Lessons Learned from a Dead English Satirist

Your treat for today is a glimpse at William Hogarth: Proceed with Caution but the real trick is that once you visit the exhibition at the Blanton Museum of Art, you might just learn something. What a fitting week for a lesson on William Hogarth’s grotesque and wicked prints written by the Blanton’s Catherine Zinser, curatorial associate and curator of the exhibition. The story below originally appeared on the Blanton blog.

Hoarders, spendthrifts, thieves, drunks, courtesans, gamblers, quack doctors, adulterers, and murders—this isn’t the new, fall TV line-up; this is what’s on view at the Blanton through Jan. 13, 2013. William Hogarth: Proceed with Caution exposes the sordid tales of several ne’er-do-wells in 18th-century London; but the message remains relevant to today’s audience. Don’t squander your money; don’t steal, lie or cheat; be honest and loyal; be kind to other people and to animals. Hogarth used printmaking as a means to steer society in a direction towards honor and riches. He contrasts virtuous lifestyles with ones fraught with corruption, ultimately leading to disgrace and dreadful consequences—typically, death. His message isn’t a subtle one.

William Hogarth print

William Hogarth, London, 1697-1764, The Reward of Cruelty, from The Four Stages of Cruelty, 1751, Etching with engraving, Paulson 190, third state of four Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1991.158

In the mid 1720’s Hogarth was commissioned to create “conversation” paintings—group portraits with sitters engaging in genteel, social activities such as card playing. Unlike other artists painting in this genre, Hogarth used wit and drama to create lively interactions between the sitters and the audience. He soon saw the potential to pioneer a new genre—sequential art. Precursors to comic books, sequential artwork tells a story through a series of compositions. The five printed series on view at the Blanton are some of the finest visual narratives in this genre.

Hogarth print series example

William Hogarth, London, 1697-1751, Beer Street and Gin Lane, 1751, Etching and engraving, Paulson 185-186, third states of four Jack S. Blanton Curatorial Endowment Fund, 2005.166-167

Hogarth does for 18th-century London what Shakespeare did for the Elizabethan era. Through his prints we know what sort of pastimes society engaged in and what people wore; he references contemporary gambling halls and taverns, newly published literature, current stage productions, and infamous criminals and prostitutes. Hogarth’s artwork serves as a window to London in the 1750’s.

Continue reading about Hogarth on the Blanton blog …

Celebrate Tom Lea Month at the Harry Ransom Center

Tom Lea. Study for "Sarah in the Summertime," 1947. Charcoal on newsprint. Tom & Sarah Lea collection. © Tom Lea Institute. Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m.

The Harry Ransom Center commemorates Tom Lea Month with an Amon Carter Lecture on the West Texas artist. Kenneth Grant, Head of Exhibition Services at the Ransom Center, shares behind-the-scenes insights on the conservation of artist and writer Tom Lea’s drawing in “Saving Sarah: The Conservation of Tom Lea’s drawing for ‘Sarah in the Summertime.'” Then, historian and collector J. P. Bryan discusses collaborations between El Paso artists Lea and José Cisneros and publisher Carl Hertzog in “Iron Sharpens Iron: The Unique Collaborations of Early El Paso Artists.” The Ransom Center holds the largest single collection of Lea’s work. Read more about the Tom Lea collection at the Ransom Center.

View a map of parking options near the Ransom Center and mark your calendar for other upcoming programs presented by the Ransom Center.


It’s Not Too Late to Participate in a Work Party in HECHO FARM!

This fall, San Antonio-based artist Cruz Ortiz and his lovesick alter ego Spaztek have transformed the Visual Arts Center’s Arcade Gallery into HECHO FARM, a working ‘farm’ fleshed out with drawings, paintings, collages, hand-pulled screenprinted posters, and multi-media text works.  Exploring themes as varied as utopian dreaming and romantic love, HECHO FARM depicts Spaztek’s starry-eyed and tongue-twisted reemergence from recent underground exploits, while also examining the material, social, and political possibilities of collaboration within an art education context.

In developing HECHO FARM, Ortiz considered sources as varied as Joseph Beuys’ approach to sculpture and pedagogy, sustainable farming as a social gesture, Rikrit Tirivanija’s efforts to turn galleries into spaces for socializing, printmaking as a collective and political practice, and the educational potential of a university art gallery.  Equal parts formal, pedagogical, and political, HECHO FARM is an experiment that creates a space within the VAC for art education, production, and presentation, and throughout the season, Ortiz invites visitors from the Austin community to look, work, socialize, and make tools to affect the world around them.

During WORK PARTIES on October 27 and November 17, participants are invited to eat BBQ and work together to devise multi-media projects—‘workers’ may draw, sculpt, perform, screenprint, and more—that will alter and permanently add to the HECHO FARM landscape.  WORK PARTIES will take place from 1-4pm and are limited to 30 participants.  Those who may be interested should contact Xochi Solis to reserve a spot.

Fright at the Museum – mark your calendars!

Sunday,  Oct. 28, 2012, 1-4:45 p.m.

Dress up your little goblins and  celebrate Halloween at Austin’s very own dinosaur graveyard during Fright at  the Museum! Join our spooky scientists in exploring the mysterious side of  Texas’ natural history. Feel frightful fish from the ocean depths; be rattled  by slithery snakes of Central Texas; and feast your eyes on our bizarre bugs  while we serve up creepy, crawly critters for your culinary delight. Free event  for the entire family!

If you need any accommodation to participate in the event, please contact Christina Cid at least five days before the event.