Four Masterpieces

Here are four of the most recognizable artworks I’ve seen in the last couple of years. In the future, I plan on seeing a few more and I’ll be sure to post those as well.

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ABOVE: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, The Phillips Collection, Washington DC

ABOVE: Claude Monet, The Japanese Footbridge, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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ABOVE: J. M. W. Turner, The Slave Ship, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

ABOVE: Gilbert Stuart, George Washington (The Athenaeum Portrait), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Ten Iconic Artworks in the USA

Of all the worlds great art treasures, many can be seen in the United States of America. Here are ten of the most iconic artworks to be found in the land of liberty.

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Row 1:

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

Row 2:

Katsushika Hokusai, Great Wave Off Kanagawa (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)

Grant Wood, American Gothic (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party (The Phillips Collection, Washington DC)

Row 3:

Georges-Pierre Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles)

Row 4:

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

J.W.M Turner at the Art Gallery of Ontario

I recently visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see its latest exhibition, J.W.M. Turner: Painting Set Free and came away impressed. Here is a short review.

 

ABOVE: J.M.W. Turner, War. The Exile and the Rock Limpit, 1842, oil on canvas, 40.5 x 40.3 x 4.7 inches, © Tate, London [2015]

BELOW: J.M.W. Turner, Peace – Burial at Sea, 1842, oil on canvas, 43.7 x 43.6 x 4.7 inches, © Tate, London [2015]

I’ve written about J.M.W. Turner in the past. First, about his painting The Slave Ship, and then, about his biopic film Mr. Turner. Suffice it say, I am a huge fan, and as such, I was super excited to see his works up close and personal in J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

As usual, I went on a Saturday afternoon, and as is the case with most of the AGO’s blockbuster shows, so too did half the city. Despite the turnout, I was able to maneuver my way through the crowd and take in all the show had to offer. Which was a lot.

While I would have loved to see my favorite painting The Slave Ship, this exhibition does perfectly well without it. Many of the works on display are stunning, and the curators did an excellent job of showing Turner’s  progression as an artist, as well as his many influences.

From maritime scenes and mythical stories, to sunrises and sunsets (who doesn’t love those) there’s something for everyone in this show. If you’re already a fan of Turner, or if you’re hearing about him for the first time, you should go.

J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free is at the AGO until January 30, 2016.

Must See Art Shows in Toronto this Spring, Summer, and Fall

Good news art lovers: there is a lot going on in Toronto over the next few months. In addition to the cities many outdoor fairs, the following shows/events look promising.

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ABOVE: Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, 1967, screenprint on paper, 36 x 36 inches

If art is your thing, you may want to mark the following dates in your calendar:

Luminato Festival

Various locations around Toronto, June 19 – 28

The 9th annual festival of arts and creativity takes over Toronto for ten days this summer. The 2015 edition features hundreds of events – with the majority of them being free.

Andy Warhol Revisited: A Mirror for Today

77 Bloor Street West, July 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015

Canada’s largest collection of Warhol prints and paintings are coming, not to gallery, but to an empty retail space in one of Toronto’s swankiest neighborhoods.

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto

Various locations around Toronto, October 3, 2015

At times hit and miss, the concept behind this event is still pretty sound – the city comes alive too.

Art Toronto

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, October 23-26, 2015

Other cities host bigger (and glitzier) fairs, but this one’s still pretty good. A must see for art lovers and buyers.

J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

Art Gallery of Ontario, October 31, 2015 – January 31, 2016

The AGO’s fall blockbuster examines the last 15 years of Turner’s career and features more than 50 works on loan from Tate Britain.

Mr. Turner (a review)

Like many an art fiend, I am a huge fan of J.M.W. Turner. I recently had the pleasure of watching Mike Leigh’s biopic of the artist, and I was impressed.

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While J.M.W. Turner would never, and I mean NEVER, win the British art prize awarded in his name, he is still as popular today as he was in his lifetime – maybe more so – and given this, it was about time somebody made a film about him. Enter Mike Leigh.

Mr. Turner, although lengthy, is not a full accounting of the the artists life, but rather, an examination of the last 25 years of his career. Owing to the scope of the project, and the fact that many of his best works were produced later in life, this was probably a wise decision.

This film certainly doesn’t flatter Turner, but to be fair, it doesn’t really flatter anyone else either. The aristocracy, the Royal Academy, and most of all, the critic John Ruskin are all portrayed in a negative light. Not to worry, Turner’s likability, or that of his supporting cast, shouldn’t deter the viewer – many a genius was also a cad.

At times quite beautiful, the Oscar nod for best cinematography is well deserved, as are the nods for costume design and music (original score). That said, of all the films best qualities, the performance of Timothy Spall is by far the greatest. Sadly, he did not receive a nomination.

There isn’t much to complain about here. If you’re a fan of Turner, or just great film making, you’ll want to see this.

Art and Politics: Part 1

History clearly has a wrong side. While many would like to forget the past, the following artists have chosen to confront it – head on, and with a vengeance.

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ABOVE: J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship, 1840, oil on canvas, 35.7 x 48.3 inches, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Great art is often political in nature. These pieces certainly are:

Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808

In 1807, Napoleon took over Spain and made his brother Joseph, the new King.

On May 2, 1808, hundreds of Spaniards rebelled.

In retaliation, the rebels were rounded up, and executed by the French on May 3, 1808.

Completed in 1814, The Third of May 1808 commemorates the Spanish resistance, and is a powerful depiction of man’s inhumanity to man.

Goya’s masterpiece has inspired many political artworks, among them, Picasso’s Guernica.

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People

The July Revolution of 1830 took place in Paris and resulted in the toppling of  King Charles X.  In its wake, Louis Philippe took the throne and ruled under the July Monarchy until 1848.

In Liberty Leading the People, a woman (symbolizing Liberty) leads the people over the bodies of the fallen, while holding a musket and the French flag. Behind her, are fighters from a mix of social classes.

Quite controversial in its time, the work was seen as a staunch anti-monarchist symbol, and it enraged royalists and monarchists alike.

After the June Rebellion of 1832, the painting was returned to the artist where it was hidden in an attic for being too revolutionary. In 1874, it entered the collection of the Louvre.

In the years since, the female figure – commonly known as Marianne – has come to symbolize the French Republic and France itself. She was also the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.

J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship

In 1781, the captain of the slave ship Zong ordered that 133 slaves be thrown overboard so that insurance payments could be collected. It is believed that this event was Turner’s inspiration.

Although the British Empire outlawed slavery in 1833, Turner and many other abolitionists wanted it outlawed around the world. As such, he choose to coincide its exhibition with a meeting of the British Anti-Slavery Society.

The famous art critic John Ruskin was the paintings first owner, but he grew to find the subject too painful, and decided to find the work a new home.

The Slave Ship changed hands a number of times before it was purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It has been on display there since 1899.