My Favorite Bookshelf

My Favorite Bookshelf

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes | Watch the President Get Printed in 3D

The Smithsonian stopped by the White House to take a 3D portrait of President Obama, in what will be the highest resolution digital model of a head of state. 

In order to make the 3D presidential portrait, Obama sat in front of a "mobile light stage" with 50 customized LED lights that replicated multiple different lighting conditions. While Obama sat, he was photographed by multiple cameras. Smithsonian staffers also used handheld 3D scanners. The portrait session yielded exact measurements of Obama that were used to make a presidential bust.

"This isn't an artistic likeness of the president this is actually millions upon millions of measurements that create a 3D likeness of the president," Adam Metallo, the Smithsonian's 3D Digitization Program Officer explained.

The scans and printed models will become part of a collection at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, which showcases multiple images of each president. The 3D portraits will be added to the museum's current collection of works representing Obama.

The Smithsonian launched a 3D scanning and imaging program called Smithsonian X 3D in 2013, to make its museum collections and scientific specimens more widely available to researchers.

Take a look at the process, and the 3D rendering created from this technology.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Art, Theater, Ballet, Degas

A new musical and an exhibit celebrate artist Edgar Degas and his ballet model for Little Dancer this fall in Washington.

Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts | Part fact, part fiction, and set in the harsh backstage world of the Paris Opera Ballet, a world premiere Kennedy Center musical is inspired by the story of Marie van Goethem, a young ballerina who posed for Edgar Degas and became, inadvertently, the most famous dancer in the world. Torn by her family's poverty, her debt to the artist, and the lure of wealthy men, she struggles to keep her place in the corps de ballet—a girl on the verge of womanhood, caught between the conflicting demands of life and art. 

Degas's sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen continues to captivate as one of the National Gallery of Art's most popular sculptures—and now the Kennedy Center brings its fascinating story to life in what is unquestionably the landmark event of the new D.C. theater season. Starring four-time Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines (Gypsy, The Heidi Chronicles) as Edgar Degas, three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker (Mary Poppins, The Music Man) as adult Marie, and New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Tiler Peck as young Marie, the musical is being penned by the Tony Award–winning team of book and lyrics writer Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Rocky), with direction and choreography by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, Oklahoma!).

National Gallery of Art | The sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is presented with 13 additional objects from the Gallery's collection, including the monumental pastel Ballet Scene (c. 1907), monotypes, and smaller original statuettes by Degas that explore the theme of ballet. The exhibition also includes the oil painting The Dance Class (c. 1873) and the pastel The Ballet (c. 1880), both from the Corcoran Gallery of Art.



Little Dancer at the Kennedy Center
October 25-November 30, 2014

Little Dancer by Degas at the National Gallery of Art 
October 5, 2014-January 11, 2015

Friday, November 7, 2014

Glackens Retrospective at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

The first comprehensive survey of William Glackens in nearly half a century, this exhibition at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has nearly 90 major paintings and works on paper from some of America's finest private and public collections. Glackens’s influential career spanned five decades and this exhibition will show a new generation the breadth of his oeuvre, displaying key works from each decade of his career and revealing his enchanting zest for life, as well as his arsenal of sophisticated techniques. Several important canvases and works on paper will be on public view for the first time.

The exhibition—open Nov. 8 through Feb. 2—is highly selective, concentrating on the most pivotal, adventurous, accomplished, and distinctive works, including the magisterial At Mouquin’s (1905) and The Soda Fountain (1935). Several works in the collection of the Barnes Foundation are included in the exhibition. A joyous and pure painter, Glackens also served as an advocate for the development of avant-garde art in America through his participation in the landmark exhibitions of The Eight (1908), the Armory Show (1913), and the Society of Independent Artists (1917).

Albert C. Barnes and William Glackens attended Philadelphia’s prestigious Central High School together. When they renewed their friendship in 1911, Glackens encouraged Barnes’s appreciation of modern French painting. Glackens went to Paris in 1912 on a buying trip, sending back works by Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and others. The men remained close, and Barnes became his most important patron and acknowledged his friend’s importance to his collecting endeavors: “The most valuable single educational factor to me has been my frequent association with a life-long friend who combines greatness as an artist with a big man’s mind.”

At Mouquin's | 1905
Oil on Canvas | 48 1/8 in. x 36 1/4 in.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Soda Fountain | 1935
Oil on Canvas | 48 in. x 36 in.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
A Family Group | 1910/1911
Oil on Canvas | 71 15/16 in. x 84 in. 
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Architectural Image, 1920 - 1950 | National Building Museum

Between 1920 and 1950, architecture changed more profoundly and more rapidly than during any similar time span in history. At the beginning of the period, an ornate form of neoclassicism—as promoted by the centuries-old École des Beaux Arts in Paris—was still prevalent in the U.S. and much of Europe. But that tradition was soon challenged by the newly established Bauhaus school in Germany, which advocated functional design free of unnecessary ornament. By the end of the period, International Style modernism, which was largely based on Bauhaus principles, was by far the predominant force in architectural education and practice.

The changing tastes, theories, and obsessions of that era were often documented by prominent artists who found architecture and construction to be compelling subject matter. Some of these artists saw beauty in the inherent geometries of buildings, which they crisply captured via woodcuts or similar high-contrast media. Some celebrated the workers who built soaring skyscrapers or who toiled in modern factories. Others were simply fascinated by the burgeoning skylines and great works of infrastructure that distinguished the modern metropolis.

Opening November 8, this exhibition at the National Building Museum presents 70 prints, original drawings, and paintings from the period, all drawn from a single private collection in Washington, D.C. Included are works by such noteworthy printmakers as Howard Cook, Louis Lozowick, and Charles Turzak. Collectively, these works not only shed light on the dramatic emergence of modernism, but also reveal a certain optimistic spirit that seemed to persist amid the ongoing political, economic, and social upheaval of the era. By virtue of their bold patterns, intriguing perspectives, and masterful execution, these images invite the viewer into the captivating realm that lies at the intersection of art and architecture.

Looking Up Broadway | 1937
Lithograph
Howard Cook

Monday, November 3, 2014

El Greco: A 400th Anniversary Celebration

The 400th anniversary of El Greco's death will be remembered at the National Gallery of Art with an exhibition of 11 paintings from the Gallery, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and from the Walters Art Museum, in Baltimore. On view in the West Building, from November 2, 2014 through February 16, 2015, El Greco in the National Gallery of Art and Washington-Area Collections: A 400th Anniversary Celebration will include some of the artist's most beloved paintings, renowned for compositions of bold colors and subjects with dramatic expression.

Domenikos Theotokopoulos, universally known as El Greco, was born on the Greek island of Crete, where he achieved mastery as a painter of Byzantine icons. Aspiring to success on a larger stage, he moved to Venice in his late twenties and absorbed the lessons of High Renaissance masters, especially Titian and Tintoretto. In 1570 he departed for Rome, where he studied the work of Michelangelo and encountered the style known as mannerism, which rejected the logic and naturalism of Renaissance art.

El Greco relocated to Spain in 1576 and spent the rest of his life in Toledo, where he finally received the major commissions that had eluded him in Italy. Unlike the Italian mannerists, who aimed at elegant artifice, El Greco used their dramatically elongated figures and ambiguous treatment of space for expressive ends, creating transcendent works that, like the icons of his youth, convey deep spirituality. Blending diverse influences—Byzantine, Renaissance, mannerist—he developed a unique style that captures the religious fervor of Counter-Reformation Spain.

At the close of the 19th century, artists striving for emotional or expressive effects found a kindred spirit in El Greco, and since that time his influence has been immense. Many have regarded him as a forerunner of modernism. Echoes of his art appear in the works of such diverse artists as Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Alberto Giacometti, Thomas Hart Benton, Jackson Pollock, and Francis Bacon.

With seven paintings by El Greco, the Gallery has one of the largest collections of his work in the United States, made possible by the generosity of the Gallery's early benefactors Andrew W. Mellon, Samuel H. Kress, Joseph Widener, and Chester Dale.

From November 4, 2014 through February 1, 2015, New York City will commemorate the 400th anniversary of El Greco's death with two exhibitions showcasing all of the artist's work from New York public collections. The exhibitions will be on view at The Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (with works on loan from the Hispanic Society of America).


Saint Martin and the Beggar | c. 1600/1614
Oil on Canvas | Andrew W. Mellon Collection
National Gallery of Art, Washington