Posts Tagged ‘art history’
Nonetheless, circus folk fear that a national clown shortage is on the horizon. In a trend that only those who suffer coulrophobia could love, membership in the country’s largest trade organizations for the jesters has plunged, as an aging membership struggles to recruit new nabobs of the crimson nose.
‘What’s happening is attrition,’ said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. ‘The older clowns are passing away.’ He said he wouldn’t release specific numbers, citing the privacy of the members.
Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004. ‘The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,’ said Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier, who said most of her members are over 40.
* Cole Porter
As we stock up on greasepaint, we might send provocatively nonsensical birthday greetings to Hugo Ball; he was born on this date in 1886. Ball worked as an actor with Max Reinhardt and Hermann Bahr in Berlin until the outbreak of World War I. A staunch pacifist, Ball made his way to Switzerland, where he turned his hand to poetry in an attempt to express his horror at the conflagration enveloping Europe. (“The war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines.”)
Settling in Zürich, Ball was a co-founder of the Dada movement (and, lore suggests, its namer, having allegedly picked the word at random from a dictionary). With Tristan Tzara and Jan Arp, among others, he co-founded and presided over the Cabaret Voltaire, the epicenter of Dada. And in 1916, he created the first Dada Manifesto (Tzara’s came two years later).
Rafael Araujo’s illustrations are bafflingly complex—so complex that you might assume the artist uses a computer to render the exacting angles and three-dimensional illusions. And true, if you were to recreate his intricate mathematical illustrations using software, it probably wouldn’t take you long at all. But the craziest part of all is that Araujo doesn’t use modern technology to create his intricately drawn Calculations series—unless, of course, you count a ruler and protractor.
The Venezuelan artist crafts his illustrations using same skills you and I learned in our 10th grade geometry class. Only instead of stashing those homework assignments deep into the locker of his brain, Araujo uses these concepts to create his da Vinci-esque drawings. In Araujo’s work, butterflies take flight amidst a web of lines and helixes, a shell is born from a conical spiral, and the mathematical complexity of nature begins to make sense…
See more of Araujo’s work at his site, and read more at “Wildly Detailed Drawings That Combine Math and Butterflies.”
* Samuel Beckett
As we root around for our rulers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1497 that Dominican friar and populist agitator Girolamo Savonarola, having convinced the populace of Florence to expel the Medici and recruited the city-state’s youth in a puritanical campaign, presided over “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” the public burning of art works, books, cosmetics, and other items deemed to be vessels of personal aggrandizement. Many art historians, relying on Vasari’s account, believe that Botticelli, a partisan of Savonarola, consigned several of his paintings to the flames and “fell into very great distress.” Others are not so certain. In any case, it seems sure that the fire consumed works by Fra Bartolomeo, Lorenzo di Credi, and many other painters, along with a number of statues and other antiquities.
[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).