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Posts Tagged ‘art

“Observation is a dying art”*…

 

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Jason Shulman captures the entire duration of a movie in a single image with his series Photographs of Films.

There are roughly 130,000 frames in a 90-minute film and every frame of each film is recorded in these photographs.

More examples, and the backstory, at “Final cut: films condensed into a single frame – in pictures” and here. See Shulman’s other work here.

* Stanley Kubrick

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As we enjoy our popcorn, we might recall that it was on this date in 2002 that the Cannes Film Festival employed a specially-empaneled jury to judge films from 1939, the planned first year of the festival (which was postponed due to World War II).  The retrospective Palme d’Or went to Union Pacific.

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Written by LW

May 26, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way”*…

 

Michelangelo Caetani’s “Cross Section of Hell,” an illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and part of Cornell University’s P.J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography (“more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information”).

An enlargeable version of the Cross Section is here; browse the full collection here.

* Robert Frost

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As we ruminate on repentance, we might note that today is the Feast Day of  Lucifer– more properly, of St. Lucifer of Caligari.  At least, it’s his feast day in Sardinia, where he’s venerated.  Lucifer, who was a 4th century bishop fierce in his opposition to Arianism, is considered by some elsewhere to have been a stalwart (if minor) defender of the orthodoxy; but by more to have been an obnoxious fanatic.

“Lucifer” was in use at the time as a translation of the the Hebrew word, transliterated Hêlêl or Heylel (pron. as HAY-lale), which means “shining one, light-bearer.”  It had been rendered in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn,” for the morning star.  The name “Lucifer” was introduced in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, roughly contemporaneously with St. Lucifer.  The conflation of “Lucifer” with “Satan” came later.

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Written by LW

May 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics”*…

 

Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s admiration and affection for Martin Gardner (c.f., e.g., here and here).  So imagine his delight to learn from @MartyKrasney of this…

Martin wrote about 300 articles for Scientific American between 1952 and 1998, most famously in his legendary “Mathematical Games” column starting in Jan 1957. Many of those articles are now viewed as classics, from his seminal piece on hexaflexagons in Dec 1956—which led to the offer to write a regular column for the magazine—to his breakthrough essays on pentomnoes, rep-tiles, the Soma cube, the art of Escher, the fourth dimension, sphere packing, Conway’s game of Life, Newcomb’s paradox, Mandelbrot’s fractals, Penrose tiles, and RSA cryptography, not forgetting the recurring numerological exploits of his alter ego Dr. Matrix, and the tongue-in-cheek April Fool column from 1975.

Many of those gems just listed were associated with beautiful graphics and artwork, so it’s no surprise that Martin scored some Scientific American covers over the years, though as we’ll see below, there’s surprisingly little overlap between his “greatest hits” and his “cover stories.”

It’s worth noting that, just as the magazine editors selected the titles under which his original articles appeared—he generally ditched those in favor of his own when he republished them in the spin-off books—artwork submitted was often altered by Scientific American staff artists…

The full dozen, replete with the cover art, at “A Gardner’s Dozen—Martin’s Scientific American Cover Stories.”

* G.H. Hardy

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As we agree with G.K Chesterton that “the difference between the poet and the mathematician is that the poet tries to get his head into the heavens while the mathematician tries to get the heavens into his head,” we might send carefully calculated birthday greetings to John Charles Fields, he was born on this date in 1863.  A mathematician of accomplishment, he is better remembered as a tireless advocate of the field and its importance– and best remembered as the founder of the award posthumously named for him:  The Fields Medal, familiarly known as “the Nobel of mathematics.”

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Written by LW

May 14, 2017 at 1:01 am

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”*…

 

As the Getty Museum reports

Andy Warhol enjoyed dressing for parties in drag, sometimes in dresses of his own design. He admired “the boys who spend their lives trying to be complete girls,” so in 1981 he and a photographic assistant, Christopher Makos, agreed to collaborate on a session portraying Warhol in drag. In many ways, they modeled the series on Man Ray’s 1920s work with the French artist Marcel Duchamp, in which the two artists created a female alter ego name Rrose Sélavy for Duchamp.

Warhol and Makos made a number of pictures, both black-and-white prints and color Polaroids, of their first attempt. For the second round of pictures, they hired a theater makeup person. This stage professional better understood the challenge of transforming a man’s face into that of a woman. After the makeup, Warhol tried on curled, straight, long, short, dark, and blonde wigs…

More on Warhols collection of polaroid self-portraits– and more selections from it– at “Oh, You Pretty Thing! Polaroid Portraits of Andy Warhol in Drag.”

* Andy Warhol

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As we add “Jean Genie” to our playlists, we might note the irony that today is the birthday of both Soren Kierkegaard (1813), the Danish philosopher who was a fierce critic of Hegelianism, and of Karl Marx (1818), the Prussian philosopher (and “father of Communism”), who was one of Hegel’s strongest– and most concretely active– supporters. Thesis… anithesis…

Kierkegaard and Marx

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Written by LW

May 5, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums”*…

 

The [Metropolitan Museum of Art] has entered the age of Big Data, and the catalogs have become a database. In December of last year, the museum uploaded its master spreadsheet, “MetObjects,” to a repository on GitHub, an online data and code repository; the version I’ll use here, uploaded on March 13, contains 446,123 objects. It’s a data set born of paint and pens, of scepters and swords…

When taken as a whole, the database reveals the Met’s cultural double helix. One strand is the institutional history of the Met, probably the single most important museum in the country. All of its global ambitions are present: its deals with foreign governments, its curatorial preferences, its big-dollar gifts and funding, its public failings. The other strand is the geopolitical history of the world: the rise and fall of empires, conquest and killing, natural disaster and migration, industrial revolution and invention. Together, those two strands form the Met’s DNA…

Now, thanks to FiveThirtyEight, you can see those genes– the Met’s collection– “sequenced” at “An Excavation Of One Of The World’s Greatest Art Collections.”

* Steven Wright

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As we opt for the audio guide, we might recall that it was on this date in 1893, in the text of Alfred Jarry’s play Guignol in L’Écho de Paris littéraire illustré, that the term– and the concept of– ‘pataphysics first appeared.  Jarry defined ‘pataphysics (derived from a contracted Greek formation that means “that which is above metaphysics”) as “the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.”  Jarry insisted on the inclusion of the apostrophe in the orthography, ‘pataphysique and ‘pataphysics, “to avoid a simple pun”… indeed Jarry’s aim was to compound the puns:  The term pataphysics is a paronym (considered a kind of pun in French) of metaphysics. Since the apostrophe in no way affects the meaning or pronunciation of pataphysics, this spelling of the term is a signal–a sly notation– to the reader, suggesting a variety of puns, among them patte à physique (“physics paw”), pas ta physique (“not your physics”), and pâte à physique (“physics pastry dough”).

Jarry’s concept was resurrected after World War II  with the foundation (in 1948) of The Collège de ‘Pataphysique, a “society committed to learned and inutilious research” (“inutilious” = “useless”).  Its members have included  Raymond Queneau, Eugène Ionesco, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Julien Torma, Roger Shattuck, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx, and Marcel Duchamp.

Alfred Jarry

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Written by LW

April 28, 2017 at 1:01 am

“It is our own misperceptions of who we really are that leads to every self-created hell you’ll find in this world”*…

 

“Penitent Mary Magdalene”, by Nicolas Régnier

The idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute before meeting Jesus is not found in the Bible…

Revel in wrongness at the “List of common misconceptions.”

* Bill Hicks

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As we render ourselves to rectification, we might send masterful birthday greetings to Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes; he was born on this date in 1746.  An artist and printmaker who was Court Painter to the Spanish Crown, Goya is regarded both as the last of the Old Masters (for “La Maja Denuda,” among many, many others) and the first of the Moderns. Indeed, in the words of art historian Sir Kenneth Clark, “El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid” is “the first great picture which can be called ‘revolutionary’ in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention.”

Goya’s “Black Paintings,” created late in his life, are anguished, haunted works, reflective both of his fear of dementia and of his dystopian outlook for humanity.

“Saturn Devouring His Son” (detail), probably the most famous of the Black Paintings

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Portrait of Francisco Goya by Vicente López y Portaña (1826)

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Written by LW

March 30, 2017 at 1:01 am

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“I like boring things”*…

 

EarthCam, The Andy Warhol Museum, and St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church present a special Andy Warhol experience: “The Warhol Cams.”

* Andy Warhol

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As we settle in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1941 that the National Gallery of Art was completed.  It was officially “received” the following day by President Franklin Roosevelt from Paul Mellon, the son of Andrew Mellon, whose gift funded the construction and whose collection of Old masters constituted the core of the new museum’s collection.  Now materially expanded, it remains open, free, to the public.

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Written by LW

March 16, 2017 at 1:01 am

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