Yuyuan Garden

Gong Xi Fa Cai!  This is a wish for you to be prosperous in the coming year.

According to the Chinese zodiac, January 31, 2014 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year. We are entering the Chinese Year of the Horse.  Predictions are that this year will be full of adventures and challenges.   I will celebrate this momentous event by remembering the words of a Laozi, the legendary philosopher of ancient China, founder of philosophical Taoism.

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
Laozi, Tao Te Ching

The photos are of the Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai.  This garden is an excellent model of classical Chinese gardening architecture.  Built during the reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing (1559), for the private use of Pan Yunduan, an administration commissioner of Sichuan Province. Inside the walls, precious cultural relics show the best of China’s tradition of art.

Celebrations, China, Happy New Year, Laozi

Happy Chinese New Year

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“Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

 Alfred Stieglitz

 

Alfred Stieglitz came up on my January 21, 2014 Metropolitan Museum of Art Calendar as a palladium print taken by Waldo Frank, a prolific novelist, historian, literary and social critic. Alfred is sitting comfortably on a chair, his tie slightly askew with papers on his lap and, what appear to be apples, in his hands. He is wearing a hat and there is a hint of a smile beneath his moustache. His life is before him; and he has a determined look about him that suggests that he is ready to take on the world.

The first time I heard about Alfred Stieglitz was when I was researching the remarkable photographer, Gertrude Käsebier. Next, I found his name linked to Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso. My latest encounter was when I was reading “Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe.” The defining similarity in all that I have read, centers on his remarkable skill to see creative genius.

Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946) was a pioneer in the advancement of pictorial photography in America and abroad. But in my opinion, his brilliance was his ability to recognize artistic endeavour and creativity in others outside the world of photography. He perceived the heart and purpose of an artist’s work. And he shared the limelight, generously and unequivocally.

In 1905, Alfred Stieglitz, along with his associate Edward Steichen, opened a small gallery that would become famously called “291.” This tiny gallery was the first venue in America to showcase the works of Auguste Rodin and Henri Matisse in 1908, Paul Cézanne in 1910, and Pablo Picasso in 1911.

Alfred Stieglitz once said, “It is not art in the professionalized sense about which I care, but that which is created sacredly, as a result of a deep inner experience, with all of oneself, and that becomes ‘art’ in time.”  Over the years, his life was a testament to those words.

Alfred Stieglitz was born on New Years Day, an auspicious beginning.  As we embark on our New Year, may we share his commitment as we explore the wealth of human creative skill and imagination…

Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz, Photographers

Alfred Stieglitz

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Birthdays, Brushstrokes, Paul Cézanne, Post-Impressionist

Happy Birthday, Paul Cézanne

Oranges

Today marks the birthday of Paul Cézanne.

Paul Cézanne’s life is a poignant reminder that it is not easy to be the bridge between ideas. It takes courage to go forward into unknown territory, alone without support or encouragement.  Cézanne was the connection between two art forms – late 19th century Impressionism and early 20th century Cubism.

Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso bestowed Paul Cézanne with the honoured title of “the father of us all,” yet few recognized or celebrated his genius during his lifetime. He once said, “The world doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand the world, that’s why I’ve withdrawn from it.”

Paul Cézanne lived in Paris, met Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, became friends with Émile Zola and Paul Gauguin, and gained inspiration from visits to the Louvre. Even so, he was plagued by self-doubt. His artwork had the characteristics of the Impressionist style, but they never took on a delicate aesthetic sentiment. Some even say that his Impressionist style was unsettling and strained. In the 1880s, he saw less of his friends, choosing to live in isolation in Aix en Provence, in the South of France. Things changed in the 1890s, when Pissarro, Monet and Renoir urged the art dealer Ambroise Vollard to display several of Cézanne’s paintings. The time was right; public interest began to develop and a fresh appreciation of his work came into being.

Throughout those long years when his work engendered disappointing reactions, Paul Cézanne was establishing new paradigms for the development of modern art. “Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience,” he was quoted as saying. He lived by those words.

Happy birthday, Paul Cézanne! You have given me much to think about. I now ask myself – how often do I pass by artwork without giving it the due consideration and attention it deserves? Have I really tried to understand what the artist was trying to convey? Did I miss the opportunity to see something new, something dynamic because it didn’t fit into my notion of what constitutes art? Do I care enough about the artistic journey to pay attention?  Would I have recognized your genius in your time?

“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.” 

Paul Cézanne

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Coco Chanel, National Hat Day

Wearing Art – National Hat Day 2014

Hats

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

Coco Chanel

Today is Hat Day!  Let’s celebrate by digging into our closets and donning a hat to commemorate a tradition that has come down through the centuries. It seems that hats first appeared in ancient Egypt, if we are to believe a Thebes tomb painting, which shows a man wearing a conical straw hat. Now, every time I wear my straw hat, I will remember that, like those that came before, I am merely repeating the act of seeking shelter from the heat of the sun. Nothing has changed; the sun continues give warmth to our world.

Generally, we identify art as a visual, tactile or audio occurrence, an external stimulus rather than an internal idea or action that stems from reflection. The simple act of wearing a hat signifies a creative expression. From Fez to Beret, Gatsby to Panama, Stetson to Sun or Top hat, we display individual, artistic thought.

We all know the Fedora of Indiana Jones, the Ascot in My Fair Lady, the tweed Deerstalker of Sherlock Holmes and the Bowler made famous by Charlie Chaplin in The Tramp. Today, with my hat at a jaunty angle, I created my individual artistic statement. As Coco Chanel once said, “I don’t do fashion, I AM fashion.”

Perhaps the first step to understanding art is to recognize that we are all artists.

Summer

Winter

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Art for each Day!

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
Vincent van Gogh

A few days ago, I attended the birthday party of a dear friend celebrating a pivotal milestone in her life.  It was an evening of fine food, laughter and shared experiences.   I came knowing no-one, and ended with new friends who will continue to add depth to my life.   There was one person who I was particularly interested in meeting.  To me, she was simply known as “the artist.”

There is something captivating about creative energy.  We seek it diligently in the external world, yet are reluctant to look inward to our own feelings and ideas.  My question to “the artist” was – how do we recognize the artistic spirit within, if we do not consider ourselves artists?  Her reply was simply to surround ourselves with art, music, dance, poetry, literature, colour, architecture.  We are all artists simply by recognizing beauty!

I have the Metropolitan Museum of Art Calendar 2014, ready to go January 1st!  It seems that we were born to enjoy and love beauty in whatever form it comes to us.  Without art, our lives would be greatly diminished.  As Vincent van Gogh once wrote to his brother, Theo, “How rich art is, if one can only remember what one has seen, one is never empty of thoughts or truly lonely, never alone.”

Art, Vincent Van Gogh

The Artistic Spirit

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