Avant-Garde Art - Gutai group - Sadamasa Motonaga

Sadamasa Motonaga (Japanese, 1922–2011) was a Japanese abstract painter and a founding member of the avant-garde Gutai group. He was born on November 26, 1922 in Mie Prefecture, Japan and initially sought to be a cartoonist before turning his attention to painting, studying under the tutelage of Jiro Yoshihara. A pronounced sense of humor remained in his work throughout his lengthy career, creating paintings which are characterized by simple lines and a gentle palette of muted primary colors. Motonaga gradually expanded his practice to include printmaking, stage design, and children’s books, all while continuing his ongoing elliptical investigation into abstract painting. His awards include the Légion d’Honneur from the French government and the Japanese Purple Ribbon Award; he was the first abstract artist to receive the latter. He died on October 3, 2011 in Kobe, Japan, and his work has been the subject of many retrospectives, including at Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe in 1998, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003, and the Mie Prefectural Museum of Art in 2009. The first Western retrospective of his work was held at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2014.(artnet.com)

Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze - Wols

Wols was the pseudonym of Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze (27 May 1913, Berlin – 1 September 1951, Paris), a German painter and photographer predominantly active in France. Though broadly unrecognized in his lifetime, he is considered a pioneer of lyrical abstraction, one of the most influential artists of the Tachisme movement.He is the author of a book on art theory entitled Aphorismes de Wols.
Wols' painting style, as early as 1946–47 (Untitled, 1946–47, Yellow Composition, 1946–7; Berlin, Neue N.G., It's All Over The City, 1947), was informal, gestural, with the paint applied in layers by means of dripping and with scratching into the surface. This new development in art proved influential, earning him the praise of artists such as Georges Mathieu and critics such as Michel Tapié, who coined the term Art autre (the Other Art) to describe the new style.Wols was noted for his etchings and for his use of stains (taches) of color dabbed onto the canvas (as exemplified by his painting Composition, c. 1950). His painted work contains figurative elements as well as free improvisations and abstract elements. Spontaneity and immediateness determine the creative work of Wols, who never underwent any formal artistic training. Randomness (initially inspired by the Surrealist psychic Automatism) plays an important role in his unstructured compositions. In later years Wols was particularly interested in the combination of powerful brushstrokes with a relief-like painted surface structure.Wikipedia

Igor Mitoraj - post-modern art

"Igor Mitoraj spent most of his life in the West, mainly in France and Italy. The Colombian sculptor Fernando Pole Bolero, one of the most expensive contemporary artists in the world, urged him to buy a house in Pietrasanta, the Italian capital of marble, city of sculptors, where artists such as Michelangelo worked. Mitoraj considered this Italian studio ‘his place on Earth’ though he had lived in Paris, tried to settle in Mexico to learn the art of the Aztecs, and travelled around Greece studying ancient works of art.Antiquity was one of the main sources of inspiration for the artist. His sculptures make direct references to the mythology and history of Greece and Rome, sometimes contained already in the title: Icarus, Centauro, Eros, Mars, Gorgon, Paesaggio Ithaka. As art critics have noted, while evoking the beauty and perfect proportions of classical sculptures, Mitoraj re-interpreted them in a contemporary way. He visualised the imperfection of human nature by deliberately damaging and cracking the surface of statues.Mitoraj’s style is now being recognised by art lovers around the world. The sculptures’ lips, which always have the shape of those of the artist, are among the characteristic features of his works, serving as a sort of an informal ‘signature’

 Igor Mitoraj was born on 26th March, 1944 in Oederan in the Ore Mountains, and was the son of a Polish forced labourer and a French prisoner of war, an officer of the Foreign Legion. When the war was over, he returned to his grandparents in Poland with his mother. Mitoraj spent his childhood and youth in Grojec. After graduating from the Art School in Bielsko-Biała, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków in 1963, where he studied painting under the direction of Tadeusz Kantor.
In 1968, after obtaining a degree, Mitoraj went to Paris to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts. He started there as a painter and graphic artist; in 1976 he had an exhibition in the La Hune gallery in the Latin Quarter, linked to the bookshop of the same name.Later he took up sculpture. It was not long before he was offered to prepare an exhibition for the ArtCurial gallery in Paris, managed by the nephew of the then French President Mitterand. In order to prepare the works for this exhibition, Mitoraj spent a year in the centre of bronze foundries and marble masons in Pietrasanta, Italy. There he created his first works made of bronze, as well as his first monumental sculptures of white marble from the nearby Carrara.Mitoraj is considered one of the greatest contemporary sculptors. His works can be found in dozens of museums, foundations and headquarters of the largest corporations in the world.

 After the exhibition in the ArtCurial in 1977 Mitoraj’s sculptures and drawings have been shown at 120 solo exhibitions throughout the world. His sculptures, often of gigantic size, stand in emblematic points of many cities – including Paris (La Defense), Rome, Milan, Lausanne, London, Kraków, Scheveningen near The Hague, in the US and Japan.
In an interview, the artist recalled his first years as an emigrant with melancholy:
 I find it absurd when someone says that I have made it in life. I have worked for my success for over 30 years. I earn money with art and it gives me freedom. I have indeed been very lucky, because I have never had to ask for my works to be shown in galleries and I have never been forced to put them out to tender, but before I became free, I had to go through the mill. When I first started my artistic career, I was earning a living by carrying pianos and furniture to the sixth floors of Parisian buildings.
In 2009 Mitoraj created the so-called Angelic doors for the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Warsaw’s Old Town. He had previously created similar doors for the Santa Maria degli Angeli Church in Rome. According to the artist, ‘some may be shocked by the completely unconventional image of the Madonna, looking down towards two angels captured in motion’.On 5th October, 2005, Mirotaj was honoured by the then Minister of Culture Waldemar Dąbrowski with a Gold Medal for Merit to Culture Gloria Artis during a ceremony in the Kraków City Hall. On 24th April, 2012, he was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the President Bronisław Komorowski ‘for outstanding contribution to Polish and world culture, for creative and artistic achievements’; the honouring ceremony took place on 3rd May, 2012."
(Source: PPA, October 2014, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, April 2015 culture.pl )

Abstract Symbolism Kenneth Callahan

Kenneth Callahan (1905–1986) was an American painter and muralist who served as a catalyst for Northwest artists in the mid-20th century through his own painting, his work as assistant director and curator at the Seattle Art Museum, and his writings about contemporary art. Born in Eastern Washington and largely self-taught as an artist, Callahan was committed to an art that went beyond the merely illustrative. He enrolled at the University of Washington in 1924 but did not stay long. He traveled widely, absorbing influences from the different countries and cultures he experienced. His talent was recognized early; his work was included in the first Whitney Biennial exhibition in 1933 and he went on to a distinguished painting career. Callahan is identified as one of the Northwest Mystics – along with Guy Anderson, Morris Graves, and Mark Tobey, who shared a muted palette and strong interest in Asian aesthetics

n 1930 Callahan married Margaret Bundy, who was a co-editor of Town Crier, a literary magazine published in Seattle between 1912 and 1937.
The Callahans developed friendships with Dr. Richard Fuller (founder of the Seattle Art Museum), Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, and other progressive-minded artists. Their home became a meeting-place for Seattle's arts community, including prominent Japanese-American artists Kenjiro Nomura and Kamekichi Tokita, and many others.
In 1933 - at age 27 - he gained national recognition with the inclusion of some of his paintings in the First Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum, in New York. The same year he began his twenty-year tenure with SAM, when it opened its new building in Seattle's Volunteer Park. Over the next two decades he curated exhibitions at SAM, wrote a weekly arts column for The Seattle Times, and took trips to Europe and Latin America; his main focus, however, remained his painting. He had numerous exhibitions, was commissioned to do several murals (including post office murals for the Federal Art Project in Anacortes and Centralia, Washington and Rugby, North Dakota), and helped form the Group of Twelve, an "independent salon" of Northwest artists. In the late 1930s he and his wife began spending much of their time in the Robe Valley area of the North Cascades mountains; during the Second World War he spent summers as a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout in the Cascades

Callahan was a somewhat controversial figure within the arts community, with some artists seeing conflict of interest in his positions as artist, curator, and critic. In 1953 he ceased working at SAM. Later that same year Life magazine ran an article with large color photos extolling Callahan, Graves, Anderson, and Tobey as the "Mystic Painters of the Pacific Northwest".Callahan never considered himself to be a "mystic" painter. In writings and interviews he explained that he wasn't interested in symbolism; rather, he saw his work as being firmly rooted in nature and art history - as it plainly was through the early part of his career. By the early 1960s, however, his style had become much more complex - and seemingly rife with symbolism. "He liked muscle-bound grandeur," wrote arts journalist Regina Hackett, "but released the figures who displayed it from the confines of gravity. Full of light, many hover on the edge of floating away." Over time, figurative elements - men, horses, trees, insects - disappeared from his work, in favor of pure abstraction, but still, said Callahan, "It is nature, with its unlimited varied form, structure, and color that constitutes the vital living force from which art must basically stem."Wikipedia

Modern sculpture Ales Vesely

Ales Vesely (February 3, 1935 – December 14, 2015) was a Czech sculptor. He was born in Cáslav. From 1952 to 1958, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. At the end of the 1950, he was part of the art movement known as the Czech Abstraction. More recently, he has worked on monumental sculptures, often connected with a specific landscape. He sculpts in welded metal, exploring the tension of the masses and the activity of the elementary forces contained in the material.