Artists Not Known Until After Death

An oft-repeated (though false) account states that Moby Dick author Herman Melville was so underappreciated during his lifetime, the New York Times referred to him as “Henry Melville” in his obituary. While this story is untrue, there can be no doubt that many artists don’t receive their due until after they’ve shed this mortal coil. Here’s a look at some of these latter-sung heroes.

 

Vincent van Gogh

It’s true: The genius behind The Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night, as well as a legion of other influential works, sold only one painting during his lifetime. (Trivia buffs, take note: It was Red Vineyard at Arles.) His style didn’t fit with the Impressionists of the age, with critics denouncing it as too moody and dark.

 

Paul Gauguin

The post-Impressionist painter would later be a significant influence on fellow avant-garde artists, Matisse and Picasso among them, but he didn’t receive many kudos while he was still living. His experimental works were just a little too ahead of their time.

 

Claude Monet

It seems that leaders always bear the brunt of the battle, even in the relatively genteel world of paint and canvas. Monet was a founding father of the Impressionist movement, and as such was seen as something of a renegade for his use of light colors and proclivity for landscape scenes.

 

Georges-Pierre Seurat

Even if the name is unfamiliar, even amateurs are likely to recognize Seurat’s most iconic oil painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. He relied heavily on color to achieve the mood he wanted for his work, something that wasn’t widely appreciated at the time. Nor was his signature technique, Pointillism, which uses many tiny brush dots to create a bigger image. Both conceits have gone on to become art class staples.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron

This British photographer had a reputation for getting up close and personal with her subjects, creating intimate portraits that were perhaps a shade too revealing for the critics of her day. She passed away in 1879, but her work didn’t become widely seen or appreciated until 1948–nearly three-quarters of a century later.

Why You Should Support Local Artists

The importance of supporting small and local businesses is something you may hear often, but you may not know why it is necessary to support these local endeavors. When it comes down to art, individuals may have even more questions about why they should support local artists. Plenty of reasons exist as to why this endeavor is a worthwhile one.

 

Better the Community

When members of a community start to break away from one another, a host of problems often comes to fruition. For example, crime rates may begin to rise because residents don’t seem to care about the neighborhood. It’s also possible that the schools will experience problems as parents and children seem to suffer from a disconnect. Local art helps to bring the community together, which serves as a significant improvement for neighborhoods.

 

Stimulate the Economy

When individuals consider the economy, they often think on a more global level; they may not recognize how much their local economy matters. If they think about the connection between low economic productivity and crime levels, they may then realize why this endeavor is a worthwhile one. When people purchase art from local artists, they are helping to better the local economy.

 

Improve the Environment

Individuals who are interested in local art should find out what the artists are doing to protect the environment. They may very well find that these artists are interested in sustainable methods of producing art. It’s difficult to deny the beauty of a local environment that is filled with the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

 

Motivate the Youth

Many young people are interested in entering into artistic fields, but they often encounter opposition. Mentors may tell them that the arts are not going to provide them with enough money. These young people may also hear that only a few jobs are available. This type of talk can batter their dreams. However, when residents take the time to support the work of local young artists, they can help to motivate these budding artists to pursue their dreams and talents.

 

The community as a whole can improve when people turn their attention to the work of local artists. Some individuals don’t realize this point, but supporting local artists can help every member of the community to thrive.

Five of the Most Controversial Pieces of Art

Throughout the years, there are many pieces of art that have sparked conversation. But, some pieces of art make a bigger impression and cause controversy. Here are five pieces of artwork that have been considered scandalous.

 

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

This painting by Picasso is mural-sized, at 11 feet 5 inches tall and 25 feet 6 inches wide. The piece of art depicts the 1937 massacre of the Basque village of Guernica. The painting is controversial for political reasons, as it was a stand against the fascist regimes of Spain and Germany at the time. Picasso did not even want the painting displayed in France until peace had been restored to the country.

 

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp

The high point of the Dada movement, Marcel Duchamp submitted this piece to The Society of Independent Artists and was rejected, even though the rules of the exhibition stipulated all pieces be accepted. The piece was a standard urinal turned on its side, with “R.Mutt” written on it. The piece sparked conversations about what art was and refocused art’s purpose from physical practice to intellectual interpretation.

 

Myra by Marcus Harvey

Myra Hindley was one part of the duo responsible for the Moors murders. The portrait of her is made up of children’s handprints. When it was displayed at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1997, protesters threw eggs and ink at the painting. Hindley herself even wrote to organizers of the exhibition, asking them to remove the painting because of the pain it would cause to the families of the victims.

 

Madame X by John Singer Sargent

Though the painting appears tame compared to plenty of artwork, this piece was the source of big controversy when it was displayed. The painting’s subject, Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, was an infamous adulterer and her pose and dress offended the French sensibility. It was said that the woman’s pose was vulgar, arrogant and self-centered. The painting originally featured the strap of Gautreau’s dress slipping off her shoulder but was later repainted so the strap was in place.

 

The Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David

This painting depicts the murder of French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat. Marat was stabbed by Charlotte Corday who felt he was partly responsible for the more radical course the revolution had taken. The painting was viewed as controversial because it depicts Marat as a martyr for the French Revolution.

Lesser Known Art Museums in the United States

If you’re looking to experience some of the great artwork housed in the United States, consider a trip to a museum you may never have heard of. Skip the MOMA and the Met this summer and instead, take the road less traveled.

 

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Norman Rockwell was an author, painter and artist who reflected American culture in his art. The Norman Rockwell Museum is home to the largest collection of original Rockwell art, including 998 original paintings and drawings. The museum focuses on Rockwell’s work and his contributions to American society, popular culture and social commentary. Rockwell resided in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life, so museum visitors can see the influence of the area and the residents in his work on display.

 

The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Dalí Museum is the largest collection of the Salvador Dalí’s works outside of Spain. The museum holds over 2,100 pieces of his surrealist artwork, from every moment and in every medium of Dalí’s artistic activity. The museum was founded by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, friends of Dalí’s who collected the artists work for 40 years before deciding to donate their collection for others to be able to experience the work.

 

Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri

Some curators consider this to be the finest art museum in the United States because of the architecture. The spare, modern setting encourages careful looking and quiet contemplation. The museum is a non-collecting institution, meaning there are only three pieces permanently on display, and presents both classic and contemporary artwork.

 

Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont

The Shelburne Museum is a single collector museum initially founded in 1947 to display the Webb family’s collection of horse-drawn carriages. After realizing she could use it to create a “Collection of collections,” she began collecting historic buildings from New England and New York and relocated them to the Museums grounds. Now, there are 39 unique buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga, on 45 acres of land. The museum displays Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, furniture and American art.

 

American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

Self-taught artists largely ignored by mainstream art museums have found a home at this eclectic art museum in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s America’s official national museum and education center for intuitive, self-taught artistry. The museum relies on guest curators to populate the collection, and sponsors exhibitions based on a theme and not a specific artist or art style.

Everything You Should Know About the Rockefeller Art Collection

Staying true to the Rockefeller legacy, David Rockefeller is still breaking records even after his death last year. The last surviving grandson of America’s first billionaire John D. Rockefeller, David Rockefeller’s private art collection recently became the most valuable single-owner private sale in American history, with more than 1,500 pieces being auctioned off in a four-day period. The impressive collection included works by Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe and Pablo Picasso.


Though now considered one of the greatest art collectors of the 20th century, Rockefeller had no interest in art collection until Marga Barr, wife of the Museum of Modern Art’s first director, visited his home in 1948 and 
insulted the art he had on the walls. After that, Rockefeller and his wife Peggy decided to increase the quality of art they displayed in their home. Barr and her husband helped educate the Rockefellers about late 19th-century and early 20th-century artwork and offered them guidance as they started to acquired Impressionist and modern pieces.

 

The massive collection contains more than just paintings; the Rockefellers also collected furniture and porcelain, including a 256-piece Sèvres dessert service set that Napoleon brought with him after being exiled to Elba. The set sold for $1.8 million, setting a record for highest price paid for 19th-century porcelain.

As a child, Rockefeller’s father expected he give one-third of his allowance to charity. The importance of giving back to others was a lesson stayed with him until his death; all of the money raised at the auction will go to various nonprofit organizations close to Rockefeller’s heart, including the Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University, Rockefeller University and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.


After the four-day auction concluded,
22 world records were broken and all pieces were sold for a total of $832 million. On the first night alone, over $646 million was made in sales. A “Rose Period” piece of Picasso’s, Fillette a la corbeille fleurie, sold for $115 million, the highest ever paid for a painting from that period of his work. This piece was previously owned by Gertrude Stein and was obtained by Rockefeller after the death of her partner Alice B. Toklas. A piece from Monet’s water lilies collection, Nympheas en fleur, sold for $84.7 million, the highest ever paid for one of his works. And, a Henri Matisse painting, Odalisque couchée aux magnolias, sold for $80 million, also a record-high for one of his pieces.