“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

Birthdays, Brushstrokes, Paul Cézanne, Post-Impressionist

Happy Birthday, Paul Cézanne


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

Coco Chanel, National Hat Day

Wearing Art – National Hat Day 2014


“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.




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

Birthdays, Brushstrokes

Happy Birthday, Wassily Kandinsky

“Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

Happy Birthday Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky (December 4, 1866 – December 13, 1944) Russian painter and art theorist, recognized as painting the first purely abstract works.  He was greatly influenced by an exhibit of Claude Monet’s paintings, especially the impressionistic style of “Haystacks.” Looking back, he recalled his experience in these words:

“That it was a haystack the catalogue informed me. I could not recognize it. This non-recognition was painful to me. I considered that the painter had no right to paint indistinctly. I dully felt that the object of the painting was missing. And I noticed with surprise and confusion that the picture not only gripped me, but impressed itself ineradicably on my memory. Painting took on a fairy-tale power and splendour.”