Work of the Week: Unknown Artist after Sebastiano Serlio,“Study for a Stage Design: Street Lined with Palatial Buildings”

We do not know who drew this delicate ink and chalk drawing. We do know, however, that it is a copy of a woodcut from a book rather famous at the time, the Second Book on Perspective by Italian architect and theorist Sebastiano Serlio (published in 1545). Today, Serlio is remembered as the author of the first architectural treatise in a modern language to be printed with illustrations, also the first to devote an entire section to the theatre. That is where we find the source image for this drawing, titled The Tragic Scene. The drawing may have been a lesson in perspective (apprentices repeatedly copied works by other artists in order to master various skills, types of compositions, or media), or a point of departure for a different composition.

Work of the Week: Gertrude Käsebier, “The Red Man”

Gertrude Käsebier was an early supporter of the Pictorialism movement, which sought to reverse the idea that photography could not be painterly. Joining the likes of Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen in the Photo Secession group, she adopted several older, labor-intensive printing styles, used alternative chemicals that yielded more nuanced tonal ranges, and reworked her plates with paintbrushes and other methods before printing. In the pictorialists’ hands, photography was art and being a photographer was a professionalized artistic craft.

Work of the Week: Einar and Jamex de la Torre, “Organ Exchange”

Einar and Jamex were born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1963 and 1960 respectively. They moved to the U.S. at a young age and attended school in California, where eventually they studied art and discovered their passion for glassmaking. Currently, the artists live and work on both sides of the US-Mexico border with homes and studios in Ensenada and San Diego. Attuned to their experiences and surroundings, their artistic vision is informed by their experiences as Border artists whose identity is neither exclusively Mexican nor American, but instead enriched by both. The complexities of identity are at the core of the brothers’ creations; symbolism, history and humor are often the avenues they employ to examine them.

Work of the Week: Faith Ringgold, “Tar Beach”

As an artist and activist, Ringgold’s career has been dedicated to exploring themes of race and gender equality. She grew up in the creatively fertile Harlem Renaissance, a time and place where perceptions of black culture and identity were redefined. Her work incorporates the narrative traditions of quiltmaking and African American history with great resonance, serving as platform to share her story and that of those before her.

Work of the Week: Juan Travieso, “Lonesome George”

Travieso’s work is ripe with environmental concerns and a call for action. The jarring effect ofhis spliced paintings serves as commentary regarding the negative impact of humaninterference in natural ecosystems, frequently referencing species’ endangerment andextinction. These themes reflect a compassion for the vulnerable and under resourced, alikely byproduct of growing up in communist Cuba. He also credits his use of bright andexpansive color palettes to the lack of art materials available to him on the island at the startof his artistic career. Lonesome George raises important questions regarding the ties between man and nature, asking for careful consideration as we inch closer to the pointwhere humans become victims of their own circumstances and reflecting on the ripple effectsof even the smallest actions.

Work of the Week: F. Holland Day, “Ziletta”

F. Holland Day, the creator of this work, would be considered something of an eccentric today. In fact, he was considered something of an eccentric in his own day, as well. Day was the son of a successful businessman in Norwood, Massachusetts, and early on showed an interest—nurtured by his parents—in art and literature. Though he did not attend college, Day quickly fell in with a crowd of bohemians in Cambridge and Boston, with whom he carried out wide-ranging discussions on art, beauty, and life, often over beers in one of a number of out-of-the-way taverns on either side of the Charles River (which divides the cities of Cambridge and Boston). During this period Day became fascinated by the work of British artist and social reformer William Morris, whose Kelmscott Press produced lavish editions of works by Romantic poets and copies of illuminated Medieval manuscripts, among other delights. Determined to follow in Morris’s footsteps, Day established the firm of Copeland and Day with a friend. They quickly made an impact on the American art book market, producing the first American editions of such important works as Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and the periodical The Yellow Book, both illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley.

Work of the Week: George Grosz, “City Lights”

Grosz lived in Europe during the First World War and experienced chaos and political upheaval before he emigrated to the United States in 1933. His work is characterized by bold criticism of the political class and military officials, and a pessimistic view of society; he had joined the rebellious Dada movement in Berlin in 1918 and later, together with artists Otto Dix (1891-1969) and Max Beckmann (1884-1950), they became known as Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity. During the Second World War Grosz lived in New York where he taught at the Art Students League. His encounter with the metropolis is documented in numerous works from the 1940s, which focus on various aspects of the city. The war altered life in New York with many institutions temporarily transforming their facilities to accommodate production for the war effort and implementing the dimming of neon signs and lights to avoid potential enemy attacks.

Work of the Week: Danh Vo, “We The People”

Danh Vo’s We The People sheds light on the fragility and malleability of the concepts of freedom and democracy. Created as a series of 250 pieces, it recreates a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty, originally constructed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi. Vo intentionally broke up the replica, its many pieces entering the permanent collections of museums worldwide. The fragments’ diasporic trajectory recall the multiplicity of individual journeys that made their way at the foot of Lady Liberty as they reached Ellis Island. Inherently woven into its many segments is the lingering symbolism of the immigrant dream. But the stakes of that dream have changed, revealing the intricate power systems controlling the arm of democracy.

Work of the Week: Marcus Jansen, “Plot #2”

Marcus Jansen(American, b. 1968), Plot #2, 2018, oil, enamels, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 48in. Given by Barbara and Theodore Alfond in honor of Anca Giurescu, Ena GiurescuHeller, and Eliane Heller – three generations of courageous and passionatecommunicators. 2020.35.

Work of the Week: James McDougal Hart, “Summer Landscape”

James McDougal Hart (American, 1828-1901), Summer Landscape, 1857, Oil on canvas, 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 in. Purchased with funds from the Michel Roux Acquisitions Fund 2007.7 (This was originally published in Spring of 2021) Like Dr. Grant Hamming describes