Podcast #6 Master- Albrecht Durer, Modern- C.M. Coolidge

This is a fun week about pets, animals and art!  The great master artist, Albrecht Durer, was primarily an engraver and printmaker, he was also a painter and “theorist”.  During his lifetime (1471 – 1528) he created some of the most recognizable animal prints that people are familiar with today.  He is also said to be one of the first European landscape artists.

Young Hare I

Young Hare I

Teresa and Suzanne talk about two important pieces, Young Hare I (1502), and Rhinoserus (1515) (his spelling). Both are fantastic works of art, one for it’s amazing attention to detail and shading, the other because of it’s remarkable likeness to an actual rhinoceros, though the artist had never seen one in real life.  It takes a draughtsman with strong skills and vivid imagination to create an engraving that has such believability.

“I just want to reach in and pick up the hare” says Suzanne as they talk about Durer’s work.

“It’s true, his work is so detailed and exacting, it has very strong sense of being” Teresa points out.

The rhinoceros is another story completely- the image was based on a written description and brief sketch by an unknown artist of an Indian rhinoceros that had arrived in Lisbon earlier in 1515. Dürer never saw the actual rhinoceros, which was the first living example seen in Europe since Roman times. In late 1515, the King of Portugal, Manuel I, sent the animal as a gift for Pope Leo X, but it died in a shipwreck off the coast of Italy in early 1516.

Rhinoceros, Durer 1515

Rhinoceros, Durer 1515

Dürer’s woodcut is not an entirely accurate representation of a rhinoceros. He depicts an animal with hard plates that cover its body like sheets of armor. Despite its anatomical inaccuracies, Dürer’s woodcut became very popular in Europe and was copied many times in the following three centuries.  Some art historians have said of Dürer’s woodcut: “probably no animal picture has exerted such a profound influence on the arts”.

After the break they talk about a painting that has been found in basements, bars, pool halls and even public bathrooms for about 100 years, a painting done by self-taught commercial artist and painter, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, better known as C.M. or even Cash.  That painting… (drum roll)….

Dogs Playing Poker, Coolidge.

Dogs Playing Poker, Coolidge.

Dogs Playing Poker!  This iconic painting brings together a group of dogs who all have their own personalities while playing cards at a table.  A true work of Americana and Folk, you can’t take your eyes off of it while you visit each character and imagine you’ve seen them before (if you’ve ever played poker).

Coolidge, almost the complete opposite of our Master, Durer, has a sense of humor and an eye for detail, at least as far as a card game is concerned.  Just as Durer’s rhino and hare spent many years as great artistic reference, so does Coolidge’s Dogs, for parody in illustration.

During his career, Coolidge made a series of paintings for his animals, mostly dogs depicting daily life in an anthropomorphic manner.  Shooting dice, playing poker, playing pool.  They were used for advertisments and as anyone would tell you today, if he was a working commercial artist, he was a success!

The reason for such diverse artistic personalities is mostly because The Art Garage is hosting an art show for the month of June called “Peticular Poses” which features a wide range of paintings and photos of animals and pets.  The artist reception is Friday, June 7th from 6-9pm while the show will be up until the end of June.

See you next week!

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Podcast #5 Master: Leonora Carrington Modern: Betsey Johnson

This episode of the Masters and Mod Pod is a salute to two “mom” artists, women who have incorporated their families into their life of art!

The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Leonora Carrington

The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Leonora Carrington

Our first artist, Leonora Carrington,  (April 6, 1917- May 25, 2011) was a surrealist artist who was once linked romantically to Max Ernst and lived to the age of 94.  Her life was an amazing roller coaster of being an artist, daughter, lover, wife, and mother.  Teresa and Suzanne touch on her escaping from the Nazis, being in the circle of Peggy Guggenheim, Max Ernst, Picasso and others.  She also bucked the system, remaining true to her art and her artistic ambitions for her entire life.

Next we talk about the inimitable Betsey Johnson, the fashion designer who also

Betsey Johnson and Lulu

Betsey Johnson and Lulu

kept her arrow straight on the target of being herself and creating fashion that she loved to make.  Betsey Johnson is also a precursor to the Punk Rock movement, a large show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this summer is a testament to that movement and it’s founders.

Masters and Mod(erns) Pod(cast)! Episode #1 Greetings From Wembley!

c. 1937 Student artist from East Lane School.

c. 1937 Student artist from East Lane School.

Welcome to our newest podcast from The Art Garage, located in scenic downtown Montclair New Jersey!  In this episode we take a look at the exhibit, “Greetings From Wembley”.  The art exhibit is on display currently at The Art Garage through April 6th, 2013.

Let’s say a “picker” shows up in your driveway one morning and offers you a dirty wooden box for a certain amount of money, along with other oddities.   Would you buy it?

That is what happened to one of three partners of Blowout / Avis Rara Gallery in Montclair.  In the fall of 2011, somebody showed up – as they sometimes do if you are in the antiques business – and presented Mr. Potters with some interesting items.  A quick peek into the box revealed a few simple drawings.  Potters, who loves outsider and folk art and is also a big history buff, thought it might be interesting.  So he bought it.

Popping the box open in the gallery, he slowly peeled back wrapped pages of what turned out to be an impeccable collection of “naive” art, wrapped in tissue paper, of pastels, watercolor , pencil and ink; a landslide of expression.  “Not necessarily Picasso, but really cool stuff”, says Potters.

“I then triaged it, taking out each item and organizing them.  At that point I needed to make sense of what I had.”  After a few hours of carefully unpacking and arranging, the collection began to take shape.  At the bottom of the box was a catalog which turned out to essentially be the narrative of the entire show: an art exhibit and cultural exchange between the East Lane Senior School in North Wembley, England and the Mary C. T. Williams School in Wilmington, Delaware.  All of the drawings and paintings were done by the students, ages 10 through 15 years.IMG_4128

Potters then began searching the internet to see what else he could find, with amazing results.  It turned out that the cultural exchange was a big hit in Delaware when it first debuted.  He found a short article with pictures from a local newspaper which had made it onto the front page June 27th, 1937.  The pictures even included some of the students holding the work, and a sampling of the art in the background.  “This is when a collector like myself gets excited” says Potters. “There is a solid connection with the box that was found and a day in the life of America, circa 1937.”

The box, with hundreds of individual works, unopened for 75 years, a perfect time capsule.  Unopened, that is, until now.

Potters brought his find upstairs to his business neighbor, Suzanne O’Connor, owner of The Art Garage, also in Montclair.  “Being an art studio and having a great art program for kids, I knew she would find this interesting”.  She did, and was thrilled.  “This is fascinating work.  It shows the exuberance of children making art, and how important it was to a child’s education in one of the worlds most advanced countries in the early 20th century.  I was bowled over!” said O’Connor.

On display at The Art Garage.

On display at The Art Garage.

They decided that they would put together one big art show, putting the work on display as it was in 1937, before the collection was sold as individual pieces. “The work is wonderful and will probably do well at auction” says O’Connor.  “What a phenomenal opportunity to show a collection of children’s artwork, exactly as it was 75 years ago. This is a once-in-a-lifetime art show.  A must-see for art educators, lovers of Outsider and Naive art, and history buffs”.

“It reminds me of a quote from Picasso” says Potters, “ All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

A Hearty Greeting! An art time capsule featuring the artwork of the East Lane Senior School, Wembley, England, 1937.