April 2017

NOTES & COMMENTS

Kamhi Book Recommended by Art Educators
The consensus of a panel discussion at the 2017 conference of the National Art Education Association was that Aristos co-editor Michelle Kamhi's recent book should be read by art teachers at every level. See "Lively NAEA Debate on Who Says That's Art?."

The "Da Vinci Initiative" in Art Education
Missing from virtually all K-12 art classes in today's public and private schools is systematic instruction in the centuries-old basic skills needed to make art. A recent program geared toward providing such instruction is the Da Vinci Initiative. Through online classes, lesson plans, workshops, and conference presentations, it focuses on such areas as draftsmanship, color theory, paint handling, and perspective. The ultimate goal is to provide art teachers with a new educational approach they can begin to implement in their classrooms.

Arts Coverage Worth Knowing About
Where else can you find appreciative articles on the Classical Realist art that we've long written about in Aristos? The surprising answer is Epoch Times [more], a courageous newspaper founded in 2000 to "provide uncensored news to a people immersed in propaganda and censorship in China"! (The largest Chinese-language newspaper outside of China and Taiwan, it is now published in 21 languages in 35 countries across five continents.)

See a sampling of recent Epoch Times Arts & Culture reviews and articles. Especially noteworthy is this list of pieces by arts feature writer Milène Fernandez--which includes "A Resurgence of Art," followed by a lively discussion section with remarks by, among others, Aristos co-editors Louis Torres and Michelle Kamhi (search for "comments" or scroll down).

Long-Overdue Recognition of Sculptor Camille Claudel
Though chiefly known as the muse and lover of sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Camille Claudel (1864-1943) was a brilliantly talented artist in her own right, whose creativity was sadly constrained by the circumstances of her life and time--not least the barriers to women's freedom and independence (see "Genius, Interrupted," by Emma Garman, Lapham's Quarterly, April 12, 2017). She has at last gained a museum devoted solely to her work ("Rodin's Mistress Camille Claudel Steps out of Sculptor's Shadow with a Museum of Her Own," Art Newspaper, March 27, 2017).

Two feature films have been inspired by the tragic events of the sculptor's tumultuous life. Camille Claudel (French, 1988), starring Isabelle Adjani as Claudel and Gérard Depardieu as Rodin, was lauded by critics and audiences alike (see Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb [Internet Movie Database]). The more recent Camille Claudel, 1915 focuses on her confinement in a mental asylum, to which she had been committed by her famous (and probably jealous) younger brother, the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955). Starring Juliette Binoche, that film version has drawn plaudits mainly for her "mesmerizing" performance as the sculptor.

EXHIBITION: Self-Portrait
This welcome exhibition of contemporary work at Eleventh Street Arts in Long Island City (Queens) New York promises to be a worthy one, as it gathers together examples by some of the outstanding artists working today. Among them is Charles Weed's Plain Old Self-Portrait (a small oil on canvas [7.8 x 9.8 in.] that may have been done especially for the show). See more self-portraits and portraits by him from past years on his website (his self-portraits are the 18th, 22nd, and 32nd in the series). Other noted painters included are Daniel Graves, the founder and director of the Florence Academy of Art, and Jacob Collins (the portrait shown here is not the one in the exhibition)--who founded and directs the Grand Central Atelier, adjacent to the Eleventh Street Arts gallery. (To learn more about all three artists, search for their names above.)

EXHIBITION: Unprecedented Botticelli Show
Botticelli and the Search for the Divine, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through July 9, is the very first loan exhibition in the U. S. devoted to this much-loved early Florentine Renaissance master. (Among his admirers was Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), who displayed a poster of the captivating figure of Flora from Botticelli's Primavera in his Chadds Ford, Pa., studio, now administered by the Brandywine River Museum of Art. That figure is said to have inspired Crown of Flowers (1973), one of his many portraits of Helga Testorf.)

Comprising just 14 works by Sandro Botticelli (ca. 1445-1510) and his workshop, the show traces three major phases of the painter's career. A featured work is the exquisite Venus of Turin (ca. 1484-1490) [detail ], one of many versions related to the famed Birth of Venus [detail] in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Remarkably, this exhibition began at the College of William & Mary's Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Virginia--which, even more remarkably, organized it. See Judith Dobrzynski's Wall Street Journal review "Beauty on Earth as It Is in Heaven" and weblog post "Finally, A Botticelli Exhibition in the U.S.," both dated February 16.

Good Riddance to Met Director Thomas Campbell
After eight years of recklessly driving the Metropolitan Museum of Art toward the edge of a fiscal and aesthetic cliff, Thomas P. Campbell resigned "under pressure" in late February as the Met's Director. Having previously lamented his baneful influence in the museum's headlong rush into avant-garde "art," we are not at all sorry to see him go, though we don't expect the museum's trustees to reverse its course of misguided management and avant-garde bias any time soon (on which see "Work in Progress--Trust Betrayed" in our December Notes & Comments).

For an astute early analysis of Campbell's missteps and the correctives needed, see Judith Dobrzynski's "The Met: What Happens Next," Part One and Part Two (with comments by Louis Torres on each part).

Letters to the Editors
We invite you to comment on items published in this or past issues. Letters may be edited for length or clarity, but you will always be consulted prior to publication. Please include your city and state, as well as any relevant information such as academic affiliation or profession. If you are a student, please indicate your college, major, and year of graduation.