Author Archives: callaanne

Fauvism

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“Fauvist,” a name derived from the French for “wild beast”, is used to describe an informal and loosely-knit group of artists who worked during the Turn-of-the-Century. The leader of this group was Henri Matisse, and the group included (to mention just a few) Braque, Dufy, Vlaminck, and Derain. The Fauves were most interested in the artist’s spontaneous and emotional response to his subject matter, and they expressed this personal response through wild unstructured brushwork and brilliant garish colors, which were selected for their emotional impact. Fauvism was short-lived and many of its artists soon moved on to experiment with other styles; Braque, for example, went on to develop Cubism. Thus Fauvism could be considered more of an experimental training ground for many of the famous artists of modern art.

So what did the Fauves contribute to modern art? For one, they were one of the first groups to firmly break with Impressionism, an action that encouraged artists to break free from the strictures of former styles. Also, their unbridled use of color to express emotion was like nothing ever seen before. Personally, I see Fauvism as one of the first major rebellions against any effort to create an observable reality. In the past, Academic painters strove greatly to create a sense of 3-dimensional reality even in their most fantastic pieces. The Realists, in spite of their comparatively flattened spaces, still captured a strong semblance of the world around us, and the Impressionists attempted to observe and portray the fleeting nature of light and color effects. I think this dramatic shift of emphasis from observable reality to more abstracted personal expression opened many doors to future Modern Art styles as artists increasingly started to experiment with abstraction.  –  Calla Bilhorn

Source: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/fauv/hd_fauv.htm

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Under the Trees I (1906) by Andre Lhote (1885-1962)

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)

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Let me tell you about Arthur Rackham, one of my absolute favorite illustrators of all time. You may not know who he is, but you may know the people influenced by him. In my opinion, his whimsical style and fantastic subject matter of fairies and goblins is the granddaddy of more contemporary illustrators such as Alan Lee (quintessential illustrator of The Lord of the Rings books and movie), Brian Froud, and (most importantly) ME. His influence extends beyond illustration, as the Spanish filmmaker Guillermo del Torro cites Arthur Rackham as a major influence in the design of the creatures in his movie Pan’s Labyrinth.

I won’t bore you with all the details of Rackham’s life, but basically he was born in London, started his career as a visual journalist for various newspapers and magazines, eventually developed a unique style, and found his niche in book illustration. He became one of the most popular and successful book illustrators of the Edwardian period, and his style inspired hosts of what I call “Rackham Rip-offs,” younger contemporaries who borrowed from or just downright copied Rackham’s style (look up Hugh Thomson; he is one of the more talented and better-known of the Rip-offs).

Rackham’s style is characterized by delicate and sinuous line work in pen, which was then filled with soft watercolor washes in muted, low-contrast colors. His color palette was always limited and added to the delicacy that gives his pieces such an otherworldly feel. He became known for his beautiful whimsical fairies and his grotesquely adorable goblins. Outside of illustration, Rackham was an esteemed watercolor landscape artist, and his illustration is often filled with beautiful landscape backgrounds. These backgrounds are often filled with hidden information, such as little grotesque creatures that have little relevance to the story being illustrated. When presented with a Rackham picture, study the trees in the background – they will most likely be making impudent faces at you. Rackham is particularly famous for these human-like trees.

During his long career, Rackham illustrated a host of famous children’s books, including Alice in Wonderland, Aesop’s Fables, The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Mother Goose, Hans Christian Anderson’s Tales, Tales of the Brother’s Grimm, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Rip Van Winkle. Rackham was a firm believer in high-quality, lavishly illustrated, and consequently more expensive books. If you ever get a chance, I would suggest picking up a Rackham-illustrated reprint of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which is considered one of Rackham’s masterpieces. Firstly, it is Shakespeare and will make you appear smart even if you never read it. Secondly, it is absolutely chock-full of gorgeous and whimsical pictures, both color and black & white, that will convince everybody of your excellent visual taste.  – Calla Bilhorn

Image and Information Sources:

Hudson, Derek. Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work. New York:      Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975. Print.

Irving, Washington. Rip Van Winkle. New York: Dial Books, 1992. Print.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. New York:           Derrydale, 1998. Print.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mineola, New           York: Dover Publications, 2003. Print.

http://www.bpib.com/illustra.htm

http://www.library.pitt.edu/libraries/is/enroom/illustrators/rackham.htm

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The Art of Rolled Paper

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In Modern Art, the exploration of nontraditional art materials and the bringing of craft into art is a recurring theme. Paper quilling, the Victorian hobby of rolling and coiling paper strips and them arranging and gluing the coils to form a design or picture, is a great example of this. Traditionally confined to the world of home craft, quilling is typically associated with schmaltzy scrapbooks, overly simple step-by-step designs, and the craft sections of home magazines. However, the following images reveal that some artists have taken quilling far beyond its typical uses to create Fine Art. – Calla Bilhorn

First, some quilling by Yulia Brodskaya  http://hiconsumption.com/2012/01/paper-quilling-by-yulia-brodskaya/ :

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Here are some other pieces, but I don’t know the artist’s names for these ones:

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And since we just finished studying Van Gogh:

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Maxfield Parrish: A Summary for Beginners

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So. Who is this Maxfield Parrish? Sadly, he is one of those supposedly famous people that many today are not aware of. Yet, if a history of illustration were written, Parrish would probably be one of the most eminent names in it.  One of America’s most popular illustrators during the first half of the 20th century, Parrish used his virtuoso technique and unique style to bring alive magical lands filled with dreamy landscapes, fantastic architecture, sprites, gremlins, Classical heroes, beautiful damsels, and adorably caricatured fairytale characters.

Parrish was born in Philadelphia in 1870 to a Quaker family. His father, Stephen Parrish, was a shopkeeper and artist best known for his etchings of the New England coastline. Parrish ever cited his father as his most influential teacher, and indeed it would seem that his father began prepping his son to be artist at a very young age; at the encouragement of his father, the young Parrish covered practically everything he touched with precocious and imaginative doodles. As a young man, Parrish enrolled at Haverford College in 1888 to study architecture, but left after two years to enroll at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.  In 1895, he traveled to Europe, where he became enamored with the surface detail of the Old Dutch masters and the rich colors and sparkling glazes of Titian – all of which would become important aspects of Parrish’s own style.

After returning to Philadelphia, Parrish set up his own studio and was soon well established as a successful illustrator for magazines and advertisements. He illustrated his first book, Mother Goose in Prose (1897) by L. Frank Baum, and was immediately recognized as the new best thing in children’s book illustration. But Parrish had other talents besides that of drawing and painting. In 1898, he designed and personally built The Oaks, a house in Cornish, New Hampshire, which would remain his lifelong home. Critics praised The Oaks as an architectural gem, and Parrish proved himself to be even more of a Renaissance man with the beautiful hardware and ornaments of wood and metal that he made by hand for The Oaks. And while doing all of the above, Parrish still found time to paint murals for businesses and private homes.

As an illustrator, Parrish created art for many children’s books, including works by Kenneth Grahame, Edith Wharton, Eugene Field, L. Frank Baum, and Washington Irving. Although best remembered as a book illustrator, Parrish did more work for magazines and advertising than he did for books. His illustrations were used as cover art for a plethora of widely read magazines, such as Collier’s, Life, Harper’s Weekly, Ladies’ Home Journal, Scribner’s, Century, and Hearst’s. In fact, many of his book illustrations were originally published in magazines. In advertising, his pictures could sell practically anything, including seeds, car tires, Jell-O, silverwork, electric lamps, cameras, ham, and chocolates, to mention just a few.

His early work of the 1890s was usually a combination of litho crayon, ink, and watercolor; if color was needed, he laid oil glazes over the finished black and white drawing. Much of this early work is quite flat, bold, and stylized. However, after 1901, Parrish began painting almost exclusively with oil paints, which he layered in thin glazes like the Old Masters that he studied in Europe. With oil, Parrish explored the meticulous surface detailing, visual realism, chiaroscuro, and bold coloring that he is so famous for. “Parrish blue” was a term coined to describe the deep, rich hues of blue that he often incorporated into his exotic and fantastic scenes, which often are set in inspiring landscapes with Classical or Gothic inspired architecture. His fantastic style and subject matter were perfectly in line with the tastes of the turn-of-the century and the 1920s, when all things exotic and fantastic were popular.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Parrish largely turned from illustration in order to focus on one of the loves of his heart, landscape painting. His love of the New Hampshire countryside, which had always inspired the background landscapes of his illustration, now became the central focus of his work. Parrish painted until he was 91, when his shaking hands forced him to lay down his brush. He died in 1966 at the age of 95, leaving behind a huge body of work that is considered a classic in the history of illustration.

Sources

 Ludwig, Coy. Maxfield Parrish. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1973.

Harris, Lois. Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2011.

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http://parrish.artpassions.net/#art

http://maxfieldparrish.info

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“Land of Make-Believe”
Scribner’s Magazine, 1912
Oil on Canvas

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“The Lantern Bearers”
A great example of “Parrish Blue”

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Advertisement for Jell-O, 1921

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“The Booklover” or “The Idiot”
 Collier’s Magazine, 1910
Oil and litho crayon
An example of Parrish’s obsessive attention to details.

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“Oloffe the Dreamer”
Knickerbocker’s History of New York by Washington Irving
1898, Ink and Litho crayon
Some of Parrish’s early black & white work.