Friday, April 24, 2015

A Conversation with Robert Reitzfeld





       This past Tuesday, April 21, 2015 I sat down and interviewed one of the artists whose work is on display in the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery's current exhibit, Luminaries: Portraits from the GW Permanent Collection.  His name is Robert Reitzfeld and both he and his wife Lucy have been long-time supporters of and donors to the gallery.  Mr. Reitzfeld was born and raised in the Bronx in the '40s and was inspired by the work of cartoonists in newspapers and comic books from a young age.  As he grew older, his education in art increased and his tastes became more sophisticated.  Even so, he continues to combine elements from comics in his works today.


"Untitled Fragment-(I Remember Liz)"
           In our conversation, we discussed Mr. Reitzfeld's piece, Untitled Fragment-(I Remember Liz), which is on display in Luminaries, along with some of his other series including "Che. An Exploration," "Sleep Safe, America,"and "Landskapes."  He shared with me how his years spent working in advertising, as well as teaching at the The School of Visual Arts in New York City affected him and inspired him as an artist.

        I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Reitzfeld's anecdotes (especially the one where he was in a gallery with John Lennon and Yoko Ono!) and learning about the contemporary artists he is most intrigued by, including Todd Bienvenu, Katherine Bradford, Tony Fitzpatrick, Brenda Goodman, and Duncan Hannah.  It was a great pleasure getting to speak to this lovely man and artist and am looking forward to seeing his future artworks!

For more information on Robert Reitzfeld, check out his website: http://rtzfld.com
Click Here to Listen to the Full Interview: 


-Theodora P. Frangakis





Friday, April 17, 2015

Gallery Assistant Love!

With such a small staff, the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery has always relied on their Gallery Assistants. We pride ourselves in employing a diverse and exceptional group of students every year.  In honor of National Student Employment Week, the Gallery interviewed the three current Gallery Assistants to find out more about them and their interests:


Apeksha  Goonewardena, class of 2016, recently worked with Michelle Mazzuchi on the cases exhibit, Paper Window.  She found her experience selecting the books from the Corcoran Art & Design Collection and working on the text for Paper Window to be very rewarding.  She learned about how such an exhibition was designed and installed.  Learning about the textual and artistic value of artists’ books was a good experience, and valuable to her to work on an exhibition.  She enjoyed the dynamic of exhibition design, and looked forward to the “series” being developed with different themes.

Her academic interests are psychology and art history.  Her Paris trip last summer was great as she got to use her conversational French.  Her family trip also last summer to Sri Lanka, where her family originated, allowed more experience with the culture and its language Singhalese.

Vanessa Morales, class of 2015, is soon to be a GW graduate!  Her studies in French art and literature have stimulated further interest in art history.  She is fluent in Spanish, and her family lives in Chicago.  Her experience helping with the outdoor sculpture project, and the exhibition of paintings and photography, Luminaries gave her an insider view of gallery work.  She expressed that as a student, she did not know about GW’s art collection until she began working with the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery.  She is interested in our collection of pre-Columbian, mostly Mayan ceramics.  The experience of handling original artifacts is essential.  She is interested in fashion and interior design, and may continue her career in graduate school and eventually the Peace Corps.

As an English and Spanish double major, Theodora Frangakis, class of 2017, had a hard time fitting in art courses so she turned to a job at the Gallery to give her the artistic outlet she missed from high school. She has enjoyed meeting so many interesting people while at the Gallery and appreciates what goes into putting up an exhibit.  Attending the unveiling ceremony for a public sculpture by George Zongolopoulos with the Greek Embassy was a highlight for her.  Being at the Gallery then piqued her interest further in exploring more about the arts.  When abroad next year, Theodora has already applied for an internship in the arts in Chile and scoped out cities with artistic reputations in Chile and Brazil.  Before she heads to South America, she'll be spending the summer in New York City working at the public relations firm, Goodman Media.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Essence of Portraiture
Vanessa Morales, Senior, 2015

How can both the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci and a selfie posted on Instagram by a high school classmate both be considered portraits?

A portrait aims to display a likeness or essence of a person.  Even if a person changes or ages, the portrait will not alter. As Andy Warhol said, “Art never changes, even if people do.”  A portrait can easily tell a story or suggest much about the person or persons within it, even without capturing an exact resemblance.

Some of the earliest known portraits in existence were the 3rd century BC Fayum mummy portraits. These bright, supremely preserved portraits covered the faces of those being mummified for burial.  Although the bodies would decay, the portraits allowed the buried to live forever, unchanged, possessing a sense of permanence. These portraits were painted in encaustic directly onto the coffins of the buried, and have since been removed and placed in museums across the globe.  Since then, portraiture has changed, but the essence of remembrance and honoring those depicted has remained.  Portraits are everywhere: coins, caricatures, statues, billboards, paintings, and photographs.
Currently on display at Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is a show entitled Luminaries: Portraits from the GW Permanent Collection.  The exhibition displays portraits in various mediums highlighting an eclectic collection, including screen prints, photographs, oil paintings, and even a cast iron medallion.
Near the entrance of the exhibit sit the works of Aline Fruhauf.  Her unique approach to portraits comes in the form of woodcut prints.  Alice Longworth, Aldous Huxley, and nine Supreme Court Justices are portrayed in caricature.  Posthumously, her memoir named Making Faces stated, “Caricature was not only a respectable form of art but also a valuable way of documenting human beings.”

Observing the caricature of Alice Longworth by Aline Fruhauf may raise the question: how can it be a portrait if there is no *real* likeness?  This caricature is a woodblock print of a woman who faces away from the viewer, hidden under a chic hat.  One might argue that the vagueness of this person might not make it a portrait at all. Ms. Longworth is dressed in a fashionable dress and with matching accessories of handbag, gloves, heels, and a hat.  Although her face is turned away, the essence of Alice Longworth’s lavish but unconventional and controversial life is indeed captured through her beautiful wardrobe and unreachable persona.  Beneath her caricature is a note by the artist: “Mrs. Longworth facing Dupont Circle,” a neighborhood certainly frequented by her with all of its shops and restaurants.
    
Turning to an oil painting on the other end of the hall, there is a painting by Umberto Romano. This piece, entitled Dostoevsky, appears even further removed than Fruhauf’s portrait.  The canvas of black, red, and yellow paint embellished by swirls of neon colors and dreamlike brush strokes could easily be mistaken for abstract expressionism.  Then something happens.  Upon further inspection of the seemingly spontaneous brush strokes, the shapes in the blue paint towards the bottom center slowly start to take the form of a nose. The eyes of the viewer register a large blue hand and then the other, when suddenly, the impulsive brush strokes become very deliberate, and the portrait of the writer comes forward.  It is difficult to even recognize that there is indeed a figure within this painting, which, like the previous work, begs the question of whether or not it could actually be considered a portrait. 

Romano attempts to capture the spirit of Dostoyevsky, who wrote much about human psychology and existentialism, by visually representing these ideas in this convoluted portrait.

Whether it is the Mona Lisa, Howard Finster’s George at 23, or a 4th grade photograph, the persona of a subject of portraiture is not necessarily seen only through the likeness of the sitter. As we have seen, there are many examples where the spirit of the person is portrayed rather than just superficially.

Luminaries: Portraits for the GW Permanent Collection is on view in the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, MPA Bldg., 2nd floor until April 24, 2015. 






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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Howard Hodgkin: Paintings - May 16, 2012

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Conversation with Robert Reitzfeld





       This past Tuesday, April 21, 2015 I sat down and interviewed one of the artists whose work is on display in the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery's current exhibit, Luminaries: Portraits from the GW Permanent Collection.  His name is Robert Reitzfeld and both he and his wife Lucy have been long-time supporters of and donors to the gallery.  Mr. Reitzfeld was born and raised in the Bronx in the '40s and was inspired by the work of cartoonists in newspapers and comic books from a young age.  As he grew older, his education in art increased and his tastes became more sophisticated.  Even so, he continues to combine elements from comics in his works today.


"Untitled Fragment-(I Remember Liz)"
           In our conversation, we discussed Mr. Reitzfeld's piece, Untitled Fragment-(I Remember Liz), which is on display in Luminaries, along with some of his other series including "Che. An Exploration," "Sleep Safe, America,"and "Landskapes."  He shared with me how his years spent working in advertising, as well as teaching at the The School of Visual Arts in New York City affected him and inspired him as an artist.

        I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Reitzfeld's anecdotes (especially the one where he was in a gallery with John Lennon and Yoko Ono!) and learning about the contemporary artists he is most intrigued by, including Todd Bienvenu, Katherine Bradford, Tony Fitzpatrick, Brenda Goodman, and Duncan Hannah.  It was a great pleasure getting to speak to this lovely man and artist and am looking forward to seeing his future artworks!

For more information on Robert Reitzfeld, check out his website: http://rtzfld.com
Click Here to Listen to the Full Interview: 


-Theodora P. Frangakis





Friday, April 17, 2015

Gallery Assistant Love!

With such a small staff, the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery has always relied on their Gallery Assistants. We pride ourselves in employing a diverse and exceptional group of students every year.  In honor of National Student Employment Week, the Gallery interviewed the three current Gallery Assistants to find out more about them and their interests:


Apeksha  Goonewardena, class of 2016, recently worked with Michelle Mazzuchi on the cases exhibit, Paper Window.  She found her experience selecting the books from the Corcoran Art & Design Collection and working on the text for Paper Window to be very rewarding.  She learned about how such an exhibition was designed and installed.  Learning about the textual and artistic value of artists’ books was a good experience, and valuable to her to work on an exhibition.  She enjoyed the dynamic of exhibition design, and looked forward to the “series” being developed with different themes.

Her academic interests are psychology and art history.  Her Paris trip last summer was great as she got to use her conversational French.  Her family trip also last summer to Sri Lanka, where her family originated, allowed more experience with the culture and its language Singhalese.

Vanessa Morales, class of 2015, is soon to be a GW graduate!  Her studies in French art and literature have stimulated further interest in art history.  She is fluent in Spanish, and her family lives in Chicago.  Her experience helping with the outdoor sculpture project, and the exhibition of paintings and photography, Luminaries gave her an insider view of gallery work.  She expressed that as a student, she did not know about GW’s art collection until she began working with the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery.  She is interested in our collection of pre-Columbian, mostly Mayan ceramics.  The experience of handling original artifacts is essential.  She is interested in fashion and interior design, and may continue her career in graduate school and eventually the Peace Corps.

As an English and Spanish double major, Theodora Frangakis, class of 2017, had a hard time fitting in art courses so she turned to a job at the Gallery to give her the artistic outlet she missed from high school. She has enjoyed meeting so many interesting people while at the Gallery and appreciates what goes into putting up an exhibit.  Attending the unveiling ceremony for a public sculpture by George Zongolopoulos with the Greek Embassy was a highlight for her.  Being at the Gallery then piqued her interest further in exploring more about the arts.  When abroad next year, Theodora has already applied for an internship in the arts in Chile and scoped out cities with artistic reputations in Chile and Brazil.  Before she heads to South America, she'll be spending the summer in New York City working at the public relations firm, Goodman Media.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Essence of Portraiture
Vanessa Morales, Senior, 2015

How can both the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci and a selfie posted on Instagram by a high school classmate both be considered portraits?

A portrait aims to display a likeness or essence of a person.  Even if a person changes or ages, the portrait will not alter. As Andy Warhol said, “Art never changes, even if people do.”  A portrait can easily tell a story or suggest much about the person or persons within it, even without capturing an exact resemblance.

Some of the earliest known portraits in existence were the 3rd century BC Fayum mummy portraits. These bright, supremely preserved portraits covered the faces of those being mummified for burial.  Although the bodies would decay, the portraits allowed the buried to live forever, unchanged, possessing a sense of permanence. These portraits were painted in encaustic directly onto the coffins of the buried, and have since been removed and placed in museums across the globe.  Since then, portraiture has changed, but the essence of remembrance and honoring those depicted has remained.  Portraits are everywhere: coins, caricatures, statues, billboards, paintings, and photographs.
Currently on display at Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is a show entitled Luminaries: Portraits from the GW Permanent Collection.  The exhibition displays portraits in various mediums highlighting an eclectic collection, including screen prints, photographs, oil paintings, and even a cast iron medallion.
Near the entrance of the exhibit sit the works of Aline Fruhauf.  Her unique approach to portraits comes in the form of woodcut prints.  Alice Longworth, Aldous Huxley, and nine Supreme Court Justices are portrayed in caricature.  Posthumously, her memoir named Making Faces stated, “Caricature was not only a respectable form of art but also a valuable way of documenting human beings.”

Observing the caricature of Alice Longworth by Aline Fruhauf may raise the question: how can it be a portrait if there is no *real* likeness?  This caricature is a woodblock print of a woman who faces away from the viewer, hidden under a chic hat.  One might argue that the vagueness of this person might not make it a portrait at all. Ms. Longworth is dressed in a fashionable dress and with matching accessories of handbag, gloves, heels, and a hat.  Although her face is turned away, the essence of Alice Longworth’s lavish but unconventional and controversial life is indeed captured through her beautiful wardrobe and unreachable persona.  Beneath her caricature is a note by the artist: “Mrs. Longworth facing Dupont Circle,” a neighborhood certainly frequented by her with all of its shops and restaurants.
    
Turning to an oil painting on the other end of the hall, there is a painting by Umberto Romano. This piece, entitled Dostoevsky, appears even further removed than Fruhauf’s portrait.  The canvas of black, red, and yellow paint embellished by swirls of neon colors and dreamlike brush strokes could easily be mistaken for abstract expressionism.  Then something happens.  Upon further inspection of the seemingly spontaneous brush strokes, the shapes in the blue paint towards the bottom center slowly start to take the form of a nose. The eyes of the viewer register a large blue hand and then the other, when suddenly, the impulsive brush strokes become very deliberate, and the portrait of the writer comes forward.  It is difficult to even recognize that there is indeed a figure within this painting, which, like the previous work, begs the question of whether or not it could actually be considered a portrait. 

Romano attempts to capture the spirit of Dostoyevsky, who wrote much about human psychology and existentialism, by visually representing these ideas in this convoluted portrait.

Whether it is the Mona Lisa, Howard Finster’s George at 23, or a 4th grade photograph, the persona of a subject of portraiture is not necessarily seen only through the likeness of the sitter. As we have seen, there are many examples where the spirit of the person is portrayed rather than just superficially.

Luminaries: Portraits for the GW Permanent Collection is on view in the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, MPA Bldg., 2nd floor until April 24, 2015. 






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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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