It was one of the nineteenth century's greatest philanthropic gifts -- and one of its most puzzling mysteries. In 1829, a wealthy English naturalist named James Smithson left his library, mineral collection, and entire fortune to "the United States of America, to found ... an establishment for the increase and diffusion of Knowledge among men" -- even though he had never visited the United States or known any Americans.
In this fascinating book, Nina Burleigh pieces together the reclusive benefactor's life and painstaking scientific pursuits, and discloses how his bequest was nearly lost due to political infighting until several heroes, including former president John Quincy Adams, saw to it that Smithson's curious notion was realized in 1846. The result was the Smithsonian: a castle housing the United States' first and greatest cultural and scientific establishment, one that has since funded thousands of scientific and exploratory projects around the world and given the nation's capital an enduring cultural foundation.
This critical survey of the Art Nouveau movement reveals the diversity of this style across the breadth of the European continent. With the inclusion of Eastern Europe and the full range of artistic media, the book shows how this movement changed the face of European art and design from Paris to Prague. Clearly structured by country, it traces the emergence of Art Nouveau, highlighting the particular interpretations of the style in each country. Countries covered include: Belgium; Spain; Britain; Austria; Hungary; and Russia. Each chapter contains sections on political and cultural contexts, specific visual characteristics and key artists and designers. It analyzes the contribution of both well-known artists and designers such as Gaudi; Van de Velde; Mackintosh; and Mucha, and brings to light many others whose contributions have been largely inaccessible. With a bibliography and glossary, this text should provide a useful introduction to this subject.
In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel. With little experience as a painter (though famed for his sculpture "David"), Michelangelo was reluctant to begin the massive project.
"Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" recounts the four extraordinary years Michelangelo spent laboring over the vast ceiling while the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. Battling against ill health, financial difficulties, domestic problems, the pope's impatience, and a bitter rivalry with the brilliant young painter Raphael, Michelangelo created scenes so beautiful that they are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. A panorama of illustrious figures converged around the creation of this great work-from the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus to the young Martin Luther-and Ross King skillfully weaves them through his compelling historical narrative, offering uncommon insight into the intersection of art and history.
Traces the history of African-American art, examining the lives and careers of more than fifty artists and relating their work to prevailing artistic, social, and political trends
The world's most well known works of art are both instantly familiar and profoundly mysterious. What has made these images so popular, and how did they come into existence? The Private Life of a Masterpiece answers these questions by delving into the secrets of iconic works of art dating from 1501 to 1950. Piecing together a trail of clues, it examines each work from conception through completion to afterlife, detailing how the commission came about, the preparation undertaken by the artist, the way the work was executed, how the finished work was received, and its influence on other artists. We learn, for example, that Leonardo devised a new form of perspective when painting the Mona Lisa, and that four centuries later Picasso was detained for stealing the portrait from the Louvre; that Goya painted The Third of May 1808 as a criticism of the monarchy but nonetheless offered it to the king as a gift; that Van Gogh's Sunflowers owes much to improvements in the postal system; that Munch's The Scream was influenced by the Incas; and that Jackson Pollock's paintings were promoted by the CIA. Along the way, we also learn about each artist's life, including the struggles with family, lovers, patrons, and critics.The works featured in this book met with a variety of reactions when first unveiled, and the author details them all, from admiration and respect to horror and contempt. Now readers can judge for themselves. Beautifully illustrated and lucidly written, The Private Life of a Masterpiece offers an innovative and compelling introduction to the extraordinary stories contained in the history of art. It will enthrall all those who wish to know more about this fascinating subject.
Lawrence Gowing's classic study has long been treasured for the painterly sensibilities he brought to this greatly loved body of work. Finally the text is available again, with a new foreword and fresh reproductions of Vermeer's paintings.
This text presents a critical history of how modern artworks receive their titles. It examines the crucial titling modes on which modernism depends and shows that titles can rarely be understood outside the institutional parameters that made them visible - exhibitions, criticism and catalogues.
Gustav Gl ck, director of Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, wrote as early as 1922 of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) that his drawings were perhaps his ultimate artistic achievement. This founder of Secessionsstil and leader of the revolt against the Viennese academies was able to achieve greater freedom in his drawings than in his more laboriously executed paintings. While there are only about two hundred completed oils, the drawings number in the thousands, and are reported to have at times quite littered his studio. He himself considered them finished works, and often exhibited them alongside his paintings.
Klimt's subject matter is almost exclusively the female body, naked or half clothed. For this he earned the reputation of erotic artist, and while he did not suffer the outright persecutions of his successors Schiele and Kokoschka, he was nevertheless subjected to the trials that a frankly erotic artist had to undergo in Vienna, where the everyday subject of conversation was the current love affairs of celebrities but where audiences were shocked by the sight of a dancer's naked legs. An issue of Ver Sacrum which reproduced one of his drawings was confiscated by the authorities.
The drawings reveal above all that concern of great draughtsmen from Michelangelo through Blake the marriage of subtle grace and expressive dynamism that is the human body. Like that of these two past masters, Klimt's method is essentially linear. He knew, as they did, that line, rather than shading, the creation of volume or the use of color, is the natural medium for expressing the freedom of the living human form. As he matured as an artist there was an increasing awareness of this and a greater and greater spontaneity that approached, finally, the lightness of a net of gauze.