Born in Chicago in 1951 and raised mostly on the East coast, Julie Speed is a “quirky neo-Surrealist whose inspirations range from old master and Mughal painting to the 20th-century artist, John Graham.” (New York Times)
Speed dropped out of Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s and began a period of travel. During this time, she worked intermittently as a house-painter, horse-trainer, stock-boy, and farm worker, eventually settling in Texas in 1978. Since then she has devoted herself to painting full time. “I keep hours just like a real job, only longer, and in my spare time I read books, drink tequila, garden, and drive around West Texas.” In 2006 she decided that just driving around West Texas wasn’t enough so she moved from Austin to Marfa where she has a studio downtown.
To see more of Julie Speed’s work, visit JulieSpeed.com.
Born in Poland in 1952, Jacek Yerka studied fine art and graphics prior to becoming a full-time artist in 1980. While at university, Yerka resisted the constant pressures of his instructors to adopt the less detailed, less realistic techniques continued to work in the classic, meticulous Flemish style he still favors to this day.
Yerka has won international awards for his art, and has exhibited in Warsaw, Dusseldorf, Los Angeles, Paris and London. He currently works and resides, with his family, in a rural enclave of his native Poland. (Bio from artist’s website)
To see more of Yerka’s work, visit Yerkaland.com.
Born in 1951 in San Francisco, California, Robert Steven Connett began drawing and painting at the age of 27. He continued to create artwork as a hobby for 20 years during which time he owned and operated an insurance brokerage firm in San Francisco. He sold the firm in 1998 at age 47 after his home and art collection was destroyed by a fire. Connett moved to Los Angeles in 2003 where he began his full time art career at the age of 52.
To see more of Connett’s work and read his interesting life story, visit Vomitus.com.
While perusing a used book store the other day, I came across “The Fantastic World of Gervasio Gallardo”!
Born in Barcelona in 1934, Gervasio Gallardo studied art in Spain and worked for several Spanish agencies before moving to Munich in 1959. He then spent four years in Paris working with the Delpire Agency. In 1963, he traveled to the United States where he met Frank and Jeff Lavaty who have represented him since that time. Gallardo went back and forth between Paris and the U.S. and eventually returned to Barcelona to set up his own studio.
By the early 1970’s, Gallardo had gained recognition as a commercial artist. “His paintings for advertisers in medical and trade journals were characterized by a style of extreme realism coupled with a puckish sense of humour – a tearful eye embedded in a thicket of greenery depicted the dire effects of not using a certain anti-histamine.” At the same time, Gallardo worked on his personal paintings which he sold to collectors and museums. His paintings leaned toward Surrealism and were influenced by Dali and Magritte but with more humour and whimsy.
In 1969, Ballantine Books commissioned Gallardo for its adult fantasy series. These cover paintings became a signature for the series and were recognized immediately by fans.
Gallardo has received numerous awards in Europe and the United States and has had many solo exhibitions in Paris, Barcelona, and the United States.
Oddly, I was unable to find any information about Gallardo beyond a series of Grand Marnier ads he did in 1988. To see more of Gallardo’s work, visit Lavaty Art.
Born in Romania in 1951, Georges Mazilu is known for his signature style linking contemporary surrealism with the art of the Northern Renaissance. Mazilu has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Grigorescu Art Institute in Bucharest.
Resident of France since 1982, Mazilu participates regularly in the major Parisian art salons and exhibits extensively in Europe and The United States.
“Some features of my present art as absurdity and grotesque could find their explanation in my youth years spent in socialist Romania. In their origins my compositions are abstract constructions that I gradually build into representational images. This process permits me to sound my unconscious as I transform abstractions into harmonious structures, mirrors of my present state of mind. I try to keep my logic from interfering, slowly converting my constructed forms into figures. In the final stage the process continues more consciously as I work to create an atmosphere around the figures that completes their world, a world that reflects the complexities and psychological realities of our own environment. ”
For more information about Georges Mazilu, visit the source links below.
Today’s images are by American Surrealist Matt Dangler. Born in 1984, Dangler has a BFA in Illustration from Uarts in Philidelphia, PA. Still new to the art world, Matt has already had successful solo exhibitions, has illustrated a children’s book, and has won several awards.
At a recent show at Gallery1988 in San Francisco Dangler presented his “Searching for Satori” series. “Through serene portrayals of expressive otherworldly creatures, Dangler visualizes and gives form to his personal quest for ‘Satori’, the Zen Buddhist term for a ‘sudden spiritual awakening’.”
To see more of Dangler’s work, visit MattDangler.com.
Sources: Daily du Jour
1. Beatrix Potter – July 28, 1866- December 22, 1943 – Born in South Kensington in London, England, Potter is best known for her illustrated children’s books. She was an author, illustrator, mycologist, farmer, and conservationist. In her 20s, Beatrix developed into a talented naturalist. She studied plants and animals at the Cromwell Road museums and learned how to draw with her eye to a microscope.
In her thirties, Potter published the highly successful children’s book, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. She began writing and illustrating children’s books full time and became financially independent of her parents
Potter died on 22 December 1943, and left almost all of her property to the National Trust. She wrote and illustrated a total of 28 books, including the 23 Tales, the ‘little books’ that have been translated into more than 35 languages and sold over 100million copies. Her stories have been retold in various formats including a ballet, films, and in animation.
2. Kiki Smith – Born on January 18, 1954, in Nuremberg, Germany and raised in South Orange, New Jersey, Smith studied at the Hartford Art School in Connecticut from 1974 – 1976. “Since 1980, Smith has produced a variety of work including sculpture, prints, installations and others that have been admired for having a highly developed, yet sometimes unsettling, sense of intimacy in her works’ timely political and social provocations. These traits have brought her critical success.”
The Kitchen in New York hosted Smith’s first solo exhibition in 1982. She has exhibited annually from 1982 at the Fawbush Gallery in New York. In 1990, Smith received significant acclaim for her exhibition in the Projects Room at the Museum of Modern Art. “By manipulating everyday materials such as glass, ceramic, fabric and paper, Smith’s work examined the dichotomy between the psychological and physiological power of the body.”
Smith has also had major solo showings at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva (1990), Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts (1992), Whitechapel Art Gallery in London (1995), Museum of Modern Art in New York (2003), and Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2006).
In 2009 Smith was awarded the Brooklyn Museum Women In The Arts Award. She currently lives and works in New York.
At the age of 15, Vigée-Lebrun was earning enough money from her portrait painting to support herself, her widowed mother, and her younger brother. For a decade she was Marie Antoinette’s favorite painter. European aristocrats, actors, and writers were also her patrons and she was elected a member of the art academies in 10 cities.
Vigée-Lebrun married Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Lebrun, a painter and art dealer who helped her gain access to the art world. In 1783, Marie Antoinette appointed her a member of Paris’s Royal Academy. As one of only four female academicians, Vigée-Lebrun enjoyed a high artistic, social, and political profile.
With the onset of the French Revolution Vigée-Lebrun fled France with her nine year old daughter. For the next 12 years she was commissioned to create portraits of the most celebrated residents of Rome, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Berlin. Vigée-Lebrun returned permanently to France in 1809.
Scholars estimate that Vigée-Lebrun produced more than 600 paintings. Her memoirs were published in 1835-37 and have been translated and reprinted numerous times.
4. Judith Leyster – July 28, 1609– February 10, 1660 – Born in Haarlem, Netherlands, Leyster was a Dutch Golden Age painter. She was one of three significant women artists of this period. Little is known of Leyster’s early training but the degree of professional success she achieved was remarkable for a female artist of her time. By 1633 she was the first woman admitted to the Haarlem Guild of Saint Luke and in 1635 she is recorded as having three students.
“Stylistically, much of Leyster’s work resembles that of Frans Hals. She favored the same types of subjects and compositions, notably energetic genre scenes depicting one or two figures, often children, engaging in some kind of merrymaking. In addition to these compositions, Leyster also painted still lifes.”
In 1636 Leyster married fellow artist Jan Miense Molenaer, and moved to Amsterdam, where the couple lived until 1648. She painted very little after her marriage. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the early works of Leyster and her husband, as they often shared studio props and models, and may have worked on each other’s pictures.
5. Remedios Varo – December 16, 1908-October 8, 1963 – Born in Anglés, near Girona, Spain, Remedios Varo is often overlooked as an important surrealist painter. Varo studied art in Madrid and moved several times between Paris and Spain where she met and exhibited with other leading Surrealist artists. In 1941, Varo and her husband Benjamin Péret fled the Nazi occupation in Paris and moved to Mexico City where many other Surrealists had sought exile. Her first solo exhibition in Mexico at the Galería Diana in 1955 was a great success and earned her international recognition.
Varo’s palette consisted mainly of somber oranges, light browns, shadowy grays and greens. Her paintings were carefully drawn, and depicted stories or mystic legends. She often painted heroines engaged in alchemical activities. Varo was influenced by artists such as Francisco Goya, El Greco, Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, Braque, pre-Columbian art, and the writing of André Breton. She also borrowed from Romanesque Catalan frescoes and medieval architecture, mixed nature and technology, and combined reality and fantasy to create paintings that defied time and space. Varo was also influenced by a variety of mystic and hermetic traditions. She was interested in the ideas of C. G. Jung and the theories of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Helena Blavatsky, Meister Eckhart, and the Sufis. She was also fascinated with the legend of the Holy Grail, sacred geometry, alchemy and the I-Ching. She saw in each of these an avenue to self-knowledge and the transformation of consciousness.
Today’s images are by Russian Surrealist oil painter Alexander Lyamkin. To see more of his work, visit ArtHit.ru.
One of the first times I was ever moved by a piece of artwork was as a teenager when I saw a print of “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali. He has been a favourite of mine ever since. Dali was one of the most prolific, imaginative, and flamboyant artists of the 20th century.
Dali was born on May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain near the French border. He was a student at the San Fernando Academy of fine Arts in Madrid but was expelled for encouraging students to rebel and for withdrawing from an exam because he said the teachers were not qualified to judge his work.
Dali quickly gained recognition in 1925 after a solo show in Barcelona, in 1928 when his works were shown at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh, and in 1929 when he held his first solo show in Paris. It was at this time that Dali joined the ranks of the surrealists and met his future wife, Gala Eluard.
Dali painted “The Persistence of Memory” in 1931 after seeing some Camembert cheese melting in the heat on a hot summer day. Later that night, he dreamt of clocks melting on a landscape. The small work (24 cm x 33 cm) is one of the most famous of the surrealist paintings. During this time and inspired by Freud, Dali used his “paranoiac-critical method” to create his art. The painting has been owned by the MOMA in New York since 1934.
During the 1930s Dalí’s political indifference alienated him from the other Surrealists who were mainly leftist. In 1937 he painted an unusual series of Adolf Hitler that were considered to be in bad taste and partly led to his expulsion from the movement.
Dalí and Gala spent World War II in the United States, where he became a popular figure. He painted portraits, dressed shop windows, created a dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Spellbound” and created a cartoon, “Destino”, with Walt Disney.
Dalí returned to Europe in 1948 and was completely disconnected from Surrealism. He painted mainly in Spain, with an eclectic approach focusing on history, religion, and science. Dali worked in numerous mediums, including oils, watercolors, drawings, graphics, sculptures, films, photographs, performance pieces, jewels and much more.
Dali was greatly affected by the death of his wife Gala in 1982. After that time, he lost much of his passion for life, his health began to fail, and he painted very little. On January 23, 1989, at the age of 84, Salvador Dali died from heart failure with respiratory complications. He is buried in his Theater Museum in Figueres.