Happy Birthday Max Ernst!!

Max Ernst born 1891- 1976 was a Surrealist artist. Born in Germany, he became a Naturalised American in 1948 and French in 1958.

He was prolific in painting, sculpture, poetry and graphics art. He was a leading light and pioneer in his artistic approach to Surrealism and Dadaism.

A lot of information about the artist and analysis of his paintings can be found at This site

More of my posts Surreal thing! Happy Birthday Salvador Dali!

And Happy Eccentric Birthday Salvador Dali!


Happy Birthday Salvador Dali Eccentric Individualist!

Image from Here

Happy Birthday William Morris (1834-1896)

I thought that I would test the new ‘story’ facility on WordPress with this tryout on William Morris’s birthday. It works well. What I’d like to know is: if the story should be published first and – then writing added on (like I’m doing here) OR do the story and save, add to the written piece- then publish ūü§Ē? No doubt I shall find out. Liking it so far. A good way of updating and promoting your blog.

Too much has already been written about British Textile designer William Morris. He was a huge influencer and contributor for the revival of the British textile arts, and also its traditional production methods. A social innovator, activist, poet and supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris is considered as a significant social cultural figure in Britain.

The William Morris Society founded in 1955 is dedicated to his legacy.

More about William Morris, his work and his life can be found Here

Happy Birthday Juan Gris!

Today is the birthday of Spanish artist  Jose Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) Gonzalez-Perez  (known as Juan Gris). He was born in Madrid 1887-1927) but his career was based in France where he mostly lived. His work is mostly associated with the Cubist movement, but he started out as a sartorial cartoonist before developing his own distinctive Cubist style.

Gris’s contemporaries were Matisse, Picasso and Braque, amongst other famous artists. He approached cubism  in a style he called Analytical Cubism, but become converted to Synthetic Cubism in which he incorporated collage.


He painted in bright colours, unlike Braque and Picasso whose work at that time was mostly monochromatic.  In her book  The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Gertrude Stein wrote ‘Although Gris regarded Picasso as a teacher , Juan Gris was the only artist who Picasso wished away’.  Gris is an interesting artist.  More can be found about his life and work here-

In depth

Room Full of Mirrors (Part One)

“I used to live in a room full of mirrors
All I could see was me
Then I take my spirit and I smash my mirrors
And now the whole world is here for me to see”

It seems that we have always lived in a room full of mirrors.  Our fascination with our own reflection has never diminished and seems to burn brighter by the day.

We gaze Narcissus like into our Iphones pouting, posing and taking selfies of ourselves, and if we don’t  like the reality, then we can always change it by airbrushing our image, de wrinkling, whitening our teeth etc or even magically transforming ourselves into little fluffy pink rabbits with floppy ears and pink twitching noses if we so wish.

Are we in danger of the  ‘myth’ of Narcissus becoming  our reality? Or we all just destined to fade to grey, never to become one of those shining golden  daffoldils?

Narcissus, the Greek hunter, reknown for his beauty, unfortunately he only had eyes for himself.  One day Echo, a young nymph, pursued him through the woods.  Realising he was being followed, Narcissus called out “who is there?” But the nymph just echoed his question back. When she eventually made herself known, Narcissus snubbed her.  Poor Echo spent the rest of her life heartbroken, fading to only an echo.

Nemesis, the Goddess of revenge wasn’t very happy with Narcissus’s treatment  of Echo, so she  lured him to a pool where he fell deeply in love with his own reflection (I dont think that he took much persuasion). Alas, such was his passion for himself, he eventually burnt himself out, dying of unrequited love until at last, he too faded away – this time  into a flower. A pretty flower of course.

There are variations of this myth.  Pre Raphaelite  John William Waterhouse  (1847-1917) painted a lot of paintings with classical themes –  ‘Echo and Narcissus’ being an especially wonderful example.


Out flew the web and floated wide –                      

The mirror crack’d from side to side;

“The curse is come upon me,”

cried the Lady of Shalott

Fellow Pre-raphaelite John William Waterhouse  (b.1849-1917) was so inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s 1932 poem that he painted ‘The Lady of Shalott’ three times  1888, 1894, 1915.

The lady in question, confined to her room by a curse, was  not allowed outside and could only view the world through a mirror. Yearning for love, through her mirror she caught sight of of the knight Lancelot. She took three steps towards the window – the mirror cracked.  Realising the curse had befallen her, she sailed away to  Camelot and lonely death singing a lamentable lament.

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And down the river’s dim expanse

Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shallot.

The Lady of Shallot poem here

The Lady of Shallot painting here


Dorian Grey? Not in this attic

Note: This is a W.A.R. Post. What is it good for? ….Worth Another Blog)

They say women are vain – but when it comes to artists it seems that men never get tired of looking at their own reflection – and painting them.  Van Gogh was one of the most prolific self-portrait artists, (and one of the most least artists) as was  Rembrandt and Picasso.  It is interesting to look at the way age creeps into these self portraits, and is also a tribute to some of the artists lack of vanity and pursuit for truth that makes the ageing process unflattering in some cases. 

This gentle film takes a look at some famous self-portrait painters.  Some like Rembrandt chronicled his age throughout life, some stop short at youth.   Here is part of a list of the artists featured, the rest are here.  See how many you can recognise.

Artists in order of appearance:
0:08 – Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
0:15 – Francisco Goya 1746-1828
0:22 – Albrecht D√ľrer 1471-1528
0:29 – Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792
0:35 – Rembrandt 1606-1669
0:42 – Andy Warhol 1928-1987
0:48 – William-Adolphe Bouguereau 1825-1905
0:55 – Henri Matisse 1869-1954
1:02 РEugène Delacroix 1798-1863
1:09 РJean-François Millet 1814-1875
1:15 – Jan van Eyck 1395-1441
1:22 – Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1640
1:28 – James McNeill Whistler 1834-1903
1:35 – John Singer Sargent 1856-1925
1:42 – Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935
1:49 – Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665

Video and list from   and info from by Philip Scott Johnson

500 Years of Male Self Portraits in Western Art

with thanks!

Art I LOVE Maggi Hambling (A W.A.R. Post)

W.A.R.? What is it good for? – absolutely nothing.

W.A.R. what does it stand for? – Worth A Reblog!

I’ve always loved the art of Maggie Hambling.¬† I’m a big fan of painterly, expressionistic art – words which aptly describe this artists¬†work.¬†

Maggie Hambling

Hambling studied East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing from 1960, under the tutelage of Cedric Morris and then at the Ipswich school of Art (1962 Р64).  She then went to Camberwell  (1964 -1967) graduating at the Slade School of Art in 1969.

Max Wall by Maggi Hambling

Though known mainly for her portraiture Рa lot  were in the National Gallery where she became the first artist in residence in 1980 and did a series of portraits of the comedienne Max Wall.   

She  has also created sculpture including : Memorial to Oscar Wilde London and Scallop,  an interlocking steel sculpture on Alderburgh beach, dedicated to the composer Benjamin Britten  The sculpture itself was made by a local foundry and copied from a 4 inch model supplied by the artist.   The sculpture has created a lot of controversy Рsome say it enhances the view of the sea, others say it blocks the sea out.  The sculpture has been vandalised a few times too.  Hambling herself calls it a conversation piece Рa conversation with the sea;-

“An important part of my concept is that at the centre of the sculpture, where the sound of the waves and the winds are focused, a visitor may sit and contemplate the mysterious power of the sea,”

The Scallop by Maggi Hambling

Hambling’s¬†subjects include a lot of Gay people including George Melly, Stephen Fry and Quentin Crisp.¬†

George Melly drawing

From the 1980s Hambling turned mainly to landscapes and recently seascapes.  Her work has become  a lot more abstract and in 1995 she received an OBE for her services to painting and appointed a CBE in the new years Honours list in 2010.

George Hambling

 Quote from here

Information about the artist – start here

Wonderful interview which really reveals the personality of the artist here¬† What a character ūüôā

Ghost of George Singing

Max Wall image from here  Scallop image here  Melly drawing from here George Always here, Ghost of George singing here, Archie MacDonald here  Francis Bacon image from here  Hambling photo here

Francis Bacon by Hambling

Hambling’s website¬† http://www.maggihambling.com/

The short video shows extracts of her work in her studio. Video by shabboleth Thanks!

Archie MacDonald 1981 Hambling

Happy Birthday Clarice Cliff!

Today is the birthday of ceramicist artist Clarice Cliff (b. 1899 Tunstall, Stoke on Trent -1972). Her family came from a long line of potters. Cliff followed in their footprints but went on to became famous for her unique stylised patterns which became very popular during the Late 20s -40s , encapsulating the spirit of the age.


Starting work as a 13 years old gilder in the Potteries,Cliff then moved on to work in A.J. Wilkinsons pottery factory in 1916. In 1924 she was given another apprenticeship, and acquired a large range of skills. When she was given her own studio in 1927, her career really took off. In 1928 she designed a range of brightly coloured geometric patterned tableware called ‘Bizarre’.


The ‘Bizarre’ range was closely followed by the massively popular ‘Crocus’ design, which was entirely hand painted with upward brushstrokes depicting each flower. This pattern is said to be her signature. The design became so popular, that owing to demand, Cliff had to employ a large team (mostly of women) to hand paint the design Art Deco style was to prove so popular that Cliff and her team were producing colourful tableware that was both cheerful and affordable in the recession of the late 1920s. In 1940 Cliff married Colley Shorter (her then boss). Following his death in 1963, Cliff sold the factory to Midwinters and retired to Chetwynd House, Staffordshire. She died in 1972 but is still much celebrated to this day, her designs much admired and now very collectable.

Much has been written about Clarice Cliff’s life and there are some very informative links below for a more in depth look at this very individual, innovative ceramicist artist.

Thanks to

Art Deco video

The Original Clarice Cliff Website

Clarice Cliff – Wikipedia

The V & A Art Deco