John Constable (1776–1837) is arguably one of England’s best loved artists; his fame and popularity are rivalled only by those of his great contemporary, J M W Turner. Turner, his reputation rests on a handful of very well known paintings, usually Suffolk scenes such as Flatford Mill or Hay-Wain. Many of the magisterial productions of his last years, including Hadleigh Castle and The Opening of the Waterloo Bridge, are a far cry from the Suffolk scenes, whilst his accomplishments in the difficult and competitive genre of marine painting have been consistently undervalued.
Barry Venning’s introduction presents Constable’s background, his family life, his education and the early friendships from which he drew patronage, support and advice. Barry Venning discusses the artist’s relationship with the great tradition of European landscape painting and examines the historical and cultural context within which Constable lived and worked.
Pierre Bonnard was the leader of a group of post-impressionist painters who called themselves the Nabis, from the Hebrew word meaning ‘prophet’. Bonnard, Vuillard, Roussel and Denis, the most distinguished of the Nabis, revolutionized the spirit of decorative techniques during one of the richest periods in the history of French painting. Influenced by Odilon Redon and Puvis de Chavannes, as well as by popular imagery and Japanese etchings, this post-impressionist group was, above all, a close circle of friends who shared the same cultural background and interests. An increasing individualism in their art often threatened the group’s unity, and although tied together by a common philosophy, their work clearly diverged. This publication lets us compare and put into perspective the artists within this fascinating group.
The works presented in this collection offer a palette of extraordinary poetic expressions: candid in Bonnard, ornamental and mysterious in Vuillard, gently dream-like in Denis, grim and almost bitter in Vallotton. The author shares with us the lives of these artists to the very source of their creative gifts.
Frederic Remington (1861-1909) was one of the last American artists to offer his contemporaries a vision of the American Old West, that wild terrain with its immense prairies, herds of bison and the last American Indians. A painter, but above all an illustrator popular in his time, Remington skilfully captivated the public’s attention by presenting a realistic view of this primitive way of life on the brink of submitting to invading civilisation. Authentically capturing its roughness, force and also its colours, Remington quickly became the representative of American painting in the eyes of the world. Though he mainly concentrated on the attitudes of his characters and animals and not on his landscapes, his photographic style, with a nearly impressionist touch, renewed a genre and lent an added realism to his subjects. Painter and sculptor, Remington also knew how to sculpturally express the ardour of these strong men and wild animals battling with the evolution of a new continent. The galloping horse, still recognized today as his signature subject, magnificently illustrates the power of freedom emanating from these masterpieces.
The French painter Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) revolutionised the use of colour in art. Influenced by the French master Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), close friends with the French poet Apollinaire (1880-1918) and admired by the German painter Paul Klee (1879-1940), he founded the Orphism art movement together with his wife Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) in the early 1910s. Geometric shapes and bright colours marked his way to a unique form of Abstractionism that earned him a place among the greatest artistic minds of the first half of the 20th century.
Salvador Dalí was one of the most popular painters of the twentieth century. Paintings such as The Persistance of Memory and Soft Construction with Boiled Beans — Premonition of Civil War have achieved the status of classic images, for in his best works Dalí touched upon universal and timeless human experiences.
In The Life and Masterworks of Salvador Dalí, Eric Shanes explores the rise and fall of Dalí, setting his art in the context of his life and paying special attention to Dalí’s most important years: the late 1920s and the 1930s. Then Eric Shanes perceptively analyses the 149 works reproduced in colour that, along the commentaries, fully reveal the range of Dalí’s invention and vision. World’s leading authorities on J.M.W. Turner, vice-president of the Turner Society and founding editor of Turner Studies, Eric Shanes has written books on several twentieth century artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Andy Warhol or David Hockney. He is also the author of a work on the history and the heritage of Pop Art, published by Parkstone International.
Spanish architect and designer Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) is an important and influential figure in the history of Spanish art. His use of colour, application of different materials and introduction of movement in his constructions were an innovation in the realm of architecture. In his journal, Gaudí freely expressed his own feelings on art, “the colours used in architecture have to be intense, logical and fertile.”
The author, Jeremy Roe, is interested in a wide range of photography and architectural detail. This interest drives the author and enables him to reveal the context of the art of Barcelona while he guides us through an introduction to Antoni Gaudí, master of some of the most famous constructions, design objects and greatest works in Spanish architecture. This book offers a great insight into Gaudí’s work.
In his works, Hopper poetically expressed the solitude of man confronted to the American way of life as it developed in the 1920s. Inspired by the movies and particularly by the various camera angles and attitudes of characters, his paintings expose the alienation of mass culture. Done in cold colours and inhabited by anonymous characters, Hopper’s paintings also symbolically reflect the Great Depression.
Through a series of different reproductions (etchings, watercolours, and oil-on-canvas paintings), as well as thematic and artistic analysis, the author sheds new light on the enigmatic and tortured world of this outstanding figure.
Ilya Repin was a leading Russian painter and sculptor who is most famous for his involvement with the Russian Itinerant movement. These avant-garde artists rebelled against the formalism and tradition of the official Academy of Fine Arts and championed the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Repin’s most powerful works expressed great psychological depth and exposed tensions within the social order of his time.
This book invites you to discover the wonderful artworks of this progressive Realist painter, whose work would eventually come to define and influence social artistic movements of the future.
The seascapes of Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) made his name in Russia, his native country where he was a painter of the court of Nicholas I, yet his fame barely extended beyond these borders. Master of the Sublime, he made the ocean the principal subject of his work. Sometimes wild and raging, sometimes calm and peaceful, the life of the ocean is composed of as many allegories as the human condition. Like Turner, whom he knew and whose art he admired, he never painted outside in nature, nor did he make preliminary sketches; his paintings were the fruit of his exceptional memory. With more than 6,000 canvasses, Aivazovsky was one of the most prolific painters of his time.
Les artistes moscovites qui commencèrent à se diriger vers l’Impressionnisme aux environs de 1880 admiraient les œuvres du jeune Serov, ses paysages bucoliques qui révélaient si clairement le lyrisme des événements modestes de la vie quotidienne. Ayant bénéficié de l’instruction de ses professeurs Répine et Tchistiakov, il devint le meilleur portraitiste russe de sa génération. Son talent est évident dans certaines de ses plus belles peintures, comme La Jeune Fille aux pêches ou Ulysse et Nausicaa. L’expérience et le travail créatifs de Serov permirent à la peinture russe de faire partie intégrante de l’art pictural du xxe siècle.
Born in 1860 in a small Czech town, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) was an artist on the forefront of Art Nouveau, the modernist movement that swept Paris in the 1910s, marking a return to the simplicity of natural forms, and changing the world of art and design forever. In fact,
Art Nouveau was known to insiders as the “Mucha style” for the legions of imitators who adapted the master’s celebrated tableaux. Today, his distinctive depictions of lithe young women in classical dress have become a pop cultural touchstone, inspiring album covers, comic books, and everything in between. Patrick Bade and Victoria Charles offer readers an inspiring survey of Mucha’s career,
illustrated with over one hundred lustrous images, from early Parisian advertisements and posters for Sarah Bernhardt, to the famous historical murals painted just before his death, at the age of 78.
For Monet, the act of creation was always a painful struggle. His obsession with expressing emotions and his desire to transmit light effects over nature were much more intense than his contemporaries. In his words: “Skills come and go… Art is always the same: a transposition of Nature that requests as much will as sensitivity. I strive and struggle against the sun… should as well paint with gold and precious stones.”
Edvard Munch (1863-1944), a Norwegian painter involved in Expressionism, was so attached to his work that he called his paintings his children, which is rather unsurprising given that they were deeply personal. Indeed, Munch expressed much of his own inner turmoil through his art, particularly in the earlier part of his career. He painted not what he saw, but what he felt when he saw it, allowing his morbidity and illness to imbue his paintings with a sombre tone. These darker paintings, including his famous The Scream, endured and would greatly influence German Expressionism.
Russian countryside is some of the world’s most lovely, from the celebrated explosions of wildflowers that fill its forests in the spring, to the icy winter tundra that defeated the advances of Napoleon and Hitler and provided the backdrop for the drama of many of Russian literature’s celebrated scenes. No one immortalised it better than Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898), the landscape painter who captured the poetry and majesty of the Russian countryside in a non-replicable way. In this comprehensive work of scholarship, Irina Shuvalova and Victoria Charles make a thorough examination of Shishkin’s work.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Florence. His paintings carry the mark of his privileged upbringing; the influence of Florence, the struggle between nature and culture – from rolling landscapes to galleries filled with masterpieces – as well as the constant opportunity to partake in intellectual and artistic discussions all played an important role in his training and therefore in his art. Sargent was an American but many considered him a citizen of the world. At the exception of a few visits back to his native country, he spent the majority of his life abroad and was particularly influenced by European art. However, his American roots remain visible in his art, most notably in his extraordinary talent for capturing emotions, as well as in his personality, and in the delicacy of his technique; qualities which to this day still characterise the great American artists.
Egon Schiele (1890-1918) is one of the great Expressionist painters. He was taught by Gustav Klimt, and at a very early age, like his Viennese Secession predecessors, broke with the traditions of official Austrian art. His numerous self-portraits and nude models remained consistent throughout his career in keeping with his erotic, sensual and tormented visions of art. The paintings and text included in this book display the extraordinary talent of this artist who, sadly, died of Spanish influenza at the age of twenty-eight in Vienna.
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943), the unconventional and controversial painter of Belorussian origin, combines influences of classical European painting with Post-Impressionism and Expressionism. As a member of the ‘Artists from Belarus’, a group within the Parisian school, he created an oeuvre mainly consisting of landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. His individual style, characterised by displays of humour and despair, and by the use of luminous colours, makes him a modern master who is still little understood.
In this engaging text, established artist biographer Klaus H. Carl explores the difficult life of an artist whose fascinating work owes much to the struggles he faced with enduring determination.
Newell Convers, called N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) has been cherished by generations of book lovers thanks to his illustrations of all-time classics such as Treasure Island, Robin Hood, and Robinson Crusoe. As one of the greatest illustrators in American history, he fashioned the way we imagine Long John Silver or Little John up to this day. In contrast to his achievements in book illustration, his painting is often overlooked. His Realist style has been carried on by his son Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) and his grandson Jamie Wyeth (1946-).
Johannes Vemeer, a 17th-century artist, is recognised primarily for his genre scenes. Through meticulous precision in his paintings and drawings he achieves perfection and maximum impact. Unlike his predecessors, Vermeer used a camera obscura to bring even more perspective to his art in the most delicate of manners. He revolutionised the way in which we use and make paint and his colour application techniques predate some of those used by the impressionists nearly two centuries later. Girl with a Pearl Earring remains to this day his greatest masterpiece.
If the lovely ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ should, during one of those volcanic throes which threaten her extinction, sink forever beneath the depths of ocean, she would still live for us through the magic brush of Hiroshige.
Gazing at his landscapes, our imagination takes us to a land of rain showers and sunsets – a fairy scene, where the rainbow falls to earth, shattered into a thousand prisms – where water softly flows towards the horizon.
Considered as the last Ukiyo-e master, Hiroshige was able to use the richness of colours to offer the viewer a sparkling vision of legendary Japan, thanks to his meticulous descriptions of well-known places.
Katsushika Hokusai is without a doubt the most famous Japanese artist known in the Western world since the middle of the nineteenth century.
Reflecting the artistic expression of an isolated civilisation, the works of Hokusai, one of the first Japanese artists to emerge in Europe, greatly influenced the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists painters, such as Vincent van Gogh.
Considered during his life as a living Ukiyo-e master, Hokusai fascinates us with the variety and the significance of his work which spanned almost ninety years and is presented here in all its breadth and diversity.
If sensuality had a name, it would be without doubt Utamaro. Delicately underlining the Garden of Pleasures that once constituted Edo, Utamaro, by the richness of his fabrics, the swanlike necks of the women and the mysterious looks, evokes in a few lines the sensual pleasure of the Orient. If some scenes discreetly betray lovers’ games, a great number of his shungas recall that love in Japan is first and foremost erotic.
Beyond the joys of the city, he explores the sobriety of nature with an equal simplicity, evoking evening snows and the evanescence of the moon. With unparalleled finesse his brush reveals in just a few strokes all the refinement of the Kano- school.
Edmond de Goncourt, by bringing the beauty of the Japanese master’s art into light, invites the reader to discover the world within these artworks whose codes and nuances appear at first glance elusive. Through its selection of magnificent prints, this introductory work summons us into the reposeful garden of Aphrodite while discovering, or rediscovering, Japanese art.
Van Gogh’s life and work are so intertwined that it is difficult to distinguish the two. While observing his paintings, we see a panorama of his life story – a narrative that is now considered a legend. Van Gogh represents the embodiment of a suffering, misunderstood martyr of modern art and is an emblem of the unconventional artist.
Dada shocked the world between the years 1916 and 1922. Dada was not an art movement in the normal sense. It was a storm that broke over the art scene of the time, as the war upon the peoples. They consciously staged anti-art events. According to Max Ernst, it was the ‘outbreak of anger and zest for life’ at the same time. The indignation about the monstrous genocide during World War I was great and equally at the ‘civilization that had brought it about.’ Dada was an international uprising.
The war radically changed the art scene in the vibrant cities of Europe. The international links that had brought forth artistic masterpieces, primarily between France, Italy, Germany and Russia, were abruptly torn apart. The intellectual elite that had stayed at home and those who had come back from the war sobered sought new ways to express their experiences and insights. Among the contributors were Duchamp, Picabia, Taeuber-Arp, Man Ray, Schwitters and Arp.
Few people discuss the fact that Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was the most important artist of the 20th century. Born in Malaga, Spain, Picasso revealed his genius at a very early age and was quick to make contact with the most advanced art circles of his time, first in Barcelona and later in Paris. In the modernist quest for novelty, Picasso turned to pre-Modern history and ‘primitive’ art for inspiration. We owe him and his colleague Georges Braque the invention of Cubism, not just one of many avant-garde movements but the aesthetic that would change the art of painting forever. Once free from traditional values, Picasso produced an outstanding oeuvre, both in terms of variety and quality.
Victoria Charles received her PhD in art history. She has published extensively on art history and has contributed to Art Information, an international guide to contemporary art. She is a regular contributor to journals and magazines, Victoria Charles recently contributed to a collective work, World History of Art.