Art Stroll

Art Stroll: Rauschenberg Among Friends Part 1

Last week Natalya Aikens, who is a wonderful artist, and I met at MoMA to see the Rauschenberg exhibition in the early hours. I have been looking forward to this exhibition for a couple months now since I am a huge admirer of Robert Rauschenberg’s work. That is also noticeable when you read my book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media as I have used some of his work in on of the chapters.

“Grand Black Tie Sperm Glut” (1987)

What I loved particularly about this exhibition was that it reflected the fact that Rauschenberg was a very social person and many of the people he met, artists, friends, lovers shaped his work and he fed off their company.

“Sue” (c. 1950), Exposed blueprint paper

The exhibition starts with blueprints created by and with artist Sue Weil, who was for a short while Robert Rauschenberg’s wife. One of them would lie down on a sheet of photo-sensitive paper and the other one would hold the bright lamp for a while to expose the image on the paper.

“Short Circuit” (1955), Combine: oil, fabric and paper on wood supports and cabinet with two hinged doors containing a painting by Susan Weil and a reproduction of a Jasper Johns Flag painting by Elaine Sturtevant

Rauschenberg was highly influenced by his teacher Josef Albers and the Bauhaus mentality to consider and focus on readily accessible and ordinary materials and to combine them.

“Charlene”(1954), Combine: oil, charcoal, paper, fabric, newspaper, wood, plastic, mirror, and metal on four Homasote panels, mounted on wood with electric light

Rauschenberg called those readily materials “real objects” – he included a letter from his mother and a man’s undershirt.

“Bed” (1955), Combine: oil and pencil on pillow, toothpaste, fingernail polish, quilt, and sheet, mounted on wood support
Rauschenberg recalled once that he could not afford to buy a canvas and so he decided to make a painting on a patchwork quilt given to him by the artist Dorothea Rockburne (she btw once said that when she was doing laundry she realized her quilt was missing and saw it later on again in this Piece :) ) . The pencil strokes on top of the pillow are very likely by Cy Twombly. Rauschenberg and Twombly were in a relationship and traveled together, making art.

“Rebus” (1955), Combine: oil, synthetic polymer paint, pencil, crayon, pastel, cut-and-pasted printed and painted papers, including a drawing by Cy Twombly, and fabric on canvas mounted and stapled to fabric
Rauschenberg gathered many of the materials in Rebus from and near his studio in Lower Manhattan. He used commercial paint samples, included a piece of a painting by Cy Twombly

and three of the drawings this series were also included in the exhibition

Cy Twombly

I loved seeing all the different materials and you really get a sense of a highly humorous person in Rauschenberg

a person who doesn’t take himself too serious- what a wonderful streak.

“Factum I ”  and “Factum II” 1957, Combine: oil, ink, pencil, crayon, paper, fabric, newspaper, printed reproductions, and printed paper on canvas
Rauschenberg created these two paintings, repeating the same falsely spontaneous brush strokes in both. Rauschenberg wanted to show that neither impulsive painting or planned painting alone make an artwork, but that it rather is a mix of intention and chance, impulsive gestures and thought.

“Monogram” (1957-59), Combine: oil, paper, fabric, printed paper, printed reproductions, metal, wood, rubber shoe heel, and tennis ball on canvas with oil and rubber tire on Angora goat on wood platform mounted on four casters
This mixture of a painting, sculpture and assemblage is probably one of the best known works by Rauschenberg, seeing it in person was definitely a treat as a picture is not really capturing it.

“Summerstorm” (1959) Combine: oil, graphite, paper, printed reproductions, wood, fabric, necktie, and metal zipper on canvas
I loved going to this exhibition with Natalya as she uses a lot of plastic and fabric in her artwork she was looking at all pieces in different ways then I did – and pointed out that the tie was not attached, she wondered if it was meant to be to flap in the wind – and once we saw a tie in this Combine – we saw ties in Rauschenberg’s work everywhere :)

“Painting with Grey Wing” (1959), Combine: oil, printed reproductions, unpainted paint-by-number board, typed print on paper, photographs, fabric, stuffed bird wing, and dime on canvas
This was one of my favorite pieces in the exhibition.

Niki de Saint Phalle “Shooting Painting American Embassy” 1961, Paint plaster, wood, plastic bags, shoe, twine, metal seat, axe, metal can, toy gun, wire mesh, shot pellets and other objects on wood.

“Each of the colours appears to have dripped down the canvas from a hole, which exposes a dark surface beneath the white. Saint Phalle made this work by shooting with a gun at bags of paint that were placed on the canvas. Before the shooting began, the surface was covered with white plaster and pigment to resemble a blank canvas. As the shooting commenced, the bags would be punctured and the coloured paints released to flow and splash.” The piece is part of a series and in which artist would shoot at the pieces as a performance. Robert Rauschenberg as well as Jasper Johns took aim at this painting.

And what is Natalya laughing about here? At a framed letter and the work is called “This Is a Portrait of Iris Clert if I Say So” (1961) Telegram

This telegram was Rauschenberg’s submission to a show of portraits of the Parisian gallerist Iris Clert in 1961. Rauschenberg realized about two works before the show, that he forgot to make the work. And so…he made a conceptual portrait via telegram sending it to Iris Clert, one whose maker shifts depending on the “I” who reads it. – CLEVER guy- LOL. I guess he got away with it ;)

Now there was so much more in the Art Stroll and since I am such a big fan of Rauschenberg I decided to show it in two parts- so another one on this is coming in a week. Hope you enjoyed the Art Stroll so far. If you are anywhere close to NYC go and see this exhibition – seriously! It is open until September 17, 2017.

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke


    I of course like “Sue” and have used that paper for flowers and shells but not people (too small).
    I love the story of the quilt. LOL


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      LOL- of course Sue ;) Oh how cool you used it before- I want to – I need to get this. Yeah the story of the quilt was hilarious – there were several of those stories that made me really laugh -he must have been such a funny- also the good kind of prankster :)


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Art Stroll: A Revolutionary Impulse – MoMA

A couple weeks ago my friend Julie Fei -Fan Balzer was in town and we had an awesome day filled with good food, chats, laughter and of course…Art. We went to MoMA to see A Revolutionary Impulse – The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde – a title that couldn’t make it in it’s entirety into my blog title- LOL.

“During the early 1910’s under the tsarist autocracy (in Russia) that had ruled for three centuries, avant-garde artists sought to overthrow entrenched academic conventions by experimenting with complex ideas that would transform the course of modernist visual culture. In 1915 as World War I raged, an abstract mode of painting called Suprematism abandoned all concrete pictorial references….With the October Revolution of 1917, Lenin’s party took command. Avant-Garde artists put individual expression aside and developed a structured abstract language called Constructivism which they hoped could be embraced by the masses. Constructivists rejected easel painting in favor of practical objects like ceramics, posters and logos. …By the late 1920s, the government, now headed by Stalin, had placed restrictions on all aspects of life, including the arts, and was commissioning artists to produce propagandistic books, posters and magazines touting Soviet achievement….This exhibition spans the years 1912 to 1935…Conceived in response to changing socio-political and artistic conditions, these works probe the many ways and object can be revolutionary.” From MoMA’s wall text about the exhibition

Olga Rozanova, War, 1916 – Linoleum cut illustrations out of a a book with ten illustrations.

The imagery for those lino-cuts is influenced by the abstracted forms of Cubism and Futurism but also by traditional Russian motifs. I was intrigued by the very simplistic way she created figures with crosshatching and just some hints of form here and there which your eye completes yourself as a person or else.

Lyubov Popova, 1914, Subject from a Dyer’s Shop – Oil on Canvas.

Note that Lyubov is another woman …

Kazimir Malevich, Samovar, 1913, Oil on Canvas. “A year later Malevich was painting cubes and lines and circles and balancing them in ways that had no relation to anything but geometry and the will to make something new. Malevich called his art “Suprematist,” hoping that it would have supremacy over forms found in nature.”

Vasily Kandinsky, Improvisation, c. 1915 – Watercolor and pencil on paper

Various artist: Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Nikolai Rogovin, Vladimir Tatlin -Mirskontsa (Worldbackwards)-1912

These books were made with wall paper and I really love the shapes  too.

Natalia Goncharova Spanish Dancer –(c. 1914) . Isn’t this beautiful?

And then things changed…



Jean Pougny, Suprematist Relief-Sculptures, 1920s – Painted wood, metal and cardboard, mounted on wood panel. I did love this one – I wish it wasn’t behind a glass

Lyubov Popova, Six Prints ca. 1917-19 – linoleum cuts with watercolor and gouache additions

A pioneer of the avant-garde, Popova developed a style in the late 1910s that combined floating forms inspired by Cubist collage and by Suprematism. She called this print series – there are four more- “painterly architectonics” . She wanted to depict layered shapes, so that they seem to be continually shifting and rotating.

Varvara Stepanova, Figure, 1921 – This is in MoMA’s permanent collection and I always loved this one. BTW …another woman :)

Aleksandr Rodchenko, Non-Objective-Painting 1919, Oil on Canvas


I love the crosshatching and the expanding lines.

Naum Gabo, Head of a Woman, 1917-20 – Celluloid and Metal

Nikolai Suetin – 1923

In 1917 the Bolsheviks seized control of the government and took over the State Porcelain Factory which used to manufacture porcelain for tsars in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). Suetin a Suprematist artist was invited to make decorative designs for existing porcelain found in the factory. These ceramics, once meant for imperial tables, were now reimagined for the proletariat.

I would totally wanna have this set and use it – and I find it so interesting how the forms and shapes painted on canvas speak so much more to me on this tea set.

How cool is this pop-up parachute ? The reflection of it is also a bit funny – guess I made Julie a new outfit ;)

I enjoyed this exhibition. The most eye catching fact for me was just how many women were in this exhibition since modern women artists are very underrepresented at MoMA. I regret that the exhibition is coming to an end, as I feel there is so much about this that I didn’t quite grasp and I more or less just floated around in this exhibition with a semi knowledge of the political time the art was created in Russia and a lacking mind for the ideas behind Suprematism and Constructivism. But you know what…I will be ok …I was still inspired ;)

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke


    That tea set is great and Julie’s new outfit is interesting. Glad to see that you two had fun with art again!


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Art Stroll: Francis Picabia at MoMA

Last month I went with some of my friends to the opening of Francis Picabia “Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction” at MoMA

Dances at the Spring II

I had seen a couple of Picabia’s paintings before and love them a lot but to be honest, I didn’t know much of him. My friend Adam, was totally excited because he is a huge Picabia fan and told us, he was waiting for this exhibition for a long time.

I was pleasantly surprised and loved loved loved the exhibition. Every single one of the rooms in the exhibition offered something different in style and was often challenging.

Francis Picabia, 1913, Udnie (Young American Girl, The Dance), oil on canvas

The exhibition covered Picabia’s entire career. He was born to wealth in 1879 and apparently all he did was painting…and partying. He had a lot of humor and was by many, including himself called a Prankster.

Arriving in the next room all the artwork became very industrial, mechanical and added different materials to the flat canvas. He was also a big part of the Dada-Movement.

Très rare tableau sur la terre (Very Rare Picture on the Earth) (1915) Oil and metallic paint on board, and silver and gold leaf on wood, including artist’s painted frame

Amorous Parade, Francis Picabia, 1917- Oil, gesso, metallic pigment, ink, gold leaf, pencil and crayon on board.

And then just as you got used to it …everything changes once again

and again

Animal Trainer, Francis Picabia

The above painting is seen as one of Picabia’s typical jokes and mocking fine craftsman ship. The hand of the figure shows prominently bridges – a typical sign of using stencils – and the dogs as well are created with the use of stencils. This was frowned upon on when he painted this – which was in 1923 and not as he also placed as a joke onto the canvas in 1937. Also check out what the yellow dog is doing in the background.

I loved his playful use of unusual materials in the next gallery -like matches and canvas wedges, brushes, coins. It’s been all done before – it is fun – it is humorous and amazing.

Flowerpot , Francis Picabia, 1924-25. Enamel paint, Ripolin paint-can lids, brushes, wooden stretcher wedges, string and quill toothpicks on canvas.

One gallery was dedicated to his Transparencies 1927 – 1930. I also loved all the different frames- a topic I have talked about in many other posts . They are probably still original because museums weren’t that interested in his artwork up and until the 50s – and so fortunately they did not get destroyed to go with the “museum style frames”

Working in his large new studio in Mougins, Picabia painted his Transparencies by alternating layers of paint with layers of resinous varnish. This process allowed him to lay linear motifs atop one another while keeping them distinct. These richly layered, multi referential compositions interweave an often dizzying array of con tour images drawn from such diverse sources s Renaissance painting, Catalan frescoes, and the popular culture of the day.



Picabia’s unorthodox application of unusual materials sometimes resulted in surfaces that could be interpreted as damaged or in need for restoration. In fact, these effects were often deliberately induced by him. In Portrait of a Woman- shown below, Picabia enhanced some of the bumps with dark paint, purposefully amplifying the paints’s already pronounced topography.

Portrait of a Woman, Francis Picabia, 1935-37 -Oil on Canvas

Isn’t that amazing? And then…it changes again

Spring, Francis Picabia, 1937-38/c.1943 . Oil on wood

And again

The Adoration of the Calf, Francis Picabia, 1941-42, oil on board.

Although Picabia was a resolutely apolitical artist, it is difficult not to read this painting and its cynical vision of the worship of false idols as an engagement with contemporary politics.

Symbol, Francis Picabia, 1950, Oil on canvas

“If you want to have clean ideas, change them as often as you change your shirts.” (Francis Picabia). Our life changes, in that I guess we are consistent and so was Francis Picabia in his art.

If you are in the area make sure to visit this exhibition before it closes in March. I will definitely be back to see it once more :) I hope you enjoyed this little Art Stroll.


Comments (2)

  • Linda Faber


    Thanks, again, Nathalie, for a great tour of an intriguing exhibit. I love his abstract pieces! This artist is new to me and I wish I could get up to NYC (oh but it’s too cold for me now) to see it. And….last year you introduced me to Anselm Kiefer….whose name has been popping up in so many places, and is now on exhibit in Miami! As a retired teacher myself, I love getting these inspirations and knowledge from you….and I know it must be a kick for you as well.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      thank you Linda, for joining me :) Ha- it is cold here right now …not my favorite thing about NYC ;) Ohhh I have to come to Miami for the Kiefer Show- he is one of my very very favorites!!! Have a gorgeous week, Nat


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Art Stroll: Dadaglobe Reconstructed at MoMA


A couple weeks ago Andrew Borloz (check his amazing new stencils out!) and I met in the City for a an extended Art Stroll, to be precise – three art strolls and this is the first of them.


Our first stop was the Dadaglobe Reconstructed exhibition at MoMA. Dada is an Anti-Art Movement founded in 1916 in Zurich which spread all over the world. Dada embraced the idea of art as protest and rejected the idea of art as commodity. The world had changed after WWI and artists were ready to break down hierarchy, breaking rules and thinking about what was going on in the world. Usual themes of Dada were politics of the time, new technology, ideas of authority – striving to equalize, turning everyday objects into art. Dada revolutionized Modern Art, anything was possible, mixing ideas, embracing everyday objects as potential art materials, using collage etc.

Dadaglobe was planned by Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the Dada Movement. He wanted to create a book to be published in 1921 and invited 50 artists from 10 different countries to submit artworks for the book. The work was to be mailed and usually in the size of the later book pages. Reaching out this way was in itself revolutionary as it was a collaboration of international exchange in a time of Nationalism where many resentments against other nations existed and some countries weren’t allowed to travel everywhere. Unfortunately for financial and other reasons the book was never published, but what remained were some of the artwork that was sent in, and the cataloging how Tzara envisioned the layout of the book and the order of the artwork.


In his solicitation letters Tzara instructed his fellow artists to provide 2-3 reproductions of their work, drawings, a book page with text and a photograph of themselves which they could alter freely. The last part of the instructions was the one that the artists seemed to have the most fun with and went wild.


Rastada Painting, 1920 by Francis Piciabia, cut-and-pasted printed paper on paper with ink

In Picabia’s self portrait he describes himself as a failure, a wag and a gigolo and represents himself as a clown .


Francis Picabia, 1920 Ink and watercolor on paper

In this drawing Picabia created an calligraphic signature and then signs it , mocking conventions of authorship and authenticity.

I had to keep in mind that all the artwork in this exhibition was not made for the wall, they were made for reproduction in book form and the exhibition shows more or less the Making of a Book.


Portrait of Sophie Taeuber with her Dada Head by Nic. Aluf, ca. 1920 –

I love that the self portrait shows her with the artwork below – it was wonderful to see the original work


Dada Head by Sophie Taeuber, 1920 Oil onturned wood

which she then also had painted. Again I loved that they included the original artwork which she submitted as a photograph for the book.


Dada Composition (Flat Head) by Sophie Taeuber, 1920, Oil on Canvas

Compressing her sculpture onto the plane of a canvas – flatten three dimensions into two.



Bride by Marcel Duchamp, 1912, oil on canvas

Submitted was a photograph of Duchamp’s painting.

I really loved the pieces below- one of the reasons is that the german text is actually quite funny – I know… unfair ;)


Dada Milky Way (Dada Milchstrasse) by Johannes Bader, ca. 1919-1920, cut- and-pasted printed paper sand cut-and-pasted gelatin silver print on printed paper


Advertisement for Myself: Dada Milky Way by Johannes Baader, 1920, cut-and-pasted printed paper and ink on printed paper

Baader wrote Hannah Höch after he received the invitation by Tzara that he was very excited about this clever and good idea for a collaboration. How cool is that?


Manifesto W5 by Max Ernst, 1920, cut-and-pasted printed papers on colored paper

This is my favorite- I love Max Ernst and his humor – he is one of my favorite artists and a lot of the techniques that we as Mixed Media Artist use were actually invented by him. The above work says “Speak loud! Be brave!”


The Human Eye and a Fish, The Latter Petrified by Johannes Theodor Baargeld, , 1920, cut-and-patered paper, ink and pencil on paper

It was a fun exhibition and I loved that the movement of Dada and the projects for Dadaglobe got many later very famous artists inspired and trying new things and approaches to their art. That is why collaborating with other artists can be such an rewarding and inspiring thing to do!



And then Andrew and I continued our Art Stroll uptown to the Guggenheim Museum…but that is a different post :)

Hope you enjoyed the stroll.

Comments (2)

  • Nurse-Ratchet


    Imagine, an art lesson relaxing in bed on a Saturday morning! Awesome, as always my FLGL❤ And thank you for introducing me to Andrew’s stunning art and stencils?


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      oh that sounds like a great saturday morning my sweet Canadian lady :))) Glad you liked it and yes- Andrew’s stencils are amazing!!!


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Art Stroll: Jackson Pollock – A Collection Survey at MoMA

KalbachPollock Collage

A couple months ago I went to MoMA and saw this wonderful exhibition of Jackson Pollock’s work tracking his artistic development from the 1930s, when he made loosely figurative images , to the early 1950s, when he pioneered the radical abstractions for which he is best known by pouring and dripping paint onto canvas or paper. It was a wonderful exhibition and I loved seeing the evolution but also getting an insight of how he took certain things further and further and how some of his early elements morphed into something more abstract or vanished in the end.


Jackson Pollock, Untitled (Sheet of Studies), c. 1939-42, Black colored pencil on paper


Jackson Pollock, Mask, 1941, oil on canvas


Jackson Pollock, Untitled (Animals and Figures, 1942, Gouache and ink on paper

Drawing was an independent medium for Pollock – so his sheets were never studies for paintings. Yet you can see similarities to his paintings – like in the one below – The She Wolf . Vibrantly colored lines that are laid on top. Fusing two different layers was a strategy Pollock would continue to develop over the next several years.


Jackson Pollock, The She-Wolf, 1943, oil, casein and gouache on canvas

He began covering the canvas with a layer of multicolored splatters, washes and drips and then superimposed the black outline of the wolf, whose head faces left. Finally he added thick white lines to highlight her shape and dense areas of gray-blue at the edges to bring further relief.


Jackson Pollock, Stenographic Figure, ca 1942, oil on linen



Screen prints 1943-1944 – Pollock experimented with screen printing in this time and worked briefly at a commercial silkscreen workshop in 1943. These screen prints above predate his first abstract “drip” paintings at least 2 years. Apparently Pollock and his wife artist Lee Krasner used those screen prints as greeting cards!


Painting, ca. 1944, Gouache on plywood


Full Fathom Five, 1947, oil on canvas with nails, tacks, buttons, key, coins, cigarettes, matches, etc.

This is one of Pollock’s first “drip” paintings. While its top layers consist of poured lines of black and shiny silver house paint, a large part of the paint’s crust was applied by brush and palette knife.

The nails, tacks, buttons etc. are all encrusted in the paint and add to the texture.


Untitled, c. 1944-45, engraving and drypoint


Gothic, 1944, oil on canvas

Pollock told a critic that this composition was based on Pablo Picasso’s 1907 masterpiece, Le Demoiselles d’Avignon. Just a whisper of this inspiration piece, yet …if you know it you can see it …and still it is something totally new and Pollock!



Number 1A, 1948, oil and enamel paint on canvas


I love how you can see his fingers on the left – the hand of the artist- it makes you look for these things in all of his drip paintings.



One: Number 31, 1950, Oil and enamel paint on canvas


Untitled, c. 1950, ink on paper

this makes me want to fling some ink :)


White Light, 1954, Oil, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas

This is one of Pollock’s last paintings and the only one he completed in 1954- he squeezed paint directly from a tube on the canvas – also used a brush to create subtle marbling effects by manipulating wet paint in certain areas.

It was so inspiring and wonderful – the texture and the vibrancy of the colors – and of course – do not forget the scale.

I hope you enjoyed this little stroll – until the next one.


Comments (3)

  • Sue Clarke


    One of my favorite art pieces that my son has made is a Pollack-like painting that he did in elementary school. Delightful texture.


  • Joi @RR


    Such incredible texture…. loved seeing these Nat. Thank you.X j.


  • stephanie


    great images to see his early work


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Art Stroll: Edgar Degas – A Strange New Beauty at MoMA

KalbachDegas Collage

In March, I went to the opening of Edgar Degas – A Strange New Beauty at MoMA . Honestly I am not the biggest Degas fan – I mean – I like his paintings but not in a geeky “ohhhh I looooovveee” kinda-way. But …I was really surprised how much I loved the exhibition because it showed Degas experimenting phase with monotypes in the late 1870s and how that lead to his later so famous signature painting style.

A monotype is a hybrid between a drawing and a print. It is a drawing that is printed – Degas painted on copper plates with ink, or covered a copper plate with ink and painted into it, put paper on it and run it through a press.


The Jet Earring – 1876-77 – Monotype on paper

But furthermore, Degas would often make a second pull –  a so called ghost print and then enhance that one with pastel.




Now one of the coolest things of the exhibition was that the curators pointed out where to look even closer and provided a magnifying glass to do so.


“Make a drawing, begin it again, trace it, begin it again, and retrace it” – Edgar Degas


Degas also experimented using oil instead of ink for his monotypes and then enhancing again the ghost prints with pastels.


River Banks, 1890 – Pastel over monotype in oil in paper


Wheatfield and Line of Trees, 1890 – Pastel over monotype in oil on paper


Two Dancers,1905 – Charcoal and pastel on tracing paper


Here is the monotype – the first print .


And the ghost print enhanced with pastels.

Three Ballet Dancers, c. 1878


At the Theater: The Duet – 1877-79 – Pastel over monotype on paper


The Café-Concert Singer, c. 1876 – Pastel over monotype on paper


I was fascinated by Degas’ way of seeing the monotypes as a process opening up so many more possibilities – what a great exhibition to explore his process and his grab for the shiny object. If you are near NYC – go and visit it- it is still open until July 24th, 2016  and I will for sure stroll through it again before it closes.

Comments (6)

  • CarolynB


    Fascinating! Thanks for the exhibit tour and insights into the artist’s processes.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      So glad you enjoyed it Carolyn! have a wonderful weekend!


  • JoAnn


    Thank you for sharing – love being able to visit a museum through your eyes.


  • Gayle


    Thank you Nathalie for this informative museum tour – I didn’t know the extent to which Degas produced and modified his monotype prints. Whenever I saw the black and white works in articles about this artist, I presumed they were simply charcoal studies for his paintings. I’ve learned so much art history from reading your blogs and of course, can’t say enough about all your mixed media tutorials and info.- such a wonderful resource!


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Art Stroll – Garcia Torres at MoMA

Art Stroll Garcia Collage

A couple months ago I went to MoMA with my friend Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and I was excited to see the Joaquin Torres-Garcia exhibition since I fell in love with his work a couple months before in Argentina at Malba. Torres-Garcia was an Uruguayan painter and sculptor. He lived in Barcelona with his family in 1891, traveled a lot in his life and was friends with Picasso, Duchamp and other important artists. What I love about his work is how versatile and symbolic it is.

Kalbach Garcia 01

Fourteenth Street, 1920 – Oil on board

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I love his New York City Scenes- they are so lively and I love that he put more detail on signs and writing than on faces – yet you totally get the vibe of the city.

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Aren’t those the coolest? I want them all!

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I love his very limited color palette.

Kalbach Garcia 05

Construction with triangle, 1929 – Oil on canvas

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Structure with struck forms, 1933 – Tempera on board.

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His use of wood pieces – It makes me want to find old pieces of wood and paint on them.

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And working in black, white and grey…even though I am such a bright color nerd, this makes me want to do it.

Kalbach Garcia 11

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Constructive composition,1931 -Oil on canvas

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Composition, 1932 – oil on canvas




Oh looksie…there is Julie :) I miss her and our MoMA strolls.

Kalbach Garcia 20

The one below is one of my favorite. The collage elements, the flags, the ephemera, symbols- I just love it!

Kalbach Garcia 21

It was a great art stroll and I really enjoyed seeing more of Garcia Torres after my visit to Malba. I am sure I will refer to his artwork in one of my future works – stay tuned :)

Do you find his work inspiring?

Comments (8)

  • Joi@RR


    I’m like Gayle – love traveling with you Nat. And yes – this was definitely inspiring. I am really thankful to learn about these different artists and I enjoyed seeing all of these very much. You know… you already do his type of city art… it reminds me of you a lot. Thanks bunches for such a great post. XX j.


  • Gayle


    Again, thank you SO MUCH for expanding my art-appreciation horizons. These works have a neolithic flavor mixed in with primitive hieroglyphics and brings one back to the universality of images and symbols — before language started creating barriers. I can definitely see how this style can be incorporated into mixed media and am anxious to experiment with this concept. I love travelling with you via your blogs!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Gayle, So glad you like the work and inspiration by Torres. And yes – I agree- images and symbols- what a wonderful way to communicate in art. Thank you for traveling along!


  • Sue Clarke


    I like the wooden sculptures but not much inspiration for me sorry to say.
    You and Julie give me plenty of inspiration (especially with all your new products)!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      sorry to hear you didn’t find inspiration in his work but so happy you are here :) hugs, nat


  • Joyce


    I enjoyed this presentation of the artist. Food for thought.


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Art Stroll: Picasso Sculpture at MoMA


Disclaimer: This post includes artwork with abstract or not so abstract nudity – it is not called Sodom and Gomorrah – it is called ART . If you have a problem with art, all I can say ” so sorry for you!” . Don’t email me to complain, don’t visit my blog anymore because I might post things like this again and, farewell!

For a couple weeks now Picasso Sculpture is on view at MoMA (until February 7th, 2016). It is AMAZING! I have been there four times and I really hope I can sneak in a fifth time. The work shown was created between 1902 and 1964. Every time I go, I am entranced by something else. The scope of Picasso’s work and the range of materials he used in his sculptures is just mind-blowing.


Kalbach Picasso 06

– Guitar, Paris, 1924. Painted sheet metal, painted tin box, and iron wire. –

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– Violin and Bottle on a Table, Paris 1915 –

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– Violin Paris 1915 – Painted sheet metal and iron wire.

All those sculptures make me feel as if Picasso Paintings came alive in a 3D installation  – so brilliant!

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Bust of a Woman, Boisgeloup 1931 . Plaster.

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Head of a Woman, Boisgeloup 1932. Plaster

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Head of a Warrior, Boisgeloup 1933 . Plaster, metal and wood.

This somehow made me think of a cartoon and smile- there is so much fun and joy and many puns in Picasso’s sculptures.

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The Orator, 1933-34, Plaster, stone, and metal dowel

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Head of a Woman. Paris 1929-30. Iron, sheet metal, spring and metal colanders.

Again this and the one below made me think of a Bugs Bunny Cartoon . Loving it!

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Woman in the Garden, Paris 1929-30. Welded and pained iron.

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left: Woman Carrying a Vessel, 1935. Painted pieces of wood, objects, and nails in a cement and wood base.

right: Figure, Mougins, 1938. Painted wood, nails, and screws with string, wire, paintbrush fragments, and push bell hardware on an unfired clay and wood base.

These were probably my favorites in the exhibition. I love the colors, and the materials and how they were put together – and look at the back of the figure!

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Again these made me smile. You can almost see how someone who is so creative can never stop playing and transforming anything close by.

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Goat. Paris, 1943 – Torn Paper

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Death’s Head, Paris, 1943 . Torn and scratched paper.

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Head of a Dog, Paris 1943, Torn and burnt napkin

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Pregnant Woman, Vallauris, 1950. Plaster with metal armature, wood, ceramic vessel, and pottery jars.


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Little Owl, Vallauris, 1951-52. Painted Bronze

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Crane, Vallauris, 1951-52. Painted Bronze

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Goat Skull and Bottle, Vallauris, 1951. Painted Bronze


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Cock, Boisgeloup, 1932, Bronze

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She-Goat, Vallauris, 1950, Bronze


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Woman with a Baby Carriage, Vallauris, 1950-54 . Bronze

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The Bathers – two times I was there, I saw a group of kids. They loved loved loved this – they recognized the faces and arms right away and they were totally entranced by the installation.

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The Bathers: Man with Folded Hands ; Fountain Man; Woman with Outstretched Arms – Cannes 1956 – Wood

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Baboon and Young, Vallauris, 1951, Bronze

Come on …this makes me laugh – this is awesome!!!! a car as the monkey head? I will never be able to look at a toy car again and not think of this!

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Bull, Cannes 1958 – Block board, palm frond, and various other tree branches, eyebolt, nails and screws, with drips of alkyd and pencil markings.

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Maquette for Richard J. Daley Center Sculpture, 1964. Simulated and oxidized welded steel

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Woman with Hat,Cannes 1961. Painted sheet metal

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Head of a Woman, Mougins, 1962. Painted sheet metal and iron wire.

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Little Horse, Vallauris, 1961. Painted metal with wheels.

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Sylvette, Vallauris 1954. Painted sheet metal.

What struck me the most was really how Picasso constantly changed his medium, his style and just totally indulged into the next and explored it, made it new and exciting! Looking at all the different work I felt super inspired and couldn’t wait to go home into my studio. Furthermore, I told people I took to the exhibition that this is exhibition feels like a therapy – it makes you happy and smile and just leaving in a very good mood. Yes- not the most art criticy en vogue thing to say, but you know…I think Pablo would have approved ;)

If you are anywhere near NYC and can make it before February 7th, 2016 to MoMA – RUN! Do it – don’t wait!

Hope you enjoyed the little art stroll!


Comments (14)

  • Michelle


    Wow! What a great show! Thanks for sharing all the details. I feel like I’ve been there. Love those first few….1915. Amazing. What a visionary. Love your enthusiasm for Picasso – thanks for taking us along.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Michelle, you would love to go- come and go with me before it closes :)
      I take you in! My treat!


  • Mary W


    Thank you for the guided tour. It was fun to walk through with you and your ideas! That is the best part of art – sharing and evolving. Also, I won’t be able to look at my grandson’s cars without laughing now. Fun stroll.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      I am glad you enjoyed it Mary! I agree sharing and evolving is the best part- how fortunate we are to live in a time like this where the internet can bring us all together and make it possible to share.


  • Jane LaFazio


    Thank you for the fascinating visit to the exhibition. I recently saw an exhibit of Picassco’s lithographs and block prints that was also fabulous. What a rich original imaginative body of work. I feel I have much more to learn about his work. Thanks Nat!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      thank you Jane, glad you liked it. I wish I could have seen the exhibition you saw, that sounds so interesting!


  • Denise


    I love love love this post. Your descriptions, photos, discussion right on spot. I could not agree more. I love the car face too. I kept looking at it before I read your comments. Just like your walks through the hood. I love reading your thoughts. Also loved your disclaimers! So glad to follow you and attend jump start. I am always smiling, learning and inspired. I am leaving this post with a big smile.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      so glad to have you Denise! Happy I made you smile! huge hugs,Nat


  • Sue Clarke


    Pregnant Woman and Woman with a Carriage jumped out at me for some reason and NO I am not planning to have another baby.
    Thanks for posting these delightful photos!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      fun, right? I love those too. Thanks for coming by Sue!


  • Mary B


    Thank you for sharing. Very fun and interesting.


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Back To School or…What I learned in my MoMA Class



Back to School might be exaggerated but for six weeks I visited a class every monday at the Museum of Modern Art called The Modern Studio: Rauschenberg, Johns, Cage.



I knew the instructor Corey D’Augustine already from other classes and knew he would do a great job . Since my husband is an avid fan of John Cage and schlepped me once into a concert where the 4’33” piece was performed…I was really interested in this workshop. My husband and I discuss music and art and their connection and places in history a lot. You have to know the musician of 4’33” of whatever instrument is instructed to not play for the length of 4 minutes and 33 seconds. I can tell you this – when I watched/listened/attended/experienced the piano player in silence in concert  it made me extremely awkward. I remember thinking   “What the hay?” …”Am I missing something?” …”What are the others doing?” …”Am I stupid and just don’t get it?” …”Brilliant..and I paid for this” …”I wonder why?”

If you are interested in this- read about the exhibition at MoMA  “There will never be silence”.  John Cage influenced a huge variety of artists and still does and so I was really curious about the class.


In every session we began with an art history lecture, then we wandered around the empty gallery and talked about the artwork, and then we had some studio time. We mostly had to work in oil but also used some wax  and we were free to use whatever was available in the studio. I never really worked with oil so I was curious how I would like it. We also learned how to stretch a canvas- which I didn’t master until the end- my canvases are all saggy sad little buggers- but oh well- some day I will tackle it. The fun part about this class was visiting it with my friend Julie :) and it was a very cherished time together usually with a nice dinner before or after class.

Here is what I did after a Rauschenberg inspired Lesson:




While I was not unhappy with it – I felt bored…because somehow I did all the stuff I usually do. It was still very controlled and not really out of the box for my usual approach ….yes there is more personal hidden meaning in the whole thing- but from the outside it is just the usual textured stuff.

The next lesson was Jasper Johns inspired and we visited the new exhibition at MoMA called “Regrets” -amazing- I will go there a couple more times. I really tried to do something different from my style this time and in a non typical german behavior screwed up the order …on purpose…and I guess you figured and I will be honest…I also was tired of cleaning up the oil paint brushes …yes …it might not be my medium as the cleaning is soooo hideous- LOL





That was interesting and fun…but not quite me….

When we went to the current Sigmar Polke Exhibition: Alibis – which I already saw- I love Sigmar Polke and I love finding cultural references – It is a very “hard” exhibition for a non-German and even for a German to get some of the references- and yet still you do not understand fully. I appreciate the free-ness of his experimenting with colors, stencils and materials and  word plays. BTW- without meaning it disrespectful in regards to our wonderful and super knowledgeable teacher,  – it was the only lecture where I felt I had a slight advantage of knowing some of the references – because of the language and the icons used. Again- that doesn’t mean I know the meaning behind his work. I get it that Sigmar Polke would have liked the exhibition shown as is with no explanation and yes it puts it down to just looking at the materials and making your own connections but MEH – a little bit translation/explanation of the figures used so that people can then still make their own assumptions would be ok and still  leave lot’s of things open for interpretation.

We had an all evening studio lecture where we finished our works and then we had kind of an art critic circle where we showed one piece and talked about what we liked/meant or what we didn’t like about the work and then it was open to the public opinion. I was amazed by some of the pieces-a lot of the students never painted, we had several musicians, graphic designers, performance artists, poets, an art dealer, and people just interested in doing something creative in our class.



It was really interesting to see and then hear what influenced everyone from the lectures and I loved seeing how much fun everyone had. This is my piece I showed- it was my first canvas – started in the John Cage Lecture – again very usual for me : texture, colors – the only difference to what I usually do was the oil paint – and then in the end I came back to it and stretched some plastic tarp over and screen printed on top and did some marks. It is a hard to see in the photograph but you might get an idea from the detail pictures.





I like it because I played with different materials and with the texture – non texture appearance – I find it pretty interesting. So ..

What did I learn in this class:

  • I don’t like not being in the know about my medium. It is not that I dislike oil- I  just hadn’t had the feeling I was mastering it – it mastered me.
  • Art can sometimes only be understood with the same cultural background as the artist – but you do not need to understand art completely and it can still speak to you.
  • Many great artists never studied art – so get over the fact you didn’t study art.
  • All artists we talked about learned craft or did craft work to  support their living and they all took something away from that right into their art.
  • In the 50s /60s there seemed to be way more cross inspiration between all fields of art going on – musicians, performance artists, calligraphy artists, dancers, painters, writers …they influenced each other and exchanged ideas

What I take away for the future:

  • I would like to reach out and meet up with other artists from different fields in my community – I think it can be only highly inspiring
  • I want to work more with different substrates and play more with texture – non-texture- push and pull in my art work
  • It is fine to stick to one concept for a while and work on it before moving away and do something different – you will see more city canvases for now ;)
  • Some things I do are just fine the way I do them…just because you taught them yourself doesn’t mean they are not good. Stop doubting.

So that was a long post- but I hope you enjoyed it a bit – it is what influences me in my artwork- and I am sure this class will have a share of influence in the future

Is there any class/workshop you took (doesn’t have to be art related) that influenced you a lot in the past?

Have a gorgeous day


Comments (5)

  • Gina Sismilich


    Nat – I have been so inspired by your paintings of buildings – yours are just so lovely – I’m not quite there yet but I mentioned your website in my blog post this week – right here It’s an abstract cityscape WIP and I am trying to brighten it up without overworking it – If you get a chance to take a look that would be great. If not I just wanted you to know that I mentioned your blog this week.


  • Denise


    Loved the post. Good info and learning. I really do love your art and your city canvas’s. And your walks in the hood. I always look forward to your posts. Can’t wait for Create TX.


  • Sue Clarke


    I really enjoyed that post Nat.
    One class that I took at CKC a # of years ago made an impression on me. The instructor said that there was no reason that we couldn’t scrap the same photo more than once and that we didn’t need to scrap chronologically. I found and still find this freeing. Can’t say why it clicked for me but it did.
    I also had a great time at one of Julie’s classes at AE and learned about using deli paper and other cool techniques. I’m still learning to let go of the finished product and just play.


  • Kelly Belton


    I have probably learned more from watching my son work ( he is an artist), and living with his art all around me. As he works in several different media with absolute confidence that has inspired me to forge ahead and not fear “mistakes”.
    Several classes I have taken from you Nat, have reinforced that sense of freedom and introduced me to techniques previously unknown.
    I appreciate more and more being able to find the beauty in all that surrounds me, whether it is intentionally art or not.
    I have had access to some great instruction and art history at the AGO here in Toronto and have concluded from that – and indeed all of the above – that life truly is art. Every day.


  • Karen D


    I really enjoyed your post on your classes at MoMA, how amazing it must have been to do those classes and see all the artwork of those legendary artists. I have just recently finished a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Creative and Performing Arts and I have to say that it has really informed my own artwork. I have been painting in acrylics for a number of years and dabble in stamping and now art journaling, but it is always hard to find your own voice. Studying about all of the artists you mentioned, as well as many others has given me a great insight into art, why we do it and how to create. I would love to be in your position of being able to go to MoMA and attend classes there. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.


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