Tag Archives: still life

The Reluctant Educator and Revered Artist, Emil Carlsen

Study in Gray

 

The work of Emil Carlsen is respected, revered and praised. Known as one of the greatest American landscape and still life artists, Carlsen is said to have mastered the art of painting.

In his book about American still life painting, Painters of Humble Truth, William Gerdts discloses what he believes is the secret behind Carlsen’s talent. “What makes the painting beautiful,” Gerdts’ writes, “is Carlsen’s sensitivity to arrangement – large shapes are juxtaposed with small flat forms and tall ones, their outlines are often united in refined harmonious curves.”

Another art historian, Richard Boyle recounts Carlsen’s approach to still life. “His paintings are beautifully crafted and delicate of surface,” he says. “He was concerned with ‘ideal beauty,’ as well as the beauty inherent in the subject.”

Emil Carlsen created natural flowing designs that were complimented by his use of atmospheric light. He also had a keen sense of how to apply paint to canvases so that the forms he painted became dramatic and involved. In addition, Carlsen had an eye for detail which shown in his technical style and decorative flair.Bald Head Cliff - York Maine
Even though he was a celebrated artist, Carlsen had trouble supporting himself with earnings from his artwork alone. Throughout the years he taught at many design schools in various parts of America and dedicated himself to the development of aspiring impressionist artists. While this was in line with Carlsen’s passion, it was far from the career he envisioned for himself.

Emil Carlsen (1853 – 1932) was born and raised in Denmark. He was interested in becoming an architect and studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. In 1872, he came to the United States and, before long, found himself in Chicago, Illinois. There, he worked as an assistant to an architect. The architect, Lauritz Holst, would later leave America for Denmark and give Carlsen his studio. This contributed greatly to the progress of Carlsen’s skill, which subsequently landed him a teaching role at the Chicago Academy of Design.

Feeling as if there was more to learn, Carlsen left Chicago in 1875 to visit Paris, where he would study under Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, a famous French still life painter. Upon his return to America, instead of going back to Chicago he landed in New York where he set up a studio and tried to sell his still life paintings. At the time, however, he did not find much money in this. In 1879, he abandoned his New York studio and took up engraving to make ends meet.

Then, in 1883, a breakthrough happened for Carlsen when his work was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. This led to a trip to Europe in 1884 where he would continue to study and sell his work. In 1885, two pieces of Carlsen’s artwork were featured at the Paris Salon.

Even with these major successes, Carlsen still had trouble making enough money to live on. After Paris, he spent time teaching in San Francisco before moving back east where he would teach at two prominent art schools: The National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Personal success awaited Carlsen at the turn of the century. In the year 1896 he married Luela Mary Ruby. They gave birth to a child named Dines Carlsen in 1901. The family of three would make home in the studio and encourage Dines’ artistic abilities.

All the while Carlsen taught at design schools, even though he would have preferred to spend his time painting. He eventually joined the Macbeth Gallery in New York which was known to represent American Impressionist artists. This marked a changing point in Carlsen’s career. For the first time he was able to live on the money he made from art sales. As Carlsen increased his success with solo exhibits, he was able to stop teaching at art academies.

Still, the successes of Emil Carlsen go far beyond his financial standing. He influenced great impressionist artists like Guy Rose and won numerous awards. He received a gold medal in the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, the Samuel T. Shaw Purchase Prize at the National Academy of Design, and a Medal of Honor at the Pana-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

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Emil Carlsen

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

The Visionary Work of Gustave Moreau

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter

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Paul Cézanne – Post Impressionist

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Paul Cézanne was a French artist whose combined use of color, abstraction and geometric precision provided a link between nineteenth century Impressionism and twentieth century Cubism.

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Born in Provence in 1839, the son of a wealthy banker, Cézanne studied law in Aix before moving to Paris in 1861 with his childhood friend, Emile Zola. While Zola was to become one of France’s most renowned writers, Cézanne was to become one of the country’s most feted painters.

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Paris in the nineteenth century was a center for artistic innovation, and it was there that Cézanne met the Impressionist Camille Pissarro, an artist who would guide Cézanne away from his initial dark palette and towards colors that reflected a brighter, more natural light.

Although Cézanne knew and mixed with the Impressionists in Paris, including Manet and Degas, he was not particularly sociable. His shyness, short temper and bouts of depression made it difficult for him to form friendships and influenced his early works. His Dark Period (1861-1870), which dates from this time, is characterized by a focus on figures and above all by a use of somber colors, especially black.

Following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, Cézanne left the French capital with his mistress, Marie-Hortense Fiquet, moving eventually to Pontoise. Painting alongside Pissarro, Cézanne began creating more landscapes and switched to brighter colors to created works that would lead critics to refer this stage of his life as The Impressionist Period (1870-1878). Indeed, Cézanne’s works were shown in both the first and third Impressionist exhibitions, which took place in Paris in 1874 and 1877. In neither of those exhibitions did Cézanne receive warm reviews from the critics.

By the early 1880s Cézanne’s life had become more stable. The family, which now included a son also called Paul, moved back to Provence and in 1886, Cézanne married Hortense and inherited his father’s estate. Impressed by Mount St. Victoire near the house of Hortense’s brother, Cézanne was able to combine his Impressionist techniques with a subject containing the solidity and permanence which he felt Impressionist art lacked, and which would later be felt in Cubism. www.segmation.com

The Final Period (1890-1905) of Cézanne’s life was not a happy one. He had broken off relations with his lifelong friend, Zola, after the writer had based a character on Cézanne’s life, and diabetes affected his personality to the extent that his marriage became strained. Just as acclaim for his work grew, Cézanne himself became increasingly reclusive, repainting the subjects of his old works in different ways. His masterpiece, The Great Bathers, for example, with its geometric lines and focused composition clearly shows his progression from a painting of the same subject made more than thirty years before which focused solely on the figures themselves.

Cézanne died of pneumonia in 1906 leaving a large oeuvre that include, The Murder, The Bather and Rideau, Crichon et Compotier, which became the world’s most expensive still-life painting when it sold for $60.5m in 1999.

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Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_C%C3%A9zanne

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Painting from Real Life vs. Painting from a Photograph

Which is better: painting from real life, or painting from a photograph?

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Before the invention of photography, artists had to work from real life. How did that affect artists’ working habits?

The necessity of working from life meant that in order to paint a portrait, the sitter had to pose for hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months before the artist was finished. To paint a still life, the artist would have to make sure the set-up stayed the same day after day, and could only paint when the lighting conditions were the same as the previous day. For landscape painting, artists would have to finish as much as possible on-site and often complete the final painting in their studio, often surrounded by smaller studies that contained notes on which hues and values to place where.

The invention of photography – especially digital photography – has changed the way artists work. Thanks to the convenience of affordable digital cameras, artists can easily take a variety of high-quality pictures of whatever they want to paint, and then instead of working from real life, they can work from their photographs.

In many ways, this has made representational painting easier for artists. They no longer have to wait until weather and lighting conditions are just right for outdoor painting, and sitters no longer need to spend precious hours posing for a portrait. While many artists now embrace the use of reference photos as aids to creating paintings, others still prefer to work in the style of the old masters. Which way is better?

One drawback to painting from photographs is that the resulting artwork may appear “flat”, because the objects, scene, or person depicted in the painting was first translated into 2-D form via the camera. When an artist works from real life, she has to use her artistic skills to transform the 3-D view before her into 2-D form on her canvas. When working from a photograph, an artist may become too reliant on depicting the actual 2-D photo, as opposed to depicting the 3-D scene that the photograph itself depicts.

Even so, the use of reference photos has largely aided artists in their working process, although each artist has his or her own preference between working from photos or working from real life.

So artists, when it comes to working from real life vs. working from a photograph, which do you prefer, and why?

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