Season 3 of Who ARTed will start popping up in your feed on Monday, September 13. Tune in every week to hear the story behind the artwork. Every week we focus on a different artist starting with a little bit of their background before discussing one of their masterpieces so we can understand not only what they created, but why. Who ARTed is art history for all ages. The works and discussions stay clean and appropriate so all listeners to enjoy. Check out the website www.WhoArtEdPodcast.com for images of the works being discussed, resources for fellow art teachers and more.
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Fun Fact Friday - The World‘s Oldest Art
4:50Recently, an argument has been made that the oldest artwork we have is in the form of fossilized handprints and footprints left in travertine on the Tibetan plateau. Dating back 169,000 to 226,000 BCE, there is no real argument that these would be the oldest artworks because the oldest known cave paintings are around 50,000 years old. The debate is whether the hand prints and footprints were purposefully arranged and thus a creative act. They seem to have been made by two children estimated to have been around 7 and 12 years old at the time of creation and personally I think it is totally fitting for the first work of art to have been created by kids who just couldn't resist putting their hands and feet on things.
Vincent Van Gogh (Part 2)
41:46In this episode, I continued my discussion with Chuck Hoff about Vincent van Gogh. We covered the later part of his life and career after he moved to France. The painting we specifically focused our attention on was The Starry Night from 1889. During the episode, we also briefly discussed The Night Cafe and Starry Night Over the Rhone. 1886 Vincent van Gogh moved to Paris and lived with Theo. This is where his work started to become much more colorful. While still continuing his studies in Paris, he is getting to know other artists like Emile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Theo found living with Vincent to be unbearable and in 1887, Vincent moved to a suburb where he got to know the pointilist painter Paul Signac. Vincent adopted some of their technique. One of the things and optical color theory is the use of complimentary colors to create vibrant effects. Vincent once wrote of a painting, that he “tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by means of red and green.” In 1888 he moved to Arles. His hope was to get a fresh start and eventually form an artist colony. This was one of his most prolific periods. Most people don’t realize in just a decade, van Gogh created about 2100 works of art and a good deal of that collection came in just the last two years of his life. This is where he had the yellow house that he shared with Gauguin for some time. Many of his famous works such as the sunflowers, his bedroom, the night cafe came from this period. Van Gogh was super excited to have Gauguin come stay with him. He prepped the place and he kind of went over budget buying furniture but wanted to impress his new roommate. Over time the friendship soured. It was after a fight between the two of them that Vincent cut his ear off. Exactly what happened is unclear. The generally accepted story is that Gauguin was going to leave, van Gogh was distraught and chased after him, they had a heated exchange and van Gogh took a razor to his ear. As odd as this sounds, there was a character in a book who did something similar at this time and Vincent was known to have a history of self-injury. He believed he had chased away his friend and ruined his chance at his dream of an artist colony. There are others who believe that Gauguin cut off Vincent’s ear in the heat of an argument. After the ear incident, Vincent needed serious medical attention. For a while it was not clear whether he would survive and he claimed to have no memory of the incident indicating it happened during a severe mental breakdown. He stayed in a few hospitals for his physical and psychological problems. In 1889, he painted Portrait of Dr. Felix Rey. Apparently the doctor didn’t think much of the painting and used it to repair a chicken coop before ultimately giving it away. I cannot help but wonder how that conversation went “Here take this portrait of me.” seems odd enough, but then adding “it was made by an unstable man and it was temporarily used to patch a hole in my chicken coop.” and someone else responded “sounds good. I’ll hang that in my home.” The portrait that would have been featured on redneck repairs is now in a museum and valued over $50 million. Van Gogh entered the asylum at Saint Remy on May 8, 1889. It seems like this was a nice asylum. He had two cells, one of which he could use as a studio. The asylum at Saint Remy was run by progressives who believed that people would benefit from time out with nature and there were gardens around and Vincent was allowed to walk the grounds. In some ways, this was likely the healthiest he was during his artistic career because he was getting regular meals, or distracted by vices like drinking. While he was free to work and painted quite a bit, he was limited in subject matter. He could walk the grounds a bit and did paint some landscapes but he also relied quite heavily on inspiration from other artists' works as well as re-working some of his older pieces. This is the period where we see all of his swirls and distortions coming through. When talking about a bundle of his paintings sent to Theo, Vincent referred to Starry Night as nothing special (He said some other things like a wheat field, mountain, orchard were a little good and lumped Starry Night in with “the rest” that meant nothing to him). In a tragic bit of irony, while today it is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces ever painted, Vincent van Gogh considered The Starry Night to be a failure. As always, you can find images of the work discussed along with other resources on the website www.whoartedpodcast.com. If you have any connections, corrections or suggestions you would like to share, you can email email@example.com
Fun Fact Friday - DayGlo Colors
7:43For this week's fun fact Friday mini episode, I share a little bit of the history of DayGlo colors. The corporation and their eye catching colors were developed by two brothers in the early 20th century, and they are responsible not only for rad, psychedelic designs, but also tons of safety equipment and yet another artistic contribution to the US military during World War II.
Vincent Van Gogh (Part 1)
40:23This week's episode is going to be a 2 part episode. My good friend, fellow art teacher and former mentor, Chuck Hoff joined me to talk about one of my favorite artists of all time, Vincent Van Gogh. In part 1, we discuss his early life and his first major masterpiece, The Potato Eaters from 1885. Born March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert a predominantly Catholic province in the Netherlands. His father was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. Vincent was said to be a pensive child. He was initially taught by his mother and a governess, then went to the village school in 1860 and he was sent to a boarding school in 1864. He was unhappy there and asked to come home. Instead, they sent him to a different boarding school in 1866. He felt abandoned and miserable. While at the boarding school in Tilburg, he learned from Constant Cornelius Huijsmans who had been a reasonably successful artist in Paris. He was known for his rejection of common technique and favoring impressions of common objects and nature. Vincent was mainly focused on how miserable he was and abruptly returned home in March of 1864 (about 11 years). He later described his childhood as “austere, cold and sterile.” n 1869, Vincent’s uncle got him a job as an art dealer because this was a time when 16 year olds would be starting their careers. He was apparently pretty good at the job. He transferred to the London branch and at just 20 years old, he was earning more than his father. This was a happy time for Vincent. His sister in law later said it was the best year of his life. Unfortunately that happy period ended as he had some unrequited love, then became isolated and more religious. In 1875, he was transferred to Paris but became resentful of how art was being commodified which is a really ironic stance for an art dealer. Unsurprisingly he was dismissed from that job after about a year. He focused intensely on religion and wanted to become a pastor. He stayed with his uncle, a theologian, while studying for the entrance exam to the University of Amsterdam. He failed the exam and left his uncle’s house. He failed another course, but he was determined and in 1879 he took a position as a missionary in Belgium. While there, van Gogh gave his comfortable lodging to a homeless man and he stayed in a hut sleeping on a straw bed. Apparently this behavior was seen as beneath the dignity of the priesthood and in 1880, he returned home to Etten. His brother Theo encouraged Vincent to study art under a Dutch artist, Willem Roelofs, who encouraged Vincent to attend Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts. He studied anatomy, modeling and perspective at the academie. The first major work from this time period was The Potato Eaters. Vincent felt like his brother Theo was not doing enough to sell his works. Theo said they were too dark and not in line with the colorful style of the Impressionists which were popular at that time. Vincent was supported financially by his brother, but he lived in poverty and barely ate because he preferred to spend the money Theo sent him on supplies. Next week we will discuss how his art shifted after moving to France, his ill fated dream of forming an artist's colony in Arles and of course, The Starry Night which went on to become his most famous masterpiece. Check out www.whoartedpodcast.com for more images, information and resources.
Fun Fact Friday - Take the Money and Run
8:50For this week's #FunFactFriday mini episode, learn about the conceptual art piece that has been getting headlines recently. Jens Haaning is a Danish artist who was loaned $84,000 to re-create 2 of his previous works for an exhibition at a museum. He decided to keep the money and gave the museum 2 blank canvases. He states that the blank canvases are a conceptual art piece better than the ones he had promised. He calls this piece, "Take the Money and Run." As always, if you enjoy this podcast, please follow, leave a review and tell your friends.
32:29For this episode, I spoke with author, Kristina Parro about one of the oddest artists of the 20th century, Salvador Dali. Parro was fascinated by Dali and included him as one of the characters in her historical fiction work, Lucky: A Novel. He was known not only for his surrealist paintings, but also his surreal life. From his waxed mustache that is said to have outlived the artist, to antics like driving a Rolls Royce filled with cauliflower, Salvador Dali knew how to command people's attention. In this episode we discuss a bit about the man, the myth and his work, The Persistence of Memory from 1931. Salvador Dali born May 11, 1904. He was born 9 months after his older brother, Salvador Dali, died. When he was 5 years old, his parents brought him to his brother’s grave and told him they believed he was the reincarnation of his brother. This idea stayed with Dali throughout his life and he frequently talked about his ideas of connection to the brother he never knew. He was a brash young artist and was actually expelled from art school (twice) because he felt like he knew more than the professors and refused to sit for exams. While he lacked humility, his talent was undeniable. For all of his odd personal quirks and affectations, Salvador Dali was always a highly skilled artist and earned people’s respect for his artistic prowess even if his personality was a bit off putting to many. Dali was a big fan of Freud and actually met him in London in 1938. Dali showed Freud his writing on his paranoiac critical method of painting. Interestingly Freud didn’t care for surrealist art, but did find Dali’s technical abilities impressive. While some artists would use hallucinogenic drugs to “access their subconscious” Dali would make himself hallucinate by simply sitting staring instantly at an object until it appeared to transform into other forms. He called this his “paranoiac-critical” method. While often we have talked about “fine art” vs. “commercial art” Dali actually partnered with Alfred Hitchcock and Disney. He made paintings that were used as set pieces in the movie Spellbound (1945). His work with Disney actually got shelved due to budget constraints but was eventually released in some shorts in 2003. He did other commercial work designing magazine covers and even served as a spokesman for Alkaseltzer, Braniff Airlines, and others. We discussed Dali’s life and perhaps his most famous painting, The Persistence of Memory from 1931. This small work (it is only slightly larger than the average sheet of copy paper) has had a tremendous impact as it has been hung in The Museum of Modern Art in New York for decades. The image of melting clocks in the desert has become a cultural touchstone outside the gallery world with various parodies and homages found in pop culture. As always you can find more information at www.whoartedpodcast.com Please follow, like, leave a review and tell your friends. If you have a connection, correction or suggestion you would like to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fun Fact Friday - Who Created The Smiley Face?
5:15For this week's Fun Fact Friday mini episode, learn a little bit about the smiley face. The iconic image of a yellow circle with two dots and a smile actually has a surprising history. The design was commissioned to boost morale around the office at an insurance company and almost instantly became a sensation. While the image is world famous, Harvey Ball, the graphic designer who created it was largely forgotten. While one might expect he would have made millions of dollars off of his popular design, he actually only made $45 for the commissioned piece. He did go on to create World Smile Day which is dedicated to spreading positivity, smiles and acts of kindness. His foundation licenses his Smiley design to raise money for worthwhile charities. If you are looking for a way to celebrate World Smile Day on October 1, 2021, try making your own smiley or emoji. Art teachers can find a video lesson based on Harvey Ball on the teacher resources page of www.WhoARTedPodcast.com Reach out or follow Kyle Wood on social media. Instagram: Wood.Art.Ed Twitter: @WoodArtEd Email: WhoARTedPodcast@gmail.com
26:56Takashi Murakami is one of the most prominent contemporary Japanese painters. I spoke with Toki from the podcast Japan Explained to get some insights into Murakami and how his work is a reflection of modern and traditional Japanese culture. Takashi Murakami is well known for his Superflat artwork. The Superflat movement was named for an exhibition of Murakami's work in the year 2000. Murakami's paintings often utilize outlines and flat colors that give the work the visually flat sense similar to traditional woodcut prints. Simultaneously the Superflat movement represents a flattening of society as barriers between cultures are broken down. In this episode, we discussed Murakami's background as well as his paintings of Mr. Dobs, a recurring figure in many of his works that serves as a sort of alter ego for the artist. As always you can find pictures of the work discussed along with other resources on website www.WhoARTedPodcast.com Keep in touch by emailing WhoARTedPodcast@gmail.com and if you like the podcast, please tell your friends, rate and review it wherever you listen.
Fun Fact Friday - Jackson Pollock Rags to Riches
4:39Jackson Pollock grew up in a family that struggled financially. He was expelled from two different high schools and bounced around doing odd jobs early in his adulthood. When Peggy Guggenheim started to collect his work, it was like Jackson Pollock won the lottery. With success in the fine art world, came financial success and one of the most interesting legacies of Jackson Pollock is his ability to pay it forward. In the 1990s, a woman bought a painting at a thrift store for $5. She was actually going to sell it at a garage sale later when it was identified as a Pollock original leading to a raise in the price from $5 to $50,000,000. This type of thing has actually happened more than once, so be sure to keep an eye out for hidden treasures in thrift stores and garage sales. If you like Who ARTed, please subscribe, leave a review and tell your friends. You can find more information, images and other resources at www.whoartedpodcast.com
39:09For the season opener, I was joined by Garret McCorkle of the podcast No Country for History. His podcast focuses on obscure bits of American history so we focused on an awesome, but largely forgotten American painter. Janet Sobel may not be a household name, but her work was amazing, innovative and influential. While Jackson Pollock is credited with inventing the drip painting method and pioneering the approach of all over painting, Sobel did it first. Not only did Sobel employ these methods about a year before Pollock, he was aware of her work. He saw Sobel's work in a gallery and commented about how she influenced him. In this episode we focused our discussion on Sobel's painting, Milky Way from 1945 Janet Sobel was named Jennie Lechovsky when she was born in Ukraine in 1894. She came to the United States after her father was killed by antisemites in 1908. Janet Sobel settled in New York and came to painting later in life. She was a self-taught artist and really didn't begin painting until 1939. Initially her art was inspired by the traditional folk art traditions from her native Ukraine. At that time, her paintings were categorized using insulting terms like "primitive" because it was not coming from a member of the dominant culture. Still, as a New Yorker in the mid 20th century, she had opportunities to see and connect with influential artists. She gravitated toward the surrealists. Sobel's son recognized her talents and introduced her to Max Ernst, the prominent surrealist artist. Around this time Ernst was married to Peggy Guggenheim and she was quite impressed with Sobel. Peggy Guggenheim considered Janet Sobel to be one of the best female painters in America. Guggenheim included Sobel in a group show in 1945 then gave her a solo show in 1946. Unfortunately her meteoric rise in the art world came to an almost immediate end when she moved to New Jersey in 1946. She was farther from the vibrant New York art scene and ceased painting in oils. As always, you can find a picture of the work at www.whoartedpodcast.com You can follow Kyle Wood on Instagram (Wood.Art.Ed) and Twitter (@WoodArtEd). You can email WhoARTedPodcast@gmail.com to share your connections, corrections, suggest topics for future episodes etc.