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"Art Study" by Kim Bell

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Pablo Picasso “The Guitarists” (1965)

A life-size musician with large, clumsy hands, disjointed body parts, and wide, piercing eyes strums a guitar. An equally arresting head in the lower left corner is thought to be a self-portrait of the artist and a kind of visual signature for the aging Pablo Picasso

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Souvenir II by Kerry James Marshall

Souvenir II by Kerry James Marshall is set in Marshall’s aunt’s living room where a memorial hangs above the couch. The memorial reads “In Memory of” and features President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and centered between the Kennedys is Martin Luther King, Jr. In clouds floating above, Marshall depicts – as angels – individuals associated with the Civil Rights Movement who were violently killed between 1959–1970. The most prominent part of the work is that of a black angel with gold wings, preparing the living room’s memorial setting, holding a vase with flowers, inviting the viewer into the scene. Souvenir II is one of four in a series, narrating the loss of leaders in politics, literature, arts and music.

Among the angels depicted in the clouds is Detroit native Viola Liuzzo, a housewife and 39-year-old mother of five. She was shot by Ku Klux Klan night riders on Highway 80 in Montgomery, Alabama making her way home to Detroit after participating in the Selma to Montgomery marches in the wake of Bloody Sunday. To this day, she is known as the only white woman killed during the Civil Rights Movement. The other angels in the artwork include Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton, Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Malcolm X and others who were murdered for their work during the Civil Rights Movement.

Kerry James Marshall @ MOCA

This exhibition, Marshall’s first major retrospective in the United States, contains nearly 80 paintings, all of which contain images of Black subjects going about their daily business, presented with utter equality and humanity. A deeply accomplished artist, who makes ravishing paintings, Read the rest of this entry »

Frank Stella (1983)

Frank Stella, in full Frank Philip Stella, (born May 12, 1936, Malden, Massachusetts, U.S.), American painter who began as a leading figure in the Minimalist art movement and later became known for his irregularly shaped works and large-scale multimedia reliefs.

Frank Stella works are influenced by Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Franz Kline and Caravaggio. This 3 D Stella pictured above is one of my favorite paintings at the Detroit Institute Of Arts museum.

Photo 📸 Kim Bell

“Larry Gagosian” by David Hockney (2013)

LACMA

 

In 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, David Hockney offers a vibrant and intimate view of people with whom he has developed relationships over the past 50 years. The majority of the portraits were painted in Hockneys Los Angeles studio, all from life and over a period of two or three days, which the artist has described as 20-hour exposure. None of Hockney portraits are commissioned; for this series he invited family, members of his staff, and close friends to sit for him including several curators, art dealers, and collectors This image above is of legendary world renown art collector Larry Gagosian (2013).

Photo 📸 Kim Bell

Vincent Van Gogh “Self-Portrait” (1887)

Detroit Institute Of Arts

“For want of a better model,” Van Gogh chose to paint his own portrait on many occasions. While in Paris between 1886 and 1888, Van Gogh lightened his palette under the influence of the brilliant colors of the impressionists, but he soon reserved the use of such light colors to express particular moods. Van Gogh’s stay in Paris was a relatively happy one, and in this painting, created during the summer of 1887, he portrays himself with an almost light-hearted appearance. This image above is located at the Detroit Institute Of Arts in Detroit,MI and was the first Van Gogh painting acquired in the United States. Van Gogh was one of the modern masters but didn’t receive his credit until he died.

Photo 📸 Kim Bell

Basquiat “Skull” (1982)

Many of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings are in some way autobiographical, and Untitled may be considered a form of self-portraiture. The skull here exists somewhere between life and death. The eyes are listless, the face is sunken in, and the head looks lobotomized and subdued. Yet there are wild colors and spirited marks that suggest a surfeit of internal activity. Developing his own personal iconography, in this early work Basquiat both alludes to modernist appropriation of African masks and employs the mask as a means of exploring identity. Basquiat labored over this painting for months — evident in the worked surface and imagery — while most of his pieces were completed with bursts of energy over just a few days. The intensity of the painting, which was presented at his debut solo gallery exhibition in New York City, may also represent Basquiat’s anxieties surrounding the pressures of becoming a commercially successful artist.

Photo 📸 Kim Bell

Robert Rauschenberg (1963)

Detroit Institute Of Arts

Considered by many to be one of the most influential American artists due to his radical blending of materials and methods, Robert Rauschenberg was a crucial figure in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to later modern movements. One of the key Neo-Dada movement artists, his experimental approach expanded the traditional boundaries of art, opening up avenues of exploration for future artists. Although Rauschenberg was the enfant terrible of the art world in the 1950s, he was deeply respected and admired by his predecessors. Despite this admiration, he disagreed with many of their convictions and literally erased their precedent to move forward into new aesthetic territory that reiterated the earlier Dada inquiry into the definition of art.

Photo courtesy of Kim Bell

Cy Twombly (1969) Bolsena

The Broad

Twombly was a reclusive, quasi-mythic figure of contemporary art. Born in Lexington, Virginia, the artist spent his early career in New York before moving to Italy in 1957, where he lived until his death in 2011. Long celebrated as a painter’s painter, Twombly remained less popularly known than the two most prominent members of his generation, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Twombly’s work, however, was characterized almost from the beginning as a surprising and dazzling complement both to abstract expressionist painting (especially the work of Jackson Pollock) and the neo-Dada practices of Rauschenberg and Johns. Twombly’s development was also shaped by new postwar European art, including Jean Dubuffet and Italian artists such as Alberto Burri and Piero Manzoni, whose own work marked a striking departure from old conventions of beauty and taste. Deliberately unstable and momentary in their initial appearance, Twombly’s pictures engage formlessness as a vernacular pictorial medium for intense personal rumination on mythological and poetic themes. With his agitated line, his scattered accretions of pigment, and his highly idiosyncratic evocation of the classical past as a haunting experience of time and change, Twombly achieved a unique and deeply challenging body of work.

Untitled (Bolsena) is one of a series of 14 large paintings that Twombly created during August and September 1969, working by himself in the Palazzo del Drago, a desolate stone house overlooking the lake of Bolsena, north of Rome. Comprising oil-based housepaint, wax crayon, and lead pencil on warm ocher-white ground, the work marks an eruptive departure from the relatively uninterrupted sequence of dark-ground gray—or “blackboard”—paintings that Twombly had been producing since 1966. Both abstract and cryptically imagistic, the artist’s vigorous yet fragile hybrid of painting and script here includes a loosened geometry of tumbling diagrammatic signs. Indeed, the sparse, variegated marks that characterize the Bolsena series stand significantly apart from the refined, allover scrawl of the gray paintings. Twombly derived these graphic forms from a group of drawings that he produced in January of that year on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. The surfaces of these works are endowed with an insistent presence, although wiped areas lend a subtle impression of shallow pictorial space.

Since the beginning of his career, Twombly employed themes from classical mythology in his work, often inscribing names and places as a means of identifying motifs. In Untitled (Bolsena), mythological content appears in an unexpected guise: according to the artist, some of the signs in the Bolsena series allude to the Apollo space flight and moon landing that occurred in July 1969, just before he began this series of work. Numbers, diagrammatic images, and other marks apparently allude to the logistics of the Apollo mission, which filled the news that summer. These marks are set against areas of erasure and obscuring clouds of paint, passages that transform the surface of the work into a palimpsest—a metaphor for the passage of historical time

Photo: Kim Bell

Jean Michel Basquiat “Obnoxious Liberals” (1982)

The Broad

Jean-Michel Basquiat began his career as a wild-child, anti-establishment graffiti artist, and his rebellious stance is most graphically evidenced in his 1982 painting Obnoxious Liberals.

As the title suggests, Obnoxious Liberals depicts a series of figures representing capitalism and its hapless, powerless victims. The exploited, corroded victim, on the one hand, is virtually held hostage by the minions of mainstream White American culture, as represented by dollar signs, cowboy hats and Uncle Sam top hats as well as a “Not For Sale” sign. The victim’s dark skin also hints at the systematic oppression of African-Americans.

Basquiat was born in New York City in 1960 to parents of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent. The racial injustices he witnessed from an early age filled him with rage and the urge to rebel against the system. The political overtones of an indignant Jean-Michel are most obvious in Obnoxious Liberals.

Basquiat had no compunction about accompanying his visual art with written words expressing his intentions. Phrases, expressions, even nonsense syllables were acceptable to him as long as they helped him to convey his urgent, keenly felt messages to the public. For Basquiat, his message, the need to be understood, was just as important as the visual creation itself.

One of Basquiat’s main influences was Pablo Picasso, and this influence is notable in Obnoxious Liberals. The painting is clearly reminiscent of Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica and also portrays the atrocities perpetrated on the helpless victims by ruthless and unscrupulous authoritarian figures.

Although Basquiat’s creations often appear chaotic, as if he simply blew them out of his head on the spur of the moment, in fact, this is an impression which the artist himself strove painstakingly to produce.

The truth was that, in reality, he spent a great deal of time pondering over his canvases and carefully constructing in his mind what he wished to display, the disposition and lay-outs of his work and the messages he wanted to transmit.

The charismatic creator was a brilliant artist who knew how to employ vivid color for masterful effect. The use of primal, primary tones, splashes of raging red to attract the eye, glaring blue and black contrasting with pristine white and the almost complete absence of any other hues are some of the notable features of this painting.

Obnoxious Liberals, with its clear, confident strokes, is without a doubt a perfect example of Basquiat at his best.

Photo: Kim Bell