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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!

Wartime Damage and Destruction

Tweet If you’ve seen any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I’m an art history afficianado. You may not know, however, that my primary area of interest is a bit peculiar. I am interested in art crimes and … Read More

If you've seen any of my previous blog posts, you'll know that I'm an art history afficianado. You may not know, however, that my primary area of interest is a bit peculiar. I am interested in art crimes and cultural heritage protection. In fact, I will be pursuing a post-graduate degree in the field this upcoming summer - but more on that another time. My first real training in the field was last year when I participated in the Provenance Research Training Program in Magdeburg, Germany, which is a course dedicated to the theories and methodologies involved in studying art that was destroyed, stolen, looted, or otherwise obtained by the Nazi regime during World War II. I could go on and on about the topic, and I'm sure you'll hear more about it in future blog posts, but today, I want to focus on two paintings that I came across in Gallery Direct's growing collection of modern masters. Namely, Gustav Klimt's Garden Path with Chickens and Hygieia (a detail from his painting Medicine). Along with thousands of other works of art, these two paintings were destroyed by Axis forces during the war. By all accounts, Hygieia is an exemplar of Klimt's so-called Golden Phase, which prominently featured stunning figures, usually women, rendered in bold colors (the most well known example being The Kiss). Hygieia, a figure from Ancient Greek mythology, is the focal point of his painting Medicine, one of three paintings Klimt made for the University of Vienna. The goddess of health, well-being, and hygiene, she was the daughter of the god of medicine, Asclepius. Klimt depicts her holding in one hand the cup of Lethe, symbolizing one of the rivers of the underworld, and in the other, the Asclepian snake, which symbolized healing and the renewal of health. By juxtaposing a symbol of death and a symbol of life, Klimt represents life and death not as too diametric opposites, but rather as two parts of a single, unified cycle. Klimt's use of mythological allegories in his paintings is one of the aspects of his work as a symbolist that are so unique. Along with the other two paintings commissioned to Klimt for the University of Vienna, Medicine was rejected as pornographic, and went on instead to be featured in the Tenth Exhibition of the Vienna Secession in 1901. After the exhibition, it was purchased by Klimt's friend and fellow Vienna Secession artist, Koloman Moser, and it eventually passed into the collection of a Jewish family. Sadly, the collection was seized in 1938 bythe Third Reich, as Jewish property was deemed to be the property of the German state. This was the case with thousands of families and millions of objects, many of which are still missing to this day. Garden Path with Chickens is not what one would consider a "typical" Klimt painting. Created in 1917, the colorful garden scene demonstrates that in addition to his groundbreaking subject matter and style, Klimt was also a precise and masterful technician of his craft. The detail of each individual flower and the considered blending of colors demonstrate how dedicated Klimt was to perfecting even the most minute and intricate aspects of his compositions. Garden Path was incorporated into the collection of Erich Lederer, which, along with many other works, including Medicine, was relocated to the Schloss Immendorf in Austria at the beginning of World War II, ostensibly for safekeeping. Throughout the war, countless objects, monuments, and landmarks were stolen, destroyed, or defaced, but even after the fall of the Third Reich, the damage continued. After the Nazi regime fell and SS troops were instructed to return to Germany, they left a path of destruction in their wake. One victim was the Schloss Immendorf, which was destroyed by a fire set by Nazi troops on their way out of Austria. All of the paintings within were completely lost, so all that remains of them today are the artist's preliminary sketches and photographs. That is, perhaps, what makes it so remarkable that we are able to have these two paintings at Gallery Direct, as we ensure that while the originals may be lost, and can surely never be replaced, the memory of the paintings and the horrific way in which they were lost endures.
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.    
In 1508, famed High Renaissance painter and architect Raphael was given the commission that would make his career. The young artist was asked by Pope Julius II and his personal architect Donato Bramante to create the massive frescoes that adorn what are known today as the Stanze di Raffaello, or Raphael Rooms, of the Vatican Palace. Raphael's first conquest was the Stanza della Segnatura, which now contains four of his most beautiful and well-known frescoes, The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament,The Parnassus, Cardinal and Theological Virtues, and, his masterpiece, The School of Athens. Each of these four frescoes was meant to represent the four areas of human knowledge: religion, poetry, jurisprudence, and philosophy. Toward the end of 1509, Raphael began his second fresco of the series, The School of Athens, representing philosophy. Since its creation in the Apostolic Palace, it has been endlessly revered and contemplated.

Raphael's intricate fresco, measuring approximately 25 by 16 feet, contains nearly 60 figures in a beautifully arranged and appointed background. For hundreds of years, art historians and scholars of philosophy, classics, and mathematics have attempted to identify the different figures, though it seems that Raphael was intentionally vague in the majority of the depictions, with a few exceptions. What we can be sure about is that the two central figures represent Plato (on the left) and Aristotle (on the right). Raphael depicts Plato pointing to the heavens and Aristotle gesturing toward the earth - a commentary on their respective philosophies. Other figures that can be identified with some degree of certainty include Pythagoras, Socrates, Diogenes, Ptolemy, Heraclitus, and Euclid. Despite the many questions about the identities of the figures, what remains clear is that Raphael is representing thinkers from across myriad schools, time periods, and geographical locations from classical antiquity. Thus, he is not attempting to depict an historical moment, but rather a thematic representation of Greek philosophy at its finest. Identifying the figures becomes even more difficult when one realizes that they often have double identities - one from antiquity, and one from Raphael's own time. Many have speculated, for example, that Plato can also be identified as Leonardo da Vinci, Heraclitus has the visage of Michelangelo, and that Euclid shares features with Bramante. [caption id="attachment_3470" align="aligncenter" width="437"] Detail, Raphael's Plato with Leonardo da Vinci's 1510 self-portrait[/caption] So, why did Raphael choose to imbue his figures with this double identity? During the Renaissance, ancient Greek and Roman writers and thinkers experienced a renewed popularity, and were respected as the premier philosophers throughout history. By blurring the line between figures from classical antiquity and his own peers, Raphael asserts that the thinkers of the Renaissance were on par with their formidable predecessors. The artist also blatantly includes an image of himself, gazing out to the viewer. In addition to his commentary on the relative status of the Renaissance in relation to antiquity, Raphael boldly breaks with tradition regarding his representation of the idea of philosophy. While those who came before him tended to represent philosophy in a purely allegorical way (or at least in a way in which the allegory or ideal of philosophy is given more importance than its human practitioners), Raphael humanizes his topic. He does not forsake the allegorical depiction of philosophy, but rather makes it almost secondary relative to the rest of the subjects. The personification of philosophy, often called Philosophia, appears in the accompanying tondo (an Italian term for a round painting or sculpture). The tondo above the The School of Athens announces the subject of the work, in the same fashion as the other frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. The beautiful Philosophia sits upon a throne, flanked by two cherubim bearing the words "Causarum Cognitio," a reference to Cicero meaning, "Knowledge of causes." She holds two books, one entitled "Morals," the other, "Nature." This is a classical depiction of Philosophy, and yet within the context of The School of Athens, the figure is relatively diminutive. The tondo is merely six feet in diameter, and because it is over 25 feet off the ground, it is hardly easy to see from eye level. Furthermore, while tradition dictates that the depiction of Philosophy should be the focal point of a work, Raphael isolates her from the rest of his work. While she may loom over the individual practitioners of the art of philosophy, the latter are nonetheless the primary subjects, overwhelming the former in size, number, and relevance. By making the practitioners the focal point of his fresco, Raphael humanizes and indeed secularizes the practice of philosophy. Like so many of his compositions (a personal favorite is the cherubim detail in his Sistine Madonna), Raphael's School of Athens truly rewards careful study and contemplation.

More Vienna, The Kiss, and Brussels

Tweet So where was I?  I was in Vienna, in the Secession Building in winter, looking at Klimt’s poster for the first Secession exhibit (showing the aggressive Theseus who slew the Minotaur, like the new Jugenstil fighting the traditional values).  I was wearing layer upon layer … Read More

So where was I?  I was in Vienna, in the Secession Building in winter, looking at Klimt's poster for the first Secession exhibit (showing the aggressive Theseus who slew the Minotaur, like the new Jugenstil fighting the traditional values).  I was wearing layer upon layer of wool to compensate for my tropical background.  Once, during a dinner, my friend Rosa counted how many sweaters, cardigans and jackets I took off:  "I can't believe you had eight layers on top of this shirt."  In Brazil we only have one word for coat:  casaco.  When referring to a heavy coat, an outdoor coat, a sweater or a light cardigan, you must add a bunch of words to describe it.  Europeans and Americans have the culture perfected:  one word for a heavy, outdoor coat, one for the coat that goes underneath — and that's basically it.  The German language is even more precise.  You need no more than two well-insulated "coats" to hit the streets during winter. My vocabulary and understanding of cold was expanding.  Now I only needed to see snow.
In 1903 Klimt, though normally no traveler, journeyed twice to Ravenna, where he viewed the mosaics of San Vitale.  Meanwhile, his Secession colleagues were turning to interior design and crafts, mosaics and gold leaf.
In his later phase, Klimt turnet to allegorical or figure painting.  The Kiss carried Klimt's golden style to its apex. The most popular of Klimt's painting, it escalates the intensity of the sensuous effect by expanding the symbolic at the expense of the realistic field. In it, the flesh is covered, yet the sensuous effect is heightened by the gestural, caressing line. In the clothing, as in the flowering base on which the lovers kneel, the ornamental elements serve also as symbols. The drapery of both male and female stands uncompromisingly distinguished by its ornamental designs.  These are not traditional symbols, but inventions drawn from Klimt's unconsicous.  The two defined fields of sexual symbols are brought into a union of opposites by the vibrant cloth of gold that is their common ground. [caption id="attachment_3442" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Kiss, Gustav Klimt[/caption]
I only wish I could walk in Vienna by the beginning of the twentieth century! Freud and the unconscious, the Secessionists, Mahler, Schonenberg and the atonal music, Schiele, Kokoshka -not to  mention temporary visitors, like Jung.
I spent some of my time in Vienna also looking at buildings designed by Otto Maria Wagner (an architect that belonged to the Secession).  I  recall almost being shocked by how contrasting the new architecture was (it was the early 1990s).  For example, in the very heart of the city, in front of the Stephansdom (St. Stephens Cathedral  —  a gothic icon) sat the Haas Haus - a mall designed by Hans Hollein.  I didn't feel like exploring it; it had way too much mirrors for me and I was not in that mood. There was another "avant-garde" group of architects that attracted me much more in their deconstructivism, and they were Coop Himmelblau.  But I saved my visit to their office for the next time I was in Vienna.
Apart from the art nouveau and the narrow streets with lanterns, what took my heart in Vienna was a fantastic architect (and painter /sculptor) named Hundertwasser (you can see some amazing photos of his work here and print at Gallery Direct).  He was certainly ahead of his time with free shapes, green roofs, organic-shaped floors (yes, even his floors were covered with "bumps" —  he claimed that humans were not suited to walk on flat surfaces or live in angled corners), colors, more colors and textures.  His buildings in Vienna (and everywhere) are one of a kind, and I can't forget the Hundertwasserhaus, with the soothing sound of the water that runs inside the structure.  Hundertwasser died recently (2000) and was not part of the Secession. Well, at least not directly!
I also remember visiting Freud's house, where he spent most of his time.  It was converted into a museum, and today displays objects that Freud collected and his furniture as it was set when he lived there. After visiting his house, I was compelled to read Peter Gay's biography of Freud.  Last year I watched A Dangerous Method and thought of that house again. Today I would be much more curious about seeing Jung's house, but that is another trip and another subject.
[caption id="attachment_3427" align="alignleft" width="225"] The house where Freud lived with his family for many years[/caption]
After Vienna, I returned to Brussels, then resumed college in Freiburg, then went back to Brussels (the train trips are an extra chapter; I think I learned more in trains than anywhere.  What weird encounters you can have in a train when you are young with a backpack!  I will leave this to your imagination for now).
In Brussels I discovered Victor Horta, one of the most important names in Art Nouveau. Horta was an architect, designer and everything else (Art Nouveau is considered a 'total' style, as it includes a hierarchy of scales of design — architecture; interior design; decorative arts including jewelry, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils and lighting; and the visual arts). While we are on it, check all the Art Nouveau amazing images that Gallery Direct carries. You can have an idea of what a rich artistic period this was.
 My favorite story about Victor Horta is that he was kicked out of music school (where he first went) for disciplinary reasons.  Because of this rejection (I do not know what he did, but would love to), he entered architecture school in the early 1870s.  What a blessing that he did.
Between 1878 and 1880, Horta worked in Paris, where he saw the possibilities of working with iron and glass.  Iron was the perfect material for the twists and curves of Art Nouveau.  In subsequent years he focused on the curvature of his designs, believing that the forms he produced were highly practical and not artistic affectations.  He won a great number of prizes for his work.
Sincerely, I do not believe that Art Nouveau can truly discard or deny the artistic flavor it gave to the world — and what could be wrong with that?  —  but highly practical or not, Victor Horta is another icon of the period.  Check below the house where he lived in Brussels (I apologize for having lost my own photos; I found these on the web). [caption id="attachment_3423" align="alignleft" width="300"] Victor Horta House in Brussels - Stairs, oh, the Stairs![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3421" align="alignleft" width="300"] Victor Horta House in Brussels - Detail[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3422" align="alignleft" width="300"] Victor Horta House in Brussels - Detail[/caption]

The Mysteries of Mona Lisa

Tweet “The most famous painting in the world” - The Mona Lisa. La Joconde. La Gioconda. Leonardo’s masterpiece. The portait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is instantly recognizable to virtually everyone in the Western world. The Mona Lisa … Read More

"The most famous painting in the world" - The Mona LisaLa Joconde. La Gioconda. Leonardo's masterpiece. The portait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is instantly recognizable to virtually everyone in the Western world. The Mona Lisa practically has a cult following - but why? People crowd around the small portrait at the Musée du Louvre in Paris every day just to get a glimpse of the world's most famous smile, even from a distance. When I was living in Paris, I was taking an art history course that had me walking through the miles upon miles of galleries of the Louvre at least once a week. I spent hours taking it in and soaking up as much as I possibly could. Sometimes, I would go early on a Tuesday morning, and I would feel like the only person around - until I got to the Salle des États where The Mona Lisa is housed. No matter the time of day or week, there was always an admiring crowd surrounding the approximately 21 x 30 in. painting. Clearly there's something special about this painting. It is easily the most parodied work - from famed Dadaist Marcel Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. to one of Gallery Direct's own artists, Randy Slack.

The painting, created by Leonardo da Vinci between 1503 and 1519, has been the subject of much speculation and mystery for hundreds of years. Theories about its creation abound, and studies are still being done today as to the origins and formal qualities of the painting. In fact, artdaily.org reported this week that Alfonso Rubino has performed a geometrical analysis on La Joconde, revealing that Leonardo "worked the geometry found in his design of the Vitruvian Man into his paintings." According to Dr. Markus Frey of the Mona Lisa Foundation, not only is this a groundbreaking find, but is also confirms that a painting that was thought to be an earlier version of The Mona Lisa is in fact genuine.

The "Earlier Version," according to recent carbon dating, was created sometime between 1410 and 1450. There are so many theories as to the creation of the painting that an earlier version is sure to prove to be fuel for the proverbial fire. Theories about The Mona Lisa range from topics such as pregnancy, Bell's Palsy, high cholesterol, secret societies, biblical references, and many more.

The Mona Lisa has inspired people for centuries, but not always in a good way. In 1911, a worker at the Louvre, Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian patriot, stole the small poplar panel right from the wall of the Louvre, believing that despite the fact that the painting was completed in France and legally sold to the French king after da Vinci's death, the painting belonged to the artist's home country of Italy.

After biding his time for two years, however, Peruggia attempted to sell The Mona Lisa to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Officials at the Uffizi immediately notified the Louvre, at which point it was returned to Paris after an extended tour throughout Italy.

The painting has also been the target of many iconoclastic attempts. It was attacked twice in 1956, first by acid and then by a thrown rock, at which point it was decided that it could no longer be displayed without the protection of a bulletproof-glass case. Even after the case was added, however, it was the subject of vandalism in 1974 and more recently in 2009.

So why does this painting inspire people so much - whether it be to artistic creation, endless research, conspiracy theories, criminal activity, or violence? The enigmatic smile, the beautiful and slightly surreal landscape in the background, the facial geometry, the bodily arrangement of the portrait, the identity of the sitter, and numerous other inquiries have captured the world's attention.

Personally, as a student of art history (who admittedly does not focus on the Renaissance, and is by no means a da Vinci scholar), the formal execution of the painting is at the heart of the matter. Putting aside all of the theories and mysteries surrounding it, The Mona Lisa is, above all, an exemplar of Renaissance fastidiousness and ingenuity. The amount of detail and precision that was exercised by da Vinci is the most captivating element of the painting. The bizarre landscape, the ethereal veil that floats above her delicate curls, every fold on her dress, the considered use of sfumato - all suggest to me that the painting was created by an exceedingly patient, practiced, and loving hand. When I look at La Joconde, I envision the artist, meticulously tending to each line, each shadow on the relatively small panel. I see a life dedicated to artistry and aesthetic integrity.

So what do you think? Does The Mona Lisa inspire you? What do you think she's smiling at?

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]

Reflect Your Style: Art on Mirror

Tweet Below is one of my favorite styles of gallery wall arrangements- showing off framed souvenirs paired with framed fine art. I would say that the style around my home is colorful and eclectic, to say the very least. Pair that … Read More

Below is one of my favorite styles of gallery wall arrangements- showing off framed souvenirs paired with framed fine art. I would say that the style around my home is colorful and eclectic, to say the very least. Pair that with an obsession for all forms of Art and imagery; from black and white photographic prints, vintage botanicals scans to more contemporary mixed media pieces and I’m left with dense gallery walls that I always find inspiring. Some may say (my fiancé) that this “everything goes” way of styling is crazy. I say, if you love to surround yourself with an abundance of beautiful art, hang it and apologize to no one! Since my tiny bathroom walls were sorely neglected in comparison to the rest of my house, this got me thinking that I could use mirror as my print material to create a tiny wall of art for my bathroom that would be functional, eclectic and unified. This realization blew my mind for a few reasons; to start the mirror reflections actually made my bathroom feel larger and now it exhibits work from some of my favorite local artists while simultaneously offering five new functional mirrors to choose from when primping, instead of one. Complete satisfaction. I found that the key to getting what you want out of mirror is to understand that there are  two very different styles that can be achieved when printing on mirror, which are completely determined by the white values in your image. If you think about it, when an image is printed on a white paper, the white areas of that image have little to no ink, revealing more of the natural white of the paper. Now apply that same logic to an image printed on mirror and try to imagine which areas will reveal raw mirror and which will be inked. One style is more dreamy and frosted with very little visibility through the image. The other style shows the image clearly defined from the mirror, making it possible to see reflections through the image in certain areas. To check exactly where those reflective areas are and to make double sure that your image will print out exactly how you've envisioned, you can check to see where your true white values are in your image by using the eyedropper tool in Photoshop or using Pixlr (an amazing free online photo editor). A perfect white value will give you a hexadecimal color code of #FFFFFF.   If you would like even more information about Art on Mirror, watch the video below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9ViP4wsaho&list=SPKMUrphQ1ugmk4hbvGJT6ijMT2VE6rV3r&index=6 For information about the other offered materials watch our Our Unique Materials playlist.