Friday, October 19, 2012

Rotterdam Art Heist Nets Work by Picasso, Matisse

Paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, Meyer de Haan, Lucian Freud and two by Monet were stolen on Tuesday from a gallery in Rotterdam in what will rank as one of the most spectacular art heists of modern times.

The dawn raid at the Kunsthal museum in the Netherlands' second largest city was described by police as a well-planned and bold operation. Security experts speculated that the thieves might have taken advantage of Rotterdam's port – one of the largest in the world – to swiftly move the paintings abroad. While police were reluctant to put a price tag on the stolen paintings, experts said it ran into tens of millions of pounds.

One security expert described the museum, designed by the star Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, as a "gem of a gallery", but a "nightmare to protect", and suggested that thieves spent months plotting the robbery.

The works were named by the museum's management on Tuesday afternoon, as Pablo Picasso's Harlequin Head; Henri Matisse's Reading Girl in White and Yellow; Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge, London, and Charing Cross Bridge, London; Paul Gauguin's Girl in Front of Open Window, De Haan's Self-Portrait and Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed.

Read more here

painters and poets

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Painter Robert Motherwell and Poet Garcia Lorca

Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34, 1953-54
Robert Motherwell (January 24, 1915-July 16, 1991) named his 1949 painting At Five in the Afternoon after a line in the poem "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias," by Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936). The work is a prelude to Motherwell’s tour de force, the Elegy to the Spanish Republic series, which eventually comprised some 200 paintings. Lorca's 1935 poem is dedicated to the legendary Spanish matador who suffered a fatal wound from a black bull named Granandino, “at five in the afternoon.” Lorca would be killed a year later by Fascists at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. This is the first section of Lorca’s majestic eulogy to his close friend:

The Goring and the Death

At Five in the Afternoon, 1949
At five in the afternoon. 
It was exactly five in the afternoon.
A boy brought the white sheet
at five in the afternoon.
A frail of lime ready prepared
at five in the afternoon.
The rest was death, and death alone.

The wind carried away the cottonwool
at five in the afternoon.
And the oxide scattered crystal and nickel
at five in the afternoon.
Now the dove and the leopard wrestle
at five in the afternoon.
And a thigh with a desolate horn
at five in the afternoon.
The bass-string struck up
at five in the afternoon.
Arsenic bells and smoke
at five in the afternoon.
Groups of silence in the corners
at five in the afternoon.
And the bull alone with a high heart!
At five in the afternoon.
When the sweat of snow was coming
at five in the afternoon,
when the bull ring was covered with iodine
at five in the afternoon.
Death laid eggs in the wound
at five in the afternoon.
At five in the afternoon.
Exactly at five o'clock in the afternoon.

A coffin on wheels is his bed
at five in the afternoon.
Bones and flutes resound in his ears
at five in the afternoon.
Now the bull was bellowing through his forehead
at five in the afternoon.
The room was iridescent with agony
at five in the afternoon.
In the distance the gangrene now comes
at five in the afternoon.
Horn of the lily through green groins
at five in the afternoon.
The wounds were burning like suns
at five in the afternoon.
And the crowd was breaking the windows
at five in the afternoon.
At five in the afternoon.
Ah, that fatal five in the afternoon!
It was five by all the clocks!
It was five in the shade of the afternoon!

More on Lorca’s poem here 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grace Hartigan and the Poets

Grace Hartigan's papers are at the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Library and were used in a 2006 exhibit “Imagine! Painters and Poets of the New York School." She gave this personal account of her collaboration with Frank O'Hara on the Oranges series: 
Grace Hartigan and Frank O'Hara
in Her Essex Street Studio

Black Crows (Oranges No. 1)
 Oil on paper
To the New York avant-garde in the late '40s and early '50s, fame or historical significance seemed impossible. As a result, the collaborations between painters and poets were casual and spontaneous.
 For example, one day in 1952, Frank O'Hara and I were talking about Apollinaire and his relationship to the Cubists. I said, "I'd like to do something with your poems, but I don't want to do only one." Frank said, "How about twelve? I have a dozen poems called 'Oranges.'?" I painted 12 oils on paper, at times writing the whole poem, other times just a line or two. All the images related to each poem. 

This turned out to be crucial for my own painting. I had been working in what came to be called Abstract Expressionism. Inspired by Frank's combination of "high" art and popular culture, I began painting images from my Lower East Side neighborhood. Grand Street Brides was based on Goya's Royal Family and used gowns from a bridal shop on Grand Street.

My dealer, John Myers, director of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, had worked for View, the Surrealist magazine, and he issued some small pamphlets of O'Hara's and Ashbery's poetry. He planned to show my Oranges in my 1953 show and have mimeographed copies of the poems available.

He suggested we put a dozen or two in folders and that I could paint a cover on each. I spread these folders on my studio floor and painted still lifes of oranges, each different, on the folder fronts. We priced them at $1.00 and sold very few. Elaine and Bill de Kooning each bought one.

Looking back at that time, it seems so magical, so innocent. In the words of a popular song, "It was a good time, it was the best time, and we thought it would last forever.

Grace Hartigan made these comments on her first lithographic prints:

In 1959 I was living at 25 Essex Street in New York's Lower East Side. Tatyana Grossman [sic] called me and asked if I would do some lithographs for ULAE [Universal Limited Art Editions]. I had never done lithos and knew nothing about it and she said she would bring me some stones. She came to my studio with Maurice, her husband and Bob Blackburn and left four stones with tusche, litho crayons and distilled water. 

I was working with poets at the time, and after a week stalking the stones, I plunged in with splatters of tusche, free drawing, rubbing, pounding with hands and with rags and did four lithos based on Barbara Guest's poem "The Hero Leaves His Ship."

I called Tatyana and she came with Bob B, took a look at the stones and sort of gasped and moaned, at the same time. Bob said "If it's on the stone I can print it."

In February 1960, poet Barbara Guest and Grace Hartigan began collaboration on a series of poems and lithographs entitled Archaics. In October 1961, Guest wrote of her deep artistic connection to Hartigan's work:

I feel your painting so acutely that often when I write a poem I begin to see it as you would paint it....How well you understood the poems. I did use "nature" midway in space between myself and life. I do think of nature pantheistically, almost as the remote God who conjoins with my own remoteness and it all moves mysteriously and must be lightly touched-unless, the great unless, if, one wishes to "enter" it, the enormous step that must be taken. This step appears before me now.

Hartigan's lithographs were printed at Tatyana Grosman's Universal Limited Art Editions in West Islip, Long Island, but not until 1966. Barbara Guest remarked upon this delay in a letter of 28 November 1966:

It's very good news about the Grossman [sic] project....I am very eager to see the work you have done. It is all such a long far off time ago. Really archaic in my head.

Read more about the 2006 exhibit “Imagine! Painters and Poets of the New York School," which was held at Syracuse University here

The Hero Leaves His Ship, 1960 
Lithograph on paper

Who Will Accept Our Offering
at This End of Autumn? 1966,
Lithograph on paper

Monday, October 8, 2012

O'Hara and Bluhm Poem-Paintings

One rainy Sunday in October 1960, Frank O’Hara was visiting Norman Bluhm in his Manhattan studio when they collaborated on the poem-paintings on view in [the exhibit] New York Cool. Making a point about a Prokofiev sonata playing on the radio, Bluhm began painting on a sheet of paper in his distinctive style of overloaded brushstrokes exploding across the surface and releasing rivulets of excess paint, the leftover traces of physical and emotional exertion. O’Hara promptly responded by scribbling a few words on the same sheet. By the time they were finished, the two men had completed 27 collaborative works (of which 22 are in the NYU Art Collection). 
-From the NYU Grey Art Gallery website

Eight of the poem-paintings were published in lingo 7, accompanied by interviews with Bluhm: the first was conducted by John Yau in New York in 1996, and the second with Jon Gams at Bluhm's studio in Vermont, January 1997. Click here

Learn more about the artist Norman Bluhm in this video: