Friday 20 January 2012

Anna Ancher - Danish painter

Having recently featured the work of Danish-born artist Soren Emil Carlsen (1853 – 1932), I thought I’d take a look at the work another Danish painter who was a contemporary, Anna Ancher (1859 – 1935). Ancher is associated with the ‘Skagen Painters’, an artist’s colony in the very north of Jutland.

She was born Anna Kirstine Brøndum in Skagen, Denmark, the daughter of Erik Andersen Brøndum (1820–1890) and Ane Hedvig Møller (1826-1916). She was the only one of the Skagen Painters who was actually born and grew up in Skagen where her father owned the Brøndums Hotel. The artistic talent of Anna Ancher became obvious at an early age and she grew acquainted with pictorial art via the many artists who settled to paint in Skagen.

While she studied drawing for three years at the Vilhelm Kyhn College of Painting in Copenhagen, she developed her own style and was a pioneer in observing the interplay of different colours in natural light. She also studied drawing in Paris at the atelier of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes along with Marie Triepcke, who would marry Peder Severin Krøyer, another Skagen painter. In 1880 she married fellow painter Michael Ancher, whom she met in Skagen. They had one daughter, Helga Ancher. Despite pressure from society that married women should devote themselves to household duties, she continued painting after marriage.

Danish 1000 Kroner note issued in 1998 featuring Anna and Michael Ancher

Anna Ancher is considered to be one of the great Danish pictorial artists by virtue of her abilities as a character painter and colourist. Her art found its expression in Nordic art's modern breakthrough towards a more truthful depiction of reality, e.g. in Blind Ane (1882) and The Girl in the Kitchen (c1883–1886).

1882 Blind Ane (Ane Chrestense Nielsdatter) 
oil on canvas 51 x 40 cm

c1883-6 Girl in the Kitchen

Ancher preferred to paint interiors and simple themes from the everyday lives of the Skagen people, especially fishermen, women and children. She was intensely preoccupied with exploring light and colour. She also created more complex compositions such as A Funeral (1891). Anna Ancher's works have often represented Danish art abroad. She was awarded the Ingenio et Arti medal in 1913 and the Tagea Brandt Rejselegat in 1924.

1891 A Funeral 
oil on canvas 104 x 125 cm

1880 Old Man Whittling a Stick 
oil on wood 39 x 29 cm

c1880-1925 In the Flower Garden 
oil on canvas 29 x 24 cm

c1880-1925 Little Girls with a Cod 
oil on canvas 81 x 63 cm

c1880-1925 Seated Woman Braiding her Hair 
oil on masonite 27 x 22 cm

1883 (Plucking Seagulls) 
oil on canvas 66 x 11 cm

1883 A Blind Woman in her Room 
oil on canvas 59 x 47 cm

c1885 A young Girl Arranging Flowers 
oil on canvas 56 x 41 cm

1886 Fischer Kræn Wollesen Mending Nets 
pastel 52 x 41 cm

1886 Tine, a Young Girl from Skagen 
oil on wood 27 x 28 cm

c1888 Evening Prayer 
oil on canvas 68 x 60 cm

1890 (Sewing Fishing Nets) 
oil on canvas 59 x 48 cm

c1890 Old Woman Resting 
pastel 29 x 39 cm

1891 Sunlight in the Blue Room 
oil on canvas 65 x 59 cm

1900 A Young Girl Plucking a Swan 
oil on canvas 87 x 75 cm

1904 Plucking the Christmas Goose 
oil on canvas 55 x 67 cm

1905 Interior with Poppies and Woman Reading 
oil on canvas 56 x 65 cm

1905 The Little Brother 
oil on canvas 69 x 62 cm

1908 Breakfast before the Hunt (Michael Ancher) 
oil on canvas 49 x 57 cm

1910 Interior with Woman Sewing 
oil on canvas

1910 Two Girls in  Sewing Lessons 
oil on canvas 63 x 54 cm

c1914 At Lunchtime 
oil on canvas 62 x 51 cm

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Irving Amen – woodcuts

Born in New York City in 1918, Irving Amen was drawing at the age of four. A scholarship to the Pratt Institute was awarded to him when he was fourteen years old. With Michelangelo as his idol, he spent seven years in life classes perfecting his drawing.

From 1942 to 1945 he served with the Armed Forces. He headed a mural project and executed murals in the United States and Belgium. His first exhibition in woodcut was held at the New School for Social Research and his second at the Smithsonian Institute in 1949, and in 1949 he travelled to Paris to study for a year. On his return to the United States he had one man shows in New York and Washington DC.

In 1953, Amen travelled throughout Italy. This resulted in a series of eleven woodcuts, eight etchings and a number of oil paintings. One of these woodcuts, Piazza San Marco #4 and its four woodblocks constitute a permanent exhibit of block printing in colour at the Smithsonian Institution. Travel in Israel, Greece and Turkey in 1960 led to a retrospective show at the Artist's House in Jerusalem.

Piazza San Marco #4
40.6 x 61 cm

Irving Amen has taught at Pratt Institute and at the University of Notre Dame. He had a show of woodcuts at the Artists Studio in NYC. Commissions include a Peace Medal in honour of the Vietnam War. He created designs for 12 stained glass windows 16 feet high depicting the Twelve Tribes of Israel, commissioned by Agudas Achim Synagogue in Columbus, Ohio. He is listed in Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers and the Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists by Paul Cummings. He was elected member of Accademia Fiorentina Delle Arti Del Disegno, an organisation to which Michelangelo belonged.

1948 Promenade

1950 Times Square #4

1954 Piazza San Marco

1954 Rialto and Bridge of Sighs

1954 Slaughtered Houses

1974 Flight


Bird Watcher

Florence, Italy

1975c Playmates
woodcut 25.4 x 17.8 cm

Girl with a Ball

In My Father's House Are Many Mansions

Italian Landscape

1970c Many Children Dwell in My Father's House
woodcut 40.6 x 53.3 cm

1970c Many Children Dwell in My Father's House
woodcut 40.6 x 53.3 cm


Palazzo Vecchio

Pensive Girl #6

Piazza San Marco #1

1955c Shelley
woodcut 42.9 x 30.5 cm

The Basket Offering
1965 Afternoon Sun
woodcut 64.8 x 49.3 cm
1976 Musician
woodcut 40.6 x 52.1 cm
1977 Chess Players
woodcut 50.8 x 66 cm
Don Quixote
woodcut 53.3 x 34.3
1960 Student
The Open Book

Three Graces

Chess Players

Chess Players