Art Focus Lecture Series 2014

Art Focus lectures offer members and non-members opportunities to expand their knowledge of art through lectures, by faculty, curators, art experts, and artists.

All lectures take place in the Cantor Arts Center Auditorium from 4:15 to 6:15 pm.

Femmes Fatales of the Fin-De-Siecle: Toulouse-Lautrec, Waterhouse, and Klimt
Chalk and Bone: Anatomy and the French Drawing Tradition  
Surrealism: The Interwar Years
Provenance in the Art World: History of Possession  
National Treasure: History and Collections of The National Gallery Of Art
Beautiful Gardens Then and Now

In the late 19th century, many great artists explored the ageless theme of the femme fatale in myth and history. Mysterious but dangerous, or nymphs and goddesses, these women appeared magnetic to men for their irresistible seductive power, but their liaisons were often tragic. Whether fantasies projected by romantic or weak men or personae deliberately cultivated by the women themselves, these iconic images continue to fascinate. Three artists stand out for their depictions of these compelling women:
• Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Theater of Women
• John William Waterhouse and Mythological Females
• Gustav Klimt’s Viennese Viragoes in Classical and Biblical Lore

Patrick Hunt, PhD, is an archaeologist, art historian, and biographer teaching at Stanford University for 21 years. He has published 14 books and articles including Caravaggio; Rembrandt: His Life in Art; Myths for All Time: Selected Greek Stories Retold; and Renaissance Visions: Myth and Art. He regularly appears on cultural television programs.

Thursdays, February 6, 13, and 20
Cantor Arts Center Auditorium
4:15 – 6:15 pm
member: $75, non-member: $90
Registration Form

Since its founding in 1648, the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris advocated that the successful painter must possess exceptional drawing skills. It was imperative for French draftsmen to master the ability to accurately draw a nude body from memory, since the body was essential to painting genre scenes, portraits, and subjects from history and literature. This lecture explores how the latest scientific (and pseudo-scientific) anatomy theories of the time influenced changes in artistic practice.

Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell is the Burton and Deedee McMurtry Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Cantor Arts Center. She received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara and was an Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her specialization is the intersection of printmaking and medical science in 18th century Britain.

Thursday, February 27
Cantor Arts Center Auditorium
4:15 – 6:15 pm
member: $25, non-member: $30
Registration Form

In the aftermath of World War I, the modern world awakened to the disturbing realization of mankind’s capacity for extreme violence. The political strife and totalitarian madness that followed during the 1920s and 1930s, culminating in World War II, further collapsed utopian visions of a harmonious society. This was a time when basic assumptions about the nature of Western civilization, reason, and cultural progress were torn asunder.

The Surrealist movement was rooted in the era’s turbulent social, political, and intellectual climate. Shifts in the prevailing thinking about human nature and social formation also played a significant role in shaping Surrealist art.

• Surrealism Contextualized - Jean Arp, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, René Magritte, Man Ray, Méret Oppenheim, Yves Tanguy, and other artists
• Joan Miró: The Development of a Sign Language - The significance of prehistoric pictographs and ethnographic research
• Picasso and Surrealism - Metamorphosis, mythological monsters, brutality, distortion, and eroticism

Sidra Stitch has a PhD from UC Berkeley and is chief curator at the Berkeley Art Museum where she curated the exhibition Anxious Visions: Surrealist Art. She is the Director of art-SITES, a series of contemporary travel books, and has fellowships at the National Gallery, Smithsonian, and American Academy in Berlin. She is a lecturer in the Stanford Continuing Studies program.

Wednesdays, March 5, 12, and 19
Cantor Arts Center Auditorium
4:15 – 6:15 pm
member: $75, non-member: $90
Registration Form

Provenance is the history of an artwork’s travels and its ownership. Museum curators, collectors, dealers, attorneys, art and cultural historians—and even some novelists—track the fascinating story of “how things got where.” At times seemingly gossipy and at others melodramatic, the study of art ownership opens a window onto larger social issues: shifting fashions in style, political power struggles, cultural identity, the meaning and purpose of museums themselves, and national and personal ethics. Dr. Orr will explore facts and controversies in the world of provenance from recent WWII repatriations to the vexing question of antiquities.

Lynn Federle Orr oversaw the Legion of Honor’s permanent collection and galleries as curator in charge of European art. Recent exhibitions include Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, and Monet in Normandy. With a PhD from UC Berkeley, she has lectured and published widely on the 17th and 19th centuries and is currently teaching at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program and at UC Santa Cruz.

Wednesday, March 26
Cantor Arts Center Auditorium
4:15 – 6:15 pm
member: $25, non-member: $30
We are no longer accepting reservations for this lecture.

When Andrew Mellon’s colossal gift of a National Gallery of Art opened on the mall in Washington, D.C. in 1941, it was the largest marble building in the world. It houses a remarkable collection of European and American art making it unique among the world’s great museums. Highlighting two exhibitions from the National Gallery on view in San Francisco, this series will tell the story of this great cultural institution, its collections, its architects, and the incomparable treasures in its galleries.

• Founding of the Museum and Development of the Collection, including Renaissance and Baroque Art
• European Art from the 18th and 19th Centuries
• American Art from Colonial Times to the Present

Denise Erickson is a Professor of Art History at Cañada College and a celebrated local lecturer.

Thursdays, April 3, 10, and 17
Cantor Arts Center Auditorium
4:15 – 6:15 pm
member: $75, non-member: $90
Registration Form

In the late European Renaissance, gardens of powerful patrons revealed their intellectual, political, and/or artistic ambitions. We will explore iconic gardens such as those of the Medici near Florence, landscapes created for Louis XIV, and summer gardens in the hills near Rome including Villa d’Este at Tivoli. In the U.S., democratization of gardens occurred with the rise of the middle class. Most gardens of wealthy Americans followed European tastes, but by mid century, more original approaches began to flourish as urban park creation and World Fairs opened new horizons and brought exotic plants to the U.S. Recent California gardens exemplify health, sustainability, and evolving design principles.

• Renaissance Gardens of the Wealthy and Powerful
• Democratization and Innovative Transformations in the U.S.

Betsy G. Fryberger was the McMurtry Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Cantor Arts Center until her retirement in 2009 after some forty years at the museum. Among her favorite projects and publications was the 2003 exhibition catalogue The Changing Garden: Four Centuries of European and American Art, chosen by both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as one of the best books about gardens published that year.

Thursdays, April 24 and May 1
4:15 – 6:15 pm
Cantor Arts Center Auditorium
member: $50, non-member: $60
Registration Form

For more information or to become a member please call the Membership Office at 650-723-3482 or click here.

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