Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Notable Potable in the Arts

Greek mosaics, the great poets, the French Impressionists' canvases, and American popular songs seem to reveal that coffee and wine have caught artists' attention more than any other beverages, including water, milk, soda pop, beer and ale, absinthe (in Europe, of course), and the American Martini [Left: Dionysus with grapes and wine. Mosaic, 2nd century AD)

Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant,
A yellow, a mellow martini;

I wish had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,

Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth --

I think that perhaps it's the gin. (1935)

John Sloan, McSorley's Bar, 1912 Founded in 1854, McSorley's Ale House is the oldest continuously operating bar in New York City, located at 15 E. 7th Street in the East Village. It was always visited by artists and became popular with college students in the 1950s and began serving women only since 1970. John Sloan painted numerous scenes of the bar between 1912 and 1930.

Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) The King Drinks, 1638 (The Louvre, Paris). Jordeans, a Flemish Baroque artist and a Protestant convert, was one of the best genre realists of his time. This version, one of many, depicts the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany (also called "Three Kings Day") on January 6th. The artist created this idealistically democratic eating and drinking scene with the king in the company of common folk.

Stuart Davis (1894-1964)
Percolator, 1927.

America's foremost Cubist painter was born in Philadelphia to an artistic African American family. He studied in Europe where he became influenced by the movement toward abstraction and, more specifically, Cubism. This piece shows how modernist painters often chose humble subjects or responded aesthetically to the mechanical advances of that era.

Robert Rauschenberg (born Texas, 1925) Coca Cola Plan , 1958.
After years of painting flat surfaces, Rauschenberg began in 1954 to build 3-dimensional works with found objects (like coke bottles) that evolved into his first Combine works, significantly combining aspects of painting and sculpture.

Pop Art:

Two Pop Art masters, Johns and Lichtenstein, picked up on the tradition of food and beverage images in the arts after the decade of gestural painting we know as Abstract Expressionism.
Pushing the boundaries of painting and sculpture, and the traditional notion of still life, Johns delves into memisis or memorable images. He plays with opposites and equals, one can open, one closed, no other difference between them. Yet, for all their realism, he gave the surfaces a painterly quality so that they are not ultimately confused with the commercial version.

Jasper Johns (born 1930, Augusta, GA) Painted Bronze Ale Cans, 1960

Roy Lichtenstein (born NYC, 1923) Sandwich and Soda, 1964. This is still traditional still life, though it draws on American popular culture and the style of advertising art.

Wang Guagyi born 1956) Great Castigation Series. Chinese Pop Art, blending their propaganda poster style with political commentary on the West, emerged in
China in the 1980s.

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