Friday, January 19, 2018

Swooning for Swoon

Swoon, Nee Nee, 2014, Ink, Paper and Wheat paste. London.
Swoon is the nom de brosse of Caledonia Curry (b. 1977) a multi-media artist based in New York. While her projects take many different forms, she is probably most well known for her street art, in particular her series of large intricately cut paper prints which she wheat pastes to disused or empty buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and around the world, too. These prints are complex portraits, depicting friends and family. Her style is inspired by many sources such as folk art, German Expressonist woodblock prints and Indonesian puppets.

The artist is deeply engaged by current events and has created work in response to Hurricane Sandy and the earthquakes in Haiti. She is one of the originators of Konbit Shelter, a sustainable building project in Haiti, and has been centrally involved in several other fascinating projects relating to both art and social issues. In 2015 Curry founded The Heliotrope Foundation.

Curry received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in New York City in 2002. She has been included in several museum shows and in 2014 had a site specific installation at the Brooklyn Museum called Submerged Motherlands. To see more of the artist's portfolio, check out her beautiful website!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Art Class and Beyond

Uranie Alphonsine Colin-Libour, The Art Class, 1891, oil on linen, 63.5 x 89 inches, private collection
Uranie Alphonsine Colin-Latour (1831 - 1916) was born in Paris. She studied with several well-known painters of the day, including François Bonvin and Charles Louis Lucien Muller, as well as sculptor François Rude.

This charming scene, entitled, The Art Class, shows an all-female atelier, which was probably how Colin-Libour started her own art education before later studying "seriously" with her male teachers. It is fun to think the intent young girl, being kindly guided by her instructress, is a self-portrait of Colin-Libour as a precociously talented child, and the more self-assured young woman making friendly eye contact with the viewer is the artist too, in a later stage of development. This is just my theory.

Colin-Libour exhibited in the art pavilion  of the Woman's Building in the Chicago World Exposition of 1893, which means she must have been held in high regard. This was an honor accorded only to the very best woman artists of the day, representing their different countries. The paintings Colin-Libour exhibited can be seen here.

Woman's Building Poster, 1893, Madeleine LeMaire
It is worth noting that the poster for this ground-breaking exhibition was designed by french artist Madeleine LeMaire, who was a fascinating person too! As well as being a talented professional artist, she held a renowned weekly salon for Parisian intellectuals and artists. LeMaire was the inspiration for the character of Madame Verdurin in Marcel Proust's seven part novel A la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrances of Things Past) published 1871-1922.

Back to Uranie Alphonsine Colin-Libour, the only other significant piece of information I have found out about her is that she is included in the important book, Women Painters of the World, published in 1905, an overview of all the prominent (European) female artists (or those deemed prominent by the editor) up to that time. This is an absolutely  seminal book for the history of art, and for the history of women's art in particular, and means that Colin-Libour had to have been considered one of the very best of the best. If only more was known about her today!

Woman Painters of the World, Walter Shaw Sparrow, 1905

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Another Thamar

Thamar painting the goddess Diana. From Boccaccio, Des cleres et nobles femmes, De claris mulieribus in an anonymous French translation c. 1400-25, French (Paris). Collection of the British Library, MS Royal 20 C V f. 90

Thamar (5th century BC) was a well-known painter in ancient Greece. There are no standard spellings of names translated from ancient tongues and so you will see this same artist also referred to as Tamar, Tamara, Thamyris, Thamaris and Timarete. Her father was the painter, Micon the Younger, and she learned the painting trade from him. In those times trades and professions were traditionally kept within families. Pliny the Elder wrote of her in his famous tome Natural History (77 CE) saying, "...she scorned the duties of women, and practised her father's art." Whether or not Thamar actually scorned anything we will never know, but she was extremely good at painting and her fame lives on, although there are no known extant examples of her work. Most painting at that time was done as fresco or mural, and the majority of architectural structures of that period have been ruined by the passage of time, or demolished, or subsumed by later renovation.

This is a 15th century rendition of Thamar, which accompanies text by Bocaccio, from his book Of Noble Women written in the early 1400's. It was a runaway "best-seller" of the times! Because so many copies were made of this book there are numerous illuminations (text illustrations) of Thamar, and as was usual at the time, the artist from ancient times was dressed in the fashion of the "present" day. In this image by an unknown French artist we see Thamar painting what was probably her best-known work, a depiction of the goddess Diana. That masterwork was famous in her day and after and was long displayed in a position of reverence at the temple of Epheseus. Unfortunately, that temple was completely destroyed in 401 A.D. by a Christian mob led by St. John Chrysostom.

For more depictions of Thamar, please look in the side bar where you will see this is one of several! Click on "Thamar" to see them all! :-)

Don't forget, to enlarge this or any WAP image for better viewing pleasure, just click on it!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Snowflake Painting

"I’m a Special Snowflake" oil on aluminum panel, 60” x 36”, 2017

Artist Alia El-Bermani has become fascinated with folded paper objects, using them as props in her paintings. She recently asked artist friends to mail her handmade paper snowflakes for this particular painting. She received hundreds of flakes from artists all over the world, some of which can be seen here. The two flakes which cover her face were made by her children several years ago and were included in another painting titled "Space Between." El-Bermani says, "In this new work my identity is somewhat obscured by their presence, but thru them I view the world more completely," referencing the exigencies and enlargement of motherhood,

Her intention is that when this painting is exhibited, the snowflakes in the painting will be installed near the piece and viewers will be asked to create their own flakes to add to the installation. The artist comments, "
This self portrait is an expression of how I often feel invisible amongst the blizzard of talent that is prevalent in our art world today, while also firmly believing in the solidity of my ability and relevance as a painter."

attended the Laguna College of Art and Design and runs a teaching studio in Raleigh, NC called Alia Fine Art Studios. More info on El-Bermani's work can be found at