Thursday, July 30, 2015

Suzanne Valadon's (Restored) Studio

The previous post featured photos I took last week in the Musée de Montmartre of a "restoration" of the apartment of artist/model Suzanne Valadon who lived in the main building for a time. This post deals with the "restoration" of her studio.

As previously noted, I put the word restoration in quotation marks because, as this link indicates (scroll down), the project completed last year based on work by Hubert Le Gall contains almost none of Valadon's actual possessions, which presumably have been lost for years. Instead, Gall relied on Valadon's paintings and a few photos to reconstruct the setting as best he could.

Below are some photos taken of Valadon in an atelier setting, though not necessarily in the building at 12 rue Cortot in Paris' XVIII arrondissement. These are followed by a few of my snapshots.


Suzanne Valadon at her easel.

Studio view: the painting of flowers is also in photos of mine, below.  Her husband, André Utter, also used this studio and some of the paintings might have been his.

Suzanne, her son Maurice Utrillo, and André Utter.

Vadadon, Utter and Utrillo.

Painting of Sacré-Coeur by Utrillo on far wall.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Suzanne Valadon's (Restored) Apartment

I returned from Europe last week bearing pixels of this and that, including photos taken in the Musée de Montmartre of a "restoration" of the apartment of artist/model Suzanne Valadon who lived in the main building for a time.

I put the word restoration in quotation marks because, as this link indicates (scroll down), the project completed last year based on work by Hubert Le Gall contains almost none of Valadon's actual possessions, which presumably have been lost for years. Instead, Gall relied on Valadon's paintings and a few photos to reconstruct the setting as best he could.

Nevertheless, I found it interesting. Some photos I took are below.


Yr. Obedient Blogger at work.

Self-portrait done in 1883.

Portrait of her son, Maurice Utrillo on wall.

Painting of the nearby Sacré-Coeur by Utrillo in the studio room.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

One-Work Artists

The title of this post does not refer to artists who created only one work in their careers. Instead, it has to do with artists who suffer the fate of being known to the general public for one really famous work. Often, the public at large will know of the work of art, yet cannot recall the name of the artist who made it.

I can't make up my mind as to whether or not this is a good thing. Many artists would be perfectly happy to have become famous or to have painted a famous painting. Others might prefer to be known for their career-wide accomplishments. Few, I would think, would rather remain essentially unknown.

Artists known for a number of their works where none looms over the rest include Rembrandt, Velázquez, David, Monet and Picasso, to name but a few.

Below are examples of famous paintings that, in my judgment, tended to overshadow the artist's other works. They are arranged alphabetically by the artist's name.


September Morn - 1912
By Paul Émile Chabas (1869-1937).

Mona Lisa - ca. 1506
By Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519).

LOVE (print) - 1965
By Robert Indiana (b. 1928).

Washington Crossing the Delaware
By Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868).

Sunday on the Grande Jatte - 1884-86
By Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891).

Portrait of George Washington (unfinished) - 1796
By Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828).

American Gothic - 1930
By Grant Wood (1891-1942).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sam Francis: A More Structured Pollock

Sam Francis (1923-1994) was a painter and printmaker whose career was largely based in California and to a lesser extent in Japan and Europe. Biographical information can be found here at Wikipedia.

The link (as of mid-May 2015) mentions that "Francis was initially influenced by the work of abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and Clyfford Still. He later became loosely associated with a second generation of abstract expressionists, including Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler, who were increasingly interested in the expressive use of color."

That influence must have been indirect, because Francis apparently did not spend much time in New York City, the hotbed of Abstract Expressionism and other modernist abstract painting schools. I suggest that he was also influenced by Jackson Pollock of drip painting fame. A photo (below) shows Francis in his studio with paint pots and canvases covering the floor Pollock-style.

Whereas Francis' paintings often featured drips of paint and running paints, they often didn't have the entire surface covered, as was Pollock's classical case. Segments of paintings were left blank, with the result that the images appeared to have greater structure than the typical Pollock wall-to-wall swirls of drip. The white backgrounds Francis used also served to highlight his selection of colors -- typically bright and cheerful.

I rate Sam Francis as an interesting footnote to an artistic school whose time has long passed and whose goals make far less sense now than they did when new.


Self-Portrait - 1974

Sam Francis in his studio
Sorry, but I don't have a source for this photo.

unknown title

Untitled watercolor - 1958

Untitled (from Pasadena Box) - 1963


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Up Close; McClelland Barclay (Again)

I visited the fabulous Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida near the end of April. Besides aircraft, the museum displays aviation-related artwork, including that of McClelland Barclay (1891–1943). As this mentions, Barclay was a highly successful commercial artist who became an active-duty naval officer in 1940, illustrating posters and other war-related work. He died when his ship was sunk in the South Pacific.

Two years ago, I wrote an Up Close post dealing with Barclay. Having the chance to photograph another original of his work, I'm pleased to provide a second Barclay Up Close here.

As is usually the case with this sort of photo, lighting conditions are not ideal; here the main light source strongly shines from above the painting. This has one advantage, namely that the impasto in this painting is better highlighted. Also keep in mind that poster art usually works best where images are simplified, so the example below is more simply done than the advertising image featured in my previous Barclay post.

Click on the images to enlarge.

Here's an establishing view of the poster art.  The aircraft appears to be a trainer (note the flimsy windscreen), yet it isn't painted yellow, as were Navy training planes around 1940.  The ship in the background seems to be a battleship rather than an aircraft carrier.  But Barclay had to adjust reality in order to maximize poster conventions.  A yellow airplane would grossly interfere with the composition and message.  The battleship superstructure is useful for its symbolism of the U.S. Navy.

A detailed view of a pilot who might be a aviation cadet along with a lieutenant wearing pilot's wings on his uniform.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dorothy Hood's 1950s, 1960s Fashion Illustration

My training in commercial art included a course in fashion illustration. The instructor, Irwin Caplan, who I wrote about here, would bring issues of the Sunday New York Times to class for our inspection and inspiration.

The Times in those days was filled with advertisements for department and women's apparel stores. Around 1960 those included Macy's, B. Altman, Arnold Constable and Bergdorf Goodman. Perhaps the ads Caplan touted the most were from Lord & Taylor, featuring the illustrations of Dorothy Hood (1902-1970). Not surprising, because Hood had been at the top of the New York fashion illustration world for a long time and was still going strong.

There seems to be little about Hood on the Internet, but some biographical information can be found here and here. The latter source mentions that due to a 1950s accident affecting her right arm, she trained herself to illustrate using her left hand ... without noticeably affecting the results.

Most fashion illustrations in newspapers and even magazines in the 1950s and 60s were printed in black and white; run-of-paper color is common now, but rare then. Illustrators usually opted for brushwork and ink or watercolor washes to quickly produce effective views of featured merchandise.

Here are some examples of Hood's work for Lord & Taylor from those days.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hmm. Where Did I See That Plane Before?

I visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida in late April, and amongst the dazzling collection (for an airplane fanboy like me) was a Messerschmitt 262 B-1a jet from World War 2. The Wikipedia entry on the Me 262 is here. Scrolling down you will find that the two-seat B-1a variant was a trainer, and some other B-1s were used as radar-equipped night fighters. Most Me 262s were single-seat fighters or fighter-bombers.

These are two photos I took of the Aviation Museum's 262. It is nicely restored, but the fighter aspect is stressed on the information card seen in front of the plane in the upper photo. The museum's web site page for the Me 262 (here) states: "The model on display, 'White 35,' was captured in Schleswig, Germany in 1945." No mention is made of its trainer status, as best I recall.

Only a small proportion of 262s were two-seaters, and all the 262s I've seen in various museums aside from this one were single-seat planes.

Well, I did see a two-place Me 262 once. It was March, 1969 at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Pennsylvania. Here are photos I took then:

There is now an air museum at Willow Grove, and its web page indicating planes in the collection is here. Missing is that 262 "Red 13" (as they say in the aircraft ID trade).

So I wonder if "White 30" and "Red 13" might be the same airplane. Few were built, few survived the war, and how many fewer still were in the hands of the U.S. Navy after the war? It's entirely possible that "Red 13" was passed over to Pensacola at some point since 1969. But its also possible that the Navy indeed acquired two Me 262 B-1a aircraft. Feel free to let us know which supposition is correct.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Molti Ritratti: Grace Coolidge

A while ago I posted about illustrator and portrait painter Howard Chandler Christy, and included an image of his portrait of Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge.

It seems that Grace was somewhat the opposite of Calvin, in that she had a sparkling personality. So it stands to reason that given her status and attributes, there ought to have been a number of portraits painted of her.

And there were. Except that there are few decent images of them to be found on the Internet, and some original works might have gone missing. Below is what I've been able to locate here and there on the Web thus far.


This is the official portrait by Christy that hangs in the White House.

A photo of Grace Coolidge.

Grace Coolidge with Rob Roy, who also is in the official portrait.

Another Grace Coolidge portrait attributed to Christie. It doesn't look as skillfully done as his other work, and the subject doesn't quite look like her.

A Christy portrait at the Coolidge Presidential Library in Massachusetts from this source. I like this one better than the official portrait. Too bad I can't locate a decent image of it on the Internet.

Grace Coolidge by an artist named Frank Ashford.

Photo of Juliet Thompson with her painting Grace Coolidge taken 8 February 1927. I could find no other image of this portrait.

Grace Coolidge with Frank O. Salisbury and his portrait of her. Again, I couldn't find an image of the portrait.