Installation Art is typically site-based and relates to three-dimensional artworks. Installation Art invariably refers to interior installed works; exterior pieces are referred to as Land Art. Installation Art has its origins in the 1960s but grew to greater prominence during the subsequent decade. Works may be permanent or temporary in nature. Many museums and galleries host works of Installation Art for special exhibitions. Other works may be installed within private or public spaces.

Many Installation Art pieces have been designed in the context of their proposed space. Unlike a non-descript museum wall where framed artworks are displayed, the space surrounding the installed work is part and parcel of the work itself. The environment of the work becomes part of the artistic experience when it comes to Installation Art. While some works of Marcel Duchamp might be called Installation Art in nature, the term wasn’t actually coined until the 1960s.

The original Fountain by Marcel Duchamp photographed by Alfred Stieglitz at the 291 (Art Gallery) after the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibit .
Though a relatively new art form, Installation Art has attracted many artists in spite of the fact that it is rarely a sellable art form. However, its distinctive qualities and the unique manner of exhibition attract viewers. Installation Art also ranges from simple designs to complex. It can depict various styles from Pop Art to Minimalism. A work may embody any style, however.

Pop Art Installation

During the 1960s and 1970s, many artists viewed Installation Art as a means to create non-collectible art–art that transcended the collectible work or art object. Recently, though, technology has also influenced the work of Installation Artists who have been creating installations of immersion whereby viewers are immersed in a virtual reality. The most recent trend in Installation Art includes various digital art forms such as video, film, and sound.

Allan Kaprow, Words, Installation, Smolin Gallery

One of the earliest works that helped pioneer the art form was The Void (1958) by Max Klein. The work was a white gallery space–open and empty. Another early work to gain attention was Words (1961) by Allan Kaprow which featured randomly displayed rolls of paper with words. As spectators walked through the jumble of words, they would listen to music played on multiple record players.

We Came In Peace by Chan Jux – Basel

As Installation Art has evolved, it has come to be a broad term that reflects a multitude of styles and mediums. Many recent works have emphasized the interactive experience of the viewer. Styles of the 1980s, however, emphasized more lavish displays–a major departure from the minimalist displays that often featured natural materials of the 1960s and 1970s. Most importantly, perhaps, the movement continues to change, reflect new styles, and attract new artists to its form.


Last week we discussed Art Nouveau and, therefore, we have to follow it up with the movement it gave rise to and influenced greatly, Art Deco.

The story of Art Deco occurs against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties in the U.S. and a scarred Europe recovering from World War One. While the U.S. wasn’t faced with rebuilding after the war, it did have to rebuild its economy after the Great Depression of 1929.

Chrysler Building in Manhattan, New York

Art Deco is a form of Modernism that flourished in the United States and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. The origins of Art Deco began two decades earlier in Paris. “La Societe des artistes decorateurs” or the Decorative Artists Society was founded following the Universal Exposition of 1900. Early members, including architect Hector Guimard, believed in the importance of France’s decorative arts and marketing their achievements for business purposes. These artists also displayed their creations at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art in Paris in 1925.

Bevis Hiller – author as depicted in the Spectator magazine

The Decorative Artists Society inspired the name “Art Deco,” but the term did not become popular until the publication of “Art Deco of the 20’s and 30’s” by Bevis Hillier in 1968.

Détail  – de la station de métro du Palais-Royal by Hector Guimard

A founder of the Decorative Artists Society, Hector Guimard (1867-1942) was a French architect famous for designing modern facades for the entrances to Paris Metro stations during the Art Nouveau movement (1890-1905). His style was curvilinear, characteristic of Art Nouveau.

Radio City Music Hall

Among many examples, two American buildings represent Art Deco—New York’s Chrysler Building and Radio City Music Hall. The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen between 1928 and 1930. He initially worked for William Reynolds (cigarette tycoon), but his plan was later acquired by Walter P. Chrysler (automotive tycoon). For a short time, this 77-story skyscraper dominated the Manhattan skyline and enjoyed fame as the world’s highest building.

Exterior of Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall is a landmark in New York City’s theatre district. The site was leased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and was not ideal for his dream to construct a new Metropolitan Opera House because of the 1929 stock market collapse. In a partnership with Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel, Rockefeller constructed the Radio City Music Hall. An unknown designer named Donald Deskey, specialist in carpets and furniture, got the job of decorating the new entertainment hall. His Jazz Age furniture theme is an extant example of Art Deco design.

Art Deco hotel lobby in Miami’s South Beach

Other Art Deco style furniture adorns the lobbies of the boutique hotels of South Beach in Miami, Florida. This hotel district was refurbished in the 1980s and has become a hub of international culture. When you walk into a hotel in the Art Deco district, the interior design and the furnishings are true to Art Deco style.

Rockefeller Centre in Manhattan, New York

Another memorable example of Art Deco architecture in the Big Apple is the 10-building complex of Rockefeller Centre. This massive complex takes up six square blocks between Manhattan’s Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue, home of world class shopping. Rockefeller Centre is also the home of the annual Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

A Rene Lalique Algues Large Opalescent Glass Plate, Art Deco Period

A three-dimensional example of Art Deco is found in the glass creations of the Frenchman, Rene Lalique. While he was a classic artist of Art Nouveau, he produced a special series of Art Deco glasses and bowls with geometric, floral, and stylized bird decorations.

Miami Art Deco buildings

The Art Deco style is evident in many places in the U.S. of the 21st century, especially in buildings and homes which retain the authentic decor of the 1920s and 1930s.

Marine Drive, Bombay – Art Deco buildings


Art Nouveau, or the French term for “New Art,” is a colourful movement in the arts that captivated Europe during the transition from the 19th century to the 20th century. In other languages, Art Nouveau had other names, such as “Stile Liberty” in Italy and “Jugendstil” or “youth style” in German.

Art Nouveau Cover

Right before art lovers would begin riding in motor cars, watching moving pictures, and bracing for the First World War, they would flip through bright magazines of Art Nouveau styles. This cultural movement included decorative and applied arts, architecture, and painting during the years 1890 to 1905.

The Scream – Munch

An early example of the paintings of Art Nouveau is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” This painting was created in 1893 and later displayed during the artist’s first Paris show at La Maison de l’Art Nouveaux gallery. This location was the interior design house for which Art Nouveau is named. Now “The Scream” hangs in the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway.

Art Nouveau design

Photographic images of paintings, prints, architecture, interior design, and decorative works were displayed as photographic images in Art Nouveau publications. These magazines, including “Art Nouveau” magazine, were distributed around Europe due to advances in printing.

A large and rare example of Van de Velde’s only poster design, drawn in 1898

The print manifestations of Art nouveau are important for understanding the movement. The lithograph “Tropon” by Henry van de Velde (1898) shows the distinct colour choices of an Art Nouveau Print with brilliant ochre, dull green, and orange, combined with the letters of the word “tropon.” This simple composition combines a new style of colour choices with the curvy lines.

According to the “Grove Dictionary of Art,” Art Nouveau also served as an important link between Neoclassicism, which focused on classic art periods including Greek, Roman, and Renaissance themes, transitioned art to the modernist movements. Art Nouveau ended at the same time as Cubism and Surrealism were beginning.

What sets Art Nouveau apart from the Neoclassicist forms of art is the attempt by its artists to create a truly new form of art that did not mimic the past. The movement also sought to create an international style.

Art Nouveau in Paris – even today

When tourists visit Paris in the 21st century, it is easy to look around and see the lasting impact of Art Nouveau designs, including prints, pictures, signs, and wallpaper in public places and in the windows of cafes and brasseries.

Brussels Art Nouveau

In European hotels preserved from this time period, architecture and interior design examples survive today much like the boutique hotels of Miami’s South Beach preserve the Art Deco style of buildings and interior design.

Art Nouveau architecture – the curvilinear in art

The Art Nouveau movement produced new themes in architecture. Curvy lines known as curvilinear in art, asymmetrical shapes and forms, surfaces with leaf and vine decorations, and other patterns characterize Art Nouveau buildings.

Hector Guimard, Parisian metro, 1902

Architect Hector Guimard’s work shows how Art Nouveau produced works for the public enjoyment. Guimard designed decorative entries to Paris Metro subway) stations still visible today.

Stairway of Tassel House, Brussels – created by Victor Horta

In another expressive form, Victor Horta created ornate staircases in Brussels homes, especially the “Maison and Atelier” staircase. In Barcelona, Spain, Antoni Gaudi created La Casa Mila in 1905 to 1907. His free forms are asymmetrical and reflect the absence of straight lines.

Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera, is a most unusual building, constructed between 1906 and 1912 by Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in 1984

The Casa Mila shares the absence of symmetry that soon found new expressions in other art forms. For example, in the first Cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, symmetry is noticeably missing. In Picasso’s “The Three Women,” human forms lack geometric proportions and breaks with tradition in the same way as Gaudi’s architectural style.

Gamble frontdoor – A Greene and Greene design, the Gamble House made extensive use of Art Nouveau

The brilliant interior design that started in this time period is evident today in the United States of America. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) is the son of Charles Tiffany. Louis began creating his famous lamps at the turn of the century. He performed commissions for noted Americans such as Mark Twain and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Tiffany ceiling light

Tiffany’s work is preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. As an artist and designer, Tiffany was very prolific in the creation of lamps, drawings, paintings, stained glass windows, mosaics, ceramics, and jewellery.

Tiffany Studios Ceramic “Mushroom” Vase

The famous jewellery house, Tiffany & Company, founded by Charles Tiffany, is the same firm for which Louis became the first design director in 1902 in the middle of the Art Nouveau period. Today, Tiffany & Company sells magnificent pieces of jewellery and other collectibles to the rich and famous.

Tiffany Jewellery Bracelet Charms


In keeping with the spirit of the Surajkund Crafts fair – which is the largest one in the world, which is still on now and closing in three days – we have decided to write a little about the great history of Indian crafts and the glorious tradition of several kinds of handicraft work today.

Arts and crafts from the Indus Valley Civilization

The history of Indian handicrafts goes back to almost 5000 years from now. There are numerous examples of handicrafts from the Indus Valley Civilization. The tradition of crafts in India has grown around religious values, needs of the common people and also the needs of the ruling elites. In addition to this foreign and domestic trade have also played an important role in the evolution of different craft forms in India. The craft traditions of India have withstood the depredation of time and several foreign invasions and continue to flourish till date. It is mainly due to the open mindedness of the Indian handicraftsmen to accept and assimilate new ideas.

The Indus potter who made this pot decorated it with a snake and a flower

Going back to the Indus valley civilization we find a rich craft tradition and a high degree of technical excellence in the field of pottery, sculpture (metal, stone and terracotta), jewellery, weaving etc.

Sculpture of the Indus Valley Civilisation

The Harappan craftsmen not only catered to all the local needs but traded with the outside world via sea routes.

In the Vedic age (1500 B.C.), we find numerous references in the Vedas of artisans involved in pottery making, weaving, wood craft etc. The Rig Veda refers to a variety of pottery made from clay, wood and metal. There is a reference to weavers and weaving.

In the Mauryan age we find great development in the field of sculpture. In this period more than 84,000 stupas are said to be built in India, including the famous Sanchi Stupa, which has beautiful stone carving and relief work done on it.

Amaravati Stupa relief – The Shilpa Shastra in the oldest wood carving that can be found in India and this stone sculpture has set the standard as well as the guidelines for stone

Numerous sculptures from Bharhut, Mathura, Amravati, Vaishali, Sanchi etc show female figures adorned with a display of jewellery, which continues to inspire contemporary jewellery making. The period between 1st century B.C. and 1st century A.D. was a period of political confusion as a result of foreign invasions. The impact of this turmoil is visible in the amazing Buddhist sculptures from Taxila, Begram, Bamiyan, Swat valley etc.

Five gold Kushan items

During the Kushana period, jewellery, sculpture, textile making, leather products, metal working amongst many other practices were the main handicrafts that assimilated foreign influences and used them in accordance with the Indian setting.

The Ajanta and Ellora caves situated in Aurangabad exhibit incredible murals and paintings that reflect the magic of Tantric Hinduism

The Gupta age saw rapid advancement in the field of handicrafts and art forms. The murals at Ajanta and Ellora bear testimony to it.

Sculpture from the time of the Cholas – crafted with dignity and exquisite care
The Medieval period the handicraftsmen flourished in the field of pottery, weaving, wood carving, metal working, jewellery etc. The contribution of the Cholas and the Vijaynagar Empire in the field of bronze sculpture, silk weaving, jewellery, temple carving is simply unparalleled.

Mughal tabletop showing ethereal inlay work so characteristic of their time

The Mughal period was the golden period in the history of Indian art, craft and culture.

Antique Indian Silk with Silver Thread Brocade Textile. Mughal Dynasty

The Mughals brought with them a rich heritage. The Mughals introduced methods like inlay work, glass engraving, carpet weaving, brocades, and enamelling.

Mughal period Huqqa (water pipe) of emerald-green glass decorated with gold and yellow enamel


According to scholars, bead-making and beadwork stretch back at least 40,000 years ago. Beads have been made from various materials including bone, clay, glass, and more. Ancient artisans often strung beads together to create beaded adornments like necklaces and earrings. Over time, beadwork techniques became more varied and advanced to include loom beading and crocheting with beads.

Carnelian beads from around 1000 AD A human polishing process stretching over generations

Archaeologists have determined that the earliest beaded materials were likely natural items like shells and seeds. Early Mesopotamians created beads by firing a mixture of powdered clays, silica sand, and soda. These beads, known as faience beads, and their production became popular in Egypt.

An Interesting Collection of 24 Ancient Beads (3000 BC to 600 Middle East)

Faience beads were typically shaped like cylinders or flat discs. Some ancient and medieval beads were regarded as talismans. Other beaded adornments and materials symbolized status. Many beads have reflected religious significance for the culture as well as the individual owner of the beadwork.

This beautiful string of densely packed discoid faience beads dates to the Ptolemaic or early Roman period in Egypt

Carved bone beads

Prehistoric Europeans also used bone to create beads. In Italy, the use of Murano glass to create beads became popular as early as the fourteenth century. The artisans of Venice and the island of Murano guarded their glass-making secrets closely.

Sospiri Murano beads

Murano beads are closely associating with African trade beads. European explorers carried these beads to Africa where they became popular as a form of currency and were held in great favour. Nearly all the continents have extensive bead histories and their cultures are reflective of certain beading styles.

African jewellery has a long and powerful heritage of beadwork

Native Americans are especially noted for their beadwork that typically employed seed beads as well as other natural materials. Beads have been important culturally for peoples around the world since prehistoric times.

Native American Strips Patterns

Even today, beads continue to be fashioned from natural materials, precious and semi-precious minerals, glass, paper, and even plastics. Round beads are common, but beads can also be formed in various other shapes such as animals or other objects.

Animal Shaped Beads

Beads can be faceted, carved, inlaid, and created with a myriad of techniques. The essential fact that makes a bead a bead is the hole that allows it to be threaded. Beaded decoration is, of course, still popular for jewellery, but it is also applied to clothing, handbags, shoes, lamp shades, and other household items.

Black Tourmaline Beads – faceted black tourmaline

Beading continues to be a popular art form. Hobbyists as well as formally trained artisans and jewellers work with beads to create jewellery and other artistic items. Some artists have created portraits using beads. High quality beadwork is shown in museums and sold in art galleries around the world. While beading has been popular for centuries, bead-making has too and has become increasing popular among artists experimenting with various materials to create beads like polymer clay and metal clays.



Psychedelic Art generally refers to art that has been influenced by hallucinogenic drugs. However, it may also refer to the art of the 1960s counter-culture movement. Some people relate art that is a visual depiction of kaleidoscopic-like patterns to the Psychedelic Art movement. The movement was closely linked to the psychedelic music of the 1960s as well and was evident in both concert posters and record album covers.

The discovery of LSD and its subsequent popularity as an agent that produces altered states of consciousness was at the core of the Psychedelic Art movement; however, other drugs were also used as a means of inducing certain types of artistic expressions.

Rick Griffin – Original Book Cover Psychedelic Artwork

Various poster artists of San Francisco were responsible for launching the Psychedelic Art movement during the 1960s such as Rick Griffon, Wes Wilson, and Victor Moscoso.

Victor Moscoso Zap #4 cover

Rick Griffin – Original Book Cover Psychedelic Artwork

The psychedelic style peaked between 1966 and 1972. Many works, especially evident in concert and event posters, depicted a strong colour palette—usually of contrasting colours—along with ornate lettering, and kaleidoscopic swirls. The art of this period also reflected Art Nouveau and Victorian influences.

Max the commercial artist had arrived

Annunciation by Mati Klarwein

As the movement progressed, many other artists became associated with the artistic style of Psychedelic Art. Some of these artists included Peter Max, Mati Klarwein, Pablo Amaringo, Roger Dean, and Robert Williams.

Unai Shipash by Pablo Amaringo

Yes Keys Arches Blue by Roger Dean

Oscar Wilde in Leadville – by Robert Williams

Even the artist Salvador Dali became associated with the Psychedelic Art style. Psychedelic Art usually featured other elements, as well, that became major components of the style. Spirals could often be found in Psychedelic works as well as concentric circles and a repetition of motifs or symbols.


Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Dali

Collage is important to the Psychedelic style and many works could also be included in the collage genre. Surrealist subject matter was another major component of the style. Certain exotic motifs like paisley were also at the heart of many Psychedelic works.

Collage on paper – 2010 – by Larry Carlson

The Psychedelic movement had a strong influence on comic book artists who created an underground genre of comic book art known as “underground comix.” Robert Crumb was one of its chief proponents.

Crumb’s comics were filled with gratuitous sex, drugs, and violence and they sold well

Comic books influenced by the Psychedelic movement were often satirical in nature and exhibited many artistic traits of other Psychedelic works. Many Psychedelic works are famous for their visually captivating styles, but the movement also generated considerable controversy for its links to illicit substances.

The iconic Woodstock poster

Posters for music festivals like Woodstock are typical examples of Psychedelic Art posters. Bands like The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience also featured Psychedelic Art on some of their album covers.

The Who – Endless Wire album cover

Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix Experience -album cover


The Story, 4×7 ft acrylic on canvas by Robert F Allen, 2013

Coined in 1972, the term Outsider Art refers to art produced outside of conventional art or, rather, outside of the boundaries of work accepted as art of the culture. Some schools of thought suggest that Outsider Art includes art works created by self-taught artists. The term has been applied to anyone creating art outside of the mainstream art world; notably, Outsider Art has been applied to art created by mental asylum patients. In fact, the genesis for the concept of Outsider Art occurred during the end of the nineteenth century when the concept was known as art of the insane asylum and later as Art Brut.

As the movement historically grew out of, essentially, insane asylums, it is still sometimes referred to in that context. Near the end of the 1900s some psychiatrists noticed that some patients produced drawings or etchings and they began to look more seriously at creative works produced by artistic patients. In 1922 a German doctor published a renowned collection of art created from hundreds of mental asylum patients throughout Europe. These works caught the attention of Avant Garde artists Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet who felt their influence and potential to impact the art world.

Nek Chand in the garden he created in Chandigarh

Eventually, however, the term was applied more broadly to anyone creating art who was ‘uncooked’ by the art world. In the U.S., for instance, folk artists were also grouped in the Outsider Art genre. Many Outsider Art artists have achieved notable reputations in the art world in spite of their ‘outsider’ status. The Indian artist Nek Chand is revered for creating the Rock Garden of Chandigarh; the garden is located on forty acres and is entirely filled with scrap items and found discarded objects. Other artists associated with Outsider Art who achieved acclaim for their body of work or works include Ferdinand Cheval, Henry Darger, Vojislav Jakic, Judith Scott, Kiyoshi Yamashita, and Pierre Vuitton to name a few.

Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Ideal

Inside The Dark And Twisted Alternate Universe Of Outsider Artist Henry Darger

Vojislav Jakic

Judith Scott at work

Kiyoshi Yamashita

Pierre Vuitton – untitled, around 1955, 14 x 19 cm, mixed media on a a newspaper

Outsider Art also reflects a wide variety of art mediums and art forms. Painting and drawing, of course, make up a significant portion of Outsider Art; however, forms like collage, sculpture, photography, and writing are also reflected by the movement. Moreover, many unconventional art forms are associated with Outsider Art. For example, Willem Van Genk became well-known for decorating raincoats with ornate drawings. Judith Scott, an artist with Down Syndrome, became celebrated for her fibre art works. Helen Martins of South Africa created an alternate environment using crushed glass and cement. Because the nature of Outsider Art works is so extraordinarily varied, the term is necessarily a broad one to encompass many styles, techniques, mediums, and so forth. All are created, however, by artists outside of the defined art world.

Self Portrait in the Ark, 1974, by Willem Van Genk

Helen Martins created an alternative environment



Stained glass refers to coloured glass. Although it is generally associated with the coloured glass of church windows, it has been produced since ancient times. Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Romans all excelled at the production of coloured glass making objects such as amphorae and flasks.

Roman Stained Glass

Pieces of coloured glass have been assembled into windows since the Roman period. Stained glass windows have been added to churches since the early medieval period. Surviving stained glass windows from this period and the cathedrals and churches associated with them continue to be revered today for their artistry and craftsmanship.

Stained glass in church

To make glass, artisans used a mixture of sand and potash. To provide the glass with colour, liquid metals were added to the molten glass mixture before it cooled. To create pictorial stained glass works, artists first drew their image on boards. Then, they placed the coloured glass atop it to produce the desired effects. The panels would be secured by lead strips known as cames. The cames required soldiering to hold the glass in place.

The leading up of a stained glass window

Stained glass works were created in Europe as well as the Middle East. As an art form, of course, stained glass reached its pinnacle during the Middle ages, specifically during the 1500s. Stained glass was used as a medium to reproduce Biblical stories in windows as well as figures or botanical images. These works were then fitted to churches, cathedrals, and other structures throughout Medieval Europe. Large windows such as those as Chartres Cathedral employed iron to secure the windows in place. Stained glass continued to be created during the Renaissance as well and, of course, it is still produced today.

Windows in Chartres Cathedral

Historically, stained glass works not only involved glass makers and artists, but also engineers that could properly fit the stained glass windows into their desired locations. Glass makers used various materials to achieve their desired colours. For instance, the introduction of chromium would lead to a rich green shade. To produce red, a hint of metallic gold or pure metallic copper could be employed. Manganese was used to create purple glass.

Stained-Glass Windows of Chartres Cathedral

Some of the most famous works of stained glass include the thirteenth-century windows of Chartres Cathedral, the Crucifixion Window of the Poitiers Cathedral, the Rose Window of Notre Dame, and the Charlemagne Window of the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Rose Window of Notre Dame

Crucifixion Window of the Poitiers Cathedral

Charlemagne Window of the Strasbourg Cathedral


Many artists during the twentieth century also worked with stained glass as an important medium such as Louis Comfort Tiffany. His stained glass lamps and other glass works achieved great renown. Many stained glass works from the ancient to present time are showcased in the world’s great museums.

Tiffany – Dragonfly Library Lamp

Tiffany stained glass lantern window



When Matisse was busy dominating the Paris art scene in the early 20th century, Fauvism made a brief appearance in the City of Love. A group of artists, not including Matisse, showed their work together at the Salon d’Automne (1905). At age 25, Andre Derain (1880-1954) was among these artists called “wild beasts” (the French translation of Fauves) by the art critic, Louis Valtat.

André Derain – Tutt’Art

Fauvism continued the naturalism of the Impressionists and reflected the influence of Vincent Van Gogh, especially in the work of Derain. The big question is whether Derain’s canvases were really marks of a wild beast.

Le Bonheur de Vivre – 1905-06

Andre Derain was born in Chatou, a residential suburb on the Seine in the northwestern vicinity of Paris. Derain’s early training included study under Carriere. Derain was a friend of Matisse and another Fauvist, Maurice Vlaminck (1876-1958).

Like other Fauvist painters, Derain decorated canvases that exuded vibrant colour and emotion. This depth of feeling was seen again in Expressionist works (ala Edvard Munch). “Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge” (1906) is a good example of how Derain used colour. This scene and other London and Paris cityscapes were common in his Fauvist work.

The Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge – 1906 André Derain

In “Houses of Parliament,” Derain uses vivid red, orange, and yellow to show the buildings of Parliament. The yellow and red tones are echoed in soft hints around the puffy white clouds that dominate the left top of the painting. These brilliant colours contrast starkly with the dark green tones of the bridge and the dark green and white tones of the River Thames .

André Derain – Portrait of Henri Matisse – 1905 – Oil on canvas

Derain also created an important portrait of Matisse in 1905. This work now belongs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Another architectural theme by Derain is found in another London cityscape called “Charing Cross Bridge” (1906). In this picture, Derain shows the architectural feature of the bridge as secondary in importance to the elements of the river and the skyline of buildings behind the bridge. Derain marks the bridge as a simple rectangular shape of solid blue accented by bold red X’s. The water below the bridge is formed by irregular ovals and circles of color against the solid background (almost like the cobblestones on an ancient city street).

Later Derain turned to more exotic subjects, including African art and primitive styles of France and Italy. In the U.S., Derain’s work is also found in the collections of the Lyman Allyn Museum (New London, CT) and the Art Institute of Chicago. Derain died in 1954.


We,from EWAG, wish all our readers and followers, friends and lovers, a very Happy New Year! May your 2016 be a year of great joy; and may the year bring us even closer in interaction and spirit.

The New Year has always been a time for fresh resolutions. And for our Art History section today, we are featuring ten of the best New Year resolutions depicted in artworks. Of course there are many more, and coming down to us over great time. But this is a pick amongst them – and we think they are the ten of the topmost.

These could be the Ten Commandments of the New Year. They could also be the Ten Rules that you could live the year by. Rest assured that great artists have grappled with the same issues that many of us may be grappling with – and have put down their thoughts and feelings in these works of art.

1. Give up smoking

Horror at Home, Damien Hirst
Saatchi Gallery, London

This could be a scene from an Alan Carr session in which the smokers keep on puffing, stubbing out their fags in overflowing ashtrays, appalled to see the accumulation of butts. Hirst’s gigantic Brobdingnagian tray is filled with the contents of several bin bags, apparently all from a night at the Groucho club in the days when members could chain it. The work stinks, the pristine sculpture is defiled, life is going up in smoke. Let Horror at Home stiffen your resolve: it’s an all-out cautionary tale.

2. Give up drinking

L’Absinthe, by Edgar Degas
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Degas’s L’Absinthe, with its dead-eyed couple apparently paralysed by the eponymous drink, appalled French critics when it was first shown in 1876. How ugly and disgusting to portray an inebriated woman! In Britain, it was considered a morality tale: this is what happens when you drink too much. But in fact it is a painting of modern life, in Baudelaire’s famous phrase, composed in the studio under the influence of Japanese art. She’s stoned, he’s drinking a hangover cure in what looks like the cold light of day. It’s the morning after, or they’ve been at it all night. They’ve got to give up.

3. Read more

The Artist’s Two Youngest Sisters, Constantin Hansen
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

A book so riveting two children can read it at once without irritating each other? If only Hansen had revealed its title. But of course his reading party is really a portrait by other means, of his younger sisters in spellbound concentration, as well as the joys of reading. He painted the girls absorbed in writing and thinking too, completing the triangle of literature. Hansen is a pioneer of the Golden Age of Danish painting. He cared for these girls on his own, from a young age, when their parents died very suddenly of typhus.

4. Give more

The Boy With the Club Foot, Ribera
Louvre, Paris

The boy is a beggar, but is he actually begging? Ribera’s great portrait makes a monument of this spirited child with his defiant grin and marching pose. The viewpoint is low, so you have to look up to the boy, and the deformity all but invisible in the shadows. He carries his crutch like a spade or weapon and appears anything but downtrodden, for all his shoeless and orphaned state. But it is a performance, an act of bravery, for in his hand is the written plea: “Give Me Alms, for the Love of God.” Keep him in mind in 2012.

5. Exercise more

The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, Henry Raeburn
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

The Skating Minister, Raeburn’s most famous painting and world-famous as a Christmas card, marries two apparently opposing genres by making an action shot of a portrait. The figure cuts a dark diagonal through the chill grey light, his blades etching criss-cross lines on the ice, gliding forward apparently without exertion. The painting imitates his perfect balance. Walker was a founder member of the world’s first figure-skating club, which could only exercise when the loch froze. There’s no excuse for the rest of us.

6. Get organised

The Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes, Eric Ravilious
Tate, London

This is a dream of perfect order, and not just for gardeners. Indeed there is no sign of a gardener here, unless perhaps God himself is implied. Everything is beautifully organised, from the tomatoes above to the potted cyclamen below, with not a single weed nor a leaf out of place. The perspective is pristine, the watercolour so clear, light and symmetrical in both its form and content, the white paper burning through the foliage like sunlight. It is the greenhouse from paradise, the platonic ideal of organisation, a spur to action. Tidy greenhouse, tidy mind.

7. Lose weight

Alessandro del Borro, Charles Mellin
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

The great fatso of art fills the frame, side to side, genially displaying his bulk – a living embodiment of too many dinners. He is depicted from below, close up, in profile and between two pillars so he seems to jam the space. But the face is shrewd and the body stout as that column. Alessandro del Borro was a Tuscan nobleman and soldier who fought for Florence, Spain and Venice, where he was nicknamed the “Terror of the Turks” for his ingenuity. Once thought to be by Velázquez, now by Mellin, the portrait gives you the man in full.

8. Learn something new

Aún Aprendo, black chalk drawing
Goya Prado, Madrid

An old man with grizzled locks and long white beard moves resolutely forward on two sticks. The body is frail, and the sticks can only give temporary stability but still the man keeps going. “I am still learning,” reads the caption, which might of course mean nothing more than learning to hobble, but few can resist a more biographical interpretation. A dauntless old man still out and about, still experimenting, still curious to discover something new – like Goya, who made the drawing in his 80s, still inspired to live and learn.

9. Spend more time with your family

The Painter’s Daughters Chasing a Butterfly, Thomas Gainsborough
National Gallery, London

Gainsborough’s much-loved painting of his daughters Mary, aged six, and Margaret, aged four or so, shows the girls breezily tripping forward after the elusive butterfly. But the day is passing. The wood is dark, a storm seems to be gathering, perhaps even dusk, and though these little bodies are moving fast, the faces are more anxious and static. Carpe diem. Childhood is brief, ephemeral as a butterfly and will pass parents by if they do not pay attention.

10. Stop procrastinating

Painting, Smoking, Eating, Philip Guston
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

In this tragicomic painting, the American artist Philip Guston portrays himself as a caricatural cyclops stuck in bed with his sloth, his weak will and his ruinous appetites. He lies beneath a fat plate of ketchup-covered chips, paralysed and anxiously eyeing the pile of old shoes that had become a motif of these later paintings. Guston is not painting, he’s not eating; in fact he’s just smoking himself to death. Get up and get on, says the picture. But of course Guston has – the painting is the evidence.