[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903)
Lifespan: 1834 - 1903
Related: 1875 (first work of abstract art) - abstract art - American art - British art - dandy - modern art - Salon des Refusés
In 1878 James Whistler sued John Ruskin for libel after the critic condemned his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, calling the artist a "coxcomb". Whistler won a farthing in nominal damages. The cost of the case, together with huge debts from building his residence, "The White House" bankrupted him. [Oct 2006]
Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket (1875) - James Abbott McNeill Whistler
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (July 14, 1834 - July 17, 1903) was an American painter and etcher. He is perhaps best known for his nearly black-and-white full-length portrait of his mother, titled Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1, but usually referred to as Whistler's Mother. Though American, Whistler lived and worked mainly in Britain and France. His painting The White Girl (1862) caused controversy when exhibited in London and, later, at the Salon des Refusés in Paris. The painting epitomised Whistler's theory that art should essentially be concerned with the beautiful arrangement of colors in harmony, not with the accurate portrayal of the natural world, as recommended by the critic John Ruskin. In 1878 Whistler sued Ruskin for libel after the critic condemned his painting Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, calling the artist a "coxcomb". Whistler won a farthing in nominal damages. The cost of the case, together with huge debts from building his residence called the "White House" in Chelsea, bankrupted him.
Whistler was friendly with various French artists, illustrating the book Les Chauves-Souris with Antonio de La Gandara. He also knew the impressionists, notably Edouard Manet, and was also a leading figure in the Aesthetic Movement. He was well-known for his biting wit, especially in exchanges with his friend Oscar Wilde. Both were well-known figures in the café society of Paris, at the turn of the 20th century. Whistler's famous riposte to Wilde's statement, "I wish I'd said that" -- "You will Oscar, you will", may be apocryphal.
Whistler's belief that art should concentrate on the arrangement of colors has led many critics to see his work as a precursor of abstract art. He is buried in St Nicholas's churchyard in Chiswick, London. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_McNeill_Whistler [Sept 2004]
In 1877, John Ruskin accused James Whistler
In 1877, John Ruskin accused James Whistler of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face'. Jonathan Jones on the first truly modern row about modern art.
There are two histories of modern art, and two founders. The serious one begins in Paris in the mid-19th century, and its hero is Edouard Manet. But there is another, much less salubrious history of modern art, one that begins with a stand-up public row in which no one comes off well - and is perhaps more pertinent to the condition of art today.
This row took place in a courtroom in London in November 1878. Its hero, or antihero, is James Abbott McNeill Whistler. It was the second most infamous libel trial of the 19th century - and perhaps if Oscar Wilde had remembered its consequences, he might have stepped back from his own disaster. Whistler sued the great art critic John Ruskin, author of Modern Painters and The Stones of Venice, over a review that dismissed him as a fraud.
It was not modernity and tradition that faced each other in the courtroom in 1878, but two versions of modern art. We might almost say that Ruskin represented high modernism, and Whistler stood up as the first in a tradition of "low modernism" that runs through Duchamp and Dali to the present day. --Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Thursday June 26, 2003 http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,985090,00.html [May 2006]
See also: 1877 - modern art - John Ruskin - James Whistler
On decadence"Why this lifting of the brow in depreciation of the present --this pathos in reference to the past? If Art be rare today, it was seldom heretofore. It is false, this teaching of decay. The master stands in not relation to the moment at which he occurs -- a monument of isolation -- hinting at sadness -- having no part in the progress of his fellow men.... So Art is limited to the infinite, and beginning there, cannot progress." -- Ten O'Clock Lecture, 1888.
your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products