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+    
It has long been said that art feeds the soul as well as the mind, and now it seems the Duchess of Cambridge would agree. The Mirror reported yesterday that the Princess, Kate Middleton hosted a charity reception at London's National Portrait Gallery, one of the city's most esteemed art institutions, to celebrate the power of art in the lives of children. Natalie Evans reports:
 "Kate will honour the work of one of her chosen charities, The Art Room, which uses painting and drawing to build the self-esteem, self-confidence and independence of young people. The event will also celebrate the launch of the Pledge for the Future appeal, the charity's new fundraising initiative, and its 11th anniversary. The organisation maintains a dedicated art room in a number of secondary and primary schools in Oxford - running sessions from one to four days a week - and works with more than 20 other schools."
Art therapy, developed as early as the 1940s, promotes self-expression through a multitude of media, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and music, in order to encourage communication and creativity.The Art Room, the charity endorsed by Middleton, works primarily with 5-16 year olds in order to work through emotional difficulties as well as build up a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Whether by creating yourself or by admiring the work of others, art certainly has a way of transforming our experience. In what ways has art been therapeutic in your life?
children painting art
[caption id="attachment_3738" align="aligncenter" width="528"]children painting canvas art Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons[/caption] 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.

Acquiring Cubists

Tweet The big news item in the art world last week was the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s announcement on Tuesday that philanthropist Leonard A. Lauder will be giving his highly esteemed collection of Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures to the … Read More

The big news item in the art world last week was the Metropolitan Museum of Art's announcement on Tuesday that philanthropist Leonard A. Lauder will be giving his highly esteemed collection of Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures to the prestigious New York City museum. The gift - clocking in at almost 80 pieces worth over a billion dollars - is the biggest in the museum's history. Lauder, a longtime collector and patron of the New York art world (he has been an active trustee, president, and chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art, just to name one example), told the New York Times that from the very beginning, he envisioned it as a museum-quality collection. By all accounts, he has certainly met his goal; his collection, which he began assembling in 1976 and is still growing today, is considered to be one of the best and most important private collections of the early 20th-century movement. We here at Gallery Direct are happy to announce an acquisition of our own. Much like the Met, we too have recently added a considerable number of Cubist masterpieces to our holdings, and we are thrilled to be able to bring them to you. I remember when I was in college, a professor asked our class a rhetorical question. Wanting to make a point about how the Cubists created a whole new aesthetic in the world of art, he asked how many of us had a piece of Cubist art on our walls at home. He did not expect anyone to respond in the affirmative. His intention was to illustrate how Cubist art did not adhere to traditional notions of beauty, and was thus less likely to adorn someone's walls than, say, a landscape by Monet. But I surprised him by raising my hand - I just happened to have a print of one of my favorite Picassos above my desk at the time - but his point was well taken. One does not typically think of having a Picasso or a Braque above the fireplace - but why not? The best rule of thumb for picking art is to go with what you love, and I loved sitting down at my desk every day and being confronted with a piece of art that was challenging and thought-provoking. That's why Gallery Direct is dedicated to breaking down the barriers between fine art and everyday decor. Why shouldn't you have a museum-quality image in your home? No good reason, as far as I'm concerned. Our recent acquisitions most heavily feature the work of two artists in particular, Juan Gris and Franz Marc. Gris developed his own, unique take on Cubism, often harmonizing colors rather than using monotones, and is particularly well known for his works in collage. His work also demonstrates the popular Cubist motif of incorporating typography and painted typeface into his work, thereby inserting a sort of identifiable referent in what might otherwise be an "unreadable" painting. [caption id="attachment_3666" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Juan Gris, Bottle and Fruit Bowl[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3665" align="aligncenter" width="205"] Juan Gris, Fruit Dish, Glass, and Newspaper[/caption] Marc, heavily influenced by the concomitant German Expressionist movement, had a proclivity for choosing natural subjects and depicting them in an abstract manner. His use of bright, bold colors was motivated by a desire to infuse his work with emotional weight and meaning. [caption id="attachment_3667" align="aligncenter" width="247"] Franz Marc, Colorful Flowers (Abstract Forms)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3668" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Franz Marc, The Mandrill[/caption] So, what are your thoughts on Cubism? Check out Gallery Direct's new collection and let us know what you think!
There are so many holidays celebrating the things that are near and dear to our hearts: Earth Day, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day (don't forget - that's coming up!), etc. Last year, in honor of Leonardo da Vinci's birthday, April 15th, the International Association of Art (IAA) declared today World Art Day. And why not? Art is something that has the power to bring people from all over the globe together , and is the pinnacle of our collective heritage as the human race. Though it's still in its infancy, World Art Day is a great opportunity to take a moment to consider how art has impacted your life as well as the way you take in the world around you. The IAA, upon its consecration of World Art Day, stated that the primary purpose of the celebration is to spread "art awareness throughout the globe." You don't have to be an artist or an art historian to recognize the significance of artistic creation as an expression of our humanity. So join the conversation! What artist has meant the most to you in your life? Have you ever encountered a painting or sculpture that made you stop dead in your tracks? If you could pick any work of art to hang in your house, what would it be? We want to know! Gallery Direct wishes you a happy World Art Day, and happy birthday to the man of the hour (or rather, the millennium), Leonardo da Vinci.
vitruvian man birthday

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!

N. Korea Upset Over Missed Sale

Tweet           It’s no surprise to Texas Governor Rick Perry or Gallery Direct that North Korean leaders have it out for our hometown, Austin, Texas.  At Gallery Direct, our sales go quickly and we understand that … Read More

          It's no surprise to Texas Governor Rick Perry or Gallery Direct that North Korean leaders have it out for our hometown, Austin, Texas.  At Gallery Direct, our sales go quickly and we understand that Kim Jong Un is upset that he missed out on our 75% print your photo on canvas sale last weekend and is now going to take it out on the entire city. Sorry Kim Jong Un, the sale ends at midnight, you'll have to wait until the next one. Follow me on Google+

Happy Birthday, Maria Sibylla Merian!

Tweet Today, Google commemorated what would have been Maria Sibylla Merian’s 366th birthday with a Google Doodle. Merian, a seventeenth-century naturalist and artist, has been credited with making important contributions to the fields of botany and entomology. Born in Frankfurt in 1647, … Read More

Today, Google commemorated what would have been Maria Sibylla Merian's 366th birthday with a Google Doodle. Merian, a seventeenth-century naturalist and artist, has been credited with making important contributions to the fields of botany and entomology.

Born in Frankfurt in 1647, Merian, the daughter of an engraver, was one of the few women of her time to be so deeply involved and successful in a scientific profession. In addition to being a pioneer in her field, she also broke new ground when she undertook a dangerous research expedition to South America with her daughter without a male companion, which was practically inconceivable at the time. Her talent as an illustrator is matched only by her insight into the world of insects and plant life, as evidenced by the hundreds of plates and drawings of the nature and its inhabitants that she produced.

Between the years 1675 and 1680, Merian published her first book, The New Book of Flowers, in three volumes. The illustrations, such as the one above, are considered to be landmarks in the development of botanical printing and illustration.

Merian also undertook a serious study of the development of caterpillars, and in 1679, published The Caterpillars' Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food. One of the first naturalists to observe insects directly in nature, her work on caterpillars is considered to be a major advance in entomology.

Many of her botanical prints, such as Two Simple Narcissicontain glimpses of her interest in caterpillars and butterflies, demonstrating how she combined her two passions in her work. Merian was both an insightful scientific mind and an incredibly proficient artist. It is rare indeed that someone is endowed with one of these remarkable talents; that she possessed both is extraordinary. By capturing every detail of a flower or an insect, Merian became known for her ability to both truthfully represent a subject in a scientific way and produce a beautiful piece of art. This is wonderfully exemplified in prints such as Dutch Rose.

We here at Gallery Direct are proud to print a handful of Merian prints for your home or office. Whether you're looking for roses that will never lose their bloom or a simple hyacinth, Merian's illustrations are not only beautiful, but also represent an important art historical moment - the meeting of science and aesthetics.

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.