Wyeth and more Wyeth this fall in the Pacific Northwest

Everyone in the Pacific Northwest who is a fan of Andrew Wyeth and the rest of the talented Wyeth family is in for a treat this fall with a big exhibit at both the Portland Art Museum and the Seattle Art Museum which will be running concurrently starting in October 2017.

The PAM show, The Wyeths: Three Generations, runs from Oct 7, 2017 – Jan 28, 2018 and the SAM show, Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, runs from Oct 19 2017 – Jan 15 2018.  More information from the website of each museum is listed below.  This will provide an excellent opportunity to view some of the most influential representational painting from the 20th century.  I can't wait to attend both exhibits later this fall!

Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009), On the Edge, 2001, Tempera on panel, Bank of America Collection.

The Wyeths:Three Generations

Works from the Bank of America Collection

OCT 7, 2017 – JAN 28, 2018
The Wyeths are one of America’s foremost artistic families. Their work has captured the admiration of audiences for three generations, spanning the golden age of illustration to mid-century portraiture. Drawing from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Collection, The Wyeths: Three Generations includes more than eighty paintings and drawings by N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), his son Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) and his grandson Jamie Wyeth (born in 1946). All showcase a commitment to realism, technical brilliance, and narrative sensibility.

 Patriarch N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) was one of the country’s foremost illustrators at the turn of the twentieth century. His ability to beautifully traverse fantasy and realism made him one of the most versatile American artists of his time. N.C.’s son Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) became known for his detailed realism and haunting scenes of American life inspired by the history and beauty of the American northeast.

 Although not as well-known as her brother, Henriette Wyeth (1907-1997) painted striking portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. She is also represented in the exhibition, as is her husband Peter Hurd (1904-1984), who chronicled the landscape of the American West. Lastly, Andrew’s son Jamie (b. 1946) represents the family’s third generation of artists. Jamie, too, utilizes a realistic style, but adds his own twist of magic and mystery to his subjects.

This exhibition is provided by Bank of America’s Art in our Communities®.

MAJOR SPONSORS: Bank of America, Joanne Lilley in memory of Pete Mark

SPONSORS: The Flowerree Foundation, Laura S. Meier in memory of Pete Mark

Andrew Wyeth, Winter 1946, 1946, Tempera on hardboard panel, 31 3/8 x 48 in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina, © 2017 Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society (ARS).

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

Thu Oct 19 2017 – Mon Jan 15 2018

Enter Andrew Wyeth’s reality. On the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect examines the American master’s 75-year career and offers unexpected perspectives on his art and legacy. Organized in partnership with the Brandywine River Museum, this major exhibition presents over 100 of the artist’s paintings and drawings. It looks back on a century in America when Wyeth confounded critics and deviated from the American art mainstream, but continued to figure prominently in much of the country’s artistic discourse.

 Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect follows the evolution of one of America’s most famous painters by bringing together well-known and rarely seen works. From depictions of his life in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, to the coastal villages of Maine, Wyeth created timeless images of places, people, and things—layered with acute observation and a boundless imagination—all imbued with the artist’s mysterious temperament. Often out of synch with the time, Wyeth’s art challenged the norms of realism and abstraction.

 The exhibition begins in the late 1930s with Wyeth’s breakthrough works of brilliantly colored, boldly gestural, transparent watercolors of the Maine coast. These were soon set aside for the somber-toned and tightly rendered tempera paintings often associated with the artist. They include some of the artist’s most famous paintings, such as portraits of Christina Olson of Maine and Karl Kuerner, his neighbor in Chadds Ford.

 Also on view are the artist’s little known portraits of African Americans, a major focus of Wyeth’s work in the 1950s and ‘60s, followed by work from the 1970s and ‘80s, including the eroticism of the once-secret Helga paintings, and other deeply psychological but lesser known paintings from the Helga years. Finally, the exhibition reflects on images of his later life as he closed the book on his earlier subjects and looked for new ones. It brings to Seattle Wyeth’s last painting, Goodbye, which has not been seen since it was briefly shown to those who attended the artist’s memorial service in 2009.

 Andrew Wyeth investigated the possibilities of the portrait, the figure, and the places we inhabit—shunning narrative and rising above cliché—to convey the very emotions that make us human.

 The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue co-published by Yale University Press.

Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect is co-organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and Seattle Art Museum.

On this Date in History, August 24: Birth of Lavinia Fontana, death of Parmigianino

What happened in the arts on this date in history, August 24? Italian Renaissance Painter Lavinia Fontana was born in Bologna in 1552, this date also marks the death of the Mannerist painter Parmigianino in 1540.

Lavinia Fontana (August 24, 1552 – August 11, 1614) was an Italian Renaissance painter who was born and trained in Bologna, a city which provided more opportunities for women. 

She first studied painting under her father, Prospero, who studied under the famous Giorgio Vasari.  Prospero Fontana also taught Ludovico Caracci.  Later Ludovico and other members of the Caracci family opened one of the first art schools in Europe, the Accademia degli Incamminati in 1580.  Fontana married and had 11 children, her husband Paolo Zappi worked as both her studio assistant and main caretaker for them.  Fontana supported their family through her painting, while this was quite unusual for the time Paolo recognized and supported her great talent as a painter.

After Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini became Pope Clement VIII in 1592, she and her family moved to Rome in the early 17th century when he called for her to work for him.  She was very highly regarded, successful and sought after as an artist.

Portrait of a Noblewoman, Lavinia Fontana, 1580,
National Museum of Women in the Arts

Parmigianino (January 11, 1503 – August 24 1540) died on this day in 1540.  Born as Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, he got his nickname as he was from the city of Parma.

Madonna with the Long Neck, Parmigianino, 1534-40, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Italian Mannerist painter known as Parmigianino painted many works, his portraits were quite realistic, but today his most famous painting is a work which has come to be known as the Madonna with the Long Neck.  Mannerism was the style that directly followed the High Renaissance and is known for figures with elongated limbs, bright unnatural colors and asymmetrical, crowded compositions.  The style was considered elegant and was favored by the Medici family, though today it is often thought of as much less harmonious than the High Renaissance.  Mannerist painters were influenced greatly by similar elements within the work of Michelangelo.  Parmigianino's Madonna is one of the most well known Italian Mannerist Paintings.

Gage Georgetown Calling: Art Lecture Series with Emily Pothast

Gage Academy of Art has a new location in Georgetown that opened last fall and starting in 2017 there is a new art history lecture series taught by visual artist, musician, arts writer and curator, Emily Pothast.  Emily will lecture on a wide variety of subjects from Hilma Af Klint to Marcel Duchamp to Albrecht Dürer.  Each hour long lecture will be followed by an hour long art workshop tying in to the subject matter.

Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, 1907

Gage Georgetown Calling: Art Lecture Series with Emily Pothast

Lecturer: Emily Pothast
Third Thursdays
Lecture: 7:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Studio Workshop: 8:15 P.M. – 9:15 P.M.

September 21 | Hilma Af Klint and the Birth of Abstraction
Historians once believed that Kandinsky was the first European artist to paint truly abstract works. We now know that he was preceded by at least two female artists: the Swedish mystic Hilma af Klint and the even earlier Victorian spiritualist Georgiana Houghton. This lecture introduces the work of these and other often overlooked artists in the context of early 20th century cultural movements.

October 19 | The Secret History of Feminist Self-Portraiture
In the 1980s, the Guerilla Girls asked, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met?” noting that fewer than 5% of the artists in the museum’s collection were women, but 85% of the nudes were female. Art historians have, however, speculated that the proportions of the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf suggest that she might be a self-portrait. Using this possibility as a point of departure, this class will delve into the history of the body in feminist and women’s art, examining how our experience of the gaze shifts when women are in command of their own images.

Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait, 1434, National Gallery, London

November 16 | Sacred Geometry for Artists
In addition to their anatomical study of the human form, artists like Jan Van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer have also studied geometry in an attempt to determine how the mind interprets certain arrangements of shape and form as beautiful. This class starts with the natural world as the basis for proportion, exploring how the underlying ratios of nature have given rise to the field of sacred geometry, with exercises you can use to explore visual mathematics on your own.
December 21 | Marcel Duchamp: Étant Donnés and The Large Glass
A household name for his readymades and meta-art antics, Marcel Duchamp’s most complex works—The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (also known as The Large Glass) and the mysterious, posthumously-installed Étant Donnés are far more enigmatic than the one-liners he is best known for. Using Duchamp’s historical context and the detailed diagrams the artist created for both works, this lecture will shed some light on the fascinating relationship between these two extraordinary works of art.
January 18 | The Graphic Works of Albrecht Dürer
Once considered the greatest painter in Northern Europe, Albrecht Dürer also wrote the first textbooks in mathematics in the German language. Dürer’s woodcuts and etchings on religious and secular themes reflect the transformative politics of the Protestant Reformation, as well as an interest in science and mathematics that would soon come to eclipse religious thought in Europe. This lecture will serve as an introduction to the graphic art of Albrecht Dürer in its historical context.

February  15 | Eternity in an Hour: An Introduction to the Art of William Blake
Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, the English Romantic painter, printmaker, and poet William Blake created a highly distinctive visual language that delights and confounds viewers to this day. This lecture will serve as an introduction to the visual works of William Blake in the context of his spiritual and poetic writings.

Michelangelo, David, 1501-04, Galleria dell'Accademia (Florence)

 March 15 | The Male Nude
Female nudes may be ubiquitous in the history of art, but a sizable number of male nudes are out there, too, both idealized and unglamorous. This class will serve as an introduction to the history of the male nude in sculpture, painting, and photography.

 April 19 | A Survey of Female Surrealists
Some female surrealists, like Frida Kahlo, are household names. Others, like Leonora Carrington, Kay Sage, and Maria Martins, should be. This class will serve as an introduction to themes of surrealism through the work of a diverse group of women artists.

May 17 | Powerful Void: The Life and Work of Lee Bontecou
In the 1960s, Lee Bontecou rose to prominence with her distinctive welded steel and canvas sculptures. Then, in the 1980s, she all but disappeared from the New York art scene, retreating to the Pennsylvania countryside. This class will explore Bontecou’s category-defying life, career, and body of work.


On this Date in History, August 21: Mona Lisa stolen, birth of Greuze and Beardsley

On August 21, 2017 most of North America will be watching the skies for the total solar eclipse.  What events in art history happened on August 21?  In 1911 the Mona Lisa was famously stolen from the Louvre, in 1725 the French painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze was born and in 1872 English artist Aubrey Beardsley was born.

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin, Greuze, 1777, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia

Jean-Baptiste Greuze was born on this day in 1725, (21 August 1725 – 4 March 1805). He was a French Neoclassical painter famous for his portraits and genre scenes.  He painted the portraits of dozens of sitters and his genre scenes often had a moralizing message imbedded in the subject matter.

I thought it was fitting to show Greuze's portrait of Benjamin Franklin since the last time a total solar eclipse had a path of totality solely visible in the United States before 2017 was in 1776.  1776 of course being the year that the United States Declaration of Independence was written and Benjamin Franklin was one of the signers of that document, and the oldest of the signers at 70 years old.

The Peacock Skirt, Aubrey Beardsley, illustration for Oscar Wilde's play Salomé (1892)

1872- Aubrey Beardsley (August 21, 1872 – March 16, 1898), the English Art Noveau artist was born.  Beardsley only lived to be 21 years old, he is best remembered for his fantastical illustrations for Oscar Wilde's play Salomé.

Mona Lisa, (La Gioconda), Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-06, The Louvre

On August 21, 1911 the Mona Lisa was famously stolen from The Louvre in Paris.  Leonardo lived and worked in France for the French king and died outside of Paris in 1519.  Due to this the Louvre has at least six paintings as well as dozens of drawings.

A man named Vincenzo Peruggia who worked at the Louvre was Italian and felt that the Mona Lisa should be returned to Italy.  As an employee he was able to take it from the frame and sneak it out of the building. When word got out about the theft the public was shocked. It was said that more people came to the Louvre to see the empty frame in the month after it was stolen than visited the museum the previous year.

It was recovered two years later and today hangs behind glass and a rope and is usually surrounded by a large crowd.  

September 2017 Art Talks Lecture Series

The Gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425-52, Baptistery Doors, Florence, Italy

I will be lecturing at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art on one of my very favorite works of art this September, The Gates of Paradise.  After our workshop in Florence I am newly inspired to discuss Lorenzo Ghiberti's masterpiece that I just saw in person.  I am happy to be part of this series which also includes Gage Academy of Art Artistic Director, Gary Faigin and Rebecca Albiani who has for years given the very popular art history lectures at the Frye Art Museum.  My lecture is Saturday, September 9 at 10:00am, for anyone who lives locally I hope to see you there!

Kitsap Regional Library’s LibraryU and Bainbridge Island Museum of Art are thrilled to host Carol Hendricks, Rebecca Albiani and Gary Faigin for the September ART Talks lecture Series. With decades of experience between them, each speaker has uniquely invested their time, skills and passion toward deepening their understanding of art methodologies and ideologies.  Join us as we explore three distinct and riveting topics!
Free with $5 Suggested Donation at the door
Doors open at 9:45
Lecture from 10:00am–11:30am
BIMA Auditorium


Carol Hendricks
The Gates of Paradise
Saturday, September 9th
Lorenzo Ghiberti’s seminal work, the east set of bronze doors for the Florence Baptistery, was dubbed “The Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo for its unparalleled beauty and innovative approach to the subject matter.  In 1401 a competition for an earlier set of doors started a rivalry between Brunelleschi and Ghiberti which ignited the beginning of the Renaissance.  As a direct result the Cathedral’s dome was built, one-point perspective was invented, the first nude life-sized figures since antiquity were sculpted and a new way of thinking about art was born.

Rebecca Albiani
Documenting the Dust Bowl:  Dorothea Lange and Marion Post
Saturday, September 16th
During the New Deal response to the Depression, Dorothea Lange and Marion Post Wolcott were part of the team of talented photographers dispatched by the Farm Security Administration to record conditions in the rural US.  The two women produced a vast and impressive body of work under challenging circumstances; Lange’s Migrant Mother and Post's Tenant Farmer's Children, Rickets have become icons of the hardscrabble thirties.  

Gary Faigin
How Does an Artist Become a Legend? The Epic Journey of Giorgio Morandi 
Saturday, September 23rd
The life of Italian artist Giorgio Morandi is indeed the stuff of legends.  Never married, sharing a small apartment with his three sisters, and painting the same collection of pots, pans, and cups for almost 50 years, Morandi created a body of work unmatched in its intense exploration of the mystery of perception and the shifting nature of reality.  Gary Faigin, himself a painter of still lives for 30 years, will share his insights into the surprisingly adventurous and lively work of this eccentric and beloved master. 

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is currently having an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, runs through September 10, 2017.  This exhibit is hugely popular, online tickets sold out quickly and hours were extended.  While they have tickets available each day for those who walk in, they regularly sell out by late morning.  I am a SAM member and got my ticket back in May for July 30, the last weekend spot available online at that time.

I really loved the exhibit, in my opinion it is worth the lines and the wait.  Kusama is 88 years old and this is a result of decades of her creativity.  There are paintings, sculpture and the mirrored Infinity Rooms which are what is drawing the public to this exhibit in droves.

Infinity Mirror Room–Phalli’s Field, Yayoi Kusama, 1965

The first room I entered was the Infinity Mirror Room–Phalli’s Field.  When I stepped in the Infinity Room titled Phalli's Field I gasped and said "Oh wow, look at this!" the effect of mirrors upon mirrors in every direction and the fun and colorful sculptures on the floor transported me to an otherworldly place.  This room had a twenty second time limit and oddly twenty seconds didn't feel too short.  In twenty seconds I saw myself, the other two visitors and the little spotted sculptures replicated hundreds of times, bouncing around from mirror to mirror and back again.  If The Obliteration Room I would visit later felt like stepping into a painting, Phalli's Field felt like stepping into a fairy tale.

Something odd happened when the museum attendant knocked on the door and opened it, I saw everyone in line ahead of me I knew when they knocked and opened the door you were meant to walk out, I was too disoriented to walk right out.  I went to the door confused and I had only been in there 20 seconds.  I had to sit down afterwards, I felt completely disoriented and I hadn't expected to.

The Obliteration Room, Yayoi Kusama, 2002-present, installed 2017

For the mirrored infinity rooms there is a very short time limit to how long you can stay in the room.  However The Obliteration Room (pictured above and below) have no such time limit and the visitors are part of the art experience.  The room started out as an all white room the day the exhibit opened and every visitor is handed five stickers which must be used in the room (I added mine all to the sofas).  After thousands of visitors the room is a dizzying blur of color, it is hard to make out any of the objects.  Visitors are encouraged to sit on sofas and chairs.  There are a wide variety of objects: shelves, a bicycle, furniture, etc. and with each newly added sticker the objects begin to become indistinguishable from one another.  The visitors become artists and also part of the art, it is like walking into the middle of a painting, perhaps an Op Art painting, perhaps a Pointillist painting or an Australian Aboriginal painting.  It was a fun experience, but also disorienting to the viewer. 

Blog author Carol Hendricks in The Obliteration Room, Yayoi Kusama, 2002-present, installed 2017

Actually each of the four Infinity Rooms that can be entered constitutes a disorienting experience.  There is a wait to enter each of the rooms (Infinity Rooms only, not The Obliteration Room), for me it was between 5-15 minutes per room and then visitors are only permitted to stay in each room for 30 seconds.

Hearing that may dissuade someone from visiting, why spend 30-40 minutes standing in lines for 30 seconds in each room?  I will say that standing in line was actually part of the experience, while no one loves lines, it does build up a feeling of anticipation that for me added to the actual experience of being in the rooms.

Dots Obsession–Love Transformed into Dots, Yayoi Kusama, 2007

The second Infinity Room I went into was designed in 2016 and called Infinity Mirrored Room–All the Eternal Love I Have for the PumpkinsI was talking to the woman behind me in line and it was nice to interact with strangers who were all experiencing the same thing, wondering what we would see next, talking about the different sort of art viewing experience at this exhibit and which was your favorite. There was no photography in that room and a museum attendant went in the room with you to enforce that (follow the link and scroll down for a view of it). I had taken a photo in the first room and having that rule just let me spend the time in there taking it all in, mirrors and a black floor and glowing pumpkin sculptures covered in black dots.  It was another visit to a fairy tale or perhaps the inside of a kaleidoscope.  We asked the attendant if she got tired of being in the room and she said no but they switched after 30 minutes.  I can imagine you would really start to feel dizzy.  Again I felt completely disoriented as I left.

The room for Dots Obsession–Love Transformed into Dots was bigger and the time limit a bit longer, this time I only had a 5 minute wait in line as opposed to a 10 minute wait for the first room and a 15 minute wait for the second.  I felt less disoriented that time but took a break and looked at sculpture and painting before I went on.

Life (Repetitive Vision), Yayoi Kusama, 1998

Kusama's paintings and sculptures make you want to reach out and touch them.  They were done earlier and her ideas of surface and repetition are seen here.  I found them really compelling and all her work to be incredibly creative.  There were two more Infinity Rooms that a visitor could just look into rather than stepping into, both filled with dazzling lights and mirrors reflecting images again and again until you didn't know what you were looking at.

My favorite room was the one I went into last, the Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity. This featured dim lighting with small flickering lanterns.  I didn't want to leave, but again 30 seconds felt like a longer span of time.  I started with a quick photo and then put my camera away so I could take in my surroundings and try and remember it, but I don't think I really could remember it as it was both so brief and so overwhelming.

Infinity Mirrored Room–Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2016, Yayoi Kusama

I work with a local arts writer who got a first look at the show during the press viewing.  During this viewing there were no lines (and The Obliteration Room was all white) and another co-worker who accompanied them said while she really enjoyed seeing it, she understood why the visits were limited to being such short experiences after she went in multiple times.  Not because of the crowds or the lines, but as part of the artist's vision to create a beautiful illusion which leaves the visitor wanting more.  I would say every visitor does leave wanting more, more of the crazily creative and overwhelming sensations; the dizzying, disorienting and utterly magical experiences that the Infinity Mirrors provides.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors 2017-2018 exhibition tour

Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, February 23 to May 14, 2017

Seattle Art Museum, June 29 to September 10, 2017

Broad Museumfrom October 21, 2017 to January 1, 2018

Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto from March 3 to May 27, 2018

Cleveland Museum of Art from July 7 to September 30, 2018