Tag Archives: famous birthdays

Jason Segel’s Birthday

segel-bdayJanuary 18 is Jason Segel’s birthday! You may know this 6’4″ comedic actor from his role as Marshall Eriksen in the hit TV series How I Met Your Mother, or his work in big screen comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man; and The Muppets.

Segel was born in 1980 in Los Angeles. He grew up in a wealthy neighborhood due to his father’s profession as a lawyer. He attended a Christian elementary school when he was younger, despite the fact that he was raised Jewish. Already standing out for his religious background at school, he also reached his full height of 6’4″ at the age of 12, and described himself as, ”this weird, gangly kid who was like ET trying to figure out how his limbs worked.” To add to his quirkiness, Segel was a fan of puppetry and began making movies on his own as a young teen.

When attending Harvard-Westlake School, Segel took advantage of his tall stature and joined the basketball team. It wasn’t until his senior year, however, that he discovered his passion for acting. Segel then decided to pass up going to college in favor of pursuing a career in acting. He was cast at age 18 in Judd Apatow’s new high school dramatic comedy Freaks and Geeks. It was here that he first met and worked with future acting buddies James Franco and Seth Rogan. Though the show was cancelled after only one season, it would go on to grow a huge cult following.

HIMYM2014_FULLCALENDAR.inddHe took another shot at television acting with Apatow’s next project, college sitcom Undeclared. This show too failed, not attracting enough viewers to last long. In 2005, Segel finally caught a stroke of luck after being cast as Marshall Erikson in How I Met Your Mother, a sitcom that follows a group of five friends as protagonist Ted, played by Josh Radnor, tells the long-winded story of how he met his wife to his children. The show is currently in its ninth and final season.

While working on How I Met Your Mother, Segel has undertaken several other projects throughout the years, including roles in comedies like Knocked Up, I Love You, Man; and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which Segel wrote and starred in in 2008. Reviving his love for puppets, and famous puppet master Jim Henson, he starred in and co-wrote the screenplay for The Muppets. Also a musician and composer, Segel wrote musical selections for The Muppets as well.

Segel is currently living in Los Angeles, and continuing to work on future feature film projects. Happy birthday to this beloved funny man!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, TV Guide

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Elvis Presley’s Birthday

elvis1On January 8, 1935, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Elvis Presley, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis is known as one of the most significant American pop culture icons of the 20th century. Popularizing the musical styling known as rockabilly, which is an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues, he ranks as one of the most successful and well-known musicians of all time with hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” and many more.

Elvis was born to parents Gladys and Vernon in a shotgun house built by his father in Mississippi. Elvis was actually supposed to have an identical twin brother, but his brother, Jesse, was born a stillborn 35 minutes before Elvis. As an only child, Elvis had a very close relationship with his parents, and his mother raised him to have a very strong faith in God. It was in church that he gained his first musical influence, and he drew inspiration from the gospel music he heard there for the rest of his life.

After receiving a guitar as a gift at the age of 10, Elvis began playing music regularly on his own. In 1948, Elvis moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee. He got his first taste of live performance at his high school where he played in a talent show and won. His classmates then began to take notice of him because of his previously unknown musical abilities and his new appearance. He grew out his sideburns, styled his hair with rose oil and Vaseline, and began wearing flashy clothing he found on Beale Street, the blues hub of Memphis which Elvis frequented. He never received any formal musical training, instead studying and playing music by ear. He frequented record stores with jukeboxes and listening booths to supplement his love for music and gain inspiration.

In 1953, Elvis began visiting Sun Studios and recording songs. Before long, record label owner, Sam Phillips, recognized Elvis’s talents and decided to help the young musician develop his sound. Just a few days after recording his first single, “That’s All Right,” a popular local radio DJ played Elvis’s new single, and listeners bombarded the phone lines, curious who this new singer was. Elvis’s popularity soon began to swell, with fans attracted to his dashing good looks, unique musical style, and signature gyrating hips.

The following years saw huge turning points in the singer’s career. His then manager and Phillips, Sun Studios owner, struck up a $40,000 deal for RCA to acquire Elvis’s Sun contract. In 1956, he recorded his first No. 1 single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” and his first album, Elvis Presley, which skyrocketed to No. 1 as well. He became a favored guest on many televised variety shows, even though his provocative dance moves caused controversy. That same year, he signed a movie contract with Paramount Pictures and starred in his first box office hit, Love Me Tender.

After receiving a draft notice from the United States Army in 1957, Elvis did not ignore his duties. He began training in Fort Hood, Texas, and was granted leave at one point to return to Memphis for the funeral of his mother.  Though he was devastated by her death, he returned to service in Germany where his sadness was quelled when he met Priscilla Beaulieu. They eventually married after a seven and a half year courtship. Elvis was afraid that serving in the army would ruin his career, but his producers were prepared for his absence with several unreleased recordings. The musician had ten Top 40 hits during his time in the army.

When he returned from his army hiatus, he filmed the movie GI Blues and also recorded the soundtrack for it, once again sending him to the top of the charts. During the following years, he starred in several more films and recorded music along with them. The movies were hit and miss with audiences, but the soundtracks still became widely popular.

elvis2His popularity began to fade in the late 1960s, but he proved himself to still be the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” with his “’68 Comeback” TV special where he reminded audiences of his incredible singing abilities and guitar prowess. During the late ’60s, he also married his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla, and soon they had their first and only child, Lisa Marie. Their marriage did not last long, however, and they were divorced by 1973, with Priscilla gaining custody of Lisa Marie.

Elvis’s health slowly began to decline as he suffered from weight problems and prescription drug abuse. Although his personal life was not doing well, Elvis still drew large crowds of fans at his Las Vegas performances and on his last tour. His last performance was in Indianapolis, Indiana in June 1977.

On August 16, 1977, Elvis was found dead in his home, Graceland, at the age of 42. He suffered from heart failure. He was eventually buried with his family on the Graceland property.

The legacy left by Elvis is huge. He’s credited with bringing rock ‘n’ roll music to the forefront of popular music in the United States. After his death, President Jimmy Carter issued a statement saying Elvis, “permanently changed the face of American popular culture.” During his life, he won 3 Grammy Awards and was nominated several more times. He had 18 No. 1 hits, and several of his albums were certified gold or platinum. He was one of the first artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was later also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Since his death, many documentaries have been made about him, and there are countless Elvis impersonators around the world who constantly try to channel “The King.”

If you’re around the Memphis area this time of year, you can celebrate Elvis’s birthday by attending the multi-day birthday celebration held at his home, Graceland.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, Elvis.com

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Henri Matisse’s Birthday

matisseFrench artist Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869. He is best known for his use of expressive color and exaggerated form to convey emotion, and was a member of a group of early 20th century modern artist known as “les Fauves.” His influential career spanned over six decades.

His deep love for creating art began when Matisse was 21 and began painting as he was recovering from illness. Realizing that this is what he was meant to do, Matisse moved to Paris in 1891 to begin his formal artistic schooling. While attending famous schools like Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts, he was taught the “academic method” of painting and drawing, which involved observing live models and copying techniques of older famous artists. Being exposed to this classic form of training and also observing Post-Impressionist artists Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh helped him to develop his unique style.

He began showing his work in the 1890s and gained recognition from a small audience. At the beginning of the 20th century, Matisse’s work took a more progressive turn as he was inspired by the Pointillist work of artists like Paul Signac and Georges Seurat, who painted using small dots of color rather than heavy brushstrokes. He began to show his work at more progressive independent salons rather than the more traditional official salons he had exhibited in previously.

From 1904-1905, Matisse began to have several artistic breakthroughs when visits to southern France and the Mediterranean inspired him to paint bright vivid imagery with distorted color and form. It was during this time that he produced some of his most important works including Open Window and Woman With a Hat. At one of his Parisian exhibitions in 1905, a contemporary art critic reviewed the show, speaking of the distorted work of some artists calling them “fauves” or “wild beasts.”

Fauvism became the term used for Matisse’s style of painting, which he continued to express through bold color choices and undulating brushstrokes. Now that Matisse had developed his signature style, his popularity began to soar, and he remained well-known for his work even after the luster of Fauvism had faded. He began to travel the world searching for inspiration, and famous collectors like Gertrude Stein purchased his works.

Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, Matisse continued to paint with his signature use of saturated colors and strong outlines, but he also dappled with geometric forms often used in Cubism, which was pioneered by his lifelong friend and artistic rival, Pablo Picasso. Though he adopted some other abstract tendencies, his subject nature was still mostly traditional.

He moved to Nice in the French Riviera in 1921, mostly painting nudes in the comfort of his own studio and thoroughly exploring the world of printmaking. During the 1920s, he also was the subject of a scholarly book, which anchored his importance in the world of modern art, even as the movement was still going on and evolving. Matisse was also hired to paint several major commissioned pieces and draw illustrations for limited edition poetry books.

By the 1940s, his health had declined and he was mostly bedridden, drawing from bed using a long pole with pencil or charcoal attached to the end to reach the canvas. His later works were just as vibrant and experimental as his earlier pieces, and for one of his last major projects from 1948-1951, he designed stained-glass windows, murals, furnishings, and even sacred vestments for church priests at the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence on the French Riviera.

Matisse died on November 3, 1954 in Nice. His decades of work and pivotal role in the modern movement make him one of the most highly respected artists of the 20th century.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, Huffington Post

 

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Humphrey Bogart’s Birthday

bogeyOn December 25, 1899, legendary American actor Humphrey Bogart was born in New York City. He is best known for his roles in such classic films as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The African Queen.

Bogart was born to a wealthy Dutch family. His father was a heart surgeon and his mother was a talented painter and art director for a popular fashion magazine of the time. Bogart’s parents were rarely affectionate with his sisters or him, which may have contributed to his stern personality. He developed an interest in chess and sailing as a child, two loves he would have for the rest of his life. Bogart attended several prestigious schools, but was mostly disinterested in his school work or following rules. His rebellious nature led him to being expelled from the last boarding school he attended.

In the midst of World War I, after he was ejected from school, Bogart enlisted in the Navy. The famous scar on Bogart’s lip, and subsequent lisp it caused, is something he is rumored to have gotten while he served in the Navy. Though several stories abound among friends of Bogart’s, the most widely-known story involves Bogart escorting a prisoner off a boat. When the prisoner distracted Bogart by asking for a cigarette, he struck Bogart in the mouth with one of his cuffed hands.

After being discharged from the Navy, Bogart ventured into the world of acting. For his first role, he spoke one line as a Japanese waiter in the play Drifting. Upon seeing his son perform, Bogart’s father nudged his neighbor saying, “The boy’s good, isn’t he?” This first taste of the stage fueled him to pursue acting as his career. Unsuccessful at first, Bogart spent more than a decade portraying minor characters before his breakthrough performance as a villainous escaped killer in the play The Petrified Forest. Two years later he revived his character in the movie version of the play, and Hollywood grasped onto him as  a typecast criminal.

After portraying similar characters in a string of crime and gangster movies, Bogart finally broke free from his usual bad guy role to play the sharp and honorable private detective Sam Spade in one of the first film noir movies, The Maltese Falcon. Bogart showed his range in acting just in time to be cast as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, a 1942 war romance. The film has been highly regarded ever since, winning three Academy Awards and often ranked at the top of many all-time best films lists. Bogart is also credited with saying some of the movie’s most memorable quotes like, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” which are listed on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 quotations in American cinema.

His popularity swelled tremendously after his performance in Casablanca, and “Bogey,” as his friend’s started to call him, went on to act in over 75 feature films in his career. He received his first and only Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in 1951′s The African Queen, which he starred in alongside actress Katherine Hepburn.

Bogey was married several times, all of which ended in divorce except his last one to model and actress Lauren Bacall. His marriage to Mayo Methot was his most volatile, and the papers pegged them as the “Battling Bogarts” due to their public disputes. Lauren Bacall starred in her first movie ever, To Have or Have Not, alongside Bogart, and the two were instantly drawn to one another. Just a few months after his divorce from Methot, Bogey and Bacall were married, and remained together until his death. They were some of the founding members of the infamous “Rat Pack,” starred in three more movies together, and had two children together.

Due to a lifetime of heavy drinking and smoking, Bogart was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1956 while still in the prime of his career. Even after surgery and treatment, Bogart died in his sleep at his home on January 14, 1957 at the age of 57. After his death, Bogart’s rankings in Hollywood history rose even more, with several articles published about him, praising his notorious anti-Hollywood persona and his films gaining a cult following. Bogart remains a film icon named “the number one movie legend of all time” by Entertainment Weekly in 1997 and the American Film Institute’s greatest male movie star of all time in 1999.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB

 

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Alyssa Milano’s Birthday

alyssamilanoDecember 19 is Alyssa Milano’s birthday! Alyssa Milano is an American actress best known for her various television roles, most notably Who’s the Boss?, Melrose Place, and Charmed.

Milano was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 19, 1972 to a fashion designer mother and a film music editor father. She unexpectedly took on acting at the age of 7 when her babysitter took her to an audition for the musical Annie, and she landed a part of an orphan. She spent the next 18 months of her life traveling with the show and knew this is the career she wanted for the rest of her life.

A few years later, at the age of 12, Milano was offered a role in the hit sitcom Who’s the Boss?, playing star Tony Danza‘s young daughter. She spent the entirety of her adolescence on the show, turning her into a 1980s teen icon. To keep herself from being typecast as a wholesome teenager, she began to take more daring and risqué roles.

Breaking back into the scene again as an adult, Milano’s next big leading role was in the cult TV hit, Charmed, a show about modern-day witches. Though there were clashes between Milano and her co-star, Shannen Doherty, who left the show after the third season, Charmed lasted for eight seasons and attracted an entirely new fan base for Milano.

An avid baseball fan since childhood, she published a book about her love of baseball called Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic in 2010 and regularly writes a blog on Major League Baseball’s website about the Los Angeles Dodgers. After noticing that most sports teams did not offer apparel that was specifically tailored for women, Milano pitched a female-targeted teamwear line to the MLB. Soon she had her own line called “Touch” which has now expanded to other sports than just baseball.

After a life-changing trip she took to South Africa in the early 2000s, Milano became an ambassador for both UNICEF and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, and she often encourages her fans to donate to these charitable causes and others. She also appeared in an advertisement for PETA and helped film a viral Funny or Die sketch to bring attention to the Syrian civil war.

Though she has had much success in the entertainment industry, Milano values her philanthropic work as her greatest accomplishment saying, “I think I’m most proud to be an ambassador for UNICEF. That’s probably the work I’m most proud of. It’s very humbling and wonderful.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Biography.com

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Walt Disney’s Birthday

walt-disney-drawingOn December 5, 1901, Walt Disney, innovative American animator, movie producer, and entrepreneur who started The Walt Disney Company, was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Disney lived in Missouri for most of his childhood and started selling pictures, paintings, and drawings he created to his neighbors and friends. After his family moved back to Chicago, Disney attended McKinley High School and took drawing and photography classes while working as the cartoonist for the school’s newspaper. He took classes at the Chicago Institute of Art at night and dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join the military. Because he was underage, he was rejected and joined the Red Cross instead, and was sent to France where he drove ambulances for a year.

Disney finished his time with the Red Cross in France in 1919 and moved to Kansas City to become a newspaper artist. He began doing cutout animations for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, and experimented with cel animation with a camera the owner of the company let him borrow. He soon decided to start an animation business and produced short cartoons which he called Laugh-o-Grams that he screened at a Kansas City theater. After the cartoons gained a significant amount of popularity, Disney was able to open up his own animation studio and hire a fairly large amount of animators. In the few years it was open, his studio’s profits did not exceed the salaries he payed his employees, and Disney was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Unphased by this setback, Disney and his brother, Roy, pooled their money, moved to Hollywood, and started Disney Brothers Studio. There they searched for a distributor for Disney’s Alice Comedies, a series of live-action Alice in Wonderland shorts featuring a little girl named Alice having adventures in an animated world. They found salvation in Margaret Winkler who owned Winkler Pictures with her fiance, Charles Mintz. They struck a deal contracting out the shorts to Winkler Pictures for $1,500 each. After Winkler and Mintz married in 1927, Mintz assumed control of the company and ordered a new series of animated shorts from Disney to be distributed through Universal Pictures. The Disney studio created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit which was instantly popular. When Disney confronted Mintz about increasing his fee per short, Disney was surprised to find out that Universal owned the trademark to Oswald and Mintz had most of Disney’s animators under contract. Mintz informed an appalled Disney that he would be decreasing his production budget, and if Disney did not accept these new terms, he would produce the Oswald shorts without Disney.

Cutting his losses, Disney decided to strike out on his own once again with his brother and animator friend who had been with him from the beginning, Ubbe Iwerks. Together they created a new character, the iconic Mickey Mouse. With the addition of sound to film, Mickey Mouse soon became the world’s most popular cartoon character and Disney received an honorary Oscar for his creation of Mickey Mouse in 1932. Disney began producing many successful cartoons and set out to make the first full-length cel animated feature film in 1934.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in Los Angeles on December 21, 1937. Despite the effects of the Depression, Snow White was produced at an unheard of $1.499 million. During its initial release it grossed $8 million ($132,671,390 today), and Disney was given an honorary Academy Award featuring a full-size Oscar statuette and seven miniature ones. In the next few years following the release of Snow White, the Disney studios produced several more full-length animated films including Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi, and Dumbo.

In the 1940s, Disney experienced some setbacks when his animators went on strike, but began making more animated features in the 1950s including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and others. When television gained mass appeal, Disney took advantage of this and produced some of the first full-color television programs. The 1950s also saw the opening of Disneyland, a family theme park that became a world-renowned tourist hot spot soon after its opening.

The Disney studios produced a plethora of feature films in Walt Disney’s lifetime including popular live-action and animated films like Mary Poppins. Plans for a larger East coast version of Disneyland called Disney World including the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or EPCOT were put into motion in the early 1960s, but Walt was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 1966 and passed away later that year. In his memory, Walt’s brother renamed the new theme park Walt Disney World and it was completed in the 1970s.

Walt Disney is a legendary figure whose name is now synonymous with creativity, imagination, and never giving up on your dreams.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, Just Disney

 

Read full storyComments Off

Kaley Cuoco’s Birthday

bigbangNovember 30 is Kaley Cuoco’s birthday! She is best known for her current role as Penny on CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory.

Kaley Cuoco was born on November 30, 1985 in Camarillo, California. Cuoco took up tennis when she was only 3 years old and became a nationally ranked amateur tennis player. She took lessons from Kathy Bryan, mother of famed twin tennis duo Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan, and has been one of their longtime friends. She began acting soon after that and made her first big acting debut in the movie Virtuosity in 1995 alongside actor Denzel Washington.

As a child, Cuoco appeared in six Barbie commericials, and was home schooled on the set, graduating high school at age 16. That same year, she took a starring role in the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules as the blonde bombshell daughter of John Ritter. She won a Teen Choice Award for this role, but the show was cancelled soon after the untimely death of Ritter. Following the cancellation of 8 Simple Rules, she took various roles in lesser-known television shows and films before landing the role of Billie Jenkins, a powerful young witch, in cult TV hit Charmed. The show’s producer stated that Cuoco’s role was originally brought on to create a spin-off for the show, but this idea never played out after Charmed was completed.

Cuoca began starring in the role of Penny in The Big Bang Theory, which has skyrocketed her into stardom, in September 2007. She plays a sassy ditzy aspiring actress who works at the Cheesecake Factory and lives across the hall from two nerdy scientists. Cuoca received $60,000 an episode at the show’s start, and now makes $350,000 per episode along with co-stars Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki. In the show’s seven seasons, she has received several awards for portraying Penny, and has also hosted the People’s Choice Awards and the Teen Choice Awards.

Since being on The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco has starred in a few movies and also became a regular in Priceline commercials alongside William Shatner. She also announced her recent engagement to pro tennis player, Ryan Sweeting.

Sources: Wikipedia, TV Guide

 

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Calvin Klein’s Birthday

calvinkleinToday is American fashion designer, Calvin Klein’s birthday. Klein launched his brand in 1968 and has expanded into an internationally-known label which produces clothing, perfumes, and accessories for men and women.

Klein was born in 1942 in the New York City borough of the Bronx. He held an interest in sketching fashion designs when he was younger and attended the High School of Art and Design before studying briefly at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. To concentrate more on developing his design skills by working in the industry, Klein left school and began an apprenticeship with

Read full storyComments Off

Kurt Vonnegut’s Birthday

kurt_vonnegutOn November 11, 1922, American author Kurt Vonnegut was born. Vonnegut is most well known for famous works such as Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions. His works had a tendency to combine satire with witticism in the face of hopelessness and equal parts of science fiction.

Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis into a family of architects, most of whom attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Vonnegut attended Cornell University, and although he majored in chemistry, he was became the Assistant Managing Editor and Associate Editor of The Cornell Daily Sun, the university’s daily newspaper. Journalistic rules heavily influenced his writing. He adopted a straightforward style, always  made sure to get his facts right, and knew his audience.

While at Cornell, Vonnegut enlisted in the United States army and served in World War II. His involvement in the war and tribulations as a prisoner of war greatly influenced his later works. He survived a devastating German bombing with a group of American soldiers who were held in an underground meat locker which was being used as a temporary detention center. The Germans called it Schlachthof Fünf or “Slaughterhouse Five,” which became the inspiration for Vonnegut’s famous novel of the same name. His brutal experiences here became a central theme for six of his other novels.

The devastation of war was not the only sorrow Vonnegut suffered during this time. Vonnegut’s mother, who became addicted to drugs and alcohol after the Depression, died from a drug overdose in 1944. After the war ended, Vonnegut married his childhood friend, Jane Cox, and they soon after had their first child. To support his family, Vonnegut began working in advertising, while writing short fiction stories on the side.

In a tragic turn of fate, Vonnegut’s sister died of cancer mere days after her husband was killed in a freak train accident. Vonnegut and his wife took over care of their children, doubling the size of their family and forcing Vonnegut to bring in more money. He began to focus his attention on producing novels rather than short stories, and produced a series of books ranging from sci-fi to economic injustice to religious satire. It was in these novels that his penchant for dark humor unraveled in his ability to make his readers laugh even after presenting them with bleak and horrific images. His novels grew a small cult following among college students. When Slaughterhouse-Five came out in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut became a household name, and he became one of the most famous living writers of the early 1970s. The 1970s were not a happy time for Vonnegut, however, as his family life began to fall apart. His marriage ended and his son suffered from a bipolar disorder, and he began living by himself in New York City. Themes of novels he wrote at this time revolved around the disintegration of families and he worked through emotional problems he had dealt with since childhood. He remarried in the 1980s and his novels at this time focused on social realism. Through the ’80s and ’90s he became a spokesman for the preserving Constitutional freedoms, controlling nuclear arms and protecting the environment.

Vonnegut is still looked up to today by many for his ability to attack controversial topics in a satirical and humorous way. To read some of Vonnegut’s most famous and memorable quotes, go here.

Sources: Wikipedia, Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Roy Lichtenstein’s Birthday

roylichtenstein2Roy Lichtenstein, a famous American pop artist, was born on October 27, 1923 in New York City. He was a prominent part of the Pop Art Movement during the late 1950s and 1960s along with other artists like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist.

When Lichtenstein was younger, he had heavy interest in science and comic books. He later started to develop an interest in art and took watercolor classes at Parsons School of Design in the 1930s. He continued to study art as an undergrad, but his studies were interrupted when he was drafted during World War II. He worked as a map maker, draftsman, and artist during the war, and when his military time was over, he returned to the United States and finished his undergraduate and master’s degrees in fine art. While receiving his master’s at Ohio State, he was hired as an art instructor, a position he held for 10 years. He worked various jobs after that including being a draftsman and window decorator. In his spare time, he focused on his painting, and began exploring Expressionism and Cubism.

In the late 1950s, he returned to New York  and began teaching art again and evolving his own work into Abstract Expressionism. While teaching at Rutgers University, Lichtenstein was influenced by fellow teacher Allan Kaprow and Kaprow’s exploration into the unknown world of performance art which he called “Happenings.” Kaprow’s influence made Lichtenstein start to think about the art world in a different way, and how his art could fit into this world in a varying and influential way. The work he began to produce after this was a commentary on the popular culture of America and a reaction to the Abstract Expressionist paintings that were widely known in the art world at that time by painters like Jackson Pollack. Rather than embracing a completely abstract way of painting that lacked a subject, Lichtenstein based the subjects of his paintings on popular American advertisements and comics of the time. He mimicked their look and feel, but added in his own personal commentary. He even mimicked commercial printing techniques in his paintings with the use of Ben-Day dots and hard-edged, precise illustration.

Lichtenstein’s first solo show at the Castelli Gallery in New York was wildly successful. Before the show opened, all his paintings sold to some of New York’s most prestigious collectors. Lichtenstein’s work struck a cultural nerve, and brought him to the forefront of the pop art movement, making way for other pop artists.

FT2013-24-ErteLichtenstein’s rise to popularity also meant a rise in wealth, and he was soon able to quit his teaching job to focus on his art. He became notorious for the deadpan humor and ability to make a signature piece of art by mimicking mass produced images from the media. His paintings had dual effects on people – many didn’t know if they should accept it as art or anti-art, humorous or disturbing, or celebrating or mocking popular culture. He became very popular with collectors like Leo Castelli of Castelli Gallery who showed Lichtenstein’s art for 30 years. The debate and controversy over Lichtenstein’s paintings made a lasting mark on the world of art.

Today there are around 5,000 Lichtenstein paintings in circulation all over the world. At auctions, his art is usually among the most highly sought after, and sells for record-breaking prices. In 2010 “Ohhh…Alright…” sold at Christies for $42.6 million dollars and in 2012 “Sleeping Girl” sold at Sotheby’s for $44.8 million.

Sources: Amanti Art Blog, Biography.com, Huffington Post

Read full storyComments Off