Swiss artist who died on 16 June 1905.

updated Thursday 09-Jan-2003 5:57 UT
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