Leonardo da Vinci Art Talk at Patchogue-Medford Library

I’ll be leading a discussion on the High Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci at the Patchogue-Medford Library on Wednesday, February 1, from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. The talk is designed for those with little to no prior knowledge of art history and for those with an interest in the art produced during the High Italian Renaissance, specifically the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci.

Artists of this period are known for their close observation of the natural world and the human body, their sophisticated use of iconography, and their innovations in composition, perspective, and design. Come learn about the quintessential “Renaissance Man,” as we examine his paintings and discuss his artwork in an informal setting. This seminar will examine select works of art by Leonardo da Vinci including: the Virgin of the Rocks, Lady with an Ermine, Last Supper, Mona Lisa, and more.

More information regarding the talk can be found here.

For those interested in registering for the event, please find the registration link here, or call the Patchogue-Medford Library at 631-654-4700.

Remembering Richard Smith

In April, British artist Richard Smith passed away. Richard had a long, prosperous career with solo exhibitions at the Tate Gallery (1975), the Jewish Museum (1968), and the Whitechapel Gallery (1966), among others. He represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale (1966, 1970), as well as the Sao Paulo Biennale (1968). His artwork is in the public collection of many renowned fine art institutions including the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I first met Richard in 2012 at his Patchogue studio. The Patchogue Arts Gallery had just opened with an exhibition featuring a selection of Richard’s recent paintings and works on paper. I was tasked with helping the artist compile images of his artwork from over the years for a slideshow presentation he would use for an artist talk scheduled at the end of the exhibition. I met Richard in his studio where he had a few sketches and smaller works out on the table with volumes of works wrapped and tucked away in storage.

Richard was personable and friendly as he took the time to discuss with me the details of his life, career, artistic interests and influences. We spent the afternoon huddled around my laptop as he reflected on his career and body of work. The longer we spoke, the more I came to admire him and appreciate his artwork as he would recall the details of his oeuvre, some of which he remembered better than others. We often got sidetracked as a particular painting would remind him of a story involving a close friend, studio visit, or of his inspiration for the piece.

I was fortunate to work with Richard several more times over the years. One such time was in late 2014-early 2015 when John Cino and I were curating the Remembering Things Past exhibition at the Islip Art Museum. Richard happily agreed to be a part of the exhibition and we all met at his studio to review possible works to include. Upon arriving, John and I were greeted by a large, three-piece kite painting that Richard created in the late 1970s. It was my first time seeing one of his kite paintings in person and I was in immediate awe of delicate yet imposing presence and wonderful ascetics. Needless to say we included the work along with a smaller four-piece kite painting and a painting produced in the late 1990s that depicts a silhouette of the artist.

The last time I spoke to Richard was in early March. We discussed the possibility of a retrospective exhibition that would coincide with his 85th birthday and commemorate his life and body of work. Despite being ill, Richard happily agreed to the idea and we scheduled another studio visit. Although he passed before we could work on the project, I am flattered that Richard was interested in working with me one more time. As far as I am considered, when it comes to Richard Smith, the only thing more admirable than his artwork is his character.

Thank you for everything, Richard. Working with you will always be a highlight of my career.

Jay Schuck

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With Richard Smith’s Portrait (1997) at the Islip Art Museum

Rediscovering Paul Mommer

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE MARCH 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

On view at the Islip Art Museum is a retrospective exhibition highlighting the many artistic styles of the Paul Mommer (b. Luxembourg, 1899 – 1963), a premier artist of the early to mid twentieth century. Despite a pedigree résumé, boasting exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan, the artist fell into obscurity after his death only to re-emerge 51 years later. The exhibition offers a re-examination of the artist’s artwork and life, exhibiting works of art that have not been on public display for half a century alongside historical documents that pertain to the artist’s life and his placement in the art world.

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Paul Mommer, Studio Interior, 1950, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Over the course of his thirty-two year career as an exhibiting artist (1931 – 1963), Mommer’s technical style varied from Romanticism to Abstract Expressionism. Despite this, his paintings are usually noted for their moody, earth-tone color palettes. One such example is Studio Interior, which depicts the artist busy at work in his studio. Browns and reds dominate the palette as Mommer opens the composition with hazy whites and hints of blue. The painting holds no uniform perspective, allowing the artist to deconstruct his painting, which warrants closer observation from the viewer. The lack of depth is further enhanced, as objects are broken down to their basic geometric forms and colors, as only the artist himself appears slightly modeled on the extreme right of the composition. These abstract qualities make it unclear whether the cityscape in the background is being depicted from through a window or hanging on the studio wall as another work of art.

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Paul Mommer, Sewing Machine, 1946, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Taking inspiration from analytical cubism, Mommer’s Sewing Machine abstracts the subject matter to the point of un-recognition. The artist utilizes shape and form, in varying degrees of ovals, rectangles, and triangles, to represent his monochromatic subject matter. Mommer contains his abstracted subject matter by filling the boundaries of the canvas with a cool grey-white border. It is apparent that Mommer strives to make the representational un-representational through abstracted forms and perspectives.

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Paul Mommer, Stone Quarry 1, 1950s, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Several paintings dating to the 1950s finds Mommer pushing the boundaries of representational art. Entitled Stone Quarry 1 and Stone Quarry 2, this pair of paintings finds the artist juxtaposing black against white. Despite the representational titles, the paintings are purely abstract in execution and presentation. Strong vertical and horizontal lines converge and diverge across the entirely of the compositions as areas of dark oil paint pool in complimentary balancing sections of each composition. The cool color palettes of the paintings compliment the stony aesthetics each title implies. Upon closer observation, the viewer will be please to find hints of blues, reds, and browns that Mommer skillfully lays underneath the final layer of paint.

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Paul Mommer, Stone Quarry 2, 1950s, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

The abstracted natures of these works are manifested in Black and White Abstraction taken from the same period. As in the Stone Quarry paintings, Mommer contrasts the dark against the light. The cool tonal variations of white, with hints of yellow and blue, compliment the heavily applied sections of black paint which appear almost like shadows that are casted upon the surface of the canvas. Where there was a general sense of flow and airiness among the Stone Quarry paintings, Black and White Abstraction feels condensed, solidified by the strong vertical forms and gestures created by the artist.

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Paul Mommer, Black and White Abstraction, 1950s, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

The exhibition Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer came into fruition at the inquisition of Jessica Ruppel who had an interest in acquiring more information on the life and artwork of her great-grandfather. A student of the exhibition curator Loretta Corbisiero, Ruppel presented her mentor images of Mommer’s artwork, along with important historical documents pertaining to his life that led the pair to his rediscovery.

Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer was curated by Loretta Corbisiero and features an in-depth analysis of the artistic career of one of the early 20th century’s forgotten artists. The exhibition runs in conjunction with the Museum Shop exhibition Caché: New Works by Debra Rodman-Peck, curated by Beth Giacummo. Both exhibitions are now on view at the Islip Art Museum until March 13, 2016.

Jay Schuck


Further Readings
Corbisiero, Loretta, Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer, East Islip, NY: Islip Art Museum, 2016, Print.

Images Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

 

Andrea del Sarto: Creative Process Examined

In conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Frick Collection will present Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action, the first major monographic exhibition of the artist’s oeuvre in the United States. According to the institution, the exhibition assembles three paintings along with some fifty related drawings, which showcases the artist’s creative process. The artwork borrowed for this exhibition comes from institutions such as the Louvre, the Palazzo Pitti, and the British Museum.

From 1515 until his death, Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1530) ran one of the most productive workshops in Florence during the height of the Italian Renaissance. A contemporary of Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, del Sarto’s artwork encompasses the Florentine ideals of design and draftsmanship, and has influenced generations of artists after his death. Falling into obscurity in the early 18th century, del Sarto is well regarded amongst scholars and collectors but remains relatively unknown to the general public. Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action brings del Sarto back into the public eye, offering museumgoers a glimpse into the artist’s workshop and artistic process.

  • Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action, The Frick Collection, New York, 7 October, 2015 – 10 January, 2016
Andrea del Sarto, Portrait of a Young Man (c. 1517), © The National Gallery, London

Andrea del Sarto, Portrait of a Young Man (c. 1517)
© The National Gallery, London

Italian Renaissance Classes at Islip Art Museum

CALL ISLIP ART MUSEUM TO REGISTER
631-224-5402

Intro to Art History: Venetian Renaissance
With Jay Schuck
A foundation course designed for those with little to no prior knowledge of art history. This course is designed for those interested in the art produced in Northern Italy, specifically Venice, during the 14th– 16th centuries. Venetian artwork differs from their central Italian counterparts as the style blends together Byzantine, Islamic, & Western traditions and favors color over line. The course will explore the work of Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Paolo Veronese, & more.

Mondays: 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Session A: September 21, 28, October 5, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Fee: $75 per session (10-week session)

Gentile Bellini, Processione in piazza San Marco, c. 1496, Oil on canvas, 347 x 770 cm., Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Intro to Art History: Early Italian Renaissance
With Jay Schuck
A foundations course designed for those with little to no previous knowledge of art history. The course is designed for those with an interest in art produced in central Italy during the 13th–15th centuries, a time known as the Early Renaissance. The artists of this period are known for making a conscious break with the Gothic tradition, ushering a new artistic movement that would reach its height in the late 15th century. The course will explore the work of major artists from this period including Giotto, Massaccio, Donatello, Pierodella Francesca, Botticelli, and more.

Mondays: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Session A: September 21, 28, October 5, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Fee: $75 (10-week session)

Masaccio, Tribute Money, 1420s, Fresco, 247 x 597 cm., Brancacci Chapel, Florence

Intro to Art History: High Italian Renaissance
With Jay Schuck
A foundation course designed for those with little knowledge of art history. The course is designed for those with an interest in art produced in central Italy   during the late 15th – 16th centuries, a time known as the High Renaissance. Artists of this period are known for their close observation of the natural world and human figures, their sophisticated use of iconography, and their innovations in composition, perspective, and design. The course acts as a continuation to the Early Italian Renaissance course and will examine the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and their contemporaries.

Mondays: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Session A: September 21, 28, October 5, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Fee: $75 per session (10-week session)

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, c. 1512, Fresco, 280 x 570 cm., Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

Summer Art History Classes at Islip Art Museum

CALL ISLIP ART MUSEUM TO REGISTER
631-224-5402

Intro to Art History: Venetian Renaissance
With Jay Schuck
A foundation course designed for those with little to no prior knowledge of art history. This course is designed for those interested in the art produced in Northern Italy, specifically Venice, during the 14th– 16th centuries. Venetian artwork differs from their central Italian counterparts as the style blends together Byzantine, Islamic, & Western traditions and favors color over line. The course will explore the work of Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Paolo Veronese, & more.

Mondays: 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Session A: June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3
Fee: $75 per session (10-week session)

Gentile Bellini, Processione in piazza San Marco, c. 1496, Oil on canvas, 347 x 770 cm., Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Gentile Bellini, Processione in piazza San Marco, c. 1496, Oil on canvas, 347 x 770 cm., Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

Intro to Art History: Early Italian Renaissance
With Jay Schuck
A foundations course designed for those with little to no previous knowledge of art history. The course is designed for those with an interest in art produced in central Italy during the 13th–15th centuries, a time known as the Early Renaissance. The artists of this period are known for making a conscious break with the Gothic tradition, ushering a new artistic movement that would reach its height in the late 15th century. The course will explore the work of major artists from this period including Giotto, Massaccio, Donatello, Pierodella Francesca, Botticelli, and more.

Mondays: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Session A: June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3
Fee: $75 (10-week session)

Masaccio, Tribute Money, 1420s, Fresco, 247 x 597 cm., Brancacci Chapel, Florence

Masaccio, Tribute Money, 1420s, Fresco, 247 x 597 cm., Brancacci Chapel, Florence

Intro to Art History: High Italian Renaissance
With Jay Schuck
A foundation course designed for those with little knowledge of art history. The course is designed for those with an interest in art produced in central Italy   during the late 15th – 16th centuries, a time known as the High Renaissance. Artists of this period are known for their close observation of the natural world and human figures, their sophisticated use of iconography, and their innovations in composition, perspective, and design. The course acts as a continuation to the Early Italian Renaissance course and will examine the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and their contemporaries.

Mondays: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Session A: June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3
Fee: $75 per session (10-week session)

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, c. 1512, Fresco, 280 x 570 cm., Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, c. 1512, Fresco, 280 x 570 cm., Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

Intro to Art History: Art of Northern Europe
With Jay Schuck
This course is designed for those with little to no previous knowledge of art history. The course will survey the artwork produced in Northern Europe, particularly the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. The course begins with the development of Early Netherlandish Art and continues to the time of the Reformation. Artists to be examined include Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Albrecht Dürer, Bosch, Pieter Brueghel, and more.

Tuesdays: 6:00 p.m.—7:00 p.m.
Session A: June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28, August 4
Fee: $75 per session (10-week session)

1280px-The_Braque_Triptych_interior

Rogier van der Weyden, The Braque Triptych (interior), c. 1542, Oil on oak, 41 x 136 cm., Musée du Louvre, Paris

Intro to Art History: Art of the Dutch Republic
With Jay Schuck
This course is designed for those with little to no previous knowledge of art history. The course will survey the artwork produced in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century, a time known as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting. The course will explore the various genres of paintings, such as portraits, landscapes, scenes of the everyday and the artists who made them. Artists to be examined include Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and more.

Tuesdays:   7:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Session A: June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28, August 4
Fee: $75 per session (10-week session)

Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1632

Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1632, Oil on canvas, 363 x 437, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam