Art History:   Grade 3 Lesson 8

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Art Periods

  Red White and Blue Art - Looking for Light

 Materials List

  1. Sunlight and Shadow, , Winslow Homer, American  (1836-1910), oil on canvas, Cooper Union Museum, NY, reproduction print.
      Winslow Homer, born in Boston in 1836, grew up in nearby Cambridge. After a brief period at Bufford’s Lithography Shop, in Boston, he moved to New York and was hired by Harper’s Weekly for which he would produce designs until trips to the front of the Civil War. On his return to New York after the war, he concentrated on oil painting. He was elected National Academician in 1865. From 1866-67, he traveled abroad. On his return. Homer settled in New York. He spent his summers producing idyllic images of Americans at leisure. In 1873, Homer’s first watercolor series was done at Gloucester, MA. He traveled to England in 1881 to paint near Tynemouth, a fishing port on the North Sea. His first works produced there were narrative and picturesque. They soon became more iconic and he arrived at the subject which would concern him for the rest of his life: man’s struggle with his environment. He settled permanently at Prout’ s Neck, ME. He often traveled with a fishing fleet to Nassau, Bermuda and the Bahamas. In 1908 he suffered a paralytic stroke and died two years later at Prout’s Neck.


  2. Woman with Dog, , Mary Cassatt, American, (1845-1926),oil on canvas, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, reproduction print.
     Although Mary Cassatt was an expatriate, she was instrumental in bringing the Impressionist style to the U.S. Her most noted work was done in Paris under the advice and influence of Degas. Originally, she came from Pittsburgh, but in 1851, was taken to Europe with her parents. In 1858, she returned to Philadelphia where she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1864-65. She then returned to Europe, first to Spain, then to Paris, in order to further her art education. Other than two brief sojourns in America, Mary Cassatt passed her adult life in Paris. There she found fertile artistic
    soil and recognition.

    For the most part, Cassatt's paintings were tender, emotional, and intimate. Many revolved around the mother-child theme. Most of Cassatt’ s models were members of her family, especially her older sister, Lydia. However, each oil, no matter how personal the subject, possessed an individual color sensitivity, figural restraint and forthright reality of the sitter. About 1910, her eyesight began to fail, and by 1914, progressive blindness forced her to stop painting.

    The woman in this painting is not Lydia, but it does demonstrate Cassatt’s preference for painting women in their natural environment. At the time, most artists depicted men sifting inside looking out. Cassatt liked to paint women outside, or near a window, looking inside at the domestic scene. Woman With Dog was included in the eighth and last group exhibition of the Impressionists in 1886.


  3. Child's Bath, c.1891, Mary Cassatt, American, (1845-1926), oil on canvas, The Art Institute, Chicago, IL, reproduction print.
      This painting is typical of many of Cassatt’s works. It shows a mother and her child in a domestic setting. Like many of her paintings, the scene is candid, not posed. Cassatt painted in an era when such things as washing your child and nursing it were just ceasing to be taboo. For many years, parents with money left these activities to nurses and nannies. Cassatt liked to show the bond formed between mother and child and used this sort of scene to demonstrate it.


  4. Bodieson and Riley, c.1944, Edward Weston, American (1886-1958), black and white photograph, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, reproduction print.
     Edward Weston was one of the first photographers to be accepted as an artist.

    This was in part due to his association with Alfred Stieglitz, who showed his work in a famous New York gallery. Weston started out as a portrait photographer in Glendale, CA. His early work was in the style of the Pictorialists. He used a soft focus that had the feel of an Impressionist painting. He later rejected that style and focused on realism to the point of obsession. He wanted his photos to be a crisp and clear as possible. He is most famous for his studies of green peppers. Weston also photographed many landscapes of sand dunes and Point Lobos, CA.


  5. House and Grape Leaves, c. 1934, Alfred Stieglitz, American  (1864-1946), photograph, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, reproduction print.
     Stieglitz was the first photographer to have his work exhibited in American art museums. He was very supportive of modem art. After being educated in New York, the German, he lived in New York City where he founded the Photo-Secession group in 1902. The group opened a gallery in 1905 that became known as the 291 because of its location at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The gallery was a showcase for both American and European artists. One of the artists featured there was Georgia O’Keeffe, whom Stieglitz married in 1924.

    Aside from the gallery, Stieglitz also edited and founded several magazines devoted to photography. Amongst his many accomplishments as a photographer, he developed new technological processes that allowed photos to be taken in rain, snow, or at night.


  6. Ram's Head, White Hollyhock and Little Hills, c.1935, Georgia O'Keeffe, American (1887-1986), The Downtown Gallery, N.Y., reproduction print.
    O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin and raised on her family’s farm. In 1904, she left home to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. She also studied at several other schools in America. Early in her career, she supported herself by teaching art in various schools in the South and Texas. After 1918, she devoted herself entirely to painting. Her early paintings were abstract, but in the early 1920’s, she began painting large flowers and animal bones. She said, “I’ll make them big, like the huge buildings going up.
    People will be startled; they’ll have to look at them.” She also did scenes of New York and the East River. A 1929 trip to New Mexico led her to the semi-abstract paintings for which she became famous. After her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, died in 1946, O’Keeffe traveled more widely. A round the world trip inspired a series of paintings based on her views of earth, sky, and clouds.


  7. Seven A.M., , Edward Hopper, American  (1882-1967), Whitney Museum of Art, NY, Reproduction print.
     Edward Hopper was one of Robert Henri’s most talented pupils. He sold a single painting at the Armory show, but continued to work at his own brand of Realism despite a trip to Europe and the increasing importance of Abstractiomsm in America. He was sensitive to human emotions and was acutely conscious of the loneliness of life in the big cities. He painted America from the inside out, concentrating on its feelings rather than the visibly evident. He closely observed the sadness of cheap hotel rooms, empty diners, cool nights, lonely people, and cheerless houses. Hopper traveled from place to place and made mental notes of what he saw, later to put them together to express his feelings on American life. Most of his carefully structured designs deal with American cities but are treated in a different way from those of Sheeler or Mann. He had no love for the Manhattan skyscraper world that so excited them. The massive and simplified forms of houses and buildings take on a monumental quality and the large open spaces are strongly suggestive of emptiness and loneliness. His strong light is always garish and piercing as it exposes its subjects as if putting them under a glaring spotlight.

    Hopper also did some monumental landscapes and at times would try subject matter very remote from his usual interests, such as his picture of Union soldiers resting by a roadside before the battle of Gettysburg; this is probably his only painting on an historic theme. His figure draftsmanship tended to be awkward and heavy and except for a few self-portraits and studies of his wife, he seems never to have attempted a portrait.

    Seven A.M presents a storefront where there is no early morning activity, juxtaposed with the menacing but beckoning woods beyond. Here, the woods may have suggested to Hopper an escape from the day’s trials, his longed for solitude.


  8. Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, CAN, c.1995, William Neill, American ( - ) altered photograph, Museum Poster.
     Neill is a landscape photographer concerned with showing the deep, spiritual beauty he sees and feels in Nature. He has traveled widely through India and the Himalayas, taking photographs of people, architecture, and religious sites. In 1997, a collection of photographs, entitled Landscapes of the Spirit, was published in a book by the same name. Dawn was included in that collection. It includes images taken over fifteen years, mostly in America and Canada. It is an affirmation of the human spirit and its place within the natural world. William Neill writes, “Seeing and feeling beauty is
    more vital to me than any resulting imagery.” Neill doesn’t rely solely on what the camera captures to evoke the desired emotion. Once in the developing process, he will use modem technology to manipulate the image for the desired effect. Neill, through these pictures, invites the viewer to contemplate scenes of immense beauty and experience emotional renewal.


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