The World is an Apple – The Still Lifes of Paul Cezanne (by Sandy Wagner)

Exhibit of the Week – according to The Week magazine.  According to Bob Duggan of “you will never look at an apple the same way again”.  He states that still life gave Cezanne the chance to position objects the way he wanted them.  He states that Cezanne said “he was going to astonish Paris” and he did.  This exhibit is small but quite powerful and  is at The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and runs until September 22.

Apple with Wine

Apples and a Glass of Wine 1877-1879

paul     1861                                      wife

Madame Hortense Cezanne – Metropolitan Museum of Art NY


Paul was born January 19, 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France and died October 22, 1906 at the age of 67 but in his lifetime he painted watercolors, still life, portraits and self portraits.  His impressive works were the Dark Period 1861-1870; Impressionist Period 1870-1878; Mature Period 1878-1890 and Final Period 1890-1805.  His most impressive works are: Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen From Bellevue 1885; Apotheose de Delacroix 1890-1894; Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier 1893-1894; The Card Players 1890-1895 and The Bathers 1898-1905.  His father was co-founder of a banking firm that prospered through Paul’s life, giving him financial security.  He and his mistress had one son – he later married his mistress.  When he was 47 his father died and left him the family estate.  This estate in now owned by the city of Provence and occasionally is open to the public.


The Card Players (1892-1895) Courtauld Institute of Art, London


Mont Sainte-Victoire (1887) Courtlauld Institute of Art, London



Jas de Bouffan 1885-1887  (estate from father)

He moved to Paris after his schooling where he met Impressionist Camille Pissarro – a friendship form as Master and Disciple with Pissarro exerting a formative influence on Paul’s work.  Over the years they formed a collaborative working relationship as equals.  His early works were considered heavy with  figures in a landscape but later he started working from what he saw in the world around him and his work began to take on a feeling of lightness (airy), but as he matured it is said that his style became more architectural .  His comment was: “I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in museums”.  His desire was to unite observation of nature with the permanence of classical composition.  1866 was a year experimentation for Paul – he was using a troweling paint to the canvas with a palette knife to create works -  announcing that painting didn’t have to trick the eye – that the texture, play of color and gesture were pleasures enough.  Matisse and Picasso both called him “the father of us all” (Wall Street Journal 1866).


The Basket of Apples (1890-1894)  Art Institute of Chicago


Drapery, Pitcher and Fruit Bowl  (1893-1894) Whitney Museum of American Art.  NY

The official Salon in Paris rejected many of Paul’s works he was also ridiculed by art critics when exhibited with Impressionists.  After his death his paintings were exhibited in Paris in a large museum-like retrospective in September 1907.  It is thought that he greatly affected the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took – leading to the fact that he is thought to be one of the most influential artist of the 19th century.  He is considered a master by many.


Jas de  Bouffan (1876)


Pyramid of Skulls  (1901) Today these skulls remain in Paul’s studio.  This was in his death period.

Paul’s work and life do intrigue me.  There are more painting and information on the web.

Speaking out of turn (by Olga Norris)

I, like Nature, abhor a vacuum, so, even tho’ ’tis not my turn, I am adding a small post here while we catch up with the schedule.
(Image from here)
It all started with a need to listen to something interesting while I was stitching. I turned to a radio programme broadcast last year – about artists’ studios. Great, because I have an insatiable curiosity about where and how artists work. Even better that the presenter/interviewer was an artist herself: a printmaker of whom I had not heard – Susan Aldworth. And there started a marvellous journey of discovery.
An artist fascinated by the idea of self, Aldworth has examined and used scientific and medical imaging and interventions to do with the brain, including her own brain scans. I was particularly mesmerised by the next programme I listened to: an interview with a friend who has epilepsy, and whose portrait she was making. I was intrigued and moved by the sounds of the epileptic brain!
I followed this immediately with a programme about the printmaker Stanley Jones of Curwen Press. The three programmes together gave me a great deal to think about, and it was not until the following week that I returned to see the film about Susan Aldworth’s latest project called Transience. It involves making prints using slices of brain donated by sufferers of Parkinson’s disease – donated with use in making art included in the purposes agreed by the donors. I found the film compelling viewing, and am still thinking about it all.

I would love to know what anyone thinks of the work and the thinking behind it as discussed in this film.

Behind the scenes at the RA Schools

A visit to the degree show at the Royal Academy Schools got me thinking about the history of art education for women, and the Royal Academy and the position of women within it.

A working environment

A working environment

The Schools are tucked in behind the grandeur of the main RA building – the studio skylights look like a series of sheds that have been tacked on.

Schools corridor (via)

Inside, the corridor is dark, cluttered and a few centuries old. Most of the statues have bits missing (not always just the naughty bits). This place has seen heavy use since the RA moved to Burlington House in 1868.

The life drawing studio in 2010

The life drawing studio in 2010

The bare bones of the life drawing studio, and the collection of casts, look pretty much as it always has, and tucked in along the hallways are other necessities.

A library is housed in locked bookcases

A library is housed in locked bookcases

Other cases house skeletons

Other cases house skeletons

The Schools were founded in 1768 as part of an institution with a mission: “to promote the arts of design in Britain through education and exhibition.” The Royal Academy went on to dominate the art scene of the 18th and 19th centuries, but along the way it somehow lost its women members… first by attrition, and then, says the RA website, “In 1879, the Council of the day came to the conclusion that our original Instrument of Foundation did not allow for women RAs. Eventually, they relented and passed a resolution to make women eligible, but only on the condition of restricted privileges.”

The Summer Exhibition in 1800 (via)

The Summer Exhibition in 1800 (via)

For a long time the RA Schools  was the only established art school in Britain. (Why “Schools”? – because when the RA was first founded, students were required to master a number of different artistic elements in a particular order – eg, drawing from casts before moving on to life drawing. Each element was known as a separate ‘School’.)

1808, drawing by gaslight

1808, drawing by gaslight (via)

Other art education was through private schools and tutelage, which is how any women in Britain who aspired to be an artist got training, unless she went abroad to study. In 1860 the RA started admitting women students – almost by mistake. Selection was by submitted drawings, and when L. Herford turned up, what was assumed to be a Lawrence turned out to be a Laura.

By 1862 there were seven women among an intake of about 25 students a year, and before long they outnumbered the male students – who had migrated to Paris, where the drawing instruction was superior (says Stuart Macdonald in The History and Philosophy of Art Education, 1969) . All students at the RA Schools “spent five or more years in tedious imitation” – and women were banned from life drawing until 1893.

Cast collection in the life drawing room, 2010

Cast collection in the life drawing room, 2010

By the beginning of the 20th century the RA Schools had further competition in the form of the Slade and the Royal College of Art, and the quality of its students declined. Attempts to widen the curriculum to include decorative art got nowhere – it was confined to life-sized painting from the head, and painting and drawing from the nude figure.

Lecture to art and architecture students, 1953 (via)

Lecture to art and architecture students, 1953 (via)

The course lasted up to 10 years before 1853; it runs for three years now, and there are about 60 students in the Schools at a time, doing this postgraduate course. In 1769, 70 students were admitted; then as now, they do not pay fees.


Angelika Kauffmann's paintings on the ceiling in the entrance of the RA are hardly noticed by visitors (via)

Angelika Kauffmann’s paintings on the ceiling in the entrance of the RA are hardly noticed by visitors (via)

Spring by Mary Moser (via)

Spring by Mary Moser (via)

Two women, Angelika Kauffmann and Mary Moser, were among the 36 founding members of the RA, but for a long time (until Annie Swynnerton became an associate in 1922, and Laura Knight a full member in 1936) there were no women academicians. Up to 80 practising artists are elected to be academicians ; these currently include 26 women.


Academicians are involved in teaching in the Schools and give lectures as part of the RA’s education programme. In 2011 Tracy Emin and Fiona Rae were the first women to be appointed professors, of drawing and painting respectively.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin (via)

fiona rae (via)

fiona rae (via)

And now, some work from the current graduates. They’ve had three years with free tuition … but first had to be chosen from some 1000 applicants!

Hold (hole and Plexiglas pole) by Ariane Schick … with a view through to the corridor

Hold (hole and Plexiglas pole) by Ariane Schick … with a view through to the corridor


Natalie Dray, part of Zone Heater

Natalie Dray, part of Zone Heater (feel the warmth…) and of 6 Sheet

Hannah Perry, Feeling It, wall-based sound sculpture (it shakes, rattles, and rolls)

Hannah Perry, Feeling It, wall-based sound sculpture (it shakes, rattles, and rolls)


Work by Alex Clarke

Work by Alex Clarke

Up the stairs and you’re in the public part of the RA’s grand building … a different place.



Dorothy Caldwell — making art of place (by Kathleen Loomis)

My local fiber and textile art group was privileged to have the internationally known fiber artist Dorothy Caldwell spend a week with us earlier this month teaching workshops.  She also gave a lecture on her activities in the “outback” of two countries, Australia and Canada. These activities have culminated in a show that has just closed in Peterborough, Ontario, and will soon travel to two other venues in Canada.

She points out that Australia and Canada are similar nations in many ways:  They’re both huge countries with the great majority of the population clustered on the edges, with vast expanses of sparsely settled, ecologically fragile territory that few people ever get to see.  They were both British colonies, with substantial numbers of people who were transported there as punishment.  Both are rich in resources.

Dorothy has been traveling to Australia for 20 years on a variety of travel, teaching, study and artist residence programs.  Recently she received a grant from the Canadian government to conduct two parallel art projects on the two continents; in both places she would go to a remote location for several weeks, getting to know it, collecting both natural and manmade artifacts, and dyeing paper and fabric with indigenous plant and earth materials.  Then she made a new set of works reflecting her experiences.

In Australia, she visited a sheep station in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, north of Adelaide.  In Canada, she went to Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, 1600 miles north of Toronto, close to Greenland.

“My work is about being in a particular place and using what’s there,” she said.  “I want to get out into the landscape, experience the land, get to know a place by handling the materials.”  For instance, she hiked barefoot on the delicate tundra to get a feel for the tiny, stunted vegetation.

On both these visits she brought Japanese handmade paper, tough enough to hold up in a dye pot, and colored them with natural pigments from plants and earth.  She also collected things like rusty nails and broken tools from the sheep shearers, which came home to become part of the “museum” section of her show.

“Collecting has always been an important part of what I do, since I was a little kid,” Dorothy said.  “My way of journaling is collecting.”

After she came home from her trips, she made some of her characteristically huge fiber pieces to reflect her travels and learnings.  Here’s one inspired by the Arctic summer, with 24-hour daylight that often leads people to stay up all night in euphoria.  Dorothy asked one of the locals how they dealt with not being able to distinguish between “day” and “night” and was both chagrined and charmed at the response:  “When we’re tired we go to sleep.”

Dorothy Caldwell, How Do We Know It’s Night, 120 x 114″

Here’s a piece about the fjord on which Pangnirtung is built.

Dorothy Caldwell, Fjord, 120 x 114″ 

I was delighted to observe how she continues her practice of collection and documentation even if she’s not in an exotic place, but somewhere as unspecial as Louisville.

On a day off between workshops we walked over the new pedestrian bridge that spans the Ohio River.  When we got to the Indiana side, Dorothy pulled a plastic bag out of her purse and proceeded to collect stuff to memorialize this place.  She found some mud to daub on a card, writing the date and place on the back, and then dunked some silk into muddy water to dye it.  She repeated the process on the Kentucky side (even though to my eye mud on one side of the river is fairly indistinguishable from mud on the other).

On the Kentucky side we found some deep footprints in the sand at the edge of the river, partially filled with water that had seeped in.  Dorothy looked around, found a root, and used it to stir up the water into an opaque dye-like solution to color her cards and silk.

Here’s the root, the silk, and the card, out to dry in the sun (and the footprint/dye pot).  She took the root home too as a souvenir.

By the end of the week she had assembled a “museum” in her room of her trip to Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.  There’s the root on the right and the cards in the middle; the silk has been partially twisted into string, and she also collected some bits of rusty metal to round out the display.



The sea (by Olga Norris)

I love being near the sea, on it, in it, or by it. The sea has inspired much of my work, and so I was interested when recently I read a post on Alice Fox’s blog about that very subject. I wondered how many artists I could think of just off the top of my head, who have a substantial body of work referencing the sea – and all of the ones I have come up with are British. Is it because we Brits are living on a small island, have a maritime history, and none of us is that far from the sea – or is that we are a crowded land and the sea offers us long open views and entrancing light?
Alice Fox: Sand streams 3 (detail) from here
I first stumbled upon Alice Fox’s work when she had a residency at Spurn Point. Her work was to do with the edge between the sea and the land, that glorious shifting margin around its constants, regular revised revisitings bringing its temporary, delightful detritus. Her work captures so much of the ephemeral moments like the ever moving waves, the shifting sands, the tumbling pebbles, the water, the developing rust…
Aeolian Pipes
Debbie Lyddon: Aeolian Pipes, from here
Debbie Lyddon also works on that margin of the land and the sea. There is an article about her work Caught by the Tide on the TextileArtist blog. That east coast attracts several of the artists I know about: such as Joan Eardley (mentioned in my post here)
(c) Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Joan Eardley: Sea and Snow, from here

and Pauline Burbidge - who has done much work based on water, has in the past couple of years made some wondrous pieces inspired by the tidal causeway to Lindisfarne not far from her home.
Causeway II
Pauline Burbidge: Causeway III, from here
A few years ago she also made a quilt inspired by the view across the Atlantic from Applecross in Scotland.
Applecross detail
Pauline Burbidge: Applecross (detail), from here
The ceramic artist Annie Turner’s work is inspired by the estuary: detritus, mud, discarded tools such as nets, shells, … they contribute to her spare elegant pieces.
oyster net
Annie Turner: Oyster Net
sea breeze
Annie Turner: Sea Breeze
The work of Polly Binns is also inspired by wetlands at the edge of the sea. Mud sounds so pejorative as a word, and yet it is mud and what lives in it, is washed up onto it, is impressed in it which inspires. It is part of that edge world which changes both predictably and unpredictably day by day, hour by hour, season by season, ever changing yet keeping somehow the same fascination, whatever.
Polly Binns: Landmark, from here
Anita Reynolds is a printmaker and painter who over the past couple of years has walked round the coast of Devon, Cornwall, and Dorset: the South West Coastal Path. She makes an interesting point in her blog about the changing topography:
Walking through new landscapes has been exciting as well as a little daunting. Knowing how long it takes to really understand a place makes me uncertain that I can represent it by just walking through. On the other hand I found that the familiarity of my home stretch made me not look with fresh eyes. I guess you get different things from first contact compared with the deeper understanding gained after many visits.
Anita Reynolds: Day 1, Hurlstone Point from Bossington Beach
Can one ever be familiar with the sea itself? Two artists who give us magnificent glimpses of it are Maggi Hambling and John Virtue. I love those waves, that power, that snapshot of the enigmatic sculptural presence: a force which can and does destroy. Turner also captured moments of light over the sea, and I so enjoy his complementing the elements with the human interaction in the form of working ships.
Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth exhibited 1842 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851
JMW Turner: Snow Storm – Steam Boat off Harbour’s Mouth, from here
Of course, there are many many paintings of bathers. I think that most of them are really about the figures disporting themselves rather than about the element in which they bathe. I have always admired Duncan Grant’s painting of bathers, however, not only because of the bodies, but also because of his treatment of the sea.
Bathing 1911 by Duncan Grant 1885-1978
Duncan Grant: Bathing, from here

I have probably forgotten someone important, and would love to be reminded of or introduced to other artists who were inspired by the sea and its edges to make a significant body of work.

The individual white line (by Olga Norris)

Last summer I signed up for a two day workshop on Japanese woodblock printing.  Circumstances conspired (our car broke down) so that I only attended the first day, but in preparation I had done a bit of research.  The other day I received a lovely card which reminded me of some of that research, and prompted me to seek a little further for this post.

Japanese woodblock prints were popular in the heart of the modern art world in Paris at the time after the Great War when several American artists were visiting.  These artists returned to pass on their enthusiasms, and so it was that some American artists even went to Japan to learn techniques.  Edna Boies Hopkins was one of those.  It was her image of Cascades on the card I received this week.












Japanese woodblock printing involves making a separate plate for each colour used in the design.  Printmaking in Japan was an industrial process in so far as the publisher commissioned the image from an artist, then the plate makers cut the wood into as many plates as necessary, after which the printers printed each colour onto the very large editions – the prints were extremely popular.  However, for the artists in the burgeoning summer art colony of Provincetown New England this process was too longwinded.  They ingeniously invented white line woodblock printmaking.

This involved cutting a line of separation between different coloured elements in a design, so that each colour could be printed from the same plate.  The result is rather like painted silk using a gutta (glue) outline round each area which is to be coloured.

Here is an excellent post describing the simple stages of the process.  It is mostly women who were known for using this technique.

BLANCHE%202  Blanche Lazzall,









Ethel  Ethel Mars,










artwork_images  Ada Gilmore Chaffee,









EBH_Rooftops-1  Edna Boies Hopkins,









31   Edith Lake Wilkinson,









Mabel Hewit

Mabel Hewit










are but a few.  There is an excellent section on this seemingly totally American art technique and its artists in the book American Women Modernists edited by Marian Wardle.  (Unfortunately this is now out of print and is being offered for sale online at ridiculous prices!)  And there is more information in an academic paper by Maura Coughlin on Southcoast New England Printmaking.

I am interested to see that these white line printmakers have been influenced by the French artists (Ethel Mars’ work reminds me of Vuillard, for instance), Post Impressionism, with touches of Cubism, but have their own delightful character.  I must say that my favourites are the ones who use the white space for more than simply delineation – as Edna Boies Hopkins does in Cascades.

White line printmaking is becoming popular once more, with new practitioners and workshops offered even in the UK.  I have not tried it yet myself  but I certainly very much like the idea of the technique.


Take a ride on a Carousel by Kristin McNamara Freeman

After a long winter with much snow and record breaking freezing temperatures, a walk on the trail by the Clark Fork River took me to Caras Park. Here I found a work of art that continues artfully to bring delight to folks of all ages. This “Carousel for Missoula” has a wonderful and amazing story of how it was imagined, created and continues to operate with the support of a non-profit volunteer organization year round.

A man by the name of Chuck Kaparich, grandson of a Croatian immigrant to Butte, Montana in the early days of the 20th century, who worked in the mines and raised his family in that city, had a photo taken of he and his wife and seven children in front of a carousel in Butte and sent it to his relatives back in Croatia to show that he had made a success of his life. His grandson was visiting the carousel in Spokane, Washington in 1989 and when he saw the carousel there, the memory of that family portrait touched him deeply and he began to cry. As he read the story of that carousel and learned that every horse was hand carved by a Danish immigrant, Charles I.D. Looff, as a wedding present for his daughter early in the 1900′s, his own story with the carousel began to be written.

Chuck began in earnest a search for anything and everything he could learn about carousels and reliving his childhood memories of the carousel in Butte he was determined to learn how to carve and to make a carousel. This carousel he would make for his grandfather and it would be in Missoula, Montana.  For his birthday in 1990 his wife got him a set of carving tools. His journey with the tools and the carving of the wood, collecting images to use so that each horse would tell a story, began with a dedication to carve each day before going to work.

As Chuck carved the horses he could see them spinning around on a carousel in Caras Park, in downtown Missoula next to the Clark Fork River. He decided that if his dream was to become reality he needed to get that piece of land he saw in his dream secured for a carousel. He loaded one of his horses in his truck and went to see the Mayor. After a long conversation the mayor finally agreed to this dream plan. Next it was to convince the city council of the dream with four carved horses and each step of the way believers in the dream gathered around him. A foundation was formed and a team of volunteers worked on the project until the dream was reality and the carousel opened in 1995. The involvement went to the community of people and organizations who adopted ponies that were being created, each one telling a story and using colors and symbols that reflected who they were.

The ACFM, a Carousel for Missoula, organization has a website at where you can see individual horses and learn about how this organization now 19 years later still operates the carousel and the “Dragon Hollow” playground without government funding. Here is a photo of the books I first read as the journey to learning about carousels began for me.


In my search for information about carousels, historical locations and creators, I discovered that still today carousels from the 1800′s and early 1900′s are to be found around the world, still operating and delighting folks of all ages. A visit to Wikipedia will give you links to so many places that have information about the carvers, many of them regarded around the globe for their talent in holding the tools just so in their hands to slowly remove pieces from a block of wood until it took on the life of the animal in the maker’s vision, most often horses. The “heyday” of carousel creation was just at the turn of the twentieth century.

The book “The Carousel Keepers” is a fascinating recorded history of the carousels and the places where they “live” in  New Jersey. This oral history project was completed under a grant from the Historical Society of New Jersey and the book published in 1998. The book, “Thrill Rides – Carousels” is a children’s non-fiction work and has some great stories, information and photos. “Pony Tales: A Carousel for Missoula” is a most wonderful children’s book with stories by twenty-four writers and illustrators from Montana.

The carousel was so familiar to folks that when the Broadway musical “Carousel” was written by by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the public knew that the story was going to be set at a carnival. This stage production is a perennial favorite that is often performed by small theatre companies across the USA every year, and was created also as a most successful movie.

Carousels in the Coney Island Style, the Military Style and the Country Fair Style are still operating in parks and building designed especially for them around the US, in England, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Australia. Treat yourself to a return to the memory land of childhood summer picnics and outings with a visit to one of these works of art. An historical treasure of the skilled carvers, painters and story theme researchers for over a century. Art is not just to be found on the walls of museums or carved in stone, or cast in bronze…..the carousel provides a look at art in motion, art for everyone, art to ride.




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