Entries in painting (57)


Simply Colour

Gaspé – Pink Sky, 1940Can you believe I had never heard of the painter Milton Avery before today? Thanks to Pinterest I discovered his beautiful paintings. The large stretches of almost flat colour of the first one I saw, Gaspé – Pink Sky (1940) immediately put me in mind of Rothko, except that it was representational. What I love about it besides the muted tertiary hues is the simplicity of the stylised shapes that form the landscape, and indeed all his compositions.

Seated Lady, 1953Conversation, 1956Avery (1885–1965) is considered a seminal American painter but seemed to have suffered from first being ahead of his times (too abstract early in his career), and when the times caught up and Abstract Expressionism bypassed him, he was dismissed as being too representational.

Like Rothko, he was concerned with the relation of colour as opposed to creating the illusion of depth, and was influenced early on by French Fauvism and German Expressionism. He was likened to an American Matisse (another of my favourite artists), and the art critic Hilton Kramer said of him:

“He was, without question, our greatest colorist … Among his European contemporaries, only Matisse—to whose art he owed much, of course—produced a greater achievement in this respect.” [Wikipedia]

Three Cows on a Hillside, 1945Fall in Vermont, 1935Horse in a Landscape, 1941Vermont Hills, 1936Working in New York City in the 1930s–40s he became a part of the artistic community and in fact friends with Mark Rothko, who paid him a high compliment:

“What was Avery’s repertoire? His living room, Central Park, his wife Sally, his daughter March, the beaches and mountains where they summered; cows, fish heads, the flight of birds; his friends and whatever world strayed through his studio: a domestic, unheroic cast. But from these there have been fashioned great canvases, that far from the casual and transitory implications of the subjects, have always a gripping lyricism, and often achieve the permanence and monumentality of Egypt.” [Wikipedia]

Read about him in more detail here.

Yellow Sky, 1958Interlude, 1960Images from Wikiart and Pinterest.


A Match Made in Wonderland

While I am not a big fan of Salvador Dalí’s work, I must admit that pairing him with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (a childhood favourite of mine) was a stroke of brilliance. An editor at Random House commissioned the artist to illustrate an exclusive edition of the book in the 1960s, with all copies signed by the artist.

The book celebrated its 150th anniversary two years ago, and this edition was was published for the public by Princeton University Press. Currently in Melbourne, the Australian Centre of the Moving Image is presenting a world premiere exhibition celebrating the tale as it has appeared on film, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this book might be amongst the merchandise on sale.

Here is the phantasmagorical result of Dalí’s reimaginings of the famous tale. Read more here.


Six Cats

January’s catLast December I started shopping for this year’s calendar early – I didn’t want a repeat of the year before when I really struggled on New Year’s Eve to find something that I liked. I don’t recall where I found this ‘Cats in Posters’ calendar by Catch Publishing, but as always my criteria was nice pictures and nice paper.

Unfortunately there is no information about the source material, but clearly the paintings range over a few decades and nations. I have been enjoying the first six months of pictures, but I think my favourite so far has to be June’s amusing Dutch black cat holding a spool of Zwicky thread like a harmonica.  

February’s catMarch’s catApril’s catMay’s catJune’s cat


Bonne Fête

Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of June 30, 1878, painted by Claude Monet in 1878“The Fête de la Fédération on 14 July 1790 was a celebration of the unity of the French nation during the French Revolution. The aim of this celebration, one year after the Storming of the Bastille, was to symbolise peace.

“On 30 June 1878, a feast was officially arranged in Paris to honour the French Republic (the event was commemorated in a painting by Claude Monet).” [Wikipedia]

And here is Monet’s painting, full of joy and light – you can practically feel the sunlight and the wind on your face emanating from exhilarating painting, with all those madly waving flags. And it is easy to imagine how the air must have been alive with excitement and celebration. What an extraordinary impression Monet captured of such a momentous day.

Happy Bastille Day to my French readership!


Serene Greens

Interior, 1920

Pinterest gave me a present today, a whole page full of Henri Matisse artworks that I might like! Immediately this painting of a bedroom interior caught my eye, and made me sigh enviously. It just looks so serene and inviting. In fact, a work colleague saw it on my computer screen at a distance and had the same reaction. “I LOVE it!” she exclaimed very positively.

Here is a series of his paintings in similar tones that are equally evocative and sigh-inducing.

The Terrace, 1906The Window, 1916The Artist's Garden at Issy les Moulineaux, 1918Flowers, 1903