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The Evolution of Thorsten Lemke’s GraphicConverter – Interview September 2020

Quick story.  I have been using GraphicConverter, a piece of software made by Thorsten Lemke of Lemkesoft, as my go-to graphic software since the mid-1990’s, for whatever incarnation of Mac computer I’ve used.

I’ve been using Mac computers since my dad brought one home in about 1990, since they were beginning to be used here in schools in Canada as a learning tool.

graphicconverter v2

Prior to using GraphicConverter as an art tool, I was using MacPaint, which was another great piece of Mac-native software from back in the day.

Anyway, I’d like to say that GraphicConverter has always been there for my digital artistic needs, which have been many, over the years.

I am now 43, and, as I said, I think I started using it when I was 15 or so – a Mac Color Classic I think it was.

Macintosh_Color_Classic_1994

Part of the reason I initially got a hold of GraphicConverter back in the 1990’s was, as the name suggests, it has the ability to convert graphic files, from one to another, or simply open files that other programs may not recognize.

So, although I was using it mainly as a creative tool for doing digital draws, paintings, adding filters, and other edits, part of the appeal of GraphicConverter was that it had the ability to interpret all kinds of graphic files.

One cool thing about GraphicConverter as a piece of software is that it has always basically been free (though you can register the software if you wish), easy to use, and had lots of features to play with, even in the beginning.  I do have some memory of Adobe Photoshop back in the 1990’s being a relatively small, free-to-use app as well, but that soon changed.

Speaking of Photoshop, I tried using Photoshop sometime in the 1990’s, and it was fine, but quickly became a fairly unlikeable UI, to the point where today, I still haven’t learned the in’s and out’s of it, and so I tend to avoid it, despite it being very popular and powerful.  You literally need to take a course on Photoshop these days to know how to use it, which is fine, I guess.

GraphicConverter, on the other hand, is intuitive as soon as you open the app, and has always been super easy to use.

graphicconverter 6 box

The basic design tools of the application have always been easily accessible via the “Toolbox” transport bar, and if I wanted to simply draw something, I could do so easily.

This was all very natural with GraphicConverter, allowing me to express my artistry without having to fumble with Photoshop’s layering system that makes it tough out of the gate (I have possessed Photoshop as well now and then over the years too), I typically always boot up GraphicConverter rather than have to “deal” with Photoshop.

Even as far back as 2006, I remember the versatility to edit graphics with GraphicConverter to be incredible!

graphicconverter 6 from 2007

But this article is not intended as a “What is the best graphic design application for the Mac?” article.  No sir or ma’am, I say to each their own.

That said, I’m quite happy that I got to chat with the creator of GraphicConverter – Thorsten Lemke, about his creation.

For an art nerd like me, this is quite the honour, since his software has been on my computer since puberty, and has been as stable a force in my life, more so than most other software, not to mention most people actually.  😀

Enjoy our little chat, where Thorsten talks about how far along GraphicConverter has come over the years, up until now – September 2020.  Cheers!

Who are you, where are you from, and what is it you do?

TL: My name is Thorsten Lemke. I live in Peine in the north of Germany. I develop software.

thorsten lemke

What is Graphicconverter, basically, and who is it aimed at?

TL: The development of the GraphicConverter software started in 1992 with the first main purpose being the conversion of image formats from Atari and Windows to MacOS.

The functionality has been continuously developed over the years. So the software now has an image browser, various image processing functions, batch conversion, slide show and much more.

When did you first start developing software / coding?

TL: I learned coding with my first computer a C64 in 1982 at the age of 13.

What drew you into the graphic designer software market?

TL: I bought my first Mac – a IIsi in 1992. I had a lot of graphics from my previous computer ATARI ST. But I found no software to convert them to the Mac. So, I began the developing of GraphicConverter.

IIsi

When did you first develop Graphicconverter?

TL: In 1992 – see above

What did the graphic design software scene look like then, as in, what else was out on the market and how did it influence you?

TL: There were some tools for image conversion at that time. But I did not like them or they were too expensive.

When you first developed Graphicconverter, what did you have in mind as a vision?

TL: The first version was mainly to open image formats from ATARI, C64 and Window on the Mac and save them in typical Mac formats.

Did you have any other software you modelled it after, or were you going for originality?

TL: The Lemke Software GmbH has some more products:

CADintosh is a 2D CAD program for technical drawing.

FontBook is a small tool to create catalogs of fonts.

ExifSync allows the synchronization of images from different cameras.

iCalamus is a slim DTP solution.

What do you think made Graphicconverter stand out when it was first launched?

TL: It was a fast image conversion tool.

graphicconverter

What features did it have that set it apart from other software?

TL: The GraphicConverter now offers a wide range of functions, which are very useful for professionals and private users.

Some examples are: multiple conversion, metadata editing, image browser

How did it develop over the years and what were some of the benchmarks along the way?

TL: The widespread availability of the Internet has had a major impact on distribution and sales. Before that, a lot was done by slow mail.

How did Graphicconverter stand the test of time to still be around now?

TL: I react quickly to user requests and adapt the software to new operating systems immediately.

The current version 11.2.2 is already compatible with Big Sur.

A native version for the Apple Silicon is available as BETA.

What has changed in the past 30 years with regards to these programs?

TL: The entire user interface of the software was modernized.

The software itself has undergone several processor changes: Motorola, PowerPC, Intel and soon Apple Silicon.

The development environment has also changed several times.

Do you have any pet peeves about graphics software that Graphicconverter solves?

TL: After importing photos from the iPhone, I use the image analysis to automatically assign keywords. This way the photos can be found quickly later.

Furthermore I like to use the serial renaming, so that the filename corresponds to the date of taking the photo. This further simplifies organization and filing.

How big is the Graphicconverter team these days?

TL: Our team consists of me as developer, Hagen as manual author, Philippe as French translator and idea provider. In addition there are many other translators for the different languages.

lemkesoft

What do you see for this software in the future?

The use of artificial intelligence will occupy a larger space in the future.

In addition, there will certainly be many more functions that will be developed based on the wishes and suggestions of the users.

I would like to thank the many users here for their constant suggestions and requests for improvement. Without them the GraphicConverter would not exist in its current form.


Thanks for reading!

Visit Thorsten’s Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiKBpG_G904RE3oEJp7lrNw

Watch an interview (in German) with Thorsten Lemke here:

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Grace Hartigan – Fast Train

grace hartigan young

While Grace Hartigan started her art career later than many of her counterparts, her impact on the abstract expressionist genre was not diminished by this.

Hartigan was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Born in 1922, She was the eldest of four, which meant that she was not afforded the privilege of attending post-secondary, but she trained in mechanical drafting in the 1940s and studied with painter Isaac Lane Muse.

grace hartigan in studio

At 17, she married her first husband, who encouraged her to pursue art. She would divorce him in 1947 and get married three more times.

Hartigan moved to New York as she became serious about painting, and joined the likes of Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. Pollock became a mentor to Hartigan, and by the late 50s, she was named “the most celebrated of the young American women painters” by Life magazine.

Hartigan lived to be 86, as she passed away in 2008 of liver failure. She left behind an incredible legacy of impressive artwork and being an iconic woman in the abstract expressionist genre. 

hartigans-summer-street-cora-wandel

“I cannot expect even my own art to provide all the answers – only to hope it keeps asking the right questions.”

Her Work

Grace Hartigan is known for her bold experimentation, gestural brush strokes, and emotional works. Her work suggests a sense of urgency.

Early works have an organic and curvilinear form, and older paintings have more distinct figures, symbols, and mythological references. The structures and figures in her work are emotional vehicles, and they’re painted in an expressionist manner.

grace hartigan work 

In 1950, her career began when a painting of hers was selected for the “New Talent” show at the Kootz Gallery by Meyer Schapiro and Clement Greenberg. The show led to her first solo exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

In her career, these stepping stones pushed her to refine her style, as she felt she was lacking distinction and relied too heavily on Abstract Expressionism.

Goya, Velázquez, and other Old Master painters inspired her, along with Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne.

Many of her peers did not approve of her new direction, but ‘The Persian Jacket,’ a painting she completed in 1952, became a permanent fixture in the Museum of Modern Art.

grace-hartigan-the-persian-jacket

She used a Frank O’Hara poem to create a series of paintings in a collaborative effort with one of his friends. 

“I don’t see how you can create and not have the feeling that it is the most important, all-consuming thing.”

Other established museums followed suit. The Whitney Museum bought the 1954 ‘Grand Street Brides,’ the Museum of Modern Art bought the 1953 ‘River Bathers,’ which was influenced by Matisse.

In 1956, she began working on the ‘City Life’ painting series, which features interlocking colour planes that reflect her neighbourhood’s streets.

hartigan city life

Later that year, she would go on to be the only woman represented in the “Twelve Americans” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1958, ‘The New American Painting’ exhibition included her work, and she was the youngest artist and only woman to be included; and the exhibition travelled around Europe.  

When she married her fourth husband, she moved to Baltimore in 1961. She initially regretted her move from the heart of the art scene in New York, so she tried to replicate her former studio in an abandoned factory.

Her 1957 work ‘Billboard’ was where she began to incorporate pop culture imagery into her work.

billboard

In the early 1960s, she was fascinated by Marilyn Monroe’s death and the Barbie doll launching into the mainstream. She drew upon these for her later works. 

She began teaching at the Hoffberger School of Painting in 1964, becoming a part-time professor for the graduate program at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

She was known among students for her relentless critiques. The following year, she would become the director of the school, and she encouraged expressivity over everything else. She was becoming ill as she was a recovering alcoholic and suffered from osteoarthritis, but she refused to retire.  

“Action/Precision: The New Direction in New York, 1955–60” and “The Figurative Fifties: New York Figurative Expressionism” were two major shows that exhibited her work in the 80s.

The last exhibition was titled “Hand-Painted Pop: American Art in Transition, 1955–62,” and it was held in LA, Chicago, and New York. 

“I feel that we are living a very fragmented life, the whole world — you too. So I perceive the world in fragments. It is somewhat like being on a very fast train and getting glimpses of things in strange scales as you pass by.

hartigan

A person can be very, very tiny. And a billboard can make a person very large. You see the corner of a house, or you see a bird fly by, and it’s all fragmented.

Somehow, in painting, I try to make some logic out of the world that has been given to me in chaos. I have a very pretentious idea that I want to make life, I want to make sense out of it. The fact that I am doomed to failure — that doesn’t deter me in the least.”

Her Legacy

Grace Hartigan was the recipient of numerous awards and honours over her lifetime. Six universities and colleges in Maryland and Pennsylvania chose Hartigan to be the recipient of honorary degrees.

farewell_hartigan

She was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Neuberger Museum in 2002 and the Governor’s Award in Baltimore, MA, in 2006.

Aside from her contributions to the American painting world, she was an incredible example of a fierce and independent female influence in art.

This era in art is often looked at by historians through a narrow and patriarchal lens, but she breaks through that lens. She was an extremely talented artist that demanded the attention away from her male counterparts.

She embraced the abstract expressionist movement while incorporating her own style, and it ensured her art remain relevant decades later, and it paved the way for future artists and the New Figuration and Neo-Expressionist movements. 

Sources: 

http://www.artnet.com/artists/grace-hartigan/

https://www.azquotes.com/author/23193-Grace_Hartigan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hartigan

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Grace-Hartigan

Videos About Grace Hartigan

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Clyfford Still – Thrusts of Joy

Clyfford Still photo

Born in 1904, Clyfford Still would become one of the most influential and unique artists to come out of the abstract expressionist movement.

clyfford still

Clyfford Still would be unwavering in his commitment to his craft and refused to ‘sell-out’ or be swayed by money or fame.

Throughout his career and the evolution of his technique, he began with ideas and images that were recognizable and gradually became more abstract. His goal was for the viewer of his work to become lost in the art and create their own conclusions about the meaning and themes. 

“I never wanted color to be color. I never wanted texture to be texture, or images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit.”

ph-119 by clyfford still 1948

He was born in Grandin, North Dakota, but spent a lot of his childhood in Spokane, Washington, and Alberta, Canada.

Abstract expressionism is linked to New York and Eastern Coast but Still was entrenched in the earliest days of the movement on the West Coast, including Washington State and San Francisco. 

Clyfford Still was one of the initial abstract expressionists, and the generation of artists he belongs to is credited with developing a new and powerful approach to art.

Artists like Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Barnett Newman, Grace Hartigan, Robert Motherwell, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, and Jackson Pollock were of the same generation immediately after World War II.

clyfford still artwork

These artists are all very different from another, but they all contribute to the abstract expressionism movement in impressive ways.

Between the abstract form, large scale, brushwork techniques, and other methods, the pieces that come from this time period handle heavy and universal issues about life, love, struggle, the human condition, and death. 

Still is considered by many as the most anti-traditional artist to come out of the abstract expressionists, and this trait is considered the groundwork for the movement.

clyfford still collection

Between 1938 and 1942, a major shift in Still’s style occurred, which was earlier than his contemporaries, who followed suit later in the 1940s. 

“I do not intend to oversimplify—in fact, I revel in the extra complex.”

Still obtained his Masters of Fine Arts degree in 1935 at Washington State College, and he became faculty there, taught at Richmond Professional Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University until 1945, and then visited New York.

He became associated with the Art of This Century and Betty Parsons galleries in New York, and he lived there for most of the 1950s, while the abstract expressionist movement was growing and peaking. 

lifeline

During this time, his reputation for being anti-traditional and critical of the art world flourished. He completed severed ties with all the commercial galleries he had been involved with by 1961 and decided to move to Maryland, placing himself as far away from the art establishment as he could. He stayed in Maryland with his wife, Patricia, until he passed away in 1980.

Just before his passing in 1979, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the largest sampling of his work, and it was the largest by the organization to celebrate the work of a living artist.

Once he had passed, his work that was not in the public domain was immediately sealed off, which closed off access to one of the most incredible influences on the American art world of the 20th century. 

His work

Clyfford Still is considered one of the first color field painters. Unlike his peers Rothko or Newman, who’s pieces were organized in a simple manner, Still’s abstract works are focused on juxtaposing colors, surfaces, and forms.

PH-826

Rothko focused on nebulous rectangles and Newman on thin lines among colors, Still used jagged flashes, color being ‘torn’ from the work, and other irregular techniques.

Still applied his paint in a different way than Rothko and Newman, where they tended to use flat colors and thin paint, Still used a thick impasto, where brush and knife strokes are still visible, creating texture, depth, and variety.

His mature works involved forms of nature like foliage, caverns, lightness, and darkness. By the late 40s, his color field works became prominent, and he would continue to refine through the rest of his career.

His most famous works include 1957-D No. 1, which exhibits black, yellow, and white patches with small red patches. These four colors stay prominent throughout the rest of his work.

still

The peak of his abstract expressionism produced 302 paintings dating from 1944–1960, and 350 paintings dating from 1961–1979 were created during his time in Maryland. 

“A great free joy surges through me when I work… with tense slashes and a few thrusts the beautiful white fields receive their color and the work is finished in a few minutes.”

Legacy 

In 1972, Still was awarded the Award of Merit for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1975.

The Clyfford Still Museum is located in Denver’s art district, and the building that houses the museum was specifically designed for Clyfford Still’s work and was developed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture.

clyfford still museum

Still is considered an integral part of the art community, and the museum’s collection represents around 95% of his creations, which is around 3,100 pieces.

The museum’s mission is to: “preserve, exhibit, study, and foster engagement with its unique collections; generate outstanding exhibitions, scholarly research, educational and other cross-disciplinary programs that broaden the definition of a “single-artist” museum; and be a gathering place for the exploration of innovation and individual artistic endeavour.”

In 2013, the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center was established and launched.

clyfford still research center

The center explores the abstract expressionist period in history, artwork as a whole, and how the painters worked. The programs offered include a fellowship program, research symposia, and cross-disciplinary scholarly publications. 

“These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them, I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation.”

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyfford_Still

http://www.artnet.com/artists/clyfford-still/

https://www.artsy.net/artist/clyfford-still

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/clyfford-still-quotes-birthday-370748

https://clyffordstillmuseum.org

Videos About Clyfford Still

 

Comparing Abstract Expressionism And Pop Art

Who Are The Best Abstract Expressionist Painters?

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Joan Mitchell – To Define A Feeling

Joan-Mitchell-1

A massive part of the second generation of abstract expressionists, Joan Mitchell was a bold and innovative artist who had a powerful impact and continues to inspire artists today. Most of her career was in France, but she was a large part of the American movement.

Born in Chicago in 1925, to a dermatologist and poet, Joan was an athletic child, and her determination and competitive nature were foundational in her artwork as well. She was known to approach her work as if it were a competitive sport.

joan mitchell artist young

She became one of the paramount figures in American abstract expressionism and one of the few female artists in the movement.

“Abstract is not a style. I simply want to make a surface work.”

Her Work

In the 1950s, Mitchell really developed as an artist, and her signature style became more defined. She had an uncanny ability to infuse her work with emotion.

In her own words regarding her work, she said, “That particular thing I want can’t be verbalized. . . . I’m trying for something more specific than movies of my everyday life: To define a feeling.” Layered fields of colour and counterposed lines that seem rhythmic in nature are aspects of her signature style.

Her process was not spontaneous or impulsive. She relied heavily on her memories and emotions to create, utilizing both freedom and restraint simultaneously.

Joan-Mitchell

“Sometimes, I don’t know exactly what I want [with a painting]. I check it out, recheck it for days or weeks. Sometimes there is more to do on it. Sometimes I am afraid of ruining what I have. Sometimes I am lazy, I don’t finish it, or I don’t push it far enough. Sometimes I think it’s a painting.”

Her paintings often covered multiple canvases and were quite expansive. She was heavily influenced by van Gogh, even paying homage to his “Wheatfield with Crows” piece with her own work called No Birds. Her subject matter’s primary influence was landscape, and she worked on unprimed canvas using violent brushwork.

joan mitchell

During the early 1960s, she moved away from the bright colours that made up her previous works and started using dark colours for a more sombre tone in her compositions. She has compared the emotions that she felt having an impact on her work as poetry.

Shortly after she was comfortable in her style, her work was exhibited in the Ninth Street Show in 1951. Alongside the work of Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, and Willem de Kooning, who were her mentors.

de Kooning and Franz Kline admired her work. She had her first solo exhibition at the New Gallery in 1952. In 1957, her methodology was featured in ARTnews.

At the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY, she staged her first major exhibition in 1972. In 1988, her first retrospective exhibition was held, and it featured 54 of her paintings that were produced from 1951 to 1987.

joan-mitchell-tilleul-1978-trivium-art-history.600x0

During the 80s and 90s, her health began to fail as she was diagnosed with advanced oral cancer, and it was recommended that she have her jaw removed.

Upon treatment from a doctor who gave her a second opinion, it left her jaw immobile, and she became anxious and depressed. She was advised to quit smoking, which she did successfully, but continued to drink to excess. During this time, her artwork shifted in a different direction.

Her post-cancer works reflected the psychological change she endured while battling the diseases. She created six Between paintings, as well as Faded Air I, Faded Air II, the A Few Days cycle, the Before, Again cycle and the Then, Last Time group of four paintings.

joan mitchell last paintings

In the last years of her life, she revisited sunflowers as her primary subject matter, painting Sunflowers, which depicted the flowers in various stages of decomposition. She then developed hip dysplasia and underwent hip replacement surgery. During her recovery, she began dabbling in watercolour painting, which was called the River cycle.

As a huge fan of Matisse, even saying that if she could paint like him, she would be in heaven, in 1992, she flew from Paris to New York for his exhibition, and while she was there, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She returned to Paris on October 22nd, and she passed away on October 30th in the morning.

In 2019, her work was included at the Katonah Museum of Art in the Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show in Westchester County, NY. It ran until January 2020.

ninth street women

Legacy

In 1993, the Joan Mitchell Foundation was established. It’s a not-for-profit that awards stipends and grants for aspiring painters, collectives, and sculptors.

Some of the recipients in the past have included Sarah Morris, Mark Dion, and Akio Takamori. The Joan Mitchell Foundation is also one of the sponsors of the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Joan Mitchell Centre in New Orleans.

Joan Mitchell was a commercially successful artist, as her earnings between 1960 and 1962 were around $30,000, which was impressive for a woman painter during that time.

In 2007, Ste. Hilaire, 1957 sold from the Art Institute of Chicago for $3.8 million.

Ste. Hilaire, 1957

In 2012, an untitled 1971 painting sold for $7 million at an auction at Christie’s Paris, and her work was among the most expensive works by any woman painter sold by auction.

Through 2013, Mitchell’s work has brought in over $230 million in sales. Another untitled work from 1960 has sold for $11.9 million, which stole the title of her highest selling work. In 2018, nine more paintings were expected to sell for around $70 million at Art Basel, the world’s largest art fair.

Joan Mitchell has left quite an impression on the art industry, and although she spent many of her years in Paris, the North American market has a special place for Mitchell’s work. As a female artist in a time where many weren’t commercially successful, Mitchell paved the way for future women in art.

“I’m happy when I’m painting. I like it.”

Sources:
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/joan-mitchell-quotes-for-birthday-426788
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Mitchell
https://www.moma.org/artists/4026

Who Are The Best Abstract Expressionist Painters?

What Is Expressionism In Art?

Comparing Abstract Expressionism And Pop Art

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The Iconic Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock has had a tremendous impact on the art world during his tumultuous 44 years of life. The youngest of five, Jackson grew up to be an influential pioneer in the abstract expressionism movement.

Jackson Pollock struggled in his life with addiction, and he had a volatile personality, coupled with a need for reclusion.

He married artist Lee Krasner in 1945, who ultimately became a massive influence on his career and his work.

jackson pollock lee krasner

Pollock died in 1956 at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related car accident. He was honored after his death with a memorial exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Tate in London.

Pollock was well known for his techniques used in his most famous works. Pouring and splashing paint onto a large surface, called action painting and the drip technique, allowed for his work to be viewed from any angle.

He used his whole body to create his work and incorporated a dancing style into his work. His work was met with divided responses from the critics, which was loved by some and hated by others.

One of his paintings, called Number 17A, was sold for $200 million USD in 2016 to a private seller.

Number 17A

“It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.” – Jackson Pollock

Influences

In 1929, he studied in New York at the Student’s League under Thomas Hart Brenton.

During his time there, he worked with the regionalist and surrealist styles. He was influenced by Mexican muralist work by painters like Digo Rivera. In 1939 during a Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, it inspired Pollock to change his style.

pollock the she wolf

Jackson Pollock had some notable influences in his work. Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Thomas Hart Benton were among the most significant, but Ukrainian-American artist Janet Sobel was a direct influence on his technique development. He has admitted that her work made an impression on him.

His Work

Pollock used sticks, basting syringes, hardened brushes, and other random items as applicators for household paints. He suggested that his use of these paints were a natural part of his growth in a time of need, rather than using typical artist paints.

Jackson Pollock is thought to have coined the action painting style. His style allowed him to create immediate art, without regard for small details or time-consuming techniques. He broke boundaries by applying paint to the canvas from all directions.

Here is some old footage of Pollock doing painting in his “action” style.

“My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor, I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.

I continue to get further away from the usual painter’s tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added.

When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise, there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.” — Jackson Pollock, My Painting, 1956

the accountant painting pollock

The technique he used to create his drip paintings helped steer the direction of American art in a new direction and was one of the most individual styles of the century.

His style was a large piece of the abstract expressionist pie; his creations evoked emotion, demonstrated mood, and expression while giving a sneak peek into the mind of the creator.

Another technique Pollock used was the All-over Method. There is no real emphasis in the piece, and the canvas is covered corner to corner.

When he reached a super-stardom level, he abandoned his signature style, and this era produced paintings darker in nature. They’re referred to as his black pourings, and they were not well received by the masses.

pollock dark paintings

Pollock was giving his work traditional names until eventually, he decided to number them because they were more neutral than conventional titles. He didn’t want to influence his viewer’s opinion of his work in any way.

His work has been both highly criticized and adored by many. Over the years, his paintings have been the subject of various debates trying to deem his paintings as iconic or meaningless.

His Legacy

Jackson Pollock quickly rose to fame, but he continued to question the relevance of his artwork, and the height of his career peaked in the early 1950s.

Jackson Pollock is still known as an innovator in the art community in the abstract expressionism movement. He has inspired countless artists to abandon boundaries and take risks.

jackson_pollock

Artists like Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Arshile Gorky, Pollock’s style, and fame helped draw attention to these artists at this time.

He single-handedly changed the trajectory of a whole genre of art during his lifetime, and his premature death cemented his legendary status. His paintings still sell for millions of dollars, and he is still tremendously influential to artists who are still finding their signature style.

The home that Pollock shared with his wife Lee is now a museum. People travel from all over the world to see Pollock’s studio, where the floor still looks like one of his many creations. This is a place that helped bring a new style of art into popularity.

“The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.” – Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock Videos

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackson_Pollock

https://www.jackson-pollock.org

https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/jackson-pollock-quotes

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/a-23-2005-10-15-voa2-83123777/123976.html

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Meet Mark Rothko

Rothko-New-portrait-photo-color

Mark Rothko was an academic. He skipped grades, spoke four languages, and received a scholarship to Yale. He was a self-taught, diligent creator, and his ability to learn drove him to become an artist.

His skills were intrinsic, as he had very little training in the discipline. Once he realized his art could be a tool of religious and emotional expression, he embraced it. 

mark rothko self portrait

He wanted to bring you to tears. He would even withhold selling you a painting if you didn’t respond in a genuine way, and you were only purchasing from him to be fashionable. 

Seeing an art student sketch a model while visiting a friend at the Art Students League of New York was what started it all for Rothko. Something inside him immediately responded and prompted him to find a way to express himself through art. 

He created 863 pieces over his career, and some of them reside in New York, Madrid, and Daugavpils. 

Tragically, he died by suicide in 1970 at 66 years old. 

mark rothko abstract painting

“I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on, and the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions….If you…are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point.”

Influences

The artists he worked with and looked up to most included Max Weber, Paul Klee, and Georges Rouault. 

Much of Rothko’s work came from intellectual influences. His interpretation of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche heavily influenced him.

What was happening in Nazi Germany at the time, and the aftermath took a toll on him as well. He was a dedicated socialist, so many of his works had political themes and social circumstances littered throughout. 

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He also drew inspiration from mythology, stating the “archaic artist … found it necessary to create a group of intermediaries, monsters, hybrids, gods, and demigods…without monsters and gods, art cannot enact a drama.”

early mark rothko

His Work

There were three main phases in Rothko’s style of art: Realist work, Abstract Expressionism, and Colour Field. 

early mark rothko

Realist Work

The Realist style he adapted was early on in his career before he was a full-time artist. Surrealism and artists like Joan Miro primarily influenced him.

The way that surrealism promoted psychologically compelling ideas inspired some of his best work. His style quickly moved in a more abstract direction.  

Abstract Expressionism

His work was entirely abstract by the 1940s, and he was part of the abstract expressionist movement, along with Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning.

While there weren’t many similarities between these artists, their goals of creating pieces that expressed raw emotion and their free spirits. They preferred to avoid the label “abstract expressionism,” because they wanted their work to speak for itself. 

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“I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one’s arms again, transcendental experiences became possible.” – Mark Rothko

Colour Field

Ultimately becoming his signature style, his colour field pieces are his most well-known. He didn’t use aggressive techniques to portray his concepts but was more deliberate and contemplative in his application of the colours in his work.

color field red and yellow 1968

Comprised of large blocks of colour, typically horizontal rectangles, he aimed to display the rawness of human emotion on the canvas. 

His peers and friends weren’t sold on the methods of his work, and they expected the general public and critics to reject them, but that couldn’t be further from what really happened.

The underlying concepts were well-received because his techniques were organic, emotional, and luminescent.

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His genius punctured the viewer right in their heart, and this would be the medium he would use to create his art until he passed. 

“I would like to say to those who think of my pictures as serene, whether in friendship or mere observation, that I have imprisoned the most utter violence in every inch of their surface.” ― Mark Rothko

His most famous works are the Scenes in the Subway series, The Seagram’s Murals, and The Rothko Chapel.

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His Influence and Legacy

Rothko’s final wishes were that his work would be left to his foundation. He wanted to have a school created as a place for new artists to learn and be inspired and encouraged.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of drama surrounding the provisions in his will, and greed came into play by his executors. Eventually, the rights were rightfully turned over to his son and daughter. 

The impression he left on the world of art is a profound one.

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He avidly worked against the “rules” of art and became a visionary. He continues to inspire up-and-coming artists from all over the world, and his impact is still lingering.

He was a risk-taker and was confident in his convictions, becoming a notable inspiration for generations to come. His work is still in museums across the globe today, and he is the face of modern art and walking your own path.  

“When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing. No galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money. Yet, it was a golden age, for we all had nothing to lose and a vision to gain.

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He continues, “Today it is not quite the same. It is a time of tons of verbiage, activity, consumption. Which condition is better for the world at large I shall not venture to discuss.

But I do know that many of those who are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where we can root and grow. We must all hope we find them.” ― Mark Rothko

Rothko is featured in our article, “Who Are The Best Abstract Expressionist Painters?

Recommended Videos about Mark Rothko

These are some of the best videos I could find about Mark Rothko which are worth a watch.

Sources: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko

https://www.moma.org/artists/5047

http://www.markrothko.org

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Who Are The Best Abstract Expressionist Painters?

who are the best abstract expressionist painters

The abstract expressionism art form sprung onto the scene in the 1940s and 1950s by some influential artists. Still, this genre can be traced back to having been popular for over a century.

The art form is denoted by its colourful spontaneity, gestural strokes and marks, and the ability to evoke emotion. 

abstract expressionist painting

The types of abstract expressionism include action painting and colour field painting.

Spontaneous brush strokes and gestures characterize action painting, and colour field painting is characterized by artists working with a large area of a single colour. 

Here are some of the best artists of the abstract expressionism art genre.


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Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock is the poster child for the Abstract expressionist movement in the 1940s and 1950s. He was well known for his drip paintings, and they were popular because of the unmatched creativity at the time.

His process coined the action painting title, and he achieved a level of fame that was comparable to what Andy Warhol would achieve decades later.

jackson pollock photo

Pollock put his canvas on the floor, pouring paint, impulsively brushing and creating his masterpieces. Pollock was a leader in the genre, and he would go on to influence future artists in their work. 

“The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.”

Here is an interesting video documentary on Jackson Pollock.

Read our article, “The Iconic Jackson Pollock


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Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell was part of the new wave of abstract expressionists who took the genre and softened it, giving it a lyrical and emotional direction.

Another action painter, she used her gestures to become a massive part of the American movement, even though she mostly worked and lived in France.

Joan-Mitchell

She was inspired by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne. She is one of the genre and eras few female creators, and she received massive critical acclaim and public recognition. 

“My paintings are titled after they are finished. I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me – and remembered feelings of them, which, of course, become transformed. I could certainly never mirror nature. I would more like to paint what it leaves with me.”

Watch this documentary, “Lady Painter”, about Joan Mitchell.

Read our feature article, “Joan Mitchell – To Define A Feeling”


clyfford still

Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still was lesser known than his New York School peers, but he was a pioneer in the genre, creating a style of work that had little to no clear concept or subject matter.

He worked in the colour field painting form, and the common theme in his work is the struggle between nature and the human spirit.

Clyfford Still photo

He was a bit controversial, being labelled as a complicated character to deal with in the art community, as he turned his back on the New York art scene. 

“These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them, I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation.”

Read our article, “Clifford Still – Thrusts of Joy” to learn more about the artist


worm jacques rosas

Jacques Rosas

Jacques Rosas is a famous artist who works in many different genres, including abstract expressionism, pop art and street art.

He has become popular because of his work being placed in TV shows and films, so it reaches millions of viewers on a weekly basis.

jacques rosas photo

He has been commissioned by many celebrities and continues to be a force in the genre.


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Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler was a leading contributor to postwar American art. Her work has spanned and been exhibited for over six decades, and she continued to grow and adapt to an ever-changing art form.

She worked with the colour fielding technique, and she was inspired by Hans Hofmann, Greenberg, and Jackson Pollock’s work.

helen-frankenthaler.jpg!Portrait

Her work has been studied and has been part of many retrospective exhibitions, and it is critically acclaimed and award-winning.

“One really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it. It looks as if it were born in a minute.”

Here is a video documentary featuring Helen Frankenthaler from 1993 that you might like to watch.


woman 1 willem dekooning

Willem de Kooning

One of the most well known and esteemed abstract expressionists, Willem de Kooning adopted the abstract technique while never letting go of the human form in his work.

He admired Rembrandt, Rubens, and Ingres, but was also inspired by Picasso and Matisse.

willem de kooning photo

He embodied the reputation of an alcoholic, troubled painter, which ended up costing him much of his personal life and health. 

“Art should not have to be a certain way. It is no use worrying about being related to something it is impossible not to be related to.”

Watch this documentary called “Willem de Kooning: A Way of Living” to find out more about the artist.


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Vasily Kandinsky

Around the early 1910s, Vasily Kandinsky was one of the first abstract expressionists. Truly abstract artwork, he stated, should be “art independent of one’s observations of the external world.”

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He believed and taught that colour could be separated from any external references for his artwork purposes. 

 “Colour is a means of exerting direct influence on the soul.”

Read our article, “Concerning Spiritual Art with Wassily Kandinsky”


mondrian-painting

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian’s name is closely connected to Modern Art. His geometric squares of bright, primary colours with thick, black borders are famously known and regarded in the community.

He started his art career heavily influenced by Seurat and Van Gogh. Still, he eventually settled into his unique style.

piet mondrian

The goal of his work was to attain a spiritual connection with the divine, which forced it to become increasingly abstract. 

 “Abstract art is not the creation of another reality but the true vision of reality.”

Here is a cool video about Piet Mondrian called “A Life in 10 Snippets”.  Worth a watch!


rothko color field

Mark Rothko 

Along with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko is one of the most famous abstract expressionists.

His style is much different than his peers, as he diffused paint over his canvas, versus the gestural brushstrokes that the genre mainly demonstrated.

mark rothko

His exemplary work consists of large blobs of paint stacked over each other and painted backdrops, with a bright contrast in colour. His goal was to evoke a range of emotions from his admirers. 

“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academic painting. However, there is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” 

I recommend this documentary called “The Case For Mark Rothko” to learn more about the artist.

Read my article, “Meet Mark Rothko” to find out more about the artist


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Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin was a Canadian-born artist who is considered an innovator of minimal art. However, she thought herself an abstract expressionist.

She was consistently seeking a level of perfection in her work, working with grids, bands and little colour to express her concepts. 

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“My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.”

Watch this great documentary about Agnes Martin called “Beauty is in Your Mind”.


Sources for this article: 

https://www.ranker.com/list/famous-abstract-expressionism-artists/reference

https://www.timeout.com/newyork/art/best-abstract-artists-of-all-time

https://www.theartstory.org/movement/abstract-expressionism/

https://www.theartstory.org/artist/de-kooning-willem/

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-expressionism

https://www.saatchiart.com/jacquesrosas

More Posts You Might Like from Our Site:

Comparing Abstract Expressionism And Pop Art

What Is Expressionism In Art?

Marianne von Werefkin – Women of Expressionism

Robert Rauschenberg – The Controversy of Being Yourself

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Henri Matisse – Father of Fauvism

Henri Matisse was a french painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor.  He was also the co-founder of the Fauvism art style, and one of the most influential painters of the 20th century.

Henri-Matisse-photograph-Alvin-Langdon-Coburn-1913

Fauvism is a way of painting which is very expressive, and uses non-realistic color schemes to depict natural scenes. This movement, although it didn’t last long, made a huge impact on future artists, like the German Expressionists.


Background

Henri Matisse was born on 31 December 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambresis, Northern France, in a grain merchant‘s family.

His way to the art world wasn‘t straight considering a fact that he didn‘t paint as a child or as a teenager.

Moreover, Matisse studied Law in Paris and after that, he returned to his hometown to practice as a court administrator. During the work there, suddenly he got appendicitis.

young henri matisse

The sickness led to that he needed to spend a lot of time at home in bed, so his mom brought him painting tools, to keep her son busy.

Probably nobody could have expected that this innocent hobby step by step will grow into a huge passion, that totally changes Henri’s life.

In later years, when he will be an experienced artist, he will describe the finding of art as “a kind of paradise”, even his decision to become a professional artist, will be a total shock to his parents.

red-room-henri-matisse


Early years in art

In 1891 Matisse returned to Paris to study art at the Academie Julian. At the beginning of his professional career as an artist, he used to paint still lifes, landscapes or copy other painter works.

He was inspired by such painters as Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, Edouard Manet or Japanese art.

At the beginning of his career, he mostly used a darker earth-colored palette of colors, but it totally changed after he was introduced to Vincent Van Gogh‘s works.

It impacted to use way more vivid colors in his works and that led it to look them more alive and expressive. Henri learned a lot from Australian painter John Russel, who taught him the main color theory.

henri matisse art

Between 1898 and 1901 he tried a Divisionist technique, which was popular among neo-Impressionists. After a couple of years, Matisse wanter to try something new in art, so he started to work with clay and create sculptures.


Fauvism

Henri Matisse‘s name was written in art history not only because of his works in general but because of his new ideas creating art.

Together with french painter Andre Derain he created a new art style of Modern art and called it Fauvism.

Even the movement lasted only a few years between 1904 and 1908 and attained critique‘s attention of its too much usage of colors, it helped for Matisse to develop his style and left paintings such as Woman with a Hat, 1905, which is one of the traits that described him as an artist.

Matisse-Woman-with-a-Hat

Around 1906, Henri Matisse met Cubism pioneer Pablo Picasso. Both artists became close friends for many years and also shared their ideas and perspectives on art.

The main difference between these two painters was that Matisse enjoyed painting from nature and Picasso in his works reflected mostly his imagination.

Henri continued his work by creating various landscapes, portraits and still life, but now he used techniques that prevailed in Cubism. These would include more vivid lines, and things with distinctly clear edges.

fauves matisse

According to Françoise Gilot, who was a partner of Picasso and a mother of his two children, Henri liked to see things from close and even touch it and feel their surfaces, while painting them, for example, alive doves, which he adore to paint.

It helped him to reflect shapes and forms way better in his paintings. Common topics in his works were music and dance – one of the most well-known paintings is Dance I created in 1909-1910.

the-dance

In 1917, Matisse moved to Nice in France and after several years of painting, he achieved critical acclaim as a promoter of the classical tradition in French painting.


“Painting with scissors“

In the last years of his life, Henri Matisse was sitting in a wheelchair and he couldn‘t keep painting as he uses to.

matisse-wheelchair

Instead of that, he found a new way to express his creativity. He took huge scissors and started to cut various things from a paper by creating various compositions and called it “painting with scissors“.

By using this unique technique, he created an art book called “Jazz“, which combined color prints and Matisse‘s handwritten notes with his thoughts during the creating process.

matisse jazz book

This example shows, that his love for art was alive till the last days he lived and despite circumstances, an artistic person can find ways to express himself.

Further reading from our site:

Comparing Abstract Expressionism And Pop Art

What Is Expressionism In Art?

How Georgia O’Keeffe Changed The World

Alexej von Jawlensky – Abstract Heads

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The Impressive Doris Salcedo

doris salcedo

Doris Salcedo is from Bogotá, Colombia, and was born in 1958. Her life dramatically influences her work in Colombia, and the lives of victims of trauma in Colombia.

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She utilizes commonplace items in her installation work, such as furniture, grass, concrete, clothing, and flowers.

Some themes she has aimed to express are memory loss, pain, trauma, loss, and emptiness. Being an artist has been her lifelong dream.

Artist Dream

“I always wanted to be an artist. I cannot name a date when that came to me; it has always been there. Living in Colombia, in a country at war, means that war does not give you the possibility of distance. War engulfs reality completely. In some cases, people can be killed or wounded at war, but in most cases war just distorts your life. It throws a shadow over your entire life.”

This video should give you a closer look to get you familiarized with Doris and her beliefs.

Doris Salcedo is featured in our article, “What is Installation Art?”

She continues, “War creates a totality and you are embedded in it. It’s like being engulfed in a reality. Political events are part of everyday life here, so art and politics came to me as a natural thing, something that has been very much present in my life from the start.”

Doris Salcedo attended Bogotá University, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1980. She majored in painting and theater.

In the early 1980s, Doris moved to New York and began sculpting, while earning her Master’s.

This is where she became influenced by other artists who were using political and challenging themes in their works.

This inspired her to draw from her home country and the heartache it had experienced with war.

She draws on her own experiences but also speaks for victims of senseless crimes and terrible issues that plague Colombia. She has interviewed victims to gain insight into their trauma to create many of her most famous pieces.

Some of her most notable installation pieces are the following:

Plegaria Muda

plegaria muda

A rough translation to ‘silent prayer,’ this piece is a series of sculptures that make up the shape of a coffin, from two handmade tables.

There is grass growing in between the tabletops. This piece symbolizes and pays tribute to the victims of gang violence, particularly the enormous gravesites where victims of gang violence are buried in Colombia.


Flor de Piel

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Created in 2013 and acquired by the Harvard Art Museum in 2014, this piece was part of her solo exhibition Doris Salcedo: The Materiality of Mourning.

The tapestry measures 340 cm x 500 cm and is made up of thousands of hand-sewn rose petals. This piece was to pay homage to a nurse that was tortured to death during the Colombian war.


Shibboleth

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Located in Tate Modern in London, her installation here was a massive crack in the flooring. She is the first artist ever to change the physical building of Tate Modern.

This piece was to symbolize the wedge between victims and the social forces that divided and armed people against one another.

It also represents a significant divide between the rich and the poor. Particularly in Colombia, there is a clear divide and brokenness between cultures, and that was meant to be evoked by this piece.


Atrabiliarios

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Made from plywood, thread, sheepskin, animal fibers, and shoes. There are six different styles of this installation piece.

In the ‘shoes’ piece, the shoes were all worn previously by victims who had been declared missing.

Families of missing women donated the items. This piece represents being “permanently suspended between the present and the past” and bringing awareness to the memory of those who are missing, or their whereabouts are unknown.

Atrabiliarios is meant to be a portrait of disappearance and survivors mentally being distraught with no closure.


Istanbul

salcedo-01

This installation piece is constructed from 1,550 wooden chairs piled between two buildings. The central theme behind this creation was a topography of war.

About Istanbul, she says, “Seeing these 1,550 wooden chairs piled high between two buildings in central Istanbul, I’m reminded of mass graves. Of anonymous victims. I think of both chaos and absence, two effects of wartime violence. What I’m trying to get out of these pieces is that element that is common in all of us. And in a situation of war, we all experience it in much the same way, either as victim or perpetrator. So I’m not narrating a particular story. I’m just addressing experiences.”


Unland

doris salcedo the orphan's tunic

Created from 1995-1998, Unland is comprised of three sculptures. It’s meant to represent testimonies given by children who witnessed their parents murder in the Colombian Civil War.

Doris traveled across the country to collect statements from participants and how this shaped their lives. The three sculptures are called Unland: the orphan’s tunic, Unland: irreversible witness, and Unland: audible in the mouth.

Two wooden tables are fused into one, and combined by the legs being removed on each end. There are thousands of holes in the top of the table, which has human hair and silk threads sewn in. The wood has deep cuts across it, to signal the damage done in the war.


Accolades and Importance

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Her list of accolades is impressive, to say the least. She’s been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, The Ordway Prize, from the Penny McCall Foundation, Velázquez Visual Arts Prize, Hiroshima Art Prize, Inaugural Nasher Prize for Sculpture, Nasher Sculpture Center, Rolf Schock Prizes in Visual Arts and The Nomura Art Award.

Doris Salcedo creates installation pieces that provoke thought and tackles tough, taboo subjects from objects with little significance.

She has played an important role in her Colombian culture, being a voice for victims of trauma and political injustices. Art has always been her passion for many reasons, and she has turned that into a lifelong career and been a guiding force in her niche.

“The way that an artwork brings materials together is incredibly powerful. Sculpture is its materiality. I work with materials that are already charged with significance, with meaning they have required in the practice of everyday life…then, I work to the point where it becomes something else, where metamorphosis is reached.”

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Salcedo

https://art21.org/artist/doris-salcedo/

https://art21.org/read/doris-salcedo-variations-on-brutality/

https://whitecube.com/artists/artist/doris_salcedo

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/doris-salcedo-2695

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/salcedo-unland-audible-in-the-mouth-t07523

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The Life & Art of Judy Chicago

An incredible career that spans five decades, Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual.

judy chicago art

The Dinner Party, International Honor Quilt, The Birth Project, Powerplay, and The Holocaust Project are her most notable projects, and her art has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Asia.

Equal parts sculptor, installation artist, feminist, and harnesser of the zeitgeist, she has known her calling since a young age

Background

Judy Chicago was born in 1939 in Chicago, Illinois. Heavily influenced by her mother’s love of the arts, at the tender age of three, Judy started drawing and attended some classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.

judy chicago young

By the age of five, she knew she “never wanted to do anything but make art” and began pursuing her passion further.

“Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn’t always lead to action.

Many of the women had been raised without the sense that they could mold and shape their own lives, and so, wanting to be an artist (but without the ability to realize their wants) was, for some of them, only an idle fantasy, like wanting to go to the moon.”

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She attended UCLA on a scholarship and graduated in 1964 with her Masters of Fine Arts. In 1965, Judy held her first solo show.

It was at the Rolf Nelson Gallery in Los Angeles, and she was one of four women who participated in that show.

Judy refuses to participate in any show that has a ‘women’ or ‘Jewish’ label attached to it, like the California Women in the Arts exhibition, as she feels that there should be no labels attached. During this time, Judy began sculpting.

judy chicago minimalist sculpture

Fresno State

As she began her experimental gallery of sculptures and drawings that were, in her words ‘minimalist,’ Judy’s work was at the forefront of the conceptual art movement in LA.

She began experimenting with lighting, pyrotechnics, and smoke to create an atmosphere for her exhibits.

She wanted to feminize and soften the playing field, and she began exploring sexuality in her work, and this became a turning point for her craft.

In 1970, Judy began to teach full-time, teaching women’s only art classes at Fresno State College.

fresno state college feminist art program 1970

It was the first of its kind in the United States, and Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro would go on to renew the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts.

Judy is known as a leader and pioneer of feminist artists, and for a good reason.

Womanhouse was a collaborative project that used the artists’ problems as women as inspiration.

“The aim of the Feminist Art Program is to help women restructure their personalities to be more consistent with their desires to be artists and to help them build their art-making out of their experiences as women.”

womanhouse

This project displayed Judy’s own identity struggle as an artist.

Judy appears in our feature article, What is Installation Art?

The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party, possibly her most famous work, has a permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Five years and $250,000 later, this work is Judy’s triumph.

the dinner party

Tables set up in a triangle formation with 39 place settings, each commemorating an important woman in history. This piece took over the work of over 400 people to come to fruition.

Each place setting is unique, with a china plate that is hand-painted and deliberately embroidered runner. The floor beneath the table has the names of 998 women and one man who has made a mark in our history.

Each piece of artwork has an abstractly painted vulva-styled form. There was some resistance from the people in the art world for this piece, but at the time that it came out, it toured to 16 venues in 6 countries and is now a permanent fixture in Brooklyn.

Here’s a look…

The Birth Project

The Birth Project took another five years to create, finishing up in 1985.

Judy realized that there were no representations of birth in western art or none that she could immediately think of.

The Birth Project uses the iconography of women giving birth to celebrate motherhood. While motherhood was not for Judy, she was inspired by women who choose motherhood.

Powerplay

After The Birth Project, she went back to independent studio work and created Powerplay, a series of drawings, paintings, weavings, bronze reliefs, and cast paper.

This piece explored the female gaze and how power has affected men.

The Holocaust Project

The Holocaust Project, a collaboration with her husband, Donald Woodman, touched on her interest in male power in regards to the holocaust.

During this time, Judy became more interested in exploring her Jewish heritage, and her work began another shift.

In the span of eight years, she and her husband finished the piece that documented the victims of the holocaust, during a time she was facing her own personal loss.

The passing of her brother and her mother aided her in creating the visual and written art components of this piece.

The Holocaust Project explores the themes of victimization, injustice, cruelty, and oppression. There are a variety of mediums used in this project, including stained glass and metalwork.

Books

Judy has penned many books in her career, and she has been included in numerous publications. Her work has been published in a variety of languages, so she still reaches a global audience.

judy chicago beyond the flower

Her work has been the subject of articles, history texts, and her goal to create a piece of art history has been realized. Art curators and historians have studied her work, and the impact of her work will be reviewed for years to come.

At 81 years old, Judy is still holding exhibitions and talks scheduled into 2020. She even has an Instagram account that has over 31,000 followers.

She says “I love that so many young people follow my Instagram and come to my openings. It means that my work is still vital. When you’re old, that’s important.”

judy chicago

Judy Chicago has been a monumental contributor to feminist art, in a variety of mediums.

From her drawings and paintings to her incredible installation art of The Dinner Party, Judy has and will continue to inspire young artists for years to come.

‘I do not think art can change the world. I do think art can educate, inspire, empower people to act.’ – Judy Chicago

Sources:

http://www.judychicago.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Chicago

http://www.artnet.com/artists/judy-chicago/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/54456.Judy_Chicago

https://www.glamour.com/story/judy-chicago-feminist-artist-interview

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