Filtering by Category: art

Visit at Heart Castle

Added on by suzy baur.

Umberto Eco,Travels in Hyperreality describing Heart Castle: 

The striking aspect of the whole is not the quantity of antique pieces plundered from half of Europe, or the nonchalance with which the artificial tissue seamlessly connects fake and genuine, but rather the sense of fullness, the obsessive determination not to leave a single space that doesn’t suggest something, and hence the masterpiece of bricolage, haunted by horror vacui, that is here achieved. The insane abundance makes the place unlivable, just as it is hard to eat those dishes that many classy American restaurants, all darkness and wood paneling, dotted with soft red lights and invaded by nonstop music, offer the customer as evidence of his own situation of “affluence”: steaks four inches thick with lobster (and baked potato and sour cream and melted butter, and grilled tomato and horse radish sauce) so the customer will have “more and more” and can wish nothing further.

An incomparable collection of genuine pieces too, the Castle of Citizen Kane achieves a psychedelic effect and a kitsch result not because the Past is not distinguished from the Present (because after all this was how the great lords of the past amassed rare objects, and the same continuum of styles can be found in many Romanesque churches where the nave is now baroque and perhaps the campanile is eighteenth century), but because what offends is the voracity of the selection, and what distresses is the fear of being caught up by this jungle of venerable beauties, which unquestionably has its own wild flavor, its own pathetic sadness, barbarian grandeur, and sensual perversity, redolent of contamination, blasphemy, the Black Mass. It is like making love in a confessional with a prostitute dressed in a prelate’s liturgical robes reciting Baudelaire while ten electronic organs reproduce The Well-Tempered Clavier, played by Scriabin.


The Manetti Shrem @Davis

Added on by suzy baur.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Davis, go and visit the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum on the UC Davis campus. It celebrated its opening on November 13th, 2016 and has been the latest addition of university art museums in the SF Bay Area. The spectacular floating "Grand Canopy" - designed by the architecture firms Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and SO-IL - houses the UC Davis' unique art collection, a university that has mainly been known for its agricultural sciences and business management. With this museum the art department aims to serve both the community and the university with the focus on coming together and celebrating art while representing the belief of the philanthropists Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem: free public access to the arts. 

The inaugural exhibit, Our of Our Way, is a must see. It focuses on the first 12 members of the university’s original art faculty: Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forest, Roland Petersen, Manuel Neri, Ralph Johnson, Ruth Horsting, Daniel Shapiro, Tio Giambruni, Jane Garritson and John Baxter. Richard Nelson, founding member of the art department, hired these unique dynamic talents with the goal to bring a divers creative teaching spirit to UC Davis. The exhibit is both delightful and enlightening - a piece of Bay Area art history. 

Check out The Manetti Shrem Museum
Check out Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and SO-IL
Watch Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem to learn more. 
And listen to KQED Radio Forum 12/06/16 and read sfgate

Out of Our Way through March 16, 2017. 

Art Exhibits in 2016

Added on by suzy baur.

Looking East at the Asian Art, Bonnard at the Legion, Oscar de La Renta at the deYoung, Ed Ruscha at the deYoung, and Frank Stella at the de Young..... 

November 15, 2016

Frank Stella, born in 1936 Malden MA, was encouraged early to pursue his artistic vocation. He attended Princeton University and moved to New York in 1958. Considered a protagonist of geometric abstraction, he strongly opposed abstract expressionims upon arriving in the Big Apple's art world and has been driven by a desire to push the envelope of abstract painting ever since. I have not come across an artist for quite some time that has been so strongly in dialog with the history of art and the contemporary art community surrounding him. Influenced and inspired by artists as Hans Albers, Jasper Johns, Bernett Newman, Franz Cline but also by Caravaggio, Wassily Kandinsky, El Lissitzky, Sonja Delaunay to name a few, he has been relentlessly searching for new color abstractions. I thoroughly enjoyed the pieces shown at the de Young retrospective. Love the way Stella plays with color perspective while juxtaposing different color strips in a deliberate, yet random pattern. You cannot help but try to find rime and reason. And his 3D paintings - an extension of his panting on canvas - never fail to capture the viewer's fascination with their unique shape, color and texture. 

Through February 26, 2017. 
To earn more, check out deYoung

August 20, 2016

Text came out of my interest in books. I started looking at books and the pinning of books, so I learned to set type with a printer: clean presses did the dirty work early on, and it just sort of evolved. I began to look at printed words, and words, and saw them as potential for actress made with paint, I guess. 
~ Ed Ruscha, 2016


Went to see Wild Wild West at the Legion and Ed Ruscha at the deYoung today. Loved both exhibits! If you get a chance, see them together. 

Check out deYoung and The Legion of Honor. 
Wild Wild West: through September 11th, 2016
Ed Ruscha: through October 9th, 2016


March 30, 2016

Sleek by day, lavish at night ~ Oscar de la Renta

Crazy beautiful fabrics, amazing textures, fabulous detailing........

Through May 30th, 2016. 
Check out Oscar de la Renta at the deYoung; and also Mannequin Dressing


March 19, 2016

Moi, j'observe ~ Pierre Bonnard
We will no longer separate the figure from the background of an apartment or street ~ Louis Edmond Duranty

Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947), painter, print maker and member of the Nabis, was already recognized as an artist at the age of 25 and produced during his 60 year career some of the most enigmatic works of art. Bonnard has not only been known for his boldness in color and iconography of intimsme but also for his amaizing rending of texture and pattern. Drawing from inspirations such as Gauguin's cloisonnism, Impressionistic landscape, Art Nouveau, James Morris'Arts & Craft Movement, Japonese ukioye woodblock prints, Rococo elegance, 17h century Dutch interiors, medieval tapestry and classical statuary, he developed a style that would stay with him throughout his oeuvre. Cubism and Surrealism for instance did not touch him. His keen skill of observing the quotidian translated over to asymmetric compositions, high angle views, a masterful capturing of shimmering sunlight, cropped framing and an implicit wit. Bonnard did not paint from life or en plain air. Instead he would sketch or photograph his objects and take notes on color. Back in his studio we would pin rolled-up canvases on the walls to work on several paintings simultaneously and thus avoid being cornered into a set size of the stretched canvas. 

Bonnard's paintings are extraordinary contemplative masterpieces emitting a snap-shot like quality and a suggestive air. They are seductive invitations to look and explore beyond the first glance. Peripheral motives come gradually into focus and keep lingering on like an afterthought. The off-center composition and bird's eye view add dynamic while heightening the fact that we are secret on-lookers on a scene where gazes are turned inwards or towards a pet, a child or other person. These averted gazes are both fascinating and poetic - telling us a story about intimate moments and attachments. A wonderful compositorial connectedness is relieved in Bonnard's rhythmic use of color - tying together foreground and background, interior and exterior, horizontal and vertical, figure and fabrics. Along with a virtuous brushstroke these artworks never fail to evoke a strong sense of materiality and alluring atmosphere. In a time when artists were steering way from academically rendered illusionism in favor of the picture plane being an autonomous two-dimensional surface, Bonnard's paintings were not only revolutionary but also brilliant works of a groundbreaking color-charged, light-infused and texture-rich technique. Go and explore for yourself!

Through May, 15th 2016. 
To learn more, check out Bonnard at the Legion. 


January 23, 2016

"It is well to remember that a picture - before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote - is essentially a plane surface covered with colors assembled in a certain way."   ~ Maurice Denis, 1890


Looking East at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, is an alluring exhibit about the influence of Japanese art on the West. Forced out of a 220 year national seclusion by the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, Japan opened its ports to international trade. With this a flow of Japanese artifacts - especially the ukiyo-e prints - made their way to the West. Regarded as mediocre to Western academic art with its focus on symmetry, one point perspective and naturalistic illusions, these captivating woodblock prints by Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kunisada were enthusiastically embraced by the French avant-garde and avidly collected by Manet, Degas, Bonnard, Toulouse Lautrec and Van Gogh amongst others. Their flatness in space rendering, asymmetric composition, unusual point of view and color schemes represented something never seen before in Europe. 
The late 1800s were characterized by great changes brought on by the industrial revolution, advancement in technology, rapid growth of cities and the mixing of private and public life. The counter-culture of Western artists - following Baudelaire's call for the artist being of his own time - sought an alternative to the traditional forms of academic art by experimenting with a new artistic language to match the fast paced lifestyle of the modern swirling times. The pursuit of the autonomy of the art works - to view them on their own terms and not as a window into an illusionistic world - was reflected in a growing urge for simplification towards the abstract, a rejection of naturalistic rendering as well as photographic resemblance and an abandonment local color. These newly discovered Japanese woodblock prints depicting the fleeting moments of daily life in a uniquely dynamic and colorful way proved to be a great inspiration in this quest. 

Thru February 6th, 2016. 
Learn more, visit Looking East


Added on by suzy baur.

Through my new job with MSK Design Build, I got the great opportunity to check out one of our vendors, Crystal Cabinetry in Princeton, Minnesota, and with this a chance to explore a rare Minnesotan gems. Took tons of pictures of the Twin cities. Here are some highlights - mainly of Minneapolis. 



Evening Stroll, Downtown Minneapolis ...

Staying the Foshay Tower by Magney and Tusler (1929) turned out to be great location. Love the closeness to everything - especially to my favorite building, the ING 20 Washington by Minoru Yamasaki and Associates (1965). 


The Central Riverfront: 

Backstage tour at the beautiful Guthrie Theatre by Jean Nouvel (2006) with its midnight blue skin and stunning views. A walk on the  spectacular Stone Arch Bridge by Charles C. Smith (1883).  And a visit at the fascinating Mill City Museum - Adolph Fischer and William Barre (1880), rebuilt after the fire (1928), interior destroyed by fire (1991; renovation and new construction by MS&R Architects (2003). 


University, Nicollet Island

A walk along the Mississippi river to the coolest campus ever! Visit at the Fredrick Weisman Art Museum by Frank Gehry (1993), then a tour at the absolutely stunning Walter Library by Clarence H. Johnston (1925) and the fantastic Mcnamara Alumni Center by Antoine Predock (2000). 


The Walker Art Center, Lowry Hill

Another highlight: The Walker Art by Herzog deMeuron (2005) - a great space to enjoy art! Original by Edward Larrabee Barnes (1971); sculpture garden by Edward Larrabee Barnes (1988) and Designee-Dalnoky (2007). Too bad the sculpture garden was closed for renovation. 


Minneapolis Institute of Art, Whittier-Lyndale

Another fabulous place to enjoy art - tons of it from antiquity to modernity!
McKim Mead and White (1915), Hewitt and Brown (1916), Kenzo Tange (1974), and Michale Graves (2006). 


Christ Lutheran Church, Longfellow

Also went to see an early modernist masterpiece: Christ Lutheran Church designed by Eliel Saarinen (1949) with an education wing designed by Eero Saarinen (1962). Love how the four walls aren't parallel, the ceiling slants towards the undulating north wall and above all how the light pours in from a concealed south window. Beautiful materials, too.


And finally Crystal Cabinets, Princeton

Our stay at Crystal was fabulous with everyone being super nice and so generous with their time. It was great to meet everyone and to tour the factory. I was amazed how much is still made by hand. Much attention to detail! And much pride in their work! A very inspiring place to be and to work with!!

Euro Trip

Added on by suzy baur.

My trip to Switzerland this year took me again beyond Zurich as well as the Swiss border not only to visit with family as well as friends but also to enjoy fabulous art and architecture ... 


~ EUROPE BOUND over the East Bay and via Pfannenstiel ~

~ ZURICH in winter ~
Sunny but cold skies over old town and my Alma Mater. 

~ ZURICH by night ~
Especially beautiful around the Holidays. The town is always looking so festive decked out with tons of Christmas lights. 

~ ZURICH: University ~ 
Library at the Law Research Center, Santiago Calatrava 2004

~ ZURICH: Kunsthaus ~
Juan Miró Wall, Frieze, Mural - a fantastic exhibit on Juan Miró (1893-1983), a prolific artsit, whose oeuvre radiates an irresistible immediacy and material quality. 

~ ZURICH: Museum Haus Konstruktiv ~
(Un)Ordnung. (Dés)Ordre was put together in honor of Vera Molnár's nineties birthday. Born in 1924 in Budapest, she has lived in Paris since 1960 and is considered one of the ground-breaking pioneers of computer and algorithmic arts. A delightful exhibit! 
Learn more, check out Vera Molnar

~ BERN: The Museum of Fine Arts ~ 
Toulouse-Lautrec and Photography is a comprehensive exhibit on Toulouse-Lautrec, which pulls you right into his world of fin-de-siècle Paris and his fascination with photography. While I enjoyed viewing his lithographies, I was very fascinated by his oil paintings and especially his drawings! 
The second exhibit Embracing Sensation featured artist couple Silvia Gertsch (1963*) and Xerxes Ach (1957*). Each artist has their own artistic language regarding style, technique and materials. Gertsch's stained glass paintings are truly magnificent in technique and the way how they capture the sunlight  - bestowing to them an almost spiritual glow. Whereas Ach's painting have a fascinating textural quality about them radiating off shades of beautifully rich and deep colors. 

~ RIEHEN: Beyeler Foundation ~
A visit to the Beyeler Foudation is always a must. Designed by Renzo Piano, the museum was built from 1992 to 1997 and is situated in the park of the 18th century Villa Berower. Piano succeeded in immersing the building in the surrounding greenery while having it entirely lit by natural light. 
In 1915/16 The Last Futurist Exhibition on Painting should prove to be one of the most influential exhibits in the history of modern art. It was here that Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) exhibit his Black Square. With In Search of 0,10 the Beyeler Foundation accomplished to put together yet again a brilliant exhibition, which is orchestrated into two parts: While 0,10  features most of the surviving works of the original show, Black Sun juxtaposes them with paintings, sculptures, installations and film of artists inspired as well as influenced by Malevich - such as Alexander Calder, Olafur Eliasson, Wassily Kandinsky, Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra and many more. Loved it!

~ WEIL AM RHEIN: Vitra Design Museum ~ 
While in Basel, a quick drive to the Vitra Design is worth the detour!
Please also check out my blog on the Vitra Design Museum (December 13th, 2015) featuring more pictures of the campus and the Vitra Haus. 

~ BASEL: Basler Minster ~
Landmark of the city of Basel, the minster was built in red sandstone between 1019 and 1500 in Romanesque and Gothic styles. The so-called Galluspforte is one of the oldest Romanesque Tympana in the German hemisphere and dates back to 1185. 

~ ULM: Ulm Minster ~
The minster is the tallest church in the world, with a steeple measuring 161 meter. We climbed all the 768 steps of the spiraling staircase to the top to enjoy the magnificent view of view Baden-Wurttemberg and Neu-Ulm Bavaria. The foundation stone was laid in 1377 and construction lasted; but is was not until 1890 that the building was completed. The church consists of five naves, the main with a height of 41 meter being almost three times high as it is wide. The stained glass windows are stunning, and so are the wood sculptures of the choir seating. 

~ ULM: Die Malweiber von Paris at the Edwin Scharff Museum ~
A inspiring exhibition about German women artists of the early 1900s, who had the fortune to study art in Paris, at a time when it was considered indecent for a woman to develop artistic ambitions in Germany. Maria Slavonia (1865-1931) especially caught, especially her two self-portraits  from 1887 and 1910 respectively (center: Houses at Montmartre 1900, oil on carton detail). 

A visit to Hungary is always a treat. This time my travels took me to my relatives on the Western border, where I got treated like royalty, was served heaps of delicious food and shlepped all over the region: Meszlen, Szombathely downtown and art museum, Köszeg downtown and Sacred Heart Church, Novákfalva in Velem.... Köszönom szépen a kedves vendéglátast!

~ HOMEWARD BOUND over the Canadian Rockies to the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area ~ 

Art + Wine

Added on by suzy baur.

The wine country not only offers fabulous wine and delicious food for you to enjoy, but also notable art collections. Here are some must-see art galleries...

The Hess Collection, Napa CA

The Hess Art Museum, designed by Swiss architect Beat A. H. Jordi and built in 1989 in collaboration with Richard Macrae Architects, is one of my favorite places in the wine country to visit. The galleries house one of the finest pieces of contemporary art in Napa Valley. The amazing collection not only reflects Donald M. Hess' personal passion but also the dialogue with the artists he has built over the years. Immerse yourself and explore the worlds of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Georg Baselitz, Franz Gertsch, Rolf Iseli, Per Kirkeby, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter and many others. There are quite a few pieces that are dear to my heart, Markus Raetz's Metamorphose, 1991 being one of them. Do not miss it on your way out. 

To learn more visit Hess Collection.  

Cornerstone Gardens, Sonoma CA

Cornerstone Gardens are a unique concept of gallery style gardens featuring innovative designs from the finest landscape architects and designer from all over the world. This site is another favorite of mine. For one both the works of art and the installations are splendid. Second the natural setting is beautiful, especially in winter. And last but not least, since the gardens keep changing with the seasons, they always offer something new to explore.   

Free and open to the public seven days a week. 
To learn more visit Cornerstone Gardens Designer.

Mumm, Napa

Mumm Napa Winery has one of the finest photography galleries in the wine country. In the main gallery they usually feature temporary exhibits paired with their amazing private collection of superb Ansel Adams photographs - the biggest outside Yosemite National Park. 

To learn more, visit Mumm

Di Rosa, Napa CA

Di Rosa is a non-profit art gallery featuring a broad range of contemporary San Francisco Bay Area art. The collection embodies the shared vision of Rene and Veronica di Rosa and consists of over 2,000 works by more then 800 artists. The Gatehouse gallery features current exhibits and is open on a drop-in basis. To visit the permanent collection, which is on view in the Main Gallery, historic residence and throughout the gardens, guided tours are available. Reservations are highly recommended. 

To learn more visit diRosa Collection

Paradise Ridge, Santa Rosa CA

Off the beaten path, Paradise Ridge Winery offers not only amazing views of Sonoma County but also a splendid sculpture garden. This inspiring exhibit site at home in the four-acre Marijke's Grove shows off the Byck family's passion for sculpture and invites everyone to embark on an explorational stroll. The art works by sculptors based locally and nationally are free to the public seven days a week. Their up-coming exhibit 20@20 will celebrate Paradise Ridge's 20th anniversary featuring 20 works of art installed throughout the winery. 

Free and open to the public seven days a week. 
To learn more visit Paradise Ridge Winery

Stonescape, Calistoga CA

Norman and Norah Stone purchased the Stonescape property in 1991 and over years transformed it into a place for the enjoyment of art as well as the contemplation of nature. The site is both an art collaboration of multiple talents and an unconventional project whose catalyst was a sky space by James Turrell. 
Tom Leader, Berkeley based landscape architect, designed the landscape of the property including a so called "land bridge" emerging from a forested hillside and a lavender garden. San Francisco based architect Jim Jennings was commissioned for the entertainment pavilion as well as the infinity edge pool working closely with James Turrell to realize the artist's vision. Stone Sky, 2005  is the culminating element of the pool and can only be entered by swimming underwater. Aligned with these components is the entrance to the Art Cave, the work of New York based architects  Bade Stageberg Cox, a rare cavernous exhibition building and home for the Stone art collection.

Stonescape is quite unique is its overall design and art collection especially the Stone Sky by James Turrell, whose installations never cease to amaze me. If you get a chance, go to the LACMA in Los Angeles and check out James Turrell's Ganzfeld. It will transform your senses and perception of the natural world.  

To learn more, visit Stonescape
To learn more about James Turrell, click here
Please note: while the SFMOMA was fortunate enough to arrange a tour for members a few years back, they no longer have an on-going relationship with Stonescape in that capacity. 

Maryhill, Goldendale WA

If you happen to be on the Oregon / Washington border driving east towards the Walla Walla wine country, make sure to stop by at the Maryhill Museum of Art on the Columbia River. This cultural resource offers insights into local history, current exhibitions and stunning views of the area. Originally design as a residence by Washington, D.C. architects Hornblower & Marshall for Maryhill Museum's founder Sam Hill (1857-1931), the mansion's destiny was altered in 1917 before it was completed. Hill determined that the mansion should become a museum. 

To learn more, check out Maryhill Museum of Art and Sam Hill
Check out Hornblower & Marshall
Visit Walla Walla Wineries

First Look @Asian

Added on by suzy baur.

First Look at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is an exhilarating exhibit showcasing recent acquisitions to their growing contemporary art collection. These exciting explorations into various techniques, mediums and materials - pencil, oil, acrylic, ink, lacquer, paper, fabric, wood block, rattan, bamboo, metal, assemblage, photography, digital animation - radiate reflections on nature, urbanism, society, cultural history while mirroring dialogues with both Eastern as well as Western traditions.  

Artists such as RongRong&irni, Pinaree Sanpitak, teamLabZhu Jinshi, teamLab, Zheng Chongbin, Yang Yongliang, Sopheap Pich and Chen Man among others are represented with eye-catching pieces that speak to the viewer with their mesmerizing technique and individual themes - engaging us on many levels. It is fascinating to trace how ink meets acrylic in Zheng Chongbin's creation or the contemplative nature of teamLab's animations! Chen Man's photographs are stunning. And Zhu Jinshi's thick sensual use of paint echoes a hint of Turner's groundbreaking technique of brushwork in a radically expressive way. 

A must-see exhibit featuring works of art one cannot help but keep going back to!

October 11th, 2015
To learn more, see press release

Untitled, No. 25, 2008 By RongRong&inri (Chinese, born 1968 and Japanese, born 1973); Gelatin silver print

Untitled, No. 25, 2008
By RongRong&inri (Chinese, born 1968 and Japanese, born 1973); Gelatin silver print

Cold Life,  2014 By teamLab (Japanese, est. 2001); Digital animation still (7:23min)

Cold Life,  2014
By teamLab (Japanese, est. 2001); Digital animation still (7:23min)

Iris, 2014 By Pinaree Sanpitak (Thai b. 1961) Acrylic and pencil on canvas

Iris, 2014
By Pinaree Sanpitak (Thai b. 1961)
Acrylic and pencil on canvas

Life Survives by the Power of Life, 2011 By teamLab, (Japanese est. 2001); Digital animation still (6:23min)

Life Survives by the Power of Life, 2011
By teamLab, (Japanese est. 2001); Digital animation still (6:23min)

 Four Seasons: Spring, 2011 By Chen Man (Chinese b. 1980); acrylic face-mounted print

 Four Seasons: Spring, 2011
By Chen Man (Chinese b. 1980); acrylic face-mounted print

First Drop of Water Series #2, 2014 By Zhang Jian-Jun (Chinese b. 1955); Ink, oil, acrylic, and paper fibers on canvas. 

First Drop of Water Series #2, 2014
By Zhang Jian-Jun (Chinese b. 1955); Ink, oil, acrylic, and paper fibers on canvas. 

The Third Time Going to the Yellow Mountain By Zhu Jinshi (Chinese, b. 1954); Oil on canvas, 2011. 

The Third Time Going to the Yellow Mountain
By Zhu Jinshi (Chinese, b. 1954); Oil on canvas, 2011. 

Ended Season, 2011 By Zheng Chongbin (American, b. China, 1961); Ink and acrylic on paper

Ended Season, 2011
By Zheng Chongbin (American, b. China, 1961); Ink and acrylic on paper

The Night of Perpetual Day, 2013 (detail) By Yang Yongliang (Chinese b. 1980); Four-channel HD video with sound, still (8:32min)

The Night of Perpetual Day, 2013 (detail)
By Yang Yongliang (Chinese b. 1980); Four-channel HD video with sound, still (8:32min)

Turner @deYoung

Added on by suzy baur.

"Every glance is a glance for study, contemplating and defining qualities and causes, effects and incidents, and develops by practice the possibility of attaining what appears mysterious upon principle."  - JMW Turner, 1809

James Mallord William Turner (1775 - 1851) was one of the greatest and most controversial painters of the Romantic era. He was born in 1775 London during the Industrial Revolution and the dawn of the French Revolution. As a landscape pioneer, Turner overshadowed the British landscape painting during the first half of the 19th century - a period of great change not just socially, politically and technologically but also culturally and artistically. Renowned for his oil paintings, watercolors, engravings and book illustrations, he would inspire generations to come.

Turner's success was immediate. Upon his father's encouragement to pursue his talents, he entered the Royal Academy of Arts in 1789 at the age of 14. In 1796 he exhibited his first oil painting from where his career took off. In 1802 he was elected to full academician status. Two years later he opened his own picture gallery to showcase his work; and in 1822 a second. His many admirers and collectors - among them a new generation of rich, private patrons - embraced his works not only for their audacity in form and style but also for their celebration of nature and choice of contemporary subject matter. 

Turner was a passionate itinerant throughout his life. Prosperous by 1800, he was able to travel freely and independently. The outbreak of the war with France in 1793 made traveling through Europe unsafe, so Turner limited his voyages to Britain. En route he would always take notes and make pencil studies in a pocket-sized sketchbook; these visual records would serve him as aides-mémoires for his oil paintings and watercolors back at his studio. Academically trained, he did not paint from motif in oil nor watercolor en plein-air. Instead he focused on training his visual memory in such a way that color sketches deemed unnecessary to him. 
The Peace of Amiens in 1802, allowed him to travel abroad. His first tour took him to Paris and Switzerland and proved to be extremely inspirational. First, it reenforced his endless fascination with the sea in relations to the sky. Second, the Musée de Louvre offered him a unique chance to study the old masters - Claude Lorrain, Nicholas Poussin, Salomon Ruysdael in particular. It also sparked in him the idea of opening his own gallery. Third, the Swiss alps with their heroic grandeur left an enduring impact on his conception of landscape painting. 

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citalla, from the Steps of the Europa Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citalla, from the Steps of the Europa
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

Snow Storm Steam Boat off a Harbour's Mouth making Signals in Shallow Water and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the Arile left Harwich Oil on canvas: exhibited 1842

Snow Storm
Steam Boat off a Harbour's Mouth making Signals in Shallow Water and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the Arile left Harwich
Oil on canvas: exhibited 1842

1803 marked the beginning of the Napoleonic wars and it was not until 1817 that Turner was able to pursue his continental travels. In 1819 he made his first trip to Italy, where he fell in love with the mediterranean (sun) light in general and Venice in particular. For the next few decades his continental travels would take him to Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Austria; he would return to France, Italy and Switzerland several times. After his final tour to France and a long, creative life, Turner’s health began to deteriorate in 1845. He died in 1851; he was 76.
JMW Turner left behind a unrivaled volume of breath-taking works in regards to not only an immense diversity of subject matter but also a dazzling evolution of technique - a sixty year transition from topographically exact renderings to creations of visual audacity. It is a prolific outpour of his creative genius and limitless imagination - 540 oil paintings, 1,600 watercolors, 150 literary vignettes, and 19,300 sketches. 

Turner's Bedroom in the Palazzo Giustinian (The Hotel Europe), Venice; Watercolor and gouache on paper ca. 1840

Turner's Bedroom in the Palazzo Giustinian (The Hotel Europe), Venice; Watercolor and gouache on paper
ca. 1840

One of Turner's biggest legacies is how he accomplished to dislodge history painting from its privileged, highest rank within the academic genre hierarchy by challenging long-held beliefs such as landscape painting should solely be regarded as a record of a given location. By producing highly creative responses to contemporary life and showing how strong of a potential for imagination in both execution and contemplation landscape painting was capable to possess and evoke, he elevated this low genre to new heights. He was endlessly fascinated by the authenticity of a personal experience, the vulnerability of men vs elements and by nature's force. 
Most importantly, Turner's oeuvre is a visual testimony of his fascination with atmosphere, light and color - he rendered atmospheric perspective in such a fluid and breathtaking.  It is also a testimony to his compulsive exploration to break down conventional forms of representation while relentlessly searching for a new language of stylistic application. His water colors are superb and stand in a fascinating contrast to his oil paintings: they have an abstract, if not modern feel about them. Late in his work, both techniques - watercolor and oil painting - seemed to converge. Light effects were the primary focus with some details almost indiscernible. 

By retracing Turner’s supreme artistic technique over the picture plane - the painterly yet rough brushwork, the vibrant colors, the magical rending of the atmosphere -  the canvas suddenly becomes alive. It is no longer a glossy, smooth surface, nor merely a structured window to on the world with a moral message trying to appeal to our intellect and reason. His luminous works try to reach us on an emotional level - much in the spirit of the romantic era. With their seemingly out-of-balance, fluid compositions they pull us right in and this with an invitation to experience Turner’s persona coming through, his emotions, his thoughts, his personal experience.
By appealing to our senses with a turbulence of big waves, dark clouds, heavy rain, gleaming sun rays, blazing flames, Turner’s creations cannot but evoke intense feelings such awe, drama, terror, horror, suffering and grief. And in this moment - when our gaze is turned to the surface of the painting - we happen to witness the truest form of the aesthetic and artistic intend: the manifestation of the creative journey, the thoughts and emotions involved - through which personal experience turns into art.

Norham Castle, Sunrise Water on paper; ca 1845 (?)

Norham Castle, Sunrise
Water on paper; ca 1845 (?)

What his critics decried as shockingly radical - the dazzling, sometime expressive use of color, the atmospheric light effects, the indistinct if not abstract blotches of shapes, the thick sensual paint application, the contemporary subject matter and the non-representational tendencies - are now seen as heralds of modernism.


JMW Turner: Painting Set Free is a feast for the eyes! Through September 20th, 2015. 
Check out de Young
Learn more about Turner, visit The Tate

Sam Smiles, JMW Turner, Tate Publishings, 2000

Approach to Venice Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844

Approach to Venice
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844

Peace - Burial at Sea (detail) Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

Peace - Burial at Sea (detail)
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1842

Shipping Boats Bringing a Disabled Ship into Port Ruisdael (detail) Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844   

Shipping Boats Bringing a Disabled Ship into Port Ruisdael (detail)
Oil on canvas; exhibited 1844


The Blue Rigi Water on Paper; 1842

The Blue Rigi
Water on Paper; 1842

Art Exhibits in 2015

Added on by suzy baur.

Seeing Time at the KALA Art Institute, 2nd Hand at Pier 24, Fertile Ground at the OMCA, Toulouse Lautrec at the Crocker, Botticelli to Braque at the de Young....

May 30, 2015

If you'd like to get inspired and view masterpieces spanning from a period of over 450 years, then you are in for a treat at the de Young Museum, San Francisco. Botticelli to Braque features some fifty plus masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland with the majority being true gems to revel in forever: the exhibit includes religious and mythological paintings, landscapes, portraits and still lifes.

I fell with love with John Singer Sargent's Lady Agnew of Lochaw (1892), her striking yet delicate pose and the masterful rendering of her silky dress. Then the detailing Allen Ramsay did on Margaret Lindsay of Ewlick, Mrs. Allan Ramsay (ca. 1759) is exquisiteI caught myself wanting to caress the lace of her satin dress and steal the roses off the painting. Just has I wanted to snatch the strawberries off Sandro Botticelli's The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child (ca. 1485)
Camille Pissarro's Chennevières-sur-Marne (ca. 1865) is equally fascinating with its capturing of the hilly, riverside landscape of this Parisian commune, as is River Landscape with a View of a Distant Village (ca.1750) by Thomas Gainsborough. Or André Derain's Collioure (1905) and Pierre Bonnard's Lane At Vernonnet (ca. 1914), both are absolutely captivating in their color scheme depicting the vibrancy of Southern Europe. Eduard Vuillard's The Candlestick (ca. 1900) is superb in its unique viewpoint, composition and rending of the different textures. And not to mention Reverend Robert Walker, Skating on Duddingston Loch (ca.1795) by Sir Henry Raeburn, which is as simply as it is brilliant in captivating the reverend enjoying his favorite sport. 

But there is also Frans Hals, Paolo Veronese, Gerrit Dou, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edouard Vuillard, Paul Cézanne, Piet Mondrian…..So much to say, however this should suffice. Go and see for yourself!

Learn more, visit Botticelli to Braque

Through May 31, 2015.