Posts Tagged ‘art history’
[TotH to Richard Kadrey]
As we develop our discernment, we might recall that it was on this date in 1926 that James Joyce and Thomas Wolfe took the same tour of the Waterloo battlefield in Belgium. While Wolfe was too shy to approach Joyce, he recalled him as “very simple, very nice.”
Your correspondent is headed out of reliable radio contact for a couple of weeks. Thus today’s post is a pair of tools– perhaps more accurately, mesmerizing toys– to which readers can turn for diversion until June 14 or so, when regular service will resume…
From Anselm Levskaya, a nifty polyhedron construction kit… and for more fun: Levskaya’s “Eschersketch,” a wonderfully-simple tool for creating repetitive geometric designs like this (or a nearly-infinite number of variations thereon):
As we just doodle it, we might spare a thought for Peter Paul Rubens; he died on this date in 1640. A master of the Flemish Baroque, Rubens was renown for his portraits, landscapes, and history paintings (largely of mythological and allegorical subjects), for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces… and for his fondness for painting full-figured women (to wit, “Rubenesque”). Rubens was born into a Calvinist family, but educated as a Humanist. And while he was a remarkably prolific painter, both personally and via the studio he oversaw in Antwerp, he remained an active scholar and diplomat– for which services he was knighted by both Spain’s Philip IV and England’s Charles I.
Montreal-based Peter Gibson started painting on the streets as a form of activism (for more bike paths); he remains engaged, but his commitment to the pavement has become more embracing. He’s changed his name to “Roadsworth” (“where Wordsworth is a poet of words, Roadsworth is a poet of roads”), and redoubled his allegiance to asphalt.
As my personal artistic process evolved, political concerns were eclipsed by artistic ones and I often felt more inspired by the process than I did by the message I was trying to convey. Marshall Mcluhan’s famous quote ‘the medium is the message’ is significant in this regard. The ubiquitousness of the asphalt road and the utilitarian sterility of the ‘language’ of road markings provided fertile ground for a form of subversion that I found irresistible. I was provoked by a desire to jolt the driver from his impassive and linear gaze and give the more slow-moving pedestrian pause for reflection. The humourlessness of the language of the road not to mention what I consider an absurd reverence for the road and ‘car culture’ in general made for an easy form of satire.
* Pablo Picasso
As we look both ways, we might send elegantly-composed birthday greetings to Mary Cassatt; she was born on this date in 1844. An American printmaker and painter, she moved to Paris as an adult, where she developed a friendship with Edgar Degas and became, as Gustave Geffroy wrote in 1894, one of “les trois grandes dames” of Impressionism (with Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot).
Images by the masters; words by Beyonce… Beyonce Art History.
[TotH to AH]
* Thomas Merton
As we muse on the timelessness of great art, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that The Turtles played a formal White House ball at the request of their fan, President Nixon’s elder daughter. The New York Times reported:
Tricia Nixon covered her face with a white lace mask, shimmering with crystals and held like a lorgnette, to greet some 450 of Washington’s prettiest, handsomest, slimmest 20-to-30-year-olds at a masked ball tonight, her first White House party.
It was likely one of the stranger social gatherings in the recent history of that august home. The Turtles’ web site recounts:
Kids with obvious SDS connections were passing out literature, while Tricia was dashing around with all the genuine charm of a Cinderella. Despite the fact that the tipsy [Mark] Volman kept falling off the stage and was challenged by Pat Nugent because Mark was trying to pick up on Lucy Baines Johnson,
Still, the Turtles were a big enough hit to be asked by one of the guests, the daughter of the president of U.S. Steel, to play at her coming out party.
On the heels of the cosmic coincidence of a flaming fireball over Russia and a close approach by a larger asteroid, The Economist offers a comparative chart sketching the mortal risks one faces this year…
Of course, as astronaut Rusty Schweickart reminds us, the odds of an asteroid strike over a materially-longer period are much higher; over the next 100,000 years…
- There’s a 10% chance of an asteroid causing planet-scale damage with 100,000 megatons of energy released.
- There’s a 50-50 chance of a 500-meter asteroid that could destroy an area the size of Texas with a 6,000 megaton explosion—100 times the USSR’s biggest bomb.
- There will be about TEN 200-meter asteroid impacts, good for 400 megatons.
- There will be about A HUNDRED 70-meter-diameter asteroids, each causing 15 megatons of damage (i.e. worse than the Tunguska explosion, which would have wiped out all of London if it had hit there instead of the remote wilderness).
As we struggle to keep this all in perspective, we might send grateful birthday greetings to the man who wrote the book on perspective, Leon Battista Alberti; he was born on this date in 1404. The archetypical Renaissance humanist polymath, Alberti was an author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, cartographer, and cryptographer. He collaborated with Toscanelli on the maps used by Columbus on his first voyage, and he published the the first book on cryptography that contained a frequency table.
But he is surely best remembered as the author of the first general treatise– Della Pictura (1434)– on the the laws of perspective, which built on and extended Brunelleschi’s work to describe the approach and technique that established the science of projective geometry… and fueled the progress of painting, sculpture, and architecture from the Greek- and Arabic-influenced formalism of the High Middle Ages to the more naturalistic (and Latinate) styles of Renaissance.