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Borsheim Art Newsletter:

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 5 Marzo 2009

  1. Pietro Annigoni
  2. Art Exhibit in Florence, Italy
  3. New Art
  4. Recent Blog Topics
  5. Subscription Info.

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[pietro annigoni]

foto of artist
Pietro Annigoni
in 1966

[Annigoni painting] Dear Art Lover,

While the rest of the art world was into abstraction of some sort, Italian artist Pietro Annigoni was passionately creating art following the style of the Renaissance and Realismo.

Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988) was certainly a multi-media artist. He painted in oils and egg tempera and created many frescoes (paintings in plaster). He used pen and ink for countless sketches. He was drawing all of the time. He also created sculptures. In 2-dimensional art, he loved to use a variety of materials in the same artwork.

Born in Milano, Italy, he moved to Florence as a young man (15 years old?), and I get the impression he considered himself Florentine. He is buried here in Florence, from where I am writing now, and one meets all kinds of people who still remember him and tell first-hand and second-hand stories.

[Annigoni painting] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art]

Pietro Annigoni was a passionate man and a very serious artist. But he would have had to be in order to be successful swimming against the tide of the art world. He lived life to the fullest and experienced great anguish at times. He worried about the state of humanity. I have heard stories of a dramatic and sometimes dangerous temper, but as one of my Italian artist friends put it when I asked if this were true, "Si, Annigoni aveva un caratteraccio, ma fondamentale molto buono." (Yes, he had a temper, but was fundamentally of a very good character.)

[Annigoni painting] [Annigoni portrait art]

There is a definite feeling of solitude in many of his landscapes (especially when you read the titles!) and his paintings of mannequins. These were not the plastic human mannequins we have today. Annigoni's were made of wood and stuffed flesh-colored fabrics. They can be a bit creepy the way he has them flopping about, often headless. Not my cup of tea, but I include them here for your own information.

[Annigoni painting] [art of Annigoni solitude painting] [Annigoni mannequin art]

[Annigoni mannequin art]

Annigoni also created several frescoes in Italy. Affresco [basically, paintings in plaster (such as Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel)], is a popular medium here and Italian churches are often the best patrons.

As with most of the images on this page, if you right click on the image as if to save it, you may see the file name which often includes the title of the work and sometimes the dimensions or location of the artwork.

Notice that on this next row, these two frescoes by Annigoni depict his same design of the crucified Christ within somewhat symmetrical, but different compositions.

[Annigoni religious art fresco] [Annigoni religious art fresco]

[Annigoni religious art fresco]

Meanwhile, there is a fresco by Annigoni with a beautiful use of light in Montecassino, south of Roma. This circular composition is titled "La Gloria Di San Benedetto" which I believes needs no translation to English to be understood.

You may see some images with more information here:

Pietro Annigoni - Artist

The UK-based "Telegraph" article on 16 April 2006 about the future sale of the late Princess Margaret's personal effects, including a portrait by Pietro Annigoni, contains the quote by art historian, Bernard Berenson:
"Annigoni is not only the greatest artist of the century, but also able to compete on the level of the greatest artists of all time."

Despite this glowing review, I have not decided what I really think. I definitely admire Annigoni's productivity and work ethic. I do not respond passionately to his paintings. However, I truly love his portrait drawings. The paintings are worthy of admiration, but I find the charcoals and mixed media portraits to be simply the best. In my last newsletter I spoke about the difference between photorealism and the art of depicting "realism" using abstract shapes. I was trying to show you that an individual could be portrayed in a believable way without looking like a photograph. I was thinking a lot of Annigoni, although he often crosses into dreamland and idealism. I love it!

I am including here a fairly decent collection of Annigoni's portraits that I was able to find or take images of myself. This first row is mostly drawings of Annigoni's second wife Rossella. These are in no particular order other than what I thought would look good together. I do not know in which years he created most of these artworks. Enjoy!

[Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art]

[Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art]

[Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art]

[Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art]

[Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art] [Annigoni portrait art]

[Annigoni portrait of Queen Elisabeth II]
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England
Annigoni Portrait 1955

Pietro Annigoni decided to go to England. Another friend told me that he and his agent had a rather difficult time finding anyone who would accept the artist's work at this stage in his career. Finally, they were accepted to exhibit. Then to do another. The next thing you know, Annigoni was painting a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II! This first portrait painting on the left is my favorite. She was painted in 1954-5. There is a dignity to the pose and expression. I also enjoy the lovely upward-sweeping black curve of the cape on the right edge contrasting with the alternating black and white shapes on the figure's left. Everything points to the elegant face.

The portraits below were created in 1969. The one on the left was a study sketch for the painting (detail only shown) on the right. For my taste, these colors are too bold and the design too symmetrical. It is said that Annigoni wanted to portray the Queen as alone in her important duties. In that he succeeded.

[Annigoni portrait of Queen Elisabeth II] [Annigoni portrait of Queen Elisabeth II]

[Annigoni self-portrait]
Pietro Annigoni
AutoRitratto (Self-Portrait) 1952

Pietro Annigoni drew and painted plenty of self-portraits and I would be remiss if I did not show you some of them. Lately, I have been exploring the concept of self-portraits, although traditionally I have not seen the appeal in them, other than an artist having a totally available and affordable model.

[Annigoni self portrait] [Annigoni selfportrait] [Annigoni selfportrait]

[Florence from Museo Pietro Annigoni]

In November 2008 the first museum dedicated to Pietro Annigoni opened in Florence, Italy. The museum is located in the Villa Bardini and has some terrific views of Florence, two of which I include here. The museum's collection contains over 6,000 artworks, including more than 4,200 drawings. Naturally, these were not all on exhibit at once, and I was told that the current exhibit would be changing in late September 2009.

[view Florence from Villa Bardini] I was a little disappointed with my first visit. The space is lovely and well organized, but I was expecting to see more work. However, I was the only one there on a Wednesday afternoon and that allowed me to spend as much time as I pleased looking at each artwork that interested me. And considering this is a new museum, I must give kudos. Not to mention that it is probably healthy for a museum who features only one no-longer-producing artist's work to not show everything available. Change keeps visitors interested.

[Annigoni selfportrait] [Annigoni autoritratto art]

[Annigoni portrait] [Annigoni portrait art]

My absolute favorites in the entire museum that day were the prints made from Annigoni's ink and watercolor sketchbook images of war-torn Florence. During World War II, Germany bombed central Florence. Every bridge over the Arno River was destroyed, except for the famous Ponte Vecchio. The day after the German troops retreated from the Renaissance City, the artist created this series of 12 drawings showing the damages done. They are haunting. They are beautiful. There is a quality of light and shadow, a quality that shows how much Annigoni loved his adopted city.

I could not find any images anywhere of these drawings (except in one book sold at the museum store) and so you are stuck with my horrible, reflection-ridden snapshots of the art behind glass.

[drawings of Florence World War II] [War Art Florence Italy]

[World War II art drawings] [Florence Italy war bombing]

In the course of writing this article, I discovered that there is a piazza named for Annigoni. And it is next to Piazza Ghiberti (where the best place is to buy fresh foods in the morning: Mercato Sant´Ambrogio)

For more information, please visit the Annigoni Museum: Museo Pietro Annigoni

Art Exhibit in Florence, Italy

[unfinished drawing]
Last night a new friend who works at the Galleria degli Uffizi here in Florence asked me something in Italian. I understood each word, but like slang, some literal translations do not enlighten. "Cosa?" ("What?" I asked.) My friend laughed and said, "Kelly, devi imparare italiana!" ("Kelly, you must learn Italian.") The other woman, Laura, suggested, "Yes, learn one new word per day." I responded, "Si, well, it is good to have goals. Come si dice 'goals' in italiano?" Laura, an Italian who lived in Britain for many years, hesitated and then said, "We do not really have a word for that," and she rattled off a rather long explanation in her native tongue to our other friend.

I always work better with goals. Real deadlines. And thus, I asked for the opportunity to have an exhibit here in Florence, Italy. The dates for my solo show at Sei Divino are 16 April to 7 May 2009 and I am very excited about my new projects. Almost everything in this exhibit will be new since most of my available work is in The Franklin Barry Gallery in Indianapolis.

I thought that I would be returning to Texas in March or April to teach a sculpture class or two and to carve some marble, but now it looks as though I cannot return before late June. I am still waiting on a few scheduling things to become clear before I make definite plans, but will keep you posted.

For details about the exhibit, please click here: www.borsheimarts.com/exhibits.htm

For a sneak preview of some of the artworks, read my blog: http://artbyborsheim.blogspot.com

[figure art drawing]
40 x 62 cm (16" x 24")
charcoal & pastel drawing 2009
by Kelly Borsheim
brown Roma paper
Please Inquire

New Art

You may want to preview images of my newly finished figurative drawings in charcoal. I truly enjoy working with models and sharing their energies with the world. What you will not see in these drawings is what I am currently learning. For example, in "Joshua" my drawing skills were challenged in that I could not see anything behind the model's arms because of an architectural pillar that emerged from the wall between the model and me. Still I loved the "S" curve gesture of the model's pose and the lighting, so the challenges were worth it.

In "Memories of Venice" I designed a composition with elements not even closely resembling the objects in the studio in which I worked with Italian model Valentina. And "Hindsight" is a study of the subtlety in dark tones, as well as perspective issues. The strong backlighting made it much more difficult for me to see a lot of the model's features.

While these and other artworks will be included in my solo exhibit mentioned above, I have no problems finding homes for them before the exhibit opens. If you are interested in any or all of them, by all means contact the studio.

[figure art drawing]
64 x 46 cm
charcoal & white pastel drawing 2008-9
by Kelly Borsheim
grey Roma paper
Please Inquire
[figure art drawing]
"Memories of Venice"
69 x 49 cm (27" x 19.5")
charcoal drawing 2008-9
by Kelly Borsheim
Umbria paper
Please Inquire

John Henderson

Via Don Elliott at the Franklin Barry Gallery, art collectors John and Sara Campbell sent me two small photos they took of their friend “Big John” Henderson during events at the Highland Golf and Country Club in Indianapolis. John C. wrote me this in early February:

“John Henderson (or "Big John") as everyone calls him, has worked 13 years as the dining room manager at the club. He is one of our most beloved employees. He is from St. Louis and has one sister, Darlene. He has gone back to St. Louis and his sister is caring for him. He probably has only a few days left. The cancer hit him very quickly. He worked right up until before Christmas. He is about 6'4, maybe 220-30lbs. A very big, strong man. Big hands, yet long fingers with a sort of delicacy; long, muscular arms.

He worked out a lot, kept a Bible in his podium and regularly attended Church. While he was wild one in his youth, he settled down, found Jesus and was very happy with that. He never had a cross word about anyone and always looked for the best in people. He worked constantly. Had two other jobs a few years back, but cut back to just the club and one other later. Children loved him. He was always taking care of them, getting them ice cream and sodas. He loved being around them, probably because he didn't have any.

There was always a big closed mouth smile on his face. His voice was deep and so was his love of people. WE were his family. We went to see him last Monday in St. Louis. He'd lost about 30 lbs was curled up in bed and only came around slightly for a few minutes. It was a very hard visit for us.

Just to give you an idea how much he was thought of: even though he has insurance, several of the members got together and in a week and a half, raised over $60,000 to make sure he had the best of care. He always wore a black vest, black bow tie and short sleeve white shirt (even in winter). We are renaming the dining room in his honor and they wanted a portrait of him to hang in there so he'd always be with us.”

“Big John” Henderson died on Tuesday morning, February 10, 2009. He was 52 years old.

The recent follow-up from John Campbell (all printed with his permission):
“There were 40 people from Highland who traveled on a charter bus to St. Louis for John's funeral. It was a beautiful service and very touching. As there were many families with children and seniors in Florida who could not attend, we wanted a Memorial Service at the club. Originally we were looking at March but decided on April 19th so as many members as possible could attend. We will also have his family over. The club service will be closure to all of us. Our club is a family place with some of the kindest, most giving people you could imagine. We expect around 300 people to attend. Once again, I can't thank you enough for all your help. I'll let you know how the service goes.”

[portrait painting]

Portrait of "Big" John Henderson
17" x 13"
oil painting on canvas 2009
by Kelly Borsheim
Collection of the
Highland Golf and Country Club
Indianapolis (USA)

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Thank you for reading and by all means, forward this newsletter on to anyone you think would enjoy it.

Pace (peace),
Kelly Borsheim
5 Marzo 2009

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