24 December 2021
21 December 2021
The shortest day brings with it the longest night. Time to begin the season of vitamin D cocktails.
Robert Gibbings (1889-1958) was an Irish artist, born in Cork. His family opposed his intention to study art but Gibbings persevered, eventually enrolling at the Slade School in London. Among other media, Gibbings made wood engravings and from 1924 to 1933 he ran the Golden Cockrell Press.. He also illustrated books on travel and natural. history. In an astonishment, he became the first person known to have made drawings under water. He was buried on the banks of the River Thames in the village of Long Wittenham.
Image: Robert Gibbings - Dublin Under Snow, woodblock print, vourtesy of Grive Press, New York.
11 December 2021
29 November 2021
It's harvest time in Raoul Dufy's Arcadia, Langres, a commune in northeastern France, where autumn is sometimes foggy, wet, and even snowy.
But this is Dufy's Arcadia, so unpleasant conditions have been banished. This is a place where sheep may safely graze indeed. In the far background there are rows of laborers mowing and reaping. In the lower left corner there is an empty hayrick which draws our eyes to remnants of an antique Arcadia, a celebratory urn atop a pedestal and, this being a painting by Dufy, there is a lissome reclining woman,, her clothes nowhere to be seen. An open air social event, perhaps. Harvesting has never looked this festive.
On a serious note, Dufy's particular contribution to modernism was to marry formal avant-garde principles to a decorative aesthetic.
Image; Raoul Dufy - Harvest At Langres, circa 1938, Musee d'arte Moderne, Paris.
14 November 2021
21 October 2021
Dropped its anchor in the bay
Her name reminded me of kingdoms
Sunlit countries far away."
- excerpt from "The Ship" by Oliver St. John Gogarty
10 October 2021
28 September 2021
The Canon Gilles Joye lived in what is now Belgium but he is usually described as Franco-Flemish, having been born in the city of Kortrijk in West Flanders and then migrating to Bruges.
Gilles Joye was appointed a singer at the Burgundian court chapel in Bruges in 1462. Unsurprisingly for one so irreverent, his vocal compositions were secular,. How this man became a rector is curious; his hobbies were street brawling, patronizing brothels, and even making a prostitute named Rosabella his mistress. \He was notorious for skipping out on his singing duties but was apparently forgiven because his music was so melodic and lyrical. Admonished to renounce his girlfriend, teh wag wrote her a Mass. (O rosa bella). Notwithstanding his transgressions, when Joye died he was buried in the church of St. Donation.
Hans Memling painted in the style known as Flemish Primitive; his portraits simplified versions of his sitters' features. Born in the Rhine region he moved around northern Europe in search of commissions. After a stint in the Brussels workshop of Rogier van der Weyden he arrived in Bruges where he was made a citizen in 1465. There he became a leading painter with his own workshop. and it was there he met the cleric Gilles Joye.
Image: Hans Memling (circa 1430-1494) - The Canon Gilles Joye, no date given but probably after 1465, tempura and oil on wood panel, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA.
21 September 2021
"I trust the visual to communicate my ideas. I try to unlock the meaning of objects and eliciting a conversation by juxtaposing between them that creates an unexpected, but essential, thought." - Fred Wilson
"I get everything that satisfies my soul from bringing together objects in the world, manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements, and having them presented in the way I want to see them." - Fred Wilson
Five busts of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti that question what we think we know about the ancient world. The original bust by an anonymous artist has long been a staple of art history texts. Grey Area (above) by the American artist Fred Wilson makes visible our changing understanding of who historical figures actually were.
After stints at the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Natural History (on opposite sides of Central Park) Wilson realized that the two institutions presented similar objects in widely divergent ways. He has come to specialize in presenting objects based on considerations that may be unimportant to most curators or that have gone unnoticed until Wilson put things together. Mining the Museum he called it when he restaged galleries at the Maryland Historical Society in 1991. In a technique he has often used, Wilson renamed a painting Country Life that showed a plantation family at leisured Frederick Serving Fruit for a young black slave boy in the picture. This In a nearby vitrine, Wilson paired a stark set of slave shackles surrounded by an .... adorned silver tea service, the embodiment of wealth produced by slave labor.
A last minute addition, Wanderer was a black-face courtier figure Wilson saw in the lobby of the hotel he was staying at. He replaced the face with a globe whose black oceans were crisscrossed by by white dotted lines that trace the routes of ships used in the slave trade.
Simone Leigh will be the first black American woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale in 2022.
For more about Fred Wilson
1. Fred Wilson - Grey Area - pant, plaster, and wood, 1998, Brooklyn Museum. 2. Fred Wilson - Atlas, 1992, paint, plaster, and wood, Denver Museum of Art. 3. Fred Wilson - Wanderer, 2003, painted wood and printed paper, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA.
10 September 2021
"Italy is made. We have still to make the Italians."
- Massimo D'Azeglio (1798-1866). D'Azeglio did not live to see Rome designated as the capitol of new Italian state in 1871 but the Risorgimento (Resurgence) was almost complete when the statesman/ novelist/painter died.
Look at these women cultivating rice: they are the 'essential workers' of 19th century Italy. Just for clarification, the title For Eighty Cents! indicates the anger of the painter Angelo Morbelli at the wage paid to rice farmers in the Po Valley circa 1890. Indeed, working conditions for the women who worked the fields of the Piedmont region were so shameful that a name was coined for them - the mondine. We know there is a sky above from its reflection in the water the women stand in but the artist allows us no more respite from the prospect of their back-breaking toil than their overlords permitted. By using the broad horizontal canvas typical of landscape painting, we can almost feel the weight pressing down on the hunched figures.
The path fir Italian artists in the 19th century was not the triumphal march that historians ascribe to the French Impressionists. Stylistically, the Italians were all over the place and, on this account, art historians have not been kind to their works. Yet these artists made lively and daring experiments, more so than the Italian peninsula had witnessed in a long time. Together painters as varied as Silevstro Lega, Emilio Longoni, Plinio Nominelli, an Aneglo Morbelli were dubbed I Macchiaiolli (meaning painters of patches of light).
Morbelli and his fellow artists were berated from all sides, for choosing ugly and unpleasant subjects rather pleasing ones that the bourgeoisie could hang in their parlors and, at the same time, for imbuing ugly realities with dignity and even nobility. The Roman poet Horace had that art's purpose was to "instruct and delight" but the Macchiaioli would have none of that.
Full of idealism, they found their inspiration in the economic upheavals that accompanied political unification. Like their painterly styles, their politics were all over the ran a gamut from progressivism to anarchy. The early 1890s were a period of strikes and protests in northern cities where workers labored for impoverishing wages, under poor working conditions, if they could find work at all. Conditions were no better for the poor in rural areas where new industrial workers had migrated from.
Image - Angelo Morbelli- For Eighty Cents!, 1895, oil on canvas, Civico Museo, Borgogna.
01 September 2021
Kogelnik's figures are often bent, broken, or damaged in some way but not Superwoman.
26 August 2021
10 August 2021
"(W)e came to realize that the prejudice against the decorative has a long history and is based on hierarchies: fine art above decorative art, Western art above non-Western art, men's art above women's art." - Valerie Jaudon & Joyce Kozloff, 1978
Jaudon and Kozloff came to that moment as they realized that the woven textiles and painted pottery they admired that had been produced anonymously had been made by women. The two began to collaborate in the mid 1970s in search of ways to create expansive surfaces by taking patterns out of their usual context. Soon they were joined by Miriam Schapiro, Robert Zakanitch, and others to establish the Pattern and Decoration Movement, sometimes referred to as P & D, that began meeting as a group in 1976
The P & D artists embrace of feminism was in defiance of art critical orthodoxy as decreed by Clement Greenberg in the 1950s. At the same time there was an active studio crafts movement making a case for clay and fiber as suitable media for abstract art. In hindsight, the use of art forms from many cultures crossed with Western abstraction was prescient for our own moment.
And Solomon's faith was not misplaced. The artworks were received as a breath of fresh air, praised and collected but when the 1980s dawned, there was a backlash, firstly because the artists were unabashed feminists and then because the concept of beauty was in disrepute. But Jaudon and Kozloff struck preemptively at the detractors, publishing their manifesto Art Hysterical Notions of Progress and Culture in 1978.
At more than six feet tall, Ingmar is an emphatic statement of intent: there is nothing delicate or dainty about it. Ingomar by Valerlie Jaudon evokes visions of Celtic and Islamic designs. Metallic paint is applied with bold brushstrokes, creating an impression that is at the same time a visual puzzle that tantalizes the viewer. Islamic tile work from Spain and North Africa, and mosaics from Mexico, ancient Roman, and Byzantium, all these influences are held in equilibrium in this resonant, suggestive painting. The longer I look the more I experience a sense of depth
Valerie Jaudon was born in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1945 and studied art at several academies, including the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. In 2011, Jaudon was elected to the National Academy of Design.
The exhibition With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art, 1972-1985,, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles from October 27, 2019-May 11, 2020 and at Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY from June26-November 28, 2021, is the first full-scale survey of a groundbreaking movement.
And in addition, Emma Amos: Color Odyssey is on view from June 19-September 12, 2021 at Munson-Williams Proctor Art Institute, Utica NY. It will then travel t the Philadelphia Museum of Art where it will beon view from October 11, 2021-January 17, 2022.
Image: Valerie Jaudon - Ingomar, 1979, oil and metallic paint, 80 x72 inches, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.
03 August 2021
"and it's something that everybody needs...." - Lowman Pauling & Ralph Bass, Dedicated To The One I Love, 1961
If there were a reliable map for affairs of the heart, its cartographer would become wealthy, and rightly so. According to the French novelist Madelaine de Scudery, the road to love begins at Nouvelle amitie (New Friendship), located at the bottom of the map above on the River of Love. The River has three tributaries: Respect, Esteem, an Affection. Along the right bank, various waystations with names like Fresh Eyes, Love Letters, Constancy, and Generosity invite the traveler rest and reflect. On the opposite shore, Complacence, Inequality, Treacherousness, and Perfidiousness tell a much different story. Scudery created her Carte du tendre (A Map of the Affections) as a game to amuse her friends during the winter of 1553-1664.
Marriage is absent from Scudery's map, likely because emancipation from matrimony was the only route to freedom in the 17th century. Not only did Scudery not marry, she eventually managed to free herself from the burdensome guardianship of her brother George. a typical feature of the life of a femme couverte of the minor nobility in France. Previously she had been forced to her beloved Paris for three years from 1644-1647 when Georges served as the Governor of the Fort-Notre-Dane-e-la-Garde At Marseilles.
It may be an oblique nod to this difficult time with terre inconnu (the Perilous Sea). And deviating from New Friendship could lead a woman to Indiscretion. Caught between the Sea of Enmity and the Lake of Indifference, a woman might easily feel trapped. To add a bit of historical perspective, consider the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drawn up by John Adams in 1780. It included a provision providing that a widow should not be forced to remarry if she preferred to live alone.
In France, la querelle des femmes already had a history, dating back to the 15th century when Christine de Pizan had also been an official author at the French court, publishing The Book of the City of Ladies in 1405.
Madelaine de Scudery (1607-1701) was born just nine years after Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598, ending four decades of devastating violence over religious doctrine between Protestants and Catholics. With hindsight, the French Reformation was one of history's great failures. Born in Le Havre where her father was the captain of the port, she was orphaned at the age of six, her care was then entrusted to the care of an uncle who was a cleric. An estimable and farsighted gentleman, he provided the girl with an excellent education: her studies included reading, writing, drawing, music, Spanish, and Italian. There is even some evidence that she studied Latin and Greek. She also applied herself to the study of agriculture and medicine. A voracious reader, Madelaine began her philosophical studies with Montaigne (hence her skepticism) and Plutarch (hence her stoicism).
After the death of their uncle in 1637, the siblings moved to Paris where Madelaine was introduced to the salon chambre bleu (Blue Room) at the Hotel Rambouillet where she became a regular attendee. From there she launched her literary career, publishing a defense of education for woman in Illustrious Women in 1642. Scudery also published numerous highly successful novels including Artamene, s two million words it holds the record as the longest novel ever (yet) published.
The pair then moved to the Marais where Madame de Scudery established her own weekly salon Samedis (Saturdays). During the 17th century, women were once again attempting to make their way as authors in the (male) literary world.
The Precieuses, as the women were called, were repeatedly subjected to ridicule, notably by Moliere in his first play Les precieuses ridicules (1659). It is also worth noting that the King, Louis XIV, also scorned learned women and that Moliere was a favorite of the King.
As if this were not enough to discourage the women, Moliere took another swipe in 1672 with Les femmes savants or The Clever Women. Make no mistake, thee stakes were high for all concerned. Reputation is a form of gold in the republic of letters. Not only did these women, whether at Royal court or in the salons of Paris, mean to attain the status of authors, they intended to replace the male concept of love - wherein it is the man who gets to choose and the woman can only assent or refuse (if she is lucky). One reason that Scudery made the Lake of Indifference so large was that, then as even today, we women keep watering it with our tears.
Scudery was honored by the Academie Francaise in 1691. Madelaine de Scudery survived her brother Georges by three decades, dying at the ripe age of ninety-three.
For further reading: Precious Women by Dorothy Ann Liot Baker, New York, Basic Books:1973
Image: Madelaine de Scudery - Carte du tendre (A Map of the Affections), 1654, Francois Chaveau, engraving, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris.
26 July 2021
19 July 2021
12 July 2021
I would like to thank very much the people who have devoted Pinterest boards to images published on The Blue Lantern. To celebrate the 14th anniversary of The Blue Lantern I decided to share some comments that warmed my heart and kept me writing
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 - The Edinburgh Scotsman
Subtitles "Arts Journalism for the Love of It," this devastatingly beautiful blog covers a wide range of topics and mediums from known artists such as Marc Chagall, to unknown discoveries, (well, unknown to us) such as Kathleen Dustin who makes exquisite handbags in the shapes of seed pods from a special type of colored polymer clay. The site is named for the blue-shaded lamp that French writer Colette used as a guiding light for her imaginary journeys, after she became too frail to leave home. "Her invitation, extended to all, was 'Regarde!' Look, see, wonder, accept, live." It is written by Jane Librizzi, an American broadcaster blessed with great intelligence and an eye for the rare and marvellous."
Sunday 22 August 2010 - The Linosaurus
Friday 16 September 2011 - Wuthering Expectations
Wednesday 11 Janaury 2012 at Just A False Alarm
The Human Flower Project, Julie Ardrey, editor, Austin, TX.
Dear Jane - The Blue Lantern is a masterpiece. I have been a dazzled reader for awhile and am preparing to wind down my own site, The Human Flower Project. Having attempted to make something beautiful and thoughtful online, I deeply admire the ambition and generosity of your work! - Julie Ardrey
2009, The Curated Object, Joanne Molina, editor, Chicago
It's my absolute delight to introduce Jane Librizzi to our readers, Her intellectually stimulating and aesthetically astute blog, The Blue Lantern, has captivated me for more long mornings, afternoons, and evenings than I would care to admit. Originally from northern New Jersey, she lived in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and now lives in upstate New York. She studied piano for several years and began writing stories at age nine. Aside from freelance writing, she has worked in music broadcasting on her local Public Broadcasting station for the past nine years. The place in the world she woud most like to visit is the Wolong Panda Center in China.
04 July 2021
Bernstein was known for her portrayals of the bustling crowds of New York City. The Immigrants is something quite different, a maritime picture of a kind, people huddled together on an ocean-going ship, waiting hopefully for the sight of land. They are heroic in a way we are not accustomed to think of as heroic, voyagers into an uncertain future. Anchoring the picture at center front is a young woman holding a baby; around her head an envelope of air that draws the viewer to the tiered decks receding behind her. A deft way to suggest the depth of space with sparse shadowing.
Before she painted The Immgrants, Bernstein's work was exhibited alongside that of Edward Hopper. Bernstein pretended that she had been born in America but her compassion for the trials of her fellow immigrants shines clearly in The Immigrants (1923). The group stands on the deck of the Cunard R.M.S. Aquitania. Although the immigrations numbers were falling during the 1920s, nativism was rising and Congress passed two laws to restrict immigration and set ne birthplace quotas.
Born in Kracow in 1890, Theresa Bernstein was brought to the United States by her parents and raised in Philadelphia. The Bernsteins were a well-educated., cultured family. When the Bernstein family moved to New York City in 1912, Theresa established a studio of her own near Bryant Park. She enrolled at the Arts Students League where she studied with William Merritt Chase and attended the earthshaking Armory Show in 1913 where ordinary Americans were introduced to all manner of non-representational painting. Bernstein had already been impressed by the works of Manet, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso on two trips to Europe in 1905 and again in 1911. Bernstein continued to produce art during every decade of her life, dying in 2002 at the age of one hundred eleven.
Image: Theresa Bernstein - The Immigrants 1923, oil on canvas, private collection.
30 June 2021
"One must meditate abut pleasure. Raoul Dufy is pleasure." - Gertrude Stein
Luxe, calme et volupte. Luxury, calm, an voluptuousness are the characteristics we associate with the French artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1953). Although Dufy worked in ceramics and textiles he is best known - and loved - for his later paintings with their foreshortened perspectives, suggestive shapes, and thin washes of color quickly applied, resulting in a style dubbed 'stenographic painting."
Born in Le Havre on the Pas de Calais, Dufy took refuge in the Midi during the Nazi Occupation. Driven out of his home at Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon by the invading Germans in early 1940, he settled in unoccupied southern France. Already suffering from the rheumatoid arthritis that eventually led to his death, the artist coped by strapping the paintbrush to his hand so as to continue working. "The period of my illness and the cataclysms of the world should not be apparent in my ... work," he said and they are not.
The farms, farmyards, and granaries and granaries of the little village of Lestelle are the subject of numerous paintings and sketches from the late 1940s. Spare little pictures painted with an economy of means portray the rhythms of a rustic life.
Unlike Jean-Francois Millet's humbly religious peasants, Dufy's farmers are an altogether more pantheistic lot. Around a table before a granary, a trumpeter and an accordionist entertain their mates on a break from haying. A table is there an the effect is so perfect that we do not question its being there. In the background a farmhand is working atop a combine. A summer storm cloud passes casually by, only temporarily quelling the golden dust that rises from the threshing. machine.
In Musicians In The Country the chromatic intensity of golds alternates with swaths of verdant green. The horizontal lines impart a sense of calm to the scene. An intensely blue stream leads up at right to a scalloped aqueduct, a survivor of Roman times, reminding us of Virgil's Georgics, a manual of agricultural things that Dufy's near contemporary Aristide Maillol illustrated in a series of prints and drawings between 1937-1944. Perhaps both sought comfort in seeming eternal verities and who could blame them.
Image: Raoul Dufy - Musicians In The Country, 1948-49, oil on cardboard, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
24 June 2021
14 June 2021
09 June 2021
From Gertrudes Altschul, a German immigrant to Patricia Leite, a living Brazilian artist (this site last week) images of nature in art.
Patricia Leite was born in 1955 in Belo Horizonte, a large city in southern Brazil, and now lives in Sao Paolo, the nation's largest city. It would seem t academic argument to debate where figuration in her work ends and abstraction begins because blending is seamless. She often works on wooden panels, the better to layer her pigments. striking contrasts of color
1. Patricia Leite - Saudade do Brasil, 2021, oil on wood, Thomas Dane Gallery, London.
2. Patricia Leite - Vagalumas, 2021, oil on woo, Thomas Dane Gallery, London.
03 June 2021
23 May 2021
Eighteen forty-eight is usually remembered as a year of revolution in Europe; not so in Switzerland. That year the Swiss Confederation was formed and, with three official languages taken from neighboring countries of France, Italy, and Germany, Switzerland seemed to inoculate itself against the excesses of 19th century nationalisms. In the event, the arts would provide the country its genius loci. A remarkable generation of painters emerged in the decades immediately before World War I who remade the alpine landscape through radical stylistic inventions. Most would complete their art studies away from home.
Giovanni Giacometti (1868-1933), the son of a baker in Stampa, managed to enroll at the Munich School of Arts and Crafts. There he became friends with Cuno Amiet (1868-1961), from the German-speaking canton of Solothurn where Amiet's father was the chancellor of the canton. The two friends decided to go to Paris where they enrolled at the Academie Julian but financial difficulties forced Giacometti to return home. Meanwhile Amiet joined the artist colony around Paul Gauguin in Pont-Aven; the experience convinced him of the primacy of color in painting. At first his work was not well-received in Basel but he won a silver medal the Universal Exposition in 1900; his work would remain grounded in French traditions, sometimes evoking the style of the Nabis, heavily influenced as they were by Japanese wood block prints. The Yellow Girls could have been a wood block print as easily as a painting but as a painting it is completely modern.
After Paris, Giacometti found the isolation of life in Stampa unbearable and traveled south to Rome in 1893 where he had the good fortune to find a mentor in Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899). Under the more experienced painter's influence he came to appreciate the beauty inherent in the mountainous Swiss landscape. During his lifetime Segantini was one of Europe's most famous painters.
Felix Vallotton (1865-1925) was born into a conservative middle class family in French-speaking Lasuanne. He arrived in Paris at the beginning of 1882, working as an art restorer and an art critic for a newspaper back in Lausanne. His paintings began to attract Swiss patrons at he same he was experimenting with printing techniques. In 1892 he joined the Nabis, a Vallotton's landscapes are always spectacular, their extreme simplification through bands of bright colors curving and bending, expressive of movement in nature although not strictly representational. His painting style was influenced by his experiments with prints where line is a primary means of communication.
All three artists share an interest in the effects of light on a landscape of theatrical proportions, intensified by their imaginative use of bold colors. These works are currently on view at the Musee d'Orsay in Paros as part of Swiss Modernities (1890-1914) from 19 May - 25 July 2021.
You can access the Swiss art database here in four languages (English, French, German, Italian).
1. Giovanni Giacometti - Primavera, 1905, tempura on canvas, Bundner Kunstmuseum, Chur.
2. Cuno Amiet - The Yellow Girls, 1905, oil on fiberboard, private collection.
3. Felix Vallatton - Effect of Evening Light on Lac Leman, 1900, Tempura on cardboard.
05 May 2021
25 April 2021
In Snoopy Sees The World Wrapped In Sunset the world, in the shape and color of the sun, is surrounded by its own color. The yellow stripes represent the color that we associate with the sun while the reds and oranges represent the heat that emanates from it. Like several other paintings from this time, Snoopy Sees The World Wrapped In Sunset shares some visual similarities with pointillism but not its enervated reliance on a color formula that 19th century European artists mistook for science.
Awed by the Apollo landing on the moon in 1969, Thomas conceived a series of "Space' paintings. Her take on space also had a light-hearted side. "When Apollo was put into orbit, Peanuts' Charlie Brown left Snoopy spinning around to enjoy the unbelievable," she said in 1972. Snoopy got his own series of seven pictures.
Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was African-American artist who began painting in a representational style but, under the influence of Lois Maillou Jones, her style became more abstract. Although she painted throughout her life, Thomas did n ot become a full-time artist until she was sixty-nine. At the age of eighty in 1972 Thomas became the first female African-American artist to receive a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum. "Who would ever have dreamed that somebody like me would make it to the Whitney in New York?" Thomas said at the time. But some activist groups accused the museum of tkenism, of using a few token black artists to camouflage a general lack of progress. Although she taught junior high school art for thirty-five years, Thomas was active in the local art scene and pushed back against discrimination wherever she encumbered it.
Something else to know about Thomas is that she liked to give fanciful and suggestive titles to her abstraction such as Winds Dancing With Spring Flowers and Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers.
For more about Alma Thomas go here.
1. Alma Thomas - Snoopy Sees The Earth Wrapped In Sunset, 1970, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.
2, Alma Thomas - Snoopy Sees A Sunrise, 1970, acrylic on canvas, Smithsinian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.