Magical Museums of LALA Land I

Magical Museums of LALA Land I

The holidays are a perfect time to experience the richness of LA’s art museum scene…and explore edifices and institutions that are storied in and of themselves.  Here is a small sampling of seemingly infinite adventures to be had…to be continued!

webyellow1 webyellow2Courtyard installalation at The Hammer Museum in Westwood near UCLA brightens a winter day.

webrivpic0116c webrivpic0116dExtraordinary works by Pablo Picasso….

webrivpic0116awebrivpic0116bExtraordinary works by Diego Rivera

“By placing 150 paintings, etchings, and watercolors in dialogue with each other and with singular ancient objects, Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time aims to advance the understanding of Picasso and Rivera’s practice, particularly in how their contributions were deeply influenced by the forms, myths, and structures of the arts of antiquity.” —LACMA

webalchemy0116a webalchemy0116bThe “THE ART OF ALCHEMY” show at Getty Center.

Wishing You a magical 2017, and may the wonder never cease.

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Building Work

Building Work

In a recent after-school enrichment class, entitled aptly enough, “Art, Artists and Art History”, students created their own “built environments“, then painted mini-murals on them, inspired by artist / muralist Diego Rivera.

WebS.In the process, they learned about color mixing…

WebD.composition…

Web1. WebE.two and three-dimensional art,

WebQ.painting  techniques and how to cover a surface,

WebI.planning, drawing and imagination,

WebL.their color preferences, (“I like purple!” declared this 6 year-old artist),

WebP.how to create “windows and doors”,

WEB_04.and look through them,

WEB_03.and best of all, how to create their own special world, through color, imagery, texture, openings and space.

We celebrate this!

Artist Style: The Wild, The Weird, and the Wondrous

Artist Style: The Wild, The Weird, and the Wondrous

Frida Kahlo Color

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Salvador Dali Moustaches

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Betye Saar Detail

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Diego Rivera…and Frida

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Diego Rivera with Wife Frida Kahlo

Still Raving About Rivera

Still Raving About Rivera

Diego Rivera: Mexican Artist/Muralist

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, December 8, 1886, died November 24, 1957, Mexico City

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Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, known as Diego Rivera was a famous Mexican painter and the husband of artist Frida Kahlo.  He is known for his murals painted in “Fresco” style executed in Mexico, as well as the United States. A mural is artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface, and as you can see, Rivera’s murals are huge, and very detailed, and designed to work with the architecture of the building they are part of.

 tohyf_RIVERA2Frozen Assets. 1931-32
Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 93 ¾ x 74”
Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico

When he very young (he begins to draw at the age of three), Diego Rivera loved to paint, so much that his father covered a room of their house in Guanajuato with paper so that the child could paint all over the walls. Diego says that it was in that room where he created his first murals.

Rivera received his formal art training in Mexico City, and in 1907, then studied in Spain, France, and Italy on scholarship.  He returned to Mexico some fourteen years later, and along with the artists José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros,  became a leader of the Mexican Mural Movement that became popular after the Mexican Revolution. His murals showed native Mexican culture and heritage, working people, and dreams for the future. Diego Rivera connected making art with history, technology, and progressive politics.

During the 1920s Diego Rivera helped to create nationalist painting style in Mexico called Social Realism”, an international art movement made up of artists who show the poor and working classes, and whose artworks often criticize their living conditions.

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“Part Of Diego Rivera’s Mural Depicting Mexico’s History”, 1929 – 1945
Also Called: “México en la historia, perspectiva: El campesino oprimido”, 1935.
Near Left Staircase. Palacio Nacional. Mexico City D.F. México. (Fresco)

His murals were painted in a Fresco (“FRESH”) style, using water and pigment, which creates color, on fresh wet plaster, so the painting becomes part of the wall.

“In his best mural paintings, he (Diego Rivera) merged past, present, and future into dense, crowded visions of an essential Mexico. He drew on Mexican history, folk art, the discoveries of archaeology and other sciences. He … made something that was not there before: a unifying, celebratory image of Mexico. In his art, he unified a people …. He said in his art: you are all Mexico.”-George & Eve DeLange

Rivera’s murals were well-known in the United States by the late 1920s and he became one of the most popular artists in the US by the early 1930s.  He was asked to create three murals in San Francisco,  was invited by General Motors to create murals at the Chicago World’s Fair; and he painted murals at Rockefeller Center and the New Workers School in New York.

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“The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City”, 1931, fresco, San Francisco Art Institute.   It is a mural about murals and because it represents Rivera and his assistants creating the mural itself.

Diego Rivera with Wife Frida KahloRivera was married three times — most famously to the painter Frida Kahlo.

tohyf_RIVERA7     “Retrato de Diego Rivera” / “Portrait of Diego Rivera , by Frida Kahlo, 1937, Oil painting on wood

“An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core…” –Diego Rivera

The Passion of Frida Kahlo

The Passion of Frida Kahlo

Today I taught about the extraordinary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo to teenagers, in conjunction with a lesson about color, acrylic painting, and self-portraits. Last week they had learned about color mixing, and painted the color wheel, some of them for the first time. They played with mixing colors, discovering (I hope)  some of their personal color tastes and preferences, and feelings for color as they used the primaries to mix the secondaries, the primaries and secondaries to create the tertiaries, and use white to create tints.

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All this was partially in preparation for painting today, inspired by Frida. The students used a photograph of themselves as a starting point, and painted around it, and “into it” (over it, if they so chose), and they will work on these and hopefully complete them next week.  Preparing for this class brought me into contact with the work and life of Frida Kahlo…not for the first time…and then trying to communicate about her to the students.  I thought I would share as bit of her work, life and  spirit with You.

FK7‘Frida in Coyoacán’, 1939 (photograph by Nickolas Muray)

Frida Kahlo de Rivera ,  born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, was a Mexican painter  who is best known for her self-portraits: her paintings of herself.

FK4“The Frame” (“Le Cadre”), 1937-38, oil on aluminum and glass

Some have called her the world’s most famous female painter. She was also a political activist and legend in her own lifetime and beyond, an extraordinary and unique personality who took what Life dealt her, and rewove it into passionate, lyrical and unforgettable works that continued to be treasured today. She left the world a unique treasure: her works a painted diary. She revealed her inner and outer life with passion, courage and visual  poetry filled with color and magic.

FK_self-portrait-with-bonito-1941“Self-Portrait with Bonito”, 1941, oil on canvas

Frida Kahlo’s life began and ended in the same, now famous, house. She was born in 1907 in the  Colonia del Carmen neighborhood of Coyoacan, Mexico City, and died in 1954 in her family home, La Casa Azul, the Blue House,  now the Frida Kahlo Museum.

FK_kahlo-houseLa Casa Azul, (The Blue House)

Frida Kahlo survived numerous challenges both physical and emotional in her life, including contracting polio as a child, a long recovery from a serious bus accident, and two tempestuous marriages to and divorces from  painter Diego Rivera. She mined these experiences, as well as her strong feelings about her Mexican identity,  politics and cultural influences to create highly evocative and personal paintings that communicate universal human feelings and experiences..

At the age of six, she was stricken with polio. It affected her right leg. She spent nine months in bed.

She studied in Mexico City at the National Preparatory School. She planned to become a doctor, but an almost fatal bus accident at the age of 18 changed her life forever. Following her accident she began painting intensely. Perhaps best known for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s work is remembered for its “pain and passion”, and its intense, vibrant colors.

FK6‘Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird‘,
1940 (oil on canvas)

She produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied: “Because I am so often alone….because I am the subject I know best.”

A strikingly handsome woman, the Frida was known to stop traffic in San Francisco, New York and Paris in her long traditional Mexican dresses, her hair braided  with ribbons and flowers to identify with her indigenous Mexican culture. Frida dressed this way throughout her adult life, partly to hide a shorter right leg caused by childhood polio.

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Frida in one of her traditional Mexican outfits

Frida Kahlo used personal symbols to express her feelings in her paintings.  Though some have labeled her art as Naïve art or folk art, Surrealism or Magic Realism, she considered her art to be realistic.  Each self-portrait captures aspects of her feelings, and her life experience.  In the style of “Magic, or Magical Realism”, magical elements are presented as a natural part of an otherwise realistic environment.

FK5‘Self Portrait’, 1940, (oil on board)

Frida lived her life to the fullest, despite immense pain,challenges, and suffering. She had a gift for communicating her emotions to the world through painting. Her paintings are beautiful, often heartbreaking works, and are uniquely her style. Yet she was an amazing woman in her own right, for what she has endured, how she persevered, and how she remains an  inspiration and example of strength. She said,

“I am not sick. I am broken.
But I am happy as long as I can paint.”

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Unforgettable Frida

She died on July 13, 1954 of a blockage in her lungs at age 47.