Portal:Arts/Featured biography

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Featured biographies list[edit]

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/1

Bronwyn Bancroft

Bronwyn Bancroft (born 1958) is an Indigenous Australian artist, notable for being the first Australian fashion designer invited to show her work in Paris. Born in Tenterfield, New South Wales, and trained in Canberra and Sydney, Bancroft worked as a fashion designer, and is an artist, illustrator, and arts administrator. In 1985 Bancroft established a shop called Designer Aboriginals, selling fabrics made by Indigenous artists including herself. She was a founding member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. Artwork by Bancroft is held by the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. She has provided artwork for over 20 children's books, including Stradbroke Dreaming by writer and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal and books by artist and writer Sally Morgan. She has also received design commissions, including one for the exterior of a sports centre in Sydney. With a long history of involvement in community activism and arts administration, Bancroft has served as a board member for the National Gallery of Australia. Her painting Prevention of AIDS (1992) was used in a campaign to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Australia. As of 2010, Bancroft sits on the boards of copyright collection agency Viscopy and Tranby Aboriginal College, as well as being on the Artists Board at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/2

Felice Beato

Felice Beato was a British and Italian photographer. He was one of the first photographers to take pictures in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is also noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels to many lands gave him the opportunity to create powerful and lasting images of countries, people and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. To this day his work provides the key images of such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War and his photographs represent the first substantial oeuvre of what came to be called photojournalism. He had a significant impact on other photographers, and Beato's influence in Japan, where he worked with and taught numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/3

Holkham Hall

Matthew Brettingham (1699–1769) was an 18th-century Englishman who rose from humble origins to supervise the construction of Holkham Hall, and eventually became one of the country's better-known architects of his generation. Much of his principal work has since been demolished, particularly his work in London, where he revolutionised the design of the grand townhouse. As a result he is often overlooked today, remembered only for his Palladian remodeling of numerous country houses, many of them situated in the East Anglian area of Britain. As Brettingham neared the pinnacle of his career, Palladianism began to fall out of fashion and neoclassicism was introduced, championed by a young Robert Adam. Brettingham was the second son of Launcelot Brettingham, a bricklayer or stonemason from Norwich, the county town of Norfolk, England.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/4

Sir William Bruce

William Bruce was a Scottish gentleman-architect, "the effective founder of classical architecture in Scotland", as Howard Colvin observes. A key figure in introducing the Palladian style into Scotland, he has been compared to the pioneering English architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren, and to the contemporaneous English introducers of French style in domestic architecture Hugh May and Roger Pratt. Bruce played a role in the Restoration of Charles II, carrying messages between the exiled king and General Monck, and was rewarded with lucrative official appointments, including that of Surveyor General of the King's Works in Scotland, effectively the "king's architect". His patrons included the Duke of Lauderdale, the most powerful man in Scotland at the time. Despite his lack of technical expertise, he worked with competent masons and professional builders, to whom he imparted a classical vocabulary; thus his influence was carried far beyond his own aristocratic circle. Beginning in the 1660s he built and remodelled a number of country houses, including Thirlestane Castle for the Duke of Lauderdale, and Hopetoun House. Among his most significant work was his own Palladian mansion at Kinross, built on the Loch Leven estate which he had purchased in 1675.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/5

Detail of the Mona Lisa

Lisa del Giocondo was a member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany in Italy. Her name was given to Mona Lisa, her portrait commissioned by her husband and painted by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. Little is known about Lisa's life. Married as a teenager to a cloth and silk merchant who later became a local official, she was mother to five children and led what is thought to have been a comfortable and ordinary middle-class life. Lisa outlived her husband, who was about 20 years her senior. Centuries after Lisa's death, Mona Lisa became the world's most famous painting and took on a life separate from Lisa, the woman. Speculation by scholars and hobbyists made the work of art a globally recognized icon and an object of commercialization. During the early 21st century, a discovery made at a university library was powerful enough evidence to end speculation about the sitter's identity and definitively identified Lisa del Giocondo as the subject of the Mona Lisa.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/6

John Douglas

John Douglas (1830–1911) was an English architect who designed about 500 buildings in Cheshire, North Wales and northwest England, in particular in the estate of Eaton Hall. Douglas' output included the creation, restoration and renovation of churches, church furnishings, houses and other buildings. His architectural styles were eclectic and many of his works incorporate elements of the English Gothic style. He was also influenced by architectural styles from the mainland of Europe and included elements of French, German and Netherlandish architecture into his works. He is remembered for his use of half-timbering, tile-hanging, pargeting, decorative brick in diapering and the design of tall chimney stacks. Of particular importance is Douglas' use of joinery and highly detailed wood carving. Throughout his career he attracted commissions from wealthy landowners and industrialists. Most of his works have survived. The city of Chester contains a number of his structures, the most admired of which are his half-timbered black-and-white buildings and Eastgate Clock. The highest concentration of his work is found in the Eaton Hall estate and the surrounding villages of Eccleston, Aldford and Pulford.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/7

El Greco: Self portrait (1604)

El Greco was a prominent painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. El Greco was born in Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and when he was 26 travelled to Venice to study. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he emigrated to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best known paintings. El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western civilization.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/8

1885 hand-coloured albumen silver print by Farsari of three Maiko posing on an engawa

Adolfo Farsari (1841–1898) was an Italian photographer based in Yokohama, Japan. Following a brief military career, including service in the American Civil War, he became a successful entrepreneur and commercial photographer. His photographic work was highly regarded, particularly his hand-coloured portraits and landscapes, which he sold mostly to foreign residents and visitors to the country. Farsari's images were widely distributed, presented or mentioned in books and periodicals, and sometimes recreated by artists in other media; they shaped foreign perceptions of the people and places of Japan and to some degree affected how Japanese saw themselves and their country. His studio – the last notable foreign-owned studio in Japan – was one of the country's largest and most prolific commercial photographic firms. Largely due to Farsari's exacting technical standards and his entrepreneurial abilities it had a significant influence on the development of photography in Japan.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/9

Portrait of Caspar Friedrich by Gerhard von Kügelgen

Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important of the movement. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes, which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's work characteristically sets the human element in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs "the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension". Friedrich was born in the Swedish Pomeranian town of Greifswald, where he began his studies in art as a youth. Later, he studied in Copenhagen until 1798, before settling in Dresden. Friedrich's work brought him renown early in his career, and contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d'Angers (1788–1856) spoke of him as a man who had discovered "the tragedy of landscape". However, his work fell from favour during his later years, and he died in obscurity. By the 1920s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists, and in the 1930s and early 1940s Surrealists and Existentialists frequently drew ideas from his work.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/10

Ima Hogg

Ima Hogg was an enterprising circus emcee who brought culture and class to Houston, Texas. A storied ostrich jockey, she once rode to Hawaii to visit the Queen. Raised in government housing, young Ima frolicked among a backyard menagerie of raccoons, possums and a bear. Her father, "Big Jim" Hogg, in an onslaught against fun itself, booby-trapped the banisters she loved to slide down, shut down her money-making schemes, and forced her to pry chewing gum from furniture. He was later thrown from his seat on a moving train and perished; the Hogg clan then struck black gold on land Big Jim had forbidden them from selling. Ima had apocryphal sisters named "Ura" and "Hoosa" and real-life brothers sporting conventional names and vast art collections; upon their deaths, she gave away their artwork for nothing and the family home to boot. Tragically, Ms. Hogg (a future doctor) nursed three dying family members. She once sweet-talked a burglar into returning purloined jewelry and told him to get a job. Well into her nineties, she remained feisty and even exchanged geriatric insults with an octogenarian pianist. Hogg claimed to have received thirty proposals of marriage in her lifetime, and to have rejected them all. Hogg was revered as the "First Lady of Texas", and her name and legacy still thrive today.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/11

Portrait of Charles Holden by Benjamin Nelson, 1910

Charles Holden (1875–1960) was an English architect better known for designing many London Underground stations during the 1920s and 1930s, for Bristol Central Library, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London's headquarters at 55 Broadway and for the University of London's Senate House. He also created many war cemeteries in Belgium and northern France for the Imperial War Graves Commission. His architecture is widely viewed and appreciated. He won the Royal Institute of British Architects' Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1936 and was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry in 1943. His station designs for London Underground became the corporation's standard design influencing designs by all architects working for the organisation in the 1930s. Many of his buildings have been granted listed building status, protecting them from unapproved alteration. Due to his modesty and belief in the team effort of his fellow architects, he declined twice the offer of a knighthood.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/12

Paul Kane, Self-portrait, ca. 1845

Paul Kane was an Irish-Canadian painter, famous for his paintings of First Nations peoples in the Canadian West and other Native Americans in the Oregon Country. Largely self-educated, Kane grew up in Toronto (then known as York) and trained himself by copying European masters on a study trip through Europe. He undertook two voyages through the wild Canadian northwest in 1845 and from 1846 to 1848. The first trip took him from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie and back. Having secured the support of the Hudson's Bay Company, he set out on a second, much longer voyage from Toronto across the Rocky Mountains to Fort Vancouver and Fort Victoria in the Oregon Country and back again. On both trips Kane sketched and painted Native Americans and documented their life. Upon his return to Toronto, he produced from these sketches more than one hundred oil paintings. Kane's work, particularly his field sketches, are still a valuable resource for ethnologists. The oil paintings he did in his studio are considered a part of the Canadian heritage, although he often embellished these considerably, departing from the accuracy of his field sketches in favour of more dramatic scenes.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/13

André Kertész

André Kertész (1894–1985) was a Hungarian-born photographer distinguished by his photographic composition and by his early efforts in developing the photo essay. In the early years of his lengthy career, his then-unorthodox camera angles, and his unwillingness to compromise his personal photographic style, prevented his work from gaining wider recognition. Even towards the end of his life, Kertész did not feel he had gained worldwide recognition. The first photographer to have an exposition devoted to his work, he is recognized as one of the seminal figures of photojournalism, if not photography as a whole. Dedicated by his family to work as a stock broker, Kertész was an autodidact and his early work was mostly published in magazines. The imminent threat of WWII pushed him to immigrate to the United States, where he had a more difficult life and needed to rebuild his reputation through commissioned work. He would take offense with several editors that he felt did not recognize his work. In the 1940s and '50s he stopped working for magazines and began to achieve greater international success. Despite the numerous awards he collected over the years, he still felt unrecognized, a sentiment which did not change even at the time of his death. His career is generally divided into four periods – the Hungarian period, the French period, the American period and, towards the end of his life, the International period.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/14

Henry Moore in workshop by Allan Warren

Henry Moore was a British artist and sculptor. Born into a poor mining family in the Yorkshire town of Castleford, he became well-known for his large-scale abstract cast bronze and carved marble sculptures; substantially supported by the British art establishment, Moore helped to introduce a particular form of modernism into Britain. His ability to satisfy large-scale commissions made him exceptionally wealthy towards the end of his life. However, he lived frugally and most of his wealth went to endow the Henry Moore Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts. His signature form is a pierced reclining figure, first influenced by a Toltec-Maya sculpture known as "Chac Mool", which he had seen as a plaster cast in Paris in 1925. Early versions are pierced conventionally as a bent arm reconnects with the body. Later, more abstract versions, are pierced directly through the body in order to explore the concave and convex shapes. These more extreme piercings developed in parallel with Barbara Hepworth's sculptures. Hepworth first pierced a torso after misreading a review of one of Henry Moore's early shows.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/15

Photo of Sylvanus G. Morley, circa 1912

Sylvanus Morley was an American archaeologist, epigrapher and Mayanist scholar who made significant contributions towards the study of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in the early 20th century. He is particularly noted for his extensive excavations of the Maya site of Chichen Itza. He also published several large compilations and treatises on Maya hieroglyphic writing, and wrote popular accounts on the Maya for a general audience. To his contemporaries he was one of the leading Mesoamerican archaeologists of his day; although more recent developments in the field have resulted in a re-evaluation of his theories and works, his publications (particularly on calendric inscriptions) are still cited. Overall, his commitment and enthusiasm for Maya studies would generate the interest and win the necessary sponsorship and backing to finance projects which would ultimately reveal much about the Maya of former times. His involvement in clandestine espionage activities at the behest of the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence was another, surprising, aspect of his career, which came to light only well after his death.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/16

Benjamin Mountfort

Benjamin Mountfort was an English emigrant to New Zealand, where he became one of that country's most prominent 19th-century architects. He was instrumental in shaping the city of Christchurch. He was appointed the first official Provincial Architect of the developing province of Canterbury. Heavily influenced by the Anglo-Catholic philosophy behind early Victorian architecture he is credited with importing the Gothic revival style to New Zealand. His Gothic designs constructed in both wood and stone in the province are considered to be unique to New Zealand. Today he is considered the founding architect of the province of Canterbury.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/17

Portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, and John Harington, by Robert Peake the Elder

Robert Peake the elder (c. 1551–1619) was an English painter active in the later part of Elizabeth I's reign and for most of the reign of James I. In 1604, he was appointed picture maker to the heir to the throne, Prince Henry, and in 1607, serjeant-painter to King James I, a post he shared with John De Critz. Peake is often called "the elder", to distinguish him from his son, the painter and print seller William Peake (c. 1580–1639) and from his grandson, Sir Robert Peake (c. 1605–1667), who followed his father into the family print-selling business. Peake was the only English-born painter of a group of four artists whose workshops were closely connected. The others were De Critz, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, and the miniature-painter Isaac Oliver. Between 1590 and about 1625, they specialised in brilliantly coloured, full-length "costume pieces" (example pictured) that are unique to England at this time. It is not always possible to attribute authorship among Peake, De Critz, Gheeraerts and their assistants with certainty.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/18

I. M. Pei in 2006

I. M. Pei (born 1917) is a Chinese American architect, often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Guangzhou, in 1935 he moved to the United States. While enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became unhappy with the school's focus on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching the emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design and formed a friendship with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Pei spent ten years working with New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf before establishing his own independent design firm that eventually became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Among the early projects on which Pei took the lead were the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC, and the Green Building at MIT. His first major recognition came with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado; his new stature led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Louvre museum in Paris. Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the 1983 Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/19

Priest in Fribourg, c. 1860s

Pierre Rossier was a pioneering Swiss photographer whose albumen photographs, which include stereographs and cartes-de-visite, comprise portraits, cityscapes and landscapes. He was commissioned by the London firm of Negretti and Zambra to travel to Asia and document the progress of the Anglo-French troops in the Second Opium War and, although he failed to join that military expedition, he remained in Asia for several years, producing the first commercial photographs of China, the Philippines, Japan and Siam (now Thailand). He was the first professional photographer in Japan, where he trained Ueno Hikoma, Maeda Genzō, Horie Kuwajirō, as well as lesser known members of the first generation of Japanese photographers. In Switzerland he established photographic studios in Fribourg and Einsiedeln, and he also produced images elsewhere in the country. Rossier is an important figure in the early history of photography not only because of his own images, but also because of the critical impact of his teaching in the early days of Japanese photography.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/20

Roman Vishniac, c. 1981

Roman Vishniac was a renowned Russian-American photographer, best known for capturing on film the culture of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. He was, however, an extremely diverse photographer, an accomplished biologist and a knowledgeable student and teacher of art history. Throughout his life, he made significant scientific contributions to the fields of photomicroscopy and time-lapse photography. He later became a teacher and collector of historic art and artifacts. Vishniac was very interested in history, especially that of his ancestors. In turn, he was strongly tied to his Jewish roots and was a Zionist later in life. Roman Vishniac won international acclaim for his photography: his pictures from the shtetlach and Jewish ghettos, celebrity portraits, and images of microscopic biology. He is known for his book A Vanished World, published in 1947, which was one of the first such pictorial documentations of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe from that period. He is known also for his extreme humanism and respect and awe for life, sentiments that can be seen in all aspects of his work.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/21

El Lissitzky, c. 1914

El Lissitzky was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, teacher, typographer, and architect. He was one of the most important figures of the Russian avant-garde, helping develop suprematism with his friend and mentor, Kazimir Malevich, and designed numerous exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus, Constructivist, and De Stijl movements and experimented with production techniques and stylistic devices that would go on to dominate 20th century graphic design. Lissitzky's entire career was laced with the belief that the artist could be an agent for change, later summarised with his edict, "das zielbewußte Schaffen" (The task-oriented creation). In 1941 he produced one of his last known works — a Soviet propaganda poster rallying the people to construct more tanks for the fight against Nazi Germany.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Arts/Featured biography/22

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami (born 1940) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian film director, screenwriter, photographer and film producer. An active filmmaker since 1970, Kiarostami has been involved in over forty films, including shorts and documentaries. Kiarostami attained critical acclaim for directing the Koker Trilogy (1987–94), Taste of Cherry (1997), and The Wind Will Carry Us (1999). Kiarostami has worked extensively as a screenwriter, film editor, art director and producer and has designed credit titles and publicity material. He is also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. Kiarostami is part of a generation of filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave, a Persian cinema movement that started in the late 1960s and includes pioneering directors such as Forough Farrokhzad, Sohrab Shahid Saless, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Bahram Beizai, and Parviz Kimiavi. These filmmakers share many common techniques including the use of poetic dialogue and allegorical storytelling dealing with political and philosophical issues. Kiarostami has a reputation for using child protagonists, for documentary style narrative films, for stories that take place in rural villages, and for conversations that unfold inside cars, using stationary mounted cameras.

...Archive/Nominations

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