Bohemian Paris: Myth or Fact?

How do you imagine Paris? For the artist in many of us, it is a Bohemian Paris we conjure up and even yearn for. But is Bohemian Paris merely an illusion? What is a Bohemian, anyway? In the popular view, she is someone unconventional, carefree, and usually involved in the arts. A free spirit who…

Art Against War: Echoes From Guernica

Today is the anniversary of the massacre of civilians in the small town of Guernica. On this day, April 26, 1937, Spanish cubist Pablo Picasso, who was living in Paris, worked on a painting with a familiar theme, the autobiographic subject of a painter and his model. The painting was commissioned by Spain’s Republican government…

Remembrance of Things Polish: The Power of Art

October 2012. I stood in the Bibliothèque Polonaise on the Ile Saint Louis in Paris, looking at the works of Andrzej Kreütz-Majewski. Captivated. Unsettled. His images haunted me and I had to find out more about him. An operatic and theatrical scenery designer, and professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Kreütz-Majewski was…

A Summer Across the Bay From San Francisco

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Recall that famous line? No, Mark Twain never said it quite that way. It turns out that’s a misattribution. If, indeed, Mark Twain (Can you ever just say “Twain”? I can’t) uttered something like it, it might have been in reference to Paris.…

What Is Art, Really? Part 1

This is a reblog from my old “lost” site. But, I believe it deals with a question we revisit all the time. What is art? Is it what YOU call art? What an art critic calls art? An art historian, perhaps? Or, is it what WE all collectively call art? Is it art because an…

The Arabesque in a Calla Lily

Monet has his haystacks, George Morandi his bottles, Cezanne his Mont Sainte Victoire. There are probably many other artists obsessed with a specific thing to make art with. I’m very far from counting myself among those masters, but I do see how easy it is to get mired in one subject matter. For me, recently,…