Birth of Diego Rivera

Today is the birthday of Diego Rivera.  He is one of my favorite artists, so any excuse to discuss him and his relationship with the Rockefeller family is greatly appreciated.

One of Rivera’s masterpieces is 1914’s Portrait of Two Women which is part of the permanent collection of the Arkansas Arts Center. Once the AAC reopens in MacArthur Park in 2022, I look forward to seeing it again!

The official name is Dos Mujeres.  It is a portrait of Angelina Beloff and Maria Dolores Bastian.  The former was Rivera’s first wife.

This oil on canvas stands six and a half feet tall and five and a half feet wide.

Influenced by cubists such as Picasso, Rivera adopted fracturing of form, use of multiple perspective points, and flattening of the picture plane.  Yet his take on this style of painting is distinctive.  He uses brighter colors and a larger scale than many early cubist pictures. Rivera also features highly textured surfaces executed in a variety of techniques.

The painting was a gift to the Arkansas Arts Center by Abby Rockefeller Mauzé, sister of Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.  At the 1963 opening of the Arkansas Arts Center, James Rorimer, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, remarked several times to Arts Center trustee Jeane Hamilton that the Met should have that piece. Jeane politely smiled as she remarked, “But we have it.”

Of all her brothers, Abby was closest to Winthrop. The other brothers, at best ignored, and at worst, antagonized the two.  Given the complicated relationship of Rivera with members of the Rockefeller family, it is not surprising that if Abby were to have purchased this piece, she would donate it to a facility with close ties to Winthrop.

(Though the Rockefeller brothers had Rivera’s mural at Rockefeller Center destroyed, he maintained a cordial relationship with their mother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller — well as cordial as an anti-social but eminently charming Communist could be with the doyenne of capitalist NYC Society.)

Little Rock Look Back: Arkansas Arts Center celebrates with week of Grand Reopening activities in February 2000

On February 17, 2000, over three thousand people attended the Arkansas Arts Center members preview of the new and renovated galleries as part of a week long celebration. It culminated in Big Art Weekend in which the building was open for 72 hours with around the clock programming.

Donors to the project, media, and Arkansas museum professionals had each received sneak peeks of the new facility earlier in the week. On Friday, February 18, the Big Art Weekend got underway with a gallery tour of a variety of Little Rock galleries. (This was before 2nd Friday Art Night.)  Lectures, tours, and other special events populated the building on Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th.  In addition, the Children’s Theatre was performing Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp..

The renovation had taken over 18 months and cost $12 million.  It added 30,000 square feet of gallery space.  The expanded gallery space featured these exhibits: Paul Signac Watercolors and Drawings: Selections from the James T. Dyke Collection; Without Parameters: Selections from the Permanent Collection; Recent Acquisitions; Prophets, Parables and Paradoxes: Recent Drawings by David Bailin; Artistic Processes: Drawing; Living with Form: The Horn Collection of Contemporary Crafts; and European Paintings and Drawings.

The latter exhibit included eight pieces that were promised gifts from the Jackson T. Stephens collection.  They were Edgar Degas’ Dance in Blue (Before the Class, Three Dancers (c. late 1880s), Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Red Bull’s Head (1938), Claude Monet’s Apple Trees Near Vetheuil (1878), Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Three Partridges (c. 1888-1890), Alfred Sisley’s Road on the Edge of the Loing (1891), Camille Pissarro’s The Raised Terrace of the Pont-Neuf, Place Henri IV in Morning Rain (1902), Berthe Morisot’s The Flute Player (1890) and Bertrand Redon’s Vase of Flowers (c. 1890).

Final days to view INDEPENDENT VISION exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center

Martin with “Teenage Diary” suite of photographs by Judy Dater, 2018

Martin with “Teenage Diary” suite of photographs by Judy Dater, 2018 Photo: Vivian Sachs Image courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco

Sunday, December 30 is the final day to view Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection at the Arkansas Arts Center.

San Francisco-based gallerist and collector Martin Muller curated the exhibition from his personal collection as a tribute to Little Rock – the city where he spent his formative early years in America. During those years, Muller discovered an affinity for post-war American painting in the quiet library of the Arkansas Arts Center. It was the beginning of a lifelong, relentless pursuit of new artistic treasures.

“This was the beginning of a rich, colorful, challenging and rewarding journey, started in Little Rock, where I made many lifelong friends,” Muller said.

Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection features nearly 90 works from Muller’s personal collection representing his journey through contemporary art. The works in the exhibition represent a range of artistic expression, from American photographers Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, modernist masters Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, pioneers of the Russian avant-garde Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Bogomazov, and El Lissitzky and pop artists Andy Warhol, Mel Ramos and Edward Ruscha. The show also includes a diverse array of contemporary works by artists such as Joel Besmar, Damian Elwes and Jean-Charles Blais.

Independent Vision draws from Muller’s personal collection – and represents 77 artists he has championed throughout his career. Together, these works form a picture of Muller the collector, on a life-long journey for enlightenment through art and literature.

Born in Switzerland, Muller moved to Little Rock in 1975 to take a job with a Swiss-American company based in Little Rock.

Muller was an avid student of 19th and 20th century Russian literature and art – but developed a fascination with post-war American painting – Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism. While living in Little Rock, he pursued his studies in the Elizabeth P. Taylor library of the Arkansas Arts Center. In 1977, having decided to pursue his passion for art professionally, Muller moved west and opened Modernism, Inc. in San Francisco’s warehouse district South of Market.

“During my trip cross country, I marveled at discovering masterpieces of modern American art, from Edward Hopper to Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and later, the Pop and Minimalist artists, especially Donald Judd,” Muller said. “Now, some 40 years later, it gives me great joy to have come full circle back to Little Rock and be able to share at the Arkansas Arts Center some of the wonderful artworks gathered along the way.”

Founded in 1979, Modernism has since presented more than 450 exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, in media ranging from painting to photography, sculpture to performance, by an international roster of artists. Throughout its 39 years, Muller has aspired to keep the gallery’s challenging, museum quality program at the forefront of the art world, with exhibitions encompassing Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Vorticism and German Expressionism. Muller was also an early promoter and champion of the artists of the Russian Avant-Garde (1910–1930) in the United States. The gallery has held a long list of exhibition “firsts” – in 1980, Modernism held the first exhibition of the Russian Avant-Garde in a West Coast gallery, the first Andy Warhol show in San Francisco in 1982, and in 2003, the first Le Corbusier gallery show in the United States.

Happy Birthday to Diego Rivera

Today is the birthday of Diego Rivera.  He is one of the Culture Vulture favorite artists, so any excuse to discuss him and his relationship with the Rockefeller family is greatly appreciated.

One of Rivera’s masterpieces is 1914’s Portrait of Two Women which is part of the permanent collection of the Arkansas Arts Center. The official name is Dos Mujeres.  It is a portrait of Angelina Beloff and Maria Dolores Bastian.  The former was Rivera’s first wife.

This oil on canvas stands six and a half feet tall and five and a half feet wide.

Influenced by cubists such as Picasso, Rivera adopted fracturing of form, use of multiple perspective points, and flattening of the picture plane.  Yet his take on this style of painting is distinctive.  He uses brighter colors and a larger scale than many early cubist pictures. Rivera also features highly textured surfaces executed in a variety of techniques.

The painting was a gift to the Arkansas Arts Center by Abby Rockefeller Mauzé, sister of Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.  At the 1963 opening of the Arkansas Arts Center, James Rorimer, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, remarked several times to Arts Center trustee Jeane Hamilton that the Met should have that piece. Jeane politely smiled as she remarked, “But we have it.”

Of all her brothers, Abby was closest to Winthrop. The other brothers, at best ignored, and at worst, antagonized the two.  Given the complicated relationship of Rivera with members of the Rockefeller family, it is not surprising that if Abby were to have purchased this piece, she would donate it to a facility with close ties to Winthrop.

(Though the Rockefeller brothers had Rivera’s mural at Rockefeller Center destroyed, he maintained a cordial relationship with their mother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller — well as cordial as an anti-social Communist could be with the doyenne of capitalist NYC Society.)

Diego’s third (and fourth) wife Frida Kahlo will be the feature of an upcoming exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Pulaski Heights Picassos

The Culture Vulture tries to steer clear of promoting fundraisers (because there are so many that every day could be a feature). But just as Picasso broke the rules of the art world, this entry breaks the rule. The reason? As a good friend says “It’s for the children.”

Pulaski Heights Picassos will take place tomorrow night (Saturday, March 3) at Ricks Armory from 6pm to 10pm.  It is a silent and live auction fundraiser for Pulaski Heights Elementary arts programs. The parents and teachers of Pulaski Heights Elementary School believe that the arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education and something that should be available to all students.

Picassos is the primary fundraiser used by the PTA to enhance the arts programs at PHE. Primarily Little Rock artists have donated all or a portion of their proceeds from the sale of the art for auction. More than 100 accomplished artists donated artwork and more than 400 pieces are available for sale.

The artist list includes:

Mary Stuart Arrington
Shelby Baker
Boots Barnett
Elizabeth Bates
Jessie Bates
Louis Beck
Bill Belew
Selma Blackburn
Kissy Blanchat
Mary Bowden
Arden Boyce
Janet Browne
Heather Burkett
Cathy Burns
Becca Carey
Theresa Cates
Ashley Chandler
Jeannie Clifton-Laster
Jane Colclasure
Susan Conley
Jenny Cooper
Morgan Covan
Mitchell Crisp
Cici Davidson
John Deering
Jerry Delavan
Char Demoro
George Dombek
Hamid Ebrahimifar
Gayle Ellis
Tanya Fitzgerald
Jim Flatt
Wayne Fowler
Jan Gartrell
Tracee Gentry
Dent Gitchel
Doug Gorrell
Jann Greenland
Austin Grimes
Amanda Haskins
James Hayes
Helena
Judy Henderson
Rita Henry
Lora Matthey Hicks
Ellen Hobgood
Gino Hollander
Patricia Holifield
Julie Holt
Joe Homan
John Honey
Judy Honey
Sandy Hubler
Tim Hursley
Donna Hutchinson
Lucy Inserra
Jim Johnson
Don Jordan
Annette Kagy
Carla Koen
Benjamin Krain
Nancy Kubler
John Kushmaul
Mindy Lacefield
Beth Lambert
David Land
Amy Laser
Ann Laser
Laura Laser
Kathy Lindsey
Missy Lipps
Erin Lorenzen
Ashley Lowry
Christa Masters
Jason Masters
Mark Matthews
Pat Matthews
Matt McLeod
Tonya McNair
William McNamara
Lauren Meredith
Barbara Middleton
Patricia Miller
Herb Monoson
Patty Monoson
Jean Moss
Leslie Nelson
Bob Ocken
Leah Pearson
Michael Peven
Dale Provost
Cherlyon Reid
Richard Reynolds
David Schonert
Darrell Loy Scott
Gary Scroggs
Thom Shock
Justin Slarks
Liz Smith
Teresa Smith
Bob Snider
Cindy Sorrells
Mary Ann Stafford
Stephano
Babs Steward
Celia Storey
Susan Strauss
Kathy Strausse
Hank Tilbury
Ed Wade
Jeri Warlick
Michael Warrick
Lydia Washburn
Peggy Wenger
Julie West
George Wittenburg
Scotti Wilbourne
Renee Williams
Sherry Williamson
Debra Wolfe
Emily Wood
Melanie Young