Georgia O’Keeffe’s Cityscapes

City Night


Let’s be real. When most of us think Georgia O’Keeffe, what immediately comes to mind are her iconic flower close-ups and the assumption that they refer to female anatomy— a suggestion popularized by Steglitz and still widely believed despite her life long denial such associations. But maybe you also consider her paintings of the American Southwest, the desert landscapes and animal skulls that characterized her later career. Less widely known, however, is a period from 1925 to 1930 in which O’Keeffe turned to New York City and its skyscrapers for inspiration—in my mind one of the most shocking breaks with expectation of all time.

In 1925 O’Keeffe felt pigeonholed by her peers, clients and critics. She was stuck in the role of producing feminist art and all people would say about her work was that it alluded to a woman’s physical and sexual nature. This is mainly because of the way Stieglitz managed her career, marketing her work for her as a scandalous representation of vaginas and female sexuality. Feeling stuck and frustrated by reviews and limitations to “woman art,” she chose to take on an entirely new subject stating that she wanted to be,”so magnificently vulgar that all the people who have liked what I have been doing would stop speaking to me.” And so, when she chose to paint the sky scrapers of New York and debuted these paintings she was met with harsh criticism for her work and of course disapproval from Steglitz. It was not for a women to paint architecture, this was a masculine subject better suited to a man’s interpretation— after all what to women know about architecture? *rolls eyes*

My favorite of her cityscapes series is City Night from a 1926. It is just so fantastically simple, so abstract that it is almost purely shape and the dimensions defined more by the push and pull of color than structure. This painting, to me, seems to illustrate the enormity, the all encasing, overwhelming  and sometimes oppressive feelings large cities can impose. But other paintings feature buildings with illuminated windows that shine through the dark sky brighter than the stars. These seem peaceful to me, comforting like a nightlight that will never fail. All of the paintings are at night or late dusk rendered in luscious, deep blues and rich blacks with points of light that lead you through a composition of voluminous shapes.

Radiator Building

O’Keeffe herself is elusive about what the apintings mean to her. But the choice she made to paint them was surely a decision to step outside of the restricitions imposed on her by society and even if she was met with no support I do beieve that in the end the paintings are a success and the images evoke powerful responses from the viewers, regardless of how they assume O’Keeffe should paint.

Who I am looking at today: Manjari Sharma

Follow the link to look at some amazing photograph recreations of old school, like for real old school from Hindu mythology, of some of India’s most poplar images of Hindu gods and legends. The photographer is Manjari Sharma and his interview with the Huffington post is a really great read, especially for photographers.

A Fun Test For You All

Follow the link to take this simple to use color test. There are four rows of disorganized color swatches, you have arrange them square by square into order by hue. The two swatches on the opposite ends of each row are fixed so use them as starting guides. You want score a zero; that would be perfect.

I took the test scored a zero! It is really fun, so take the test and post your score in the comment below. You can screen shot your results and post them too.

Joan Miró

Joan Miró i Ferrà is a world renowned Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramist working through out the early to mid 1900’s, and had a significant impact on defining the role of art during and after WWI. Miró maintained an independent approach to making art and never formally joined an art group, though it was acclaim for his  Surrealist paintings that brought him international fame. His style is singular and cultivated from his expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society. He spent his career at war with convention and famously declared an “assassination of painting” in favor of upsetting tradition. Miró experimented with many art techniques, the the final work always expressed his unique style that embodied his Catalan heritage and anti-art ideology with child-like whimsy.

Miró was born in Barcelona the son of a watchmaking father and a goldsmith mother on April 20,1893. No doubt his parents’ occupations privileged him with early exposure to art. Drawings by Miró have been recovered dating to 1901, when he was only 8 years old. Miro enrolled at the School of Industrial and Fine Arts in Barcelona until 1910; during his attendance he was taught by Modest Urgell and Josep Pascó. After overcoming a severe case of typhoid fever in 1911, Miró devoted his life entirely to painting at the La Lonja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, taught by Francesc Galí. In 1918 set up his first individual exhibition in the Dalmau Galleries, still in Barcelona. His works at this time reflect the influence of  many different art movements, such as the pure and brilliant colors used in Fauvism, shapes taken from cubism, influences from folkloric Catalan art and Roman frescos from the churches.

Joan Miró Painting of Rooster

From the start Miró had a very precise style, picking out every element in isolation and detail and arranging them in deliberate composition. But in 1920 he took a trip to Paris and the art he witnessed there inspired a radically altered style.  Miró befriended Andre Masson and participated in developing Surrealist movement. In Paris, under the influence of Surrealist poets and writers, he developed his unique style: organic forms and flattened picture planes drawn with a sharp line.  Miró’s style has been interpreted as Surrealism combined with the playfulness and whimsical nature of a child born from his use of automatic drawing – a way express the subconscious by allowing the hand to move randomly across the paper. Miró was interested in automatism for its anti-art technique and in the use of sexual symbols (for example, ovoids with wavy lines emanating from them), and he and André Masson were among the first artists to develop automatic drawing as a way to undo previous established techniques in painting. But Miró still purused his own interests and ideals; as displayed by his additional involvement with Expressionist and Color Field movements.

Joan Miró Painting of Tol

Because of his work with Masson and love for automatism, Miró is associated with the founding of Surrealism as an art movement and is often considered a Surrealist. Historians further theorize that Miró’s surrealist origins evolved out of “repression” because during World War I Miró was forced into exhile to escape the Franco regime pursecution of Catalans.  Miró, however, refused to subscribe to any art movement, despite apparent evidence that his style was influenced in varying degrees by Surrealism, Dada, and the war. This refusal demonstrates Miró’s pursuit of complete freedom to experiment with any artistic style he wanted. He pursued his own interests in the art world, ranging from automatic drawing and surrealism, to expressionism, Lyrical Abstraction, and Color Field painting. 

In 1921, he showed his first individual exhibition in Paris, at La Licorne Gallery. The culmination of his early style was The Farm (1921–22). The rural Catalan scene it depicts is augmented by an avant-garde French newspaper in the center, showing Miró sees this work transformed by the Modernist theories he had been exposed to in Paris. The concentration on each element as equally important was a key step towards generating a pictorial sign for each element. The background is rendered in flat or patterned in simple areas, highlighting the separation of figure and ground, which would become important in his mature style. He concentrated his interest on the symbol, not giving too much importance to the representing theme, but to the way the symbol emerged as the piece of his work.  In 1928, he exhibited with a group of surrealists in the Pierre Gallery, also in Paris, but as always Miró maintained his independent qualities when adopting ideologies of different art groups.  Miró made many attempts to promote his unique work, but his Surrealist colleagues found it too realistic and conventional, and so he soon turned to a more explicitly surrealist approach. From 1929-1930, Miró began to take interest in reconstructing the object through collages. This practice lead to his making of surrealist sculptures. His tormented monsters appeared during this decade, which gave way to the consolidation of his plastic vocabulary.

Joan Miró “Carnival of Harlequin” Print – 1924-1925

Miró dabbled in Cubism too; though he started after Picasso and Braque had established Cubism as a monumental art movement in Paris. Specifically, Miró responded to Cubism by declaring that he would “break the guitar” referring to Picasso’s paintings, with the intent to attack the popularity and appropriation of Picasso’s art by politics. He also experimented with many other artistic forms, such as engraving, lithography, water colors, pastels, and painting over copper. He created over 250 illustrated books known as “Livres d’ Artiste”  (the book was displayed in “Joan Miró, Illustrated Books” at the Vero Beach Museum of Ar in 2006).

It was at the end of the 60´s when his final period was marked and which lasted until his death on December 25,1983. During his final years, he concentrated more and more on monumental and public works. The murals are characterized by the same art language and freshness with which he carried out his canvasses, as well as the special attention he paid to material and anti-art informalism. In the final decades of his life Miró accelerated his work in different media, producing hundreds of ceramics, including the Wall of the Moon and Wall of the Sun at the UNESCO building in Paris. He also made temporary window paintings (on glass) for an exhibit. In the last years of his life Miró wrote his most radical and least known ideas, exploring the possibilities of gas sculpture and four-dimensional painting. Four-dimensional painting was a theoretical type of painting in which  Miró proposed that painting would transcend its two-dimensionality and even the three-dimensionality of sculpture. Truly Miró was a visionary with a singularly eccentric style that is the embodiment of his unique approach to his artwork.

Joan Miro Painting “Sonnens”

Joan Miro Painting “Daybreak”

Joan Miro Painting “Kissing”


James De La Vega, and an Apology

Hey readers! I just want to say that I am sorry about the delay the Miley Cyrus conclusion. I took a break from the computer for Labor Day, and had some job interviews this week, so I have been away from the computer for a bit. But be assured that I have not forgotten. IT IS COMING! I have most of what I want to discuss briefly drafted, I just feel that my readers deserve the best that I can give so I am not going to rush it. I hope you guys understand.

So until then enjoy looking at the work of James De La Vega.

James De La Vega

The sidewalks of New York City are La Vegas’s primary canvas. The native New Yorker, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has been scribbling inspirational quotes in chalk on the streets of the city for years. One of his most well-known messages “Become Your Dream” is an inspirational call to action, to live up to your potential. La Vega’s outside pieces could be categorized as a graffiti, but he and his fans prefer to regard him as a community-inspiring artist because of the motivating and encouraging nature of his work. However, the love of his fans could not prevent him from being convicted of vandalism for a mural he painted on a blank wall in the Bronx. He was offered one year’s probation in exchange for a guilty plea, but he refused to say he caused “damage” to the property (it was for the advancement of art of course!) and thus sentenced to 50 hours of community service. This incident did not tarnish his success, thankfully. He was the 1999 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, his work has been featured in Christie’s auction house, and he has collaborated with Tory Burch to create a line of accessories that benefited the Tory Burch Foundation.  La Vega continues to work as a muralist and community-inspiring artist and until 2010 fans could visit his studio to have an intimate view of his work. Now he has an online portfolio and store , on, that you should all go visit.

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

photoallegory of sarolta bán

These black and white modern surrealists photographs are pretty compelling. They have a quite but solid resonance and her editing and finishing techniques are flawless. I love the fresh perspective too! I find that most of the pictures comfort me as much as the disturb me. Go follow the link to see Sarolta Bán’s amazing portfolio website!

photoallegory of sarolta bán.