Art Stroll

Art Stroll: Making Modern at MFA Boston


When I was in Boston a couple months ago to visit my friend Julie Fei Fan Balzer we went to the MFA in Boston and saw the Making Modern Exhibition. The exhibition explored “what it meant to be in the vanguard of Modern art in the 20th century. Modern artists working in the Americas were influenced by a variety of contemporaries, teachers, rivals, and friends. Incorporating diverse sources of inspiration, 20th-century painters took their artistic practice in dramatic new directions.”


Georgia O’Keeffe, Calla Lily on Grey, 1928 – Oil on Canvas. O’Keeffe was influenced in the composition of this piece by her teacher Wesley Dow who taught that artists should not copy from nature, but rather capture nature through the exploration of composition with elements like lines and colors.


Marsden Hartley, Arrangement – Hieroglyphics (Painting No. 2), 1914 – Oil on Canvas. Hartley who lived in Germany between 1913 and 1915 was deeply inspired by Native American art which he encountered at Berlin’s ethnographic museum and also by artist Wassily Kandinsky. I do love his frame, a perfect sample how artist often made frames being part of their artwork.


Stuart Davis, Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors- 7th Avenue Style, 1940 – Oil on Canvas. Davis painted this in his studio in Greenwich Village and it was as he said himself a “product of everyday experience in the new lights, speeds, and spaces fo the American environment” I love the colorful energetic composition and it does speak 1940s-jazz-time-NYC to me.


Stuart Davis, Adit, No. 2, 1923 – Oil on Canvas. Davis visited Paris in 1928 and this painting is inspired by the urban landscape of Paris.


In the 1920s and 1930s Artists and designers tried to capture the excitement, the speed, the intrigue and surprising loneliness of urban life, in their paintings, music, writings, fashion and furniture.

I love love everything in the above picture- can I have this in my living room, please!


Edward Hopper, Drug Store, 1927 Oil on Canvas. This painting conveys an eerie nocturnal solitude through the brilliance of electric light. It is slightly discomforting.


Walter Augustus Simon, 715 Washington Street Greenwich Village, 1947 Oil on canvas with additional Mixed Media. Simon lived in this building as a student and later with his family. It shows the intimate space with the ground level shops, failings, walls and fire escapes.


Eldzier Cortor, Room No. V, 1948 Oil on Masonite. Cortor build up the painted surface with delicate skins of color that suggest cracked walls. He also chose the distressed and old frame with this painting.


I love the visual and actual texture in this painting.


Eldzier Cortor, Environment, 1947 Oil on board. Cortor extends the thickly painted rooftop patched by newspapers and other items into our space.




Hans Hofmann, Swamp Series II – Autumnal Glory, 1957 -Oil on canvas. Hoffmann once said ” A picture should be made with feeling, not with knowing. The possibilities of the medium must be sensed. Anything can serve as a medium …” He taught his students to layer color and form, creating as in this painting, movement and depth.


Jackson Pollock, Troubled Queen, 1945 -Oil and alkyd on canvas. Pollock was familiar with Picasso’s early works, which often display masklike treatment of heads and interpenetration of figure and ground. This painting also marks a transitional moment in Pollocks career as he already moves toward the “drip” paintings for which he later becomes most known. I love this sample of where inspiration from another artist meets a different artists’ own interpretation and style.


I really loved this exhibition and its attempt to explore what influenced and inspired the work of those artists. It is amazing to see the connection between old ideas and new ideas, surroundings and Zeitgeist and how new movements are being born. It is what makes art so incredibly interesting and provides such a trove of inspiration while taking an Art Stroll.

I hope you enjoyed this Art Stroll as much as I did!

Comments (3)

  • JoAnn


    Thank you so much for sharing – JoAnn


  • Joi@RR


    Many of the designs in these and the buildings (of course) remind me of your art Nat. Thanks so much for sharing – I always enjoy your art walks! j.


    • Mary Jane Huth


      Thanks so much I love all your art walks! It’s soo great to see all the amazing art from all over the world!


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Art Stroll: MFA Boston Permanent Collection


At the end of August I visited my friend Julie Fei-Fan Balzer in Boston and of course we took some Art Strolls.


I wanted to share with you some inspiring pieces from the permanent collection …


besides this amazing view up


Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism by Josiah McElheny


It is a fascinating mirrored installation and McElheny hand-blew each glass vessel based on Italian, Austrian, Czech and Scandinavian designs from 1920-1990. I loved it so much and couldn’t stop looking at it. I wonder how I can incorporate the idea of endless elegance into a piece of my own art.


La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume), Claude Monet, 1876
The colors and details in this picture- from the Costume to the carpet are just mind blowing.  I did not like the frame around this painting- it is sooo pompous and takes away so much from the painting – I am sure it is not the original frame and one of those Museum’s early “let’s make sure all artwork gets the same frame” craziness, as I wrote about in my Art Strolls here.


Rouen Cathedral Facade, 1894 and Rouen Cathedral Facade and Tour d’Albane (Morning Effect), 1894 by Claude Monet – Oil on Canvas


I love those paintings. They glow, atmosphere and the texture and impasto is just unreal. It makes me want to touch it.


Paysage de Banlieue, 1905 by Maurice de Vlaminck. Students of my Art Rules class might remember that we talked about a couple of his paintings in the Fauvism part of the class. I always love how my students are as intrigued as I am by the marks and colors . It is truly inspiring to discover this style in your own art journal.


Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 1897–98 by Paul Gauguin. “In 1891, Gauguin left France for Tahiti where he created paintings that express a highly personal mythology. He considered this work to be his masterpiece and the summation of his ideas. Gauguin’s letters suggest that the fresco-like painting should be read from right to left, beginning with the sleeping infant. He describes the various figures as pondering the questions of human existence given in the title; the blue idol represents “the Beyond.” The old woman at the far left, “close to death,” accepts her fate with resignation. ” (from MFA Website). It is a massive painting and keeps you with it’s Narrative and Symbolism.


Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (La  Berceuse), 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh. I love the vividly colored patterned background! The texture of her hair – and the colors are just glowing.


The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882 by John Singer Sargent.


Mrs. Charles E. Inches (Louise Pomeroy), 1887 by John Singer Sargent.


Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d’Hiver, about 1879–80 by John Singer Sargent. This last painting was actually my favorite of his paintings. I love the monochromatic color palette and that you can almost hear the music. Apparently John Singer Sargent was influenced by artwork by Edgar Degas he had seen in 1877 (check out my Art Stroll through the Degas Exhibition at MoMA recently) – and that makes total sense to me. Love how he took the inspiration and made his own piece.

Hope you enjoyed the Art Stroll through the Permanent Collection of the MFA in Boston. If I could I would go every week to a museum for a little art inspiration.

Comments (2)

  • Jean Goza


    What an amazing collection you shared this morning. I am hard pressed to pick a favorite. Thanks for the “stroll”.


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Inspired by my Summer Vacation


After sending in my final manuscript for my book and being done with loads of “secret” stuff I will share in the next months with you, I needed a little break and I took a week off to recharge.


My husband and I went for a couple of days down the Jersey Shore and spent some time with our family close to Sea Isle City. You see my awesome niece and nephew in the photo above. We had a really relaxing time, celebrated big birthdays and anniversaries and the beach was just so beautiful! Love my family!


On our anniversary we stopped on the way back to Jersey City at Ashbury Park. I love the old convention building and there is a lot of awesome street art around there.



Including the above by Dylan Egon a Jersey City artist.



What an inspiring walk down the boardwalk.


And a Shepard Fairey also not too shabby -love it!

I spend one day at home and then headed out to Boston to visit my friend Julie Fei-Fan Balzer . We had a crazy fun time. We went to the Museum of Fine Art – and finished the Art Stroll with some sketching (the art stroll is coming later)


Here is our model and our friend Jen on the left and Julie’s sketching on the right bottom.


I bought a Picasso – Top and was totally stoked about it – this is my fancy modeling pose – always great when you crack yourself up


We spent some time in the beautiful Boston Common Garden


We had an insane amount of food ….yes that is my kind of vacation and so yummie-. High Tea – chatting, laughing and having a good girlfriend time- now if that is not vacation *wink


Can you tell how much in love I was with the food? I was like “common Julie, hurry up with the photo, I cannot wait any longer”


We took a stroll through the Greenway – and admired Ai Weiwei‘s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads



and other art installations and parts



And ended the day with some bowling – oh man…I really stink at bowling- so here is Julie- she did really well and looked good doing it


We ate even more – here I am in a fancy bib and two new shells -and hey – I don’t care- eating lobster is super duper expensive in Europe – so this is special and funny in a plastic bib – LOL


And this was pretty funny in a cafe in the morning.


Essentially I could have summed up the days with Julie in the collage below – hehehe.


Now I am back in the n*Studio and recharged for new fun things to come! There was so much inspiration in the museum, the chats, the sightseeing, the beach, the food. It feels good to have a brush in the hand again and let see where the inspiration from my summer vacation leads me.

What did you do for your summer vacation this year and what did inspire you on your vacation?

Comments (10)

  • Jackie P Neal


    So great to see you out and about having fun Nat!! I would love to hang with you and Julie- what great companions you would be!
    Thanks so much for sharing hugs,Jackie


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      We are a bit crazy- LOL- but overall tame ;) Have a wonderful weekend and huge hugs back!


  • SAM


    N., loved the art walks, and I have another small world — I was raised on a chicken farm in Vineland, New Jersey — In the back of everybodys’ farms, for miles and miles around; Campbell Soup Company rented our land to raise tomatoes for their famous tomatoe soup — I absolutely started salivating as soon as you mentioned eating South Jersey tomatoes– I still have mouth sores for eating millions of tomatoes every summer — Nat, thanks for the memories !!! love this vacation of yours —SAM


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      How fun – I loooooveee Jersey tomatoes- they are the best :) Have a wonderful weekend!


  • Joi@RR


    As always – I just loved seeing you having some free time Nat. And seeing you and Julie always makes me smile big. You are both so darned cute!!! LOVE YOUR PICASSO – for sure! Someday – I believe we will see YOUR art up on one of those walls. It just seems like it should be there. Glad your book is done and can’t wait to hear the secrets soon!!! Xj.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Awe- thank you Joi! I will spill some beans …well the first set of beans very soon …I think …in about two weeks :) Cannot wait. Have a wonderful day!!!


  • Sandra L.


    I couldn’t help but laugh when I read about your vacation. What a small world we live in. When I first moved to NJ I lived in Sea Isle with my sister and her family and then moved to Cape May where I live now. Sea Isle was nice but barren and CM is just gorgeous. Sounds like you had a fantastic vacation and then you headed to one of my favorite places..Boston. My daughter went to Boston University of the Arts and I loved going to visit. Sadly not much of a vacation for me this year as health is a issue.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Hi Sandra, fun – hope you were safe and sound this weekend with the storm at Cape May! I wish you all the best with your health !!!! have a wonderful week!,nat


  • Sue Clarke


    Love your new top Nat!
    High Tea is always fun with cucumber sandwiches and desserts.
    I had a wonderful summer with 2 camping trips and one week in a cabin on a lake. Inspired by nature I made a painting of birch trees when a painter at the campground gave me a one on one class.
    Now back to school for my son and I (lunch lady with a hair net) and the fall with pumpkin muffins and cooler days ahead with (hopefully) some pretty leaves to draw inspiration from.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      thank you , Sue! That sounds like a wonderful summer camping time and I love that you had a one on one with a painter and made a birch tree painting. So cool!!! Have a wonderful start at school again – I am not ready yet for pumpkin and fall – LOL :)


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