November 24, 1957 - World-famous Mexican painter influenced by Cézanne, an active communist, and a husband of Frida Kahlo, died in 1957. Rivera's large wall works in fresco established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with works by Orozco, Siqueiros, and others. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, New York City. His 1931 retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City was their second. Rivera paintings are exhibited by many of the greatest museums. When his patron discovered in 1933 that Rivera had painted a portrait of Lenin in the mural Man at the Crossroads at Rockefeller Center, Nelson Rockefeller angrily insisted the figure be painted out. Rivera refused and Rockefeller fired him and destroyed the unfinished work. Rivera was a notorious womanizer who had fathered at least two illegitimate children by two different women: Angeline Beloff gave birth toa son, Diego (1916-1918); Maria Vorobieff-Stebelska gave birth to a daughter in 1918. He married his first wife, Guadalupe Marín, in June 1922, with whom he had two daughters. He was still married when he met art student Frida Kahlo. They married on August 21, 1929; he was 42, she was 22. Their mutual infidelities and his violent temper led to divorce in 1939, but they re-married December 8, 1940 in San Francisco. After Kahlo's death, Rivera married Emma Hurtado, his agent since 1946, on July 29, 1955. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 22, 1988 - Considered the most important Mexican architect of the 20th century died on this date. In 1980, he became the second winner of the Pritzker Prize. His house and studio, built in 1948 in Mexico City, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. Barragán created an architectural language that combined modernism with the colonial and pre-hispanic architecture of Mexico. He was greatly influenced by the European modernism of his time; however, he was also deeply influenced by his visit to the Alhambra in Spain and, most of all, by the vernacular architecture of Mexican villages and gardens. While his geometric volumes were very purist through the use of perfect planes and volumes, he also incorporated natural materials such as cobble stone and wood. His use of light and water are quite unique, as can be seen in many of his residential interiors and fountain features. The typical, tall (3.5m [12ft.] or more) coloured walls, whichhe borrowed and modified from traditional Mexican building, became his trademark. He situated many of his designs amidst natural backdrops, such as lava rock outcrops and groves of trees. His understanding of aesthetics allowed him to design urban landmarks as well as furniture and gardens. Although the number of works he completed is not great, they have allowed him to become an influential figure in the world of landscape and architectural design, as well as object design. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 23, 1883 - in Zapotlán el Grande (now Ciudad Guzmán), Jalisco. He was a famous Mexican social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, Siqueiros, and others. Orozco was the most complex of the Mexican muralists, fond of the theme of human suffering, and less realistic than fascinated by machines Rivera. Mostly influenced by Symbolism, he was also a genre painter and lithographer. Between 1922 and 1948, Orozco painted murals in Mexico City, Orizaba, Claremont, California, New York City, Hanover, New Hampshire, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Jiquilpan, Michoacán. His drawing and paintings are exhibited by the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico City, and the Orozco Workshop-Museum in Guadalajara. With Diego Rivera, he was a leader of the Mexican Mural maccaroni. An important distinction he had from Rivera was his critical view of the Mexican Revolution. While Diego was abold, optimistic figure, touting the glory of the revolution, Orozco was less comfortable with the bloody toll the social movement was taking. Orozco is known as one of the "Big Three" muralists along with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. All three artists, as well as the painter Rufino Tamayo, originated in Mexico, experimented with fresco on large walls, and elevated their art of mural in fresco to the world-fame class known as Mexican Mural Renaissance. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 21, 1898 - Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, A consummate technician, his work frequently displays a juxtaposition of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. The representational use of objects as other than what they seem is typified in his painting, The Treachery Of Images (La trahison des images), which shows a pipe that looks as though it is a model for a tobacco store advertisement. Magritte painted below the pipe, This is not a pipe (Ceci n'est pas une pipe), which seems a contradiction, but is actually true: the painting is not a pipe, it is an image of a pipe. (In his book, This Is Not a Pipe, French critic Michel Foucault discusses the painting and its paradox.) Magritte pulled the same stunt in a painting of an apple: he painted the fruit realistically and then used an internal caption or framing device to deny that the item was an apple. In these Ceci n'est pas works, Magritte points out that no matter how closely, through realism-art, we come to depicting an item accurately, we never do catch the item itself: we cannot smoke tobacco with a picture of a pipe. His work showed in the United States in New York in 1936 and again in that city in two retrospective exhibitions, one at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965, and the other at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992. Magritte died of pancreatic cancer on August 15, 1967 and was interred in Schaarbeek Cemetery, Brussels. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 20, 2006 - Altman died at age 81 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. According to his production company in New York, Sandcastle 5 Productions, he died of complications from leukemia. He was an American film director known for making films that are highly naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his work with an Academy Honorary Award. His films MASH and Nashville have been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. 1969 when he was offered the script for MASH, which had previously been rejected by dozens of other directors. Altman directed the film, and it was a huge success, both with critics and at the box office. It was Altman's highest grossing film. Altman's career took firm hold with the success of MASH, and he followed it with other critical breakthroughs such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Long Goodbye (1974), and Nashville (1975), which made the distinctive, experimental "Altman style" well known. As a director, Altman favored stories showing the interrelationships between several characters; he stated that he was more interested in character motivation than in intricate plots. As such, he tended to sketch out only a basic plot for the film, referring to the screenplay as a "blueprint" for action, and allowed his actors to improvise dialogue. This is one of the reasons Altman was known as an "actor's director," a reputation that helped him work with large casts of well-known actors. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 19,1798 - The Rijksmuseum (State Museum) is a Dutch national museum in Amsterdam, located on the Museumplein. The museum is dedicated to arts, crafts, and history. It has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and a substantial collection of Asian art. The museum was founded in 1800 in The Hague to exhibit the collections of the Dutch stadtholders. It was inspired by French example. By then it was known as the National Art Gallery (Dutch: Nationale Kunst-Gallerij). In 1808 the museum moved to Amsterdam on the orders of king Louis Napoleon, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. The paintings owned by that city, such as The Night Watch by Rembrandt, became part of the collection. In 1863 there was a design contest for a new building for the Rijksmuseum, but none of the submissions was considered to be of sufficient quality. Pierre Cuypers also participated in the contest and his submission reached the second place. In 1876 a new contest was held and this time Pierre Cuypers won. The design was a combination of gothic and renaissance elements. The construction began on October 1, 1876. On both the inside and the outside, the building was richly decorated with references to Dutch art history. Another contest was held for these decorations. The winners were B. van Hove and J.F. Vermeylen for the sculptures, G. Sturm for the tile tableaus and painting and W.F. Dixon for the stained glass. The museum was opened at its new location on July 13, 1885. The front of the museum is located at the Stadhouderskade, but on the other side it has a prominent position on the Museumplein, nowadays among the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 18, 1976 - He was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Pennsylvania, in South Philadelphia, was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, Man Ray produced major works in a variety of media and considered himself a painter above all. He was also a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. While appreciation for Man Ray’s work beyond his fashion and portrait photography was slow in coming during his lifetime, especially in his native United States, his reputation has grown steadily in the decades since. In 1999, ARTnews magazine named him one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century, citing his groundbreaking photography as well as "his explorations of film, painting, sculpture, collage, assemblage, and prototypes of what would eventually be called performance art and conceptual art" and saying "Man Ray offered artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its 'pursuit of pleasure and liberty,'" — Man Ray’s stated guiding principles — "unlocked every door it came to and walked freely where it would." The film shown here was made by Man ray in 1926. He died in Paris on November 18, 1976, and was interred in the Cimetičre du Montparnasse, Paris. His epitaph reads: unconcerned, but not indifferent. When Juliet Browner Man Ray died in 1991, she was interred in the same tomb. Her epitaph reads, together again. Juliet set up a trust for his work and made many donations of his work to museums.
November 17, 1904 - Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles. He was a prominent Japanese -American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known widely for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces, some of which are still manufactured and sold. Among his furniture work was his collaboration with the Herman Miller company in 1948 when he joined with George Nelson, Paul László and Charles Eames to produce a catalog containing what is often considered to be the most influential body of modern furniture. His work lives on around the world and at the The Noguchi Museum in New York City. Following the suicide of his friend Arshile Gorky and a failed romantic relationship with Nayantara Pandit, the niece of Indian nationalist Jawaharlal Nehru, Noguchi applied for a Bollingen Fellowship to travel the world, proposing to study public space as research for a book about the "environment of leisure." In the ensuing years he gained in prominence and acclaim, leaving his large-scale works in many of the world's major cities. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 16, 1943 - He was born in New York City, New York (according to his professional biography). With two writing credits to his name (the science fiction film Silent Running and the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force), Cimino moved up to directing when his spec script, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, was purchased by Clint Eastwood's production company, Malpaso, with Eastwood originally slated to direct it himself. However, Cimino convinced him to allow him to direct the film, which became a solid box office success at the time, and which enjoys a minor cult status today. With the success of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Cimino was able to secure a stellar cast and freedom from studio interference for his second film, The Deer Hunter (1978). The picture became a massive critical and commercial success, and won a number of Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture. On the basis of this track record, he was given free rein by United Artists for his next film, Heaven's Gate (1980). The film came in several times over budget; the result not only was a financial disaster that nearly bankrupted the studio, but Heaven's Gate became the lightning rod for the industry perception of the out-of-control state of Hollywood at that time. The film marked the end of the so-called New Hollywood era. Transamerica Corporation, the owner of United Artists, lost confidence in the film company and its management. Transamerica soon sold the company. Heaven's Gate was such a devastating box office and critical bomb that public perception of Cimino's work was almost irretrievably tainted in its wake; none of his subsequent films achieved popular or critical success. In 1984, after being unable to finalize a deal with director Herbert Ross, surprisingly, Paramount Pictures offered the job of directing Footloose to Cimino. According to screenwriter Dean Pitchford, Cimino was at the helm of Footloose for four months, making more and more extravagant demands in terms of set construction and overall production. Finally, Paramount realized that it potentially had another Heaven's Gate on its hands. Paramount fired Cimino and finalized the deal with Herbert Ross to direct the picture, as had originally been intended. (www.wikipedia.org)
November 15, 1887 - O'Keeffe was born in a farmhouse on a large dairy farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She is typically associated with the American Southwest and particularly New Mexico where she settled late in life. O'Keeffe has been a major figure in American art since the 1920s. She is chiefly known for paintings in which she synthesizes abstraction and representation in paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones and landscapes. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms that are replete with subtle tonal transitions of varying colors, and she often transformed her subject matter into powerful abstract images. Her work was included in exhibitions in and around New York, and in the 1940s, and she was given two one-woman retrospectives, the first at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1943 and another in 1946 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the first ever given by that museum to a woman. She was also awarded honorary degrees by numerous universities, the first by the College of William and Mary in 1938, and in the mid-1940s, the Whitney Museum of American Art sponsored a project to establish the first catalogue of her work. Georgia became increasingly frail in her late 90's and moved to Santa Fe where she would die on March 6, 1986, at the age of 98. Per her instructions, she was cremated the next day. Juan Hamilton walked to the top of the Pedernal Mountain and scattered her ashes to the wind...over her beloved "faraway". (www.wikipedia.org)
November 14, 1840 - Monet was born on the fifth floor of 45 rue Laffitte, in the ninth arrondissement of Paris. was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise. During the early 1880's Monet painted several groups of landscapes and seascapes in what he considered to be campaigns to document the French countryside. His extensive campaigns evolved into his series' paintings. In the 1880s and 1890s, Monet worked on "series" paintings, in which a subject was depicted in varying light and weather conditions. His first series exhibited as such was of Haystacks, painted from different points of view and at different times of the day. Fifteen of the paintings were exhibited at the Durand-Ruel in 1891. He later produced series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral, poplars, the Houses of Parliament, mornings on the Seine, and the water-lilies on his property at Giverny. Monet was exceptionally fond of painting controlled nature: his own garden in Giverny, with its water lilies, pond, and bridge. He also painted up and down the banks of the Seine.Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery. Monet had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus, only about fifty people attended the ceremony. (www.wikipedia.org)
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LONDON, ENGLAND.- A rare books dealer acquired a lost masterpiece by Rubens (The Massacre of the Innocents ) at Sotheby’s London for $76.8 million dollars. Robin Whitehead, Sotheby’s chief executive stated, "We are absolutely thrilled to bits." The work became the most expensive picture ever sold. In 1991 Van Gogh’s Portrait of Doctor Gachet sold for $82.5m, which at the current exchange rate was Ł500,000 less than the sale price of the Rubens work. The dramatic impact of The Massacre of the Innocents is emphasised by its exceptional state of preservation: both the painted surface and the 17th century Antwerp wooden panel remain in near perfect condition.
From the 18th century, until only a few weeks ago, when Sotheby’s Senior Old Master Paintings Specialist, George Gordon correctly identified it, The Massacre of the Innocents was assumed to be by the late Rubens follower Jan van den Hoecke. Commenting on the picture, George Gordon said; “The chance to see this work is extremely exciting for collectors and scholars alike. For such a work of genius by such a great painter to languish under a false attribution to a minor artist for so long is surely an injustice, but in the end quality will out.”
The painting is recorded in correspondence of the Forchoudt family - three brothers who were the most prominent and active art dealers in Antwerp at the end of the 17th Century. The first mention of the picture is in 1698 when it is discussed together with the work, Samson and Delilah, in a letter dated 13th December from Marcus Forchoudt, addressed to his brother Guillaume in Antwerp. In this letter both pictures are referred to and it is presumed that they were both then sold shortly afterwards by the Forchoudt brothers to Fürst Johann Andreas von Liechtenstein since an account, dated August 1702, refers to the division of the payment equally between the three brothers. At the time they were sold both paintings were described by the seller and acknowledged by the purchaser to be early works by Rubens. The picture still bears the original Liechtenstein family seals of 1733 and is recorded in various inventories between 1767 and 1873. Drawings of 1815 in the Liechtenstein Collection Inventories reveal that this picture was hung in the Garden Palace, Vienna, beside Samson and Delilah and in the same room as another renowned work by Rubens, The Assumption of the Virgin.
Many pictures were mis-attributed by the different compilers of the 18th century Liechtenstein inventories. Unfortunately the inventory made in 1715 on the death of Furst Johann Andreas von Liechtenstein, which is likely to have recorded the attribution under which this and other works were acquired, was lost early on. It seems not to have been available to Vincenzio Fanti, who compiled the next inventory in 1767, and The Massacre of the Innocents is here given to a Rubens follower, Frans de Neve (in the same inventory Fanti failed to recognise the famous Decius Mus cycle as being by Rubens). By the time of the anonymous inventory of 1780 both The Massacre of the Innocents and The National Gallery Samson and Delilah were attributed to the relatively minor painter, Jan van den Hoecke – an artist who worked extensively in Vienna painting pictures in the style of Rubens and Van Dyck. Samson and Delilah was sold by the Liechtensteins in the 1880s and was recognised by the 1920s as by Rubens. The Massacre of the Innocents was sold in 1920 by the Liechtenstein family to a dealer who sold it on in the same year to the father of the present owner and its attribution to Jan van den Hoecke (1611-1651) was never questioned until now.
A relative of the owner recently brought a photograph of the work to Sotheby’s saleroom in Amsterdam where Judith Niessen immediately referred it to George Gordon of the London Old Master Paintings Department. Mr Gordon recognised that the picture was of interest and went to inspect the work. Once the painting arrived in London, research and comparison with another version of the composition in Brussels, which some scholars in the absence of a better version had hitherto considered to be by Rubens, led to the conclusion that the Sotheby’s Massacre of the Innocents was Rubens’ lost early masterpiece. All Rubens scholars who have since seen the painting have shared this view.
Rubens began training as a painter in 1590 in Antwerp and by 1598 was invited to be a master in the Antwerp Painters Guild. In 1600, Rubens left for Italy where he spent eight formative years as a court painter to the Duke of Mantua, travelling between Venice, Rome and Mantua and was greatly influenced by the radiant colour and composition of the Renaissance and Baroque Italy and the wealth of classical sculpture and architecture. Rubens’ style rapidly developed on his return to Antwerp from Rome in November 1608. Establishing precise dates for the paintings Rubens made immediately on his return to the North is difficult, as only one picture from this period is dated, and the only documented work, his Raising of the Cross commissioned for Antwerp Cathedral, was probably worked on over the course of more than a year. It is almost certain, however, that both Samson and Delilah and The Massacre of the Innocents date from 1609 to 1611, with 1610 as the most likely year.
The Massacre of the Innocents records the moment when King Herod ordered all newborn boys to be slain to prevent one becoming a Messiah. The picture is an ambitious and complex composition of interlocking figures that was entirely new to Flemish art and announces the advent of Baroque in Northern Europe. Bodies writhe and struggle within the dramatic composition, figures are linked by tension and contrast, pushing and pulling, naked and muscular against the soft, voluminous folds of drapery. A soldier attempts to stab an old woman - he pushes her head back with one hand and the sword towards her chest with the other; behind him an armoured soldier forces down the head of a young woman who protects a child behind her. The woman to the fore seems to employ all her strength to pull her child up towards her with one hand and with the other violently pushes back the face of the bearded man, who in turn is pulling at the drapery of her child. This female figure strongly resembles the figure of Delilah in the National Gallery painting. This dynamic picture is a carefully built up arrangement of classical allusions from the portico at the top taken from the Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome to the echoes of Laocoon Goups that Rubens drew so exhaustively.