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Monday, 15 February 2016

Guggenheim Venice artists - CLIL project 2016


Important artists and their paintings


Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain in 1881. His father was an artist and art professor who gave Pablo art lessons. Picasso was not a good student. He often had to go to detention. He began painting when he was 9 years old. When he was 13, he moved from Malaga to Barcelona and was admitted to the School of Fine Arts there. Three years later, his father decided to send him to Madrid’s Royal Academy of San Fernando, Spain’s top art school. Picasso didn’t like formal instruction and soon stopped going to classes. He loved going to The Prado museum to see paintings by famous Spanish painters.
In 1900 Picasso went to Paris. He met many of the famous artists who lived in Paris.
He and Georges Braque invented Cubism. They painted figures that were made up of cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones, and other geometric shapes. Cubists wanted to show the most important parts of the things they painted. They wanted to show all the sides of an object in the same picture. Some cubist paintings were extremely abstract. At first, cubists used mostly brown, grey, and blue colours. Then colour entered the picture and some artists, like Picasso, began using more than just paint and canvas in their art. In fact, Picasso is also famous for his collages.
His style developed from the Blue Period to the Rose Period to the work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon  (1907), and the evolution of Cubism. Then his work was characterized by neoclassicism and by an interest in drawing. He created oil paintings, sculpture, drawings, stage designs, collage, and architecture. Picasso produced at least 50,000 works of art. He also wrote plays and poetry. He was very famous and he became very rich.
In 1936 the Spanish Civil War profoundly affected Picasso, and he expressed himself in the painting Guernica. He entered the Communist Party in 1944. Picasso was married twice and had four children: one of them, Paloma, is famous for her jewelry designs. He died in 1973 in Mougins, France.

On the Beach (La Baignade), 1937 - Oil, conté crayon and chalk on canvas

During the early months of 1937, Picasso was responding to the Spanish Civil War with the preparatory drawings for Guernica and other paintings on political subjects. However, in this period he also executed a group of works that don’t show his preoccupation with political events. The painting On the Beach, also known as Girls with a Toy Boat, was painted near Versailles, Paris. Here he uses steady, volumetric forms in a natural environment
This painting has got a simplified, planar style in the poses of the figures. Maybe the theme of playing on the beach was an alternative to the violent images of war he was working on in that period.
There are two preparatory drawings for this work. In one of them, the male figure that you see on the horizon has a sinister appearance. In the other drawing, as in this final version, his face is softened and neutralized to correspond with the two female figures.


Wassily Kandinskij was born in 1866 in Russia. He studied in Moscow and became a university teacher in Law. When he was 30, he saw an impressionist exhibit and was very interested in the paintings by Monet, Degas and Renoir. The next year he decided to stop teaching and he went to Germany to study Art. He returned to Russia after the I World War. One of his most famous paintings was Der Blaue Reiter (the blue knight). Then he started a movement, with artist Franz Marc, which wanted to promote abstract art. This movement was also called Der Blaue Reiter.
Kandinskij was a synaesthete: people who have this neurological characteristic can associate certain colours with musical notes or sounds.
He came back to Germany and became a teacher at the Bauhaus School of Art and Architecture. This school was put on the Degenerate Art list by Hitler and was shut down. Later the Nazis confiscated a lot of his paintings, which have not been found yet.
He spent his last years in France and became a friend of Juan Mirò. He died in 1944.

In his career, he studied the relations between colour and form to create a painting experience that included sight, sound and emotions. He believed that total abstraction could offer a possibility to the soul’s expressions. His art wanted to communicate a universal sense of spirituality through a universal language of non-objective forms and colours.
He considered music as the best non-objective art: musicians can evoke images in the listener’s mind only with sounds. He wanted to produce paintings that alluded to sounds and emotions through visual sensations.

Landscape with Red Spots, No. 2, 1913 - Oil on canvas

From 1908 Vasily Kandinsky often stayed in the town of Murnau in the Bavarian Alps. At first he painted colored views, then he turned to luminous, antimaterial dream visions, like this painting. The motif of the church in a landscape was frequent in him. He painted many Murnau landscapes.
In his first paintings it is possible to identificate the Murnau church, but in this later painting the belltower, which divides the composition, has simply become a vertical form that seems to continue beyond the canvas into another realm.
Kandinsky presents the landscape as a spiritualized vision.
He uses colour to reveal its expressive content. The emphasis is on the primary colours, applied over a white ground. The focal point, the red spot, shows Kandinsky’s love of red as a colour that comes toward the viewer, in contrast to cooler colours, particularly blue, that go back.
Kandinsky indicates the naturalistic content of the picture with small signs, emphasizing the pictorial aspects of colour and form, and so he is able to dematerialize the world he sees.


Joseph Cornell was born in 1903 near New York. At the age of 14 his father died, and he moved, with his mother and three siblings, to New York City. He spent all his life living with his mother and taking care of his disabled brother.  His first job at 18 was as a salesman in the textile industry. At this time, he also began to collect all sorts of natural objects, memorabilia and images, and to arrange these 'found' objects into collages, constructions or boxes.

He first made his toy-like artworks to amuse his brother who was confined to a wheelchair. He filled them with all sorts of things. He often went to Manhattan old book and print shops and second-hand stores and he collected a lot of things. He liked all forms of theater, literature and poetry.
Cornell had never gone to an art school, he didn't draw or paint or sculpt. Art was his hobby. In the 30s he met Surrealist writers and artists – but he wasn’t part of that group - and Marcel Duchamp was one of his friends.
His idea was that an artist is a person who takes materials and combines them in inventive and expressive ways. It isn’t important what materials to choose or the method used to combine them - the final product is art, and the artist is the one who chooses Beauty.

His small wooden boxes, filled with various objects, were usually covered with glass. Sometimes some of the elements inside moved, or had balls or bells. The ordinary objects were chosen carefully. He was interested in finding poetic connections between disparate things. When these objects are isolated in this way, we are forced to really look at them, perhaps for the first time, and to think about their possible meanings.
His range of subjects was vast - Hollywood stars, birds, astrology, ballet, opera, travel, artists, poetry, the cosmos. He also used a lot of different materials: cut-outs from various publications, marbles, butterfly wings, scraps of wallpaper, souvenirs, sky charts, old advertisements, broken glassware, feathers, metal springs, maps, seashells, mirrors. Cornell created romantic works, magical and rich.
He lived an isolated life. Working on his boxes in his cellar became a substitute for travelling. His art seems to contain the entire universe in microcosm - its infinity, its mystery, its power. These are metaphysical works, and encourage contemplation and inspiration. They reveal to us our own possibilities - that each of us contains a universe, which we also can develop, discover and share with the world. They make us think that every moment of our life can be preserved in a box, we can store our fragments in little boxes in order to create eternity from the most temporal things and poetry from the most prosaic.
                               Swiss Shoot the Chutes, 1941, Box construction

“Shoot the chootes” is the name of an amusement park game similar to the roller coaster.
This construction is a holed box with different images in it and all related to the mountains: little dancers, mountains, an old man, Little Red Riding Hood, a cow, skiers, a hotel and others. It has got a small door on the top to put a ball inside and another one to get the ball from the bottom.  A collage of the map of Switzerland as a cover is cut into to reveal the little figures.  When a small wooden ball is dropped in at the top corner, it strikes twelve bells one at a time as it descends the ramp. There is something nostalgic in this artwork, a sense of loneliness and coldness.


Alexander Calder was born in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in 1898. His parents were both artists. His father was a sculptor and his mother painted portraits. They weren’t rich and they didn’t want Alexander to be an artist, but he started making sculptures when he was four years old. Then he became interested in sculpture that moved. He followed his parents’ advice and studied engineering at the college, but he wasn’t happy in any of the jobs he had after college. So he decided to become an artist.

Calder’s first exhibition of paintings took place in 1926 in New York. Then he moved to
Paris where he attended an Art Academy and began to build toys that moved. These toys became his own miniature circus. He packed his circus into suitcases and performed in the U.S.A. and in Europe. In 1927 he began giving performances of his miniature circus. In 1928 he met Joan Miró, who became his lifelong friend.

Calder’s interest in movable art led him to create
mobiles. Air currents caused the mobiles to move. Calder also created sculptures that didn’t move. He called them “stabiles.” Most of them were made out of painted wood or metal, and some of them were very big. Calder became famous and spent his last years in France with his wife. He died in 1976.
If babies all over the world have a mobile with small, coloured toys suspended over their bed, it’s thanks to Alexander Calder.

Arc of Petals, 1941 - Painted aluminum

During the early 1930s, he created sculptures in which the balanced components move.

They are sometimes moved by a motor or sometimes by the action of air currents. They can be suspended or freestanding.
They generally consist of flat pieces of painted metal connected by wire and stems. Their shapes recall the natural forms of the Surrealist painting and sculpture.

Calder cut, bent, punctured, and twisted his materials entirely by hand. Shape, size, color, space, and movement combine and recombine in relationships that are inspired by the harmonious activity of nature.

The present mobile is organized as an antigravitational cascade, in which large and heavy shapes move serenely at the top, while small, agitated, new ones move below.

Calder left one leaf unpainted, revealing the aluminum surface and underscoring the sense of variety he considered vital to the success of a work of art. He wrote: “Disparity in form, color, size, weight, motion, is what makes a composition.


Jackson Pollock was born in 1912 in Wyoming, USA. In 1928 he began to study painting in Los Angeles, then he moved to New York and studied at the Art Students League. He had many jobs but never had enough money, so in 1943 Peggy Guggenheim gave him a contract that lasted four years, so he could spend all his time painting. In this period, Pollock’s work reflected the influence of Pablo Picasso and Surrealism.
By the mid-40s, Pollock painted in a completely abstract and different way. He painted in a shed where he could lay his canvas on the floor, and drip and splatter paint across it.
He didn’t want to paint a landscape or a portrait: Pollock wanted to
paint action. When you look at one of his drip paintings, your eyes wander across the entire canvas in constant motion. In this way, Pollock achieved his goal; the creation of the painting was active and so is the viewing of the painting.

To do his drip paintings, Pollock didn’t buy his oil paint in tubes: he used big cans of house paint to cover the canvas. He used sticks, trowels, or knives to drip and splatter paint, or poured paint directly from the can. He put into action the Surrealist notions of the subconscious and
automatic painting.
Pollock’s drips were called “action paintings,” and contributed to the development of Abstract Expressionism.

Peggy Guggenheim organized his first European solo exhibition at the Museo Correr, Venice, in 1950. Then he had shows in Paris and in the USA.  His work was known and exhibited internationally, but the artist never travelled outside the United States. He was killed in a car accident in 1956.

           Enchanted Forest, 1947 - Oil on canvas

 Enchanted Forest is an example of Jackson Pollock’s abstract compositions created by the pouring, dripping, and splattering of paint on large, unstretched canvases.

In this painting, Pollock leaves large areas of white in the network of moving, expanding lines. He also decides to use only gold, black, red, and white.

He creates a delicate balance of form and colour through rhythms of lines that move into continuous, lyrical motion. One’s eye follows the lines of colour without being arrested by any dominant focus.
Rather than describing a form, Pollock’s line becomes a continuous form.

In Pollock’s drip paintings, his lines show the freedom from describing contours and bounding shapes.




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