John Henry Twachtman, “Round Hill Road,” ca. 1890-1900. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
One of my favorite works in the Contemporary Jewish Museum/SFMOMA exhibit, “Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art” was Kiki Smith’s Lilith. It sticks out, literally and figuratively, because of its unconventional display. Lilith is part wall piece, part free standing sculpture…the only catch is she stands on a wall defying gravity. There is a sense of power, strength and sturdiness to the piece because of Lilith’s angular, crouched pose.
When I circled back around to take one last look at Lilith before leaving, I noticed a new feature of the sculpture. Since she is perched on a wall at eye-level, the viewer can walk around to see her entire body. This second look made me realize Lilith was looking back. Her face is inlaid with very life-like looking glass eyes. They’re a little unnerving, a little off-putting. Lilith still commands my attention, just now in a mix of admiration and repulsion all in one. All that with just her eyes…now that’s power.
Solomon Stein (1882-1937) and Harm Goldstein (1867-1945), Armoured Horse, c. 1912-1937. Originally located on a carousel on Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Paint on wood with glass eyes, leather bridle, and horsehair tail. American Folk Art Museum, gift of the City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation .
John Singer Sargent: The Birthday Party, 1887
This image was treasured by the Besnard family it portrays. The son, their only child, died tragically young, and this image served as a valuable memory. The father in this image is painted intentionally blurry to convey the relationship between mother and child.
John Singer Sargent: Ruth Sears Bacon, 1887
What I love about this image in particular is how fabulously realistic it is: after sitting for too long, Ruth is slouched over in her seat, her smile is almost a grimace of boredom. Sargent has the amazing ability to show children with a level of empathy and respect that is uncommon in his contemporaries.
John Singer Sargent— Dorothy, 1900
A powerful image, Dorothy overcomes the oversized hat and ruffles meant to make her look small to gaze out at the viewer with intelligence and maturity.
The US Postal Service will be honoring 12 Modern American artists with “Forever” stamps. Included in the series are Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Aaron Douglas, Arthur Dove, Marcel Duchamp, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Gerald Murphy, Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, and Joseph Stella.
OMG YESSSS AWESOME THERE’S MAN FLIPPING RAY AND CHARLES DEMUTH I LOVE CHARLES DEMUTH
Charles Demuth - My Egypt (1927)
I love this painting. SO. MUCH. I know people normally go for good ol’ Number 5, but this is probably my favorite Demuth.
Charles Demuth. Incense of a New Church. 1921.
A celebration of industrialization or a criticism of it? That’s for you to decide…
In honor of African American History Month, Kara Walker! She uses the traditional, genteel ladies’ craft of cutting silhouettes to create a blistering commentary on racism in America, past and present. It is as beautiful as it is shocking.
Top left: Cut, exhibited at Wooster Gardens, Fall 1998
Top right: Slavery! Slavery! Presenting a GRAND and LIFELIKE Panoramic Journey into Picturesque Southern Slavery or “Life at ‘Ol’ Virginny’s Hole’ (sketches from Plantation Life)” See the Peculiar Institution as never before! All cut from black paper by the able hand of Kara Elizabeth Walker, an Emancipated Negress and leader in her Cause, (1997); cut paper and adhesive on wall 12 x 85 ft. (3.7 x 25.9 m) overall. Collections of Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton, Santa Monica, California. (Courtesy Walker Art Center)
Center left: Scene from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), 2005. Portfolio of 15 offset lithographs with silkscreen. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (link here)
Center middle: Picture of the artist
Center right: Keys to the Coop, 1997. Linocut on white wove paper; 117.5 x 153.8 cm (461⁄4 x 601⁄2 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago (link here).
Bottom left: From After the Deluge, exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006 (link here)
Bottom right:Emancipation Approximation,
Jenny Holzer (1950- ), American installation artist. Clockwise from top left:
You Are My Own, 1996. Projection. Unable to determine location of installation at the present time, but when I know, you’ll know!
Untitled (Selections from Truisms, Inflammatory Essays, The Living Series, The Survival Series, Under a Rock, Laments, and Child Text), 1989. L.E.D. electronic-display signboard. Installation at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Protect Me From What I Want, from the Mixed Messages series, 1987, Showplace Square, San Francisco.
Projections, selections from the poems of Wisława Szymborska, 2008, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
I Cannot Stand It, from the PROTECT PROTECT exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2009.