Coffee Grinder and Glass
1915 Oil on paperboard
In this jewel-like still life, the letters "Le J" refer to Le Journal—the Paris newspaper that Juan Gris depicted in lavender on the blue top of a black table. The window blinds, coffee grinder, and wine or aperitif glass suggest that the setting may be a Paris café.
The still life was a favored subject for Gris, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and other Cubists. However, their paintings are not at all still! Instead, forms are broken up and overlaid. Tabletops tilt upward, and perspective is reversed. Cubist artists, like their contemporaries in science and mathematics, explored new ideas about time, space, and motion.
Landscape with a Water Mill (1740)
Oil on canvas
French 18th-century painters would often allude to the work of their 17th-century predecessors. Here, Boucher refers to landscapes by the French classical painter Claude Lorrain, Mill on the Tiber. Both paintings feature a water mill balanced by trees on the opposite side of the composition. Furthermore, in this landscape Boucher includes a temple in the distance that is based on the Temple of the Sybil at Tivoli, another favorite classical Claudian motif. Compared to his 17th-century predecessor, Boucher applies paint more thickly, in lighter strokes, resulting in a lush, decorative density typical of the Rococo.
Allegory of Vanity
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Italian (Genoese), 1609-1664
Oil on canvas
Castiglione was the leading Genoese artist of the 17th century, and many of his works, including this example, are rich in symbolism. The subject is encapsulated by the Latin inscription Vanitas (Vanity) on the base of the urn at the center. The vanity of sensual pleasures, intellectual pursuits and power are symbolized by the overturned urn of flowers that will soon fade and by the discarded instruments of music, science and war. Love is depicted in its most transient form, lust, by the bacchante with her tambourine in the foreground. At her feet lies a sprig of myrtle, a plant symbolizing Venus, goddess of love, and Bacchus, god of wine. The union of Venus and Bacchus produced a son, Priapus, god of lust and fertility before whose statue revelers dance in the background.
1924 Oil on canvas mounted on board
"Named for the small German town it depicts, Gaberndorf II features shifting, luminous planes of color. The prismatic hues may evoke the feeling of a Bach fugue, a layered musical composition of interwoven parts elaborating on a common theme. Lyonel Feininger, who called music the first influence in his life, revered Johann Sebastian Bach above all other composers.
Feininger created this painting while teaching at the Bauhaus, Germany’s innovative art and design school founded in Weimar in 1919. Dedicated to principles of economy, efficiency, and spiritual renewal, the Bauhaus (House of Construction) came to define Modernism."
Portrait of a Woman
Roman Period, 130-161 C.E.
Encaustic on wood panel with gilt stucco
This portrait of an unknown woman was made when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire. It was meant to be placed over the face of a mummy.
The portrait is arresting: her wide eyes, framed and emphasized by her heavy brows, stare out at the viewer as though she is alive today.
The artist painted it using the encaustic technique. Mixing organic colors in hot beeswax, he applied the hot paint to a specially prepared wooden board. One Greek writer, the so-called Pseudo-Plutarch, appropriately commented:
"A beautiful woman leaves in the heart of an indifferent man an image as fleeting as a painting on water. In the heart of a lover, this image is fixed with fire like an encaustic painting, which time can never erase."
Untitled (Still Life)
1921 Oil on canvas
"Pink rosebuds and one full blossom rise from a deep blue vase in this vibrant still-life painting. Suzanne Valadon was the first woman painter to be admitted to the prestigious Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. A child of poverty, she began working at the age of 11, selling vegetables at markets and, later, as a circus acrobat and artist model. Among her friends were fellow artists Edgar Degas, André Derain, and Pablo Picasso. She was the mother of artist Maurice Utrillo."
Black Cat before the attack, c.1930.
Gelatin silver print
“A product of the early modernist intellectual currents of early 1900s Hungary, Martin Munkácsi worked in a bold, spontaneous manner. He achieved international renown for his photojournalism and fashion work of the 1920s and 1930s, when he was living in Berlin. Munkácsi had a major impact in both these fields. In fashion, for example, his lively images, often made outdoors, stood in marked contrast to the more typical work of the period, made in the controlled space of the commercial studio.”