Tag: World Cultures

Introducing American Cowgirl

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Introducing American Cowgirl

born and bred poster, cowgirl posters, decorative art, Giclee Prints, Illustration Art, vintage art, vintage art posters, World Cultures

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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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Trish Biddle and Art-Deco Style Artworks

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Trish Biddle and Art-Deco Style Artworks

Trish Biddle is published internationally, and is collected around the world. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, American artist Trish Biddle studied at the Dallas Institute of Art, before beginning her career as an illustrator and textile designer. Her process of drawing, painting and designing melded onto canvases, creating romantic images and her unmistakable Art Deco figurative paintings.

Her expertise in capturing nature and light creates richly colored, breath-taking canvases. With a well-defined style, broad, romantic strokes and vibrant color, Trish paints figurative, floral, fashion icons and children’s art. She travels the world and enjoys translating her experiences into oil on canvas.

Trish Biddle

Showcasing her sense of design, Trish captures the Art Deco style of fashion, elegance, sophistication and the simplicity of the era. Tamara De Lempicka who defined Art Deco painting as we know it, Argentinean tango dancers and depression era dance marathons have all inspired Trish’s vintage, figurative paintings. The faces are obscured purposely to allow the viewer to identify with the images of the graceful dancers their own romantic notions. Backgrounds are evidence of textile, ironwork and architectural designs extracted from her own designs and travels. Trish currently resides in Westlake Texas.

Trish Biddle paintings are in corporate and private collections around the world, and she has been published internationally by Encore Art Group – Win Devon, Canadian Art Prints, Portal. Her art is available at most major retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Wal-mart, Target, Tuesday Morning, Michaels, TJ Maxx, and e-tailer art.com. Trish has had over $1 million in retail sales and been commissioned by Hilton hotels, Churchill Downs, Westminster Kennel Club and Del Mar Thoroughbread Club. Actress Eva Longoria Parker is a fan of Trish’s work, and used her art for her charity, Padres Contra El Cancer in Los Angeles.

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Antique Egypt: All About Queen Nefertiti

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Antique Egypt: All About Queen Nefertiti

Famed throughout the ancient world for her outstanding beauty, queen Nefertiti remains one of the most well known of the queens of Egypt. Nefertiti was the Wife of Akhenaten during the Eighteenth Dynasty. She bore Akhenaten 6 daughters and no sons, and shared a near co-rulership with the king.

Fifteen years after her appointment to the position of Queen of Memphis, Nefertiti mysteriously disappeared. Egyptologists have assumed that this was either due to banishment or her death. However, little evidence suggests that she actually died. Similarly, speculation exists as to whether she was the obscure pharaoh Neferneferuaten.

Nefertiti was the chief wife (queen) of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV who took the name Akhenaten when he led a religious revolution which put the sun god Aten at the center of religious worship. Art from the time shows a close family relationship, with Nefertiti, Akhenaten, and their six daughters depicted more naturalistically, individualistically, and informally than in other eras. Images of Nefertiti also depict her taking an active role in the Aten cult.

What Happened to Nefertiti?

After about fourteen years, Nefertiti disappears from public view. Akhenaten was succeeded first by one Pharaoh, Smenkhkhare, usually described as his son-in-law, and then by another, Tutankhaten (who changed his name to Tutankhamen when the Aten cult was abandoned), who is also usually described as Akhenaten’s son-in-law.

One theory of Nefertiti’s disappearance is that she assumed a male identity and ruled under the name Smenkhkhare. In another theory, she was murdered as part of the return to the traditional Egyptian religious customs. Another is that she simply died.

Nefertiti’s Ancestry

As for Nefertiti’s origins, these too are debated by archaeologists and historians. She may have been a foreign princess from an area in what is now northern Iraq. She may have been the daughter of the previous Pharaoh, Amenhotep III, and his chief wife, Queen Tiy, in which case either Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) was not the son of Amenhotep III, or Nefertiti married (as was a custom in Egypt) her brother or half-brother. Or, she may have been the daughter of Ay, who was a brother of Queen Tiy.

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Samadhi: Non-Dualistic State of Consciousness in Buddhism

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Samadhi: Non-Dualistic State of Consciousness in Buddhism

Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.

It has been described as a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object, and in which the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated though the person remains conscious. In Buddhism, it can also refer to an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.

In Hinduism, samādhi can also refer to videha mukti or the complete absorption of the individual consciousness in the self at the time of death – usually referred to as mahasamādhi.

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Photography Art: Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989

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Photography Art: Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the June Fourth Incident (in part to avoid confusion with two prior Tiananmen Square protests), were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) beginning on 14 April 1989. The movement, influenced partly by the ideas of Mohandas K. Gandhi, used mainly non-violent methods and can be considered a case of civil resistance. Led mainly by students and intellectuals, the protests occurred in the year that was to see the collapse of a number of communist governments in eastern Europe.

The protests were sparked by the death of former CPC General Secretary Hu Yaobang, a Party official known for tolerating dissent, and whom protesters had wanted to mourn. By the eve of Hu’s funeral, 100,000 people had gathered at Tiananmen Square. The protests lacked a unified cause or leadership; participants included Communist Party of China members and Trotskyists as well as liberal reformers, who were generally against the government’s authoritarianism and voiced calls for economic change and democratic reform within the structure of the government. The demonstrations began in Tiananmen Square, but later expanded to the surrounding streets, and large-scale protests also occurred in cities throughout China, including Shanghai. While those in Shanghai remained peaceful, there was looting and rioting in various locations throughout China, including Xi’an Province and Changsha, capital of Mao’s home province of Hunan.

The movement lasted seven weeks after Hu’s death on 15 April. In early June, the People’s Liberation Army moved into the streets of Beijing with troops and tanks and cleared the square with live fire. The exact number of deaths is not known. According to an analysis by Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times, “The true number of deaths will probably never be known, and it is possible that thousands of people were killed without leaving evidence behind. But based on the evidence that is now available, it seems plausible that about fifty soldiers and policemen were killed, along with 400 to 800 civilians.” Globe and Mail correspondent Jan Wong placed the death toll at approximately 3,000, based on initial reports by the Red Cross and analysis on the crowd size, density, and the volume of firing.

Following the conflict, the government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the PRC press. Members of the Party who had publicly sympathized with the protesters were purged, with several high-ranking members placed under house arrest, such as Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. There was widespread international condemnation of the PRC government’s use of force against the protesters.

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Tribute to Carmen Opera

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Tribute to Carmen Opera

Carmen is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences.

Bizet died suddenly after the 33rd performance, unaware that the work would achieve international acclaim within the following ten years. Carmen has since become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon; the “Habanera” from act 1 and the “Toreador Song” from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias.

The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery gypsy Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen’s love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and were highly controversial.

After the premiere, most reviews were critical, and the French public was generally indifferent. Carmen initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired popularity at home and abroad. Later commentators have asserted that Carmen forms the bridge between the tradition of opéra comique and the realism or verismo that characterised late 19th-century Italian opera.

The music of Carmen has since been widely acclaimed for brilliance of melody, harmony, atmosphere, and orchestration, and for the skill with which Bizet musically represented the emotions and suffering of his characters. After the composer’s death, the score was subject to significant amendment, including the introduction of recitative in place of the original dialogue; there is no standard edition of the opera, and different views exist as to what versions best express Bizet’s intentions. The opera has been recorded many times since the first acoustical recording in 1908, and the story has been the subject of many screen and stage adaptations.

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Nude Maja by Francisco de Goya

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Nude Maja by Francisco de Goya

An image of Venus in the nude, lying on a green velvet divan with pillows and a spread. Legend would have it that this was the Duchess of Alba, but the sitter has also been identified as Pepita Tudó, who became Godoy’s mistress in 1797.

It is listed for the first time in 1800 as hanging over a door in Manuel Godoy’s palace, but without its companion, The Clothed Maja (P741). In 1808 it is mentioned again, along with The Clothed Maja (P741), in the inventory which Frédéric Quillet, José Bonaparte’s agent, made of the property of Manuel Godoy, who may have commissioned it. Then, in 1813, the two ladies are described as Gypsies in the inventory of Godoy’s property confiscated by King Fernando VII.

This work entered the Prado Museum in 1901 by way of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, where it had been from 1808 to 1813, and again from 1836 to 1901. In the hiatus between those two periods, it was sequestered by the Inquisition.

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Chanel Creations: Fashion for the Wealthy

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Chanel Creations: Fashion for the Wealthy

At the earlly of 1920’s Chanel’ s designs were for the leisured rich, the new international set who traveled Europe and the United States in a restless search for seasonal diversions; and the irony of her fashions was that she gave the richest women in the world a look that was indistinguishable from that of a shop girl or office worker.

Dressed in this ultra-chic “poor look” – in a sirnple black dress either with a demure white Peter Pan collar, or, more likely, completely unadomed – the society women who affected it paid everything for a fashion that looked like nothing and reduced women’ s dress to a minimalist uniform of understatement. Chanel even designed necklaces of uncut diamonds and emeralds that looked as though they were made of common glass.

This, then, was an inversion of values in the so-called democratic century. Dress was no longer a matter of direct display; instead, fashion adopted the language of the streets and of the common man (man, not woman, for both sexes). Chanel flung a trenchcoat around her shoulders and it became the latest thing; jersey, corduroy and tweed, once used to make only workmen’s or country clothes, were transformed into high fashion. The concept of casual wear was born.

By this time high fashion was an international movement. Paul Poiret had already toured the United States, where he had been horrified to find his exclusive designs pirated everywhere. By 1930 Seventh Avenue (the New York City garment district) was adapting Chanel’s designs for the mass market – and their sirnpIicity meant that they were highly suitable for mass production.

In the following year Chanel was invited to Hollywood by Sam Goldwyn. The “poor girI” look that Chanel had made her own was similar to that popularized by Louise Brooks on the screen, where she played ordinary city girls, “good sorts” and tomboys. Goldwyn invited Chanel to dress his stars because she was the most prestigious of all dress designers, but as it turned out her designs were too understated for Hollywood. After designing Gloria Swanson’ s wardrobe for Tonight or Neuer (1931) she retumed to Paris, unenthralled by the celluloid capital, which in tum had no use for her Iittle-or-nothing clothes.

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A View of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of the Volcano

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A View of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of the Volcano

Described as “She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land” in ancient Hawaiian chants, the volcano goddess, Pele, was passionate, volatile, and capricious. In modern times, Pele has become the most visible of all the old gods and goddesses. Dwelling in the craters of the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano, she has been sending ribbons of fiery lava down the mountainside and adding new land around the southeastern shore almost continuously since 1983.

Pele was born of the female spirit Haumea, or Hina, who, like all other important Hawai’i gods and goddesses, descended from the supreme beings, Papa, or Earth Mother, and Wakea, Sky Father. Pele was among the first voyagers to sail to Hawai’i, pursued, legends say, by her angry older sister, Na-maka-o-kaha’i because Pele had seduced her husband. Pele landed first on Kaua’i, but every time she thrust her o’o (digging stick) into the earth to dig a pit for her home, Na-maka-o-kaha’i, goddess of water and the sea, would flood the pits. Pele moved down the chain of islands in order of their geological formation, eventually landing on the Big Island’s Mauna Loa, which is considered the tallest mountain on earth when measured from its base at the bottom of the ocean.

Even Na-maka-o-kaha’i could not send the ocean’s waves high enough on Mauna Loa to drown Pele’s fires, so Pele established her home on its slopes. Here, she welcomed her brothers. A cliff on nearby Kilauea Mountain is sacred to her eldest brother, Ka-moho-ali’i, king of the sharks and the keeper of the gourd that held the water of life, which gave him the power to revive the dead. Out of respect for this brother, to this day, Pele never allows clouds of volcanic steam to touch his cliff.

A View of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of the Volcano

Her other brothers also still appear on the Big Island mountain; Kane-hekili as thunder, Ka-poho-i-kahi-ola as explosions, Ke-ua-a-kepo in showers of fire, and Ke-o-ahi-kama-kaua in spears of lava that escape from fissures during eruptions.

Of all her siblings, Pele favored her youngest sister Hi’iaka, the most. Pele, Hi’iaka and another sister, Laka, goddess of hula, were all patronesses of the dance, but Hi’iaka was said to have hatched from an egg that Pele kept warm during the long canoe ride to Hawai’i by transporting it in her armpit.

After Hi’iaka grew to womanhood on the Big Island, Pele traveled in spirit form to the north shore of Kaua’i to witness a dance performance at a pahula, or dance platform, that still exists near Ke’e Beach. Here she manifested herself as a desirable young woman, and quickly fell in love with a handsome young chief named Lohi’au. She dallied with Lohi’au for several days, but eventually her spirit had to return to her sleeping body on the Big Island.

Upon awakening, Pele sent Hi’iaka to convince Lohi’au to come to her. The sisters extracted vows from each other: Hi’iaka promised not to encourage Lohi’au should he become attracted to her and in return, Pele promised to contain her fires and lava flows so as not to burn a grove of flowering ohi’a trees where Hi’iaka danced with her friend Hopoe.

On Kaua’i, Hi’iaka found that Lohi’au had died of grief after Pele disappeared, but the graceful younger sister was able to restore his spirit to his body, bringing him back to life. Together, the two of them began the journey to the Big Island, but Pele’s suspicious nature got the best of her. Because forty days had passed since Hi’iaka had set out on her assigned mission, Pele decided she had been betrayed, and so sent a flood of lava into Hi’iaka’s ‘ohi’a-lehua grove, killing Hopoe in the process. When Hi’iaka saw the smoldering trees and her dancing friend entombed in lava, she flung herself into the arms of Lohi’au. In retribution, Pele set lose another stream of lava, which killed the mortal Lohi’au, but Hi’iaka, a goddess, could not be destroyed.

The legend has a happy ending, however, as yet another brother of Pele’s, Kane-milo-hai, reached out and caught Lohi’au’s spirit when he saw it floating past his canoe. He restored the spirit to Lohi’au’s body, and once again, the chief was brought back to life. Hi’iaka and Lohi’au returned to Kaua’i to live contentedly.

Legends about Pele, her rivals and her lovers abound. Most of the lovers she took were not lucky enough to escape with their lives when she hurled molten lava at them, trapping them in odd misshapen pillars of rock that dot volcanic fields to this day.

One lover who proved a match for Pele was Kamapua’a, a demi-god who hid the bristles that grew down his back by wearing a cape. The pig god could also appear as a plant or as various types of fish. He and Pele were at odds from the beginning; she covered the land with barren lava, he brought torrents of rain to extinguish her fires and called the wild boars to dig up the land, softening it so seeds could grow.

Pele and Kamapua’a raged against each other until her brothers begged her to give in, as they feared Kamapua’a’s storms would soak all the fire sticks and kill Pele’s power to restore fire. In Puna, at a place called Ka-lua-o-Pele, where the land seems torn up as if a great struggle had taken place, legend says Kamapua’a finally caught and ravaged Pele. The two remained tempestuous lovers, it is said, until a child was born, then Kamapua’a sailed away and Pele went back to her philandering ways.

Pele’s greatest rival was Poliahu, goddess of snow-capped mountains, and a beauty who, like Pele, seduced handsome mortal chiefs. Pele’s jealousy flamed after she had a fling with a fickle young Maui chief named ‘Ai-wohi-ku-pua, as he was traveling to the Big Island to court a mortal chiefess, Laie. Paddling along the Hana Coast, ‘Ai-wohi-ku-pua saw Pele in human form as a beauty named Hina-i-ka-malama, riding the surf.

He paused for a brief affair. Then he went on to the Big Island, where Poliahu seduced him. He convinced his personal goddess to release him from his promise to his first love, and went back to Kaua’i with the snow goddess. Pele (as Hina-i-ka-malama) chased after them, eventually winning back the fickle chief, but Poliahu was so vindictive, she blasted the lovers with cold and heat until they separated, and ‘Ai-wohi-ku-pua was left with no lover at all.

According to Hawaiian historian David Malo in his book “Hawaiian Antiquities,” in old Hawai’i, some gods and goddesses, including Pele, were believed to be akua noho, gods who talked. They could take possession of an earthly being, who became the god’s kahu. Malo writes, “The kahu of the Pele deities also were in the habit of dressing their hair in such a way as to make it stand out at great length, then, having inflamed and reddened their eyes, they went about begging for any articles they took a fancy to, making the threat, ‘If you don’t grant this request, Pele will devour you.’ Many people were imposed upon in this manner, fearing Pele might actually consume them.” Naturally, people who had seen others destroyed in Pele’s fiery lava flows, were terrorized by such a kahu.

Pele has continued to intrigue contemporary men. Not long after the old religion was abolished in 1819, the high chiefess Kapi’olani defied Pele by eating ‘ohelo berries at the edge of Halema’uma’u caldera without first offering them to or requesting Pele’s permission. In open defiance, Kapi’olani threw stones into the molten lava below. When she was not harmed, she insisted it proved Pele had no power and it was time for Hawaiian people to accept Christianity as their religion.

In 1823, when Reverend William Ellis became the first white man to visit Kilauea, most Hawaiians accompanying the expedition were still in awe of the volatile goddess. The hungry missionaries began to eat ‘ohelo berries, but were quickly warned to give Pele an offering. Ellis wrote, “We told them …that we acknowledged Jehovah as the only divine proprietor of the fruits of this earth, and felt thankful to Him for them, especially in our present circumstances.”…We traveled on, regretting that the natives should indulge in notions so superstitious.”

At the crater, the Hawaiian guides “turned their faces toward the place where the greatest quantity of smoke and vapor issued, and, breaking the (‘ohelo) branch they held in their hand in two, they threw one part down the precipice, saying:

E Pele, eia ka ‘ohelo ‘au;
(Oh, Pele, here are your branches)
e taumaha aku wau ‘ia ‘oe
(I offer some to you)
e ‘ai ho’i au tetahi
(some I also eat).

To this day, tales of Pele’s power and peculiarities continue. Whispered encounters with Pele include those of drivers who pick up an old woman dressed all in white accompanied by a little dog on roads in Kilauea National Park, only to look in the mirror to find the back seat empty. Pele’s face has mysteriously appeared in photographs of fiery eruptions, and most people who live in the islands-whether Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, or other-speak respectfully of the ancient goddess. After all, she has destroyed more than 100 structures on the Big Island since 1983, and perhaps even more awesome than that, she has added more than 70 acres of land to the island’s southeastern coastline.

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