Dear Cleo 18 12 20

Dearest Cleo

Well your Birthday is over now I hope you liked your presents and if you didn’t, you could always write to Santa for some different ones, Christmas is very close now and I like you am always excited by the magical time.

This week I have been reading about Marc Chagall, much of his work is based on his childhood memories growing up in a Jewish town in Russia. For a modern painter his work is very figurative and his palette, were he slightly older, would have qualified him as a fauvist rather than an expressionist.

When you begin to look close, it is quite astonishing, how the modern art movements influenced individual artists. The movements were of quite short duration and an individual artist would live through or alongside many movements picking out the parts that he or she felt that were relevant and incorporating them into their own practice.

I suppose this comes from looking at the work of your contemporaries in books and magazines and of course looking at historical artwork. Today it is more difficult to do this because in the current era art is not so vibrant in inventing the completely different every few years and art itself is not the major topic of international interest that it was in the twentieth century, perhaps football, particularly televised football is the new art.

But back to Chagall, I don’t recall having seen an original Chagall but I am looking forward now to seeing  The Green Donkey at the Tate Modern in early January, so that I can look first hand at his brushwork and his palette.

From the image available on the internet the work is based on Chagall’s childhood memories, there is a definite air of Fiddler on the Roof about it Chagall of course being the major inspiration for that film. Like Kandinsky, Chagall was fascinated by the link between music and art and many of his works feature dancers and musicians.

There is a definite Fauvist influence on his colouring and though the composition does not appear to be based on the historical golden section there are curious coincidences that make the work appealing to the eye. Chagall’s use of line and colour flatten the picture plane making a pattern out of a figurative subject.

I will write more about it when I have actually seen it, until then.

My Love as always


Mickos xx




Metzger,R, and Walther, I. F. (2000) Chagall Kohl: Taschen



Dear Cleo 18 12 08

Dear Cleo

It was lovely to catch up with you this morning, the next time we meet it will be your Birthday weekend, and I am really looking forward to it and I expect you are looking forward to it even more.

While I was in Paris, I went to see the Schiele exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. One of the nice things about going to new places is that you sometimes get to see some amazing things, the Fondation Louis Vitton to the west of Paris on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne is a marvellous piece of architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao, I am a builder and buildings as art never fail to impress me.

That was the free art show, in almost the whole of the basement of the Foundation was the paying Schiele exhibition. I never count but there was an awful lot of Schiele’s work on display. Schiele was perhaps one of the greatest draftsmen the world has known and most of the Schiele exhibitions you get to see are based around his works on paper. This exhibition, as well as the drawings included eleven oil paintings by Schiele, while Schiele’s drawings have a unique style his paintings are not entirely unique. The eleven paintings on view owe much to the secessionist movement and Schiele’s mentor Klimt.

Autumn Sun of 1914 is almost a premonition of the First World War with its Khaki’s browns and greens against a dull sky with a setting sun and a field of poppies evokes the image of the war before the war had actually begun. The architecture of The Bridge is reminiscent of Klimt’s exquisite pattern work, whilst the flattening of the picture space destroys the perspective. Lovers could be a Klimt except for the dullness of the palette and the warlike looking sky in the background. The vision of St Hubert could almost be a pre-Raphaelite painting except for its lack of highly detailed finish, the thin glazing of the paintwork is reminiscent of an unfinished Leonardo or a stained glass window. Krumau on the Vltava is a highly expressive landscape with flattened perspective, at a distance the impression of architecture disappears and the blocks of colour seem far ahead of their time.

The under painting, oil as watercolour wash style continues in Self Portrait with a Model (Fragment) with the work crying out for a second pass and some highlights. Portrait of Trude Engel was the only painting I saw that Schiele didn’t appear to have completed in a single sitting and worked on for some time, but Schiele has retained the washy under painting effect almost as if he was afraid to take the painting to a full blown finish. Trude Engle was so disappointed with the final work that she attacked it with a knife.

Self Portrait with Chinese lantern plant is again a work that could have been done in a single session but the handling of the paint is far heavier and opaque and his use of black in the coat could rival either Velasquez or Manet for bringing life to the colour. The two paintings The Procession and Mother and Death were grouped together, they were both painted around the same time 1911 in the early part of Schiele’s career and it is easy to see the Secessionist patterning here, the highlights, absent from the later paintings and the layering would indicate that these paintings were completed over more than a single session. I was particularly interested in the procession as it is of a group of people and could perhaps be a way of my own sketches escaping the sketchbook.

The final painting Danae from 1909 is the most Secessionist work of all and heavily influenced by Klimt’s Danae. This is the very early part of Schiele’s career he was a Secessionist who developed into an Expressionist.

There is an impatience about Schiele it seems he is satisfied when he has the pattern on the canvas, this is completely true of his drawings and also of the majority of his paintings, Freud would have viewed this easy achievement of gratification in a whole different light than I, once the problem is solved, it no longer holds the attention of the protagonist.

It is testament to the popularity of Klimt and Schiele that so much of their work is readily available on the internet and while this is a great platform for studying art you can’t beat looking at the work in real life.

I have been to several Schiele exhibitions all of which were dominated by the works on paper, the works on paper cross between drawings and paintings and they all have the wow factor. This exhibition was also dominated by the works on paper but by concentrating on the oil paintings on canvas I feel I have learned much more about Klimt, Schiele and the Secession. I can feel a trip to Vienna coming on.

I never learned to ice skate they didn’t have a rink near me when I was small but I will be there as a pretty vocal spectator because I have to deliver your present. See you next weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Egon Schiele: Foundation Louis Vuitton. (2018)

Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum Vienna: Royal Academy (2018)

Life in Motion: Egon Schiele/ Francesca Woodman: Tate Liverpool (2018)

Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude: Courtauld (2015)


Hore, R. Ed. (2018) Klimt Schiele. Drawings From the Albertina Museum, Vienna. London: Royal Academy of Arts.

Buchhart, D. Ed. (2018) Egon Schiele. Paris: Foundation Louis Vuitton.

Neret, G (2015) Gustav Klimt: The world in Female Form. Koln: Taschen.

Wolf, N. (2009) Symbolism. Koln: Taschen.

Steiner, R. (2017) Egon Schiele: The Miidnight Soul of the Artist. Koln: Taschen.

Virgo, P. &Wright, B. Ed. (2014) Egon Schiele: The Radical nude

Leopold, R. (2005) Egon Schiele: Landscapes. London: Prestel Publishing Ltd..

Kallir, J (2015) Egon Schiele: Drawings and Watercolours. London: Thames and Hudson.


(all accessed on 08/12 2012);-Self-portrait-with-model-(fragment),-1913.html





Dear Cleo 18 12 07

Dearest Cleo

Well it is almost the weekend and I am looking forward to seeing you again. I was a bit upset with myself, for assuming from the books I had read, that the Blue Rider was an all male affair.

Well every day is a school day, today I learned that The Blue Rider included two female artists, Gabrielle Munter and Marianne Von Werefkin. As promised Amazon delivered the book I ordered. It was a beautiful book, lavishly illustrated, with not too much writing so that it was quick to read. It contained many works by Kandinsky, Macke and Marc that I am now quite familiar with, but also some by Munter and Werefkin.

Gabriele Munter was a founder member of The Blue Rider, she was Kandinsky’s muse, companion and lover throughout his pre First World War career and they parted when Kandinsky returned to Russia in 1914. When I flicked through the book after it was delivered, I assumed her paintings were works by Kandinsky that I had not previously seen, but on reading the book I began to appreciate her work. Like many of the early twentieth century artists she dabbled in a number of isms over the course of her career but my favourite was Streetcar in Munich, the central streetcar occupies the focus of the golden section and the colours are pure magic.

Marianne Von Werefkin studied under the Russian Realist Painter Ilya Repin and again her works can be attributed to a number of early Twentieth Century Art Movements. She was a latecomer to The Blue Rider but for me her stand out work is Tragic mood, looking at the picture you can feel the woman’s need to be alone with her thoughts and feelings whilst her partner stares uncomprehendingly from beside their home.

I wasn’t able to find an internet version of Streetcar in Munich but I will show you the picture in the book when you come round.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Kurster, U. (2016) Kandinsky Marc & Der Blaeu Reiter. Basle: Foundation Beyeler

Jansen, I. (2017) Gabriele Munter. London: Prestel Publishing

Internet research

All accessed 06 December 2018

Dear Cleo 18 12 04


Dearest Cleo

It seems a long time since I saw you at the weekend, it probably seems longer to you as you are waiting for both your Birthday and Christmas. Don’t worry the will come round soon enough. I am carrying on with my studies and research and this week’s chosen artist is Franz Marc

Studying this course is a bit like going on the internet and dropping down the next link, but because it involves reading whole books, it is slower and you never get that far away from your original interest. This week I started researching Franz Marc and along the way I have discovered much about August Macke, Wassily Kandinsky, The Blue Rider and German Expressionist painting.

Franz Marc is the painter of abstract animals perhaps most famously the blue horses and the yellow cow. Marc and Macke (Shopping and Turkish cafe’s) collaborated and influenced each other from 1910 to 1914, when they were conscripted in the German army and died in the First World War, Macke in 1914 and Marc in 1916. Kandinsky, (Cossacks and Yellow Red and Blue)who is credited with painting the first truly abstract paintings, although I think myself that this accolade may belong to Hilma af Klint, lived to a ripe old age, dying in France of natural causes in 1944. That probably gets rid of the headlines except perhaps that Marc was the only artist whose work was removed from the Nazi’s Degenerate Art Exhibition at the behest of the German people. If you can get Nazi’s into a piece people sit up straight and pay attention.

German expressionist artists were deep thinkers about their art, the writings of Marc and Kandinsky during the period of the Blue Rider,1911 to 1916 have had profound influence on the direction of Modern art. When artists write about art they write from the heart, critics and philosophers pander to their audience.

I could bore you all night with their observations but I will select just two examples that to me in my studies seem very pertinent. Marc said “Whether you paint the Virgin Mary in Majesty or asparagus does not decide the quality of a picture or its value but it can make one hell of a difference” (Partsch p 76) An artist must chose to paint for himself or his audience representational commissions may pay the bills, but only the art from his soul can guarantee his place in history.

Kandinsky chose to make a distinction between the greater abstraction and the greater realism “The strong abstract sound of physical form does not necessarily demand the destruction of the representational. In the painting of Marc (The Bull) we can see that here, too, there are no general rules. The object can thus fully retain both inner and outer sound and its individual parts may be transformed into independently sounding abstract forms and thereby create a general abstract overall sound.” (Partsch p. 56)

I take this to mean that I can employ colour theory, composition and abstract shapes in a landscape commission, without producing a slavish copy of the photograph. Feel free to keep my work in your attic until after I am dead, just pay for the painting. One day you will be glad that I was the artist who produced a painting rather than a photorealist copy of your photograph.

Amazon has plans to deliver a book on The Blue Rider tomorrow so I may yet write further on this subject. Good luck with your play rehearsals, break a leg.

My Love as always

Mickos xx




Partsch. S, (2016) Franz Marc: Pioneer of abstract painting Kohl: Taschen

Meseure, A. (2018) Macke. Kohl: Taschen

Duchting, H. (2015) Wassily Kandinsky: A Revolution in Painting. Kohl: Taschen

Internet research

All accessed 03 and 04 December 2018