Truly, Madly, Deeply

Amedeo Modigliani expired at the rather young indeed age of thirty-five on 24 January 1920. The strong-willed Italian portraitist’s early demise was much more the natural byproduct his personal cosmology than a freakish accident. Revolted by his comfortably stagnant bourgeois upbringing, he convinced himself that only struggling for crusts in nonconformist squalor could produce true art. Toss in…

Maria, Maria

Maria Primachenko was born on 12 January 1908, in a small village known today as Bolotnya, Ukraine. She began creating pictures as a young girl, soaking up the customs, dress and legends intrinsic to her rural world, injecting them with imagination and spilling them out in giddy gouache colours onto paper and canvas. Throughout her…

Forever Louise

The French-American maîtresse of confessional art, Louise Bourgeois, was born on Christmas Day 1911. Of her own inconveniently timed birth she said, “I was a pain in the ass when I was born. All these people had their oysters and champagne, and there I came. My mother was very apologetic and the doctor said, ‘Madame Bourgeois, really,…

Walking in a Winter Weirdland

Winter is here. To celebrate the chilliest season and something Game of Thrones fans have known for a while now, it feels right to turn to the work of Eyvind Earle (1916-2000). An American practitioner of Magic Realism, his name maybe isn’t as terribly well-known as it ought to be, though his landscapes infiltrated childhoods the world over and set the…

A Man of the People

I love listening to Francis Bacon speak. He’s enchanting. Naturally, barriers of time, space, genius and death kept me from ever getting within earshot of the man, but hearing him timecapsuled up in Youtube clips and BBC documentaries has revealed a marvelous discrepancy to me. As easily witnessed in the brief video just below, Bacon’s…

Peace, Love and Peter Max

Here’s looking at you, Peter Max. The Eye of a Generation turned 80 today, and his body of work is looking more expansive than ever. His synesthesia-inducing Pop and Neo-Expressionist compositions have been luring enthralled audiences into his mind-bendingly bright universe since the 1960s. Showing nary a sign of slowing down, he continues to work fervently and…

Good, Bad, Brutalist

Like him, lump him or know nothing about him, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris and his looming white and grey building blocks are here to stay. More often called Le Corbusier, he’s still hailed as the most colossal architect of modern times (which means you still got a ways to go, Frank Gehry). He was born on 6 October, 1887…

Horsey Birthday

Happy centuries-belated birthday to my guy George Stubbs. The Liverpudlian Romantic painter was born on 25 August 1724, and went on to acquire a keen eye for the equine physique. He received only the tiniest modicum of formal training,  but Stubbs was able to hack out a living as a provincial portraitist. At the green age…

Toasting Sir Josh

Today marks the 294th birthday of one of my favourite English rococo portraitists supreme, Sir Joshua Reynolds RA FRS FRSA (1723-1792). We’ll leave that Gainsborough character out of this. To celebrate, here’s the rundown on one of his most intriguing depictions of eighteenth-century upper-crustiness. Reynolds’ paint handling here is as flawlessly polished as ever, rendered…

A Pearly Day in History

11 July 1893 — Kokichi Mikimoto cultures the world’s first semi-spherical pearl. Born in Toba, on Japan’s Shima Peninsula, Mikimoto grew to be a man who nursed a passion for safeguarding local Akoya oyster populations from being over-scavenged for their naturally occurring pearls. He had a fondness for the luminous spheres, with their ancient connection…