27 March 2011

Lynd Ward: The Wordless Storyteller

Lynd Kendall Ward (1905-1985) was an American artist and storyteller. He specialized in wood engravings, illustrating over 200 adult and children's books. Raised by a Methodist minister who was also a prominent political organizer, Ward decided to become an artist as a child when he realized his surname spelled "draw" backwards. He studied printmaking and book design in Leipzig, Germany where he encountered the work of Frans Masereel (1889-1972) a Flemish painter who told a story in woodcuts. Ward went on to create wordless novels with dramatic wood engravings.

16 March 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day: The Art of Harry Clarke

St. Patrick's Day is a favorite holiday of Porcelains and Peacocks and it is an excuse to look at the genius of Irish artist Harry Clarke (1889–1931). Born in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day he was a major contributor to the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement. Clarke's work centered on stained glass and book illustration. An early visit to Chartres Cathedral inspired him to use brilliant jewel toned stain glass for both his religious and secular themed windows. Clarke was associated with the An Túr Gloine, Irish for “Tower of Glass”, a cooperative studio for stained glass artists that offered Irish architects and builders an alternative to the commercial stained glass imported from England and Germany. As a book illustrator he was a part of The Golden Age of Illustration. Clarke’s illustrations ranged from the beautifully grotesque Faust to the poetic "They danced with shawls that were woven of mist and moonshine" of the Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

15 March 2011

Kitagawa Utamaro: The Enduring Beauty of Japan

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) was a Japanese printmaker and painter. He is known for his elegantly restrained studies of women called bijinga or "beautiful person picture". The style is a part of the genre called Ukiyo-e, "pictures of the floating world", woodcut prints featuring motifs of landscapes, kabuki theater, courtesans and geisha. It is a world that is ephemeral and of the moment. Utamaro also created many erotic works including the Poem of the Pillow. One scene depicts two abalone divers interacting with two kappas, or sea monsters. In the nineteenth century the ukyio-e prints of Utamaro and other Japanese artists became available to the European market resulting in the development of Japonisme in the West.


07 March 2011

Sonho de uma terça-feira gorda: A Dream of Fat Tuesday



I was with you. Our dominoes were black,
(And black were our masks.
We went, amid the throng, with solemnity,
Well aware of our darkness
As contrasted with the feeling of happiness
That we penetrated. A slow, gentle joy
…..That which we penetrated the penetrated as a
(Sword of fire...
As the flaming sword that stabbed the holy ecstatic.
Manuel Bandeira


Manuel Carneiro de Souza Bandeira Filho (1886-1968) was a Brazilian poet who is remembered for his contributions to Modernismo. Suffering from tuberculosis he was forced to abandon his architectural studies. While he traveled in Europe searching for a cure he encountered many of the prominent authors and painters of the time. Bandeira’s poetry deals with the limits of the human body but also explores distinctive Brazilian themes such as Terça-feira Gorda or Fat Tuesday. Carnival is a wild celebration that precedes the deprivation of Lent much as the poet’s work wanders between life and mortality.

02 March 2011

Sir William Orpen: A Man Between Two Worlds


Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen (1878-1931) was a successful Irish painter and a man of contradictions. He was a society portrait painter who went to the Western Front as an official painter of World War I. Living in London he was a part of the New English Art Club, which favored Impressionism and included Americans James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1902) and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Traveling back to Ireland, Orpen was involved with The Celtic Revival along with playwright John Millington Synge (1871-1909) and poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). He considered himself ugly, which he exaggerated in self-portraits yet the women he depicted where beautifully nuanced. He died at the age of fifty-two having seen his brilliant career as a portrait painter dim and never recovering from seeing the lost souls of war.