Seeing the Trees for the Forest

urbanforestcorbettcarri urbanforestkirschjesseCheck out these awesome downloadable posters from the Urban Forest Project. I didn’t even know about this exhibition, which took place in Times Square in August 2006, just as we were leaving New York for Paris. One hundred eighty-five artists and designers took the theme of the tree to raise awareness about the importance of forests. The giant banners were then recycled into bags designed by Jack Spade. Pretty cool.

Via an old post by Sweet Jessie.

Andrew Wyeth

I just learned that Andrew Wyeth died today at the age of 91. I first learned about Wyeth’s art in my 10th-grade American literature class and I’m sure everyone recognizes Christina’s World, probably his most iconic work. It was painted in 1948 and is now part of MoMA’s collection.


While it is sad news, the passing of the artist offered me the opportunity to take another look at his career, all these years later, and refresh my memory about the mid-century clash of realism and abstract expressionism. I had forgotten about the criticism Wyeth received throughout his life â?? many calling his work too sentimental.

1964 Photo from the NYTimes.

Maybe I‘m too sentimental, but Wyeth is still one of my all-time favorite American artists and I’m glad he was fortunate to make it to 91.

Paris Graffiti Art

My good friend Corry likes to photograph and keep track of various kinds of graffiti throughout the city. She’s drawn my attention to certain artists, like the Invader (check out this photo set on flickr for more) and other trends, such as paper graffiti. Over these many months of living in Paris, I’ve captured a few examples of graffiti in various forms.

This is a stenciled image – a common technique for creating repeated images throughout the city (or the world).

This paper découpage-style graffiti seems to be gaining popularity in Paris.

Another example of découpage. Note also the Invader mosaic to the left.

I saw this marker drawing on a post near my bus stop at the Bibliothèque Nationale.

My favorite: knit graffiti. The appearance of this example was part of an exhibition in Paris by Knitta Please, and was on rue Vieille du Temple – a street we frequent several times a week, since it’s between our apartment and Corry’s.

Another mosaic, with one of our favorite video game characters.

And just in case you thought graffiti was a recent phenomenon, here’s an example from 1879, in no other place than the Pantheon!

Gaudi’s Barcelona

What’s a trip to Barcelona without a dozen or so pictures of the unusual architectural works by Antoni Gaudì? Here are some of my favorites:

Gaudi 1
The Casa MilĂ 

Gaudi 2 (Night)

The stained glass was especially beautiful at night…

Gaudi 3 (Night)

Gaudi Cathedral 1

I love how the Sagrada Familia Cathedral looks like a sand castle. It is slowly being covered in mosaics, so one day will be quite a festival of color.

Gaudi Cathedral 2

Gaudi Cathedral 3

Gaudi Cathedral 4

Gaudi Cathedral 5

Wikipedia has this cool list of Gaudi buildings if you want to see more.

New Artist: Irene Suchocki

Irene Suchocki

In the last few days I have found a comfort in the beautiful photographic work of Irene Suchocki. A Toronto native, Suchocki now lives in Montreal where she continues her experimentation with digital photography to evoke dramatic and mysterious moods with a melancholic sense of the ephemeral nature of life. The self-taught photographer describes her works as “little poems for the eyes.”

Her photographs are surprisingly affordable and would make unique and precious gifts. They’re on my wish list.

Peynet Illustrations Part II

It is always exciting to hear from readers that are interested in the random things I find to write about on my blog. The post I wrote about Peynet illustrations back in March drew some particularly enthusiastic responses, with two readers even sending me images of Peynet works that they own. I’m thrilled!

Last spring, Chris sent me a photo of a Peynet hankerkechief received as a gift around 1963. The drawing and caption are a play on the French version of “he loves me, he loves me not,” which is “je t’aime un peu… beaucoup… pasionnĂ©ment… Ă  la folie… pas du tout” (I love you a little, a lot, passionately, like crazy, not at all.)

Peynet Hankie
Your hour will be mine. Would you like to at “passionately a quarter to” or “half past crazy”?

Melissa purchased two Peynet drawings at a Parisian bouquiniste along the Seine. The first one is from the 1950’s and refers to the famous hat maker Elsa Schiaparelli.

Peynet Schiaparelli
Schiaparelli’s Crazy Success

The second illustration is dated 1960 and refers to the ubiquitous Nicolas wine boutiques with a sentiment surely still shared by many:

Peynet Train
Forget you? It would be impossible, dear… Like asking me to live without Nicolas wines…

Aren’t they just charming? Thanks for sharing, Chris and Melissa!

Photography 101

Seth Photo Ball
Seth took this photo in my grandparents’ garden

I took photography 101 in high school. Armed with my dad’s SLR, I made my friends accompany me on nature shoots and run while I photographed them in action. I still remember the pleasant smell of the darkroom chemicals. I learned how to make a sepia print the “real” way and tried my best to develop my prints according to the test strip we made for each one.

It was a long process that yielded mostly grainy, gray photos, though I do have a few gems I still cherish.

Well twelve years later here I am with a digital SLR and need to learn everything all over again. Maybe not the darkroom techniques, but everything else. Bernie’s Beginner’s Guide to the rescue! I hadn’t heard about this site before, but I’ll certainly be coming back, since I can’t memorize everything about focal length, aperture, and metering just yet. In the mean time, I have some more hard drive space to clear out before I can add any more photos…

To the Barricades!

Paris Brise Chaines 1944The rich and tumultuous history of Paris can be told in part by a vast series of photographs, lithographs, and other images now available to anyone with an internet connection. The Paris en Images collection is an excellent database with a search feature which allows the researcher to find images by keyword and date. What’s even better is that they are freely available for private and scholarly use.

The barricade has been almost as much a part of Parisian history as the Seine river. Since the 16th century Parisians have dug up paving stones and piled them into barricades during numerous revolutions, insurrections, and protests. Here, I’ve picked some of my favorite images of barricades, and in places very much recognizable in present-day Paris. We think of Parisian history (and by extension that of France) as being an ever-changing series of radically different regimes. It’s interesting to me, however, to see the continuity in the form of protest, both on the right and left.

1848 Barricade
Revolution of 1848, Remains of a Barricade on rue Royale

1870-71 Barricade
Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871, Barricade at l’Ă?toile

1871 Barricade Hotel de Ville
Paris Commune, 1871, Barricade at HĂ´tel de Ville

1871 Barricade Vendome
Paris Commune, 1871, VendĂ´me Column Pulled to the Ground

Barricade 1914
Construction of a Barricade at a Gate of Paris, August 1914

1934 Ligue de droites
1934, Protest of the Ligues de droite (right-wing political organization)

Barricade 1944
Liberation of Paris, Barricade at the Pont Neuf and rue Dauphine, August 1944

1968 Barricade
May 1968, Barricade on the rue Racine

Further reading:

Mark Traugott, “Barricades as Repertoire: Continuities and Discontinuities in the History of French Contention.” Social Science History, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer, 1993), pp.309-323.

Jeannene M. Przyblyski, “Revolution at a Standstill: Photography and the Paris Commune of 1871.” Yale French Studies, No. 101, Fragments of Revolution. (2001), pp. 54-78.

Jill Harsin, Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

Pissarro at the Milwaukee Art Museum

 Milwaukee Art Museum

I couldn’t leave Milwaukee last month without a trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). It’s one of my favorite museums because it houses a broad range of art for its size, with examples of virtually every major artistic period in its collection. The museum also exhibits some important examples of folk art, American design, Haitian art, and photography. The most obvious work of art here is the building itself: the new addition, designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2001, resembles a bird with wings that open and close.

Until September 9th, MAM is holding an exhibition entitled “Pissarro: Creating the Impressionist Landscape,” which focuses on the artist’s landscape painting from the 1860s and 1870s. This period was a formative one for Pissarro, who evolved from the realist tradition of the Barbizon school to a new impressionistic aesthetic, the theory of which he helped found.Pissarro Strollers

The exhibition shows fifty of Pissarro’s paintings, arranged in chronological order. This arrangement highlights the contrast between his earlier, more academic paintings, and the artist’s experiments with color and brush-strokes into the 1870s. A wall-sized map of Paris and its environs indicates the locations Pissarro worked on landscapes and countryside scenes such as his 1864 Strollers on a Country Road, La Varenne-Saint-Hilaire (at right).

My favorite Pissarro painting, Hoarfrost at Ennery (below), is one of the last on display. After showing it at the Impressionist exhibition of 1874, Pissarro was fiercely criticized for painting shadows of trees that lie outside the boundaries of the canvas, a technique which gives the painting depth and interest. What is most striking is the geometric composition of the scene, with criss-crossing diagonal lines dividing the plane into large fields of contrasting warm and cool colors. It should come as no surprise, then, that Paul CĂ©zanne â?? whose paintings are so geometrically composed many consider him a proto-cubist â?? was a pupil of Pissarro’s.

Pisarro Painting
Pissarro, Hoarfrost at Ennery, 1873

We took advantage of the afternoon and stayed at the museum until closing.  As soon as we walked out of the building, MAM’s “wings” began to close, so I snapped some quick shots of the action.

Museum Wing 1

Museum Wing 2

Museum Wing 3