Art of the Week

Chiang Chaoshen (1925-96)
Untitled, 1980
Ink and color on paper, 189 x 94 cm.

Born in China’s Anhui Province in 1925 to a family from the literati class, Chiang received a well-rounded education in the traditional scholastic arts, ranging from poetry composition to painting. After relocating to Taiwan in 1949, he received instruction from the literati master and imperial descendant Pu Hsin-yu, exhibited works privately, was noticed for his command of the Chinese artistic tradition and subsequently drafted onto the staff of the National Palace Museum. He retired as a deputy director in 1991 and died in 1996. Chiang Chao-shen, former Deputy Director at the National Palace Museum and born in 1925, suddenly passed away while presenting a lecture at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang on May 12, 1996.

Highly regarded for his diligence in mastering all aspects of the tradition that he had inherited, Chiang was no mere imitator. His paintings, while essentially classical in form, have a freshness and modernity about them. The impression is not so much of an artist trying to innovate, but of a man devoted to his art and absorbing contemporary influences from the world around him. Many of his paintings were inspired by Chiang’s travels through China. Having studied under the guidance of the famous literati artist Pu Ru, and carried out research on two Ming artists, Tang Yin and Wen Zhengming, when he was research fellow at the National Palace Museum in Taipei in 1967, Chiang amassed a substantial knowledge and mastery of traditional Chinese ink painting. Chiang Chaoshen’s works reveal a rare synergy of classical elegance, rigorous technique and robust individuality that has brought new vitality to the literati painting tradition.

Chiang was not only renowned both domestically and internationally as a historian of Chinese art, he was also held in exceptionally high regard for his outstanding achievements in painting, calligraphy, and seal carving. After retiring from the National Palace Museum in September of 1991, he went to live at his “Qishe Garden” in Puli, Nantou County. Diligent in his art, he held major exhibitions of painting and calligraphy at such venues as the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, and the Huangshan Municipal Museum in Anhui Province.

Chiang Shao-Shen: Selections of His Works of Art. Yun-Kang Culture Publishing, 1979 (ASIN B008B1KMC6)

Art of the Week

Isabel Bishop (1902-1988)
Young People Outdoors, 1972
Etching with aquatint, 26 x 28 cm.
Gift of Edward T. Pollack ‘55

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bishop spent much of her childhood in Detroit, Michigan. She came to New York City at the age of sixteen and enrolled in the School of Applied Design for Women in New York, planning to train for a career in commercial art. In 1920, she began her studies at the Art Students League with Kenneth Hayes Miller and later with Guy Pène du Bois. In 1934, Bishop leased a studio on Union Square where she worked for the remainder of her career. Sometimes grouped with her teachers Kenneth Hayes Miller and Reginald Marsh as the Fourteenth Street School, at other times associated with artists Edward Hopper and Raphael and Moses Soyer, Bishop remains one of America’s most distinctive artists and a visual poet of urban working women.

Over the course of an artistic career that lasted more than sixty years, Isabel Bishop attempted to capture the modern woman and the pace of the American city through her work. she abandoned commercial art and focused on figure compositions drawn from real life scenes in the city. In these works, the figures are quickly drawn, the lines and contours suggesting a particular stance, gesture, or mood. These ordinary people are placed in loosely indicated settings, suggested rather than described by a direct, quick brushstroke that evokes the everyday activity and animated rhythms of the modern city. Bishop’s work is also distinguished by her principal subject: women. In the 1930s and 1940s, Bishop drew, painted, and etched a series of works that captured the female face in unexpected moments: flashing perfect teeth while applying lipstick, tightening a cheek to touch up a blemish, or opening a mouth wide to bite a hot dog.

Bishop, Isabel, Isabel Bishop New York, Abrams [1975] ND237 .B594 L86
“Isabel Bishop, the grand manner and the working girl.” By: ALLOWAY, Lawrence. Art in America, Apr1975, Vol. 63, p61-65, 5p
“A Woman of substance: remembering Isabel Bishop.” By: Barnett, Catherine. Art & Antiques, December 1988, p64-71, 8p
“Isabel Bishop: paintings, drawings, prints.” By: Yglesias, Helen. Massachusetts Review, Summer83, Vol. 24, p289-304, 16p
“Isabel Bishop: the seamless web.” By: Ellett, Mary Sweeney. Arts in Virginia, 1991, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p22-32, 11p

Art of the Week

Arthur Rothstein (1915-85)
Vernon Evans, Migrant to Oregon from South Dakota, 1936
Gelatin silver, 28 x 35 cm.
Gift of Lewis W. Siegel ‘70

Arthur Rothstein was born in New York in 1915. He attended the Angelo Patri School in the Bronx and while a student at Columbia University he developed an interest in photography. Two of his tutors, Roy Stryker and Rex Tugwell, asked him to help with the picture editing of a textbook they were working on. During the Great Depression Rothstein was invited by Roy Stryker to join the federally sponsored Farm Security Administration (FSA) that was established in 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The FSA employed a small group of photographers to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America. In 1936 Rothstein was sent to document the Dust Bowl. In 1940, Arthur Rothstein joined the staff of Look Magazine as a photographer. During the Second World War he went back to the Farm Security Administration which had become part of the Office of War Information. This included taking photographs in China, Burma and India. After the war Arthur Rothstein returned to Look Magazine where he worked as Director of Photography until the magazine closed in 1971. He then held the same position for Parade Magazine. Rothstein was the inventor of the X-O-Graph, a three-dimensional printing process. He also taught at several schools and enjoyed mentoring young photographers throughout his long and diverse career. He also published nine books on photography including Look at Us, Let’s See, Here We Are (1967), Photojournalism (1974), A Vision Shared (1976), The Depression Years (1978), Words and Pictures (1980), American West in the Thirties (1982), America in Photographs (1985) and Documentary Photography (1985). Arthur Rothstein died in New Rochelle in 1985.

Vernon Evans (with his family) of Lemmon, South Dakota, near Missoula, Montana on Highway 10. Leaving grasshopper-ridden and drought-stricken area for a new start in Oregon or Washington. Expects to arrive at Yakima in time for hop picking. Live in tent. Makes about two hundred miles a day in Model T Ford.


Rothstein, Arthur, The photographs of Arthur Rothstein / Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, c2011. TR820.5 .R683 2011a

Profile: Arthur Rothstein. Photographic Journal, July 1984, Vol. 124, p315-321, 7p

Art of the Week

Mary Cassatt (1845-1927)
Antoine Holding Child, 1905
Drypoint on beige Hollande paper, 23 x 17 cm.

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt’s work with the Impressionists, especially Degas and Édouard Manet, influenced her technique, composition and use of color and light. Degas encouraged her experiments in printmaking. Cassatt and other artists experimented with graphic techniques in the hopes of creating a new print journal. Although the journal never came to fruition, this work became very important to Cassatt in her development as a printmaker and a painter.

Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. Her popularity is based on a series of paintings and prints of mothers and children. Early on, the subjects of these works were her friends and family. Toward the end of her career, she used professional models and her compositions were influenced by Renaissance Madonnas and Child. After 1900, she concentrated almost exclusively on mother and child subject matter.

Her failing eyesight prevented her from working for the last 15 years of her life, but because she had been an exceptionally prolific printmaker, she produced more than 220 prints during the course of her career.

  • Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, Mary Cassatt : a catalogue raisonné of the graphic work / Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979. QUARTO NE539 .CA4 1979
  • Mathews, Nancy Mowll. Mary Cassatt / New York : Abrams in association with National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1987.QUARTO N6537 .C35 M3 1987
  • Getlein, Frank. Mary Cassatt : paintings and prints / New York : Abbeville Press, c1980. QUARTO N6537 .C35 G47 1980
  • Images of modern motherhood in the art of Morisot, Cassatt, Modersohn-Becker, Kollwitz. By: Buettner, Stewart. Woman’s Art Journal, Fall86/Winter87, Vol. 7, p14-21, 8p; DOI: 10.2307/1358300

Art of the Week

Richard Westall (1765-1836)
Pocahontas Pleading for the Life of Captain John Smith, 1820-40
Oil on canvas, 45 x 55 cm.
Gift of Arthur S. Olick P’83

Richard Westall was the more successful of two half-brothers (both sons of a Benjamin Westall, from Norwich), who each became painters. His younger half-brother was William Westall (1781-1850), a much-travelled landscape painter. Born in Hertford, Richard Westall was apprenticed to a heraldic silver engraver in London in 1779 before studying at the Royal Academy School of Art in 1785. He exhibited at the Academy regularly between 1784 and 1836, became an Associate in 1792 and was elected an Academician in 1794. His works, including watercolors, encompassed portraits (Queen Victoria, Lord Byron and Richard Ayton) and many historical subjects of a neo-classical nature (e.g.: Shakespearean scenes), and he was a successful illustrator of books (including an edition of the Bible and of John Milton’s poems), working for the noted publisher John Boydell. He also served as drawing master to Princess, later Queen Victoria between 1827 and his death in 1836.

Pocahontas (born Matoaka, and later known as Rebecca Rolfe, c. 1595 – 1617) was a Native American of Virginia notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown. Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tidewater region of Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she is said to have saved the life of a captive, John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him.

“Queen Victoria as an artist, and her teachers”. By: Millar, Delia. Drawing, March/April 1988, Vol. 9, p126-130, 5p

Art of the Week

Japanese, Edo (1615-1868)
Tea Bowl (Chawan) with Hagaki Fence Pattern, 1700-99
Pottery, Shino Kiln, 6 cm. diam

The Edo period is the period between 1615 to 1868 in the history of Japan. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social orders, isolationist foreign policies, an increase in both environmental protection and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. During this period, Japan studied Western sciences and techniques through the information and books received from Dutch traders. The studies included geography, medicine, natural sciences, astronomy, art, languages, physical sciences, and mechanical sciences. The flourishing of Neo-Confucianism was the major intellectual development. This system increased attention to a secular view of man and society. Ethical humanism, rationalism, and historical perspective of neo-Confucian doctrine appealed to the official class.

A chawan is a bowl used for preparing and drinking tea. There are many types of chawan used in tea ceremonies, and the choice of their use depends upon many considerations. Chawan are classified according to their place of origin or manufacture, color, shape, materials and other characteristics. Chawan are also classified according to the type of tea that will be served in them. Although the Japanese word for the tea ceremony, chanoyu, literally means “hot water for tea,” the practice involves much more than its name implies. Chanoyu is a ritualized, secular practice in which tea is consumed in a specialized space with codified procedures. The act of preparing and drinking matcha, the powdered green tea used in the ceremony, is a choreographed art requiring many years of study to master. The intimate setting of the tea room, which is usually only large enough to accommodate four or five people, is modeled on a hermit’s hut. In this space, often surrounded by a garden, the participants temporarily withdraw from the mundane world. In the tea room, the emphasis is on the interaction between the host, guests, and tea utensils. The host will choose an assemblage of objects specific to that gathering and use those utensils to perform the tea preparations in front of the guests. Each tea gathering is a unique experience, so a particular assemblage of objects and people is never repeated. When presented with a bowl of tea, a guest will notice and reflect upon the warmth of the bowl and the color of the bright green matcha against the clay before he begins to drink.

Shino ware is Japanese pottery and stoneware made in Mino Province, in modern-day Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is identified by thick white glazes, red scorch marks, and a texture of small holes. Shino ware is one of the Mino styles that dates to the late 16th century. Like other Mino wares, the Shino style is based on older Seto ware with changes to shape, decoration, and finish. Forms are usually squat and cylindrical, thick but lightweight. Dishes, bowls, and tea utensils are most common. Pieces can be grey, red, or white, painted with iron oxide or decorated with glaze. Firings of Shino tend to be of lower temperature for a longer period of time, and then a slow cooling process. These conditions do not allow the glaze to melt fully, and the result is a thick glaze that often has a crawling pattern.

Hagaki is a postcard or other paper.

Lee, Sherman E. A history of Far Eastern art / Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1994. PERRY QUARTO N7336 .L43 1994
Mason, Penelope E., History of Japanese art / New York : Abrams, 1993. QUARTO N7350 .M26 1993
Munsterberg, Hugo, The ceramic art of Japan : a handbook for collectors / Rutland, Vt. : C.E. Tuttle, 1964. NK4167 .M85 1964
Pekarik, Andrew. Japanese ceramics from prehistoric times to the present / Southampton, N.Y. : Parrish Art Museum, c1978. NK4167 .P44
Sanders, Herbert H. The world of Japanese ceramics, Tokyo ; Palo Alto, Calif. : Kodansha International, [1967] TP804 .J3 S3 1967
Mikami, Tsugio, The art of Japanese ceramics. New York, Weatherhill [1972] NK4167 .M4613
Japanese tea ceremony. By: Hoar, J. W.. Design for Arts in Education, May/June 1982, Vol. 83, p37-39, 3p
Some Japanese tea taste ceramics. By: LEE, Sherman Emery. Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, November 1973, Vol. 60, p267-278, 12p
Tea-ceremony pottery and export porcelain. By: LERNER, Martin. Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, November 1967, Vol. 54, p266

New Acquisition

Simpson, Lorna (b.1960, U.S.)
Untitled, 1993
Photogravure with silkscreen and watercolor, 90 x 116 cm
Gallery purchase, The Art Collection Fund

Lorna Simpson was born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York, and received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and her MFA from the University of California, San Diego. When Lorna Simpson emerged from the graduate program at San Diego in 1985, she was already considered a pioneer of conceptual photography. Feeling a strong need to re-examine and re-define photographic practice for contemporary relevance, Simpson was producing work that engaged the conceptual vocabulary of the time by creating exquisitely crafted documents that are as clean and spare as the closed, cyclic systems of meaning they produce. Her initial body of work alone helped to incite a significant shift in the view of the photographic art’s transience and malleability.

Lorna Simpson first became well-known in the mid-1980s for her large- scale photograph-and-text works that confront and challenge narrow, conventional views of gender, identity, culture, history and memory. With unidentified figures as a visual point of departure, Simpson uses the figure to examine the ways in which gender and culture shape the interactions, relationships and experiences of our lives in contemporary America. In the mid-1990s, she began creating large multi-panel photographs printed on felt that depict the sites of public – yet unseen – sexual encounters. Over time she turned to film and video works in which individuals engage in enigmatic conversations that seem to address the mysteries of both identity and desire. Throughout her body of work, Simpson questions memory and representation, whether in her moving juxtaposition of text and image, in her haunting video projection Cloudscape and its echo in the felt work Cloud, or in her large-scale video installation Momentum which recreates a childhood dance performance. Using the camera as a catalyst, Simpson constructs work comprising text and image, parts to wholes, which comment on the documentary nature of found or staged images. In Simpson’s latest works, characteristic ambivalence is presented with hazy ink washes to present isolated figures amidst nebulous spaces- a return to and departure from her earlier unidentified figures in a deepened exploration of contemporary culture.

Brooklyn-based artist Lorna Simpson is best known for her photographic works that address issues ranging from racial and sexual identity, to ideas of the body, to interpersonal communication and relationships. Her works are inspired from various sources, including personal experience, the current political climate, and African-American culture and history. She presents her subjects indirectly through metaphor, suggestion, and personal biography. She often pairs isolated details of the human figure or objects with fragments of text to evoke emotional responses. Simpson’s works typically engage the viewer’s own experience as a means of interpreting her images and use of language.

Lorna Simpson. Burlington, VT : Annenberg/CPB Collection, c1996.  VIDEO CASS 3090
Felt Surface, Visible Image: Lorna Simpson’s Photography and the Embodiment of Appearance. By: Belisle, Brooke. Photography & Culture, July 2011, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p157-178, 22p; DOI: 10.2752/175145211X12992393431214
Lorna Simpson. By: Wilkes, Andrew. Aperture, Fall93, Issue 133, p14-23, 10p
Lorna Simpson: Echoes of the Unspoken. By: Valdez, Sarah. Art in America, December 2006, Vol. 94 Issue 11, p106-111, 6p