When talking about competitions and exhibitions dedicated to 21st Century Realism, The Art Renewal Center’s International ARC Salon is the largest in the world in terms of entries, and the most diverse in terms of categories and international participation. Over $130,000 in cash awards, top Prize $25,000 cash award, international traveling exhibition opportunity with the […]

A four-legged woman, headless men with spouts emerging from their stomachs or backs, human beast hybrids, a male body with the head of a duck. These descriptions might sound like a dream you might have had once, or perhaps they sprang up in a feature horror film. But these are simply some of the drawings that Italian physician, Fortunio Liceti, concocted in the early 1600s. 

Fortunio Liceti, Illustration from De Monstris , 1665. Courtesy of The Public Domain Review.

Upon close inspection of these finely-wrought, cross-hatched drawings and prints, one can begin to understand 17th century anxieties and misconceptions about the human body. Most specifically, the reproductive system. In addition to fictitious figures, Liceti rendered what is believed to be a variation of deformities present in human life. 

Fortunio Liceti, Illustration from De Monstris, 1665. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Fortunio Liceti was born prematurely in 1577 off the coast of Italy, where rumors began to circulate that at birth he was so small that he could fit into the palm of a hand. He grew up to study medicine and philosophy at the University of Bologna where he became increasingly interested in biology. He published his work often, for a time releasing one book per year.

Fortunio Liceti, Illustration from De Monstris , 1665. Courtesy ofThe Public Domain Review.

His most famous work, On the Reasons, Nature and Differences of Monsters published in 1616 chronologically documented cases of human and animal monsters from antiquity. In the culture of the time, many people considered such monsters as frightening signs of evil cursed by spiritual or supernatural entities. Liceti categorized monsters based on their potential causes, several of which he claimed were unrelated to the supernatural. It was only centuries later that historians noted that some of the documented monsters were infants with birth defects, to which many credit Liceti’s book as an early model for the study of birth defects, a field later termed teratology. 

Fortunio Liceti, Illustration from De Monstris, 1665. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Centuries later, it would be surrealist artists rather than scientists who would revisit Liceti’s work with its imaginative, uninhabited psyche. 

André Masson. There Is No Finished World, 1942. Oil on canvas, 53 x 68 in. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Saidie A. May, 1951.333. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Now several weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, most art institutions worldwide have either closed or are still in the process of closing to the public. By now, most businesses have taken a hit from this closure, not to mention the thousands of people that have been left indefinitely unemployed. Among those effected are the galleries and artists that have been left without sales, as well as museums that are now unable to host events or sell tickets.  

All of this has left institutions scrambling to come up with new and alternative methods of bringing a museum’s collection to someone’s home. We are now beginning to see the first online exhibitions popping up on social media; the first is credited to Beijing-based X Museum. The Museum enlisted artist Pete Jiadong Qiang to create an online museum experience themed as an online gaming system. 

Courtesy of the X Museum.

“Online exhibitions will have their place in the future, and the epidemic accelerated the process,” Pete explained. “I would rather not have a specific boundary between online and offline, virtual and physical, especially for an emerging contemporary museum in Beijing.”

But even though the X Museum is credited for getting the word out there, this trend was already in existence long before they went live. Google Arts & Culture has been exhibiting virtual tours of museums around the world for years. You can tour more than 500 art institutions worldwide such as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and many others.

A look inside National Gallery, London on Google Arts & Culture.

As we enter Week 2 of quarantine here in Los Angeles County, bored and art-deprived people like myself have been itching to get back into art spaces. The hashtag, #MuseumFromHome has been making rounds on social media. 

“The museum may be closed and we all may be social distancing,” read a tweet from the University of Southern California’s Fisher Museum of Art. “But the beauty of technology and social media (which is not always so lovely) is that we can bring the museum both past and present into your homes.”

Just a few weeks ago, Senior Director of the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence announced their new social media program “Uffizi Decameron” after the gallery was forced to close its doors due to the virus. The program title is a play on the famous 14th century plague-era novel, The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

“Everyday we’ll be telling you about the stories, the works, and the characters in our beautiful museum, to virtually unite everyone for the sake of art and culture. The treasures in the Uffizi, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Giardino di Boboli will be with you in your home, so we can together overcome this difficult time.”

Installation view at the Uffizi Gallery, 2018. Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.

Installation view at the Uffizi Gallery, 2018. Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.

Another way people are coping during this time are the do-it-yourself online art exhibitions that are popping up around the world. Italian curator Giada Pellicari launched the hashtag #ArtistsInQuaratine.

“I conceived this project due to the anxiety, fear, and anger that I felt the night of March 7th, when many journals published a draft of the Decrete by the Italian Ministry regarding the emanation of some red restricted areas in Italy,” Pellicari told Artsy in this article.

Sophie Westerlind, Marco, 110 X 85 cm, oil on linen, March 2020. Curtesy of @ArtistsInQuarantine

Twelve artists who live in red areas around Italy will be exhibited on the Instagram account @artistsinquarantine where their artwork will go up for sale.

“The artists will present, in some cases, new works exclusively conceived for the frame of Instagram,” Pellicari said. “I felt the urgency to create a new project that could show the way that the artistic scene was affected due to the coronavirus.”

Art Basel in Hong Kong has launched viewing rooms online. Art Central is bringing sales online for participating galleries. In New York, curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen initiated the online exhibition, “How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This?” as a platform for the exchange of ideas at this time of crisis. 

Judith Bernstein, Money Shot (Yellow), 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

“The beauty of these online exhibitions is that it’s a global exhibition, and it’s accessible to everyone,” Pollack continued. “I’m hoping that all of these websites and Instagram accounts link up to each other so that we can really start a global dialogue. Making sure that we have a diverse group of voices is incredibly important to me at this time.”

Zhao Zhao. Officer, 2011. Limestone. 338 1/2 x 71 x 71 inches (860 x 180 x 180 cm)

 



At the present time, LAAFA is not open to the general public as a precautionary measure.  Please call (818) 708-9232 or email us at contactus@laafa.edu for any questions.

Happy New Year from LAAFA! We are starting off the new year with our “Get To Know Our Instructors” series at LAAFA. This month is alumna and instructor, Amanda Mears. Below is a list of Q&A to get to know her a little better:

  • What was your experience like as a student here at LAAFA?

As a student and now a teacher at LAAFA, I really value LAAFA for giving me the opportunity to work with really talented, dedicated students and faculty.

  • What is your preferred method or medium?

Drawing and painting. Also printmaking.

  • Did you continue, or are continuing, your studies elsewhere?

I am currently attending Claremont Graduate School MFA program on a full scholarship. I will graduate in May 2020.

  • What are some projects that you are currently working on?

At the moment I am mainly working on paintings for my thesis show at Claremont in March 2020. My paintings are landscape-based and large scale. I have also continued my figure-drawing practice that I began at LAAFA and will have a large scale figure drawing in an exhibition about body image called “Perceive Me” that opens in January 2020 at Cal State LA Jan 21 to Feb 24, 2020, then travels to McNish Gallery at Oxnard City College Nov 5, 2020 to January, 2021, Coastline Community College January 2021 to March 2021, Mesa Community College March 2021 to April 2021, Lancaster Museum Of Art and History (MOAH) October 2, 2021 to November 21, 2021and then College of the Sequoias, Visalia March 2022.

  • What advice do you have for current or future students of LAAFA looking to make it into the art world?

Find your own voice because that will make you happy, and also make your work really interesting to other people as well.

The Museo del Prado‘s latest exhibition titled The Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana highlights two of the greatest female Renaissance artists that have slipped into obscurity in art history. For centuries, their artworks have been credited to male artists such as Titian, El Greco, and Carracci, and no one has bothered to do the research that set the record straight, until now. Thanks to painstaking research done by a small group consisting of mainly American feminist art historians, these 16th century Italian artists can finally begin to reclaim their reputations.

Lavinia Fontana, Self-Portrait at the Spinet (1577). Courtesy Accademia Nazionale di San Luca.

The Director of the Prado museum, Miguel Falomir, acknowledges the lack of works by female artists in the museum’s collections, and assures the community that the institution is “making an effort to right.” The museum holds only four paintings by Anguissola in its collection, and none by Fontana.

Family Portrait, Sofonisba Anguissola, Oil on canvas, c. 1558, Niva (Denmark), The Nivaagaard Collection.

The minute amount of paintings the museum holds is a shock to most, considering Anguissola was a member of the Spanish Hapsburg court in Madrid and painted a great many portraits of the royal family. Leticia Ruiz is the show’s curator and acknowledges the pioneer feminist scholars such as Linda Nochlin and Ann Sutherland Harris who laid the foundation for the exhibition. She also notes and credits the research by Marie Kusche, who argued that the painting titled Lady in Fur Wrap, long thought to be an El Greco, is actually a painting by Anguissola. Although it has not been proven right, the Spanish court painter Alonso Sanchez Coello also names her as the potential author. But even so, many of her royal portraits have been attributed to male artists partly because she didn’t sign them, and partly because court records are a bit patchy. But one cannot overlook the bias of male art historians, who did their best to obscure the achievements of female artists.

Sofonisba Anguissola, Queen Anna of Austria (1573). Courtesy of the Museo Nacional del Prado.

Another painting that has been lost in translation to male bias was that of the portrait Juana of Austria and a Young Girl (1561), which for decades was credited to Titian, then later to Sanchez Coello. Marie Kusche, however, detected the hand of Anguissola, and now the consensus is that it was indeed done by her, but completed in Sanchez Coello’s workshop.

Noli me tangere, Lavinia Fontana, Oil on canvas, 1581, Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria delle statue e delle pitture

Susan Fisher Sterling, the Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, also credits the women responsible for bringing these two long forgotten female artists to light. In 1993, the NMWA organized an Anguissola show, and five years later, a Fontana show. All thanks to pioneer feminist scholars such as Linda Nochlin, Ann Sutherland Harris, and Eleanor Tuft, as well as the founder of the NMWA, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, for paving the way. According to Fisher Sterling, they were the first to “pull these artists out of the trash can of history and put them on the wall of the museums.”

Lavinia Fontana, Judith and Holofernes (around 1595). Courtesy of the Fondazione di culto e religione Ritiro San Pellegrin.

The exhibition features 56 paintings from more than 20 European and American collections, including Boston’s Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, which rarely lends from their collection to other museums. It is considered to be one of the most high-profile exhibitions doing its best to rewrite the male-dominated canon, and only the second show devoted to female artists in the museum’s history.

A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana” is on view from October 22 through February 2, 2020, at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. Click HERE for more details of the exhibition.


 

The month of November celebrates the birth of Frances Elizabeth Kent, one of Los Angeles’ most important and often unrecognized artists of the 60’s. To top it all off, she was an artist who was nun.

At the age of 18, she entered the religious order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Hollywood, taking the name Sister Mary Corita Kent. She eventually became an art instructor at the Immaculate Heart College. Under Corita’s direction, the art department became a well-known center for creativity and recognizable styles.

christ and mary, 1954 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

christ and mary, 1954 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

Corita’s main work was with silkscreens, or serigraphs. She first experimented with this medium in the early 1950’s while earning her master’s degree at the University of Southern California. She later perfected her techniques under the guidance of Maria Sodi de Ramos Martinez, the widow of Mexican muralist Alfredo Ramos Martinez.

all the nations shall come, 1955 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

In the beginning, her style of serigraphs focused solely on religious iconography, but differed in a major way. Corita’s work was very abstract and displayed influences that ranged from medieval to contemporary art mixed in with religious icons. She was a huge admirer of famous contemporary artists of the time, such as Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko.

as a witness to the light for john 23 and j.f.k., 1964 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

Because she mixed such religious iconographic materials with contemporary politics, she and the art department of the IHC drew a lot of negative attention from the archdiocese in Los Angeles. She received a formal letter from them ordering her to stop using the Holy Family in her artworks, stating that her work was “bordering on blasphemy.”

for eleanor, 1964 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

Her style then dramatically shifted from biblical depictions to overtly religious subjects. It is here where she began to focus on the world around her, using everyday brand names and slogans to comment on contemporary issues such as poverty and racial inequality.

ANDY WARHOL, CAMPBELL’S SOUP I (F. & S. II.44-53)

Does this style sound familiar?

that they may have life, 1964 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

Corita is often included under the umbrella of the 60’s Pop Art movement, the notoriety of which is often credited to male artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. But something that is often overlooked about Corita is that she was the leading artist in innovating techniques very similar to modern digital photo editing programs. Corita photographed signs and advertisements and manipulated the results to achieve her signature style.

 

now you can, 1966 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

Here’s how it was was done:

Corita photographed a sign she wanted, and then transferred the image onto a 35mm slide. The text was then projected onto a wall where she would intentionally bend or crumple the letters, tracing it to create a stencil. This would become a hallmark of her style.

where have all the flowers gone?, 1969 | Collection UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Corita Kent Bequest.

Because she continued to encounter much exhaustion from the archdiocese, Corita left the religious order in 1968 and moved to Boston to continue her artwork, where she eventually passed away from cancer in 1986. During this time she continued to create artwork that commented on social causes, but in a much more sparse style.

At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, hundreds of watercolor paintings, and innumerable public and private commissions. This month we recognize her 101st birthday and the tremendous influence she had on art history. Her philosophical art techniques are still being taught in art schools and it is time she is recognized as one of the leading females of the Pop Art movement.

Please visit the Corita website for more information about this incredible female artist.

Considered the most comprehensive 20 year retrospective of the Los Angeles–based artist Lari Pittman, an exhibition titled Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence is now being shown for the first time at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lari Pittman, he is a long revered and distinguished Professor at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. 

Lari Pittman, How Sweet the Day After This and That, Deep Sleep Is Truly Welcomed, 1988

Lari Pittman, How Sweet the Day After This and That, Deep Sleep Is Truly Welcomed, 1988

“From his earliest experiments with collage and decoration during his formative years at California Institute of the Arts, to the iconic paintings produced in response to the AIDS crisis and culture wars of the 1990s, to his present philosophical investigations into the history-telling of textiles, Pittman’s works have remained some of the most prescient and influential of any artist since the 1980s.”

Lari Pittman, Transfigurative and Needy, 1991

Walking through the galleries of his retrospective years, you can begin to unfold where much of his language and visual culture comes from. As the son of a Colombian mother and an American father, and fluent in both Spanish and English, he has the sensibility of being able to switch between both languages. In most of his artworks, this fluidity can be seen in the imagery and painting technique. He uses a lot of traditional oil paints with mixtures of spray-paint and stenciling. He renders bodies that at times take the form of silhouettes, and at times abstract forms that overthrow the conformity of binary genders. Vintage textiles, expressionistic flowers, lascivious imagery all speak within the same language to Lari’s additional identity as a queer male artist.

Lari Pittman, This Wholesomeness, Beloved and Despised, Continues Regardless, 1990

“Pittman generally works alone in the studio and has described painting as a physical activity that involves his entire body. His paintings are created without preliminary sketches, and their large scale mirrors the outsized, complex, and even mythic ideas that inform them. In contrast, his works on paper are more intimate and graphic, featuring fewer objects and a more pronounced flattening of illusionistic space. Still lushly colored and decorated, they offer a quieter counterpart to his paintings. A selection of these drawings spanning Pittman’s career comprises Orangerie, a stand-alone installation that provides an intimate space for viewing his works on paper.”

Lari Pittman, Compassion (Memento Mori), 1985

 

Lari Pittman, Untitled #8 (The Dining Room), 2005

If you would like to delve deeper into the world that is Lari Pittman, you can read THIS extraordinary Los Angeles Times article by Carolina Miranda for a much deeper understanding of Lari and Lari’s artworks.

Declaration of Independence is organized by the Hammer Museum’s Chief Curator Connie Butler and Curatorial Assistant Vanessa Arizmendi. Check Related Programs on the Hammer’s website for events associated with the exhibition. The exhibition will run from September 29, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

Following its run at the Hammer, Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence will travel to Kistefos Museet in Jevnaker, Norway, from May 24 – Oct. 5. 2020.

Lari Pittman with the scale model replicating the layout of his upcoming Hammer Museum retrospective.(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Even with today’s technology, it still seems difficult to capture the exact moment you begin to fall down on your bum. But capturing that same exact moment in a live performance? Impossible. Chinese artist, Xu Zhen, proves us wrong though. Featured at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) at Grand Avenue, Xu focuses on that exact moment we’re unlikely to process.

Xu Zhen: In Just a Blink of an Eye, July 27–September 1, 2019 at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Myles Pettengill.

Suspended in midair and frozen in time, a group of performers float mysteriously as if defying the laws of physics. These performers are part of the exhibition titled, In Just a Blink of an Eye. As in, you were standing up straight one moment and in just a blink of an eye, you fall down on the floor trying to comprehend what just happened.

Curator of this exhibition, Amanda Hunt, explains the meaning behind the artworks:

The work engages notions of the body as material, and in turn the materiality of the body, testing the limits of physical and cognitive possibilities as the viewer tries to comprehend what we see. A prolific and experimental artist, Zhen’s conceptually-driven practice encompasses a vast range of media and often employs humor, irony, and sophisticated trickery. As the audience waits for movement, for the performer to stand up, or for them to continue to follow the rules of gravity, they instead experience time and stillness as moments extend and are stretched out on through these living sculptures. Xu Zhen explores fragility and balance, literally and metaphorically, spatially and temporally.

Photo by Myles Pettengill.

Apart from trying to find out how this illusion is achieved, these performance pieces really spark a series of deeper questions. Is this exhibit really a “performance piece”? Can these performers be considered “sculptures”?

Performance art can be traditionally defined as “Live Art,” a performance presented in front of an audience that can be either scripted, unscripted, random, carefully orchestrated, spontaneous or otherwise planned with or without audience participation. It can also take form via media where the performer can be either present or absent.

In In Just a Blink of an Eye, the performers are frozen in mid-action, restricted from any movement other than blinking. In this case, it could be defined as “Live Art,” but the very stillness of each performer begs the question of where and when the “performance” aspect kicks in. The blurred lines get further stretched out when we start referring to the performers as “sculptures”. Because they are suspended and frozen in time, they take on the visual aspect of sculptures. It is only until the performer starts blinking when you realize that this is a live person taking the shape of a sculpture.

However you would like to interpret it, Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of an Eye is being exhibited for one last weekend at MOCA Grand Avenue this Saturday and Sunday, August 31st and September 1st from 11am-5pm. Free with purchase of regular admission.

To learn more about this exhibit, check out this video by MOCA:

When news of infuriated rejected artists protesting the Salon jury of 1863 reached the ears of Napoleon III, his office issued the statement: “Numerous complaints have come to the Emperor on the subject of the works of art which were refused by the Jury of the Exposition. His Majesty, wishing to let the public judge the legitimacy of these complaints, have decided that the works of art which were refused should be displayed in another part of the Palace of Industry” (Published in Le Moniteur on 24 April 1863). On May 11th, 1863, the Palace of Industry opened its doors to exhibit the artworks of rejected artists, titling it the Salon des Refusés. No one at that time knew how important this exhibit would become to the art world in the years that followed, as thousands of visitors pushed to get into the crowded galleries where the refused paintings were hung. At that very moment in history, however,  journalist Émile Zola tells us how the rooms were filled with laughter from the spectators.

The Palais de l’Industrie, where the event took place. Photo by Édouard Baldus.

Critics and the public ridiculed the refusés from the get-go. For the longest time, the Academy’s strict hierarchy for painting genres ranked historical scenes at the very top of the pyramid. Following these historical scenes were portraits, then landscapes, and finally still lifes at the very bottom. Previous generations of artists worked almost exclusively on commissions from either the church, state, or wealthy patrons. But it was at this turn of the century that we begin to see artists becoming increasingly autonomous, establishing their own unique visions in their artworks. 

Édouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass (Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe), 1863 Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Enter Édouard Manet and his painting, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. This painting became the succès de scandale at the exhibition, stirring up lots of controversy amongst spectators. This painting depicts two fully-dressed men and two women; one is nude and at the center of the painting, and the other half-dressed and washing herself by the river in the background. But why the controversy? For one, the painting’s composition drew from studies of old masters such as the Pastoral Concert (ca. 1510) by Giorgone or Titian. The painting is thought to depict an allegory of poetry and music. The two women in the painting would be the imaginary apparitions stemming from the two men’s fantasy and inspiration. In a similar composition and subject matter, Manet turns a mythological scene from the old masters of the Renaissance into the tableau of somewhat suggestive, vulgar Parisian travelers.

Giorgione or Titian, Concert in the Open Air, ca. 1510 Musée du Louvre, Paris

As an art historian, Therese Dolan describes, “What Manet does is take on each category… borrowing iconography from Old Master paintings and changing it so dramatically that it looks like a mockery.” The subjects appear to have sneaked out of their homes for a late-night rendezvous, as the title hints at sexual undertones. Manet therefore amplifies these undertones even more by making his central female nude look directly into the viewer’s eyes. Such explicit lust in this painting is what therefore shocked audiences at first glance, never mind the fact that the clothed men seem to be cavorting with women who are most likely none other than sex workers. 

Giorgione, The Tempest, ca. 1506 Galleria dell’Accademia, Venice

With this painting, Manet set a platform for modernist enterprise. “People realized painting was old and needed to change, and Manet was changing it,” Dolan said. “He kicked dirt in the face of the academics.” In the years following its first exhibition, artists from Claude Monet to Pablo Picasso made Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe an integral part of their artistic practices, rendering their own versions at one point. 

Claude Monet, Luncheon on the Grass, Central Panel, 1865-66. Legion of Honor

To end, Alina Cohen from Artsy states: 

“Perhaps one of the reasons that the painting has generated such a bevy of scholarship is its uncanny narrative quality. The lusty foursome in a beautiful but unplaceable setting contains all the elements of a captivating story. The characters have escaped the civilized city for the wild woods, enjoyed some sort of sexual activity, and all but forgotten the meal they’ve packed—no one, it seems, has touched the bread, cherries, or other fruit that falls out of the basket on the lower-left-hand side of the painting. 

What will happen when they return to Paris? Manet catches the quartet at a quiet moment before the pressures of society, propriety, and class once again constrict their lives. It’s no wonder that French writer Émile Zola was a major advocate of both Manet and Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe—the novel nearly writes itself.”

Pablo Picasso, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe d’après Manet (Luncheon on the the Grass, After Manet), 1960 Musée Picasso Paris.

Even though we don’t know the exact point in history when the practice of art dealing began, we do know that by the Italian Renaissance (1300s-1600s), there were already vendors acting as middlemen between collectors and artists. Those origins can be traced to Giovanni Battista della Palla, who is said to have sold work by the greatest artists of his day to the king of France as mentioned in Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists.  

Throughout much of the early history of art dealing, many artists didn’t expect to make a living solely by selling their artworks. For example, the 18th century French merchant Lazare Duvaux was one of the first reported artists to offer a mix of luxurious furniture, jewelry, sculptures, paintings, and ceramics to his wealthy clients. This created a parallel between artworks and luxurious home furnishings that continued well into the 19th century. Boston craftsman John Doggett, who opened his shop in 1810, was one of the first recorded art dealers in America to sell both paintings and frames. His gallery would go on to become one of the most important art galleries in America at the time, known as Williams and Everett. But, as was mentioned above, artworks were not the only thing in Doggett’s business plan. We can still see this happening in many of today’s galleries, where a mix of art and design objects are exhibited.

Illustration for Williams & Everett gallery, 1882. Image via Via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The turning point in the relationship between artist and dealer can really be seen with the arrival of French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in the late 19th and early 20th century. He is considered to be one of the first modern art dealers to have supported his artists with monthly stipends and solo exhibitions. He first started with the painters of the Barbizon school, who would later come to be known as the “Impressionists”. This was a huge gamble for Durand-Ruel, as the Impressionists had been widely ignored and ridiculed in the art world for decades. But Durand-Ruel persisted in exhibiting their artworks in Paris, London, and New York, in the hopes of gaining recognition amongst elite buyers. Eventually he won the public’s eye for these kinds of artworks, and managed to make generous profits from selling the artwork.

Photograph of Paul Durand-Ruel in his gallery, about 1910 “Inventing Impressionism” at the National Gallery, London (2015)

From this point forward in the history of art dealing, we can now see a split between art dealers working to promote relatively unknown artists, and art dealers who prefer to sell works by well-established artists. This new split, focusing solely on well-established artists, came in the form of Joseph Duveen. In the early 20th century, Duveen exercised his excessively charming and exuberant salesman skills on his wealthy clientele by dramatically choking up a story about how he could not possibly part with the old master paintings he had recently acquired from some duke or count in Europe. He talked up the story about his wife’s deep attachment to the pieces, which was how he frequently got his clients to offer him even more money for the artwork. When Duveen was pleased with the offer price, he would accept in a sad tone and say that he would have to break the bad news to his wife about the painting later. Some of these wealthy clients that fell for his theatrical storytelling included Henry Clay Frick, William Randolph Hearst, J. P. Morgan, Henry E. Huntington, and John D. Rockefeller.

Portrait of art dealer Joseph Duveen by Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images.

While Duveen was making a lot of dough off of long-dead artists, two of his contemporaries in the early 20th century were working tirelessly to gain the attention of living artists – Ambroise Vollard and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. It is with these two where we see the first instance of an art dealer buying large quantities of artworks from an artist, and then selling them for an astounding profit which he kept to himself. Kahnweiler worked in a similar manner to Vollard, but was more respected among artists, critics, and collectors; this was mostly due to the fact that he was also a well-respected art historian, and one of the first people to recognize the importance of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon. At this point in the history of art dealing, Kahnweiler was one of the first reported art connoisseurs.

Portrait of Art Dealer Ambroise Vollard (1867-1939), Spring 1910. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Today, art dealing can be compared to the stock market in the way it operates. Those who can afford to purchase a Banksy for $200,000 will hold on to the piece for a few years, then sell it to make twice as much as what they paid for it. This unfortunately leaves a huge gap between the artist and art dealer, who eventually sells only to make a profit, often leaving the artists with no rights to the profits. This begs a question which many art historians have discussed – is the price tag solely connected to the impact of the artwork, or is it in the artist’s name itself?

Once again, LAAFA shined at the 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition held by the California Art Club. This year brought an array of diverse artworks as well as a handful of LAAFA affiliated artists – Rohini Sen, Nikita Budkov, Adam Matano, Andrea Mosley, Rodolfo Rivademar, and Leon Okun. This year, the CAC returns to the building of the former Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) for their 108th exhibition, and CAC members couldn’t feel more at home.

(Left to right) Nikita Budkov, Rohini Sen, and Leon Okun at the 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition Artists’ Gala Reception.

I myself had the pleasure to attend this year’s Artists’ Gala Reception, and it was an amazing experience witnessing all the talent around the gallery spaces. What I found most fascinating was the amount of hours of work each artist poured into their artworks, creating these amazing pieces of art that uphold the traditional qualities and craftsmanship.

Below is a gallery of images at the Artists Gala Reception for your viewing. As the month continues, I will be featuring LAAFA affiliated artists on our blog with their very own post!

 

CAC Educational Programs coming up:

 


The 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition will be exhibiting from March 3rd to March 29th at the former location of the Pasadena Museum of California Art, 490 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91101. Museum is open from Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm and admission is FREE. For more information, visit californiaartclub.org.

In the history of art, marble has always signified something we call “High Art.” Famous artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini, and Brâncusi masterfully used marble to create works of art that have literally made me cry in person (it was Michelangelo’s David (1501-4), if you must know). I was entranced by the beauty and smoothness of how the artist tried to replicate the human skin, very much like the ancient Greeks and Romans did. But nowadays, marble has acquired new degrading purposes, being used as kitchen counter-tops for the rich and famous, and as decorations for tacky Las Vegas hotel lobbies (looking at you, Caesars Palace).

Below I’d like to present three of my favorite artists that are smashing the expectations of what marble can be, whether it be with traditional techniques or CNC carving machines.

Milena Naef

Based in Mexico City, Milena is the latest of four generations to sculpt in stone, but her most recent practices in her art has taken this medium in new and “unorthodox” directions. As you can tell by the images, Milena carves out shapes into slabs of marble and inserts her body parts through the openings. She calls this series “Fleeting Parts,” and the effect is incredible – from the marble emerges soft, human skin reminiscent of the mythic stories of transformation, such as Pygmalion and Galatea. “The hardness of stone in general is an interesting characteristic to work with,” Naef said. “It demands time and patience, which stands in contrast to my fast-paced life. It’s a hard material that, at the same time, is very fragile.” Instead of mimicking flesh like past artists wanted to achieve, Milena’s work is blurring the line between what an artist can do between their material and their body, a subject and an object. But these artworks also serve as a marker for us humans, as a sort of memento mori – remember you will die, but stone will live forever.

Matthew Simmonds

Even though most of his sculptures stand at less than 2 feet tall, each are carved from a single block of marble and look as if they are remnants of ancient structures. In addition to appearing like existing structures, many of the designs are entirely invented by Simmonds! “I tend to work things out in measured plan, creating elevation drawings first, considering how [the carving] will interact with the natural shape of the stone. Usually, I don’t know exactly what a sculpture should look like when I begin, and during the working process, there are often several points where I can decide on a change in the design before a piece is finished.” As we can note, Simmonds has always been fascinated by ancient architecture, particularly those that served a sacred or religious purpose.

Nevine Mahmoud

Juicy and squishy aren’t the usual adjectives you’d use to describe what marble looks or feels like. Yet these sculptures by Nevine Mahmoud express all of the descriptions surrounding these delightful words. At first glance, her artworks seem to be pliable and soft, like Blue Doughnut (2017) for example, which looks like a puffy, delicious pastry. What we see Mahmoud doing is contradicting a long standing history of an ancient material by carving them into desirable shapes with an almost “Pop Art” sensibility. This is what drives her to create something delicate out of something so strong. “On the one hand, there is a relative force required to move the stone, break it, hollow it, shape it into the sculpture” Mahmoud says. “At the same time, one needs a minute-by-minute sensitivity in order to understand the limits of the rock in front of you—its unique fractures, curves, and hidden layers.”