Category: Great Painters

The Mystery of Van Gogh’s Madness

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The Mystery of Van Gogh's Madness

On a summer’s day in 1890, Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in a field outside Paris. What does the painting he worked on that morning tell us about his mental state?

On 27 July 1890, Vincent Van Gogh walked into a wheat field behind the chateau in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, a few miles north of Paris, and shot himself in the chest. For 18 months he had been suffering from mental illness, ever since he had sliced off his left ear with a razor one December night in 1888, while living in Arles in Provence.

In the aftermath of that notorious incident of self-harm, he continued to experience sporadic and debilitating attacks that left him confused or incoherent for days or weeks at a time. In between these breakdowns, though, he enjoyed spells of calmness and lucidity in which he was able to paint. Indeed, his time in Auvers, where he arrived in May 1890, after leaving a psychiatric institution just outside Saint-Remy-de-Provence, north-east of Arles, was the most productive period of his career: in 70 days, he finished 75 paintings and more than 100 drawings and sketches.

Despite this, though, he felt increasingly lonely and anxious, and became convinced that his life was a failure. Eventually, he got hold of a small revolver that belonged to the owner of his lodging house in Auvers. This was the weapon he took into the fields on that climactic Sunday afternoon in late July. However, the gun was only a pocket revolver, with limited firepower, and so when he pulled the trigger, the bullet ricocheted off a rib, and failed to pierce his heart. Van Gogh lost consciousness and collapsed. When evening fell, he came back round and looked for the pistol, in order to finish the job.

Unable to find it, he staggered back to the inn, where a doctor was summoned. So was Vincent’s loyal brother Theo, who arrived the next day. For a brief while, Theo believed that Vincent would rally. But in the end, though, nothing could be done – and, that night, the artist died, aged 37. “I didn’t leave his side until it was all over,” Theo wrote to his wife, Jo. “One of his last words was: ‘this is how I wanted to go’ and it took a few moments and then it was over and he found the peace he hadn’t been able to find on earth.”
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The Strange Side of Edgar Degas

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Dancer Onstage with a Bouquet, c 1876

A new exhibition of rare Edgar Degas monotypes reveals a more daring and experimental side to the artist.

Ballet Scene, 1879

Edgar Degas is celebrated for his impressionistic studies of ballet dancers, but a new exhibition will reveal lesser-known work. The Museum of Modern Art’s Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty will be the first time his monotypes have gone on display in the US in more than 50 years. And while it will feature some familiar subjects, viewers may be surprised to find depictions of brothels and industrialised landscapes hanging on MoMA’s walls. “The exhibition really focuses on Degas’ experimentation, trying to understand the leaps he made in terms of his approach and his technical innovations,” curator Jodi Hauptman tells BBC Culture. “It argues that it’s in his monotypes where he takes the most risk, and where he is the most modern.”

Dancer Onstage with a Bouquet, c 1876

“A monotype is where the artist draws on a metal plate and then sandwiches that metal piece with a damp piece of paper before running through a printing press,” Hauptman explains. While other forms of printmaking involve carving into wood or incising into a metal plate, in monotype the artist simply draws on the plate, allowing changes to be made until the very last moment. Hauptman thinks this encouraged a kind of “spontaneity” in Degas. “It encouraged him to be more free and liberated with his drawing,” she says. “It’s very different from the precise drawing he was trained in as a young artist.”

Ballet Scene, 1879

Autumn Landscape, 1890

Hauptman believes Degas used monotype as a way of “capturing modern life”, and it is in his series of landscapes where he is arguably at his most modern. “For their time, they are really radical as they verge on abstraction,” she explains. In Autumn Landscape, Degas tried to capture the view from a moving train. “You have to think what it would have felt like in the 19th Century for someone who’d only ever moved at the speed of a horse to then move at the speed of a train,” she continues.

Heads of a Man and a Woman, c 1877–80

Movement is a consistent theme in Degas’ work, but particularly in his monotypes. It appears again here, where he has smeared the faces of his subjects. “It’s as if the artist is only catching a glimpse of them as he races by,” Hauptman suggests. This monotype offers a glimpse into what it must have felt like for Degas, living in the rapidly expanding Paris of the 1870s. In many ways, monotype was the perfect medium to, as Hauptman says, “describe the changing nature of contemporary urban life,” due to its fluidity.

Factory Smoke, 1877-79

A Strange New Beauty is MoMA’s first exhibition of these works. It features 120 monotypes along with another 60 related pieces, including paintings, drawings, pastels and sketchbooks. “It’s not that Degas invented monotype, but he just embraced it with such enthusiasm and took it as far as it can go,” Hauptman notes. In Factory Smoke, Degas manipulated the ink to illustrate the movement of smoke across the skies of Paris. “There is a relationship between the way the smoke moves across the plate and how the ink also would have done, so there’s a beautiful meeting there.”

Waiting for the Client, 1879

Degas doesn’t depict prostitutes in any other medium but monotype. Hauptman finds his representation of the brothel and its inhabitants particularly interesting, as they are often cropped or appear on the edge of the work. “There is an emptiness at the centre, and you get sense of the brothel being a place of constant exchange,” she explains. The client is even more peripheral in this work – you can just about see him on the far left edge of the portrait. “The client is often depicted as a little hesitant, while the women are together as a group. I think that says something about that relationship,” she says.

Frieze of Dancers, c 1895

Degas made monotypes in two bursts of activity – in the mid-1870s until the mid-1880s, before returning to it the following decade, using oil paint instead of black printer’s ink. “That’s an important innovation as oil paint responds in a different kind of way to the press,” Hauptman says. According to the curator, Frieze of Dancers is one of the most important works to feature in the exhibition, as it encapsulates the idea of “the multiple and variation in a single work”. Does the painting feature four dancers, three dancers, or just one? That is for the viewer to decide, but Hauptman suggests that you can see it as a single dancer in four different moments. “With that in mind, we might relate the work to contemporary time motion studies of the photographers Muybridge and Marey, who we know Degas was interested in,” she says. As a result, the painting takes on a filmstrip-like quality that alludes to cinema.

The Fireside, c 1880-85

There are two kinds of monotype in Degas’s work: light-field and dark-field. When working with the former, he would draw on a plate just as he would on paper, but the latter was a subtractive process. The result is figures that appear to be emerging out of the darkness, as seen here, in The Fireside.

Three Women in a Brothel, Seen from Behind, c 1877–79

While a monotype only produces one image, Degas would often run the plate a second time using whatever ink was left. This created a ghost image, which he used as a ‘tonal map’ for a new work. Using pastels, Degas would often create something completely new with the second image. “In those pairs you see something that is the same and different. You see the ways he saw possibilities of making more than one form,” Hauptman says. “For Degas, he always saw possibility.”

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Things You Didn’t Know About the Mona Lisa

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Things You Didn’t Know About the Mona Lisa

Her tricky smile and timeless allure have inspired academic study and artistic emulation for more than five centuries. But the story of this perplexing portrait is even richer than it looks.

“Mona Lisa” Is Not Her Name

The painting’s subject is Lisa Gherardini, whose wealthy—and presumably adoring—husband Francesco Del Giocondo commissioned the work. This explains the less prevalent title for this painting, La Gioconda. The name Mona Lisa (or Monna Lisa, as the Italians prefer) roughly translates to “My Lady Lisa.”

She’s Smaller Than You Might Think

Mona Lisa’s influence in culture is massive, but the oil-on-wood panel painting measures just 30 by 21 inches and weighs 18 pounds.

Her Eyebrows Are A Matter of Debate

Some claim the subject’s lack of eyebrows is representative of high-class fashion of the time. Others insist her AWOL eyebrows are proof that Mona Lisa is an unfinished masterpiece. But in 2007 ultra detailed digital scans of the painting revealed da Vinci had painted on eyebrows and bolder eyelashes. Both had simply faded over time or had fallen victim to years of restoration work.

She’s Broken A Lot of Hearts

The portrait was first put on public display in the Louvre in 1815, inspiring admiration, as a string of “suitors bearing flowers, poems and impassioned notes climbed the grand staircase of the Louvre to gaze into her ‘limpid and burning eyes.’”

“Mona Lisa often made men do strange things,” R. A. Scotti wrote in Vanished Smile, “There were more than one million artworks in the Louvre collection; she alone received her own mail.” The painting actually has its own mailbox at the Louvre because of all the love letters its subject receives.

Men Have Died from Loving Her

In 1852, an artist named Luc Maspero threw himself from the fourth floor of a Parisian hotel, leaving a suicide note that read: “For years I have grappled desperately with her smile. I prefer to die.” Then in 1910, one enamored fan came before her solely to shoot himself as he looked upon her.

It’s Literally Priceless

In the 1960s, the painting went on a tour where it was given an insurance valuation of $100 million. But the policy was never taken out because the premiums were more than the cost of the best security.

The Paiinting Sits in the World’s Prettish Prison

Mona Lisa gets her own room at the Louvre, one that is climate controlled to keep her in the ideal environment. Additionally, the work is encased in bulletproof glass to prevent threat and injury.

She’s Been Attacked

If you look closely at the subject’s left elbow, you might notice the damage done by Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a Bolivian who chucked a rock at the portrait in 1956. A few months before, another art attacker pitched acid at the painting, which hit the lower section. These attacks inspired the bulletproof glass, which in 2009 successfully rebuffed a souvenir mug hurled by an enraged Russian tourist who’d been denied French citizenship.

France Mourned en Masse when She Went Missing

In 1911, Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. The New York Times retroactively compared the public display of grief to that seen in the wake of Princess Diana’s death in 1997. Thousands poured into the Louvre to stare in shock at the blank wall where she once hung and leave flowers, notes, and other remembrances.

Pablo Picasso Was a Suspect in the Caper

Because he’d been caught buying stolen Louvre pieces before, Picasso was brought in for questioning. But the true thief would not be caught until 1913.

Louvre employee Vincenzo Perugia was a proud Italian nationalist who smuggled the painting out under his smock because he felt it belonged to his and da Vinci’s homeland, not France. After hiding it for two years, Perugia was busted trying to sell Mona Lisa to a Florence art dealer. However, he did briefly get his wish. Upon her recovery, Mona Lisa toured Italy before returning to Paris.

Her Terun Inspired a Fashion Trend

In her book Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, journalist Dianne Hales writes, “Society women adopted the ‘La Joconde look’ [named for the painting’s French title], dusting yellow powder on their faces and necks to suggest her golden complexion and immobilizing their facial muscles to mimic her smile. In Parisian cabarets, dancers dressed as La Joconde performed a saucy can-can…. Something beyond the painting’s wild popularity had changed. The Mona Lisa had left the Louvre a work of art; she returned as a public property, the first mass art icon.”

Her Smile Doesn’t Change, but Your Mindset Does

That is-she-or-isn’t-she smile has long fascinated artists and historians. But in 2000, Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Margaret Livingstone applied a scientific method to why Mona Lisa’s smile seems to shift. It’s all about where your focus is, and how your brain responds.

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Renoir Art: Two Sisters on the Terrace, 1881

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Renoir Art: Two Sisters an the Terrace, 1881

Two Sisters or On the Terrace is an 1881 oil-on-canvas painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The dimensions of the painting are 100.5 cm × 81 cm. The title Two Sisters (French: Les Deux Sœurs) was given to the painting by Renoir, and the title On the Terrace (French: Sur la terrasse) by its first owner Paul Durand-Ruel.

Renoir worked on the painting on the terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting depicts a young woman and her younger sister seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. Over the railings of the terrace one can see shrubbery and foliage with the River Seine behind it.

In 1880 to 1881, shortly before working on Two Sisters, Renoir worked in this particular location on another well-known painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Jeanne Darlot (1863—1914), a future actress who was 18 years old at the time, was posing as “the elder sister.” It is unknown who posed as the “younger sister,” but it is stated that the models were not actually related.

Renoir began work on the painting in April 1881 and on July 7, 1881, it was bought by the art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, for 1,500 francs. The painting was presented for the first time to the public at the 7th Impressionist exhibition in the spring of 1882. In 1883 it was known to be in the collection of Charles Ephrussi, an art collector and a publisher, but in 1892 the painting was returned again to the collection of the Durand-Ruel family.

In 1925, the painting was sold to Annie S. Coburn from Chicago for $100,000. After her death in 1932 the painting was bequeathed to the Art Institute of Chicago, where it has remained since 1933.

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Francisco Goya: The Father of Modern Art

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Execution of the Defenders of Madrid, 3rd May, 1808, 1814

Francisco Goya, considered to be “the Father of Modern Art,” began his painting career just after the late Baroque period. In expressing his thoughts and feelings frankly, as he did, he became the pioneer of new artistic tendencies which were to come to fruition in the 19th century. Two trends dominated the art of his contradictory; they actually were not. Together they represented the reaction against previous conceptions of art and the desire for a new form of expression.

In order to understand the scope of Goya’s art, and to appreciate the principles which governed his development and tremendous versatility, it is essential to realise that his work extended over a period of more than 60 years, for he continued to draw and paint until his 82nd year.

The importance of this factor is evident between his attitude towards life in his youth, when he accepted the world as it was quite happily, in his manhood when he began to criticise it, and in his old age when he became embittered and disillusioned with people and society. Furthermore, the world changed completely during his lifetime. The society, in which he had achieved a great success disappeared during the Napoleonic war. Long before the end of the 18th century Goya had already turned towards his new ideals and expressed them in his graphic art and in his paintings.

As an artist, Goya was by temperament far removed from the classicals. In a few works he approached Classical style, but in the greater part of his work the Romantic triumphed.

Born in Zaragoza, Spain, he found employment as a young teenager under the mediocre artist José Luzán, from whom he learned to draw and as was customary, copied prints of several masters.

At the age of 17 he went to Madrid. His style was influenced by two painters who were working there. The last of the great Venetian painters—Tiepolo and the rather cold and efficient neo-classical painter—Antonio Raphael Mengs. In 1763 he entered a competition at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and failed, as he did in the year 1766. In 1770, he want to Rome and survived by living off his works of art.

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Endless Love and Figurative Abstract

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Endless Love and Figurative Abstract

Alfred Gockel, Alexander (he goes by Alex, but his name is “Alfred”) was born in the coal mining town Lüdinghausen, Germany in 1952. Gockel’s first work was published when he was only eight years. He wanted to become an engineer, but at the age of 16 Gockel started working in the coal mines in Germany. When the mining industry has slowed, many locals found themselves unemployed.

The struggle Gockel felt at that time continues to do his work of art today. “I like to touch the soul of the viewer with my colors,” says Gockel. “Often in my paintings I use elements that reflect my difficult past, when a boy, I worked in coal mines. But my goal is to express my joy of life, and show that we can overcome many obstacles through the expressions of the beauties of life. ”

After more than two years in the army, Gockel refocused its attention on the arts and in 1973 he enrolled at the Polytechnic Academy in Munster, Germany. Gockel studied art and design and learned the techniques of lithography and serigraphy. After graduation, Gockel teaches graphic design and typography at the Academy. In the early 1980s Gockel has decided to concentrate on his art full time. In 1983 he and his wife Ingrid founded an art publishing company, Art Before, a player currently ranked in the abstract segment of the market, with customers in over 50 countries worldwide.

From its humble beginnings, Gockel has become one of the most prolific distributors of posters of modern art in the world. According to some estimates, sales in more than 10 million worldwide, they can be seen in design studios and private and large companies in the world. Gockel, was commissioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee to create an official piece of artwork for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Gockel’s unique style – boldly colored abstract images doubled in thick black on a white canvas – has become his signature. “The art in both culture and the influences he imitates,” Gockel said. “I’m influenced by colors, symbols, textures, fibers and models used by different cultures around the world. ”

Still active in his “spare time” Gockel plays tennis, walks in the German forests with his two dogs, or riding Harley Davidson with his wife. They enjoy spending time at their favorite spot on the island of Sylt.

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Salvador Dali and Rose Meditative

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Salvador Dali and Rose Meditative

Dalí, May 11, 1904, in Spain’s Catalonia region located in the town of Figueres, Salvador Dalí and Felipa Domenech Ferres i Cusí couple’s second child came into the world. The couple’s first child was born in 1901, Dalí’s birth, nine months and ten days ago (August 1, 1903), died of inflammation of the digestive tract, it is a name that Salvador had been the second child.

The first children at a young age to die a kind of acceptance can not Dalí couple of small Dali by frequent dead brother talking about the first Salvador’s a picture of the bedroom walls of the sheds, and Dalí’yle together regularly for the first Salvador’s tomb visits were. This, in Dalí’s early years led to confusion about their identity. Later, I did not know about his brother “were alike as two drops of water, but reflected was different. It was probably my first version was designed to be more positive.” I would write.

Dali’s father, a notary public was tough and authoritarian character. Unlike the full understanding and compassionate mother and son had given support to the efforts of the painting. Dali’s sister Ana María was born three years old. House as the only male child, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, friends and carers of interest from the permanent Dalí, spoiled and capricious since a young age began to display a character.

1914 with the support of his mother to a special school post pictures of the Dali opened his first exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres in 1919. In February 1921 of his beloved mother died of breast cancer. About his mother’s death “was the biggest blow I received in my life. I used to adore him. There may make my soul will not appear inevitable flaws always accept the loss of a being I could not trust.” I would write. Dali’s father, shortly after the death of his wife’s sister married.

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Renato Casaro Timeline

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Renato Casaro Timeline

Renato Casaro 1935 in Treviso / Northern Italy.

Graphic apprenticeship.

At the age of 17 first commissions for cinema-decoration in change for free tickets.

At the age of 19 moving to Rome – 1 year of work as voluntary at Studio Favalli.

At the age of 21 opening of his own studio in Rome becoming the youngest movie-painter in Italy. First commissioned poster for the German movie Two Blue Eyes.

1965 first international success with the worldwide used keyart for Dino de Laurentiis’s The Bible and first billboard on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard.

In the following years working with the big names of the movie-scene: Leone, Lelouch, Coppola, Petersen, Bertolucci, Rosi, Besson and the Studios in LA.

From 1979 numerous exhibitions and awards like “Best Keyart“ 1988 in US for The Last emperor or in 1991 for Dances with Wolves, just to name a few.

1985 invitation to lecture Istituto Europeo di Design, Rome / Italy.
1988 Honorary citizen of his home town Treviso / Italy and holder of the medal Totila.

1988 Honorary member of the Advertising-Association, Venice / Italy.

1992 Holder of the Medal “The iron mask“ of the city of Turin-Pinerolo / Italy for 30 years of life for movies“.

Since 1988 first paintings of his cycle Painted Movies including Invitation, 100 Years of Film, Paradise View.

Since 1985 regularly educational trips in Americas West on horseback for the cycle Going West and to African countries as to study African Wildlife for his Cycle African Impressions.

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Claude Monet and The Water Lilies

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Claude Monet and The Water Lilies

As soon as they appeared, the Water Lilies of Claude Monet old age, those hymns to light, plant life and water, incurred the displeasure of both the well-wishers and the detractors of Impressionism. The first were baffled by Monet’s new manner; the second were blind to the new depth of vision these works revealed. Misunderstood and neglected for over thirty years, the Water Lilies are at last receiving the recognition they deserve.

Having had the privilege, from childhood up, of seeing and familiarizing myself with them in the setting at Giverny in which they were created (the only setting, let me add, that can do justice to them), it reflects no particular credit on me to say that personally I have never shared that incomprehension. To see the Water Lilies in the garden studio especially built to house them was to see them in natural, harmonious conjunction with radiant summer days spent in the garden at Giverny beside the pond which inspired them. It was a delight which those who experienced it will never forget.

I cannot deny that, for me at least, the spell is irremediably broken in the Musée de l’Orangerie, in that bleak back room which, designed especially for the Water Lilies in 1925, nevertheless baldly reduces them to a mural decoration — and they are ever so much more than that. The way in which they are encased there, in a long horizontal belt around the concave wall, restricts them to the narrow, perfectly extraneous function of emphasizing the ellipsoidal line of the architecture.

Monet himself contributed to this over-modest setting by approving the whole project at the time and by doing his utmost to adapt his panels to it. To break and diversify the even horizontal flow of the paintings around the room, he sprinkled the foreground with willow fronds suggestive of the decorative style of art nouveau, fashionable around 1900. At the same time they introduce a third dimension which strikes an uncalled-for contrast with the sheer vertical plane of the water surface; the latter, with its rich play of light effects, was theme enough in itself.

The setting, then, in which the Water Lilies have been exhibited to the public in part explains both the eclipse they underwent for over a quarter of a century and the keen revival of interest in them caused by the recent revelation of further Water Lilies hitherto hidden from view in the studio at Giverny. The evolution of taste and ideas in the course of the past halfcentury explains the rest.

This evolution, as far as painting is concerned, began with the dissensions that led to the break-up of the impressionist movement in the eighties. While Monet went on, singlemindedly pursuing the subtlest, most elusive effects and variations of light and atmosphere, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin each branched out in different directions. The Neo-Impressionism of Seurat, with which Pissarro threw in his lot in 1886, was both a logical development of Impressionism and a reaction against it. The systematic, scientific application of the principles which Monet discovered and applied by trial and error signified in effect a tacit condemnation of the intuitive, empirical nature of his art.

As for Renoir, after an uneasy interlude in which he toyed with a harshly linear, Ingresque style, he finally reconciled his concern for form with his love of light, fusing both in an inimitable glorification of volume saturated with color. Cézanne, however, always deferring to his “sensations,” gradually exacted from them not an atmospheric so much as a geological revelation of the visible world. After a fling at Neo-Impressionism, whose narrow harness failed to hold him long in check, Van Gogh hit his stride at Arles, throwing off every constraint in a jubilant, preexpressionist exaltation of color and line. But it was the symbolism of Gauguin which worked the most radical transformation of Impressionism. Gauguin sacrificed the visual aspect of things to the expression, in terms of line and color, of the “idea” they engendered in the mind. He rejected outright the whole battery of naturalistic effects calculated to suggest space and light, and adopted flat colors and heavy contour lines.

The upshot of these powerfully diverging currents was Fauvism, which abandoned every semblance of fidelity to outward appearances in favor of a rapturous glorification of color — but color handled more plastically than it was by the slightly later followers of Van Gogh, with their bias toward expressionist distortion. In spite of this reaction, however, Fauvism and Expressionism remained, like Impressionism, essentially dependent on the sensation induced by the object.

This was no longer true of Cubism, which rejected the outer world as it appears to our senses and built up another one out of a select assortment of elements artificially reassembled in the mind. This essentially cerebral art stood at the opposite pole from the essentially sensuous art of Impressionism. No wonder then that the meat of the one was the poison of the other. The rise of Cubism and the era that followed, during which its influence spread and was assimilated, set up a reaction against Impressionism, whose achievement was belittled and whose most characteristic representative, Claude Monet, was disregarded by a whole generation of artists.

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Vivian Flasch: Reproducing the beauty of nature on canvas

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Vivian Flasch: Reproducing the beauty of nature on canvas

Vivian Flasch truly has a love for painting and it shows! She is a much-published artist whose work is highly in demand worldwide. Vivian paints full time in her studio located in the lush green hills of Kentucky. She has always loved working in her flower garden and being surrounded by nature. She finds a special joy in reproducing the beauty of nature on canvas.

Vivian Flasch began painting as a hobby when her children were young and it has bloomed into a fulfilling career that has become more successful than she had ever dreamed. She paints in both oil and acrylic on canvas. She equally enjoys painting flowers, still life, landscapes, portraits and murals.

Vivian Flasch: Reproducing the beauty of nature on canvas

Her style varies from contemporary to traditional realism. Her work has been reproduced as prints, on hatboxes, night-lights, tapestries, note cards, needlework, puzzles, journals, albums and more. Her open edition prints are reproduced by Galaxy of Graphics and sold worldwide. She says it is truly a blessing to be successful doing something that she loves so much! Vivian paints from her heart to yours, and tucks a heart into each painting for you to find.

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