The Mexican artist Guillermo Meza apprenticed in his father's tailor shop while studying art and music at the Escuela Nocturna de Arte para Trabajadores (Art Night School for Workers). After moving to Morelia, a city in the state of Michoacan, Meza continued his studies and was fortunate to meet Diego Rivera in 1940. Rivera helped to arrange Meza's first one-man exhibition at the Galeria de Arte Mexicano, an important venue in Mexico City. Meza was represented in international exhibitions beginning in the 1950s and worked later in his career with dance and theater companies, both in Mexico and abroad. He also served as president of the First National Congress of Visual Artisits. Meza described his vocation as: "My eyes, my hands, my brain we made for painting, and only painting can settle my drive."
In this work, Meza refers to an ancient subject: Ah Puch, a malevolent underworld deity of Mayan religion. The god of death, Ah Puch ruled over Mitmal, the land of the dead, and appears in pre-Conquest codices along with the god of war in scenes of human sacrifice. Generally pictured as a human with an owl's head, he is also pictured as a skeleton-like being. With a large cancas and the somber, mysterious disposition of the figure, Meza has created an ominous, threatening image that invokes something of the fear and violence of the ancient world.
During the 1970s, Chuck Close earned a reputation as a painter of large-scale, minutely painted portraits blown up on a grid from specially taken photographs. In December 1988, however, the artist suffered a collapsed spinal artery which left him a quadriplegic. Since then he has worked with heroic effort to regain strength and mobility. Confined to a wheelchair, he paints on a movable easel with arm supports.
Close's first work after the onset of his illness, executed in a hospital bed, was a small portrait of his friend, the painter Alex Katz. This painting, itself made from a photograph taken in 1987, served as the basis for Alex, a woodblock print made in close collaboration with the Japanese printer, Keiji Shinohara. Katz is known primarily as a portraitist who paints in a radically simplified and monumental style.
Close has always admired the size, ambition, and overall nonhierarchical texture of Abstract Expressionist paintings. In this work the artist has sought to retain this quality but to replace the personalized, gestural aspects Abstract Expressionism with representation. Over the years, Close's work has evolved from an almost mechanical precision to an increasingly direct, personal, and more painterly style. This evolution towards freer, broader handling is particularly evident in the work since his illness. Close's recent work seems warmer and more engaged that his earlier efforts.
When Ansel Adams was first introduced to the venerable and influential Alfred Stieglitz in 1933, the meeting did not appear very promising to the younger photographer. Invited to look over Adams's portfolio, Stieglitz twice examined the works in silence and initially had no comment. Since Stieglitz occupied the only chair in the room, Adams was forced to await Stieglitz’s judgment perched atop a hot radiator. Stieglitz was so impressed with Adams's work that he gave Adams a one-man show at his gallery, An American Place, and the two men became good friends.
Stieglitz's role as champion and advocate of modernism and straight photography furthered the careers of a number of artists and photographers. The eighty-year old Stieglitz is shown here at his gallery, sitting beneath an abstract painting by his wife, the painter Georgia O'Keeffe.
Carole McNamara, Assistant Director for Collections & Exhibitions
on the occasion of the exhibition New York Observed: The Mythology of the City
(July 13 – September 22, 2003)
Signed in pencil on mount below photo l.r.: Ansel Adams Inscribed verso center: [stamped] Photograph by Ansel Adams/ Museum Set Edition/ Route I Box 181 Carmel, California 93923/ [handwritten in ink] Alfred Stieglitz and painting by Georgia O'Keefe/ at An American Place, New York City/ [stamped] Negative made [handwritten in ink] 1944 [stamped] Print made [handwritten in ink] 1981/ [stamped] Identification number [handwritten in ink] 1312
A decorative design based on curving arabesque forms around a central axis also incorporates gortesque figures.
Gallery Rotation Spring 2013
Arabescque Panel with Grotesques and Animals
2nd half of 16th century
Graphite, pen and brown ink with ink wash, mounted
Museum purchase, 1963/2.7
Two designs for jewelry
Graphite, pen and brown ink with
yellow watercolor, mounted
Museum purchase, 1963/2.6A
Symmetry in design, technical precision, and emphasis on detail characterize these two decorative drawings. One presents a design for a panel and the other designs for two small pieces of jewelry. The panel design is embellished with interlacing foliate patterns and creatures morphing into vegetal motifs, popular in Italy during the second half of the sixteenth century, and was perhaps intended to decorate an object or architecture. The two elegant and detailed jewelry designs by Etienne Delaune, who worked as a goldsmith for King Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59), likewise present symmetrically arranged vegetal and organic forms. They were meant to be executed in precious metals, pearls, and gems, and to serve either as hatpins or hair pieces.
This ceiling boss features four faces with traces of paint that are arranged in a radial pattern with the crowns of their heads converging on a single, central point. Two of the faces are female, identifiable by the wimples worn on their heads, while the other two, wearing small pointed caps and sporting beards, are male. The symmetrical regularity of the piece is counterbalanced by subtle asymmetries introduced by differences in detail and the sequence of facial types.
This architectural boss decorated with four faces was originally placed in the crown of a ceiling vault at the point where the ribs of the vault met. The arrangement of the four faces would have reinforced the expansive radial pattern formed by the ribs while the boss itself would have simultaneously emphasized the center of the vault.
March 28, 2009
Ceiling bosses are ornamental projections at the intersections of ribs in a vault or ceiling, and they are common decorations in Gothic architecture. Examples can be found in the entryways of the Neo-Gothic buildings of the Law School across South University Street. The pair of bosses displayed here possibly came from the parish church of Saint Andrew of Cullompton in Devonshire, England, built in 1430. One boss depicts a pair of rampant dragons with open wings and flared tails flanking a vegetal form, while the other represents four faces, two male and two female, arranged in a circular pattern. The symmetry of these designs would have reflected the geometric order of the church’s interior, which boasts elaborate wooden ceilings decorated with hundreds of bosses.