Joan Semmel – Intimacy/Autonomy (1974)

If to empathize means to put yourself in someone else’s place, then Joan Semmel’s self-portraits offer us an exercise in empathy. Four decades before selfies became a thing, this American artist was resorting to photography to document her body and sexuality, an approach that offered her a unique vantage point, further explored through painting. One…

Henri Matisse – The Conversation (1908 – 1912)

“I love you dearly, mademoiselle, but I shall always love painting more”, Henri Matisse reportedly told his future wife, Amélie Parayre, soon after they met. The warning was true and it came to define the couple’s four-decade long marriage. It’s hard to tell how much love there was between them or if pragmatism ruled them…

Marinus van Reymerswaele – The Moneychanger and his Wife (1538)

Today’s post is rather unusual, since it’s about a copy of a better known painting. Some of you may already be familiar with The Moneylender and his Wife by Quentin Massys, a moralizing artwork about the depravity of money that keeps a couple away from spiritual enlightenment. It’s a highly complex painting, with lots of…

Gabriele Münter – Boating (1910)

Ahh, the quintessential love story: Girl meets boy. Boy is married to his cousin. Girl wants boy to divorce and marry her. Boy doesn’t. Wait, wait, wait. Let’s rewind. Gabriele Münter met Wassily Kandinsky in 1902. Back then, she was this driven 25 year old art student, financially independent, having just inherited a large amount…

Francis Picabia – Idyll (1927)

A playboy that loved women, luxury and fast cars, French artist Francis Picabia was as non-committal in his art as in his personal life. Although he is best known as one of the leading figures of the Dada movement, he was not afraid to experiment or take himself and his art too seriously. Idyll is…