Tag Archives: art history

The “Fathers” of Art

Portrait of the Artist's Father, Marcel Duchamp, Park West GalleryThroughout art history, those who dared to challenge traditional techniques of the past or introduce new methods of creativity often earned nicknames as the “Father of” the respective art movements they helped to inspire.

In honor of this upcoming Father’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of some of history’s most distinguished “fathers” of art.

Such titles are somewhat subjective and thus often debated among art scholars and critics. For example, many would argue that “The Father of Cubism” is Georges Braque, while others say it’s Pablo Picasso.

Let us know what you think! Do you agree or disagree with this list?  Can you think of any others? And as always, please share your thoughts below!


  • RENAISSANCE | Giotto
  • BAROQUE | Caravaggio
  • ROCOCO | Jean-Antoine Watteau
  • NEO-CLASSICAL | Jacques-Louis David
  • REALISM | Gustave Courbet
  • IMPRESSIONISM | Camille Pissarro
  • FAUVISM | Henri Matisse
  • ART NOUVEAU | Alphonse Mucha
  • ART DECO | Erté
  • MODERN ART | Paul Cézanne
  • POINTILLISM | Georges Seurat
  • EXPRESSIONISM | Vincent van Gogh
  • ABSTRACTION | Wassily Kandinsky
  • BAUHAUS | Walter Gropius
  • DADA | Marcel Duchamp
  • SURREALISM | Andre Breton
  • POP ART | Richard Hamilton
  • OP ART | Victor Vasarely
  • ACTION PAINTING | Jackson Pollock
  • KINETIC ART | Yaacov Agam
  • ART HISTORY | Giorgio Vasari

*  *  *  *  *

REMINDER! Father’s Day is this SUNDAY, JUNE 17!
Still looking for the perfect gift for dad? The Park West Gallery Summer Sale Collection offers fine art, sports memorabilia, collectibles and more! Shop NOW at http://sales.parkwestgallery.com.

A Brief History of Landscape Painting: Holland Berkley and Igor Medvedev

To read more educational ARTicles like these, subscribe to the Park West Gallery RSS and send a request to receive our FREE monthly newsletter.

While modern fine art collectors are seemingly drawn to the beautiful French countrysides of Monet, Pissarro, and Cezanne, this wasn’t always the case. The tradition of landscape painting, in any form, was born from centuries of evolved painting styles, beginning with the tinted walls of the ancient Greeks. Adorning their walls with beautiful gardens and rolling hills was initially common but eventually these scenes became the backdrop for religious stories. Not until the Italian Renaissance in the sixteenth century was this technique revived, brought to height by Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits.

"Madonna on the Rocks" (1492) by Leonardo da Vinci, National Gallery of London.“Madonna on the Rocks” (1492) by Leonardo da Vinci, The National Gallery of London.

Leonardo was notorious for incorporating landscapes behind his subjects in the foreground, utilizing dramatic chiaroscuro and rugged terrain, possibly as psychological cues. As the Renaissance revived the classical ideals, naturalistic elements like scenery and landscape sparked a new interest in studying Nature and its importance.

Derivative of the Dutch word, landschap¹, idealized landscapes truly began in the Netherlands, the location of a steadily growing population of Protestants that wanted a secular option to the contemporary religious subject-matter. Aelbert Cuyp was one of the most poetic Dutch landscape artists, drawing from his surroundings to paint bright and imaginative scenes. By the seventeenth century, the landscape was perfected, displaying an idealized, classical harmony where Nature was balanced and serene, evoking a classical simplicity. Landscapes were still not the highest form of painting recognized by the royal academies, but they remained popular, steadily growing in importance. Finally, late in the eighteenth century, the Academy recognized landscapes as historic and important, documenting nature as an educational study. This led the way for one of the first genres of American art, using the landscape as a form of American history.

"Herdsman with Five Cows by a River" (1650) by Aelbert Cuyp, National Gallery of London.“Herdsman with Five Cows by a River” (1650) by Aelbert Cuyp, The National Gallery of London.

When the Hudson River School began painting in the middle of the nineteenth century, they believed that by painting American landscapes in epic proportions (canvases the size of large walls) it could instill a sense of the Sublime. The dramatic vistas and beautiful scenes did two things. Since history painting had been at the top of the artistic hierarchy until that time, yet America as a (European) civilization was just beginning, artists used depictions of the land as its own form of history painting. By doing so, these impressive paintings became their own kind of secular faith, glorifying a fledgling country with the beauty of its lands. Painters like Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church used the vast and open expanse of land to convey emotional and romantic notions of the new frontier.

"Cotopaxi" (1862) by Frederic Edwin Church, Detroit Institute of Arts.“Cotopaxi” (1862) by Frederic Edwin Church, The Detroit Institute of Arts.

By the late nineteenth century, some of the world’s most beloved landscapes were being painted by artists like Van Gogh and Monet, practicing the technique of en plein air, or painting outdoors. Now that pre-mixed boxed paints were readily available, the artists could travel outdoors to paint amidst a more natural setting, further developing the quickly changing social customs and the idea of the weekend. The bourgeoisie could take the train to the countryside on the weekends, escaping the drab of the city. Moments like these were captured by the Impressionists and their contemporaries, documenting this new lifestyle in paintings of landscapes and social scenes. Their modern masterpieces broke ground for today’s contemporary landscape artists like Holland Berkley and Igor Medvedev.

"Deep Blue Landscape" (2008) by Holland Berkley, Park West Gallery.“Deep Blue Landscape” (2008) by Holland Berkley, Park West Gallery.

Berkley uses her landscapes to inspire mystery and awe in her viewers, focusing on luminous colors and smoky brush strokes. Her subjects range from bodies of water, trees, meadows, and fields to whimsical portraits and hazy figures interacting with the land. Her studies provide insight to her focus on the honesty of her lines and graphic symbolism.

"The Last Emerald Vista III" (2008) by Holland Berkley, Park West Gallery.“The Last Emerald Vista III” (2008) by Holland Berkley, Park West Gallery.

Igor Medvedev uses his landscapes to document the quickly changing topography of coastal villages. This California artist doesn’t attempt to copy nature in his paintings or to describe in the manner of the photo-realists. Instead, he constructs painterly compositions that direct the eye, moved by their visual drama and hidden mysteries. He describes these hidden instances as “moments of intimation” and aspires to reach “a kind of agreeable unease.” His scenes are landscapes in which he immerses himself – passing moments in Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, and Africa. Timeless and alluring, these places are captured for his viewers – insight into a world they may never see first-hand – and soon, might be gone forever.

Inspired by the rapidly disappearing towns and villages of the Mediterranean and beyond, Medvedev urgently documents with a theme of ecological and cultural preservation, listening to the bulldozers as he paints. Within each piece lingers a sense of balance, wonder, and curiosity, holding the viewer captive as he slowly breathes in the serene colors and harmonies.

"Emerald Harbor" (2005) by Igor Medvedev, Park West Gallery.“Emerald Harbor” (2005) by Igor Medvedev, Park West Gallery.

¹ The J. Paul Getty Museum’s “Brief History of the Landscape Genre,” originally meaning “region, tract of land.”
Fine artwork by Holland Berkley and Igor Medvedev is available for purchase through Park West Gallery and its cruise art auctions at sea.
To learn more about these and other Park West Gallery artists, please visit our Discover the Artists page and begin your exploration.  

Japanese Woodcut Print Collection at Park West Gallery

Park West Gallery is excited to offer for sale an impressive collection of 19th Century Japanese Woodcut prints created by more than 25 different talented woodblock artists. Following, we present a few collection highlights along with a bit of art history behind the prints. 

"Actors" (1859), Toyokuni III, Park West Gallery, Japanese Woodcut printsThe majority of prints in the Park West Gallery Japanese Woodcut Collection were created during Edo period Japan (1615-1868). Known familiarly as ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” these images traditionally portray “worldly pleasures and earthly delights,” a type of escape that dealt with the frustrating ancient divisions of class between Japanese nobles and warriors.

Historically, many in the warrior class had been able to accumulate vast sums of money, often much more than many of the nobles. But due to strict class definitions, this didn’t matter and they were seen as second tier. Thus, ukiyo-e, the “floating world,” was born as a place controlled by and patron to the warrior class (and those interested), an area where they could revel in their “earthly delights.” Common forms of entertainment were elaborate tea houses, the company of courtesans and geishas, and Kabuki Theater.

"Actors" (1865), Yoshitaki , Park West Gallery, Japanese Woodcut prints"Actors and Bijin" (1845), Shibakuni, Park West Gallery, Japanese woodcut printsWhile many ukiyo-e show everything from geisha and landscapes to tea houses, the most famous prints depict scenes from the Kabuki Theater. The theater acted out stories deeply engrained in Japanese history, tales that were fantastic and supernatural, mythological or the aggrandized lives of historical figures. Each story was easily recognized by their audience and the Kabuki actors went to extreme lengths to convey the most dramatic, exaggerated expressions and poses that they could.

At the height of this drama, the actor would freeze, holding this powerful facade. Each actor had his own signature trait, such as how long he would hold his pose, the comedic way his hair was worn, his family crest or the colors in his costume. Woodblock prints of this period usually depicted specific actors, recognizable by these features.

"Genre Print" (1880), Yoshitoshi, Japanese woodcut prints, Park West Gallery"Actors" (1815), Toyokuni, Japanese woodcut prints, Park West Gallery

Likewise, in Kabuki prints, not only were the actors easily recognized, but so too were stories they acted out. Artists would take the most dramatic pose from an actor’s repertoire and freeze it on a woodblock forever, making sure to include telling marks of who the character was. Having the character hold something symbolic or depicting them in the midst of their most notorious moment were common ways in which the artist clued the audience in to what was happening.

Finally, when Japan opened up their trade routes to Europe in 1868, renowned artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Whistler, and Van Gogh became known collectors of these prints, often bringing aspects of the woodblock style into their own artwork. From the use of sharp perspective, line and color, to the study of the middle class’s entertainment, without ukiyo-e, Impressionist art would have become something else entirely.
To learn more and inquire about the Japanese Woodcut Collection offered by Park West Gallery and its cruise art auctions at sea, please visit http://sales.parkwestgallery.com.

Art News — August 24, 2011

Subscribe to the Park West Gallery RSS to stay updated on the latest art, museum and gallery news from around the web.

Paint Torch, Claes Oldenburg, Park West Gallery“Paint Torch” by Claes Oldenburg. Photo credit: PAFA


Philly’s new giant paintbrush: The “Paint Torch,” a 51-foot-long sculpture of a paintbrush by Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg, was installed on Saturday at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Situated underneath the over-sized paintbrush is a 6-foot paint glob. The sculpture will be illuminated for the first time on October 1. {via PRNewswire}

Stealing world’s most famous painting: This past Sunday, August 21, marked the 100th anniversary since the famous theft of the “Mona Lisa.” Amazingly, it took more than a day before the Louvre realized that the painting was missing. Perhaps even more surprising, Pablo Picasso was questioned as a possible suspect in the heist! Turns out Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian handyman who sought to return the painting to his native country. {via AFP}

Around town: Serving up art for a cause: The ninth annual Arts du Jour will take place Thursday, August 25 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. This popular charity preview event for Arts, Beats & Eats will offer culinary delights and entertainment, with seventy-five percent of all proceeds going to benefit ten local charities. Hours: Thursday, 5:30 pm – 11 pm. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit www.artsdujourro.org.

***Have an interesting art news story or upcoming arts event to share with our Park West Gallery Blog readers? Submit your art-related news links via email to marketing@parkwestgallery.com.

The Shortest Art History Lesson You’ve Ever Seen

Don’t know much about art history? Good news! Artist Grant Snider has summed up decades of creativity in one 6-panel cartoon rhyme. This is one of the most clever art history lessons Park West Gallery has ever seen, and definitely one of the shortest!

art history cartoon, Grant Snider, Park West Gallery

(via Neatorama)

> Discover more about your favorite artists at Park West Gallery!

August 10 in Art History – Louvre opens, Smithsonian established

Following is Park West Gallery’s roundup of important cultural events that took place on this day in art history.


1793 – The Musée du Louvre opened to the public

Louvre Museum

On August 10, 1793, the Musée du Louvre opened to the public for the first time. This central landmark in Paris was originally established as “a national palace to house the king and for gathering together all the monuments of the sciences and the arts.” Opening day presented an exhibition of 537 works, mostly paintings from the collections of the French royal family and aristocrats. Today, the Louvre houses 35,000 works of art drawn from eight departments, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collections.

1846 – The Smithsonian Institution was established

Smithsonian Institution

On August 10, 1846, U.S. Congress passed legislation founding the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, as an establishment dedicated to the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” President James K. Polk signed it into law the same day. Today, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex, including 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park.

For more on this day in art history, visit the Park West Gallery Blog archives: Artist Birthdays – August 10
Related Links: 

August is American Artist Appreciation Month

American Flatlands (fig. 36), Tim Yanke, Park West Gallery Collection
“American Flatlands (fig. 36)” by Tim Yanke
Park West Gallery Collection

QUICK! Name an American artist! 

Who was the first to pop into your head? Was it Norman Rockwell? For many of us, he’s the one we think of right away. But there are so many others that shouldn’t be forgotten.

From Andy Warhol and Andrew Wyeth, to Georgia O’Keeffe and Mary Cassatt, America has been the birthplace for some of art history’s most talented and celebrated artists. Throughout August, all of them will be honored as we observe American Artist Appreciation Month.

But you don’t have to visit a museum to appreciate American fine art. The Park West Gallery Collection showcases a variety of works by American artists, including Norman Rockwell. And the works of Park West Gallery contemporary favorites such as Leslie LewTim Yanke and Marcus Glenn, are also not to be missed. 

So during the month of August, take a moment to learn more about American artists. You never know what you might discover.

Discover the Artists at Park West Gallery →

Related Links:

Art News – June 24, 2011

vincent-and-theo-van-goghVincent van Gogh’s self-portrait (left) with the painting of his brother Theo (right)

Is he or isn’t he? Art researchers at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum now believe that a work by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh—long thought to have been a self-portrait—actually depicts the artist’s younger brother Theo. If true, it would be the only known painting of Theo, who supported Vincent financially and was his lifelong confidant and friend. What do you think—is it Vincent, or could it be Theo? {via CBS News}

QUIZ: Are you a Magritte geek? René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle opens today (thru Oct. 16) at Tate Liverpool. The Belgian surrealist is renowned for his witty images depicting everyday objects such as apples, bowler hats and pipes in unusual settings. How well do you know Magritte? Take the quiz{via Guardian}

On this day in art history: On June 24, 1901, Pablo Picasso‘s first major exhibition opened at a gallery on Rue Laffitte in Paris. The artist was 19 years old at the time, and unknown outside Barcelona, but had already produced hundreds of paintings. (Visit the Park West Gallery Picasso Website to learn even more about the artist.) {via History.com}

***Have an interesting art news story or upcoming arts event to share with our Park West Gallery Blog readers? Submit your art-related news links via email to marketing@parkwestgallery.com.