The Life of Forms in Art

“Hokusai tried to paint without the use of his hands. It is said that one day, having unrolled his scroll in front of the shogun, he poured over it a pot of blue paint then, dipping the claws of a rooster in a pot of red paint, he made the bird run across the scroll and leave its tracks on it. Everyone present recognized in them the waters of the stream called Tatsouta carrying along maple leaves reddened by autumn.”

Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art (1934)

Spider, Alexander Calder, 1939

Spider, Alexander Calder, 1939

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A Monkey and a Woman

Mieth_A_IC

Left: Hansel Mieth’s portrait of a Rhesus Monkey in Puerto Rico in 1938
Right: Portrait of Silvana Mangano on the cover of LIFE magazine in 1960


New Clouds

New Clouds. Nandalal Bose. 1937.

New Clouds. Nandalal Bose. 1937.


Disavowals

Aveux Non Avenus III. Claude Cahun. 1929-1930

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Leader and Companion

Dux et Comes I. Edward Wadsworth. 1932.

Dux et Comes I. Edward Wadsworth. 1932.

Wadsworth began introducing more abstract forms into his nautical still lifes towards the end of the 1920s. In the following decade he made a number of abstract paintings, and 1932 became a member of Abstraction-Création, a Paris-based organisation of abstract artists.
This painting belongs to a series called Dux et Comes, a musical term used to describe choral roles in a fugue. It translates from the Latin as ‘leader and companion.’ The leader (soprano) sings in one key, the companion (alto) replies in another. Wadsworth’s series explored human relationships and moods, as indicated by subtitles, in this case Rebuff.
Text from Tate

Celebration

Celebrating one year of Imponderabilia!

Martha Graham, Celebration.  Barbara Morgan. 1937

Martha Graham, Celebration. Barbara Morgan. 1937


Landscape at Large

Landscape at Large. Paul Nash. 1936.

Landscape at Large. Paul Nash. 1936.

‘Landscape at Large’ is one of a group of landscape collages made by Paul Nash in 1936-8 in which real objects were used pictorially. The Tate Gallery also has ‘Swanage’ (made from photographs of objects and watercolour) and ‘In the Marshes’ (made from bark and sticks). From the title it is evident that this one was seen by Nash as an abstract landscape, with the shape of the bark suggesting perspective, and the texture and patterns of the materials making the features. The ‘at large’, although not explained by the artist, probably has its usual meaning of either ‘at liberty’ or ‘there in complete detail’, implying that the objects are standing in for themselves.

Text from Tate