Art Historical Humor

Tweet Despite reports to the contrary, art historians can be funny, that’s why this post is dedicated to “Art Historical Humor.” Sure, our jokes are nerdy to the point of embarrassment and potentially oblique (in other words, not funny to … Read More

Despite reports to the contrary, art historians can be funny, that's why this post is dedicated to "Art Historical Humor." Sure, our jokes are nerdy to the point of embarrassment and potentially oblique (in other words, not funny to anyone else), but we try. One of my favorite instances of art historical jocularity came about two weeks ago, when Amsterdam celebrated the reopening of the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch national treasure whose main building had been closed for ten years due to a major renovation. The reopening of the museum was celebrated throughout Europe, and art and architecture critics have hailed it as a vast improvement. In order to publicize the museum's rebirth, the museum staff called upon a modern phenomenon - the flashmob - combining tradition and the new age with singular style. Taking place in a popular shopping mall, staff members recreated one of the museum's most well known and beloved paintings, Rembrandt van Rijn's Night Watch.
rembrandt night watch
rembrandt night watch painting Widely considered to be Rembrandt's masterpiece, the 1642 oil on canvas measures approximately 12 by 14 feet, and is one of the finest examples of Rembrandt's mastery of chiaroscuro. The eponymous night watch is led by Captain Frans Banning Cocq (the central figure, marked by a red sash) and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch (in yellow), accompanied by a cast of characters, all of whom are portrayed in the flashmob recreation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6W2ZMpsxhg See? What did I tell you? Our humor is top-notch.

DIY Diptych Gallery Wall with Family Photos

Tweet A perfect gift idea just in time for Mother’s day, this style of gallery wall uses portrait style photos of your loved ones. Using this tutorial you will learn how to crop your digital family photos to then arrange … Read More

Gallery Wall, DIY, Family Photos, Mother's Day A perfect gift idea just in time for Mother's day, this style of gallery wall uses portrait style photos of your loved ones. Using this tutorial you will learn how to crop your digital family photos to then arrange as a diptych or triptych. The possibilities are endless and it's really up to you to decide how many cropped sections you would like to create from one image. Learn how to create your own in just a few simple steps by following the tutorial here. For more DIY projects like this, ideas and inspiration, check out our section for Design Help & Inspiration here. Follow me on Google+    

Impressions of Motherhood

Tweet As I am absolutely certain you’ve all remembered, Mother’s Day is fast approaching. And I bet you’ve already picked out the perfect gift for the occasion, and it’s sitting all wrapped up and ready to go. But on the … Read More

As I am absolutely certain you've all remembered, Mother's Day is fast approaching. And I bet you've already picked out the perfect gift for the occasion, and it's sitting all wrapped up and ready to go. But on the off-chance that you haven't yet found something special for your wonderful mother, Gallery Direct's got your back. We've got a few ideas for you for how to best commemorate a lifetime of love and devotion, so be sure to check back soon for some great DIY tips and other exciting ways to celebrate your mama. In addition to beautiful meadows, gardens, and seascapes, motherhood and family portraits were among the subjects and themes favored by the Impressionists. Gallery Direct's own image vault has a great collection of motherhood paintings from the period, particularly from Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who is famed for his beautiful, cherubesque female figures.
renoir gabrielle children
[caption id="attachment_3707" align="aligncenter" width="300"]renoir gabrielle with children painting Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "Gabrielle with Renoir's Children"[/caption] Renoir's use of soft brushstrokes, warm colors, and round, rosy cheeks that are so characteristic of his depictions of families, particularly of images of motherhood, are sentimental and sweet. He manages to capture the strong bonds and closeness that naturally occurs between a mother and her children with such ease, perhaps because he often used people he knew as subjects, such as the family of his contemporary painter Claude Monet in Camille Monet and her Son Jean in the Garden at Argenteuil. [caption id="attachment_3708" align="aligncenter" width="300"]renoir monet jean garden argenteuil painting Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean in the Garden at Argenteuil[/caption] Berthe Morisot, one of the few women who were consecrated into the Impressionists' circle of artists, was also known for her beautiful portraits of mothers and children. As a woman with children of her own, her images of familial life give us a unique look into what it meant to be a mother in nineteenth-century Paris. [caption id="attachment_3714" align="aligncenter" width="300"]morisot in a park painting Berthe Morisot, In a Park[/caption] What's your favorite painting of motherhood? Maybe Whistler's Mother, or Monet's painting of his own family? Or perhaps Paul Gauguin's Maternity, a beautiful depiction of Tahitian women and children, or van Gogh's The Man is at Sea. Personally, I think Edgar Degas's The Conversation best captures the intimacy of the relationship between a growing girl and her mother. [caption id="attachment_3716" align="aligncenter" width="300"]degas the conversation painting Edgar Degas, The Conversation (Mother and Daughter)[/caption] No matter your preference, these paintings are all great images through which to contemplate the role of motherhood in your own life. If you're still searching for the perfect gifts for the mothers in your life, consider a print on canvas, or framed on paper.

How to Hang Level Artwork

Tweet   Learn how to hang level artwork perfectly with this Easy Tip* Now you can hang level artwork yourself! Visit our Design Help & Inspiration section for more DIY tricks like this and inspiring design direct from our talented staff!

  Learn how to hang level artwork perfectly with this Easy Tip* How to Hang Level Artwork Now you can hang level artwork yourself! Visit our Design Help & Inspiration section for more DIY tricks like this and inspiring design direct from our talented staff!

Art, Missing in Action

Tweet In my last blog post, I revealed that one of my more eccentric interests is art-related crimes. As such, last week I was bombarded with news about the 1990 theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. … Read More

In my last blog post, I revealed that one of my more eccentric interests is art-related crimes. As such, last week I was bombarded with news about the 1990 theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Last Monday marked the 23rd anniversary of the heist, which lasted approximately 81 minutes in the early hours of March 18th, 1990 in the wake of Saint Patrick's Day revelry. It is the single largest peacetime property theft in history, with the spoils valued at about $500 million. [caption id="attachment_3544" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The empty frames of works taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Photo courtesy of artnews.com.[/caption] Last Monday, the aforementioned anniversary, the FBI, who has valiantly headed up the investigation since 1990, put out a press release claiming that they have identified the thieves that have eluded them for all of these years. According to Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge at the FBI's Boston office, “The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence in the years after the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England." My news conduits have been filled with hurrahs and hoorays and anticipatory speculation these past few days, but I have not been able to shake my admittedly jaded perspective that this is all just false promise. The Gardner case has haunted the FBI and the Boston arts community for over two decades, and people are understandably desperate for some good news. That the press release came out on the anniversary of the theft is all the more telling - it all just seems too neat to me. Additionally, the quote above forces me to raise an eyebrow if only because I was surprised to learn that this information was news to the FBI. Organized crime syndicates are behind a significant percentage of art thefts, and countless leads from the Gardner theft have been related to criminal organizations. That this particular organization is based in New England and the mid-Atlantic should come as no surprise, given that the theft occurred in Boston. This same kind of celebratory sounding-off occurred when Whitey Bulger, a longtime suspect associated with Boston criminal organizations, was arrested in June 2011 on charges unrelated to the museum theft. Almost two years later, we may be experiencing yet another false victory high. I can understand why this would be the case. The Gardner heist is not only an egregious act against the public's right to its cultural heritage, but it also appears to be a very complex and intricate crime. It has been the subject of countless articles, books, and documentaries, and speculation has taken investigators all over the US and Europe in search of the paintings and the culprits. If you find yourself intrigued by the case, I highly recommend Ulrich Boser's book, The Gardner Heist. There are simply too many ways for me to get carried away with talking about the Gardner case, so here is a very simplified version of the events: On March 18th, 1990, just before 1:30am, two men dressed as policemen approached the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and requested entrance from the night security guard, claiming that they were investigating a disturbance. Against protocol, the guard allowed them to enter. The guards on duty were bound and gagged, and were put in the basement of the museum while the thieves, in just over an hour, took 13 works of art, including three Rembrandts, five works by Degas, a Manet, and a Vermeer. The loss of the Vermeer has been noted as particularly devastating, given that there are less than 40 extant Vermeer paintings known today. [caption id="attachment_3546" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The thirteen missing works. From the top left: Vermeer's The Concert, Rembrandt's Self Portrait, Degas's La Sortie de Pesage, Degas's Program for an artistic soiree (one of two), Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galiliee, bronze finial in the form of an eagle from the top of a Napoleonic flag, a Shang Dynasty Chinese Ku, Rembrandt's A Lady and Gentleman in Black, Degas's Program for an artistic soiree (two of two), Govaert Flinck's Landscape with an Obelisk, Manet's Chez Tortoni, Degas's Cortege aux environs de Florence, and Degas's Three Mounted Jockeys. Image courtesy of The Art Newspaper.[/caption] No one has their fingers crossed more tightly than I do that the paintings are eventually recovered. As Anthony Amore, chief of security at the Gardner (whose excellent book Stealing Rembrandts is a fantastic resource for those looking for an introduction to the study of art crimes) said, "this investigation is an exercise in finding 13 needles in a haystack by making the haystack smaller." It seems to me as though the haystack is still quite large. A colleague of mine said it best: I'll believe it when they find the paintings and start prosecuting. For now, I'll spend some time wistfully staring at the RembrandtsDegasManets,and Vermeers that are still around.
Spring is here and we just released our Spring Art Trends for 2013! Today, Gallery Direct announced that bold colors, geometric shapes and transparent inspired decor are some of the top art trends for spring 2013. We caught up with Nick Nichols, the Director of Design at Gallery Direct. Nick says, “Bold colors are everywhere this spring. The use of digital enhancement programs and high-definition mediums has really ramped up in every aspect of our visual lives, making our eyes more attuned to vibrant images. As a result, interior designers are choosing brighter, more saturated hues—and we’re seeing consumers pick up on that trend in their own homes. Bright wall décor is an easy way to modernize any space.” 2013 Spring Art Trends from Gallery Direct Embrace Emerald: This jewel toned Pantone Color of the Year adds sophisticated energy that creates balanced depth in your space--and it’s perfect for spring time. Choose an emerald hued statement piece printed on your favorite material with an elegant frame for a classic look.  Browse Gallery Direct’s Emerald Collection here.           Go Bold with Botanicals: Flowery fine art is always in season.  Placing a few vibrantly-colored botanical canvas prints in a room can make your space feel vivacious and harmonious: bright primary colors add a pop to the room while the flowers keep it rooted in calm tranquility. View Gallery Direct’s Botanical collection here.        
Get Creative with Transparency and Reflection: Art printed on transparent or reflective materials like glass, acrylic, aluminum or mirror can create an eye-catching impact.  This is a sophisticated way to incorporate gloss and shine into your décor, and allows you the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.  Learn more about unique printing materials for artwork here.
                                                                                                                                                Grow with Plant-Inspired Patterns: Patterns inspired by plants are making an impact this spring. For example, Sia Aryai’s Zen Series has been very popular with interior designers this season. The organic lines of nature soften the pattern, lending your space a refreshing and relaxing touch.         Update Your Geometrics: The trend of using geometric shapes and patterns in design is still popular. Update this trend for spring by adding stripes.  The stripes will complement the geometric shapes for the perfect sophisticated-yet-bold combination—don’t be afraid of mixing patterns!  Browse Gallery Direct’s Geometric Artwork here.
    Got a Spring trend to tell us about?  Post a comment below!
Designers from all over the world work with Gallery Direct to transform homes and offices. We followed interior designer, Sarah Scott, as she helped a work from home mom choose the right art for her space, her style and her budget.   The challenge was to find harmony with Kiera's and her husband's conflicting styles. Watch this video to see how Sarah navigates these challenges and pulls the space together perfectly.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GCJOSWezFBs Have you faced a design challenge like this?  Let us know your design tips and tricks!

Star-Gazing with Sidney Hall

Tweet One of the great things about working with the merchandising team at Gallery Direct is that I have crawled and crept through every corner of our enormous digital collection. It is such great fun to discover all the amazing … Read More

One of the great things about working with the merchandising team at Gallery Direct is that I have crawled and crept through every corner of our enormous digital collection. It is such great fun to discover all the amazing images we have (that's everyone's idea of fun, right?). A few weeks ago, I came across yet another hidden gem in our historical holdings: a series of constellation engravings by nineteenth-century engraver Sidney Hall.  [caption id="attachment_3497" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Virgo"[/caption] A couple months ago in my inaugural blog post, I revealed my quirky obsession with nineteenth-century maps. Apparently I'm not the only person with a penchant for geography, because our vintage maps section has since taken off. When these kinds of maps were growing in popularity, cartographers and engravers alike also turned their attention skywards, and began publishing what were referred to as "star atlases," or celestial atlases. Sidney Hall, a fairly successful British cartographer, begun his career by contributing engravings to popular international atlases. Around 1825, however, following the major success of Alexander Jamieson's Celestial Atlas, published in 1822, Hall was asked to created a set of 32 engravings depicting the sky's constellations. Published as a set of cards under the title Urania's Minor or A View of the Heavens, Hall created two editions of the cards, the later of which, released in 1833, have become iconic interpretations of the skies above. [caption id="attachment_3498" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Cancer"[/caption] Hall's engravings were accompanied by a text by Jehoshaphat Aspin, A Familiar Treatise on Astronomy. The cards served the dual purpose of illustrating the text, as well as serving as practical astronomical tools for consumers. In addition to the illustrations of figures and animals that Hall uses to depict the constellations, he accurately places the actual stars along the constellation lines. What's more, the manufacturers of the cards punched small holes where the stars are represented to allow light to come through. [caption id="attachment_3499" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Gemini," with visible star holes.[/caption] This allowed for two things for people interested in the night sky: one could hold the card up in the air to properly locate and align the constellations, or project a shadow of the constellation onto a surface by holding the card up to a light. The card above, showing the twin stars, Castor and Pollux, commonly referred to as Gemini, gives a clear view of the star holes inserted into the cards. I love learning about how our predecessors conceived and thought about the world around them. Looking at maps and celestial atlases is a great way to get a glimpse into how conceptions of the world were changing with innovations in transportation, communication, and industry. In addition to the nerdy, historical aspects, I think these cards make awesome pieces for wall art. A close friend of mine just had a baby in early August, so I'm thinking for the baby's first birthday, I'm going to have the "Leo" constellation printed on birchwood for the her room in honor of her astrological sign. [caption id="attachment_3500" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Leo Major and Leo Minor"[/caption] So, what's your sign?

Gallery Direct Featured on BUILT

Tweet Gallery Direct is proud to sponsor BUILT the Style Network’s new home improvement show.  Based in New York City, BUILT is the authority on stylish living.  The 10 episode series followers one of New York’s top design teams as … Read More

[caption id="attachment_3486" align="alignleft" width="329"] Radio City Music Hall by Michael Joseph printed on Aluminum[/caption] Gallery Direct is proud to sponsor BUILT the Style Network's new home improvement show.  Based in New York City, BUILT is the authority on stylish living.  The 10 episode series followers one of New York's top design teams as they transform the homes of New York's most exclusive clients. What's the hook? This construction crew is made up of the male models that have graced the fashion runways and magazines. Each episode features a demanding client who has hired the design team to do a high end room remodel in their fabulous home, turning what was once a bland space into a dream location that the viewers will aspire to. Among them is an engineer, an art installation specialist, a foreman, and hundreds of hours of hands-­‐on handy work. [caption id="attachment_3487" align="alignright" width="300"] Merrymaking Series by M. Drake printed on Acrylic[/caption] We are thrilled that Gallery Direct's artwork was chosen by the interior designers for the remodels.  The shows interior designers picks out and customizes the artwork that completes the room decor.  See anything you like?   See more of the BUILT images on our Facebook Page.    

To the Age its Art, to Art its Freedom

Tweet I had just turned 21 and was on my third year of Architecture school.  Life has never been a straight line for me and my interests were all over the place.  For some reason in the previous years I … Read More

[caption id="attachment_3364" align="alignnone" width="300"] The Secession Building in Vienna featuring the Secession "motto":"To the Age its Art, to Art its Freedom" ("Der Zeit Ihre Kunst. Der Kunst Ihre Freiheit")[/caption] I had just turned 21 and was on my third year of Architecture school.  Life has never been a straight line for me and my interests were all over the place.  For some reason in the previous years I had fallen in love with the German language and had plunged into the German culture and literature while going to Architecture school.  After a few years, I found myself with a plane ticket to Freiburg-im-Breisgau (a small student town in the south of Germany, in the Black Forest) and a scholarship to study German at the Freiburg University.  At that time, one of my favorite Professors from the Architecture School was living in Vienna.  Well, this Professor, Rosa, was kind enough to invite me to spend some time with her in her apartment in the very heart of Vienna, before my classes started. When I look back, what else could a 21-year old want from life? I had no money, but I had friends, adventurous perspectives and my whole life ahead of me. Life was good – very, very good. In fact, every time I hear the Timbuk3 song, I think of that time:

(...) I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses Things are going great, and they're only getting better I'm doing all right, getting good grades The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades (...)

I arrived in Vienna after a long train ride from Belgium, where I was "based" (my mom's sister has been living in Belgium forever, and she has always been kind enough to embrace me as a daughter all the times I was in Europe. By the way, I am Brazilian and was living in Rio at that time). When I arrived in Vienna, Rosa was waiting for me with some friends and a glass of wine at the train station. I remember that night: we hit a few pubs, I ate my first Goulash (Goulash is a Hungarian dish, and Budapest is just around the corner…) and I also lost my recent-Paris-acquired red beret in one of the restaurants we visited. It was December and cold, dark and windy; in spite of that, the streets were crowded and the people were in coffee houses, pubs, restaurants. Rosa knew a lot of people. Life was pulsating and there was no doubt about that. While I walked downtown, I noticed that the old buildings had sometimes a beautiful plate next to the door, saying something like "Here lived Schubert - or Freud - from (year) to (year)". Those plates were everywhere, mostly with great musicians names. At night, in the narrow and curvy streets illuminated by old lanterns, I felt that I had come to a magical place that I did not want to leave. Vienna was definitely a mix of East and West Europe, and having Eastern Europe in my blood (my dad was from Belgrade), that city could not speak more to my heart. Why this long introduction? Well, you can imagine how easy it was for me to fall in love with the art and architecture that I saw in Vienna. Let me explain that what first caught my eyes in Vienna was the Jungendstil (German for "youth style") : the Viennese / German version of the Art Nouveau. It was everywhere, but most obviously at the buildings doors. The Art Nouveau or Jungendstil was a reaction to academic art of the 19th century, and it was inspired by natural forms and structures. Curved lines, twisted iron, experiences with curves. Architects tried to harmonize with the natural environment. It is hard to figure out exactly what brought up that style (how can you really pin-point one single cause?). Real artists can grasp the Zeitgeist and translate it into forms, and that's what happened in Vienna, at the turn of the century (1890-19….). Wikipedia says that "The style was influenced strongly by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, when Mucha produced a lithographed poster, which appeared on 1 January 1895 in the streets of Paris as an advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou, featuring Sarah Bernhardt. " Gallery Direct has Mucha's poster - see it here. [caption id="attachment_3355" align="alignleft" width="103"] Alfons Mucha - Gismonda, 1894[/caption] Of all the artists involved in the Jungendstil movement, Gustav Klimt is certainly still the best known. In the years of 1895 to 1900, Klimt pressed a personal crisis of middle age into a service of radical reorientation of his professional work (just like Freud, also living in Vienna and already a famous doctor). Klimt decisively rejected the realism in which he had been reared. He plunged into the self and embarked into a "voyage interieur". When he exhibited to the public the results of his explorations inside his world of "instincts", he encountered resistance from two ends: from liberal-rationalist academic orthodoxy, and from anti-Semites. In the face of hostility, Klimt withdrew from the public scene to the shelter of a small cottage house - to preserve and further explore the terrain he had just conquered and discovered.   We need to remember that at that time, Vienna was not in Austria, but part of the the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and all over the world Imperialism had its days counted. Klimt represented the cultural situation in which psychoanalysis also arose. He, like Freud, confronted a period of historical transition. With other intellectuals of his class and generation, Klimt shared a crisis of culture characterized by the search of a new self. Gustav Klimt finally rose to fame in the service of wealthy families of Vienna. He decorated the Museum of Art History and the Burgtheather. During the years when these paintings won Klimt his fame, the social layer whose values he expressed was being undermined. The liberal society was crying for reform and a widespread, collective revolt began to spread through the Austrian middle class. "Die Jungen" ("The Youth") became the common name chosen by the rebels in one filed after another. In the mid-nineties, the revolt agains tradition finally spread to art and architecture. Within the principal artists' association – die Jungen – the name was used again – organized themselves to break the prevailing academic constrains in favor of an open, experimental attitude toward painting. They rejected the classical realist tradition of their masters in the search for modern man's true face. [caption id="attachment_3360" align="alignleft" width="528"] Section from Klimt’s ‘Beethoven Frieze’ with the character of ‘Lasciviousness.’
She’s the redhead seated on the back of the beast. Secession, 1902.[/caption] Klimt, though himself a young master of the old school, early assumed leadership in the revolt of die Jungen in the visual arts. In 1897, he led them out of the established artists' association to found the Secession. Like I once heard, un-learning is so often so more difficult than learning! And in order to deconstruct, it is so important to have achieved the knowledge of the "conventional". In 1898 the movement gained its own building, a project by the architect Joseph Maria Olbrich. The exhibition building soon became known simply as "the Secession" (die Sezession). This building became an icon of the movement. You can see more photos of Secession building below, with Klimt's paintings inside. Check the poster for the first exhibit on sale at Gallery Direct here. It is fascinating, how strong this image still is! I could write more, but what about giving you a break and continuing next week in "Vienna - Part ii?" Also, next time you buy a Klimt, think about all that the man went through, and all the freedom that his paitnings represent. No wonder they're strong until today. I found the images in this post in the web. I don't think my own photos survived these years, unfortunately. If you want to read more about Vienna and the "Fin-de-Siecle", I firmly recommend this book, which I consulted to write this post: "Fin-De-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture", by Carl E. Schorske.
Klimt's 1902 Beethoven painting in the Secession Building
[caption id="attachment_3290" align="alignnone" width="300"] The Secession Building from another angle[/caption]