Savagery - Arcadia - Consummation - Destruction - Desolation. The five stages of The Course of Empire, a fascinating quintet of paintings by 19th century artist and Hudson River School pioneer Thomas Cole. In it, an imaginary settlement by the sea becomes the stage for all the dreams and nightmares of civilized life, a rural woodland grown in time into a glorious metropolis... only to be ransacked by corruption, war, and a terrible storm, at last reduced to a forgotten ruin. At times deceptively simple, each landscape teems with references to cultural and philosophical markers that dominated the era's debate about the future of America. Interactive analysis of the series on a zoomable canvas is available via the excellent Explore Thomas Cole project, which also offers a guided tour and complete gallery of the dozens of other richly detailed and beautifully luminous works by this master of American landscape art.
Frank O'Hara was a New York poet, even though he lived less than half of his 40 years in the city. He grew up in Grafton, MA, was a sonarman in WWII and roomed with Edward Gorey at Harvard before moving to the city he would forever be associated with. Naturally, there was am article on him in The New Yorker a couple of years ago. We're lucky enough to have a number of videos of O'Hara, including a reading of the lovely "Having a Coke with You. There's also quite a bit of audio of him, and I can't but recommend this mp3 of John Ashbery, Alfred Leslie, Bill Berkson and Michelle Elligott reminiscing about O'Hara at the MOMA, where he worked. And there are quite a few of his poems available online, as well as five of the poem-paintings he did with Norman Bluhm. [more inside]
Spock (nsfw) -- titled "Planet New Hampshire," part of Superhero Lonely, a 2005 exhibition of paintings by John Jacobsmeyer. [more inside]
20th-century American artist, Alice Neele, "The Auntie Hero": "While Uptowners were making their way downtown to have their portraits painted by Warhol, Downtowners were going up to 107th Street to sit for this bohemian, auntie-like artist." Check out seven decades of raw, sometimes amazing, but always deeply humane portraits of the often larger-than-life figures who peopled the New York art/lit scene and Neel's personal landscape, including such iconic irrepressibles as Joe Gould, Andy Warhol, Annie Sprinkle, and Bella Abzug. (NSFW)