Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Art History Is Not Linear No. 4

This posting is a continuation of a series that can be found on my sidebar.  I started the series with the idea of showing that art history is not linear, and that the totality of art is a never-ending circle of inspiration. Knowing that, all art should be viewed freshly.

The Aqua Building of Chicago was designed by Jeanne Gang (and a team she led) and completed in 2009. It rises 86 stories and mirrors the undulating lines of Antoni Gaudi's Casa Mila.

Antoni Gaudi's Casa Mila, 1905 - 1910   |   Jeanne Gang's Aqua Building, 2009

Joseph Pickett, c. 1918   |   Charles Wysocki, c.1970
Charles Wysocki considered himself neither a primitive nor a naive painter (I would call his charming style "pseudo-naive."). Wysocki said that he was influenced in part by the work of the primitive painter, Joseph Pickett, though only a handful of Pickett's works exist.

Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron, between 1864 and 1875   |   Photo by Anne Geddes

Napoleon by Ingres, 1806   |  Ice T by Kehinde Wiley, 2005

Matthew Boulton, early 1770s   |   The Yusupov Egg, Peter Carl Fabergé, 1907
Matthew Boulton, the British industrialist and partner of James Watt, is credited with modernizing the British Mint. For a period of time he produced ormolu and marble urns to satisfy a great demand for them in Britain. When the demand suddenly ceased, Boulton was left with a large inventory of such urns, which Catherine II of Russia was happy to buy up. Doubtlessly, Fabergé was familiar with these pieces.

Chateau Rastignac, 1789-1817   |   The White House, 1824


  1. Somehow expanding the scale of Gaudi's building emphasizes a nightmarish quality--perhaps that was the intent.

    Oval rooms resulting in curved facades were in vogue during the neoclassical era; one famous example is Gore Place in Waltham, Massachusetts.
    --Road to Parnassus

  2. Dear Mark - great start to 2012 with this impressive post. Pleased to have been introduced to the Aqua Building. Took a step backwards when I read Bart's family name; which is the same as my maiden name. I have never come across it spelt this way before. Matthew Boulton, as I am sure you are aware, was a member of the Lunar Society.

  3. They're all good but Chateau Rastignac is not at all familiar to me so the White House comparison seems particularly uncanny.

  4. Hello, Parnassus,

    It's interesting how different people make very different associations to the same view; when I look at the Aqua Building, I see something from micro-photography. All the photographs I've seen of the building reveal it to be quite reflective.

    Thank you for introducing me to Gore Place. I just looked it up and note that the Gores may have been influenced in their design by a visit to the White House during the John Adams administration.

  5. Mark a wonderful series!! I love your concept of seeing how the past influences the present!

    Happy New Years to you and yours!


    Art by Karena

  6. Dear Rosemary - I can imagine your step backwards, as I have never met another Ruffner who wasn't family! I was indeed aware that Matthew Boulton was a member of the Lunar Society (along with Josiah Wedgwood and your own ancestor). In fact, Boulton attempted without success to make his ormolu urns and vases using Wedgwood pottery, then moved to marble.

  7. Hi, Scott - Regarding the White House and Chateau Rastignac, there is some question about which building might have influenced the other. On one hand, Thomas Jefferson probably saw the chateau when he was serving in France, and he may have had a part in the design of the White House. On the other hand, while the chateau was begun before the White House, construction was delayed during the French Revolution, and it was completed after the White House was already finished. It's a questioned that's been asked for a long time and never answered.

  8. Thanks, Karena! This is a fun series to post, and the material is never-ending. All the best to you for 2012.

  9. I love these posts, too, Mark. That Chicago building is simply gorgeous. It looks as it's twirling or moving. Brilliant.

    I love Wysocki's early work. He later in his life left the 'flat' look of his more recognizable work and began working in a more three dimensional way which I didn't like at all. In my opinion, it was that very 'flatness' that made his work so interesting.

  10. Hi, Yvette - I liked Wysocki's early work, too. No one made flatness as charming and rich as he, and it was a novelty. But I think it started to turn into formula, and perhaps Wysocki sensed that as well. As you probably know, he has several current imitators who are publishing calendars as he did, and they are awful.

  11. Great post. I love the juxtopositions (sp?). I, too, was unfamiliar with the French chateau that possibly inspired the design of the White House (or should I say Maison Blanche?).

    PS, I (like Parnassas) am a great fan of Gore Place, which I have visited several times with pleasure. A miracle survivor. Well worth a visit when in Boston (a short drive to Waltham).

  12. Dear Mark, Isn't it interesting what images do to our subconcious. Our reaction to them say so much about ourselves. It is always so interesting to see the examples you choose for this particular series. It tells us who you are.
    Happy New Year! Looking forward to seeing more. Gina

  13. Hello, Reggie - I have not visited Boston for years, and I'm long overdue. Parnassus often also mentions the fine exhibits found at Yale, and I note that New Haven is only about 140 miles further. Perhaps I can make a Grand Tour.

  14. Dear Gina - Oh, my! You've made me look at these selections with a fresh eye! Well, I hope they reveal my interest in a wide scope of the arts. :o) Happy New Year!

  15. Hi Mark, I love this art series. I know I repeat myself by saying you always teach me somthing new, everytime I visit. Thank you, from your ignorant friend, Kevin

  16. Thank you, Kevin! I'm sure none of us believe that last malarkey, my brilliant blogging friend!

  17. I think I need to have a photo done of myself ala Napoleon, or Ice T!!LOL! All the good stuff's been done before and we just tweak it a little. All of these photos show us that research was done and al had a great appreciation for previous design and concepts. Great post Mark!

  18. Thanks, Theresa - I can already clearly see that finished portrait - instead of the scepter, you're holding a 6-ft. brush.

  19. !!!!!!!!Funny Mark! Here is a link to a similar observation.(in case you don't allow links-go to GurneyJourney-"Was Rockwell Looking?")