Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hokusai exhibit in Paris

Katsushika Hokusai
Katsushika Hokusai is arguably the most widely known and influential Japanese artist outside of Japan.

Usually referred to simply as Hokusai, the artist actually changed his name several times through his career. He was a proponent of the Ukiyo-e school of woodblock prints.

A new exhibition at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, co-organized with The Japan Foundation, is a major retrospective featuring some 700 pieces.

As might be expected, neither the museum or the foundation has a glimmer of a clue about using the web to generate interest in the exhibition, providing almost no images, or even mention of the titles of major works.

I’ve culled some images from an article on the Huffington Post (of all places) that are likely included in the exhibition, and supplemented it freely with images — that may or may not be included — from other sources, which are where I will send you to see more.

2014 is something of a landmark year for Hokusai, marking 200 years since the publication of the “Hokusai Manga” — books that introduced Hokusai to Europe and sparked an avid interest in Japanese art and woodblock prints among European artists, particularly the French Impressionists and artists associated with Art Nouveau.

“Manga” in this case, simply means “sketches”, as opposed to the contemporary connotation of the word in association with Japanese comics. It is being suggested within the context of the Paris exhibition, however, that Hokusai’s more fanciful narrative images of ghosts and other fantasy subjects were precursors of modern Japanese comics and animation.

There is also a traveling exhibition of Hokusai’s prints from the extensive collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, that was on view this summer at the Kobe City Museum in Japan, and will be on view in Boston in April of 2015.

Hokusai, in addition to influencing European art, was also one of the first Japanese artist to be influenced by European art (something the European artists who thought him representative of Japanese art didn’t realize at the time). He had been exposed to European artists like Rembrandt and Van Ruisdale through smuggled prints, at a time when such contact with Western culture was still forbidden in Japan.

In some pieces, you can see him playing with European linear perspective (with apparently willful disregard for aligning the vanishing point with the horizon) and still life settings of game and dishware.

Hokusai (1760-1849) at Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais is on view until 15 January, 2015, but there will be a period from 21 to 30 November in which the exhibit will be closed while some of the pieces are changed.

For more, see my links below, my previous post on Katsushika Hokusai (in which I discuss “The Great Wave” at length) and on the Ukiyo-e Search site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jeffrey Smith (update)

Jeffrey Smith illustrations
Jeffrey Smith is a widely recognized illustrator, with a long and impressive client list, who I first wrote about back in 2007.

Since then, Smith has a new and much improved website, a variety of blogs (listed below) and other accessible portfolios.

Smith works in deft, fresh applications of watercolor, and his illustrations, which often involve themes of crime and mystery, use deep chiaroscuro to great dramatic effect.

Smith also paints wonderfully expressive portraits of musicians and other well known figures.

He is also an instructor at the Art Center College of Design.

Smith teamed up with writer Gary Kamiya to create Shadow Knights, an illustrated historical novel in the format of mid-20th century pulp novels.

Eye Candy for Today: Tissot’s Holyday

Holyday, James Tissot
Holyday, James Tissot

Sometimes listed as “The Picnic”. In the Tate Britain. Use Full Screen link under the image (or full size here).

While today is not a Holyday (holiday), it is Tissot’s birthday, a nice day to welcome fall foliage and celebrate a wonderful and underrated painter.

Mikhail Klodt

Mikhail Klodt (Clodt)
Mikhail Konstantinovich Klodt (sometimes “Clodt”) was a 19th century Russian landscape painter and a founding member of the Peredvizhniki (Itinerants of Wanderers), the group of Russian painters that broke away from the Academy to carry out their own traveling exhibitions.

His work is not as well known here in the US as that of his fellow-Peredvizhniki landscape painters Ivan Shishkin and Issac Levitan, perhaps because his subdued views of farms and fields eschewed grandeur and drama in favor of direct, honest observarion of the commonplace.

Some of his serene, sky-filled compositions seem more in keeping with the visual tone of the American Luminists than his Russian contemporaries.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

365 Postcards for Ants, Lorraine Loots

365 Postcards for Ants, miniature watercolors by Lorraine Loots
365 Postcards for Ants was a yearlong project, from January 1 to December 31 or 2013, in which South African artist Lorraine Loots set out to paint one miniature painting per day.

Along the way, her process evolved into a kind of collaboration with visitors to her site who would “reserve” a painting, and suggest a topic that was of significance to them. Loots felt this brought the center of meaning for the work outside herself, and placed it between the artist and collaborative buyer.

After the full year, Loots found herself so engrossed in the process that she continued a new series into 2014 — this time with an overall theme relating to her home city of Cape Town, which is celebrating its designation as World Design Capital 2014.

Most of the paintings are done on squares of watercolor paper, perhaps 4 inches (10cm) square, in a space roughly the size of a US quarter, about 1 inch or less across (28mm). Her website has an ongoing showcase of the 2014 paintings, many of which are photographed with a commonplace object on the paper next to the painted area.

A full retrospective of the 2013 project and 2014 project to date is available on her Tumblr archive. She is also posting recent paintings to Tumblr as she goes. There is a video intro on her About page that goes into her process a bit.

As interesting as the project and her approach are, more to the point are the paintings themselves — done in watercolor and perhaps touches of gouache, and for all their size rendered in a fresh, naturalistic approach.

[Via BoingBoing]

Monday, October 13, 2014

A. Wilkenfeld

A. Wilkenfeld, cartoon illustrations and character design, Tanglefoot
A. wilkenfeld is an illustrator and character designer, originally from Sydney, Australia and now based in New Orleans. Aside from that, I can find little biographical information.

To my eye, Wilkenfeld’s lively, fluid drawings show an admiration for the work of great caricaturists like Al Hirschfeld, along with an affection for early 20th century magazine cartoons, and mid-20th century animation.

His characters are stretched, looped, bent over backwards and flung into outrageous positions with gleeful abandon, particularly those shown dancing.

Dancing seems central to the theme of Wilkenfeld’s personal project of an in-development webcomic titled Tanglefoot, which looks to be a treat. You can find work for it, along with some of his other drawings, on his website, Tumblr, Behance portfolio and deviantART gallery.