#FridayPainting: Vincent Van Gogh “Olive Grove”

Vincent Van Gogh sought peace in an asylum in the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Olive Grove by Vincent van Gogh (Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

He lived there between May 1889 through May 1990. During this time he painted at least 15 paintings of olive trees.

In the final months of his life, Vincent Van Gogh turned to nature to seek relief from his mental turmoil and emotional distress. Olive trees had a profound significance for him. He saw the olive tree as a symbol of life, the divine, and the cycle of life.

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.” Vincent Van Gogh

The “Olive” paintings are considered to be among his finest works. One painting, “Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape”, was a complement to The Starry Night.

Olive Grove by Vincent van Gogh (Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

#FridayPainting: Vjekoslav Karas “Young Woman with a Mandolin”

The painting of a young woman playing a mandolin resonated. The rich colours of her clothing, set against the light green to dark green background added drama to the portrait. The woman’s faraway gaze and her right hand poised over the strings of the instrument created a tension and expectation that music would come from the painting.

In his early adulthood, Vjekoslav Karas studied in Italy, where he was was influenced and inspired by religious themes. It was in Rome where he found enjoyment in music. He learned to play the flute and the guitar, composing songs in both Italian and Croatian languages.

Young Woman with a Mandolin by Vekoslav (Vjekoslav Karas dupe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Vjekoslav Karas was born in Karlovac, a city in central Croatia, on May 19, 1821. I understand that he is considered a pioneer in a new era of Croatian painting, expressing a realism in his portraits.

The Young Woman with a Mandolin, which was painted with oil on canvas, was of a woman from Rome playing a lute. It is titled in Croatian, Rimljanka s lutnjom, which is translated as “a Roman woman with a lute”. But if you look closely at the instrument it has a mandolin’s 8-string peghead.

Vjekoslav Karas returned his home city of Karlovac. He lived in poverty and suffered from bouts of depression. Tragically, he died by suicide, drowning in the Korana River, July 1858.

Young Woman with a Mandolin by Vekoslav Karas (Vjekoslav Karas dupe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

L’Atelier Rouge at the MoMA

A few months ago, when I was lamenting that travel had been curtailed, my husband Don reminded me that if I stand still, the world would come to me.

The world has indeed come to me.

Through the alchemy of technology, I have travelled the world, virtually, from my kitchen table. Today, I have arrived virtually at the Museum of Modern Art to see the unveiling of Matisse: The Red Studio, which will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, from May 1, 2022 – September 10, 2022.

Red has always been my colour of choice.

I am inspired by Red’s boldness, vigour and passion for life.

Red & Yellow (Photo by Rebecca Budd)

Join me virtually at the MoMa to view The Red Studio: The Journey of a Painting.


#FridayPainting: Henri J.F. Rousseau “The Equatorial Jungle”

Henri Julien Félix Rousseau was a French post-impressionist painter who was subjected to ridicule by critics during his lifetime. And yet, he became known as a self-taught genius who had enormous influence on several generations of avant-grade artists.

How often have critics been on the wrong side of history? Perhaps the better question is – how can we be on the right side of history?

Henri Rousseau
The Equatorial Jungle, 1909 (Public Domain) National Gallery of Art

Pablo Picasso recognized Henri J.R. Rousseau’s genius the moment he saw a painting by Rousseau being sold on the street as a canvas to be painted over. It was as if the universe had orchestrated that a young artist would discover a great work by an older artist. Picasso was so enthralled with the painting he arranged to meet Rousseau at the first opportunity.

In 1908, two years before Rousseau’s passing, Picasso held “Le Banquet Rousseau,” which was “one of the most notable social events of the twentieth century” according to John Malcolm Brinnin, American poet and literary critic, who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia (another Canadian connection)

The guests at the banquet were the creative elites of the age: Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Metzinger, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Marie Laurencin, André Salmon, Maurice Raynal, Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler, Leo Stein, and Gertrude Stein.

“Henri Rousseau died 2 September 1910 in the Hospital Necker in Paris. Seven friends stood at his grave in the Cimetiere de Bagneux: the painters Paul Signac and Otiz de Zarate, Robert Delaunay and his wife Sonia Terk, the sculptor Brancusi, Rousseau’s landlord Armand Queval and Guillaume Apollinaire who wrote the epitaph Brancusi put on the tombstone: HenriRousseau.org

We salute you
Gentle Rousseau you can hear us
Delaunay his wife Monsieur Queval and myself
Let our luggage pass duty free through the gates
of heaven
We will bring you brushes paints and canvas
That you may spend your sacred leisure in the
light of truth Painting
as you once did my portrait
Facing the stars

The Equatorial Jungle by Henri J. F. Rousseau

#Friday Painting: Émile Joachim Constant Puyo “The Straw Hat”

The Straw Hat

Émile Joachim Constant Puyo “The Straw Hat” Oil Pigment Print, Cincinnati Art Museum

Today’s painting is a photograph by the French photographer, Émile Joachim Constant Puyo, who lived from 1857 to 1933. I confess that I have never heard of this photographer/artist so chose to feature Émile Puyo’s photograph, “The Straw Hat,” to gain insight into his work and the time when photography was in transition.

Émile Puyo believed that photographs were a form of art when the photograph was fashioned to demonstrate a beauty independent of the subject. That meant that photographs could be manipulated to express individuality. In that way, the photographer was the artist – not the camera, which Émile Puyo considered was an unemotional machine.

Émile Puyo associated with the Photo Club of Paris and was a champion for the practice of photography as an artistic medium.

Today, cameras and photography continue to evolve. They are powerful tools for capturing cultural memory. They document our time and our stories to be recalled in the years that follow.

#FridayPainting Théo van Rysselberghe “La dame en blanc”

Portrait of Mrs. Théo van Rysselberghe

Théo van Rysselberghe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Théo van Rysselberghe was a major player in the European art scene at the turn of the twentieth century. On October 28, 1883, he co-founded the Belgian artistic circle Les XX. This was a circle of young radical artists that rebelled against the status quo of the prevailing artistic standards.

Théo van Rysselberghe traveled extensively to Morocco, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The portraits and landscapes he brought back from his trips are a testament to his insatiable curiosity and desire to capture the essence of what he saw and experienced.