Through gradual public acceptance of once controversial “modern” styles, the end of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th marked the final decline of the long-standing struggle between the formalized academicism expoused by such institutions as France’s École des Beaux-Arts and the possibilities for expression offered by such movements as impressionism. For some European and American artists, the great wealth of the “gilded age” of the late 19th century helped support their work, elevating the role of artists in a variety of media to a new celebrity status. For others, the challenges presented in their work would offer little immediate recognition, but would provide them and their colleagues with new directions in establishing ever newer means of visual expression. The subject matter, whether reflecting images of the wealthy, the energy and turmoil of city life, or ideal visions of the vanishing landscape, took on new significance in their work. In the same period, both the simple and the excessive could be truly seen as valuable expressions of the era.
High ceilings became modern in European museums
Aquarel painting from Europe
With accent of Baroque art during 17th century, many of it’s basic tenets elevated to standard throughout European continent. Italian Baroque painting as practiced by the great Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
(1573-1610) is recognized by its dramatic use of light and dark. Strong contrasts are utilized to enhance drama of the subject being depicted, and paintings adopted a distinctly theatrical attitude.
Map of Historic Venice, Italy
American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s death, Whistler and His Circle in Venice
explores the artist’s journey to find the “Venice of Venetians,” and how this brief period in Venice transformed his career. The story of the expatriate’s sojourn traces Whistler’s fall from grace in critical circles of London, his bankruptcy and his triumphant return to London from Venice, in which he won wide recognition for his draftsmanship and extreme technical proficiency both as a painter and etcher. At the Columbia Museum of Art from May 1 through July 3, 2004, this exhibition marks a long-overdue examination of Whistler and his circle. The Corcoran exhibition explores Whistler’s considerable influence on his contemporaries and followers and the subsequent impact of his fresh vision of Venice on generations of artists.
In 1879 Whistler was suffering from a lack of new patrons resulting from adverse publicity, in part due to critical reviews, as well as financial insolvency due to a lawsuit in which he sued John Ruskin for a public insult of his work. Under these circumstances Whistler readily accepted a commission in September 1879 from the Fine Arts Society in London to produce a set of 12 Venetian etchings over a period of three months. Whistler was to fall in love with the city – the long vistas and back alleys, the quiet canals and the isolated squares. He stayed on for 14 months producing over 50 etchings and subsequently achieved a high reputation as an etcher. On returning to England, these etchings and pastels re-established Whistler’s artistic reputation and marked a turning point in his career. Although critics remained divided due to Whistler’s modernist approach, contemporary artists embraced the freshness of his vision.
Seattle artist Ginny Ruffner’s works of art have graced the covers of art publications and have been included in major exhibitions in galleries and art museums in America, Europe and Japan. The exhibition includes the artist’s finest lamp-worked glass objects and bronze sculptures. These pieces are drawn from Ruffner’s private collection and provide a retrospective of her career.
Ruffner uses glass and sculpture to communicate her dreams, desires, frustrations, and fantasies. Frames incorporating sculptural elements such as chains, flowers, bear traps, hearts and arrows, along with the focal point – a large tornado with wings – relate to a different facet of the creative process. The tornado with wings may refer to the wellspring of creative thought, while the frame bound in chains cautions the viewer to remain aware of the picture. Continue reading
- Italian Architecture from historic Venice, a Museum exhibit
Views From a Floating Island presents several fine Japanese works of art from the Columbia Museum of Art’s collection, many of which have never been on display in the Museum. Highlights include the decorative ivory Ball of Mice that seems to writhe with energy, as well as the only Japanese example in the museum’s collection of 50 snuff bottles. There are also two-dimensional pieces including mid-20th century woodblock prints by father-and-son masters, Hiroshi and Toshi Yoshida, contrasted with a selection of black and white photographs from contemporary Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto. This focus gallery installation and its related programming are organized in conjunction with the University of South Carolina’s Center for Asian Studies Asia Week, an annual event to be held during the last week of March.