Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction


Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts 
September 21, 2019–January 6, 2020

Bringing together nearly seventy works spanning the entirety of the artist’s career, this exhibition presents a fresh and eye-opening examination of Hans Hofmann’s prolific and innovative artistic practice. Featuring paintings and works on paper from 1930 through the end of Hofmann’s life in 1966, the exhibition includes numerous masterworks from BAMPFA’s distinguished collection as well as many seldom-seen works from both public and private collections across North America and Europe. The Nature of Abstraction provides new insight into Hofmann’s continuously experimental approach to painting and the expressive potential of color, form, and space, reconnecting many of the artist’s most iconic late-career paintings with dozens of remarkably robust, prescient, and understudied works from the 1930s and 1940s.
Hofmann was a multi-generational synthesis of student, artist, and teacher/mentor, whose singular artistic development and achievement manifested as a unique amalgamation of artistic influences and innovations that bridged two world wars and pan-Atlantic avant-gardes. Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction offers new audiences the chance to discover this magnificent body of work for the first time, and a fresh opportunity for those already familiar with the artist to experience new revelations across the full arc of his career.
BAMPFA holds the world’s most extensive museum collection of Hofmann’s paintings. In 1963, the German-born, American artist donated to the University of California nearly fifty paintings and a significant cash contribution toward the completion of BAMPFA’s first museum building, which opened in 1970. The artist made this extraordinary gift in recognition of the University’s decisive role in his immigration to America from Germany, allowing him to escape World War II and “start in America as a teacher and artist.”


Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog from UC Press featuring new scholarly perspectives from the exhibition’s curator Lucinda Barnes, Ellen G. Landau, and Michael Schreyach.


  • Painting

    Indian Summer

    Hans Hofmann

    1959
    oil on canvas
    60 1/8 x 72 1/4 in.
    BAMPFA, gift of the artist. Photo: Jonathan Bloom © The Regents of the University of California

  • Painting

    Cataclysm (Homage to Howard Putzel)

    Hans Hofmann

    1945
    oil and casein on board
    51 3/4 x 48 in.
    private collection. Photo courtesy of Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; with permission of the Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Painting

    Goliath

    Hans Hofmann

    1960
    oil on canvas
    84 1/8 x 60 in.
    BAMPFA, gift of Hans Hofmann. Photo: Ben Blackwell © The Regents of the University of California

  • Painting

    Morning Mist

    Hans Hofmann

    1958
    oil on canvas
    55 1/8 x 40 3/8 in.
    BAMPFA, bequest of the artist. Photo: Ben Blackwell © The Regents of the University of California

  • Painting

    Sparks

    Hans Hofmann

    1957
    oil on canvas
    60 x 48 in.
    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, bequest of Caroline Wiess Law; with permission of the Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • Painting

    Atelier (Still Life, Table with White Vase)

    Hans Hofmann

    1938
    oil on panel
    60 x 48 1/2 in.
    Collection of Mrs. James A. Fisher, Pittsburgh. Photo: Tom Little Photography; with permission of the Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    In this untitled 1942 work, Hans Hofmann combines the influence of Cézanne with Fauvism. Photo: Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society, Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society

    Hans Hofmann’s “Exaltment” is a 1947 work that shows him trying out surrealism. Photo: Addison Gallery of American Art / Phillips Academy / Art Resource, NY, Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society

    “The Wind” is a 1942 work by Hans Hofmann, made by dripping paint directly on the canvas. Photo: Ben Blackwell, University of California
    Hans Hofmann, “Auxerre” (1960) Photo: Christie, Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust / Artists Rights Society

    Hans Hofmann, “The Vanquished” (1959) Photo: Jonathan Bloom, University of California
    Hans Hofmann, “In the Wake of the Hurricane” (1960) Photo: Jonathan Bloom, University of California

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Christie’s Latin American Art November Sales NOVEMBER 20, 21


Christie’s announces the fall season of Latin American Art with the live auction taking place November 20 and 21 and an online auction running November 16-26. As the only major auction house with dedicated sales in the category, this season offers a comprehensive selection from 17th and 18th-century Spanish colonial painting through modern and contemporary masterpieces. Together the sales expect to realize in excess of $25 million. Featured are works from private collections including The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation, The Collection of Dr. Helga Prignitz-Poda, The Collection of Richard L. Weisman, and Divine Splendor: Spanish Colonial Art from The Collection of James Li. Works from the live and online auctions will be on view November 16-20 at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza.

Image result for Frida Kahlo The Flower Basket


  FRIDA KAHLO (1907-1954), The Flower Basket, oil on copper, 25 in. (64.1 cm.) copper plate, 31 in. (80 cm.) framed, diameter, Painted in 1941. Estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000; 
Leading the sale are two stunning works by Frida Kahlo including The Flower Basket (estimate: $3 – 5 million) from The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection. Painted in 1941, this tondo, or circular-shaped painting on copper, is one of two such still lifes painted by Kahlo in the same year. The pendant work hangs in the Casa Azul, the artist’s museum in Mexico City. First acquired from Kahlo by actress Paulette Goddard — a friend of both the artist and her husband painter Diego Rivera — The Flower Basket has since been privately held and lent for exhibitions on only very limited occasions. This exuberant and colorful painting celebrates Kahlo’s love of nature as well as a particularly happy moment of her life, as she and Rivera had just remarried after a brief divorce.

Image result for Frida Kahlo’s Portrait of a Lady in White

FRIDA KAHLO (1907-1954), Portrait of a Lady in White, oil on canvas, 46 x 32 in. (118.1 x 81.3 cm.), Painted circa 1929. Estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000
Rare and never-before offered at auction, Frida Kahlo’s Portrait of a Lady in White (estimate: $3 – 5 million) from The Collection of Dr. Helga Prignitz-Poda, is an outstanding oil on canvas painted around the time of the artist’s marriage to Rivera in 1929. Always held in private collections, this alluring portrait was initially gifted by Kahlo to the esteemed Mexican photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo. It has generally been accepted that the sitter in this elegant portrait was Dorothy Brown Fox, an American friend of the artist. However, recent research suggests that this enigmatic woman may be Elena Boder, a Russian émigré, influential doctor, and high school friend of Kahlo’s.

Christie’s is also honored to offer Property From The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation, featuring works by the widely-revered Mexican master Francisco Toledo.

 Image result for Francisco Toledo. A standout is El elefante

A standout is El elefante (estimate: $800,000 – 1,200,000), an exceptional painting that showcases the artist’s tremendous skill and unique vision. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the late philanthropist’s eponymous foundation and The Harlem Children's Zone.

 Image result for Fernando Botero’s Tablao flamenco

Fernando Botero (B. 1932), Tablao flamenco, oil on canvas, 79 x 79 in. (201.3 x 202.6 cm.), Painted in 1984. Estimate: $1,500,000-2,000,000; The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection,

Another highlight of the sale is Fernando Botero’s Tablao flamenco (estimate: $1.5 – 2 million). Executed in 1984, this work is one of the most important paintings by the artist to come to auction in recent years. Complementing this piece is a robust selection of works by the Colombian master that includes paintings, drawings and exquisite sculptures ranging from tabletop to large-scale.


Additional highlights include and early 1925 composition by Rufino Tamayo, The Family (estimate: $600,000-800,000), Tomás Sánchez’s haunting Orilla con meditador oculto (estimate: $200,000 – 300,000), and an iconic façade painting by Brazilian artist, Alfredo Volpi, Untitled (Fachada) (estimate: $350,000 – 450,000).

Freeman’s American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists auction December 8


On December 8, Freeman’s will hold its highly anticipated biannual American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists auction. As ever, the sale will feature works by distinguished American artists including illustrators N.C. Wyethand Norman Rockwell, Hudson River School painters Jasper Cropsey and Louis Rémy Mignot, as well as Philadelphians Mary Cassattand William Glackens. Also on offer will be works by famed Pennsylvania Impressionists Daniel Garber, Fern Coppedge and Edward Redfield.

Sale Highlights



An undeniable frontrunner of the auction will be N.C. Wyeth’s Rebel Jerry and Yankee Jake,(Lot 62; $200,000-300,000) a 1931 oil depicting a ferocious knife fight between two twin brothers. The painting served as an illustration for John Fox, Jr.’s The Little Shepherd from Kingdom Come, a best-selling novel published by the renowned publishing company Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1903. Set in the vast Kentucky mountains during the American Civil War, the oil captures the highly anticipated fight between the Dillon brothers, who grew estranged as one embraced the Union’s side, and the other chose to remain a Rebel and fight alongside the South.



Another notable highlight from the Pennsylvania Impressionists section of the sale is Daniel Garber’s By the River(Lot 138; $200,000-300,000), a dazzling view of the Delaware River executed in 1929. Long unrecorded, the work resurfaces from a collection in Arkansas with a prestigious provenance. It represents a pivotal work for the artist and an importantstylistic change in Garber’s career, marked by a new level of sophistication in his use of color and light, and by a bold taste for highly structured compositions.

Among the many 19th century pieces on offer, the sale will also showcase a sizable section of Modern works from the mid-20thcentury, including a surrealist scene



by Peter Blume (Lot 87; $60,000-100,000), and a portrait of Mercedes Matter by Hans Hoffman, which the artist executed in Gloucester in 1934(Lot 83; $50,000-80,000).

Of particular note amongst several works by Romare Bearden is New York Scenes, a series of 23 watercolors depicting various views of New York City, completed in 1979 for John Cassavetes’ film Gloria.

Other highlights include an imposing view of a sailor by



John George Brown(Lot 24; $15,000-25,000),

 

a quintessential beach scene by Edward Henry Potthast(Lot 45, $30,000-50,000),

 
two exceptional watercolors by Charles Demuth, Cyclamen(Lot 73; $60,000-100,000)

 

 and Zinnias(Lot 74; $60,000-80,000), both from the prominent collection of Philip A. Bruno.

In addition, the sale will feature an oil study for a painting by

 

William Glackens entitled Nude Drying Hair(Lot 33; $15,000-25,000).

Sotheby’s American Art auction 19 November 2019


This season’s American Art auction features two important works by Milton Avery from the collection, led by

 Image result for Milton Avery Porch Sitters

Porch Sitters from 1952 (estimate $2/3 million). Belonging to a remarkably innovative period in Avery’s career, the work depicts Avery’s daughter, March, reading alongside a female companion, likely painted in Woodstock, New York, where the Avery family often spent the summers. Porch Sitters exemplifies the evolution in treatment of color that Avery’s work underwent in the early 1950s, and illustrates the artist’s innovative experiments with the expressive power of color.

 Image result for Milton Avery's Young Musician

The collection also offers Milton Avery's Young Musician from 1945, painted when the artist’s mature style had fully emerged (estimate $1.2/1.8 million). Many scholars attribute the Avery’s stylistic developments during this period to his new affiliation with Paul Rosenberg's gallery, as the artist was exposed to the work of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, who Rosenberg also represented. In Young Musician, Avery presents the traditional subject of a female figure in repose, accompanied by a mandolin, a guitar and sheet music. In both the subject matter and treatment of his forms, Avery’s admiration for Picasso is fully displayed.

FREDERIC EDWIN CHURCH | SOUTH AMERICAN LANDSCAPE

Frederic Edwin Church’s South American Landscape is an important example of his renowned images of the dramatic Ecuadorian countryside (estimate $1.5/2.5 million). Departing from New York City in 1853, Church and fellow landscape painter Cyrus West Field embarked on two trips to Ecuador in 1853 and in 1857 as part of Church’s sweeping exploration of South America. Church was particularly enthralled by the active volcanoes that protruded from the landscape. The present work depicts the momentous Cotopaxi volcano. Soaring 20,000 feet above sea level, Cotopaxi is the highest peak to mark the Andes mountains, and was a geological phenomenon in the 19th century. Here, Church incorporates elements of expansive mountain terrain, lush vegetation and rising palms in order to construct the ideal landscape.

 Image result for Jamie Wyeth’s Andy Warhol Sitting with Archie (No.9)
 
Executed in 1976, Jamie Wyeth’s Andy Warhol Sitting with Archie (No.9) depicts the iconic American artist and his dog, Archie (estimate $60/80,000). According to art historian David Houston, while Wyeth was working in New York in the 1970s – the epicenter of art, fashion and high society – the artist was introduced to Warhol by photographer and socialite Peter Beard. In 1976, Warhol and Wyeth painted each other's portraits, an arrangement facilitated by Wyeth's friendship with American writer and cultural figure Lincoln Kirstein. Over the next four years, Wyeth enjoyed two extended residencies at the Factory, participated in four exhibitions, and shared an exhibition catalogue with Andy Warhol. This portrait will appear at auction for the first time in over three decades, having remained in the same private collection since 1980.


Image result for N.C. Wyeth is led by Ogier and Morgana

A selection of works by N.C. Wyeth is led by Ogier and Morgana from 1924 (estimate $400/600,000). Appearing at auction for the first time, the work was originally gifted by the artist to longtime general motors employee William Lewis after he visited Wyeth’s studio in 1926; it has descended through the Lewis family ever since. The painting belongs to a series of 11 works Wyeth created as illustrations for the 1924 edition of Thomas Bulfinch’s Legends of Charlemagne, including the present work. First published in 1863, Legends of Charlemagne recounts the tales and folklore that became associated with Charlemagne, who ruled Europe during the 8th century. Epitomizing Wyeth’s distinct romantic aesthetic, the present work illustrates the story of Ogier the Dane, a legendary knight of Charlemagne's court, and Morgana le Fay, a powerful enchantress who, according to Arthurian legend, served as King Arthur’s magical savior and protector.

Image result for Maxfield Parrish are highlighted by Mill Pond

Works by Maxfield Parrish are highlighted by Mill Pond from 1945, which ranks among the most recognizable paintings of the artist’s career (estimate $600/800,000). In 1931, at the height of his popularity in America, Parrish issued a statement to the Associated Press announcing his decision to abandon the figurative work that had made him a household name. Four years later in 1935, he signed a contract with Brown & Bigelow to provide illustrations for the company’s popular line of calendars, greeting cards, and playing cards. Of the nearly 100 landscapes that Parrish produced for Brown & Bigelow, Mill Pond was the artist’s most successful.

Georgia O’keeffe’s Anthurium





Georgia O’Keeffe, Anthurium, 1923.  Courtesy Sotheby’s.
 
Throughout her career, Georgia O’Keeffe chose physical objects from nature – trees, flowers, leaves, animal bones, mountains – as subject matter for her work. Painted in 1923, Anthurium not only illustrates her deep admiration of the natural world, but also reveals her intent to distill abstract patterns from these organic sources (estimate $1.5/2.5 million). Reflecting the formal vocabulary O’Keeffe developed as an avant-garde American artist in the early decades of the 20th century, Anthurium masterfully exemplifies the deeply personal synthesis of realism and abstraction that pervades the entirety of her celebrated oeuvre.

Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art November 11

Complete results

Prices realized:

Image result for René Magritte, Le Seize Septembre, $19,570,000
 
René Magritte, Le Seize Septembre, $19,570,000

Image result for Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, $16,165,000

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, $16,165,000

Image result for Pablo Picasso, Femme dans un fauteuil (Françoise), $13,327,500

Pablo Picasso, Femme dans un fauteuil (Françoise), $13,327,500

Image result for Camille Pissarro, Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps, $10,263,000


Camille Pissarro, Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps, $10,263,000

 Image result for Lot 19 A | Property from a Private European Collection Fernand Léger (1881-1955) La femme et l’enfant
Fernand Léger’s La femme et l’enfant, 1921 Not Sold
On November 11, Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art included Fernand Léger’s La femme et l’enfant, 1921 ($8-12 million), which will mark the painting’s first time at auction. La femme et l’enfant is a key work in the series of female figure paintings that Fernand Léger created in early 1921, a strategic campaign that culminated by the end of that year in a pair of masterworks: Le petit déjeuner (formerly in the collection of Burton and Emily Hall Tremaine, sold at Christie's New York, November 5, 1991) and Le grand déjeuner (The Museum of Modern Art, New York). The paintings of one and several characters from 1921 signaled a turning point in the evolution of Léger's work in the years following the end of the First World War. The woman and child presented here, is the largest of the two paintings depicting a mother and young child and bears the designation of the artist “Définitif” on the back.

By 1920, in a reaction to the trauma of the war years, a palliative conservatism had settled on the arts, le rappel à l’ordre—“the call to order.” This revival of the classical, humanist values that had historically informed the Gallic tradition lent a new, retrospective demeanor to the erstwhile, stridently transgressive character of the Paris avant-garde. A return to coherent figuration was fundamental to this endeavor. The Louvre and other museums were taking their master paintings, medieval art, and antiquities out of protective wartime storage and placing them back on view. Renewed exposure to these riches fostered in Léger a more compelling awareness of artistic tradition.
Léger maintained that conventional genre subjects, such as the mother and child, remained viable in a modernist context provided that such content was drawn from contemporary life. In this way he could utilize, transform, and revitalize virtually any pictorial convention he chose to feature, and imbue it with currency and relevance.

In the present La femme et l’enfant, Léger highlighted the fundamental human relationship of a woman caring for her offspring. This theme held special resonance for viewers at that time. An ovular-shaped plant in the background symbolizes reproductive fertility. The woman is attired in tricolor blue, white, and red—she is emblematic of La France. The child, especially if male, had become a key to future national prosperity. The French suffered 1.4 million military casualties during the war; at the signing of the armistice, 40 percent fewer men were available for unmarried women than before the war. The birth rate had dropped to one-third of what it was in 1870.

By 1920, however, veterans had begun to marry; women readily turned to men younger than themselves and would even cross conventional class lines. The birth rate in France soon surpassed pre-war levels. The dynamic, changing panorama of life in contemporary France, from social demographics to economic progress, indeed attested to “an epoch of contrasts,” as Léger proclaimed.

Bonhams American Art sale Tuesday, November 19


A selection of significant modernist works deaccessioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York and sold to benefit the acquisitions fund, will lead Bonhams American Art sale in New York on Tuesday, November 19. 

Highlights from The Museum of Modern Art include Birch Grove, Autumn by Marsden Hartley, estimated at $300,000-500,000, and Ordnance Island, Bermuda by Niles Spencer, estimated at $150,000-250,000. 

Additional highlights in the sale span the 19th and 20th century genres of American Art, including works by John Frederick Kensett, William Glackens, Albert Bierstadt, James Buttersworth, and James Bard. 


Marsden Hartley’s (1877-1943) revolutionary vision and painting techniques led him to become one of the most pioneering figures of the American Modernist movement.



Birch Grove, Autumn by Marsden Hartley. Estimate: $300,000-500,000. Photo: Bonhams.


Painted in 1910—a breakthrough year for Hartley– Birch Grove, Autumn  is part of a small series of works that included arguably some of the most modern and abstract compositions to have yet been painted in the United States. The previous year, the photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz had offered Hartley a one-man show and encouraged him to develop in a more radical direction. An encounter with the work of Henry Matisse and other artists who had trained in Paris introduced him to avant-garde techniques. The color and directness in Hartley’s work profoundly changed and in the summer through autumn months of 1910, in his home state of Maine, he painted this small series of intimately-sized landscapes that are stylistically bold and vigorous, including Birch Grove, Autumn.




 John Frederick Kensett, 1816-1872, Sunset in the Adirondacks, oil on canvas, painted in 1859. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Photo: Bonhams.

Additional highlights in the sale include superb 19th century landscapes such as John Frederick Kensett’s Sunset in the Adirondacks, painted in 1859, (estimate: $200,000-300,000) formerly in the collection of the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, and stands in Kensett's oeuvre as one of the artist's largest and most accomplished works on the subject of the Adirondacks;  and

Mount St. Helens, Columbia River, Oregon - Albert Bierstadt


Albert Bierstadt’s Mount St. Helens, Columbia River, Oregon, painted circa 1889, a superb example of Bierstadt's skill as a landscapist (estimate: $250,000-350,000). This work has been requested for the February 8 to May 17, 2020 exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art organized by the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon.




 

Monday, November 11, 2019

The American Art Fair November 16-19


The American Art Fair celebrates its twelfth year from November 16-19, 2019 at Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, New York City. The Fair opens American Art Week in New York. Inaugurated in 2008, The American Art Fair is the now the only one that focuses on American 19th and 20th century works and features more than 400 landscapes, portraits, still lifes, studies, and sculpture exhibited by 17 premier specialists.

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) New England Sea View- Fish House, 1934. Oil on academy board, 18 x 24 inches.
Meredith Ward Fine Art
Frank H. Tompkins (1847–1922) Boston Harbor from Parker Hill Reservoir Embankment, 1910. Oil on Artist Board, 12 x 16 inches. Signed lower left: H.F Tompkins 1910.
Thomas Colville Fine Art
Charles Ethan Porter (1847-1923) Cherries, c. 1885. Oil on canvas, 10 1/2 x 13 inches
Alexandre Gallery
Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) Standing Strong, c. 2008. Bronze. 29 1/2 H x 9 W x 8 D inches. Overall height with base: 32 1/2 inches Inscribed with initials on base: EC
Taylor | Graham
 
The Fair’s exhibitors offer works by an exemplary range of American 19th and 20th century artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Doris Lee, and Jane Peterson; Hudson River School painters Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Robinson Gifford and colleagues; Tonalists such as James Whistler and George Inness; American Impressionists including John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase; Ashcan School painters John Sloan, George Luks, William Glackens and others; and Modernists especially Charles Sheeler, Elie Nadelman, Marsden Hartley, Milton Avery, Ben Shahn, and George L. K. Morris.

Continuing as exhibitors are Alexandre Gallery, Avery Galleries, Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts LLC, D. Wigmore Fine Art, Debra Force Fine Art, Inc., Driscoll Babcock Galleries, , Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., Jonathan Boos, Kraushaar Galleries, Inc., Menconi + Schoelkopf, Meredith Ward Fine Art, Questroyal Fine Art, LLC, Taylor|Graham, Thomas Colville Fine Art, and Vose Galleries. Forum Gallery returns this year, and American Illustrators Gallery is exhibiting at the Fair for the first time.

Forum Gallery was founded in New York in 1961 as a gallery of American figurative art and was a founding member of the Art Dealers Association of America in 1962. Among the first artists represented were Raphael Soyer, Chaim Gross, David Levine and Gregory Gillespie. American Illustrators Gallery, established in New York in 1965, specializes in the “Golden Age” of American Illustration, showing the original work of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and JC Leyendecker among others. Gallery Director Judy Goffman Cutler also co-founded in 1998 the Museum of American Illustration in Newport, RI.
Preston Dickinson (1889-1930) Still Life with Flowers, 1923-24. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches
Forum Gallery
Mary Bradish Titcomb (1858-1927) Morning at Boxwood, c. 1910. Oil on canvas, 36 3/4 x 28 1/4 inches. Signed lower right: M. B. Titcomb
Vose Galleries
The Fair’s Founder Thomas Colville notes: “As The American Art Fair celebrates its twelfth year, we continue to bring collectors, museum professionals, and the most outstanding dealers in the field together for American Art Week in New York. With their vast experience, extensive expertise, reliable reputations, and personalized services, our exhibitors offer their best works of 19th and 20th century American art. Our three floors of exhibitors and four lectures by prominent scholars and curators combine with other events to produce a celebration attracting visitors from all over the country. The three major auction houses’ American art sales have coalesced around the Fair, solidifying November in New York as the destination for American art.”

“We are an antidote to ‘fair fatigue’ ” comments Catherine Sweeney Singer, Fair Director. “Our focus and ‘niche’ in the art market is our strength. For anyone interested in American art, whether a seasoned collector or just curious, the Fair is a great place to learn--that's why we do not charge admission to the Fair or the special lectures. We encourage students, neighbors, and everyone who can reach the Fair (which is one block from the new Q subway line) to visit and make their own discoveries."


Friday, November 8, 2019

MAKING VAN GOGH


From 23 October 2019 to 16 February 2020, the Städel Museum is devoting an extensive exhibition to the painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). It focuses on the creation of the “legend of Van Gogh” around 1900 as well as his significance to modern art in Germany. Featuring 50 of his key works, it is the most comprehensive presentation in Germany to include works by the painter for nearly 20 years.

MAKING VAN GOGH addresses the special role that gallery owners, museums, private collectors and art critics played in Germany in the early twentieth century for the posthumous reception of Van Gogh as the “father of modern art”. Just less than 15 years after his death, in this country Van Gogh was perceived as one of the most important precursor of modern painting. Van Gogh’s life and work attracted broad and lasting public interest. His art was collected in Germany unusually early. By 1914 there was an enormous number of works by Van Gogh, around 150 in total, in private and public German collections. At the same time, German artists began to vigorously examine his works. Van Gogh’s painting became a model and a substantial source of inspiration in particular for the young Expressionists. The emergence of modernism in Germany is hardly conceivable without his art.
Van Gogh’s success story is closely connected with the Städel. With the support of the Städelscher Museums-Verein, in 1908 it was one of the first museums to purchase works by the Dutch artist for assembling a modern art collection: the painting

 File:Vincent van Gogh - Farmhouse in Nuenen - Google Art Project.jpg

Farmhouse in Nuenen (1885)

https://uploads6.wikiart.org/images/vincent-van-gogh/peasant-woman-planting-potatoes-1885.jpg!Large.jpg

and the drawing Peasant Woman Planting Potatoes (1885).

https://www.vincentvangogh.org/images/paintings/portrait-of-dr-gachet.jpg

Three years later, the Portrait of Dr Gachet (1890), one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, was bought for the museum’s collection.

In three comprehensive chapters, the exhibition deals with the development and impact of the “legend of Van Gogh” in Germany. How did it come about that Van Gogh became so popular especially in Germany? Who championed his oeuvre, and how did artists respond to it? The exhibition presents Van Gogh as a pivotal figure for art of the German avant-garde. It makes an important contribution to understand the development of art in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Städel unites more than 120 paintings and works on paper in the exhibition. 50 key works by Vincent van Gogh from all of his creative phases constitute the core of the exhibition. On view are outstanding loans from private collections and leading museums world-wide. 70 works by German artists exemplify Van Gogh’s influence and impact on the subsequent generation. These include works by well-known artists such as Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alexej von Jawlensky, Paula Modersohn-Becker or Gabriele Münter as well as by others whose artistic positions could be rediscovered, including Peter August Böckstiegel, Theo von Brockhusen, Heinrich Nauen or Elsa Tischner-von Durant.

“Whereas today the enthusiasm for Vincent van Gogh may be an almost global phenomenon, more than 100 years ago things still looked very different. Our exhibition throws light on the role that Van Gogh’s reception in early-twentieth-century Germany played in the creation of the “legend of Van Gogh”. Initially, it was primarily thanks to the activities of his sister-in-law Johanna van Gogh-Bonger that the artist did not disappear into oblivion after his early death. However, soon it was especially gallery owners, artists, collectors and museum directors in Germany, many of them of Jewish origin, who became interested in Van Gogh’s painting and ultimately defended it against nationalist tendencies and political instrumentalization”, remarks Philipp Demandt, the director of the Städel Museum.

Sylvia von Metzler, President of the Städelscher Museums-Verein, says about the exhibition: “When the Städelscher Museums-Verein acquired the first works by Vincent van Gogh for the Städel Museum in 1908, this was a courageous and trailblazing decision. Until today both works are still a permanent feature of the museum’s holdings. Without the town’s progressive collector figures, its citizenry and the typical openness with which Frankfurters embraced new artistic currents, the Städel would not have become what it is today. We are delighted that we can now, even more than 100 years later, support this major exhibition devoted to Vincent van Gogh.”

“Shortly after his death, Vincent van Gogh became an ‘artist’s artist’, a benchmark for representatives of his profession. However, the public at large thought his art was outlandish, as it could hardly be gauged according to traditional standards. This changed in the early days of the twentieth century concurrent with the Expressionist movements in Germany. Soon after encountering Van Gogh’s works in publications and exhibitions, artists cultivated a particularly intimate relationship with their idol. They orientated themselves towards his impasto application of colour, rhythmic brushwork, rich colour contrast, bold compositions and motifs, as well as his ornamentally vibrant drawings. At the same time, his personal perception of nature and its anti-academic representation played a crucial role”, explains Alexander Eiling, Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum, and curator of the exhibition.

“German art history of the twentieth century would have proceeded completely differently without Van Gogh. Artists’ groups such as ‘Die Brücke’ or ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ owe their constitutive stimulus to Van Gogh’s paintings. The aim of our exhibition is to reveal these connections and render visible Van Gogh’s pioneering importance for modern art in Germany”, says Felix Krämer, General Director of the Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, and curator of the exhibition.

EXHIBITION TOUR 
 
The tour extends over 2,000 square metres of exhibition space in the Garden Halls of the Städel Museum and is divided into three chapters: Legend, Influence, and Painting Style. The chapters deal with the origin of the legend surrounding Vincent Van Gogh as a person, with his influence on the German community of artists, and finally with his distinct style of painting, which was so fascinating for numerous artists of subsequent generations.

CHAPTER 1: LEGEND 

Van Gogh Exhibitions in Germany before the First World War

 
Ten years after his death, Van Gogh was still unknown in Germany. The first exhibition projects opened in 1901 on the initiative of the Berlin-based art dealer Paul Cassirer. In collaboration with Van Gogh’s sister-in-law and trustee of his estate Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Cassirer organised traveling exhibitions that were presented at venues in Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Munich and Frankfurt, among other cities. The first room of the Städel exhibition presents a selection of outstanding works by Van Gogh that were on display in Germany at that time, including

LArlesienneWithGlovesAndUmbrella.jpg

The Arlésienne (1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris),

Image result for van gogh   Fishing Boats on the Beach at Les SaintesMaries-de-la-Mer (1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam/Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Fishing Boats on the Beach at Les SaintesMaries-de-la-Mer (1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam/Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Image result for van gogh or The Stevedores in Arles (1888, Museo Nacional Thyssen Bornemisza).

or The Stevedores in Arles (1888, Museo Nacional ThyssenBornemisza).

By the First World War, nearly 120 presentations all over the country had featured works by Van Gogh. These activities culminated in the Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne in 1912, where the first five rooms were devoted to Van Gogh and in which more than 125 works were on display.

Van Gogh in German Museums 
 
The increasing presence of works by Van Gogh in exhibitions also had an impact on the acquisition policy of German museums. On an international level, these were among the first institutions to buy works by the Dutchman, long before this occurred in France, England and the United States. The Museum Folkwang in Hagen (later in Essen), which was founded by the private collector Ernst Osthaus, broke the first ground. Museums in Bremen, Dresden, Frankfurt, Cologne, Magdeburg, Mannheim, Munich and Szczecin followed.

The Städel exhibition brings together representative examples of early acquisitions, including

Image result for van gogh    Van Gogh’s Portrait of Armand Roulin (1888, Museum Folkwang, Essen),

Van Gogh’s Portrait of Armand Roulin (1888, Museum Folkwang, Essen),

Image result for van gogh  Roses and Sunflowers (1886, Kunsthalle Mannheim),

Roses and Sunflowers (1886, Kunsthalle Mannheim),

Vincent van Gogh. View of Arles. Orchard in Bloom with Poplars in the Forefront.

View of Arles (1889, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen – Neue Pinakothek München)

Image result for van gogh   and Still Life with Quinces (1887/88, Albertinum / Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden).

and Still Life with Quinces (1887/88, Albertinum / Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden).

In conservative circles, critical voices against this development were raised early on. In 1911, the Worpswede landscape painter Carl Vinnen initiated a protest pamphlet opposing the acquisition of a Van Gogh painting for the Kunsthalle Bremen. A total of 123 artists criticised the perceived dominant position of French Impressionism in German museum collections and the waste of tax money. Numerous artist, museum directors and critics defended the purchase in a response publication and placed emphasis on the importance of a contemporary international orientation of the acquisition policy of German museums.

Van Gogh at the Städel 
 
The first purchase of a Van Gogh painting by a publicly funded museum was made in 1908. With the support of the Städelscher Museums-Verein, the director of the Städel, Georg Swarzenski, acquired the painting Farmhouse in Nuenen (1885) as well as the drawing Peasant Woman Planting Potatoes (1885) for the collection of modern art. This was followed in 1911 by the purchase of the principal work Portrait of Dr Gachet (1890), which became the museum’s showpiece. This last portrait painted by Van Gogh marked the interface between art of the nineteenth century and classic modernism. The National Socialists confiscated the painting in 1937 and sold it on the international art market in exchange for foreign currency. The Städel exhibition presents the empty picture frame, which continues to be in the museum’s depot to this day – the painting itself is part of a private collection and not accessible to the public. On the occasion of the exhibition, the Städel has produced a five-part podcast that traces the turbulent history of the painting.

Van Gogh Collectors in Germany
Vincent van Gogh’s popularity in Germany is reflected in the large number of private collectors who were already buying his art at an early date. The most important protagonists include Thea and Carl Sternheim, Adolf Rothermund, Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Harry Graf Kessler as well as Willy Gretor and Maria Slavona. Several art dealers, such as Alfred Flechtheim and Paul Cassirer, also acquired works for their collections.

The exhibition features artworks by Van Gogh that formerly belonged to German collections, such as

Image result for Van gogh  Farmhouse in Provence (1888, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.),

Farmhouse in Provence (1888, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.),

Image result for Van gogh  The Ravine(Les Peiroulets) (1889, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otter

The Ravine(Les Peiroulets) (1889, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo)

 blob:null/737183be-5648-1a43-a542-433b2fd92cccblob:null/737183be-5648-1a43-a542-433b2fd92cccImage result for Van gogh  or The Poplars at Saint-Rémy (1889, The Cleveland Museum of Art).

or The Poplars at Saint-Rémy (1889, The Cleveland Museum of Art).

A large proportion of the private collectors came from the educated Jewish middle class, which established modern art in Germany. The inflation of the 1920s, the Great Depression and the persecution and murder of Jewish citizens during the period of National Socialism resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of works by Van Gogh in private German collections, so that today only a handful remain.

From Artist to Literary Hero: Julius Meier-Graefe 
 
Prior to the First World War, Van Gogh became a popular topic of conversation among German collectors. The writings of Julius Meier-Graefe made a crucial contribution to this development. The art critic and gallery owner had lived in Paris in the 1890s and noticed how French and Dutch authors turned Van Gogh into an “art apostle” after his death who, following Jesus Christ, lived and suffered for his painting. Meier-Graefe picked up on the incipient myth-making around the artist and processed it for the German public. His three-volume Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst (History of the Development of Modern Art, 1904) and the monograph Vincent van Gogh (1910) became bestsellers in Germany. Meier-Graefe gradually embellished his stories about the artist over the years. His two-volume novel Vincent was published in 1921and promoted the formation of the legend around the artist.

Forgeries
The fact that Van Gogh was one of the most popular artists in Germany before 1914 is also demonstrated by the forgeries that circulated on the art market. The approximately 30 Van Gogh forgeries put into circulation in the 1920s by the gallery owner Otto Wacker resulted in the first art forgery lawsuit in Germany. Numerous experts were also involved. The trial ended with Otto Wacker being sentenced to several years in prison. However, not all forgeries were intended as such, as can be illustrated by the copy of a famous self-portrait by Van Gogh. The painting being presented in the exhibition was created by the young French painter Judith Gérard in 1897. Shortly thereafter, it found its way onto the art market without her knowledge and was sold as a genuine Van Gogh. Her signature had been painted over with a floral decoration. It would be decades before Gérard was able to convince the world that she was the painting’s true author.

CHAPTER 2: INFLUENCE 

The Simple Life: Peasant Motifs

 
A large share of Van Gogh’s art addresses rural life and the arduous work of the peasants. His role model was the French painter Jean-François Millet. Van Gogh translated Millet’s motifs into his own pictorial language, whereby he lent them a chromaticity that corresponded with his personal sensitivity. Van Gogh’s paintings in turn impressed numerous artists. They orientated themselves towards him, and at the same time they tried to develop their own signature. The Städel exhibition juxtapose works by Van Gogh, such as

 Image result for Van gogh Van Gogh, Potato Planting (1884, Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal),

Potato Planting (1884, Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal),

File:Van Gogh - Zwei Bauern beim Umgraben.jpeg

Two Peasants Digging (1889, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)

Image result for Van gogh  Augustine Roulin (Rocking a Cradle) (1889, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)

or the portrait Augustine Roulin (Rocking a Cradle) (1889, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/86/Paula_Modersohn-Becker_001.jpg/646px-Paula_Modersohn-Becker_001.jpg

with works by Paula Modersohn-Becker (Woman from the Poorhouse with Glass Globe and Poppies, 1907, Museen Böttcherstraße, Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen),

 Image result for Gabriele Münter Woman from Murnau (Rosalia Leiß),

Gabriele Münter Woman from Murnau (Rosalia Leiß), (1909, Schloßmuseum Murnau)

 Image result for Heinrich Nauen (Peasant Digging, 1908, Galerie Ludorff, Düsseldorf).

or Heinrich Nauen (Peasant Digging, 1908, Galerie Ludorff, Düsseldorf).

Self-Portraits
The self-portraits by Van Gogh motivated younger artists to depict themselves in a similar manner. Van Gogh was regarded as a ‘tragic hero’, as a suffering artist who was misunderstood by society and had sacrificed himself for his art. This image strongly appealed to male artists in particular.

The exhibition demonstrates this by self-portraits by Cuno Amiet (c.1907), Max Beckmann (1905), Peter August Böckstiegel (1913), Ludwig Meidner (1919) or Heinrich Nauen (1909), among others.

Drawings and Reproductions 
 
Van Gogh’s oeuvre consists in large part of drawings. At the beginning of his career, the artist trained primarily by copying original works before venturing his own motifs. In later years, his drawings came to be more closely linked to his painting. They served to prepare a composition or to repeat and condense a motif he had found in a painting. Because there were only limited possibilities available to reproduce works in colour in the early twentieth century, initially it was primarily Van Gogh’s drawings that were illustrated in publications. Their graphically clear structure was particularly well suited for being transferred into line blocks (etchings) and reproduced.

Drawings by Van Gogh that appeared in magazines and books supplied German artists with their first illustrative material and inspired them to make their own attempts. In the Städel exhibition, two rooms present a selection of Van Gogh’s drawings, including masterpieces such as

Image result for Van Gogh   Haystacks (1888, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest)

Haystacks (1888, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest)

Image result for Van Gogh  Farmhouse in Provence (1888, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

and Farmhouse in Provence (1888, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

Just how differently the German Expressionists reacted to Van Gogh’s vital drawing technique is illustrated in the works by, for example, Fritz Bleyl, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Wilhelm Morgner and Max Pechstein.

“Van Goghiana”
 
The members of the ‘Die Brücke’ in Dresden dealt with Van Gogh in a particularly vigorous way. They saw works by the artist in an exhibition in Dresden in 1905. For the young students of architecture Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, this experience was at once a revelation and also liberation. Van Gogh’s paintings prompted them to apply paint to the canvas directly out of the tube. From then on, strong contrasts, impasto layers of paint and simplified forms defined their works. In doing so, they wanted to emphasize their direct and unadulterated access to the motif, which no longer orientated itself towards the standards of academic painting. 

The fascination with Van Gogh was in part so pronounced that Emil Nolde recommended that his colleagues call themselves “Van Goghiana” instead. However, the artistic reaction of the members of the ‘Die Brücke’ was in some cases highly diverse.
While the academically trained painters Max Pechstein and Cuno Amiet scrutinized Van Gogh’s painting and imitated his systematically placed brushstrokes, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff dealt with him more freely. 

These various approaches are presented in the Städel exhibition, including 

Image result for Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Fehmarn Houses (1908, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main)
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Fehmarn Houses (1908, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main) 

House in Dangast (The White House), 1908 - Erich Heckel

or Erich Heckel’s House in Dangast (The White House) (1908, Carmen ThyssenBornemisza Collection,
on loan to the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid).

CHAPTER 3: PAINTING STYLE 

Stylistic Pluralism

 
The third chapter of the exhibition deals with Van Gogh’s distinct painting style. In his short productive period, which encompasses no more than a decade, the artist worked in an extraordinary range of styles. Beginning in the second half of the 1880s, he experimented, in part simultaneously, with the various painting styles of Realism, Impressionism, Pointillism, Cloisonism or Symbolism. These are only some of the kaleidoscope of modern art movements that Van Gogh encountered after his arrival in Paris in 1886.
For Van Gogh, the fundamental question was whether his paintings should be planar and form-bound or vibrantly structured and dynamic. He sought his own path between the two. The exhibition presents works by Van Gogh that illustrate this versatility, including, for example,

Image result for Van Gogh    Le Blute-Fin Mill (1886, Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle and Heino/Wijhe, the Netherlands),

Le Blute-Fin Mill (1886, Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle and Heino/Wijhe, the Netherlands), 

Image result for Van Gogh  Square Saint-Pierre, Paris (1887, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven),

Square Saint-Pierre, Paris (1887, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven), 
Image result for Van gogh   Piles of French Novels (1887, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam/Vincent van Gogh Foundation)



Piles of French Novels (1887, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam/Vincent van Gogh Foundation) or 


File:Vincent van Gogh - Poppy field - Google Art Project.jpg

Poppy Field (1890, Kunstmuseum Den Haag).

Structure and surface, rhythm and stasis, impasto and smooth surfaces, subdued coloration and strong colour contrasts encounter one another in Van Gogh’s oeuvre and are coequal means of organizing a painting that are in part used simultaneously.

Surface 
 
Subsequent generations of artists made reference to various aspects of Van Gogh’s painting. Those artists in Germany who aimed for a calm pictorial structure while simultaneously enhancing colour, trained themselves based on his planar compositions. The exhibition features works by, among others, 

Gabriele Münter (Alley in front of a mountain, 1909, private collection),

Image result for August Macke (Vegetable Fields, 1911, Kunstmuseum Bonn)

August Macke (Vegetable Fields, 1911, Kunstmuseum Bonn) 
and Felix Nussbaum (Arles sur Rhône Avenue of Tombs, Les Alyscamps, 1929, 
Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Osnabrück)
Image result for Flowers (1908, private collection) Elsa Tischner-von Durant.
as well as the painting Flowers (1908, private collection) by the largely forgotten painter Elsa Tischner-von Durant. 


With Josef Scharl’s Still Life with Candle and Books (1929, Sammlung Henry Nold), the exhibition takes a look at the changed reception of Van Gogh in Germany after the First World War. His emotionalism and expressivity were replaced by an increasingly modest pictorial language.

Rhythm and Structure 
 
In the last years of his life, Van Gogh’s impasto style of painting was accompanied by a rhythmical structuring of his works. At the same time, the markedly directional line strokes bordered on ornamental design. The brushwork became an autonomous means of expression and forced the descriptive function of painting into the background. Kurt Badt, who saw a kind of “painting draughtsman” in Van Gogh, described this phenomenon as “expressive linearity taking on with a life of its own”.
Line and colour no longer opposed each other as artistic means, but were connected with one another. One room in the Städel exhibition presents a series of examples for how artists made reference to Van Gogh’s style of painting that brought together vitality and structure. These include members of the artists’ groups ‘Die Brücke’ or ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ as well as singular positions such as Christian Rohlfs and Max Beckmann.
Furthermore, with the painter Theo von Brockhusen, who has been largely forgotten today, the Städel is presenting an artist that closely followed Van Gogh’s example in terms of motif and style. His adoption of the latter’s specific brushstroke earned him the nickname “von Goghhusen”.

“Painter of the Sun”
 
Van Gogh also made an impression on the German Expressionists with paintings in which the sun stands on the horizon as a blazing fixed star. These depictions were unusual in so far as painters had previously reproduced sunlight for the most part indirectly. By contrast, Van Gogh shifted the sun as a life-giving and hopeful symbol into the centre of his compositions, for instance in

Image result for Willows at Sunset (1888, KröllerMüller Museum, Otterlo).


Willows at Sunset (1888, KröllerMüller Museum, Otterlo).

Moreover, numerous representatives of Expressionism understood Van Gogh’s form of “sun painting” as an apocalyptic symbol. This interpretation, in which Julius Meier-Graefe had a decisive share, fit in with the unsettling times before the First World War; however, it also seemed plausible in the tense political situation of the Weimar Republic. 
Explicit reactions to these works by Van Gogh can be found in both phases, such as, for example, 












































































Image result for Otto Dix’s Sunrise (1913, Städtische Galerie Dresden – Kunstsammlung, Museen der Stadt Dresden),

Otto Dix’s Sunrise (1913, Städtische Galerie Dresden – Kunstsammlung, Museen der Stadt Dresden), 


Wilhelm Morgner’s The Tree (1911, Museum Wilhelm Morgner, Soest), 


Walter Ophey’s River Landscape with Boats and Red Sun (1913/14, Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf), 


Max Pechstein’s Rising Sun (1933, Saarlandmuseum – Moderne Galerie, Saarbrücken, Stiftung Saarländischer Kulturbesitz)

or Josef Scharl’s Landscape with Three Suns (1925, Kunsthalle Emden – Stiftung Henri und Eske Nannen).