When I first stepped into the house in Hyde Park where Brenda Atwood Pinardi had lived the majority of her life, I was overwhelmed. Every glance revealed new impressions, of her as an artist, of her life with her husband (fellow artist and teacher Enrico Pinardi), of her interests and passions, of her tendencies as a collector, of the relationships she formed with students and colleagues. The house holds evidence of a rich and creative life, with knick-knacks and gifts and artworks and books accumulated over the course of several decades. There are shelves of vintage dolls, floor-to-ceiling framed drawings and prints, small sculptural works dotting every flat surface, and marvelously pink bathroom decor.
As an art form, posters have been popular in Poland since their development in France in the 1880s and 90s, whether advertising gallery exhibitions and theater performances or promoting travel to foreigners. After the region gained political independence in 1918, industrialization and the new trade market led to a barrage of advertising and product-specific posters, incorporating new styles (mainly Cubism) and techniques. After World War II, Poland came under Soviet rule, and an official “Polish Poster School” was founded to spread propaganda through poster art. (In the USSR, graphic designers were actually considered better than fine artists, because they produced useful objects, as opposed to bourgeois painting and sculpture that served no function.)
I visited the New Museum in New York for the first time a few weeks ago, and had a really good experience overall. (Though that spaceship thing was kind of a let down.) It’s kind of a strange building, an assortment of rooms piled on top of each other in a jumbled tower, with each floor serving as a single exhibition space. The main exhibit on view was devoted to Polish sculptor Paweł Althamer, spanning four floors and revealing the artist’s aesthetic innovation as well as his tendency to collaborate with people outside the art world establishment.
Known for her colorful renderings of classical masterpieces encased in furniture, as well as derisive Pop paintings culled from media images of Colombia’s current events, Beatriz González began her artistic career in the early 1960s with a series called Las Encajeras (“The Lacemakers”), which re-imagined Vermeer’s The Lacemaker (a painting that was also referenced heavily by Dalí) into abstracted paintings. She studied at the Studio Art School of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, where Western art history was a focus despite the dearth of European masterpieces in Colombian museums.
When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, World War II officially began. France and Great Britain declared war on Germany, but by 1940 the Nazis controlled half of the French state with its puppet government in Vichy, run by Marshall Philippe Pétain. At the time of the invasion, renowned artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) had recently separated from his wife of forty years and was planning to vacation to Brazil with his assistant Lydia Delectoroskaya. Upon meeting Pablo Picasso in Paris before his departure, he discovered the full scope of the invasion, and was shocked to hear of the failings of the French military against the Nazis.