Plan B (2010)
Oil on linen
“My work is inspired by a love of paint and the fiction of painting. A strong belief in the personal visual experience is reinforced by my travels and everyday living; an integration of art and life. Familiar shapes are not recognized but create ideas or metaphors. Imagery is assembled, layered and veiled to offer multiple meanings. Abstraction enables the freedom of invention. An array of graphic figuration is referenced, including: water, air and locations. these are shapes and rhythms where man-made forms merge with aerial views and reflections. It is the juxtaposition of these components which create an invented space and visual metaphor of how our culture and physical landscape has changed and continues to advance.
Understanding a constructed mysterious illusion is realized through the paint. Imagery is created through a balance of representation and abstraction, then moments of connection and disconnection appear. Using bold flat color placed adjacent to natural light and shadow, a collision of perspectives and invented spaces are instinctively discovered. It’s an uncertain territory, where a man-made place has landscape roots and respects the beauty of nature. They are landscapes with a vague familiarity of nature that hardly exists. There are no answers, only questions of the changes confronting us.
I work in a studio, in a private way, but in relation to my world experience. I use my hands and get dirty to understand the physicality of the paint. Color needs light but can also be a pleasure. It is messy thinking and graphic imagery is a way to simplify the ideas.
Reality shapes my imagination and optimistically, my imagination shapes a painted reality.” — Barbara Grad
Venice, the Grand Canal with the Doge’s Palace, 1889
Oil on canvas
In the late 19th century, Venice was heralded as a refuge from modernity, and Thomas Moran's paintings of the legendary Italian city reinforced this perception. Moran's Venice, the Grand Canal with the Doge's Palace shows famous buildings along the Grand Canal bathed in a romantic, atmospheric glow. Fanciful boats, gondolas and figures dressed in historical costumes contribute exotic details. Moran, who first visited Venice in 1886, created this and related scenes from memory with the aid of studies.
Moran followed a long line of artists who painted Venice, including English painter J. M. W. Turner, whose feathery brushwork and poetic treatment of light exerted great influence on the American.
Footed Dish, 1932
Henry Varnum Poor
Earthenware with glaze
Henry Varnum Poor began his artistic career with painting and drawing, but then turned to ceramics for his livelihood. He became one of America's leading ceramicists of the 1920s. Poor, a self-taught potter, thought of ceramics as canvases for his compositions, thus aligning his work more with contemporary paintings than ceramics. The abstract sgraffito decoration, a technique by which slip or glaze is incised to reveal the clay body, and the limited color range are characteristic of Poor's ceramics. The artist made the dish in honor of his parents, Alfred J. Poor and Josephine Graham Poor, whose names encircle the outer rim of the dish. The top of the rim reads: "Love and faith and sometimes even clay can be as golden as the purest gold."
Oil on canvas
"Emil Nolde used bold brushwork and intense colors to reveal what he called the "elemental force" of the objects he had studied at Berlin’s Museum of Ethnology. Although the work is titled as such, not all forms in this painting are masks. Nolde’s sketches reveal that the profile image at left is actually a canoe prow from the Solomon Islands (then a German colony). The frontal image at lower right is the shrunken head of a Munduruku man from Brazil."
Oil on canvas
"Helen Torr’s Impromptu dates to the most prolific period in her career. It is, believe it or not, one of Torr’s larger paintings. The small but engaging composition exemplifies a balance of rhythm, control, and formal contrasts. A grid of squares, vertical bars, and ray-like dashes enliven overlapping circular forms and animate the painting. Carefully arranged and floating above the light-colored background, these elements demonstrate Torr’s interest in abstraction."
The Countess de Castiglione (ca.1856–57)
Salt print with pigment
This hand-colored photograph features Virginia Oldioni, the Countess de Castiglione. Between 1856 and 1895, the Countess worked with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson to create more than 400 self-portraits. Fascinated by photography’s capacity to shape identity, the Countess played a direct role in the creation of each work. She chose outfits, determined poses and directed Pierson on how to enlarge some of her images.
Stammer Mill with Streaked Sky (1905-1907)
Oil on canvas
"Before Piet Mondrian became known for his orderly red, yellow, and blue geometric abstractions, he made more than 30 paintings of the windmills that dotted the Dutch countryside. With this painting, he began a shift away from earthy naturalism, and hints of his future work emerged.
The gridded windmill blades are in perfect vertical and horizontal alignment. Notice the swaths of yellow in the sky, the blue horizon line, and the red boat. This use of primary colors and geometric forms anticipates the colors and grids of his later compositions."