Halloween Art

In the ‘spirit’ of Halloween I found this great website with some quirky flyers.

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danblakeslee

Antonio Berni

Delesio Antonio Berni (14 May 1905 – 13 October 1981) was a neofigurative artist, born in Rosario, province of Santa Fe, Argentina. He worked as a painter, an illustrator and an engraver. His father, Napoleón Berni, was an immigrant tailor from Italy. His mother, Margarita Picco, was an Argentinian, daughter of Italians settled in Roldán, a nearby town.

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In 1914 he became an apprentice in the Buxadera and Co. vitraux factory, receiving instruction from its founder, a Catalan craftsman. He spent only a short time here, since his father returned to Italy, and Berni was sent to his grandparents’ house in Roldán. Napoleón Berni died in World War I.


“Juanito Laguna remontando un barrilete” Antonio Berni – 1973

In July 2008, thieves disguised as police officers stole 15 Berni paintings “of great national value”, according to Culture Secretary Jose Nun. The paintings were being transported by truck from a suburb to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires.

You can read the full story below:

Fake cops steal valuable Berni paintings in Argentina

Thieves disguised as cops stopped a truck and made off with 15 paintings of Argentina’s late Antonio Berni “of great national value,” Culture Secretary Jose Nun said Saturday.

The paintings, which were being transported from a suburb to the Bellas Artes National Museum, “have no commercial value since they can’t be sold legally in the country,” Nun said.

But they are “of great national value and represent an enormous loss to Argentine culture,” he added.

“The robbers, disguised as cops, forced the truck to make a detour, transferred the cargo to another truck and threatened our employees with weapons,” said Jorge Mendez, who runs the transportation company that owns the truck.

The artist’s son Juan Antonio Berni described the stolen paintings as “the core work” of his father, who died in 1981.

According to auction house reports, Berni’s paintings have sold for in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

I found this Native American artist and really liked Her work.  As Jackson Pollock was influenced by Native Americans I had to include her, so here she is.

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Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (1940- ) Native American artist, whose best-known works combine traditional Native American symbols with a sophisticated understanding of modern abstraction. Native American identity and social issues form the focus of many of her paintings and collages.

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Quick-to-See Smith was born at the Saint Ignatius Mission on the Combined Salish and Kootenai (Flathead) Reservation of western Montana, and traces her ancestry through the Salish, Shoshone, and Cree tribes. In 1976 she received a B.A. degree in art education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts, and in 1980 earned an M.A. degree in fine art from the University of New Mexico.

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In the early 1980s Quick-to-See Smith began to create paintings that address the complexities of Native American identity, both on the personal level and as a communal experience. Since 1990, many of her works have drawn attention to specific issues affecting this community, including preservation of the environment, racial and gender stereotyping, and problems of alcoholism.

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For a large-scale collage titled Genesis (1993, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia), Quick-to-See Smith layered dripping blue, yellow, and red paint; news clippings about Native Americans; and line drawings of a bison and other Native American symbols. The result is a composition that combines the vigorously applied paint of abstract expressionism with images that suggest stories to the viewer.

Australian Aboriginal Art

Contemporary Art by Australian Aboriginal Artists

In 1971, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri painted his first art work using acrylic on canvas. This was – except for a very few preliminary attempts – the beginning of the Aboriginal Art Movement, that spread in great leaps within just a few years. After only 15 years, that is in the mit-80s, all large art museums within Australia had built up their collections and had begun showing the works within the sections of contemporary art within the permanent collection.

The argument about whether the art is contemporary art or traditional handicraft, or about whether one should classify it together with Art Brut or together with ethnographical works – a much-favoured solution in Germany – was largely settled during those years in Australia, whereby large private collectors and the art museums of all the major cities decided in favour of the contemporary side.

Since the very beginning of the art movement, the artists create their art work for a broad public. The resulting works were therefore never intended for anything other than the presentation of art and culture. They reflect not past traditions, but rather present culture and ideas. They are not religious objects. The works are part of the contemporary art scene of Australia: one of its two supporting pillars.

The History of the Art Movement

A number of concurrent and serendiptious socio-political trends favoured the art movement, which spread out from Papunya, a settlement about 250 km west of Alice Springs in the heart of Australia.

The settlement of Papunya was created around 1960 as one of the last impulses of the assimilation policy of the white Australian government. The Aborigines should learn – whichever of them had survived the frightful repression and trend toward genocide which had continued well into the 20th century – to adapt to the european style of living. Other grounds for the forceful resettlement of various groups of Aboriginal peoples were the expansion of the Woomera Rocket Range (established in 1946) and the growth of the outback tourism industry.

Wantonly ignoring their different cultural backgrounds, about 1000 individuals from a number of different Aborigine peoples were thrown together in Papunya in the mid-60s. This inevitably lead to strong social tensions since usually they lived in smaller groups which only met to celebrate common religious ceremonies and otherwise maintained a respectful distance.

The restrictions and pressure which arose, also due for example to the forceful prevention of leaving the reservation except with the permission of the whites, as well as the realisation by the elders of the communities that their culture was suffering untold damage, made it essential to seek a way out.

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The land-rights movement which began in the mid-60s had a further impact on the growing desire of the Aborigines not only to preserve their own culture but also to have it recognised and respected. It wasn´t until 1967 that Aborigines were recognised as citizens of Australia. And only a few years early had they won the fight in the courts to receive equal pay for equal work (compared to whites).

The art teacher Geoffrey Bardon acted at Papunya as the spark for the above volatile mixture and who set off the explosive development of the Aboriginal art movement. He simply asked his students (and later others who joined in) to paint in their own visual framework and language … and supplied them with acrylic paints and canvas.

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The art movement spread rapidly from settlement to settlement, from reservation to reservation, along the old lines of family ties – which are quite different and more wide-ranging than purely blood-relations – and along the old paths of religious celebrations.

The Artform

Today we find a great range of painting styles. Within just three decades, the art movement underwent rapid diversification in many directions.

The academic investigation of these styles has not yet, however, developed meaningful terminology or categories for them. There is solely a differentiation between Desert and City art. Within the Desert-Art styles, however, one can distinguish two main directions: dot painting and lines.

Another categorisation is equally simplified, namely according to the regions where the style arose. One speaks, for example, of art from Papunya/Kintore, from Yuendumu, from Utopia, Wirrimanu (also known as Balgo) or Warmun.

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This can still in a way be justified, when for example the paintings from Warmun, a community in the Kimberleys in north-west Australia, are studied. They are always composed, using natural earth pigments on cotton canvas, in the form of a number of relatively large areas of solid colour. But even though the artists share a common use of materials, individual differences between their styles make their works immediately and uniquely identifiable.

Also the works from Wirrimanu make it very clear, that the categorisation of the art style according to point of origin is not a defining characteristic. The style of painting by the individual artists is simply too different to unite under one classification, although they may on occasion paint under one roof.

Misunderstanding is only increased by any attempt to compare the dot-painting from Yuendumu, Papunya or Utopia with French Pointilism, or to link works with terms such as Op Art, Abstract Expressionism or Fauvism. The art of the Australian Aboriginal artists has nothing to do with those themes, even though the basic techniques of Desert-Art (the dots, lines, monochrome areas, or multi-layering) are also found in modern western art and even though the works therefore often remind one of contemporary abstract (western) art.

On the other hand, it IS possible to consider aspects such as the iconography and symbolism in the works and to discuss their narrative content.

The Tjukurrpa and the Iconography

As previously discussed in the section on Tjukurrpa, the paintings recount events of long ago. The stories, which are can be explained in varying detail by the artist, are intrinsic to the works and are made visible in the form of symbols. It is important to note that, contrary to the practise in European art, the same symbol may not represent the same meaning from one work to another. Depending on the story, a set of concentric circles can represent for example a meeting place, a water hole, a religious site or something else. On the other hand, U-shapes usually always represent people.

The comparison of paintings with their stories shows a number of typical characteristics of the art of the first Australians. The story itself is often discoursed in only a rudimentary way. It is artistically translated, not directly represented in the work. This translation occurs as either symbolic ideograms, which is the case for many artists from the central part of Australia who work using the dot-painting technique, or else as very formal, highly stilised compositions of dotted structures or lines. The paintings often show a landscape, which is usually the country to which the artist belongs.

The stories recount events from the tjukurrpa, which are important to aboriginal law. They contain all the knowledge about animals, plants and sustenance, about medicine and also about moral law, which provides the basis for human co-existence and survival. The stories are not mystical; they serve to pass on important knowledge as well as history.

Antoni Tàpies

Antoni Tàpies was born December 13, 1923, in Barcelona. His adolescence was disrupted by the Spanish Civil War and a serious illness that lasted two years. Tàpies began to study law in Barcelona in 1944 but decided instead within two years to devote himself exclusively to art. He was essentially self-taught as a painter; the few art classes he attended left little impression on him. Shortly after deciding to become an artist, he began attending clandestine meetings of the Blaus, an iconoclastic group of Catalan artists and writers who produced the review Dau al Set.

Antoni Tapies, Creu I R, 1975

Tàpies’s early work was influenced by the art of Max Ernst, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró, and by Eastern philosophy. His art was exhibited for the first time in the controversial Salo d’Octubre in Barcelona in 1948. He soon began to develop a recognizable personal style related to matière painting, or Art Informel [more], a movement that focused on the materials of art-making. The approach resulted in textural richness, but its more important aim was the exploration of the transformative qualities of matter. Tàpies freely adopted bits of detritus, earth, and stone—mediums that evoke solidity and mass—in his large-scale works.

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In 1950, his first solo show was held at the Galeries Laietanes, Barcelona, and he was included in the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. That same year, the French government awarded Tàpies a scholarship that enabled him to spend a year in Paris. His first solo show in New York was presented in 1953 at the gallery of Martha Jackson, who arranged for his work to be shown the following year in various parts of the United States. During the 1950s and 1960s, Tàpies exhibited in major museums and galleries throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America. In 1966, he began his collection of writings, La practica de l’art. In 1969, he and the poet Joan Brossa published their book, Frègoli; a second collaborative effort, Nocturn Matinal, appeared the following year. Tàpies received the Rubens Prize of Siegen, Germany, in 1972.

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Retrospective exhibitions were presented at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in 1973 and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, in 1977. The following year, he published his prize-winning autobiography, Memòria personal. In the early 1980s, he continued diversifying his mediums, producing his first ceramic sculptures and designing sets for Jacques Dupin’s play L’Eboulement. By 1992, three volumes of the catalogue raisonné of Tàpies’s work had been published. The following year, he and Cristina Iglesias represented Spain at the Venice Biennale, where his installation was awarded the Leone d’Oro. A retrospective exhibition was presented at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, and the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York, in 1994–95. Tàpies lives in Barcelona.

More Greetings Cards

I spent all day Saturday cutting and cropping, slicing and glueing these damn greetings card and I only got 1/3 of the order done, I still have another 200 left to do but don’t they look great 🙂

Anyway, back to the chopping board have a great Sunday everyone. I am off to draw.

SPANISH ABSTRACT ART

Interest in abstract art came late to Spain. The most important Spanish vanguard artists always remained within the channels of figurative art. As the historic initial movement came to an end, when abstract art had spread throughout the world, Spaniards were living in a self-sufficient regime. This isolation of the country during the first decades of the dictatorship contributed in delaying the introduction of abstraction.

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Ornitóptero, 1962
Fernando Zóbel

The regime looked askance at aesthetic manifestations which spoke a cryptic language which was unquestionably subversive and foreign. The ease and freedom with which painters and sculptors applied paint and used materials offended institutions which preferred art of the academy praising national values.

Therefore the creation of abstract art at the end of the nineteen fifties entailed a little more than adopting an aesthetic; it meant taking a stance and risking condemnation at a politically difficult time. This should be remembered if we are to understand the ethical meaning of these stances and all the difficulties entaled, which contrast with today when Spanish artists can avail themselves of any subject, technique, style or material with total freedom. A further reason for remembering this has its connections with this museum. The fact that here paintings and sculptures may be contemplated in calmness, positioned in the singular spaces of this Gothic building, can lead to an aesthetic consideration of works which in the past often flew the vanguardist standard and were subject to critical rejection and scorn.

Almost all the artists represented here, were in an evolving stage in the nineteen fifties. They lived abroad, mainly in Paris and Rome, and travelled to different countries where they could view art which had been created in Europe, well aware they could not do the same in their home country. I am not suggesting that they attempted to copy the forms or the styles that they saw there, but rather they were trying to paint and sculpt in freedom, in accordance with their temperaments. They wanted to create abstract art without being held under suspicion.

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Intervalos azules, 1971
José Guerrero

If we concentrate on the works here we will see that they are neither American abstract expressionism nor French lyrical abstraction, nor op art or constructivism, although in each of them external influences can be appreciated, as is logical. They exhibit a very Spanish style which has been traced by critics and historians to the paintings of El Greco, Ribera, Velazquez and Goya, to the tragic and mystical thinking of Spain’s poets and to the temperament, half fiery and half sober, of the Spanish character. But, leaving aside clichés of what “Spanish” is supposed to mean and despite the different styles which can be recognised in these artists, there is no doubt that all the works exhibited here share the feeling of being part of a family, which gives the museum a unique character. This feeling, uniting a generation, has nothing to do with the highly diverse subjects, styles or techniques. It is the genesis of a dream: the triumph of abstraction, which comes from their having been comrades in battle, and above all friends. We are indebted to them for having shown us how to rid ourselves of prejudice to see, understand and love modern art.

But we should not merely resign ourselves to discovering these similarities and the empathy radiated by these works; we should also note the huge differences that make each artist’s work a different world which expresses itself in its own inimitable language.

To be able to develop their work and project it critically and socially, virtually all these artists at some moment in their lives joined to organise collective exhibitions and publications. These groups help us to understand the different aspects of this excursion into Spanish abstract art.

There are five groups which polarise this effort: Dau al Set in Barcelona, El Paso in Madrid, Parpalló in Valencia, Gaur in Vitoria and the founding of the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art in Cuenca. These are the most notable landmarks in the period commencing at the end of the nineteen forties.

The artists of the group Dau al Set (1948-1953), including Antoni Tàpies and Modest Cuixart, who helped with its foundation, started from fantasy and surrealist automatic writing to reach material abstraction.

El Paso (1957-1960) was founded to enliven Spanish contemporary art. Among its members were Manuel Millares, Antonio Saura, Luis Feito, Manuel Rivera, Rafael Canogar and Martín Chirino. All of the artist, although from varying personal stances, fashioned a vigorous, abstract, non-objective language which was liberating and very typical of committed painting in the fifties and sixties.

Amadeo Gabino and Eusebio Sempere, together with other Valencian artists, formed the Grupo Parpalló (1956-1961), an attempt to create abstract art which, nevertheless, based itself on formal qualities, recovering the experimental tradition of the constructivist vanguard.

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Marrón y Ocre, 1959
Antoni Tàpies

Basque painters and sculptors, among them Jorge Oteiza, Nestor Bastarretxea and Eduardo Chillida, founded the group Gaur (1966-1970) as a “Basque cultural front” for abstract and non-objective art which, in the case of the sculptors, was strongly constructivist and geometric. In this way, these two latter groups formulated the other extreme of Spanish abstraction.

Some artists in all the groups gathered round Fernando Zóbel and the painters Gustavo Torner and Gerardo Rueda to create the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art. But this story perhaps requires greater attention.

Fernando Zóbel was born in Manila (Philippines) and studied at Harvard University. His many journeys to the United States, France, Italy and Spain helped him understand perfectly both American abstract expressionism and European non-objectivism. From 1955, he began to travel to Spain and grew interested in the work of the then incipient abstract artists. When he definitively settled in Spain in 1961, he encouraged them by acquiring their work; for some he was their first purchaser. The moment came when his personal collection was sufficiently full and coherent for him to feel the social obligation to show it to the public.

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Galería de la Mina, 1965
Manuel Millares

He was aided by the artists themselves, especially by Gustavo Torner and Gerardo Rueda, who were the first curators of the collection. They persuaded Cuenca Town Council to give them part of the Hanging Houses, which had recently been restored, to be used as the site for the museum which opened in 1966.

Some of the painters started to move into the abandoned upper part of Cuenca, whose buildings then were lying in ruins. Zóbel, Torner, Saura, Millares, Rueda, Antonio Lorenzo, Sempere and José Guerrero found homes and at the Museum Jordi Teixidor and José María Yturralde contributed their help. This was how the miracle occurred; the renovation, through art, of a neighbourhood with the Museum of Abstract Art at its hub.

By 1980 the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art of Cuenca was already very well-known and had received various prizes and international publicity. The collection had grown in tune with the museum’s physical space. What had begun as the personal and enthusiastic initiative of a group of friends now called for professional attention and dedication which was beyond its creators. Fernando Zóbel decided then to donate the collection to the Fundación Juan March. It was accepted and increased both through the foundation’s funds and with the acquisition of the collection belonging to Amos Cahan, an American doctor who lived in Spain and collected fifties and sixties’ art.

Now a stable collection, selected so as to give coherence to the creative efforts and the aesthetic achievements of a generation, has become a tribute to those artists who risked more than they expected to receive.

Catalogue of the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (Fundación Juan March), de Cuenca. Javier Maderuelo