Friday, October 25, 2013

Art History's Top 100 -- 20th century non-American works

Sadly, my art history class is coming to an end.  Last week we covered works numbered 63 - 78 on Rosalie's hit parade.  The art itself was my favorite so far.

Munch's The Screan (1895)
We started the night off with Edvard Munch's The Scream, one of art's most iconic images.  Who didn't see Macaulay Culkin's imitation in the Home Alone movies?  I myself have recreated this work on more than one occasion.  (In fact, I think I have a picture somewhere of my rendition when looking at the map of ski trails in Taos, New Mexico.  My concern was appropriate as I left New Mexico with a sprained knee.)  It probably won't surprise you to learn that Munch lived in a constant state of anxiety and was prone to panic attacks.  He created four versions of The Scream between 1893 and 1910, the main character in which was inspired by his viewing of Peruvian mummies.  The version pictured here, painted in pastel on board, sold at Sotheby's in 2012 for $120MM.

Picasso's Desmoiselles d'Avignon (1907)
No art history class would be complete without some works by Pablo Picasso. In Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon, we find five women from a brothel in Barcelona.  Their figures have been reduced to basic geometric shapes.  Picasso has not fully embraced Cubism at this point, but he is definitely getting there.  You can see the influence that African art had on him in this work (which is probably one reason I like it so much).  Surprisingly, while the work was completed in 1907, it wasn't shown publicly until 1916, perhaps due to the mixed reaction that it received from his friends and colleagues.

Samson's Triumph of Truth (2009)
At the first session of the class, Rosalie said that one criteria she used to select the works to be included was that we would see them in the every day world.  Last week-end I went to a performance by the Laboratory Theater of Florida in Fort Myers.  When I popped into the ladies' room, I was confronted with a large replica of Les Desmoiselles.  I had to laugh.  And Carl Samson, the juror for the National Art Exhibition to be hosted at the Visual Arts Center in February, has incorporated this work into his own masterpiece, Triumph of Truth.  (I can't wait to talk with him about it when he comes down to judge the show.)  So Rosalie certainly had it right when she chose "the chicas of Avignon" (as Picasso preferred to call this painting) for our class.

Kahlo's Self-Portrait with
Monkey
(1938)
While I can't say I love her work, I am fascinated by Frido Kahlo.  I first heard of Kahlo when my friend Danita told me that she was going to dress up as Kahlo for a Halloween party.  Danita has the coloring for it, but, happily, not the unibrow.  (In pictures of Kahlo you will see that she actually didn't have as much of a unibrow as she includes in her self-portraits.)  Kahlo's back was broken in a trolley accident when she was young.  She was in a body cast for three months, and it was during this period that she began to paint as a way to pass the time. The playful monkeys that are often featured in her self-portraits are said to represent her lost childhood.  The movie Frida with Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina is an interesting look inside the complicated lives of Kahlo and husband and artist Diego Rivera.  Kahlo said, "There have been two great accidents in my life.  One was the trolley and the other was Diego.  Diego was by far the worst."

In our last class we will cover American artists.  It promises to be another whirlwind.  Stay tuned for my report.  




1 comment:

  1. Nanette, I am thoroughly enjoying this art series of yours. I have recently picked up the brush and am having so much fun. Needless to say, my art eyes are wide open and curious. Wishing you well. We must get together soon!

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