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Frida Kahlo

December 15, 2011 | Posted by | 2 Comments

It Takes Two

Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy on artloversnewyork.com

It was on a recent trip to the Davis Museum at Wellesley College to view the collected works of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy that I found myself in a discussion of famous artist couples. More often than not, these pairings lead to a collaboration and enrichment of creative energies, but sometimes, they lead to tragic outcomes.

Le Passage by Kay Sage on wikipedia.org

Artists are famously known for being “lone wolves,” but when they do find a suitable mate, the ups and downs of the creative life are intertwined with the ups and downs of domestic life.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera on creativecouples.net

You only need to ask yourself: Where would Frida Kahlo have been without Diego Rivera, or Jackson Pollock without Lee Krasner, or Christo without Jeanne-Claude? Some might argue that these couples would have been better off without each other, and some might argue the reverse, that it was actually the conflicts that arose from two artists living and working together that brought their art to new levels.

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner on artecony.blogspot.com

What can’t be denied is that these couples have left a lasting mark on the art world. Their contributions, more likely than not, were profoundly influenced by their connection – whether stormy or harmonious, direct or indirect, whether one existed in the others’ shadow, or like Sonia and Robert Delaunay, they were equal partners in productivity and involvement with the art world.

Indefinite Divisibility by Yves Tanguy on wikipedia.org

Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy had a relatively brief time together as a couple, and they made a point never to exhibit in the same space, with the exception of a 1954 show in which their work hung in the same museum but in separate galleries. In the exhibit at the Davis, “Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy,” their paintings for the first time hang side by side. One can easily see how they influenced and supported each other, and that at least in this instance, two artists were better than one.

Brian Sylvester is a guest blogger on WallSpin, and an artist on Zatista.

February 2, 2010 | Posted by | No Comments

Portraiture: From the Bombast & Bluster of LBJ to the Downright Sheepish

Portraits often depict very powerful people — those who have a lot of control of the world around them. Yet they are still art. What the artist had in mind and what the subject had in mind will never be exactly the same. One example is President Lyndon B. Johnson’s official White House Portrait. Johnson chose Peter Hurd to create his image on canvas for the White House. But when Hurd showed the image to Johnson, he said it was “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Hurd later gave it to the National Portrait Gallery.

250px-Lyndon_B._Johnson_-_portrait.gif

"The ugliest thing I ever saw." -Lyndon B. Johnson

Official White House portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson by Peter Hurd

And then there’s the type of portrait that may not be well-liked in the end due to circumstances entirely beyond the artist’s control. This sculpture portrays the former leggy lady of Victoria’s Secret, Stephanie Seymour. Her husband, Peter Brant, owns it. Soon it may be all he has left of her, as they are getting divorced (messily).

The mounted (simulated) torso of Peter Brant's soon-to-be ex-wife Stephanie Seymour, by Maurizio Cattelan (1 of 3)

Artists creating self-portraits have a better time of it generally (no, we’re not going to get into Van Gogh and his poor old ear, here). Andy Warhol made hundreds of self-portraits during his lifetime. Here’s the last one he made, a few months before his death:

 Last Self-Portrait, 1986 Andy Warhol

Last Self-Portrait, 1986 Andy Warhol

Frida Kahlo portrayed herself after her divorce from Diego Rivera as two starkly and painfully separate women (that’s a portrait of Diego in the hand of the colorfully dressed Frida):

Painting Title: The Two Fridas 1939  Collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

Painting Title: The Two Fridas 1939 Collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

The artist Kehinde Wiley has taken classic, famous pieces of European portraiture and replaced the original subject (in this case Napoleon) with young unknown African-American men:

Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, by Kehinde Wiley  9' x 9'

Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, by Kehinde Wiley (9' x 9')

Bonaparte Crossing the Alps at Grand-Saint-Bernard by Jacques-Louis David 1801 (8.5' x 7.25')

Bonaparte Crossing the Alps at Grand-Saint-Bernard by Jacques-Louis David 1801 (8.5' x 7.25')

Portraits don’t have to be limited to human beings. Here, one of Zatista’s artists, Sam Dolman, captures a cow pausing between chews of cud:

Suspicious

Suspicious by Sam Dolman

Ben-1

Ben 1, by Rob MacInnis

The photographer Rob MacInnis created a series of images using farm animals:

Cameron

Cameron, by Rob MacInnis

Keira

Keira, by Rob MacInnis

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