LadyKflo treats you to passionate Art & History insights. Her quick takes are packed with info and personality.
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Black Sea presents an audacious absurdity in oil. Obsessed with the lowly boot heel, painter Philip Guston dwells in a crude and even cruel reality. He creates a vivid, disconcerting portrait. The bare bottom of the boot heel atop dark waters. The plebeian symbol seems to rise like a Roman arch in the canvas center. But with its slanted sides, raw wood, and wonky nails, this heel’s not fooling anyone. No matter where Guston places it, a boot heel bottom holds no majesty.
This one doesn’t even have a sole to cover its shabby wooden innards. Instead of elevating the heel, Philip Guston raises questions about it. Given the title, Black Sea, viewers must check out the setting. That valiant, choppy sky’s intriguing compared to the bruteish boot bottom. Canadian American painter, Guston varies his sky brushwork. He mobilizes many hues into an active atmosphere. The sky dances around the banal boot heel. It mocks the stodgy brown stick-in-the-mud. Winds blow and toss. They change with the weather. A boot heel stays what it is – forever. There’s not much to see on the boot’s bottom. We see this crude object from the point of view of a bug. Turns out, that’s the point.
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Wayne Thiebaud championed unappreciated pastries. For instance, the 1963 Display Cakes sits at the center of the Pop Art movement. It’s tempting to thus label this masterpiece as such. After all, Pop Art elevates popular mainstream subject matter. This spotlights our desires, and even obsessions. Thiebaud’s pastry portrayals point to America’s sugar fixation. He’s got a point there. But there’s much more to these immaculate sweets. Their impact transcends Pop Art. That’s because they’re as philosophical as they are delectable.
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Bonjour Monsieur Courbet
Gustave Courbet believed in two types of people. There were artists, like himself, and bores. He didn’t keep such opinions to himself. So, it’s no surprise that the painting Bonjour Monsieur Courbet created a ruckus. This masterpiece, also called The Meeting – La Rencontre in French, teems with binaries.
For instance, Courbet’s critics gave this piece a different name. They liked to call it Fortune Bowing before Genius. After all, Courbet painted this threefold portrait against his will. His patron, Alfred Bruyas, wanted a piece to show himself with his favorite artist. So, the miffed Courbet painted Bruyas in a humble stance. He also stuck an uptight valet between them. Service thus separates the money from the art.
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The Biglin Brothers Racing
It’s hard to believe Thomas Eakin’s painting The Biglin Brothers Racing dates back to 1873. Point and click cameras weren’t yet invented. So, this action’s a straight shot from Eakins. He had to be there to capture a split second. That’s only one of the wonders at work in this piece. A striking clear portrait of a moving moment in oil paint. It’s a marvel of action and atmosphere. Thomas Eakins planned this race day portrait ahead of time. Then Philadelphia weather brought challenges. It would have been hard enough to capture this race on a sunny morning. Turns out rain held off the scheduled contest until early evening.
This urgent situation may account for some of the painting’s palpable tension. Thanks to that, a thrill runs through The Biglin Brothers Racing. Careful composition gives the painting this competitive charge. For instance, the brothers’ boat edges out both sides of the canvas frame. An opponent boat peeks into the bottom corner halfway. That’s how Thomas Eakins creates suspense. We’re mid-race. The brothers row – paddles in the air. At the moment, they’re in the lead. But this could change any second. So, the painting holds us spellbound in anticipation.
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The Cornell Farm
Edward Hicks paints neat and tidy artworks. It’s easy to recognize his trademark style in The Cornell Farm. Hicks obsessed over creating order in his paintings. Many art historians attribute this to a yearning within to quell his inner demons. But it may have been quite the opposite. Completely self-taught, Hicks could have adopted this perfectionism to prove his artistic merit. Thus, it wasn’t his animalistic urges Hicks wanted to quash – but his amateurism. Turns out, he accomplished exactly this. He created more than one masterpiece. American painter Edward Hicks achieved this with a meticulous attention to detail. He also charms viewers with his bewildered and tame beast depictions.
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Mrs. Richard Yates
Wife of a rich New York merchant, the Mrs. Richard Yates portrait judges. Her expression evokes wisdom and confidence, though. So, it’s not unwarranted judgement. Once considered, the question Who do you think you are? may help us find our true selves. But Catherine Brass Yates has already reflected on her personal truth. She knows who she is. It’s also clear that this woman cares little about the judgement of others. After all, this portrait shows her flaws as well as perfect eyebrows and luxurious silks. She’s a woman of means. So, Mrs. Richard Yates could have had this painted in a more flattering way. But she left the mustache on her lip.
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Fun and quick painting info
This podcast works great for when you are in a museum and want to get the paintings more. It helps me udnerstand what's going on and even to figure out what I think about art more. Art's about seeing and this gives me smarter new eyes.
Wonderful content in a refreshing format
Ladykflo is a perfect podcast on so many levels. Her demeanor is disarming, her enthusiasm infectious, and perspective enlightening.
What I think I like best, though, is how short each episode is! Ladykflo gives you just enough of a bite to remind you how much you want to listen to the next one. Never drags on. Never, ever, boring.
LadyKflo is my favorite podcast!
LadyKflo makes my day with her quick insights and bright voice. She’s got such cool ways of looking at art and history. Makes it so fun!