All posts filed under: History

Cubism: The Mother of it All

As an art historian and a self-proclaimed lover/groupie/fan to the core of Modern art, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I just realized just how important my least favorite art movement was in the grand History of art. I´m talking about Cubism. Are you rolling your eyes too? For the record, it’s still and will always be my least favorite “ism” in all of the “isms” (Impressionism, Futurism, Constructivism, Expressionism, etc.) but damn did it change the course of art. To start, let’s reiterate for the 999 trillionth time that Picasso was a genius. Yes he was an arrogant, selfish, egocentric, ladies man but thankfully we’re not any of the girls whose hearts he broke. And let’s be honest, all those affairs just make him so much more fun to read about. Picasso, or as I like to call him, Pablito, painted Les Demoiselle D’Avignon in 1907. For those of you who have a huge question mark on your face, this is one of the most important works of art ever to be produced. That’s right, I …

Bird in Space

It all started with Marcel. You know, Duchamp? He is considered the most influential artist of the 20th century (not Picasso) and for some reason, I think of him more as a whacky scientist than an artist. Maybe that’s just because he was in everyone’s business introducing people to one another, revolutionizing, criticizing and influencing his contemporaries unknowingly. He knew everyone and he played a key part in so many historical twisted events. My favorite story in all the stories of Art History that of Brancusi’s fabulous Bird in Space, the golden bullet-like sculpture located at the MoMa in New York. It was originally part of an edition of nine bronze casts and seven marbles created in 1923. An American collector by the name of Edward Steichen bought one of the bronzes in 1926 in France and he asked the artist to ship it to the United States. “Sure” said Brancusi, “coincidentally, a very good friend of mine, Marcel, is traveling to the States so I’ll just send it with him”. “Cool” said Steichen. So off goes Duchamp with Bird …

Birthday Letter to Frida {Kahlo}

Happy birthday to you, my dearest Frida. Today is your 106th birthday and I think we should celebrate it with chimichangas! It´s crazy how much the world that you once knew has changed. But I have some time now so let me catch you up on what has happened in the past 60 years that you would find interesting. Diego (Rivera), your beloved Panzon,  died in 1957 from heart failure, only three years after you ditched life on Earth. In his autobiography he said that he only realized when it was too late that the best part of his life was his love for you. I suppose he definitely hadn’t realized that when you caught him sleeping with your sister, Maria. What a bitch. Remember how you were a communist supporter? You might remember Stalin died in 1953, a year before you did, and his Soviet Union went on to become a pretty big and powerful thing until its collapse in 1991. Now modern day Russian is technically democratic but you should see the guy who’s running the country. …

A Tale of Three Muses

I have decided that today is good day for the revival of some good ol’ art gossip filled with passion and sex and crazy, overwhelming emotions and heartbreak. We have Ilona Staller, a.k.a. Cicciolina, a.k.a. Jeff Koon’s ex-wife and former porn star, to thank for this. I saw her portrait in the David Bailey exhibition in London’s National Portrait Gallery as the little coquette that she is and sparks flew and I just knew. I knew that a little passionate story-telling time is what we all need on a casual Wednesday in May. Here is a whimsical recap of my three favorite scandalous muses of the 20th century. I love these tragic creatures because they drove certain artists CRAZZZZZY and the artistic fruit that that craziness bore is just fabulous. In no specific order, please welcome our muses: 1. George Dyer was Francis Bacon’s most tumultuous lover. His name, now a days, is synonymous with $$$. The pair met on a cool English night when a confused Mr. Dyer broke into Bacon’s London home in late 1963. A disturbed genius, as …

Poor Old David

Word around town is that Michelangelo’s David has weak ankles. But who can blame the poor guy? He’s been standing for 510 years in the same contraposto pose, looking beautifully innocent with his crisp curls and dashing gaze. Experts have identified small cracks that are making him frail – and when you are the world’s most famous sculpture and you have been carved out of a single block of marble, then yes, by all means small cracks are something to worry about. It’s no one’s fault really. When Michelangelo was commissioned by the city of Florence in 1501 to carve this colossal figure originally as an outdoor sculpture for the city’s Basilica, he made use of a 40 year-old piece of marble that belonged to no one. This chunk, cut from the famous, gleaming white peaks of Carrara (that once upon a time supplied the Roman empire for the construction of their monuments) had had two unsuccessful carving attempts by local artists. In order to avoid the hassle of getting a new piece, 26 year-old Michelangelo decided to use …

The “Madame X” Scandal

Are you curious to know the story of Madame X? The story of the dazzling parisienne beauty who was banished from the glamorous Third Republic society into oblivion? Her name was Virginie Amelie Gantreau and she was only 23 years old when John Singer Sargent painted the portrait that would change everything. Paris in the late 1870’s was filled with sophisticated French beauties whose breathtaking looks were heard of everywhere because that is what they lived off. These “it girls” dominated the social scene, lived for fashion and fascinated young artists who were obsessed with capturing their beauty. In the case of Amelie Gantreau, “every artist wanted to make her in marble or paint,” said Edward Simmons, an American student living in Paris at the time. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1859, Amelie moved to Paris with her mother when she was just 8 years old as her father had died several years before from a wound received in battle during the American Civil War. Soon mother and daughter ascended Paris’ social scene and when Amelie was …