Ludio Fontana

Love the simplicity yet passion of his work

Ludio Fontana was born on February 19th, 1899 in Rosario di Santa Fé in Argentina. His father was an Italian sculptor. In 1905 the artist’s family moved to Milan. From 1914 Fontana attended Carlo Cattaneo’s vocational school for the building trade. Having completed his military service, he graduated in civil engineering in 1918. In 1922 he returned to Argentina, where he initially worked in his father’s sculptor studio. In 1924 he opened his own studio.

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In 1928 he was back in Milan, studying sculpture at the ‘Accademia di Brera’ until 1930. From 1931 he produced his first terracotta reliefs and painted gypsum plates alongside his figured sculptures, with which he approached abstract art. In 1934 Fontana joined the Paris group of artists ‘Abstraction-Création’. He set up their Milan section. In the following year they published a manifesto on abstract art. Fontana had his first solo exhibition at the ‘Galleria del Milione’ in Milan. In 1939 Fontana returned to Argentina, where he became the co-founder of the private academy of Altamira in 1946, and wrote the ‘Manifesto Blanco’ with his students. This manifesto demands a synthesis of the genre and a break with traditional material. In 1948 Lucio Fonatana voiced his search for a new spacial art in his ‘First Manifesto of Spazialismo’ in Milan. He founded the group ‘Movimento spaziale’. In a Milan gallery he realized the first ‘Ambiente spaziale’, a predecessor of Environment in 1949. In the same year he produced his first perforated canvasses, which, like all following pieces, were entitled ‘Concetto spaziale’ (spacial concept). In the 1950s alongside his perforations, he created a series of ‘Pietre’. In 1958 Fontana began to produce his famous cuts in canvas. These are brutish interventions in the form of sharp knife cuts in the mostly monochromously painted surfaces. In the early 1960s he combined his pictoral elements with thickly applied colors, often mixed with sand, into which he often scratched or drew. His large ball-shaped bronze objects followed. This time was marked by numerous solo and group exhibitions, including regular contributions to the Venice biennale, the Kassel documenta 4 in 1968 and the travelling exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art, New York from 1966 to 1968. The impressive series of works ‘La fine di dio’ completed Fontana’s development as an artist. From the 1960s Fontana had a considerable influence on the younger generation of artists. Lucio Fonatana died on September 7, 1968, in Varese.

JACKSON POLLOCK – Birthday

I am going away for a few days so I am doing some advanced posting about my favourite artists who have birthdays this month, and this is my all time favourite with whom I share a birthday.  And Happy Birthday to my son for the 30th January.

Did You Know?

Many things have been written about Pollock but there are still many things that we don’t know. Here are a few facts about the man behind the myth.

Did You Know…

Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s wife, changed her name. Her original name is Lenore Krassner.

Pollock’s real first name is Paul. Right around the time that he moved to New York to study with Benton in 1930, he decided to drop his first name and use his middle name of Jackson.

The only person to survive Pollock’s deadly car accident was his lover, Ruth Kligman.

One of his most famous works is Blue Poles, painted in 1952. It was created with enamel and aluminum paint with glass on a canvas.

The most important element in Pollock’s paintings is that of lines. When he first started using the method of pouring and dripping paint onto canvas, it resulted in huge areas covered with complex linear patterns that created image and form.

“Jackson Pollock: Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” That was the question on the front cover of Life magazine on August 8, 1949.

His first experiment with liquid paint was at the Siquieros workshop in New York, 1936.

The French equivalent of action painting, a form of abstract expressionism associated with Pollock, is Tachisme.

Pollock was nicknamed Jack the Dripper because he literally dripped paint onto his canvas to create unique, intricate pieces.

His brother Sanford knew Jackson had a special talent. In 1941, he wrote a letter to their eldest brother Charles about Jackson. He said if Jackson could “hold himself together, his work will become of real significance. His painting is abstract, intense, evocative in quality.”

Pollock’s paintings differed from before he moved to the Hamptons and right after the move. Before moving to The Springs in East Hampton with his wife, his imagery was congested, the colors were somber, and the overall mood of his paintings was anxious and conflicted.

After the move to the country, the colors were brighter, his compositions were more open, and the imagery reflected a new responsiveness to nature.

His work Blue Poles, 1952 was originally inscribed with a ‘3’ and subsequently painted over with a ‘2’.

In 1949, Pollock decided to number his paintings, including the year they were created, instead of using descriptive titles. This began with his 1949 solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery.

Downward arching stretch-marks at the top edge of the canvas are common with Pollock’s works. This is because he would often hang them along a beam in his studio; another step in his creation process.

Jackson Pollock
Before Blue Poles

Jackson Pollock 'Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952' 1952enamel and aluminium paint with glass on canvas, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia © Jackson Pollock, 1952/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002 Jackson Pollock ‘Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952’ enamel and aluminium paint with glass on canvas, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia © Jackson Pollock, 1952/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002 click to enlarge

The abstract paintings of the American artist Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) are among the highest achievements of 20th-century art. During an unparalleled period of creativity from the late 1940s to the early 50s, Pollock abandoned the conventional tools and methods of the painter, putting aside brushes, artist’s paint and traditional composition, and poured and flung house paint directly onto large canvases placed on the floor. Inspired by the work of earlier modern artists that he admired such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, Pollock’s painting has had an enormous impact on contemporary art up to the present day.

Pollock’s life story is no less startling than his art. From humble beginnings in a family of Wyoming farmers, he struggled for years to overcome an apparent lack of natural talent before his rise to artistic stardom in the New York art world. Pollock’s fame – fuelled by articles in the popular press such as Life magazine which in 1949 posed the question ‘Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?’ – was followed by a slide into alcoholism and depression, and a concomitant decline in output. His death in a car accident at the age of 44 has prompted comparisons to other short-lived American icons, such as Charlie Parker and James Dean.

Within the life and work of this extraordinary artist, the National Gallery of Australia’s Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 occupies a special place. Pollock’s last monumental abstract painting, Blue Poles is the final instalment in a series of works which have changed the course of modern art. The controversy, however, that followed the work’s purchase for 1.3 million Australian dollars – a record price at the time both here and in the United States – and the subsequent claims that the work began as a drunken collaboration between Pollock and other artists, have made it difficult to see the picture through the journalistic hype. The time is ripe for a re-evaluation of Blue Poles.

The focus exhibition Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, at the Gallery from 4 October 2002 until 27 January 2003, commemorates the painting’s 50th anniversary, and explores the meaning of Blue Poles by placing it within the broader development of the artist’s work. Paintings, drawings and prints by Pollock from the Gallery’s collection will be displayed alongside a selection of his works borrowed from American and European museums. Representing key moments in the artist’s career, the exhibition will trace the evolution of Pollock’s style from the early figurative work of the 1930s to the abstract ‘drip’ paintings of the 50s, leading to a fuller understanding of the genesis of Blue Poles.

Jackson Pollock painting, Summer 1950, photo: Hans Namuth Jackson Pollock painting, Summer 1950 photo: Hans Namuth click to enlarge

The turning point in Pollock’s career was the mid-1940s. Two significant events occurred in 1945: his marriage to fellow artist Lee Krasner and their move to a house in the countryside in East Hampton. It was in the studio that they set up in the barn that Pollock first began pouring paint, either straight out of the can or with sticks and hardened brushes, directly onto a canvas placed on the floor. In an interview he justified his unusual method of painting by saying that ‘the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture’.1 Pollock felt that his painting technique reflected not only the ‘inner world’ of the unconscious but also the cultural experience of the time he was living in.2 Unexpectedly, to express these things, he felt compelled to move away from figurative art. As he remarked in 1949: ‘I try to stay away from any recognisable image; if it creeps in, I try to do away with it . . . to let the painting come through. I don’t let the image carry the painting . . . It’s extra cargo and unnecessary.’3 It was important that the meaning of the art work should not be carried by any recognisable image, as this was something extraneous to the medium of painting itself: ‘Experience of our age in terms of painting – not an illustration  of but the equivalent: concentrated, fluid.’4 To express the modern age, painting would have to be equal to that age – not to illustrate it through an image but to participate in the intensity and fluidity of modern society through the very manner in which the painting was produced.

Although Pollock rejected many of the traditional methods of artistic control over his painting, preferring to pour, dribble, fling and pool paint onto the canvas, the effect is often staggering and incredibly beautiful. In the ‘classic’ pictures of the period 1947–50, such as One: Number 31, 1950 the black, white, brown, and blue-green arcs of flung paint on unprimed canvas seem to cartwheel before the viewer’s eyes in a majestic dance of colour. Neither a nihilistic statement nor a ‘paint pot flung in the public’s face,’ Pollock used the effects of gravity, liquidity of materials, and the collisions between paint and canvas to show the viewer how oil paint behaves when it is pooled, what enamel looks like when it is thrown onto different kinds of surfaces – either dry paint, wet paint or unprimed canvas. Similarly, in his smaller scale enamel on paper works, such as Number 12, 1949 we are directly confronted by the vivid, shiny physicality of the enamel, as well as the extraordinary effects of puckering, marbling, puddling and interlacing of paint in all its raw beauty. In other words, he allowed the materials to speak their own language. As the traces of gravity, liquidity, and fortuitous occurrences appear to have taken place with a minimum intervention of the artist, the painting has what Pollock claimed it should: ‘a life of its own.’5

At the same time, as the art historian Meyer Schapiro has pointed out, dripping is one of the painterly techniques of ‘handling, processing, surfacing, which confer to the utmost degree the aspect of the freely made’.6 Pollock signalled through his liberated use of materials that he was free of constraints on his own individuality, artistic or societal. He was liberated to the extent of not entirely planning in advance what he was going to do. His works were not based on preliminary studies: ‘I don’t work from drawings, I don’t make sketches and drawings and color sketches into a final painting.’ Moreover, as he commented ‘When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of “get acquainted” period that I see what I have been about.’7 In other words, he freed himself from his own pre-conceptions of what would happen on the canvas, giving free rein to the physical body and its performance ‘in’ the painting. By working in large scale and by placing the canvas on the floor, Pollock allowed his full body movement to be engaged. We read the grand, sweeping lines of flung paint in One: Number 31, 1950 not as the result of a rationally driven, artistic ordering process but rather as evidence of the physical arc of the arm as it swings across the canvas. This focus on the physical, combined with the often-published photographs by Hans Namuth of the artist at work has been instrumental in the notion of Pollock as the ‘action painter’, an artist more concerned with the authenticity of the physical act of painting than with the measured consideration of the how the act should be performed.

detail: Jackson Pollock 'Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952' 1952enamel and aluminium paint with glass on canvas, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia © Jackson Pollock, 1952/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002 detail: Jackson Pollock ‘Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952’ 1952enamel and aluminium paint with glass on canvas, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia © Jackson Pollock, 1952/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002 click to enlarge

Nevertheless, as Pollock himself insisted, he did carefully orchestrate his actions in such a way as to ‘deny the accident’.8 The delicate tracings of splashed, dribbled and flowing pigment actually attest to the control that Pollock had over his materials, demonstrating that part of the artist’s intention was to exploit accident while managing his performance with extraordinary dexterity. As Frank O’Hara once wrote about Pollock’s painting:

There has never been enough said about Pollock’s draftsmanship, that amazing ability to quicken a line by thinning it, to slow it by flooding, to elaborate that simplest of elements, the line – to change, to reinvigorate, to extend, to build up an embarrassment of riches in the mass by drawing alone. 9

It is for this reason that the paintings are so compelling, because in Pollock’s work we have the feeling of order wrested out of disorder. Giving in to the nature of the materials and the forces of gravity, and giving free rein to the human desire to burst all constraints, Pollock’s paintings were able to embody a recurrent theme in contemporary America, that of modern man as ‘the helpless prey of forces both within and without himself’. At the same time, by exhibiting his technical finesse in the management of these forces, Pollock achieved a victory in the face of what could only seem impossible odds.10

Another important element of Pollock’s technique is the ‘all-over’ composition. When we look at the classic paintings and our eye roves over the surface looking for some way of making sense of the picture, we realise that it is not easy to identify discrete areas of the canvas that can be differentiated visually. As the critic Clement Greenberg argued, the all-over composition, in which the traditional distinction between figure and ground is all but obliterated, responds to a modern feeling that ‘all hierarchical distinctions have been exhausted, that no area or order of experience is either intrinsically or relatively superior to any other’.11 Rather than imposing hierarchy onto our experience of the painting, Pollock asks the viewer to choose his or her own points of interest. As Pollock insisted, the viewer ‘should not look for, but look passively – and try to receive what the painting has to offer’.12 To look for, to bring a pre-conceived idea to the painting, would interfere with the experience of being in front of the work.

Crucial to understanding the 1952 painting Blue Poles is the knowledge that it is a late work in which Pollock re-assessed his drip style in the classic pictures of 1947–50. In many respects, the approach in Blue Poles is similar to his earlier works such as One: Number 31, 1950; the painting is built up with successive layers of dripped and poured paint evenly dispersed across the canvas. However, it also differs in a number of important respects, not least of which are the strong vertical elements of the ‘poles’. As the exhibition Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles demonstrates, this departure was both a reprise of a recurrent motif in Pollock’s work and a self-conscious re-evaluation of the painting technique for which he was famous.

Francis Picabia – Birthday

A free spirit takes liberties even with liberty itself.
Francis Picabia

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A new gadget that lasts only five minutes is worth more than an immortal work that bores everyone.
Francis Picabia

Between my head and my hand, there is always the face of death.
Francis Picabia

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God invented concubinage, satan marriage.
Francis Picabia

Good taste is as tiring as good company.
Francis Picabia

If you want to have clean ideas, change them as often as your shirt.
Francis Picabia

Knowledge is ancient error reflecting on its youth.
Francis Picabia

Let us never forget that the greatest man is never more than an animal disguised as a god.
Francis Picabia

Maybe men are separated from each other only by the degree of their misery.
Francis Picabia

Men have always need of god! A god to defend them against other men.
Francis Picabia

My arse contemplates those who talk behind my back.
Francis Picabia

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My ass contemplates those who talk behind my back.
Francis Picabia

Only useless things are indispensable.
Francis Picabia

Pain has its reasons, pleasure is totally indifferent.
Francis Picabia

The essence of a man is found in his faults.
Francis Picabia

The family spirit has rendered man carnivorous.
Francis Picabia

The world is divided into two categories: failures and unknowns.
Francis Picabia

Youth doesn’t reason, it acts. The old man reasons and would like to make the others act in his place.
Francis Picabia

Nothing to do with painting: Elvis Presley

Today would have been one of my music idol’s birthdays.  Happy Birthday Elvis

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Elvis Presley is a star who continues to mesmerize his fans even years after his demise. He would turn 75 on January 8th 2010 had he been alive. However, a lot of plans have been made for celebrating the Rock n Roll Icon’s 75th Birthday. There will be museum exhibits, CD releases, radio tributes and movie shows across USA to commemorate the occasion. At his Graceland residence his former spouse, Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley, his daughter will come for a cake cutting ceremony to remember the legendary singer. They will kick off a series of events and tours that will continue for 4 days.

Since Elvis Presley was the first singer to be inducted in the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame its museum will celebrate his birthday too. The museum spokespersons said that they have updated the memorabilia and artifacts of the singer. Every year the museum exhibits the items used by the star when he was alive. His acoustic guitar and personal jukebox continue to be favorites with the viewers. They have the guitars which the star used in his spectacular comeback in 1968. The star used a lot of jumpsuits and a lot of these are on display at the museum.

The fans of Elvis Presley flock to his home in Memphis, Tennessee to pay homage every year during his birthday. The star bought Graceland in 1957 and he lived their till his demise in 1977. The influence he exerted on American youth and pop culture is still remembered with fondness by thousands of fans. They will be delighted to know that RCA Records has brought out a collection of 10 of his tracks, all digitally re mastered.

Happy Birthday HENRI MATISSE

Seeing as Matisse’s birthday will be on 31st of December and I will be out making merriment I thought I would pay tribute to one of my favourite artists now with some of his famous quotes and a few pictures that I like.

A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light.
Henri Matisse

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A young woman has young claws, well sharpened. If she has character, that is. And if she hasn’t so much the worse for you.
Henri Matisse

An artist must never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success, etc.
Henri Matisse

An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.
Henri Matisse

Creativity takes courage.
Henri Matisse

Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor’s direct carving.
Henri Matisse

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Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.
Henri Matisse

Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.
Henri Matisse

Exactitude is not truth.
Henri Matisse

He who loves, flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free and nothing holds him back.
Henri Matisse

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I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.
Henri Matisse

I don’t know whether I believe in God or not. I think, really, I’m some sort of Buddhist. But the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer.
Henri Matisse

I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.
Henri Matisse

I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me.
Henri Matisse

I have been no more than a medium, as it were.
Henri Matisse

I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.
Henri Matisse

I wouldn’t mind turning into a vermilion goldfish.
Henri Matisse

I’m growing old, I delight in the past.
Henri Matisse

Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.
Henri Matisse

In love, the one who runs away is the winner.
Henri Matisse

In the beginning you must subject yourself to the influence of nature. You must be able to walk firmly on the ground before you start walking on a tightrope.
Henri Matisse

Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.
Henri Matisse

It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.
Henri Matisse

It is only after years of preparation that the young artist should touch color – not color used descriptively, that is, but as a means of personal expression.
Henri Matisse

Jazz is rhythm and meaning.
Henri Matisse

My curves are not crazy.
Henri Matisse

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
Henri Matisse

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.
Henri Matisse

Time extracts various values from a painter’s work. When these values are exhausted the pictures are forgotten, and the more a picture has to give, the greater it is.
Henri Matisse

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter – a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.
Henri Matisse

With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.
Henri Matisse

Work cures everything.
Henri Matisse

You study, you learn, but you guard the original naivete. It has to be within you, as desire for drink is within the drunkard or love is within the lover.
Henri Matisse

Morris Louis biography

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Morris Louis was perhaps the greatest exponent of Colour Field painting. He was a notorious perfectionist with many paintings being destroyed that did not meet his exacting standards.

Born Morris Louis Bernstein in 1912 to Russian-Jewish immigrants, he was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts from 1929 to 1933, moved to New York for six years to work on the Federal Art Project then returned to Baltimore in 1940. After seven years there he moved to Washington, first to the suburb of Silver Spring then in 1952 to the city itself.

Although keeping himself detached from the New York art scene it was a trip to the city in 1953 that led him to appropriate the technique he first saw used in the work of Helen Frankenthaler. She applied liquid paint onto unprimed canvas, it was then allowed to flow across and soak into the canvas, the result being a stain of paint as opposed to a layer of paint applied on the surface. Louis experimented on this basis creating paintings of extraordinary vibrancy.

Many of the leading American abstract painters of the 1950s and 60s, Louis included, were exponents of Colour Field painting, where whole works consisted of large expanses of more or less unmodulated colour. Louis painted a number of pictures using this technique beginning with ‘Veils’ (1954). In ‘Where’ (1960) his style moved towards colours positioned in rainbow-like bands on a bare canvas.

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By the end of the Fifties his reputation was confirmed. He had his first foreign exhibition in 1960 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. Sadly, however, he died of lung cancer just two years later. His paintings remain widely exhibited.

“With Louis, fully autonomous abstract painting came into its own for really the first time, and did so in paintings of a quality that matches the level of their abstraction.” John Elderfield (from the introduction to the Art Council’s Exhibition of Louis’ work in 1974).

From: artrepublic

Francesco Clemente

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Francesco Clemente was born in Naples, Italy, in 1952. After an early academic background in classical languages and literature, he briefly enrolled as an architecture student at the University of Rome, in 1970. Throughout the 1970s he exhibited drawings, altered photographs and conceptual works across Europe. Since 1973 he has frequently resided and worked in India. In 1981 Clemente moved to New York City, where he currently lives with his wife and children. The artist has often engaged in collaborations, both in India with local craftsmen, and in New York with artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, among others. He has published many works in conjunction with poets, including John Wieners, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, and Rene Ricard. Clemente’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including traveling retrospectives of his pastels (Nationalgalerie, Berlin: 1984-5) and drawings (Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel: 1987-9). His works on paper were the focus of a full retrospective organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1990, which traveled within the United States and to the Royal Academy of Arts, London (1991). His works on paper have been shown in exhibitions organized by the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1994-5) and at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (1999). The artist’s comprehensive oeuvre was the subject of a retrospective exhibition, Clemente, mounted by the Guggenheim Museum, New York (1999-2000), which traveled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (2000). Most recently, a survey of the artist’s work was organized by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (2002-2003).

Taken from: http://www.gagosian.com