Churchill the Impressionist.

I follow The Crown. In doing so, I learned that Winston Churchill painted. Curious, I looked into some of his work. He was quite an Impressionist and his works were really vibrant. He began late in life, too – at forty.

However, he made up for it by creating over 500 oil paintings in the 48 years. He exhibited in France and at the Royal Academy in London, often using pseudonyms.

Though his artwork now sells for over a million dollars, he himself never made money on his work. He always gave his paintings away.

Winter sunshine, Chartwell – 1925

This bright, colorful depiction of his Kentish home is one of Churchill’s earlier paintings. It won him first prize at an amateur exhibition.

In fact, on its reverse, there’s a handwritten note that says it was awarded to him by Oswald Birley (a painter), Sir Joseph Duveen (an art dealer) and Kenneth Clark (art historian), which I find pretty interesting!

 

Sunset over the Atlas Mountains – 1935

Churchill’s balcony at the Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech overlooked this gorgeous scene. Churchill loved it so much that he not only painted it, he invited President Roosevelt to travel with him to Marrakech so he too could experience the view.

On a separate note, Churchill bestowed another painting, Marrakech, to President Truman in 1951.

Goldfish pool at Chartwell – 1962

There was a tender scene on the Crown that mentions this pool. That’s what made me so curious about Churchill’s artwork.

Though this piece has the vibrancy characteristic of Churchill’s work, what I find intriguing is that it’s almost an abstract. It also seems to be viewed from right in the water itself.

This, by the way, is one of Churchill’s last paintings. He died about three years later.

his painting is unusual in zooming right into the water itself taking in the luscious foliage along the water side. It is an exemplary essay in tonality and near-abstraction, combining multiple hues of greens and browns to striking effect with the golden orfe brought to life through vivid flashes of orange impasto.

A bit about Picasso’s collages.

I mentioned the influence Braque had on collage in my previous blog. Picasso, who worked closely with Braque, also took it up around the same time. In fact, it’s a tossup in terms of who was first.

What we do know is that using tangible materials to create third dimensions afforded Picasso a great deal of freedom, which he used enthusiastically.

Newspaper cuttings, parts of musical instruments, music score, tobacco boxes, fabrics, metal – he loved to experiment!

Here are three of his famous “pieced together” pieces:

Still Life with Chair Caning – 1912

Though Picasso experimented with materials prior to this piece, it’s considered his first true work of collage fine art.

What’s most creative here is that Picasso used a piece of oilcloth printed with a cane chair pattern, as well as thick textured rope as a frame. In doing so, he creates reality without using the kind of illusionism used throughout art’s history. In fact, it challenges the false sense of reality that traditional artists created.

This was revolutionary at the time.

Three letters above the cloth are torn from the word “journal” which, along with the pipe, glass, lemon, oyster, suggest a café setting.

Guitar, Sheet music and Wine glass – 1912

Here Picasso assembled newspaper, sheet music, colored paper, paper, and hand-painted faux bois paper, charcoal, and gouache over wallpaper on paperboard.

Each piece of paper is one discrete element within the whole. Together, they represent a guitar hanging on a wall. …

You may not see the shape of the guitar immediately because, in fact, it’s been suggested through the use of negative space.

Look at the white circle first. It’s the sound hole. Once you see that, you can perceive the guitar more easily.

Maquette for Guitar – 1912

Picasso’s experiments with collage inspired him to innovate with sculptures as well.
Maquette for Guitar is a three-dimensional collaged sculpture made up of cardboard, paper, string, and wire, which are folded, threaded, and glued together.
Picasso managed to take the Cubist approach of presented a number of perspectives and geometric form into a three-dimensional medium. Plus he did so using non-traditional art materials.
It’s just such a brilliant and complex piece!

By the way, when Braque and Picasso began incorporating industrially-produced objects (“low” commercial culture) into the realm of fine art (“high” culture), it was both revolutionary and excitingly defiant.

George Braque’s Collages

A friend sent me a beautiful card made up of collage. It made me think of George Braque whose collages I find compelling.

Born in 1882, Braque was a French draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor. He was also a painter and collagist. He and Picasso worked closely together and actually legitimized the genre. The method evolved from their Cubist approach (innovative at that time).

Here are a couple of Braque’s collages, as well as one painting that I added because I just love it so much.

By the way, Picasso too was a collagist and I’ll follow up with a blog about his works as well.

Fruit Dish and Glass – 1912

This was one of Braque’s first collages. It’s likely the most famous and first Cubist collage. To achieve it, he attached pieces of wallpaper to a charcoal drawing.

This work came about after Braque had noticed the faux bois wallpaper displayed in a shop window.

This collage marked a turning point in Cubism.

Aria de Bach -1913

Braque loved the work of Bach and even created this homage to him. If I understand correctly, some of Braque’s other works also include Bach’s initials.

Interestingly, his initials form a four note musical motif in German (B-flat, A, C, B-natural), which many composers -notably Bach – have used in their music,.

Art historians have actually made comparisons between Bach’s use of interdependent, and simultaneously independent, harmonies in his compositions – and Braque’s angles and perspectives.

When you listen to Bach’s fugues, you can feel the parallel between his approach and that of Braque’s.

Though guitars, mandolins and other instruments appear in his works, Braque was a musical painter the canvas.

The Violin and Candlestick – 1910

Though not a collage, it’s one of my favorite paintings of his so why not showcase it!

This still life uses oil painted on canvas. Though it’s monochromatic, he manages to make it so colorful!

He fragmented and compressed the objects then reconstructed them in multiple point-perspectives.

Some of the objects, like the violin and candle, are clear and darker, thus attracting the eye. However, the violin is placed on the left side which compels us to take in the different parts of the painting. It’s just such a masterful way of giving the eye a place to go and then wander.

A line going for a walk, Paul Klee.

That’s a quote from Paul Klee. Though it’s his description of drawing, it’s actually a perfect account of how he painted.

Highways and Byways

Klee was a Swiss-born painter born in 1879 and died in 1940. He was innovative and experimental, leaving behind a diverse body of work. His style was influenced by Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism, but it always remained highly individual.

He was also fascinated by color and wrote about it extensively. The Paul Klee Notebooks is a collection of his essays on modern art, as well as his lectures at the Bauhaus school where he taught.

Bauhaus, by the way, was a German art school famous for its approach to design, not to mention its faculty – Joseph Albers and Kadinsky among them.

Klee’s work was an inspiration to a number of modern artists, including students of the New York School, which was not so much a school, but a group of influential artists in the 50’s and 60’s.

Klee himself took inspiration from music. He saw analogies between music and visual art, and often played violin as a warm-up to painting.  He was also inspired by children’s drawings because of their unaffected quality and freedom.

Senecio – 1922

A portrait of an old man in the Cubism style, Senecio is a joyful assemblage of simple shapes and deep, warm colors.

It has a childlike quality with its one brow raised and the other in the shape of a triangle. The portrait is also (appropriately) called Head of a Man Going Senile.

Insula Dulcamara – 1938


This is one of Klee’s largest paintings, 34 3/5 × 69 3/10 in. It’s filled with delicate colors in contrast with bold dark symbols and shapes.

Klee used newsprint stretched on jute which he painted with oils and colored paste.

Cat and Bird – 1928

Klee liked to use line, shape, and color for their own sake rather than to portray something visible. In doing so, he was able to create images that had more to do with thought than what was perceived.

This painting is a great example of that.

The bird appears to be flying inside the cat’s mind because, of course, it is on the cat’s mind. Great touch – the cat’s nose has a little heart shape. This implies the cat’s desire!

It’s Helen Frankenthaler’s birthday!

Helen Frankenthaler
Abstract Expressionist artist

It’s Helen Frankenthaler’s birthday today!

Born December 12, 1928. Died December 27, 2011, she was a major player in Abstract Expressionism. Even more so, Frankenthaler’s soak and stain technique gave rise to Color Field painting.

I didn’t realize her birthday was today when posted about her yesterday on Facebook. I did the post because Meriam Webster had declared “feminism”the word of the year and I thought I’d honor it by featuring Frankenthaler.

However, I forgot she was someone who refused to discuss gender and its role in her art.

“What has made it work, or what makes certain paintings successful or not, has to do with my being a painter and a thinking, feeling person, more than my sex, color, height, origin.”  Helen Frankenthaler

Today, I’ll make up for the feminist association I made yesterday, by simply paying tribute to the beauty she created. Essentially, she celebrated color for its own sake.

Circus Landscape

This is one of my favorite paintings of hers. It’s one big (44 in by 40), colorful, captivating mass of energy!

Even though it isn’t a landscape in a traditional sense, this abstract still suggests the mood, depth and abundance you’d associate with a sprawling, healthy terrain.

In fact, you’ll see reality in a number of her abstracts. This could be why many of her works resonate with people who don’t always “get” abstract.

Provincetown

Provincetown is an acrylic painting, a medium sh began using later in her career (as I’ve done).

Though she discovered and finessed her soak and stain technique with oil and turpentine, she later recreated it with acrylic.

You can see here why she was so influential in Color Field painting.

That’s it for now!