(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘art

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth”*…

 

Your correspondent is headed into the woods, beyond the reach of signals; so (Roughly) Daily will be more roughly than daily until regular service begins again in Monday.  In the meantime…

Arcimboldo’s portrait of Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, painted as Vertumnus, the Roman God of the seasons, c. 1590-1

Nearly half a millennium after their creation, artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s vegetal visages live on through a handful of kitschy European food brands. From the southern tip of Sicily, his painting Summer (1563) solicits buyers of oblong and ox heart tomatoes. Further north, Vertumnus (c. 1590) has been adopted by the Bertuzzi juice company. And at an amusement park outside Paris, his work has been taken to epic proportions by a commemorative restaurant flanked by mountains of oversized phosphorescent fruit.

Together, these are but a few modern inheritances of Arcimboldo, a 16th-century Italian artist famous for his kaleidoscopic “composite heads.” For scholars of his oeuvre, the most protracted and contentious debates in the field revolve overwhelmingly around a single, seemingly simple question: Just how seriously should we regard a man whose most enduring legacy is—in the words of one author—“fruit faces”?…

The story of an artist who influenced Picasso and Dali: “The Renaissance Artist Whose Fruit-Faced Portraits Inspired the Surrealists.”  See also this earlier almanac entry on Arcimboldo.

 

* Pablo Picasso

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As we consider a salad, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that the USDA announced that ketchup could be counted as a vegetable in computing the nutritional value of meals served in school lunch programs.

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Written by LW

September 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Merdre!”*…

 

If you were to browse a British newsstand in the early 1980s, you might have discovered a rather unusual magazine.

Called Protect & Survive Monthly or “PSM”, it aimed to teach people how to survive the almost unthinkable – nuclear war.

“How many citizens would know what to do to protect their own lives and loved ones?,” wrote editor Colin Bruce Sibley in the maiden issue. And how many, he asked, would look dumbfounded to the skies, “waiting for a ‘convenient’ bomb to explode above their head and blast them into eternity?”…

What’s old is new again: check out a publication offering detailed advice about how to prepare for nuclear war – it makes for timely, fascinating and occasionally morbid reading: “The bleak, chilling magazine for nuclear doomsday preppers.”

* Alfred Jarry, the opening line of Ubu Roi (and a deliberate misspelling)

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As we duck-and-cover, we might send painfully-prescient birthday greetings to Alfred Jarry; he was born on this date in 1873.  A Symbolist poet and critic, he is probably best known for his play Ubu Roi.  But he might more deservedly be famous for his creation of ‘pataphysics, a movement resurrected at the dawn of the Cold War (by the likes of Raymond Queneau, Eugène Ionesco, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Julien Torma, Roger Shattuck, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx, and Marcel Duchamp)… and surely due for another revival about now.

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Written by LW

September 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Facts are like cows. If you look them in the face long enough, they generally run away”*…

 

Modern and contemporary works typically hang at 1.55 metres from the floor, to the middle of the picture. It’s the height used by museums, and for displays at Christie’s.

Artist signatures first became prevalent during the early Renaissance, when co-operative guild systems gave way to the celebration of individual creativity.

The most precious materials in classical Chinese furniture are zitan and huanghuali, two types of hardwood found, among other places, on China’s largest island, Hainan.

The earliest, securely attributed self-portrait by a European Master was made by Albrecht Dürer at the age of 13. Although there are works defined as self-portraits that pre-date this, he was the first artist considered to have looked at his own image in this way.

97 other tasty tidbits from the venerable auction house Christie’s at “101 things we have learned from the Online Magazine.”

* Dorothy L. Sayers

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As we consider our bids, we might send well-shaped birthday greetings to Korczak Ziolkowski; he was born on this date in 1908.  A designer and sculptor, he is best known as the creator of the Crazy Horse Memorial, a monument to Native American life and culture in Wyoming.  He began work in 1948, but died (in 1982) before the work was finished; all ten of his children have continued the carving of the monument or are active in the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, which supports the work.  If and when it is finished to Ziolkowski’s design, it is expected to be the largest sculpture in the world:  563 feet high by 641 feet long.  Crazy Horse’s head would be large enough to contain all the 60-foot-high heads of the Presidents at Mount Rushmore.

Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, standing with a model of the Crazy Horse Memorial

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Written by LW

September 6, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Good reporting should have the same standard as in a courtroom – beyond a reasonable doubt”*…

 

John Hinckley, failed assassin of Ronald Reagan, shown by artist Freda Reiter in front of a television broadcasting his obsession, Jodie Foster.

Courtroom sketches in the United States date back to the 17th Century Salem Witch Trials, and were a necessary staple of reporting on court cases up until recent years when the courtroom was off-limits to photographers and television cameras. It wasn’t until 2014 that all 50 states allowed cameras in the courtroom, though by the late ‘80s most states already had.

As portraits that exist solely out of the necessity for historically documenting legal proceedings, such sketches have never been considered high art, but a current exhibition of sketches housed at the Library of Congress shines a spotlight on some of the talents behind these documents.

The Library of Congress’ exhibition, “Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustrations,” features a selection of the Library’s collection of more than 10,000 courtroom drawings, many of which were donated to the library by the estates of the artists themselves…

More background and examples from the show at Dangerous Minds; details on the exhibition, which runs through October 28, at the Library of Congress.

* Barbara Demick

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As we remark that “photography always acknowledged there were cameras before photography,” we might send fiendishly-ingenious birthday greetings to Reuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg; he was born on this date in 1883.  A cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor, he is best remembered as a satirist of the American obsession with technology for his series of “Invention” cartoons which used a string of outlandish tools, people, plants, and steps to accomplish simple, everyday tasks in the most complicated possible way. (His work has inspired a number of “Rube Goldberg competitions,” the best-known of which, readers may recall, has been profiled here.)

Goldberg was a founder and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society, and he is the namesake of the Reuben Award, which the organization awards to the Cartoonist of the Year.

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Written by LW

July 4, 2017 at 1:01 am

“The color of fire and sunset, the color of flamboyant flowers”*…

 

Clio, Pierre Mignard

Red is “the first color,” the most primordial and symbolic, for thousands of years in the West “the only color worthy of that name.” It is the basic color of all ancient peoples (and still the color preferred by children the world over). It appears in the earliest artistic representations, the cave paintings of hunter-gatherers 30,000-plus years ago. Blood and fire were always and everywhere represented by the color red. Both were felt to be sources of magical power, and both played a role in human communication with gods through bloody sacrifices. Humans also painted their bodies red, and shells and bones painted red are found in abundance in burials from 15,000 years ago…

The history and the meaning(s) of that most fundamental of colors: “Crimson Tidings.”

* Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

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As we take Bill Blass’ advice, “when in doubt, wear red,” we might recall that today is the Catholic Church’s Feast of the Precious Blood, a commemoration of the blood of Jesus.  (This is a feast that does not exist in the new Roman Calendar of Pope Paul VI. It is still, however, in the traditional Roman calendar of the 1962 usage.)

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Written by LW

July 1, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book”*…

 

For 20 years, Columbian rubbish-collector Jose Alberto Gutierrez has been holding on to the books he finds while on his rounds in Bogota.

After two decades his collection totals more than 20,000 books – many of them thrown away by the people of the Colombian capital, now given a new life in the huge library Jose has amassed.  The books take up several rooms in the Gutierrez family home, from where they’re lent out to neighbors through a free community library, which Jose runs with the help of his wife, Luz Mery Gutierrez, and their three children…

Check it out at: “This dustbin man built a huge public library from books other people had thrown away.”

* Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel

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As we pile ’em high, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that the first and only edition of the magazine Cabaret Voltaire was published, containing work by Hugo Ball, Kandinsky, Jean (Hans) Arp, Modigliani, and the first printing of the word “Dada.”  The (not so) periodical was named for the nightclub that Ball has started earlier in the year in Zurich with help from friends including Arp and Tristan Tzara.

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Written by LW

June 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though.”*…

 

The frontispiece of Public and Private Life of Animals, by P. J. Stahl, illustrated by J. J. Grandville, and translated rom the French by J. Thompson; 1877; London, S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington.

This collection of acerbic animal fables, originally published in 1842 as Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux, boasts among its contributors some of the finest literary minds of mid 19th-century France, including Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, and the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel (under the pseudonym of P. J. Stahl). The book is also home to some of the finest work (some featured below) by the caricaturist J. J. Grandville, drawings in which we can see the satirical genius and inventiveness that would be unleashed in full glory just two years later with the publication of his wonderful Un autre monde.

See more at Public Domain Review; and visit the original at the Internet Archive.

* A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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As we anthropomorphize, we might send carefully-limned birthday greetings to Joesph Stella; he was born on this date in 1877.  An accomplished illustrator, he is better known as a Futurist painter, perhaps especially for his depictions of industrial America and  his images of the Brooklyn Bridge.

He was one of the many artists to break out as a result of the 1913 Armory Show (he was considered by critics as important and influential as Duchamp and Picabia).  He was later associated with the American Precisionist movement of the 1910s–1940s.

A photo by Man Ray of Stella (foreground) and Marcel Duchamp (background, sitting under a portrait of Man Ray)

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