Monday, April 4, 2011

REALLY "LOOKING" at Cézanne's Card Players Paintings + New World Order + Wilted Kale & Potato Salad

The Card Players, 1890–92
Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906)
Oil on canvas

Now Showing
Cézanne: The Metropolitan Museum of Art shows us how his Card Players paintings were constructed bit, by bit.
Exhibition runs through May 8, 2011 

Of his two paintings of "Three Men" Card Players,
this version (
53" × 71") is the largest canvas Cézanne ever painted. 
It is a part of the Barnes Collection,
which does not loan out their paintings.

Cézanne's painting, "The Card Players", having been pulled from the The Metropolitan Museum of Art's own collection, is currently being displayed in the small first floor changing gallery to the right of the Greek and Roman sculpture hall. The painting is the centerpiece for related works and his series of paintings by the same name. Displayed is actually the wrong word, these paintings are more or less dissected and analyzed as much as any professional art curator could do with-in an exhibition. They show us the mind of the artist as if the curators were dedicating an entire thesis to this subject and we all get to see the results first hand. The exhibition unites these works for the first time since Paul Cézanne painted or drew them while working on this famous "Card Players" series.  The Met has brought together a majority of the related paintings, oil studies, and drawings from ten other museums and several private collections in an effort to make their analysis as complete was possible. A select group of portraits of workmen, some appear in the final compositions, also are included in this landmark exhibition. Created in the 1890s while the artist was living at his family's estate outside Aix-en-Provence, these images capture the character Cézanne admired in the people of this region. Together these works show each developmental stage of the final five painting series and how Cézanne strove to make the "classic genre painting" his own.
Cézanne painted three versions of "Two Men" Card Players.

The Metropolitan Museum has one of the finest collections of Cézannes in the world and, in 1913, it was the first public institution in the United States to acquire a painting by the artist. This series completely occupied the artist's time and attention for several years starting in 1890. The concentrated effort payed off and Cézanne's card players proved to be one of his most appreciated projects. Gusave Callebotte, a contemporary of Cézanne's, had painted an aristocratic version of "The Card Players" ten years earlier in 1880. The lineage of genre paintings, especially paintings of everyday working class figures seated around a table, eating, drinking and playing cards is very long in the history of art and many etchings with card players as the subject are hung in the first room of the exhibition. Whether it was a challenge from Callebotte or if Cézanne simply wanted to conquer the clichéd subject, he was extremely driven to make these paintings say "Cézanne"! He used the laborers and their family members who lived or worked on his estate as his models and the result was a series of five closely related canvases of different sizes. Two canvases show three card players and three canvases depict two card players. Three of this series of five made it to this exhibition. He also produced a large number of pencil and watercolor studies of the subjects who appear in the paintings and some beautiful color oil sketches. He painted several magnificent large portraits in preparation for this series, you will find a few of these finished large painted portraits in the last room adjacent to the main gallery. This extreme amount of preparatory work was uncharacteristic of how Cézanne normally painted. It suggests the importance he placed on creating something very special with this series. Cézanne painted and drew each of the models individually many times before he literally assembled them into two basic compositions for the final canvases. The viewers of this exhibition get a unique sense of Cézanne's thought processes. You notice how he actually designed and stylized his figures to have a distorted and disproportionate look, compared to his more realistic studies. One also sees how Cézanne's finished paintings were created with a deliberate style of controlled brush strokes, which are his signature style. You see how he selected specific color palates to work in, specifically browns or greens or blues. I now know a Cézanne painting was, to some degree, purposefully made to look the way it does and not a completely natural process which emanated from the artist's hand and brush. This exhibition, taught me many new things about Monsieur Cézanne's work. 

Cézanne's Card Players series has come to epitomize the world's vision of rural life in 1890's Provence. These paintings convey the personalities of the sitters very directly, the workers for whom Cézanne had such great admiration. Even though he was a major force for change during his time, he said of his models: "I love above all else the appearance of people who have grown old without breaking with old customs."  

Notice changes in number of cards
pipe smokers head shape
and head and hat of man on right.


Is Hong Kong the new Art Capitol of the World?

Sotheby’s Hong Kong, noted at its annual series of Asian art sales (Oct. 2-8, 2010), that the sales total was HK$ 3 billion, or $400 million (US) and the firm dubbed the event "phenomenal" -- For comparison, the Asia Week sales in New York in mid-September were much smaller, with Christie’s New York totaling $55.5 million and Sotheby’s New York’s $27.6 million.

A related story I read online stated that the 2010 Hong Kong / Chinese art sales (galleries and auctions) out paced New York's sales. The sales were mostly Chinese buyers purchasing contemporary Chinese artists. Making it the first occurrence of an art market outperforming the New York scene, since Paris gave up the title of "Art Capitol of the World" to New York in the first half of the 20th century. Is this just a sign of our economy or is this a sea change in the Art World? Or is China the only healthy economy? What does this mean?

The 2010 Census results were officially released April 1st. Total population for the USA grew 9.7% since 2000 to an estimated 308,000,000 people. Total number of estimated households in the 2010 census = 113,500,000

Households are broken down by  
 Married with dependents
 Single Female with dependents
 Single Male with dependents
 Single Female 
 Single Male
Source for chart and information, University of California at Berkeley.

Andy Lifschutz's Art 
Bejeweled and Bewitching

Andy Lifschutz's tireless search for unique and meaningful natural items with which to make his jewelry is as unusual as the pieces themselves. It is his appreciation and awareness of the materials he uses and their history that enhance the personalities of each piece, which he thinks of as pure art forms. Working with reclaimed metals, wood, bone and stone he creates art objects based upon his concept of the "spiritual power of organic forms and materials", making these pieces both fashionable and thought-provoking. Andy brings something new to the very old and tradition filled craft of jewelry making which only rarely, is brought up to the level of an art form.

For more information on these rings, please go to his website:
Wilted Kale and  
Winter Salad

Makes 4 (main course) or 6 (side dish) servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes (don’t believe this, it takes longer)

Total Time:  45 Minutes

(Lemon-tahini dressing unexpectedly emboldens kale and cheesy potatoes with its creaminess and tart richness.  We went back for seconds and thirds.)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves (3 thinly sliced and 1 minced)
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded with leaves very thinly sliced crosswise

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in upper third.

Toss potatoes with oil and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large 4-sided sheet pan, then spread evenly.  Roast, stirring once, 10 minutes.  Stir in sliced garlic, stirring once, and roast 10 minutes more.  Sprinkle with cheese and roast until cheese is melted and golden in spots, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree tahini, water, lemon juice, minced garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute.  (Add a bit of water if sauce is too thick.)

Toss Kale with hot potatoes and any garlic and oil remaining in pan, then toss with tahini sauce - pepper to taste.

Recipe Source: Jennifer Stevens personal cookbook - she noted: found online, a submission by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez.

Until later,

ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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