The Art-based Learning Calendar: AUGUST

“Less than a month ago, all of August still stretched before us – long and golden and reassuring, like an endless period of delicious sleep.” Lauren Oliver

AUGUST 1, Oqwa Pi

San Ildefonso Puebloℹ️ painter and muralist – Oqwa Pi – was born #OnThisDay (August 1) in 1899 in San Ildefonso Pueblo (Tewa: Pʼohwhogeh Ówîngeh – “where the water cuts through”) in New Mexico.

Oqwa Pi (also known by the names Abel Sanchez, Red Cloud, Ogwa-Pi, Oqua Pi, Aqua Pi, and Kachina Stick) was educated at the Santa Fe Indian School, where he learned watercolor and mural painting (the Indian School later commissioned him to create murals at the school).

Best known for his brightly colored artworks and the highly stylized figures with faces in geometric designs, Oqwa Pi’s paintings were executed in one of the two specific styles that are associated with the San Ildefonso school, a Native art movement of self-taught artists from 1900–1935. His subjects include festivals, dances and native ceremonies.

An active member of San Ildefonso’s political and social life, Oqwa Pi (1899-1971) furthermore served as both lieutenant governor and governor of the pueblo.

ℹ️San Ildefonso Pueblo is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, United States, and a federally recognized tribe, established c. 1300 C.E. The Pueblo is self-governing and is part of the Santa Fe, New Mexico Metropolitan Statistical Area. San Ildefonso Pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos, and the pueblo people are from the Tewa ethnic group of Native Americans, who speak the Tewa language.

AUGUST 2, John Sloan

American urban landscape painter, illustrator, and etcher – John Sloan – was born #OnThisDay (August 2) in 1871.

John French Sloan was one of the founders of the Ashcan school (aka Ash Can School) of American art – an artistic movement in the United States during the late 19th – early 20th century, that is best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York, often in the city’s poorer vicinity (other artists associated with the movement: Robert Henri, George Luks, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn).

Among these American realists, John Sloan (2 August 1871 – 7 September 1951) is celebrated for his exquisite urban genre scenes and the ability to capture the essence of neighborhood life in New York City, often observed through his Chelsea studio window.

AUGUST 3, Henry Wolf

French-native American wood engraver and printmaker – Henry Wolf – was born #OnThisDay (August 3) in 1852.

Wolf arrived in the United States in November 1871 and lived in New York City until his death (March 18, 1916). He worked in wood engraving throughout his artistic life and received several honors as a premier wood engraver. In 1908 Wolf was elected a full member of the National Academy of Design.

AUGUST 4, Hedda Sterne

Romanian-native American surrealist and abstract expressionist artist of Jewish heritage – Hedda Sterne – was born #OnThisDay (August 4) in 1910 as Hedwig Lindenberg.

During her centennial lifetime (Bucharest, Romania, 4 August 1910 – New York City, U.S., 8 April 2011), Hedda Sterne lived, learned and worked in Bucharest, Vienna, Paris, and New York City, eventually settling in the U.S. in October 1941, where she became an active member of the New York School of painters (The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s and 1960s in New York City. They often drew inspiration from surrealism and the contemporary avant-garde art movements, in particular action painting, abstract expressionism, jazz, improvisational theater, experimental music, and the interaction of friends in the New York City art world’s vanguard circle.)

In 1950, Hedda Sterne was a key participant in the “Artists’ Sessions at Studio 35”, a discussion group (the “Irascible 18”) about the modern art scene in New York and the aims of the artists. During the 1950s, Sterne’s notable contribution to Abstract Expressionism came in the form of her use of commercial spray paint to depict motion and light in her abstract renderings of roads, highways, and cityscapes.

In 1963, Sterne was granted a Fulbright Fellowship in painting, and spent more than a year working in Venice. Returning to New York in 1964, Sterne eschewed pressure to create a consistent and “marketable” style of artwork. She would express aversion to the idea of creating a “career” as an artist, preferring instead to follow her own path of expression and discovery. Her work of the 1960s and forward is often regarded as a progression of “series”, following Sterne’s ongoing and developing interests in visual perception, semiotics, existentialism, and meditation.

Hedda Sterne was a prolific artist who maintained a daily practice of art-making throughout much of her career. She continued to create new work in her 80s and 90s, even while affected by macular degeneration. By 1998, she could no longer paint, but continued to draw. Between 2004 and 2008, Sterne suffered two strokes, which progressively affected her vision and movement. Hedda Sterne died on April 8, 2011, at the age of 100.

AUGUST 5, George Tooker

“I don’t really think I’m a creator. I feel that I’m a passive vessel, a receptor or translator…The fascinating thing about painting is the discovery.”

American figurative artist and recipient of the 2007 US National Medal of Arts – George Tooker – was born #OnThisDay (August 5) in 1920.

Associated with magic realism, social realism, photorealism, and surrealism, Tooker’s subjects are depicted naturally as in a photograph, yet the images use flat tones, ambiguous perspectives, and disquieting juxtapositions to suggest an imagined or dreamed reality.

George Tooker did not agree with the association of his work with magic realism or surrealism, saying, “I am after painting reality impressed on the mind so hard that it returns as a dream, but I am not after painting dreams as such, or fantasy”.

AUGUST 6, Andy Warhol

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, Andy Warhol may have said or not (which doesn’t really matter, because it worked in the interest of branding and also led to the concept of ‘15 minutes of fame’).

Born #OnThisDay (August 6) in 1928, American artist, film director, and producer – Andy Warhol – was moreover a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, advertising, and celebrity culture that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silkscreening, photography, film, and sculpture.

“Once you ‘got’ Pop, you could never see a sign again the same way again. And once you thought Pop, you could never see America the same way again.” Andy Warhol (6 August 1928 – 22 February 1987)

AUGUST 7, Emil Nolde

German-Danish painter and printmaker – Emil Nolde – was born #OnThisDay (August 7) in 1867 as Hans Emil Hansen near the village of Nolde (since 1920 part of the municipality of Burkal in Southern Jutland, Denmark), in the Prussian Duchy of Schleswig.

Emil Nolde was a pioneer expressionist and one of the first oil painting and watercolor painters of the early 20th century to explore color. Recognizable by his brushwork and expressive choice of colors with frequent golden yellows and deep reds to otherwise somber tones, Nolde’s artworks include vivid landscapes and dazzling florals.

Although Nolde tried to ingratiate himself with the Nazism of Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler, a very large number of his paintings were banned by the Nazi party and included in the Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) exhibition in Munich in 1937. While acknowledging his success as a brilliant colourist, Nolde’s commitment to Nazism, racism, and antisemitism continue to cloud his art to this day.

Ironically, after 1941, Emil Nolde was forbidden by the Nazi regime from making art altogether, yet painted watercolors secretly – he called them the “Unpainted Pictures”.

AUGUST 8, Lewis Baumer

Notable English artist – Lewis Baumer – was born #OnThisDay (August 8) in 1870.

Best remembered for his illustrations and cartoons in the British weekly magazine of humour and satire Punch, or The London Charivari, Lewis Christopher Edward Baumer (8 August 1870 – 25 October 1963) was also a portrait and still life painter, pastellist, and book illustrator.

Baumer’s legacy includes many portraits, advertisements and still life paintings. He contributed to the revival of the tradition of portraiture using pastels, and was accomplished in several other media, including oils, watercolors, gouache, and etching.

AUGUST 9, Alvan Fisher

Born #OnThisDay (August 9) in 1792, American artist – Alvan Fisher – was one of the pioneers of landscape and genre painting in the United States.

Fisher traveled extensively throughout the United States, painting landscapes, rural scenes, portraits of animals, and people portraits. The growing popularity of landscape and genre painting coincided with the growing population of the United States and an economically improved middle class. This was the age of democracy and people wanted art that depicted their own contemporary life.

Between 1825-1826, Fisher traveled outside the US to visit Europe’s great art centers, becoming the first important American landscapist to make such a tour. He visited England, France, Italy and Switzerland, countries considered important for any artist’s professional stature and artistic maturation.

In his lifetime (9 August 1792 – 13 February 1863), Alvan Fisher’s landscapes were widely exhibited and admired, and the artist enjoyed acclaim throughout his career.

AUGUST 10, William Harnett

Irish-American trompe-l’œil painter – William Harnett – was born #OnThisDay (August 10) in 1848 in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland during the time of the Great Famine. Shortly after his birth, his family emigrated to America, settling in Philadelphia.

Harnett’s first known oil painting, a still life, dates from 1874. He subsequently started using the trompe-l’œil art technique, often depicting still lifes of ordinary objects (objects that are not usually made the subject of a painting) with very much skill and a high degree of verisimilitude.

AUGUST 11, Gari Melchers

Acclaimed American painter and leading proponent of naturalism – Gari Melchers – was born #OnThisDay (August 11) in 1860 as the son of German-born American sculptor Julius Theodore Melchers.

Seventeen years old Gari (Julius Garibaldi) Melchers began his art studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and was associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting. After three years in Germany, Melchers moved to Paris, where he worked at the Académie Julian, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Attracted by the pictorial side of Holland, he subsequently settled at Egmond aan Zee, where he also founded an art colony (together with the American artist George Hitchcock). Melchers successfully exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882 (“The Letter”, see featured painting) and 1886 (“The Sermon”, see featured painting).

In the course of his life, Gari Melchers (11 August 1860 – 30 November 1932) became a member of the National Academy of Design, New York; the Royal Academy of Berlin; Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris; International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, and the Secession Society, Munich; and, besides receiving a number of medals, his decorations include the Legion of Honor, France; the order of the Red Eagle, Germany; and knight of the Order of St Michael, Bavaria.

Upon his return to the United States, Melchers served as the president of the New Society of Artists (1920-1928) and spent his final years at Belmont Estate (Gari Melchers Home and Studio, nowadays a National Historic Landmark and historic house museum) in Falmouth, Virginia, near Fredericksburg. In 1932, aged 72, Melchers received the Gold Medal for distinguished achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

AUGUST 12, Abbott Handerson Thayer

American artist, naturalist, author, and art educator – Abbott Handerson Thayer – was born #OnThisDay (August 12) in 1849.

Best known for his idealistic and allegorical paintings of women as angels and madonnas, Thayer’s artworks depict ethereal angels, portraits of women and children, landscapes, and delicate flower paintings.

Moreover, Thayer was an amateur naturalist and a passionate bird-lover. He believed that his professional training in color, value, and design, combined with observation of nature, gave him the tools to understand how animals disguise themselves from predators, devoting considerable time and energy to define, promote, and defend his ideas on the subject. Thayer’s interest in color and nature led to his writing “Concealing-Coloration in the Animal Kingdom” (1909), which is said to have influenced camouflage techniques in World War I.

Abbott Handerson Thayer (12 August 1849 – 29 May 1921) furthermore influenced American art through his efforts as a teacher, training apprentices in his New Hampshire studio.

AUGUST 13, Christian Krohg

Awarded Norwegian naturalist painter, illustrator, journalist, professor and art educator – Christian Krohg – was born #OnThisDay (August 13) in 1852.

Krohg was inspired by Realism, often choosing motifs from everyday life and depicting his subjects with the highest level of accuracy. His art style made him a leading figure in the transition from romanticism to naturalism.

AUGUST 14, Claude-Joseph Vernet

French painter – Claude-Joseph Vernet – was born #OnThisDay (August 14) in 1714 in Avignon, as the son of the decorative painter Antoine Vernet.

Young Claude-Joseph Vernet studied landscape and seascape painting in Rome, subsequently developing his own style, impressively succeeding to perfectly integrate human figures into his landscapes, to completely make them part of the depicted scenes. “Others may know better”, Vernet said, with just pride, “how to paint the sky, the earth, the ocean; no one knows better than I how to paint a picture”.

Vernet lived in Rome for 20 years, producing views of seaports, storms, calms, moonlights, and large whales, becoming especially popular with English aristocrats, many of whom were on the Grand Tourℹ️.

In 1753, Vernet was recalled to Paris: there, by royal command, he executed the series of the seaports of France, by which he is best known. In 1757, Vernet painted another acclaimed series of paintings, known as the “Four Times of the Day”. Throughout his life however, Vernet returned to Italian themes.

Claude-Joseph Vernet died on December 3, 1789 in Paris. His youngest son, Carle Vernet (1758-1836), inherited Claude-Joseph’s talent, becoming a painter as well. Later, so did Carle Vernet’s son, the painter Horace Vernet (1789-1863).

ℹ️The Grand Tour was the principally 17th– to early 19th-century custom of a traditional trip through Europe, with Italy as a key destination, undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank (typically accompanied by a tutor or family member) when they had come of age (about 21 years old).

AUGUST 15, Paul Resika

Happy and healthy birthday to American painter Paul Resika, born #OnThisDay (August 15) in 1928!

Easily recognizable, Resika’s subjects are drawn from nature and reflect his surroundings, which change with the seasons: in winter, he lives in New York; in summer, Cape Cod; in spring he spends time painting in the south of France and in Italy. Province-town piers, fishing boats in the harbor, figures on the beach, and French farmhouses in the countryside emanate a dreamlike serenity and make up the rich visual vocabulary for which Paul Resika is best known. [Paul Resika: Eight Decades of Painting, monograph published in 2020]

AUGUST 16, Antoine Calbet

French portrait and genre painter, watercolorist, illustrator and lithographer – Antoine Calbet – was born #OnThisDay (August 16) in 1860.

Antoine Calbet (who sometimes signed his works as Antonin Calbet) had a predilection for the study of languid female nudes and pastoral landscapes, for gallant scenes and sensual women, but he was gifted in several genres, including decorative painting (his public commissions included the decoration of several theatres, as well as the buffet restaurant in the Gare de Lyon in Paris and the restaurant La Grande Taverne in Dijon, for which he painted a Scène de Brasserie).

Antoine Calbet (1860–1942) also illustrated literary works by Charles Nodier, Jean Lorrain, Henri de Régnier, and Pierre Louÿs, among others, and was a commissioned illustrator for French periodicals such as L’Illustration and Appel.

AUGUST 17, Walter Tandy Murch

Canadian-American painter – Walter Tandy Murch – was born #OnThisDay (August 17) in 1907.

Murch lived for a short 60 years (1907-1967), painting enigmatic still lifes of machine parts, brick fragments, clocks, broken dolls, hovering light bulbs, and further unusual objects and devices. In a combination of realism, magic realism, surrealism, and abstraction, Murch painted his peculiar objects as if seen through frosted glass – like literally “painting the air” between his unexpected subjects and his eye.

In the fall of 2021, Rizzoli Electa published Murch’s first complete monograph (“Walter Tandy Murch: Paintings and Drawings, 1925-1967”) with a foreword by #GeorgeLucas, exploring “the life of an unsung yet remarkable artist whose paintings and illustrations of everyday objects and mechanical devices are familiar yet mysterious”, or as George Lucas puts it, “in a magical middle”. Lucas calls himself a “fanboy” of the artist and describes Murch’s work as simultaneously “functional and dreamy, simple and complicated; they are quiet yet grab your attention.”

AUGUST 18, Kyra Markham

Kyra Markham, American figurative painter and printmaker, regularly awarded for her lithographic work, was born #OnThisDay (August 18) in 1891 as Elaine Hyman.

Largely associated with social realism, Markham’s artworks documented American life in the 30s, exploring the incredible and grim aspects of modern society with a strong interest in labor themes, depicting street beggars, musicians, actors, scenes from department stores, among others. She succeeded to present the extracted sights of everyday life in a dramatic manner, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Often evoking a dream-like state, Markham’s use of light, combined with detailed realism, resulted in fantastical compositions of daily life, as she injected fantasy into the social realist genre.

In the time between the two World Wars, similar to several other printmakers opposing the etching revival, Kyra Markham successfully embraced lithography. During World War II, her art focused on the propaganda effort against the Nazis. In addition to her work as an artist, Kyra Markham was also an accomplished actress.

AUGUST 19, Gustave Caillebotte

French visual artist – Gustave Caillebotte – was born #OnThisDay (August 19) in 1848.

Gustave Caillebotte earned a law degree in 1868 and he was also an engineer. After the Franco-Prussian war, where he served for one year (1870/71), Caillebotte began to study painting seriously.

Hugely talented, Caillebotte became a patron and a member of the Impressionists, despite his more realistic painting manner. His sizable allowance, along with the inheritance he received after the death of his wealthy parents, allowed him to paint without the pressure to sell his work. It also empowered him to help fund Impressionist exhibitions and support his fellow artists and friends (Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro among others) by purchasing their works and, at least in the case of Monet, paying the rent for their studios.

In addition, Caillebotte used his wealth to fund a variety of hobbies for which he was quite passionate, including stamp collecting, orchid growing, yacht building, and even textile design. Caillebotte is also remembered for his early interest in photography as an art form.

AUGUST 20, Alan Lee

Happy birthday to awarded English book illustrator and film conceptual designer – Alan Lee – born #OnThisDay (August 20) in 1947!

Best known for his artwork inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, and for his work on the conceptual design of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Tolkien, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series (2004 Academy Award for Best Art Direction–Set Decoration for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), Alan Lee has illustrated dozens of fantasy books, including some non-fiction, and many more covers.

AUGUST 21, Aubrey Beardsley

English illustrator, graphic artist, author, and key representative of the British Art Nouveau style (Modern Style) – Aubrey Beardsley – was born #OnThisDay (August 21) in 1872.

Beardsley’s black ink drawings were influenced by Japanese woodcuts, and often emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler. Aubrey Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant despite his early death, aged 25.

AUGUST 22, Archibald Willard

American painter – Archibald Willard – was born #OnThisDay (August 22) in 1836.

Willard had an interest in art ever since he was a child scribbling on barns and he actually began his artistic career as a basic wagon painter, eventually painting increasingly elaborate decorations, that were very popular at the time.

Willard fought in the American Civil War, where he also painted several war scenes. After the war, Willard created a pair of lively children’s paintings (Pluck No. 1 and Pluck No. 2) that caught the interest of photographer and chromolithographer James F. Ryder, who duplicated the images and made them marketable. Soon enough, Willard’s prints became highly popular as wall decorations for average households, leading to Willard making a career in art with his comic scenes of young children on dog-drawn carts chasing down rabbits.

Around 1875, after seeing a holiday parade pass through the town square of Wellington, Ohio, Archibald Willard painted his best-known artwork, namely “The Spirit of ‘76” (previously known as Yankee Doodle). Willard also painted three murals in the main hall of the Fayette County courthouse in Washington Court House, Ohio: The Spirit of Electricity, The Spirit of Telegraphy, and The Spirit of the Mail.

Archibald MacNeal Willard died October 11, 1918 (aged 82) and is commemorated by a Willard Avenue in his birthplace of Bedford and a Willard Drive in nearby Garfield Heights.

AUGUST 23, Hannah Frank

Scottish visual artist of Jewish heritage – Hannah Frank – was born #OnThisDay (August 23) in 1908.

Best remembered for her Art Nouveau monochrome drawings, Hannah Frank concentrated on sculpture after 1952. Between 1948 and 1969, Hannah Frank either donated or lent her artwork for charitable and fundraising purposes to Jewish organizations in Glasgow – this connection with the Jewish community would be something that would span out over most of Frank’s career and later life.

Hannah Frank died on December 18, 2008 in Glasgow, aged 100.

AUGUST 24, Lavinia Fontana

The first female career artist in Western Europe to financially support through painting her entire family (including her eleven children) – Lavinia Fontana – was born #OnThisDay (August 24) in 1552 in Bologna.

Having learned painting from her well-respected Bolognese artist-father, Prospero Fontana, Lavinia Fontana became a highly successful portrait painter, also working in the genres of mythology and religious painting – including several altarpieces for Italian and Spanish churches (another unusual commission for a female artist of that time). She may have also been the first woman artist to paint female nudes.

AUGUST 25, Kate Bunce

English painter and poet associated with the Arts and Crafts movement – Kate Bunce – was born #OnThisDay (August 25) in 1856.

Kate Bunce studied at the Birmingham School of Art in the 1880s and initially adopted the school’s painting style. Subsequently, her work became increasingly influenced by Sir Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the Pre-Raphaelites, and was characterized by strong figure drawing and a clear use of color.

Later in her life, she painted a series of decorative pieces in churches, often alongside metalwork by her sister, Myra Bunce (both daughters of British journalist and author, John Thackray Bunce, a patron of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and editor of the Birmingham Post).

AUGUST 26, Enrique Chagoya

Born #OnThisDay (August 26) in 1953, contemporary Mexican-American visual artist, printmaker, and art educator – Enrique Chagoya – juxtaposes secular, popular, and religious symbols in order to address the ongoing cultural clash between the United States, Latin America and the world as well.

Drawing from his experiences living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 70’s, and also in Europe in the late 90’s, Chagoya uses familiar pop icons to create deceptively friendly points of entry for the discussion of complex issues. Through these seemingly harmless characters, the artist examines the recurring subject of colonialism and oppression that continues to riddle contemporary American foreign policy.

Enrique Chagoya is currently a professor at Stanford University’s department of Art and Art History and his work can be found in many public museum and gallery collections. [Credits: Stanford University, Lisa Sette Gallery, Nevada Museum of Art, Florida Gulf Coast University]

AUGUST 27, Man Ray

Man Ray, visual artist with significant contributions to DADA and Surrealism, was born on this day (August 27) in 1890 in Philadelphia as Emmanuel Radnitzky.

Innovative painter, pioneering photographer (fashion, portraiture) and photogram explorer (“rayographs”), filmmaker, assemblage and collage artist, Man Ray produced major works in a variety of media, yet considered himself a painter above all.

【”】To most, Man Ray was a mystery. In part, this was the enigma posed by any expatriate who deliberately separates himself from home. (N.B. Man Ray lived intermittently in the United States, but spent most of his career in Paris). In part, it was the confusion that resulted from the multifaceted activities of an artist who accomplished, with easy dexterity, so much. As a painter, a maker of objects, photographer, filmmaker, a participant in avant-garde circles on two continents, Man Ray was dazzling in the multiplicity of his talents.

AUGUST 28, Ivo Pannaggi

Italian painter and architect – Ivo Pannaggi – was born #OnThisDay (August 28) in 1901.

Associated with the Italian Futurismo, Pannaggi joined the movement in 1918. Because of disagreements with its founder (Filippo Tommaso Marinetti), Pannaggi soon left the group, but published in 1922 (together with fellow architect and painter Vinicio Paladini) the “Manifesto of Futurist Mechanical Art”, emphasizing the importance of machine aesthetics (arte meccanica), which became one of the dominant strands of Futurism in the 1920s.

Before travelling to Berlin in 1927 (where he would live and work until 1929), Pannaggi created a variety of artworks – futurist paintings and several photomontage artworks, which he would also publish in German newspapers.

Between 1932 and 1933, Pannaggi attended the Bauhaus, the only Futurist other than Nikolay Diulgheroff (Bulgarian artist and architect who was active in Italy) to do so. In 1939, Pannaggi moved to Norway and would return to Italy in 1971, ten years before his death on May 11, 1981.

AUGUST 29, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

French Neoclassical painter and drawing artist – Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres – was born #OnThisDay (August 29) in 1780.

Although he considered himself a painter of history, Ingres’ greatest legacy are his portraits, both painted and drawn. Moreover, his expressive distortions of form and space made him an important precursor of modern art, influencing Picasso, Matisse and other modernists.

Furthermore, Ingres’s well-known passion for playing the violin gave rise to a common expression in the French language, “violon d’Ingres”, meaning a second skill beyond the one by which a person is mainly known.

AUGUST 30, Leonor Fini

Argentinian surrealist painter, designer, illustrator, and author – Leonor Fini – was born #OnThisDay (August 30) in 1907 in Buenos Aires, moving early in her childhood to Italy (first to Trieste, subsequently to Milan).

Fini had no formal artistic training, yet she was familiar with the traditional Renaissance and Mannerist styles encountered during her upbringing in Italy. In 1931-32, Leonor Fini moved to Paris, becoming acquainted with Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico, who both influenced much of her work. She also came to know Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Georges Bataille, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Picasso, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, and Salvador Dalí.

Leonor Fini was part of the pre-war generation of Parisian artists and, even if she never officially joined the Surrealist movement, she he did show her work alongside other surrealists. Fini’s work didn’t always fit the typical popular conception of surrealism, sometimes exploring the ‘femme fatale’ without any particularly ambiguous or monstrous imagery, as well as women in positions of power or in very sexualized contexts.

Nonetheless, her work often included symbols like sphinxes, werewolves, and witches. Also, most of the characters in her art were female or androgynous. In an attempt to subvert the roles imposed by society, she abandoned representations of fragile, innocent or fatal women in favor of goddesses inspired by Greek mythology. She applied herself to painting female figures who could not be categorized, judged or morally or sexually defined.

In the 1930s, Fini also started taking on design projects. Between 1944 and 1972, she was primarily involved in costume design for films and stage productions, and soon became very well known for her fashion sense. Moreover, during her highly creative life, Leonor Fini illustrated about 50 books and, in the 1970s, she wrote three novels, Rogomelec, Moumour, Contes pour enfants velu and Oneiropompe.

Leonor Fini died on January 18, 1996 in Paris, aged 88.

AUGUST 31, J. J. Lankes

American woodcut artist, printmaker, illustrator, author, and professor – J. J. Lankes – was born #OnThisDay (August 31) in 1884 in Buffalo, New York to parents of German heritage. His father worked in a lumber mill and brought home small scraps of wood. “It was like getting a daily present,” wrote Lankes, who played with and learned about all the different kinds of wood, as a child.

After his art studies, Lankes worked primarily in the woodcut medium and was largely associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. His numerous artworks (more than 1300) helped both to elevate woodblock printing beyond illustrations in commercial productions and to gain recognition for woodcut as a fine art.

Why #artbasedlearning?

As the world is changing enormously, the pursuit of knowledge and skill becomes acute. Humans engage in lifelong learning for both personal and professional reasons. General knowledge, (continuous) learning, (re-, up-) skilling empower professional & personal development, competitiveness, self-sustainability, social inclusion, active citizenship, satisfaction & wellbeing, and employability.

But learners are different and so should be the means of learning and education. Innovation in learning is key to an inclusive education. Hence, e.g., an art-based approach to learning.

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