Podcast #8 C’est Francais! Jacques-Louis David and Jean Dubuffet

Oath of Horatii

Oath of Horatii

Bonjour!  Welcome to the next Masters and Mod Pod cast where we feature two French artists! One, Mssr. Jacques-Louis David and our Modern, Jean Dubuffet.  Two very different artists, yet what might they have in common (besides being French)?!

It is 1784, there is considerable unrest in the streets of Paris and France.  People are starving, France is broke, yet the aristocracy are living more decadently than ever.

His influences are Caravaggio (and you will find that many artists claim they were influenced by Caravaggio),

It was his painting, the Oath of the Horatii, HO-RAH-TEE-EYE which created a lot of talk (in historical talk, they say “a sensation”) and became the turning point from the art of the aristocracy to the art of “republic”.  The painting spoke to the people.  And this was the few years before the revolution.  If you need a reference, think of what is happening today in Egypt.  That’s a revolution!  They are calling it the Arab Spring, and now maybe this is an Arab summer, but if you look at how the French revolution unfolded, and look at the events today…

He creates three more paintings that epitomize the cause, using classical references.

Anyway, the arc of David’s career is interesting, because he is so tied into the revolution and eventually Robespierre, that he becomes what they call an art dictator – which is not really what one wants in the art world – and that earns him the nickname the “Robespierre of the brush”.

The artwork he creates is very much along the lines of Ancient Rome and equating it to the new France.

Finally, he creates what is his masterpiece, the Death of Marat.


The Death of Marat, 1793, is an idealized image of David’s slain friend  shown holding his murderess’s (Charlotte Corday) letter of introduction.

The bloodied knife lays on the floor having opened a fatal gash that functions, as does Marat’s very composition, as a reference to the entombment of Christ (reference to the wounds Christ is said to have received in his hands, feet and side while on the cross).

Moving on, Teresa and Suzanne then introduce the modern for today’s podcast, Jean Dubuffet.



A French Avant-garde painter.  Avant-garde is considered experimental or innovative. There are many sub categories such as Abstract expressionism, COBRA, cubism, Primitivism, his was art-brut (raw art) although he did not like to be categorized.0709170078

Derived from Dubuffet’s studies of the art of children and of the mentally ill, art brut is intended to achieve immediacy and vitality of expression not found in self-conscious, academic art. To reflect these qualities, Dubuffet often used crude ideographic images incised into a rough impasto surface made up of such materials as tar, gravel, cinders, ashes, and sand bound with varnish and glue. His drawings and paintings are by turns childlike and obsessive, and their unfinished appearance excited much controversy.

He has a very strong stance on what art is or what it should be, and he writes a lot about it.

Would you say that he is relevant today?

Listen to today’s podcast and send us your comments!  You can email us at:



Podcast #7 American week! American Master, Andrew Wyeth and Modern, Alexander Calder

Christina's World

Christina’s World


This episode of the Masters and Mod Pod, Teresa and Suzanne talk about two American artists, one who is considered an American Master, Andrew Wyeth, and one Modern, Alexander Calder.

When speaking about Andrew Wyeth, it’s difficult not to mention the familial talents that go with the name Wyeth. His father was N.C. Wyeth, one of the great American Illustrators of the 20th century. His sister, Carolyn Wyeth was a great painter, as was several other siblings including Henrietta Wyeth Hurd, and  his son, Jamie Wyeth.

Wyeth’s work is decidedly modern, although he considered himself an abstract painter (not by the traditional definition of the word!) he was categorized as a regionalist and realist.
What makes him a master in this series is his superb technique and use of egg tempera, a very old medium made with the yolk of an egg and pigment.  He truly perfected a style and method of painting with this medium and his use of lighting and color palette which captured a specific location and time of day. He is quoted about using egg tempera, “Tempera is not a medium for swiftness.  You have got to weave it, as if you were weaving a rug or tapestry, slowly building it up.”

Braids, 1977

Braids, 1977

They talk about Christina’s World, one of his masterpieces, (which you can find at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC) and his paintings of Helga, the model who was his muse for many paintings.  Wyeth made over 240 drawings and paintings of his German model, Helga Testorf. Helga became a minor celebrity because of these paintings, as she was featured on the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines.

Many of his paintings are on view at the Brandywine museum in Chadds Ford, PA.

On to the modern, Alexander Calder. Teresa picked him because of his use of a very modern material, metal and wire. Calder, who went to school to be an engineer and physicist, instead became a sculptural artist. Working in metal and wire, Calder made works of art that were kinetic, that is, they had movement.  Many of his sculptures were called “mobiles”.

Tower with painting

Tower with painting

On the flip side, his stationary sculptures were called “stabiles” and ranged in size from small to huge.  He is famous for his “Calder Circus”, a small wire sculptural work that can fit in a suitcase.  He used wire, shapes and bright paint to create a three-dimentional and moving work of art, as if abstract paintings popped off the canvas and reached out to grab the viewer.

His large, sheet metal public sculptures were also abstract, which cause a lot of controversy when they were installed.

These two famous American artists, although they differed in their materials and their styles had one thing in common: while Wythe worked with brushstrokes that were wire-like,  Calder painted with brushstrokes of wire.

Podcast #7 – American Artists

Cheval Rouge

Cheval Rouge