Friday, May 26, 2017

Sanford R. Gifford in the Catskills

Sanford R. Gifford in the Catskills at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Catskill, NY, features paintings by the 19th-century landscape painter Sanford Gifford, whose work was inspired by Thomas Cole. This exhibition focuses on his paintings of the Catskills – with works loaned by Harvard, Yale, Portland Museum of Art, and other leading institutions.

The exhibition opened to the public on May 2, in the gallery of Cole’s 1846 “New Studio” and runs through Sunday, October 29.

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) was an American landscape painter and one of the leading members of the Hudson River School, the first major art movement in America, which was founded by Thomas Cole (1801-1848). Gifford credited Cole’s works with stimulating his interest in landscape painting.

The exhibition is curated by Kevin J. Avery, Senior Research Scholar at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is the first of this magnitude to be held so close to Gifford’s childhood home in Hudson, NY, directly across the Hudson River from Catskill. The exhibition consists of about 20 paintings, which are being loaned by such renowned institutions as the Yale University Art Gallery, Harvard University Art Museums, Portland Museum of Art, and Albany Institute of History and Art, as well as private collections, including those of the artist’s descendants.

In 2003, Dr. Avery co-organized the major retrospective Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art. In the current exhibition, he sharpens his focus on Gifford’s paintings of the Catskills, the mountains and valleys near Catskill that so inspired Cole. Gifford’s enchanting, seductive – sometimes even stark – interpretations of Kaaterskill Clove and Falls, High Peak and Round Top, as well as Hunter Mountain and the Hudson Valley prospect are richly represented.

Sanford Gifford, Ledge on South Mountain in the Catskills, circa 1861-62. Oil on canvas, 12 7/8 x 10 3/4 in. Framed: 17 1/4 x 15 x 2 1/4 in.

“This exhibition brings to Catskill a remarkable set of paintings that were created by one of the leaders of the Hudson River School and that depict nearby views that can be visited today on the Hudson River School Art Trail,” said Elizabeth B. Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. “The reconstruction of Cole’s ‘New Studio’ unveiled last year, with its climate-controlled environment, made it possible for distinguished curator Dr. Kevin Avery to assemble these works and for the Site to secure their loan for this exquisite exhibition.”

Sanford Robinson Gifford, Mount Merino, 1861, Oil on canvas, 11 × 22 in. Signed and dated, lower left: S R Gifford 1860, Private collection.

Six of the views depicted in the Gifford paintings in the exhibition can be visited on the innovative walking-and-driving experience called the Hudson River School Art Trail, which reveals nearby settings in the Hudson Valley where visitors can experience the same views that appear in 19th-century paintings by Hudson River School artists. Those six views are located in Greene and Ulster counties and are represented in 10 of the Gifford paintings in the exhibition.

René Magritte - Atomium (Brussels)

From 21 September 2017, the Atomium (Brussels) invites both the young and the not-so-young to discover René Magritte through a fun experience full of surprises. Certain key works by the major Belgian Surrealist artist will be displayed in an innovative scenography. Visitors will be immersed in the Surrealist universe of René Magritte, whose paintings will be transformed into exhibition sets, split into sections for close examination. Enter the magical world of Belgium’s greatest artist. Weave your way around his bowler-hatted figures, his clouds and birds. Discover the secret messages hidden in his paintings, explore the extraordinary and captivating settings depicted in his masterpieces.

The aim behind the exhibition is to acquaint visitors with the world of René Magritte and, in this way, to introduce them to Surrealism. With this in view, the experience will unfold as follows. Firstly, visitors will quite literally penetrate Magritte’s world, as they are plunged into the renowned artist’s Surrealist realm. Some works will be presented in 3D in actual size, as elements forming part of the exhibition scenography, and visitors will walk through the set like characters in a play, soaking up the atmosphere.

This will bring them face to face with the key elements in Magritte’s paintings: they will be able to linger awhile among the clouds, the famous birds will be suspended above their heads, and they will have green apples to use as seats. Music to suit the setting and theatrical lighting will provide the finishing touches to the overall ambience, reflecting the intention of making these artistic works of genius accessible to everyone. A fun yet educational experience, the exhibition brings to light certain details that have rarely been discussed, but which will be revealed through this particular way of perceiving Magritte’s work. Our aim is to show visitors the conceptual world between image, pictorial art, speech and reality. The carefully selected key works present Magritte’s world and the iconic elements that embody it in all its forms:

There is a strong link between the enshrouded face and Magritte’s own life story, but this is also an example of the double meaning so favoured by the renowned artist, as the faces are veiled by cloth.

Here we see the easily identifiable motifs so closely associated with Magritte: the bowler hat, the apple, the hidden face and the clouds.

The image is nothing more than a layer, a ‘film’ that may be cut out and repositioned, thereby covering a totally different, obscure image.

Alongside these paintings, displayed in sections, the exhibition will feature memorable quotes by Magritte – in relation to his art and to Surrealism – as well as screenings of a range of his paintings, illustrating other elements of his artistic realm. This original exhibition was proposed by the Atomium and will also be held there. It will take account of the striking architecture of this building, a symbol of Brussels and part of its heritage.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Paris, Fin de Siècle: Signac, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Their Contemporaries

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao  
May 12–September 17, 2017 

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is pleased to present Paris, Fin de Siècle: Signac, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Their Contemporaries, an exhibition that analyzes the Parisian art scene, underscoring the most important French avant-gardes of the late 19th century, particularly the Neo- Impressionists, Symbolists, and Nabis. The leading exponents of these movements are represented in the show by approximately 125 paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints. 

Fin-de-siècle Paris was a time and place of political upheaval and cultural transformation, during which sustained economic crisis and social problems spurred the rise of radical left-wing groups and an attendant backlash of conservatism that plagued France throughout the late 1890s. In 1894, President Sadi Carnot fell victim to an anarchist assassination, while the nationally divisive Dreyfus Affair began with the unlawful conviction for treason of Alfred Dreyfus, an officer of Alsatian and Jewish descent. Such events exposed France’s social and political polarization: bourgeois and bohemian, conservative and radical, Catholic and anticlerical, anti-republican and anarchist. 

Mirroring the facets of an anxious, unsettled era, this period witnessed a spectrum of artistic movements. By the late 1880s, a generation of artists had emerged that included Neo- Impressionists, Symbolists, and Nabis. Their subject matter remained largely the same as that of their still-active Impressionist forebears: landscapes, the modern city, and leisure-time activities. However, the treatment of these familiar subjects shifted and these scenes were joined by introspective, fantastical visions and stark portrayals of social life.

The exhibition takes a closer look at these avant-garde movements, concentrating especially on some of the most prominent artists of that time: Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Maximilien Luce, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Félix Vallotton. The ambition to spontaneously capture a fleeting moment of contemporary life gave way to the pursuit of carefully crafted works that were anti-naturalistic in form and execution and sought to elicit emotions, sensations, or psychic changes in the viewer. Despite their sometimes contradictory stances, these artists shared the goal of creating art with a universal resonance, and there was even overlap among members of the different groups. 

Surveyed together, the idioms of this tumultuous decade map a complex terrain of divergent aesthetic and philosophical theories, while charting the destabilizing events at the brink of a new century. 


Gallery 305: Neo-Impressionism 

The Neo-Impressionists debuted as an entity in a gallery of the Eighth (and last) Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1886, led by Georges Seurat. That same year, Félix Fénéon, an art critic and champion of these artists, coined the term “Neo-Impressionism” in a review. When Seurat died at an early age, Paul Signac took his place as the leader and theorist of the movement. 

The principal Neo-Impressionists—Henri-Edmond Cross, Maximilien Luce, Seurat, and Signac—were joined by the former Impressionist Camille Pissarro as well as other like-minded artists, such as Belgian painter Théo van Rysselberghe, from nearby countries. These vanguard painters looked to scientific theories of color and perception to create visual effects in Pointillist canvases, inspired by the optical and chromatic methods developed by scientists. 

The theories of French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul set out in the Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors, and Their Application to the Arts (in French, De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs et de l’assortiment des objets colorés, 1839) and American physicist Ogden Rood in Modern Chromatics (1879) were particularly influential. 

This modern, revolutionary painting technique was characterized by the juxtaposition of individual strokes of pigment to evince the appearance of an intense single hue. By thus orchestrating complementary colors and employing mellifluous forms, the Neo-Impressionists rendered unified compositions. The representation of light as it impacted color when refracted by water, filtered through atmospheric conditions, or rippled across a field was a dominant concern in their works. 

Most of the Neo-Impressionists shared left-wing political views, evident, for example, in Pissarro’s and Luce’s depictions of the working classes. The idealized visions of anarcho-socialism or anarcho- communism were also manifest in the utopian scenes that the Neo-Impressionists frequently represented in their works, which often married ideological content and technical theory. But even when not guided by political objectives, the Neo-Impressionists’ shimmering interpretations of city, suburb, seaside, or countryside reflected a formal quest for harmony. 

Gallery 306: Symbolism 

Symbolism began as a literary movement in the 1880s and its principles were codified in 1886 when poet Jean Moréas published the “Symbolist Manifesto” in the French newspaper Le Figaro. But the idealist philosophies and highly stylized formal qualities of the idiom quickly infiltrated the visual arts. The term "Symbolism" is applied to a variety of artists who shared anti-naturalistic goals. Sometimes Neo-Impressionist or Nabis works were identified with Symbolism because of their peculiar forms and allusive subject matter, such as those by Maurice Denis, who looked to religion and allegory and used sinuous lines and flattened zones of color or all-over patterning. Indeed, artists associated with Symbolism did not always define themselves as such. One of the most important was Odilon Redon, although his eerie noirs of floating, disembodied heads, creeping spiders, and scenes unmoored from reality, their meaning enigmatic and locked in hermeticism, are closely associated with the Symbolist style. 

Most of the artists connected to Symbolism were averse to materialism and had lost faith in science, which had failed to alleviate the ills of modern society. They chose instead to probe spiritualism and altered states of mind, believing in the power of evocative, dreamlike images. Decorative idioms, nourished by Art Nouveau’s organic motifs and arabesque forms, permeated their work. 

Symbolist art embraced mythic narratives, religious themes, and the macabre world of nightmares, abandoning the factual for the fantastic, the exterior world for the drama of psychological landscapes, the material for the spiritual, and the concrete for the ethereal. Although deeply rooted in narrative, Symbolism sought to elicit abstracted sensations and, through subjective imagery, to convey universal experience. These impulses responded to a yearning engendered by the dark side of modernity—the search for the transcendent.
Gallery 307: The Nabis and the Print Culture in the 1890s 

Following the 1890 exhibition of Japanese prints at the École des Beaux-Arts, printmaking experienced a renaissance in France, both in lithography and woodcut. This revival was launched primarily by the Nabis, along with artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Nabis (from the Hebrew word meaning “prophets”) were a loosely connected brotherhood whose art was influenced by the flat planes of color and pattern of Paul Gauguin’s Synthetism and by the abrupt cropping and two- dimensional compositions of Japanese prints. Renouncing easel painting, the Nabis’ work crossed media to prints, posters, and illustrations for journals such as La Revue blanche, co-owned by their patron Thadée Natanson. 

As a “low” art exempt from the academic rules that governed painting, printmaking offered an artistic freedom that many found attractive. During the 1890s artists experimented with the possibilities of the stark contrasts of the woodcut, as Félix Vallotton did with his inventive use of black-and-white in scathing commentaries on Parisian society. Other Nabis, like Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard, were enthralled with color lithography and tested the limits of the medium inmyriad ways, even introducing manipulations during the printing process, by working closely with master printer Auguste Clot. They produced posters and print portfolios commissioned by dealers, perhaps most importantly gallerist Ambroise Vollard. 

Toulouse-Lautrec turned his energies to the art of the poster, creating highly reductive yet incisive scenes of city life. These large-scale, eye-catching, brilliant creations were short-lived advertisements pasted along the streets of Paris. Passers-by (potential consumers) were inevitably seduced by exciting caricature-like portrayals of the bohemian venues they advertised: the café- concerts of Montmartre or the famed performers who headlined there, including La Goulue (the glutton) and Jane Avril. The lively, often unconventional existence celebrated in these prints and posters came to define fin-de-siècle Paris.

Pierre Bonnard
The Little Laundry Girl (La petite blanchisseuse), 1896 Color lithograph
29.3 x 19.6 cm (11 9/16 x 7 11/16 inches)
Private collection

©Pierre Bonnard, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2017 

Henri-Edmond Cross
The Promenade or The Cypresses (La Promenade or Les cyprès) 1897
Color lithograph
image: 28.3 x 41 cm (11 1/8 x 16 1/8 inches)

sheet: 43 x 56.8 cm (16 15/16 x 22 3/8 inches) Private collection

Maurice Denis
April (The Anemones) (Avril [Les anémones]), 1891 Oil on canvas
65 x 78 cm (25 9/16 x 30 11/16 inches)
Private collection

©Maurice Denis, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2017

Camille Pissarro
The Delafolie Brickyard at Éragny (La Briqueterie Delafolie à Éragny), 1886-88
Oil on canvas
58 x 72 cm (22 13/16 x 28 3/8 inches)

Private collection

Achille Laugé
The Flowering Tree (L'arbre en fleur), 1893 Oil on canvas
59.4 x 49.2 cm (23 3/8 x 19 3/8 inches) Private collection

©Achille Laugé, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2017

Maximilien Luce
View of London (Cannon Street) (Vue de Londres [Cannon Street]) 1893
Oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm (25 9/16 x 31 7/8 inches)

Private collection
©Maximilien Luce, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2017

Paul Signac
Saint-Tropez, Fontaine des Lices, 1895 Oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm (25 9/16 x 31 7/8 inches) Private collection

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen
The Very Illustrious Company of the Chat Noir (La très illustre Compagnie du Chat Noir), 1896
62 x 39.5 cm (24 7/16 x 15 9/16 inches)

Private collection

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Jane Avril, 1899
Color lithograph
55.5 x 37.9 cm (21 7/8 x 14 15/16 inches) Private collection

Paul Ranson
The Young Girl and Death (La jeune fille et la mort), 1894 Graphite and charcoal on paper
55.2 x 33 cm (21
3⁄4 x 13 inches)
Private collection

Odilon Redon
Pegasus (Pégase), Ca. 1895-1900 Pastel on paper
67.4 x 48.7 cm (2 9/16 x 19 3/16 inches) Private collection

Théo Van Rysselberghe
Kalf Mill in Knokke or Windmill in Flanders (Le Moulin du Kalf à Knokke or Moulin en Flandre]), 1894
Oil on canvas
80 x 70 cm (31 1/2 x 27 9/16 inches)

Private collection

Félix Valloton
The Stranger (L ́étranger), 1894 Woodcut on paper
22.4 x 17.9 cm (8 13/16 x 7 1/16 inches) Private collection

Georges Seurat
Caretaker (Concierge), 1884 conté crayon on paper
32.3 x 24.5 cm,
Private collection 

Édouard Vuillard
Bécane, 1894
color lithograph
80 x 60.5 cm
Private collection
©Édouard Vuillard, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2017

Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 13, 2017, through February 12, 2018

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, Caprese 1475-1564 Rome.  Archers Shooting at a Herm, 1530-33.  Drawing, red chalk.  ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST / © HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2017,
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, Caprese 1475-1564 Rome. Archers Shooting at a Herm, 1530-33. Drawing, red chalk. ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST / © HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2017,
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, Caprese 1475-1564 Rome.  Unfinished cartoon for a Madonna and Child, 1525-30.  Black and red chalk, white gouache, brush and brown wash.  Casa Buonarroti, Florence.
    Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, Caprese 1475-1564 Rome. Unfinished cartoon for a Madonna and Child, 1525-30. Black and red chalk, white gouache, brush and brown wash. Casa Buonarroti, Florence.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), a towering genius in the history of Western art, will be the subject of a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art this fall.

During his long life, Michelangelo was celebrated for the excellence of his disegno, the power of drawing and invention that provided the foundation for all the arts. For his mastery of drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture, he was called Il Divino ("the divine one") by his contemporaries. His powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity transported viewers and imbued all of his works with a staggering force that continues to enthrall us today.

On view at The Met from November 13, 2017, through February 12, 2018, Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer will present a stunning range and number of works by the artist: approximately 150 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, as well as a substantial body of complementary works by other artists for comparison and context. Among the extraordinary international loans are the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de'Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace. Selected from 54 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, the exhibition will examine Michelangelo's rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, Caprese 1475-1564 Rome. Portrait of Andrea Quaratesi, 1532. Drawing, black chalk. The British Museum, London.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue written by Carmen C. Bambach that will include essays by a team of leading Michelangelo scholars. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

Carmen C. Bambach delivers a thorough and engaging narrative of the artist’s long career, beginning with his training under Ghirlandaio and Bertoldo and ending with his 17-year appointment as chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

In each thematic chapter, related drawings and other works are illustrated and discussed together, many for the first time, to provide new insights into Michelangelo’s creative process.  In addition to St. Peter’s, other featured projects include the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Tomb of Pope Julius II, and the architecture of the Campidoglio in Rome.  Michelangelo’s theories of art are also explored, and new consideration is given to his personal life and affections and their effect on his creative output.  Magnificent in every way, this book will be the foremost publication about this remarkable artist for many years.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sotheby’s Latin America: Modern Art 25 May

  Sotheby’s announced their Evening Sales of Latin America: Modern Art and Latin America: Contemporary Art on 25 May in New York. Leading the Modern Art auction are Rufino Tamayo’s iconic The Bird Charmer (Encantador de pájaros) (estimate $3/5 million) and Diego Rivera’s arresting masterpiece, Retrato de la Actriz Matilde Palou (estimate $2/3 million). Both works appear in the market during a time of renewed interest in Mexican Modernism, with recent exhibitions at both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Dallas Museum of Art in the US, the Grand Palais in Paris, and at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Further highlights include an outstanding Surrealist sequence, topped by Remedios Varo’s The Troubadour (El Trovador) (estimate $1/1.5 million), Wifredo Lam’s Portrait de Madame Nena Azpiazu (estimate $400/600,000) and Leonora Carrington’s Untitled (The White Goddess) (estimate $700/900,000). Exceptional modern sculptures on offer this May include Agustín Cárdenas’s Dogon (estimate $125/175,000) and several works by Fernando Botero, including the monumental Donna Seduta (estimate $700/900,000).

Masterworks of 20th century abstraction lead the Evening Sale of Latin American Contemporary Art, with Gego’s 1969 masterpiece Columna Reticulárea (estimate $1/1.5 million), Joaquín Torres-García’s elegant and recently re-discovered Sin Título (estimate $200/250,000), and Jesús Rafael Soto’s Construcción en Blanco (estimate $500/700,000) rounding out the sale’s compelling narrative of kinetic works. Additionally, in a sign of the growing prominence of Latin American artists on the global stage, Sotheby’s marquee Contemporary Art Evening Sale includes works by Brazilian artists Sergio Camargo and Mira Schendel.

A champion of modernism, Rufino Tamayo’s fervent apolitical approach to his work is among the artist’s defining attributes. Unlike his contemporaries, Tamayo shirked political activism and moved to New York at the peak of the Mexican Muralist Movement, knowing that his unpopular opinion would stifle his artistic progression in his homeland.

New York afforded Tamayo the artistic freedom to create some of his most iconic works, including The Bird Charmer (1945). The painting was exhibited during the artist’s fourth individual show at the famed Valentine Gallery in 1946, where it was acquired by distinguished collectors, John and Dominique de Menil. The title suggests Tamayo’s optimism following the War years, which is magnified by the subject joyfully playing an instrument, as birds fly in undefined infinity above.

In stark contrast to Tamayo’s apolitical work, Diego Rivera’s Retrato de la Actriz Matilde Palou is an emblematic representation of the artist’s steadfast “Mexicanidad”. Regarded as a one of Rivera’s finest portraits to have appeared at auction, the monumental work depicts the Mexican Golden Age film star in a relaxed pose, dressed in an elaborate costume flush with unmistakable Mexican symbolism. The portrait last appeared at auction in 1988 at Sotheby’s, and was exhibited for the first time in nearly 30 years this March at Sotheby’s Los Angeles.

Rivera’s striking portrait captures the young starlet at the height of her fame, painted in the same year as the release of her most celebrated film, Luis Buñuel’s Susana. Her relaxed pose and undulating form exemplify Rivera’s use of a manneristic style in his late portraits to lend a languid, glamorous air to the sitter. The artist imagines Palou in an elaborate Mexican costume; the tiers of her dress are emblazoned with the nation’s flag and coat of arms, while Aztec-inspired jewelry adorns her ears, wrists and left hand—all aesthetic affirmations of proud ‘mexicanidad’. Standing at 80 x 48 1/8 inches, the work is an arresting and confrontational example of Rivera’s masterful skill, and a beguiling celebration of Mexican identity.

The sale’s Surrealist sequence is led by The Troubadour (El Trovador), a canonical example of Remedios Varo’s complex visual lexicon. Executed in 1959, the work is a poetic display of Varo’s remarkable creativity and the matrix of influences that serve as the foundation and iconography for her paintings, such as medieval history, Greek mythology, scientific reason, music and nature. In the present work, Varo situates a troubadour within a siren-esque boat surrounded by a striking dense forest and swarming birds—echoing the epic length of the Orinoco River, one of the largest river systems in the world, and its rich wildlife.

The work, filled with the awe and mysteries of the natural world, comes to Sotheby’s from The Estate of Henry Willard Lende, Jr. As an engineer, philanthropist and land steward, Mr. Lende found endless fascination in the natural world — a life-long passion made manifest in his enduring legacy: the 644-acre natural habitat laboratory known as the Cibolo Preserve.

Located just east of Boerne in Kendall County, Texas, the Cibolo Preserve is a unique cross-section of history and nature dedicated to research and education. Celebrated for its extraordinary natural beauty, among various other traits, the Preserve is an active area of study for scientists from the University of Texas at San Antonio, along with other respected institutions. The sale of The Troubadour serves to ensure the continuity of the Cibolo Preserve and maintain Mr. Lende’s promise to this remarkable landscape.

Painted in 1941, Wifredo Lam’s Portrait de Madame Nena Azpiazu emerged as the artist returned to his native Cuba, after 18 years abroad. His homecoming would mark one of the most prodigious turning points in his career as he rediscovered and reclaimed his Afro-Cuban identity and roots. The sale comes just months after the critically acclaimed exhibition of Lam’s work at Tate Modern.

Maria Luisa (Nena) Azpiazu, who frequented social circles of cultural giants such as Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, and Ernest Hemingway, commissioned the work from Lam in 1941, after which it remained in her collection for 50 years.

Leonora Carrington’s Untitled (The White Goddess) is an exemplary work showcasing the complexity of the artist’s unique visual vocabulary informed by her Celtic heritage. Executed circa 1958 in Mexico, the painting is situated within a pivotal period of productivity for Carrington and depicts a white spiritual figure wading in a spring, surrounded by a troupe of animals within a forest setting. Carrington’s polytheistic worldview is fully conceived in this magical realm, exploring the morphing of reality with centuries-old fairytales and folklore. In true Surrealist fashion, Carrington denies the viewer vital clues on the work’s meaning, instead leaving subtle suggestions and hints.

Seraphim (White, Yellow, and Green), Claudio Bravo’s exquisite oil on canvas, unveils the artist's life-long devotion to mundane materials capable of transforming their shapes through human manipulation. Painted in 1999, the present work exemplifies Bravo’s technical mastery of trompe-l'oeil effects and exudes a marvelous virtuosity unmatched in twentieth-century Latin American paintings.

Sotheby’s American Art 23 May

Oscar Bluemner, Violet Tones, signed Florianus (lower right); also signed, titled, dated and inscribed 28 1/2 x 38 1/2 Tempera - Varnish Painting/on Paper/1934 Record #370/"Violet Tones"/Oscar F. Bluemner/102 Plain St. S. Braintree/Mass on the reverse, casein on Fabriano paper mounted on board by the artist, 28 ½ by 38 ½ inches (72.4 by 97.8 cm). Estimate $2/3 million. Photo: Sotheby's.


Two Plumbers from 1951 is Norman Rockwell at his best. Created at the height of his career, the painting brilliantly demonstrates the artist’s talent for depicting everyday life with a dose of humor. To produce the current work, Rockwell employed two of his studio assistants – Don Winslow and Gene Pelham – as models, posing them in front of a dresser owned by his wife, Mary. By combining real-life models, who were often friends and neighbors of the artist, and photography, Rockwell was able to meticulously account for each and every detail, which is in part what brings his paintings to life. In his own words: “Now my pictures grew out of the world around me, the everyday life of my neighbors. I don’t fake it anymore”. Sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1996, and having remained in the same private collection since, Two Plumbers returns to the market this season with a pre-sale estimate of $5/7 million.


John Alfred Parsons Millet is an exceptional example of John Singer Sargent’s celebrated portraiture, which earned him international renown by the 1880s (estimate $2.5/3.5 million). Depicting his godson, a member of the Millet family, who were patrons of the artist, the painting was a gift from the artist to the sitter’s mother, and is inscribed to my friend Mrs. Millet. Included widely in major exhibitions, including in London, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Tokyo, the work has been off the market since 1980.


Acquired by the present owner in 1971, Church by the Barrens, Indian Harbor, Maine is a bold example from Marsden Hartley’s mature period, during which the landscape and people of the artist’s home state of Maine became the primary focus of his work (estimate $800,000/1.2 million). Here he captures the splendid effects of the Maine sunset, imparting an undeniably romantic view of his home and revealing the deep inspiration he gleaned from it. This important period of Hartley’s career is also the focus of the exhibition Marsden Hartley’s Maine, currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Hart Benton based Across the Curve of the Road on a sketch he executed during a trip he took through the South in 1938 to immerse himself in the culture of rural America. Belonging to a distinguished Southern collection – along with nine other works in the sale including strong examples by Andrew Wyeth and Charles Ephraim Burchfield – Across the Curve of the Road, expresses the clear dynamism with which Benton captured the unique yet familiar quality of the southern landscape (estimate $1/1.5 million).

Oscar Bluemner, Violet Tones, signed Florianus (lower right); also signed, titled, dated and inscribed 28 1/2 x 38 1/2 Tempera - Varnish Painting/on Paper/1934 Record #370/"Violet Tones"/Oscar F. Bluemner/102 Plain St. S. Braintree/Mass on the reverse, casein on Fabriano paper mounted on board by the artist, 28 ½ by 38 ½ inches (72.4 by 97.8 cm). Estimate $2/3 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

Violet Tones is a rare work by Oscar Bluemner from the 1934 (estimate $2/3 million). A dynamic interpretation of a darkened street in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Violet Tones highlights Bluemner’s command of color and form. His meticulous arrangement of hues, rooted in color theory, and subtle repetition of forms bring forth tremendous visual impact. Violet Tones was included in an important exhibition of Bluemner’s work organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art from 2005 to 2006.


Georgia O’Keeffe was inspired by imagery of the American Southwest for much of her career. Painted in 1941, Turkey Feathers and Indian Pot demonstrates the appeal that the indigenous culture of the region held for the artist, in addition to its stark and expansive landscape (estimate $1/1.5 million). O’Keeffe’s disregard for traditional scale and spatial depth here results in a modern interpretation of still-life, and displays the synthesis of realism and abstraction that has become her signature aesthetic.

New Mexico also served as a point of inspiration for Marsden Hartley, who once wrote that New Mexico is “the perfect place to regain one’s body and soul”. Landscape, New Mexico is one of his most dramatic depictions of the region (estimate $800,000/1.2 million). This 1923 work belongs to Hartley’s deeply significant New Mexico Recollections series, a group of approximately two dozen works painted in Berlin that embodies the artist’s respect for and embrace of the American landscape as subject matter.


Six months after establishing an auction record for the artist with Gray Day, Sotheby’s presents its highly important pendant, Blue Day, Greenland (estimate $400/600,000). Painted during the artist’s third and final trip to Greenland, Blue Day, Greenland was illustrated on the cover of Kent’s autobiography – a statement of its importance within the artist’s oeuvre. Exhibited widely across the United States, and in Russia, the painting has been held in a private collection since its purchase at Sotheby’s in 2003.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Genius of Martin Johnson Heade

Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia 
June 3 through September 10, 2017

Dramatic landscapes, exotic subjects and vibrant colors all characterize the work of the once forgotten artist Martin Johnson Heade. Now recognized as one of the most important American painters of the 19th century, Heade devoted equal time to landscape, marine and still-life subjects, but is best known for his studies of tropical birds and flowers.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will present the exhibition “The Genius of Martin Johnson Heade” from June 3 through September 10, 2017. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the exhibition shows Heade’s creative range of work, from an early folk portrait to a late magnolia still life. The Georgia Museum of Art does not have any works by Heade in its permanent collection.

Born in 1819 in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, Heade first studied art with the folk artist Edward Hicks. From his rural beginnings, in a town where his family ran the general store, he traveled to Rome, Chicago, New York City, Brazil, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Colombia and Panama. His close friend, the artist Frederick Edwin Church, inspired his trips to South and Central America, but

Martin Johnson Heade, Orchids and Hummingbird, 1875-83.  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M.  and M.  Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865.
Martin Johnson Heade, Orchids and Hummingbird, 1875-83. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865.

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Passion Flowers and Hummingbirds
about 1870–83
Oil on canvas
39.37 x 54.93 cm (15 1/2 x 21 5/8 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower left: M J Heade

Heade’s close-up views of tropical flora and fauna differed from Church’s dramatic landscapes painted there.

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Approaching Storm: Beach near Newport
about 1861–62
Oil on canvas

Inscriptions: Lower left: M. J. Heade 186[?]
71.12 x 148.27 cm (28 x 58 3/8 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

When Heade painted landscapes, he often focused on New England’s salt marshes and seascapes.

Late in his life, he wrote, of his travels south, “A few years after my first appearance in this breathtaking world [1863], I was attacked by the all-absorbing hummingbird craze, and it has never left me since.” His goal was to document the birds in an illustrated publication, much like John James Audubon’s “Birds of America,” but he never managed to do so, although he painted more than 40 images for the project.

“This exhibition offers the museum the opportunity to closely examine Heade’s lush use of color and his meticulous attention to detail,” said Sarah Kate Gillespie, the museum’s curator of American art, “from his New England beaches to his South American hummingbirds and orchids.”

She added, “this exhibition also contextualizes Heade’s work amongst that of his contemporaries, allowing us to exhibit important artists we don’t have represented in our permanent collection, such as Asher B. Durand and Fitz Henry Lane. The conversations among these works and artists highlight Heade’s skill and accomplishment.”

Unlike many of these contemporaries, Heade was marginalized by the New York art world. For example, he was never offered membership in the National Academy of Design.

Washington Allston (American, 1779–1843) Rising of a Thunderstorm at Sea
Oil on canvas
97.15 x 129.54 cm (38 1/4 x 51 in.)
Everett Fund 

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Oil on canvas
31.11 x 61.59 cm (12 1/4 x 24 1/4 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower right: M. J. Heade-62 

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Salt Marshes,
about 1866–76
Oil on canvas
39.37 x 76.83 cm (15 1/2 x 30 1/4 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower left: M.J. Heade

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
South American River
Oil on canvas
66.04 x 57.47 cm (26 x 22 5/8 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower left: M J Heade 68. 

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Sunset on Long Beach
about 1867
Oil on canvas
25.72 x 55.88 cm (10 1/8 x 22 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower right: M J Heade

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Magnolia Grandiflora
about 1885–95
Oil on canvas
38.42 x 61.28 cm (15 1/8 x 24 1/8 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower left center: M.J. Heade

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)
Oil on canvas
30.48 x 45.72 cm (12 x 18 in.)
Gift of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Center left: F. Church/58

Albert Bierstadt (American (born in Germany), 1830–1902)
Lake Tahoe, California
Oil on canvas
55.56 x 76.2 cm (21 7/8 x 30 in.)
Gift of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower left: ABierstadt/67 [AB in monogram]

Fitz Henry Lane (American, 1804–1865)
Fresh Water Cove from Dolliver's Neck, Gloucester
early 1850s
Gloucester, Massachusetts, America
Oil on canvas
61.28 x 91.76 cm (24 1/8 x 36 1/8 in.)
Bequest of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
The Stranded Boat
Oil on canvas
58.1 x 93.66 cm (22 7/8 x 36 7/8 in.)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865

Inscriptions: Lower right: M J. Heade/1863
14. 64.430

Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)  
Lake George
Oil on canvas
66.04 x 125.41 cm (26 x 49 3/8 in.)
Bequest of Maxim Karolik

Inscriptions: Lower right: M J Heade/62.