Norman Lewis, an Abstract Expressionist painter and teacher, was born in 1909 in Harlem to Caribbean immigrant parents.
As an artist, Lewis diverged from his native Harlemcommunity of artists in choosing abstraction over representation as his mode of expression.
Lewis studied with sculptor Augusta Savage from 1933 to 1935, at which time he also took art courses at Columbia University.
Those years brought about fruitful encounters with many artists and writers. Lewis joined the 306 group, a salon of artists and writers who met in Harlem and aimed to promote and support the careers of emerging African American artists.
In 1935, with members of the 306 group, he became a founding member of the Harlem Artists Guild.
Lewis moved away from creating social realism works in the early 1940s because he found the style was not effective to counter racism.
Abstraction proved an important means to both artistic freedom and personal discovery, a strategy to distance himself from racial artistic language, as well as the stereotypes of his time.
Lewis said he struggled to express social conflict in his art, but in his later years, focused on the inherently aesthetic. “The goal of the artist must be aesthetic development,” he told art historian Kellie Jones, “and in a universal sense, to make in his own way some contribution to culture.”
In his last 20 years, Lewis created and developed his very own unique blending of abstraction and figuration. His rhythmic lines and shapes now hinted at figures moving through his layers of colors.
Happy Saturday Eve! A discussion, a wondering, a confusion for a Saturday evening (with pictures!)
Yesterday I went to a wonderful art festival on the Milwaukee lakefront: The Lakefront Festival of the Arts. Part of the ticket price was entry to the Milwaukee Art Museum:
So hubby and I spend a good deal of time walking through the museum. They had art from every era. There was this 1800-something bounty hanging my husband enjoyed:
A Dale Chihuly:
And even a Georgia O’Keefe:
We wandered through the contemporary section, and I found myself having a little harder time understanding what I was looking at.
There was this neat hanging rock display:
And a modernish painting I kind of got a vibe from:But then I came across two paintings that I just didn’t get. They both had their own wall, so there were no distractions. And my favorite question mark:
And I wonder — why are these last two considered art?
I know I know…beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that. The artist is making some sort of a statement. Or non-statement. I did not retain the artists’ names, but I am sure they are impressive in their own right. After all, they have a spot on a wall in one of the most popular art museums around.
So this Saturday evening, I was wondering if you could help me out. Maybe you are an artist that paints similar paintings. Maybe your friend or relative is an artist that really “gets” modern, contemporary art.
Maybe I am just out of my league. But I know I ask what thousands of others often ask. Why is this considered art? I love paintings. Not just the Masters, but I am enjoying the modern approach as well. But what talent is there is painting a canvas all one color? What am I missing?
It’s not that I don’t appreciate an avant garde approach to art. But walking through the art festival, I saw plenty of other works that would have made much more sense up on a museum wall.
Ding Yi (1962-) has been making abstract paintings using crosses and grids since the late 1980s.
Ding is one of China’s foremost Abstract painters, his art characterized by an acute attention to detail, with systematic repetition of forms and layering.
The cross, whether a + or an x with thematic variation, is a motif that the artist has declared a formal mark without meaning, in order to emphasize his rationalist approach to painting.
The context of Ding’s work has always been the incredibly fast-paced development of the industrial urban environment in post-socialist China, and the work, whether predominantly black, painted on tartan, or elaborated in intense fluorescent colors, all bear the title Appearance of Crosses with a date.
Ding is one of China’s foremost Abstract painters, his art characterized by an acute attention to detail, with systematic repetition of forms and layering.
Ding’s practice encompasses painting, sculpture, spatial installation and architecture.I thought it amazing how much intricate work went into each painting that I have inserted a close up of the work.
More of Ding Yi ‘s work can be found at theShanghai Gallery.
Russian-born painter Wassily Kandinsky is credited as a leader in avant-garde art as one of the founders of pure abstraction in painting in the early 20th century.
Born in Moscow in 1866, Wassily Kandinsky took up the study of art in earnest at age 30, moving to Munich to study drawing and painting.
A trained musician, Kandinsky approached color with a musician’s sensibility.
An obsession with Monet led him to explore his own creative concepts of color on canvas, which were sometimes controversial among his contemporaries and critics, but Kandinsky emerged as a respected leader of the abstract art movement in the early 20th century.
Kandinsky’s creation of abstract work followed a long period of development and maturation of intense thought based on his artistic experiences.
He called this devotion to inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire inner necessity; it was a central aspect of his art.
Alright, all you lovers (and merely friends) of Art….
Yesterday, my SEAG blogwas about Infinity. As you can see, most of of the images are abstract, i.e., art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colors, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect (per Tate Gallery).
Now, I am a landscape scenery kind of aficionado — a fan of surrealistic fantasy scenes and purple skies. But I want to feel comfortable around abstract art. I may not understand it, but I often get a “feeling” from it.
From those of you who appreciate abstract art…what it is about it that you like? What part of it do you understand? What does it MEAN?
Although it may look to the contrary, abstract art is not just someone spatting paint on a canvas. There is a reason, an emotion, a question the artist is trying to convey.
How can you learn to appreciate it, though?
Through the Gallery years I have shared what I thought was creative modern art. I read about the artists, got an idea what he was trying to convey, and shared their work so that you could get a different taste in your mouth.
But I’m sad to say I don’t quite get it. And I’m not making fun of abstract art. I’m just trying to understand it.
I suppose it’s like poets writing free verse poetry. To me it sounds like creative writing broken up into stanzas. There are only a few poets that write like that that I truly feel are sticking to form. But I love what I read, so the style doesn’t always mean as much.
So all of your modern art affectionados — how do you look at abstract art? Or minimalism art? What do I look for? How do I understand it?
Chrissy Angliker is a Brooklyn-based Swiss/American artist who was born in Zurich and raised in Greifensee and Winterthur, Working from controlled subject matter, she quickly loses herself in the chaotic magic of the process.
Her first painting did not go as planned. “I thought I would begin with a self portrait,” she explains. “I began to paint the eyebrows, and the paint began to drip unexpectedly. It was beyond my control, and I had a very strong emotional reaction.”
The beauty of her method of drips is a connection to the chaos she finds in her art.
Friday the 13th. Spooky for some, lucky for others.
My black (and white) cat and I are taking the opportunity this day to promote my other blog, SUNDAY EVENING ART GALLERY.
I have added a lot of additional images to each artist’s base. When I first introduce the artists here on Sunday nights, it’s often hard to pick just 5 or 6 of their masterpieces.
That’s what the Gallery is for.
So when you are in need of that “wow…how do they DO that?” moment, pop on over to the other side. Better yet, sign up to follow the blog. It doesn’t fill your mailbox full of fluff junk mail; just notices when I open a new gallery. Which is at least once a week.
Come on — take a chance. It’s a fun world to explore.
Spring…Summer…Autumn…all are perfect times to walk around the art gallery. Don’t fret — the art is protected from the elements. The weather is perfect, the sun is starting to set — a perfect time to explore a new and unique artist.
Since this is our premiere, let us showcase something…unassuming.
When you work inside an office all week, one tends to fist pump the air when the weekend comes and the weather is beautiful. So I expect all of you to go outside and fist pump today, then when you come in this evening, put on some great relaxing music and come visit the Sunday Evening Art Gallery.
It’s easy to follow, and the art I’m coming across is so wonderfully beautiful and unique. I’m adding galleries all the time, plus adding more images to the ones I have. Tell your friends! Say, “Man, have you checkout out that Sunday Evening Art Gallery? Man, that art is so awesome!” (or something to that effect…)
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was the leading figure of the so-called Vienna Secession, an art movement that rebelled against the established art concepts and introduced a new style similar to Art Nouveau.
To bring more abstract and purer forms to the designs of buildings and furniture, glass and metalwork, the group gave birth to another form of modernism in the visual arts and they named their own new movement: Secession.
Klimt was seen as an artist who was far ahead of his time.
Much of the work that was produced during the Austrian born artist’s career, however, was seen as controversial.
Although symbolism was used in many of his art forms, it was not at all subtle, and it went far beyond what the imagination during the time frame accepted.
Klimt’s primary subject was the female body, and his works bordered on eroticism.
Although his work was not widely accepted during his time, some of the pieces that Gustav Klimt did create during his career are today seen as some of the most important and influential pieces to come out of Austria.
Now and then I like to take little side trips into the lives of some of the artists I highlight both here and in my Art Gallery.
Although according to his website (http://clhaupt.com) Craig Haupt has a degree in Art Education, it’s his love of creative doodles that’s led to a career of whimsical images.
Why I am taking time to share his creativity is simple. On his WordPress blog ( https://craiglhaupt.com/) I have watched him turn this:
I love the creative process. Whether it’s writing, painting, sketching, stenciling, it all starts small and obtuse and grows into something wonderful and unique.
Craig’s delightful explanation “From childhood to present, I have been surrounded by my doodles and countless stick figures that have never left me,” rings true for all of us. There is always some thing, some thought, some feeling, that follows us around all the time. Something we just can’t forget about. Something we can’t let go.
I find a touch of doodle in a depth of color in Craig’s sketches and drawings. To take a scrambled beginning and turn it into something esthetic is no easy feat. It’s not often an artist shows you all their steps, so I thought it fun to share both ends of the spectrum.
The unique blend of Realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting sets the work of Wolf Kahn (1927-) apart.
His convergence of light and color has been described as combining pictorial landscapes and painterly abstraction.
It is precisely Kahn’s fusion of color, spontaneity and representation that has produced such a rich and expressive body of work.
Splitting his time between his studios in New York and Vermont, Kahn renders his pastoral surroundings with a mixture of abstraction and representation and with a keen attentiveness to light and color.
These lush, vibrant, oil-on-canvas paintings read as studies of form and color as much as meditations on the landscapes he has come to understand so well—and has helped others to know, too.
Kahn offers some advice that, perhaps, might be of value to a younger generation of painters. “In order to make a living as an artist, you’ve got to be one of two things: A very nice guy, or a bad egg.”
From the deft touch of his paintings, Wolf Kahn is definitely the first.
You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul. ~ George Bernard Shaw
Dale Chihuly (born September 20, 1941), is an American glass sculptor whose work in glass led to a resurgence of interest in that spectacular medium.
Chiluly graduated in 1965 from the University of Washington where he first was introduced to glass while studying interior design, then an M.S. in sculpture in 1967 from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied glassblowing with Harvey Littleton.
He received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, then worked at a renowned glassblowing workshop in Italy where he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today.
In 1971, Dale Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State.
The technical difficulties of working with glass forms are considerable, yet Chihuly uses it as the primary medium for installations and environmental artwork.
Although Chihuly lost the use of his left eye in a car accident in 1976, his work with assistants has been nothing short of phenominal.
The artist professed, “Once I stepped back, I liked the view,” and pointed out that it allowed him to see the work from more perspectives and enabled him to anticipate problems faster.
I knew the name Jackson Pollock before I knew of Jackson Pollock.
Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912-August 11, 1956), known professionally at Jackson Pollock, was well known for his unique style of drip painting.
His name is synonymous with abstract expressionism.
Instead of using the traditional easel, Pollock affixed his canvas to the floor or the wall and poured and dripped his paint from a can; instead of using brushes he manipulated it with ‘sticks, trowels or knives’ (to use his own words), sometimes obtaining a heavy impasto by an admixture of sand, broken glass or other foreign matter.
His art is not only 2D, but 3D, with textures that jump out at you.
He was strongly supported by advanced critics, but was also subject to much abuse and sarcasm as the leader of a still little comprehended style; in 1956 Time magazine called him “Jack the Dripper”.
Although his problematic life ended early, his style is one that impresses us to this day.
Loïs Mailou Jones (1905 – 1998) decided early in her career that she would become a recognized artist—no easy path for an African American girl born at the beginning of the twentieth century.
After two years in North Carolina where she experienced the frustrations and indignities of segregation first-hand, Jones left Palmer Memorial and joined the faculty of the Fine Arts Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Jones’s long career may be divided into four phases: the African-inspired works of the early 1930s, French landscapes, cityscapes, and figure studies from 1937 to 1951, Haitian scenes of the 1950s and 1960s, and the works of the past several decades that reflect a return to African themes.
Loïs was the first and only African American to break the segregation barrier denying African Americans the right to display visual art at public and private galleries and museums in the United States.
Throughout her 60 year career as an artist and educator, Loïs Mailou Jones broke down barriers with quiet determination during a time when inequality, racial discrimination, and segregation hindered her from gaining the acknowledgement and prestige she deserved as a talented artist.
Skillfully integrating aspects of African masks, figures, and textiles into her vibrant paintings, Jones continued to produce exciting new works at an astonishing rate of speed, even in her late eighties.
Loïs Mailou Jones was not only an artist, but a movement, inspiring the Harlem Renaissance and the future of all artists struggling to be heard.
In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream — Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream?
Craig L Haupt is a Maryland based artist who works with Pen & Ink, watercolor, color pencil, and acrylics to create whimsical abstract images.
The words of artist Craig L. Haupt are as honest as his works.
“Though having earned an Art Education degree in 1999 (at 50 years old) and taking the required art courses, I am for the most part self-taught.”
“During my professional career, the early and latter part has been mechanical drawing/drafting. From childhood to present, I have been surrounded by my doodles and countless stick figures that have never left me.”
“Over time, they all have been unintentionally blending to create a menagerie of different subjects.”
One of my favorite bloggers, David, posted a 36-word poem the other day, doing his best to “understand” it. http://davidkanigan.com/2015/08/20/oh-well/. a very lovely, emotional poem. I tried to understand it, too. And while a whiff of sense wafted around my senses, I, too, had a hard time with interpretation.
It made me wonder.
Do people who write and paint and sculpt truly abstract things truly understand their meaning?
And, if so, why are so many of us so duh about it?
Look. I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes I have to have TV show plots explained to me. Sometimes I don’t get the end of the joke. Abstract, in the purest sense of the word, is, well, abstract to me.
But most times I “get it” after pondering on things for a bit. Eventually the proverbial light bulb goes on and most of what I read/look at/listen to makes sense. (Except rap music). The truly abstract aspect of an artist’s creativity is something totally different for me, though.
An example of this confusing state of mind is Russian artist Kasmir Malevich (1878-1935). A Polish-Russian painter and art theoretician, he was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematism movement (an art movement in Russia that produced abstract works featuring flat geometric forms).
Maybe it’s because I skipped Geometry in high school. Maybe it’s because my teachers taught me to write in full sentences and not in cryptic phrases. But somewhere along the line I never got into simple geometric forms. At least, not as a form of art.
Malevich explains his aesthetic theory. “Under Suprematism I understand the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom.
I’m afraid I don’t quite get that from the painting above, either.
What is this roadblock I have to understanding the other side of the universe? I opened my Sunday Evening Art Gallery so that I could share what I considered Unique Art. Different Art. Personal Art. Something created that, even though in one way or another you don’t always “get” it, there is some thread of familiarity that runs between the artwork and the viewer.
I never studied Art theory either, so that might explain some of my unappreciativeness. I can make a connection between my friend Dawn Whitehead‘s sculptures and the world, even though most times I’m grasping at straws. I can figure out haikus and rambling poetry as long as there is an ending that makes sense.
Words thrown together without an immediate connection — that I have a much harder time with.
I am determined to delve a little further into this Suprematism movement, along with poetry that has category names but no sense. I want to be a little part of every art movement around me, even if at times the art doesn’t move me. A child of the world, as they say.
Even if I continue to get D- on my comprehension tests.
Nathalie Miebach is an artist whose work focuses on the intersection of art and science and the visual articulation of scientific observations. Her woven sculptures interpret scientific data related to astronomy, ecology and meteorology in three-dimensional space.
I am not sure where the wanderlust for unusual art came from. It might be from stumbling across the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; it could be from looking at Mount Rushmore in person so many years ago.
But once I opened the door, I was Dorothy discovering the Land of Oz. Shapes and colors I’d never imagined appeared before me. More than that — creative minds reached out and touched the creative muse inside of me. Art that was just a little — different. Unique. Art that brought discussion and engagement to the world.
I found that once I stumbled around and discovered these unique creations, I collected more images than a normal blog attention span could handle. So what better way to show even more examples of the creative mind than to create a gallery dedicated to them alone?
The Sunday Evening Art Gallery is a newly created site that is an expansion of my Sunday Evening offerings. It is an expansion of my weekly gallery — a place where you can enjoy additional creations from magical minds.
I will be adding new galleries every week, so please come and visit often. If you know of other artists/objects/representations of any form of Creative Art, let me know that, too. I am always open for more magic!