Pack Your Bags

Before you take off for your travels, pack your essentials in one of these classic bags. 

• J.M.W. Turner’s sketch of the Church of San Luca in Venice is one of hundreds he made of the floating city. He painted this particular view in 1840 on his last visit, the same year his famous Slave Ship was exhibited. With only a few washes of watercolor Turner captures the weight and history of the buildings bathed in light.

• Yuval Yairi’s Memory Suitcases use old, worn out luggage as canvases for landscapes of ruins and dry grasses. The sepia tones make them look like travel photographs from the mid 19th century.

• John Outerbridge’s Case in Point is a bundle of leather strips with a tag that reads “packages travel like people.” Made in 1970, this work is a response to the artist’s experience of being told to stand in the back of the bus in the mid 50s even though he was dressed in army uniform.

• Walnut Studiolo’s Seat Barrel Bag is made of vegetable tanned leather and attaches to the back of your bike.

• Just Wanderlust’s Leather Portfolio fits your iPad mini, Moleskines, and other essentials for recording your travels. Their Moleskine Cover is made of taupe leather and fits the classic pocket or reporter notebook.

• Mariangela’s Tote is made of natural linen with a leather bottom for a sturdy yet light bag.

• Weltfremd’s Bag is made of light brown nubuck with vegetable tanned leather straps.

• Nina’s Tote is made of caramel brown leather and lined with a pale green floral print fabric.

• Pere and Sara Ventura’s Backpack has a drawstring top that opens to a large space perfect for carrying all of your travel gear in one.

• Nick Suen’s Bag is made of light khaki and dark brown leather with a thick cross-body strap.

Cloud Study

The landscape painter who does not make his skies a very material part of his composition neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids. It will be difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the “key note,” the “standard of scale” and the chief “organ of sentiment.”
– John Constable

• Constable’s Cloud Studies are loose brushstrokes labeled precisely with the date, time, and atmospheric conditions. They were a way for Constable to distill fleeting moments and train his hand for larger paintings. He studied the English countryside because his backyard was more rich and expressive than the grandest myths.

• For a few seconds, Berndnaut Smilde creates Clouds Indoors with a fog machine, capturing the surreal moment on camera before it dissolves.

• Alea & Brenda’s Necklace suspends raindrops made of apatite and chalcedony from a textured silver cloud.

• Michael & Patty’s Bracelet frames a porcelain cloud in oxidized silver.

• JD Wolfe’s Ceramic Dishes are a set of three, slightly curved clouds.

• Noga’s Ring repurposes a found piece of ceramic stone.

• Delaney Allen’s Clouds are near-abstract photographs of light and shadow.

• Sarah Ann Wright’s makes her Clouds out of cotton balls and creates rain with hairspray.

• Lucy’s Dreamed of a Cloud is a photograph of a diffuse streak of cream against a light blue sky.

To the East, Somewhere

Delacroix, like many Europeans during the 19th century, was dazzled by the exotic aesthetic of the Orient, a place that existed in the imaginations of those who wanted to be seduced by the unfamiliar patterns, fabrics, and people. For Delacroix, the Orient allowed him to satisfy his curiosity and romantic notion of design without any comparison to previous visual conventions. For the French viewer who had never been to any of the countries that constituted the Orient, the paintings would, as Cézanne describes it, “flow into the eye like wine down the throat and one is intoxicated.”

Delacroix accompanied the diplomat Charles de Mornay to Morocco, and, reportedly, was allowed to visit a harem in the city of Algiers. Of course, his Women of Algiers in their Apartments depicts European-looking women as though they were the fruits and flowers of a still life, and some think that oriental art reflects the colonialist mentality. On a more basic level, however, the inaccessibility of the Orient was erotic, mysterious, and simply different.

Suno’s Spring/Summer ’09 collection is a modern-day collaboration between New York artists and Kenyan craftsmen and women. The materials and patterns come from the City and travel to Kenya, where small workshops turn them into one of a kind pieces.

Night Light

Arkhip Kuindzhi’s moonlit pools of light, intense sunsets, and forests at high noon marked a significant break from the Russian Realist school, which was conservative by most modern standards and was seeped in literary thought and ideology. Kuindzi’s work is, therefore, more compatible with other Western movements, because his landscapes explore aspects of painting that were not tied to any social or political commentary. However, unlike his contemporaries the Impressionists, he depicts light with finite brushstrokes and treats it as a concrete entity. The contrasts of light and shadow speak for themselves and become as palpable as the surrounding mountains or still waters.

Constable’s Edge of a Heath by Moonlight doesn’t use the same meticulous brushstrokes he applied to his signature views of the English countryside, but captures the indistinct forms of moonlit haze. Throughout his career, he sought to portray atmosphere in its purest form through an almost scientific precision in regard to technique and observation. Nonetheless, there is that certain quality to his work that transcends representation, as he himself comments that “my limited and abstracted art is to be found under every hedge, and in every lane, and therefore nobody thinks it worth picking up.”

The Moon’s Clear Light

Although Corot has been hailed as the father and inspiration for the Impressionists, he never wanted to impress the viewer by shocking shades of color. Instead, he sought to produce a “harmony of the tones” that made up an overall atmosphere, which had its roots in the landscape schools of the past. Perhaps his style is too bucolic and old-fashioned from a modern perspective, but his best work includes the subtle play of earthy tones and dream-like touches of light that were hailed as timeless by later generations.
More about Corot’s landscapes: query.nytimes.com

Kawase Hasui’s Starry Night at Miyajima follows the shin hanga movement of the 19th century, which sought to continue the ukiyo-e printmaking tradition that flourished during Edo period Japan. Hasui’s style is more intimate that his predecessors, as his compositions are more focused, there few figures in his prints, and he explores light and atmosphere. In that sense, the shin hanga style brings with it a subtle acknowledgment of the popularity and Western fascination with the original Japanese printmaking movement.
More about Kawase Hasui: www.viewingjapaneseprints.net

After the overwhelming success of his first poster for the Parisian actress Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha produced countless prints, paintings, and posters that elaborated on the style that later became known as Art Nouveau. The ornamental patterns and distinct silhouettes were perfect for advertising, while the fluid lines drew a massive following. The commercial and decorative nature of most of his art makes it less rooted in any specific association, as it becomes more a part of popularized iconography.

Direction, Moods, and Shades

During the Italian Renaissance, lapis lazuli was alluring not only for the intensity of its pigment but also for its rarity and high price. Extracting the ultramarine pigment is a lengthy and complex process that was developed in the thirteenth century, and involves combining the ground stone with wax, oils, and resins before wrapping the mixture in cloth and placing it in another chemical solution. A conspicuous and striking sign of wealth, lapis lazuli was used in Giotto’s fresco cycle in the Scrovegni Chapel, a private chapel for a moneylender of the time.

Thin layers of light-upon-dark glaze form the main figure of Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy, the silken folds and creases a reference to the artist’s admiration for van Dyck. Gainsborough had studied the Flemish artist’s techniques, gestures, and colors, and applied them to his own portraits, perhaps, as a response to Joshua Reynolds’ subversive criticism of his work.

Blue dress by BCBG Max Azria • Blue Star by Joan MiroModern Blue Vase

Brian Skerry. Underwater photograpy • Fashion by Oscar de la Renta

Site to visit:

www.brianskerry.com

Sunlight, Storms, and Shadows

I have done a good deal of skying.

— John Constable

Painting clouds may seem like an quaint and old-fashioned business, but for a handful of 19th century artists, it was a powerful means of expression that explored new artistic territory. In a time when painting was thought of in terms of established schools and traditions that emphasized literal associations, the purely aesthetic merit of landscape was questionable. Clouds gave the use of paint itself new meaning, as their painters paved the way for a more modern artistic perspective.

Constable was ardent in his beliefs when it came to painting, but he expressed them in a more subtle manner than may be apparent from first inspection. Although he had to please a market that was enamored of historic and mythological references, he continued to advocate critical attention to nature as a primary source of inspiration. He immersed himself in the delicate nuances of color and light, and sought to portray them in the most authentic way possible. He was one of the first painters who produced oil sketches, such as the one pictured, from direct observation, creating a body of work that was devoted solely to the study of clouds. His utmost reverence for nature is manifested in each delicate and conscious brushstroke.

Turner, on the other hand, used the ambiguity of cloud formations to express his own wild imagination. Although he did paint preliminary studies such as Heavy Dark Clouds where his understanding of their realistic depiction is apparent, he is best known for his fierce layers of thick paint. In works such as Stormy Sea with Blazing Wreck, the sky is seemingly indistinguishable from the sea, as the intense emotion of the scene transcends into a more abstract representation.

Night Flights

With Halloween approaching, bats come to mind with associations of the mysterious and the macabre (at least in the Western sense).

Felted poncho knit kit • Fine and rare Art Deco enamelled glass bowl in a silver plated bronze mount in the form of three bats by Pierre D’Avesn.

Goya’s work is saturated with subtleties of a darker nature that express social criticisms through the richness and quality of his brushstrokes, his compositions, and a sense of the unexpected. Along with his paintings, he produced a series of etchings called Los Caprichos, one of which is called The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, where the sleeping figure is surrounded by bats and other creatures. He wrote on a preliminary drawing: “The author dreaming.  His one intention is to banish harmful beliefs commonly held and with this work of Caprichos to perpetuate the solid testimony of truth.” At this period of time, he was reading about the ideas of the French Revolution, which inspired him to present a symbolic criticism of Spanish society of the time, as it was gradually declining in the hands of the monarchy. From his position as court painter, he could make these observations, although he had to be careful not to make his opinions too apparent.

Bat on a spire’s finial on the Gaudi House in Barcelona, Spain • The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco Goya • Bat Long Sleeve V Neck Shirt

19th-century Chinese Bound Feet Shoes • Chasing Bats (Fuku Tukushi), Japanese Meiji period print by Chikanobu Toyohara (1838-1912) • Small Imari Blue/White Sometsuke Dish from Japan. Late Edo period

Crystal Pav Skull Belt by Tarina Tarantino • Alexander Mcqueen floral skull print tee • Aztec turquoise skull on display at the British Museum

See also:

List of unusual deaths

Bat Conservation International

Blood

The concept of blood has always had the power to evoke powerful emotion, so here are a few Halloween-inspired images and paintings.

Blood Orange Sorbet RecipeThirst — EarringsUntitled, 2005 by Anish Kapoor

Rubens was one of the only post-Renaissance painters to deal with the gruesome subject of Medusa, and his depiction of the famous myths focuses more on her chilling stare even in the pale state of death. He is able to display his skill as a painter through the detail of the insects which seem to be mingling with the blood, replacing his characteristic soft brushstrokes with a realism that portrays an emotional intensity, appropriately instilling fear in the viewer.

More about his Medusa

Fashion designer Giambattista Valli. Blood red • Head of Medusa by Peter Paul Rubens

Turner was one of the first painters to start using paint itself as a means of expression, and perhaps his Slave Ship is one of the most forceful examples. His brushstrokes have an agitated quality to them, as he depicts slaves being thrown overboard to die in the choppy waters. The blood of the dying blends in with the oranges and reds of the sunset, creating an almost suffocating sense of violence and tragedy. It is his brushstrokes that give us the right to interpret his view and criticism of how slaves were thrown overboard during his time because the owners of the ships could only receive insurance if they had drowned.

Fashion designer Giambattista Valli. Blood red • Phase 1—2 by Jordan Eagles. Blood preserved on white Plexiglas, resin • Slave Ship by J.M.W.Turner

See Also: After Dark — Specialty Blend (Herbal Tea), 2 oz Bag