Monday, April 30, 2018

André Derain's Changing Styles

André Derain (1880-1954) was a noted modernist who, like Picasso, changed styles at many points in his career. Unlike Picasso, perhaps because his paintings are less famous, Derain's paintings can be fairly hard to identify as being his. For example, I posted here about his landscapes, many of which bear little stylistic relationship to how he painted other subjects.

Derain is best known for being a founder of Fauvism, along with Henri Matisse. He also was involved in the brief post- Great War return to classicalism by modernists, but beyond that point, he didn't involve himself with later movements such as Dada and Surrealism, and so far as I know never did abstract painting.

For some information regarding his career, go here.

Due the the lack of a strong Derain style, I cannot guarantee that all the paintings below are his or that they are correctly dated. I had to rely on captions for them found on the Web in a more naïve manner than I prefer.


Pichet, verseuse tripode ou La chocolatière - 1899-1900
A strongly painted still-life not far removed from some Hans Hofmann abstractions of 60 years later.

Le bal Suresnes - 1903
A fairly naturalistic scene with a few hints of Fauvist coloration.

Henri Matisse - 1905
Fauvist portrait of a fauvist.

Charing Cross Bridge - 1906
Fauvist cityscape. Parliament towers are the green stuff above the bridge.

Still Life - 1910
Assuming this is by Derain (no visible signature), this seems to be about as close to Cubism as he could manage.

The Last Supper - 1911
Hints of Cubist faceting here.

Alice Derain - 1921
A example of his postwar return to representational art, though there is a little modenrst-inspired simplification.

Harlequin et Pierrot - 1924
Probably Derain's best-known non-fauvist work. Distortion of some proportions and perspective.

Mme van Leer - 1929
Continuing towards 1930 with a few modernist whiffs.

The Painter and his Family - 1939
Flatness and simplification creep in here as well as in some other paintings from around this time.

Vue de Donnemarie-en-Montois - c.1942
But not in this landscape painted a few years later.

Self-Portrait - 1953
This is one of very few post- World War 2 Derain paintings I noticed on the Internet.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Max Ernst After Surrealism

Max Ernst (1891-1976), as this fairly lengthy Wikipedia entry mentions, was involved in the Dada and Surrealist movements.

Despite -- or perhaps because -- Surrealism having entered middlebrow American culture by the early 1940s (several movies had Surrealist "dream sequences") avant-garde painters in the USA moved on to various kinds of abstract art after World War 2.

So did Ernst, though his post-surrealist paintings are not as well known as his Dada and Surrealism. Some examples of his later paintings are below.


Napoleon in the Wilderness - 1941
An example of Ernst's Surrealism.

A Sunny Afternoon - 1957

Migration - 1963

A Double Life - 1964

Homage to Velazquez - 1965

Monday, April 23, 2018

Multi Ritratti: Rebecca H. Whelan

The woman is the portrait detail above is Rebecca H. (Harbert?) Whelan (1877? - 1950?), about whom little seems to be known, if Googling the Internet is any indication. It seems that her father (can't get a Google hit on him, either) was a trustee of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where the painter, Thomas Pollock Anshutz (1851-1912) taught. Here is the entire painting:

A Rose - 1907

The painting can be seen at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the museum's Web page devoted to the painting is here.

I wrote about Anshutz here, wondering if the woman who posed for "The Rose" was the same one depicted in "The Incense Burner." It turns out she was the same model. Moreover, Anshutz portrayed her more than twice.

Below are paintings by Anshutz where Rebecca was either definitely the model or quite possibly was.


The Incense Burner - c. 1905
From about the same time as "The Rose."

Tanagra - 1909
This is the largest image I could find of this painting. Rebecca is known to be the model.

Figure Piece - 1909
I'm not sure if this is Rebecca. The complexion is too ruddy compared to other Anshutz depictions, but the hair, nose and eyebrows suggest it might be her.

Portrait of Rebecca H. Whelan - c. 1910

Woman Reading - c. 1910
Another "maybe" portrait. This is the largest image I could locate while assembling this post: a larger one might offer a closer look at the nose which then could be compared to the profile in "Tanagra." The nose seems somewhat like Rebecca's and ditto the eyebrows and chin, though the position of the head makes comparisons difficult.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hans Hoffman, Modernist Teacher

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) permanently moved the the USA from his native Germany when he was in his early 50s and by the mid-1930s had established his own art school that was highly influential in terms of the mid-century New York milieu of modernist painting. The list of former students is impressive, as can be seen in his Wikipedia entry. Useful information regarding him can be found here, and a Web site devoted to Hofmann is here.

Hofmann was a convinced modernist who stressed respecting the flat picture plane, among other articles of the modernist faith. His ideas regarding color might have been more useful for artists in general.

Below are examples of Hofmann's work, mostly over the last 30 years of his long career. Details on the Internet are sketchy, but it seems he was in Paris when the Great War broke out and was unable to return to Germany. Being an enemy alien, it is likely his life was circumscribed in some way, but I have no information regarding that. What one of the above sources mentions is that his paintings in Germany were lost, so there is little to document his early career. Oddly, I could not find much from the post-war German period either.

However, Hofmann was prolific, and there are paintings from the mid-1930s when he was doing his influential teaching that inspired many painters who became Abstract Expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s.


Self-Portrait - 1902
This is the only early Hofmann painting I found on the Internet.

St. Tropez - 1928
A drawing with a jumbled-up view of the Riviera port, part of which is indeed on a hill.

Japanese Girl - 1935
Now we are in the zone when he was teaching in New York City and Provincetown on Cape Cod.

Lighthouse - 1936
Cade Cod landscape of sorts.  Hofmann often painted fairly thinly: Was the price of paint a factor during the Great Depression years?

Table with Teakettle, Green Vase and Red Flowers - 1936
Hofmann is said to have been influenced by Matisse, and this painting tends to suggest just that.

Untitled No. 30A - 1937
Here is a work that is fully abstract with lots of brushstroke expression. I imagine that this would have influenced those who later became the Abstract Expressionist school in New York.

Untitled (Provincetown) - 1941
He did not totally abandon representation until a few years later.

The Painter - 1941
Again, vigorous brushwork, striking use of color and almost total abstraction.

Untitled - 1949
The New York school of Abstract Expressionism was well into its ascendency when Hofmann painted this vaguely cubist work.

Deep within the Ravine - 1965
One of his last paintings. Very strong colors and composition. I'm not a big fan of Modernism, but I like this one.

The Castle - 1965
During the 1960s Hofmann made a number of paintings that included rectangles. Perhaps he was interested in adding opposition to less-structured parts of these paintings.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Walter Gotschke Illustrates Adler

Walter Gotschke (1912-2000) is considered by many automobile art fans as one of the very best in that field. Some background regarding him can be found here and here. I wrote about him here, but might have overstated things when I asserted that he was self-taught. Gotschke was trained in architecture, so must have received some basic training in drawing and watercolor (the latter commonly used for presentations in those days).

His career until he went blind in his early 70s was as a commercial illustrator specializing in automotive subjects. Some of this was for advertising, other works were commissioned as editorial material for magazines. The latter were usually racing scenes created with pen, watercolor and gouache (as best I can tell), often done in an impressionistic, almost slapdash manner.

Below are some examples that appeared in Automobile Quarterly, a horizontal format hardbound publication (Volume 15, No. 4, 1977). Gotschke's work was in conjunction with an article about the Adler, an automobile company based in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

Due to AQ'a horizontal format (chosen because cars are wider than they are tall, so are best presented that way) combined with my scanner's capabilities, most of the images below are either partial or fragmented. Much of this was because Gotschke's illustrations were splashed across the "gutter" over two facing pages.


Eröffnung der Autobahn Frankfurt-Darmstadt (opening of the first Autobahn section), 1935. A lineup of Adlers is seen here.

Right-hand segment of the same illustration showing Der Führer behind the Mercedes in the foreground.  The "gutter" line can be seen towards the left side of this scan.

Start of the 1937 race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. The red cars are Alfa-Romeos, the ones in the foreground painted blue are Delages, and the two white cars are Adlers.

Scene featuring an Adler at the 1937 race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Adler streamline rennwagen during a nighttime pit stop at 24 Heures du Mans, 1937. At the left is Mme Anne-Cécile Rose-Itier who co-drove an Adler Trumpf with Huschke von Hanstein, later Porsche's racing director.

Right side of same illustration. Adler is the German word for eagle, and an eagle symbol is on the car's grille.

Adler Trumpf 1.5-liter racing car of the type shown in the previous images. Note Gotschke's treatment of reflections on the shiny body of the car.

1938 Adler 2.5-liter limousine. His handling of color and reflections is even more impressive in this illustration fragment.  Note how he combines cool blue-gray sky reflections with the warm brown/tan body color.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Diego Rivera: Pretty Good Artist When not Being Political

One of the minor themes of this blog is my contempt for political art -- paintings or drawings manifestly espousing a political point of view. I contend that this subject matter degrades artistic quality most of the time (there might be a few exceptions, so I included the word "most" in this sentence).

An example of this is the famous Mexican painter and muralist Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez (AKA Diego Rivera, 1886-1957). Some biographical information is here and more detail regarding his early career is here.

Rivera came from a well-to-do family and was able to study art both in Mexico and in Spain. From Spain he went to Paris to joint the modernist art scene there. By the early 1920s his politics had solidified into Marxism. He was became a Communist Party member, but was cut loose because his sympathies were with Leon Trotsky rather than Stalin. However, he remained a strong "fellow traveler" for the rest of his life.

Below are examples of Rivera's painting over his career. Some of the stylistic evolution was due to normal maturation -- sloughing off earlier styles for different ones. Also, his work was influenced by stylistic fashions of the inter-war years. Whereas he experimented with abstract art in Paris, by the time he returned to Mexico Rivera had settled into a slightly stylized form of representational art suited for his propaganda murals.

For what it might be worth, I prefer the pre- Great War art to his later works.



Vista de Toledo - 1912
This is a nice painting: note the triangular element of the composition.

The Adoration of the Virgin - 1913
A touch of cubist faceting here on the figures, but it works well.

The Mathematician - 1918
The whiff of distortion adds interest to this portrait.

Subterranean Forces - 1926-27
Rivera had a good command of the human figure when he chose to use it. The pose of the central figure is unusual, but effectively done.

Portrait of Natasha Zakólkowa Gelman - 1943
Stylized, and very 1940s. A far cry from his paeans to the proletariat: Rivera must have been bought one way or another here.


The Uprising - 1931
A stereotypical propaganda scene.

Night of the Rich - 1928
The lower part would have made a nice 1928 Vanity Fair magazine cover illustration.

Detroit Industry mural - north wall segment - Detroit Institute of Arts - 1933
Little overt propaganda here, but this represents the mature Rivera style.

Glorioso Victoria - 1954
A late mural-on-canvas dripping with antiAmerican hostility and general ugliness typically found in political art.