Category Archives: Art History

June 10

Psychic Hélène Smith and Surrealist Automatism

On the 10th of June 1929, famous late-19th century French psychic medium and artist Hélène Smith (née Catherine-Elise Müller) died in Geneva. She was considered “the Muse of Automatic Writing” by the Surrealists, who looked up to her as a conduit to surrealist knowledge. Smith outrageously claimed that she was able to communicate, amongst others, with Martians, Victor Hugo […]

June 09

Donald Duck and Wartime Propaganda

On the 9th of June 1934, Donald Duck debuted in Disney’s The Wise Little Hen, which was part of the Silly Symphonies series of theatrical cartoon shorts. The anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet, dressed in a blue sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie, is […]

June 08

The Feminine Side of Cubism: Marie Laurencin

On the 8th of June 1956, Cubist artist Marie Laurencin died in Paris at the age of 72. During her lifetime, Laurencin achieved a successful international reputation, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. Even earlier though at the Salon des Indépendants (1910-1911) and the Salon d’Automne (1911-1912) she exhibited alongside Pablo Picasso, and Cubists associated […]

June 06

Hans Prinzhorn: Curating the Art of Mental Illness

On the 6th of June 1886, German psychiatrist and art historian  Hans Prinzhorn was born in Hemer, Westphalia. After obtaining a doctorate in art history and philosophy from the University of Vienna, he decided to train in England as a singer, but ended up studying medicine and became an Army surgeon in WWI.  In 1919, he […]

June 02

The Portrait Miniature: Art-Object-Memory

On the 2nd of June 1804, Danish 18th century Court miniaturist and Royal Danish Academician Cornelius Høyer died in København, Denmark. The works Høyer executed for the Danish and other European courts were diminutive in size, often 40 mm × 30 mm or approximately 1-1.5 inches, oval or round in shape. Among his best known […]

May 28

The Larssons’ Handmade, Homemade Bliss: Swedish Arts and Crafts

On the 28th of May 1853, artist and designer Carl Larsson was born in Stockholm. Following a difficult childhood spent in poverty, Larsson got a break when an art teacher recognised his talent and directed him towards a creative career. He started off working as an illustrator of books, magazines, and newspapers, then moved to […]

May 26

A.G. Baumgarten, The Man Who ‘Invented’ Aesthetics

On the 26th of May 1762, German philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten was born in Frankfurt (Oder), Brandenburg. He famously introduced the current definition of the philosophical discipline of aesthetics in his Halle master’s thesis when he was only twenty-one years of age. He called this epistêmê aisthetikê, or the science of what is sensed and […]

May 22

The Model-Mistress-Muse Paradigm: Henrietta Moraes

On the 22nd of May 1931, British model, muse and memoirist Audrey Wendy Abbott known as Henrietta Moraes was born in Simla, India, where her father was stationed in the Indian Air Force. He deserted her mother when Henrietta was young, and she had a difficult upbringing raised by an abusive grandmother in England where […]

May 18

Through the Female Lens: Gertrude Käsebier’s Indians

On the 18th of May 1852, leading American pictorialist photographer Gertrude Käsebier was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Artistically trained at the Pratt Institute, then in France and Germany, she started off as a magazine photo-illustrator, opening her own portrait studio on Fifth Avenue in New York at the end of the 19th century. Her […]

May 17

Fashion, Mondrian Style

On the 17th of May 1911, the Swedish fashion model Lisa Fonssagrives, widely credited as the first ever supermodel,  was born in Västra Götaland County, Sweden. A classic Scandinavian beauty “with impossibly high cheekbones and a cool, penetrating look of well-born entitlement” (Harold Koda, Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion), she posed for some of the most […]