Posts Tagged ‘art institute of chicago’

Artist of the moment…….Willard Grayson Smythe


Willard Grayson Smythe was an American painter renown for his abstract style of painting. Willard Smythe was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio in the year 1906.

For his artistic education Smythe attended the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating he joined the staff as an instructor and stayed for 31 years. Smythe was a pioneer in abstract art and he taught the first class of abstract art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Smythe called his own style scattered balance by design.

Like Kandinsky Smythe was great at mixing the basic shapes of a circle, triangle, or square with other organic shapes that gives his work movement and vitality.

Smythe worked as a commercial graphics designer and even worked as an art director for the Encyclopedia Britannica company. Before Google this was how research was done! Smythe was responsible for inserting pictures into the book.

Smythe was a member of the American Society of Arts and Letters.

Willard Grayson Smythe passed away in 1995 at the age of 89 years of age.

price range information: Sorry none available.




Artist of the moment…….Amy Myers


Amy Myers is an American artist renowned for her very large drawings using a mixture of mediums. Amy Myers were born in Taylor, Texas in the year 1965. For his collegiate education Myers attended the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Myers went on to earn a M.F.A.  at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Myers’ father was  world renowned physicist. Though Myers states she doesn’t know as much about math as her father, she does use physics ideas and math in developing her work.


Myers’ works on very large heavy paper, many times the sizes will be 80 to 90 inches on a side. Myers is in no hurry to finish these works taking as long as two years to finish a work.

Price range information: Sorry none available.

In this clip we visit a show featuring the large drawings of Ann Myers:

I love the many variety of shapes and also the contrast that Myers finds in her work.



Artist of the moment…..Dalek

Dalek is an American street artist born in New London, Connecticut in the year 1968. Dalek’s government name is James Marshall.

In this clip we view a time lapse of the artist’s work:

For his collegiate education Dalek first earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Virginia. Dalek also earned a B.F.A.  from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Dalek found inspiration for what he wanted the end result of his artwork to look like by seeing the work of Takashi Murakami. Dalek would go on to serve as an apprentice to Murakami in his New York City studio.

In this clip we visit a show featuring the work of Dalek. The clip is in English with French subtitles. A main focus of this exhibition is the more colorful work more so than his work which is more along the line of Takasha Murikami:

In this clip Dalek talks about his character works:

Price range information: Sorry none available.

For mediums the artist works mainly with acrylics on wood.

Its great to see that this artist is so smart and works very hard. The artist is well schooled in Eastern and Western methods and ideas of painting and artistic expression.


Great families in Art….the Namingha family

The Namingha family has been around for close to fifteen generations and has produced many artisans including Nampeyo, the mother of artist Dan Namingha who will cover in this post. Nampeyo helped to revive the Hopi art of basketry. Dan Namingha is part of the Hopi-Tewa tribe.  For his artistic education Namingha attended the University of Kansas located in Lawrence, Kansas. Namingha also attended the Art Institute of Chicago and the Institute of the American Indian located in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Dan Namingha was born Keans Canyon, Arizona in the year 1950.

Dan Namingha paints landscapes, Indian motif works, and abstract works. The artist works in oils and acrylics.

In this clip we view the family’s main business, their art gallery. It shows the work of Dan Namingha , Arlo Namingha, and Micheal Namingha.

Dan Namingha is based out of Sante Fe, New Mexico. The gallery is located there.

Price range information: Works range from $4,000 to $15,000.

What a great artistic family. The wives of Dan and Arlo run the art gallery!


Artist of the moment……Charles Biederman

Charles Biederman was born as Kark Joseph Biederman in Cleveland, Ohio in the year 1906. For his artistic education Biederman attended the Cleveland Art Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago.  Biederman was renown for his abstract paintings and was also a sculptor. When he first started out as a painter he was influenced by the painter Piet Mondrian. In the 1950s his style was his style of Cubist painting.

The artist dropped out of school in 1929 as he disagreed with some of their basic ideas about painting. In 1934 Biederman mae a move to New York City.

The first part of this career the artist concentrated on painting and drawing. After 1937 Biederman made creating his special relief sculptures his main focus of creative output.

A heavy influence on the artist was painter Paul Cezanne. Cezanne was a painter of the still life and the figure and took a very modern approach in his paintings.

The artist lived in Chicago and New York City before settling down in Red Wing, Minnesota in 1941 where he took a wife named Mary. Mary had a sister who married into money, and it was this family who became an important patron for Biederman over the years.

Biederman, was also an author with six  books to his credit, the books all had art as a theme.

He stopped making his relief sculptures in the late 1990s as his eyesight failed him.

Charles Biederman passed away in 2004 at the age of 98 years old.

Price range information: Sorry none available.


Artist of the moment……Joyce Ballantyne

Joyce Ballantyne was an American artist associated with the “pin up” girl movement. Joyce Ballantyne was born in the year 1918 in Norfolk, Nebraska. A highly successful commercial artist one the artist’s most renowned works was that of the Coppertone Girl. She spent much of her illustration career working for Grant Advertising Agency.


For her collegiate education Ballantyne attended the University of Nebraska, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the American Academy of Art.

Ballantyne began her career as an illustrator of books. She also created maps for the company Rand McNally.

Price range information: Works range from $3,000 to $25,000. Ballantyne worked in many mediums including watercolor, gouache, oils, and acrylics.

The Coppertone Girl was an image of a young blond girl whose swimsuit is being pulled off by a small dog. Across the country some billboards were installed with moving parts that showed the swimsuit coming down and revealing the very pale buttocks in comparison to girl’s golden legs. Here is the Coppertone advertisement in case you haven’t seen it.


The artist often used herself for a model.

Joyce Ballantyne passed away in 2006 at the age of 88.


Artist of the moment…..Frederick Jones Jr.

Frederick Jones Jr. was an African American artist renown for his vibrant figure paintings. Frederick D. Jones Jr. was born in Georgetown, South Carolina in the year 1914. For his artistic education Jones attended Moorehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He also attended Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Jones is associated with the Social Realism movement popular during the times of the Works Progress Administration. His father was a pharmacist and owned his own store.

Eventually Jones would relocate to Chicago. He was working for a Coca Cola company and some owners and managers saw his work and took a shine to his personality. It was arranged for the artist to move to Chicago, and to attend the Art Institute of Chicago and have Coca Cola company pick up the bill.

Atlanta was seen as the new South and many African American owned business were thriving. The race problem wasn’t as big an issue as in other locations in the South.

price range information: Sorry none available.

In 1930 Jones was able to sell his first painting. He made $25 on the project and was thrilled. He received this great mentoring whilst still in high school.

Another report I saw listed 1913 and Raleigh, North Carolina for a birthdate.

Jones spent much of his career based out of Chicago and painted the legendary jazz musicians of the time including Louis Armstrong.

Frederick Jones Jr. passed away in 2004 at the age of 89 years old.

The artist was great friends with painter Hughie Lee Smith, also an African American painter working in a Surrealist manner.



Artist of the moment….Elizabeth Murray

Elizabeth Murray was an American artist born in the year 1940 in Chicago, Illinois. She was renown for her uniquely shaped canvases painted with abstract shapes and bold color. Murray is associated with the Neo-Expressionist School of Painting. For her artistic education Elizabeth Murray earned a bachelors of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago. Murray went to earn a MFA from Mills University located in Oakland, California.

Murray became interested in art as a high school student. A teacher at her school helped form a foundation for Murray in order for her to attend college at the Chicago Art Institute.

From the wonderful PBS series Art 21 we view a short bio on Elizabeth Murray:

In addition to oddly and very uniquely shaped canvases, Murray would join canvases together or place on canvas on top of the another.

And in this clip we meet up with our friend Jams Kalm to view a gallery show:

Elizabeth Murray’s work is included in prominent museums including the Museum of  Modern Art located in New York City. The Whitney Museum of Art in New York City, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters.

Elizabeth Murray passed away in 2007 at the age of 66 years old.

price range information: Works range from $2,000 to $130,000.


Artist of the moment……Dox Thrash

Dox Thrash was an African American artist born in Griffen, Georgia in the year 1893. The artist had 3 other siblings. The artist left home at the age of 15 years old. This was called the great migration, many african americans went north looking for more freedom and job opportunity. His subjects including the struggle of people of color in the country and landscapes. Thrash also was a follower of the advice of renown civil rights activist Frederick Douglas, who told African Americans black is beautiful. Be proud of your heritage.

His first job was working in a Vaudeville act. Thrash then headed for Chicago and found work as an elevator operator. From this job he saved money and began to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at Night.

The artist was a participant in World War 1.

After college and the war Thrash found himself in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, became a janitor, and continued to work on improving his art. A big break came when his design won a contest and became the poster for the second annual negro music festival. This brought nationally attention.

His most prolific and productive time was during the 1920s and 1930s.

Dox Thrash was also part of the Federal Art Project.

Thrash was also a wonderful printmaker and developed his own process of using a mezzotint. This process was called the carborundum print. These are the most famous and celebrated works of Dox Thrash.

Dox Thrash passed away in 1965.

price range information: The artist worked mainly in watercolor and producing mezzotints using his own process. Works range from $2,000 to $14,000.


Artist of the moment…….Benny Andrews…


Benny Andrews was an African American painter who enjoyed working with the figure in a very expressive manner. Benny Andrews was born in the year 1930 to sharecroppers in Plainview Georgia. Andrews was one of ten children. Andrews was the first in his family to accomplish many things taken for granted today. He was the first to graduate from high school and went on to serve in the Air Force.

An excerpt from a documentary made about Benny Andrews.

After leaving the Air Force the artist took advantage of the Government Infantry program to attend college at the Art Institute of Chicago. Whilst at the institute a major influence was Jack Levine whom I have profiled before. Levine was the Daumier of modern times making fun of politicians and making social commentary in his art. Below is a great example of Levine’s work. He lived from 1915 to 2010.


Was named director of visual arts for the National Endowment for the Arts and was part of developing the National Arts Program.

Andrews art was a mixture of minimalism and realism. For minimalism I am reminded of the early works of Dean Mitchell. His small watercolor portraits of persons of color living in the south. Many of Andrews characters seem to move about all the empty space on his finished works. With his style of clothing he gives his characters, Romare Bearden comes to mind. Much like Bearden Andrews enjoyed playing with texture having some very rough and parts of his work appear rough and unfinished in conjunction with other more finished and polished parts of the piece.

The artist seemed to specialize in working with the figure who was under a lot of stress or depressed. Kathe Kollwitz comes to mind when looking at the art of Benny Adams. Kollwitz had a negative view on the world as she struggled living in Germany especially during the time of World War 2. She was placed on the list of degenerate artists like Ernst Wilhelm Nay whom I recently profiled and was forbidden to exhibit her art work. Below is a great example of Kollwitz’s style. Kollwitz was great at capturing the dark feelings of war, especially since many of these works have no color, just black and white. Andrews did series also on the Holocaust, the Native American struggle, and even Hurricane Katrina.


In this clip a brief interview with the artist:

Andrews passed away in 2006 at the age of 75 years old due to cancer. Andrews laid the ground for many African American artists to follow.

Price range information: Collage works are the most expensive going from $5,000 to $20,000. Works done in ink range $1,000 to $3,000. Etchings can be found for around $1,000.

Oils, gouache, and watercolor works reach as high as $20,000.


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