Art Appreciation is important because it stimulates critical thinking, provides insight into other times and cultures, and brings more creativity into our lives. Sadly, funding for the arts is often on the chopping block these days so it’s more important than ever for individuals to seek out various means of including the arts in our lives. Hopefully this blog series is serving as a starting point for you, my readers.
This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more here.
I must admit that I’m not familiar with the works of this month’s poet. But isn’t that the point? To learn something new?
“Crane’s poetry has been a touchstone for me, and remains central to a fully imaginative understanding of American literature.”―Harold Bloom
This edition features a new introduction by Harold Bloom as a centenary tribute to the visionary of White Buildings (1926) and The Bridge (1930). Hart Crane, prodigiously gifted and tragically doom-eager, was the American peer of Shelley, Rimbaud, and Lorca. Born in Garrettsville, Ohio, on July 21, 1899, Crane died at sea on April 27, 1932, an apparent suicide. A born poet, totally devoted to his art, Crane suffered his warring parents as well as long periods of a hand-to-mouth existence. He suffered also from his honesty as a homosexual poet and lover during a period in American life unsympathetic to his sexual orientation. Despite much critical misunderstanding and neglect, in his own time and in ours, Crane achieved a superb poetic style, idiosyncratic yet central to American tradition. His visionary epic, The Bridge, is the most ambitious and accomplished long poem since Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. Marc Simon’s text is accepted as the most authoritative presentation of Hart Crane’s work available to us. For this centennial edition, Harold Bloom, who was introduced to poetry by falling in love with Crane’s work while still a child, has contributed a new introduction.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) never left his homeland of the Netherlands but in his massive body of painting, drawing, and etching, he changed the course of Western art. His prolific oeuvre encompasses religious, historical, and secular scenes, as well as one of the most extraordinary series of portraits and self-portraits in history.
Rembrandt’s work foregrounds texture, light, and acute observation. Like sudden, startling apparitions in a shadowy street, his subjects are illuminated against deep, dark backgrounds and rendered with immense physical as well as psychological scrutiny. Whether biblical or mythological figures, powerful patrons, or fellow citizens, each subject is bestowed not only with meticulous facial features but also with the intrigue of thoughts and feelings so that even age-old narratives such as the bible story of David and Bathsheba find a new level of human drama. Rembrandt also left one of the most extensive series of self-portraits of any artist, chronicling his own face from his youth to the year of his death.
Rembrandt’s rise coincided with the blossoming of the Dutch Golden Age, an era of prosperity in the Netherlands. He was encouraged by wealthy patrons, but was above all driven by a profound fascination with people. In this book, we tour some of Rembrandt’s key paintings, etchings, and drawings to introduce his techniques, inspirations, and exceptional achievements. From the Baroque Belshazzar’s Feast to the world-famous Night Watch we uncover a world of deep, rich tones, masterful draftsmanship, and a remarkable sensitivity for the human condition.
Conductor, composer, and writer Bruno Walter (1876–1962) worked closely with Gustav Mahler as the composer’s assistant and protégé. His revealing recollections of Mahler were written in 1936, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the composer’s death. Walter first encountered Mahler more than 40 years earlier, when he served as the composer’s assistant conductor in Hamburg. He worked with Mahler again at the Vienna Opera, and after the composer’s death conducted the debut of the Ninth Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde.
A staunch supporter of Mahler’s genius and defender of his dour personality, Walter cites the pressures faced by a gifted artist striving for perfection. This edition of his tribute to his friend and mentor features supplemental materials that include a biographical sketch of Mahler as man and artist by Ernst Krenek, the composer’s son-in-law and musical heir, and a new Introduction by Erik Ryding, author of Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere.
This is a highly rated boxed set of the complete Mahler symphonies. It’s on my wish list!
Jean Arthur, James Stewart and Claude Rains star in Frank Capra’s MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, the award-winning 1939 classic about an idealistic, small town American senator who heads to Washington D.C. and suddenly finds himself single-handedly battling ruthless politicians out to destroy him. Receiving a total of eleven 1939 Oscar® nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director), and winning one (Best Writing, Original Story), MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON is considered one of Capra’s, Stewart’s and Columbia’s finest films.
In my opinion, you just can’t beat a good old Frank Capra movie or anything starring Jimmy Stewart! We can all use a dose of idealism once in awhile, right?
It’s currently available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime or purchase the Blu-ray here:
If you have any favorites to recommend for future Art Appreciation posts feel free to share in the comments!
LINKS TO PREVIOUS ART APPRECIATION POSTS…