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Posts Tagged ‘painting

“As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance”*…

 

Klimt

 

The neuroscientist was in the art gallery and there were many things to learn. So Eric Kandel excitedly guided me through the bright lobby of the Neue Galerie New York, a museum of fin de siècle Austrian and German art, located in a Beaux-Art mansion, across from Central Park. The Nobel laureate was dressed in a dark blue suit with white pinstripes and red bowtie. I was dressed, well, less elegantly.

Since winning a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, for uncovering the electrochemical mechanisms of memory, Kandel had been thinking about art. In 2012 and 2016, respectively, he published The Age of Insight and Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, both of which could be called This Is Your Brain on Art. The Age of Insight detailed the rise of neuroscience out of the medical culture that surrounded Sigmund Freud, and focused on Gustav Klimt and his artistic disciples Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele, whose paintings mirrored the age’s brazen ideas about primal desires smoldering beneath conscious control.

I’d invited Kandel to meet me at the Neue Galerie because it was the premier American home of original works by Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele. It was 2014 when we met and I had long been reading about neuroaesthetics, a newish school in neuroscience, and a foundation of The Age of Insight, where brain computation was enlisted to explain why and what in art turned us on. I was anxious to hear Kandel expound on how neuroscience could enrich art, as he had written, though I also came with a handful of doubts…

Kevin Berger learns “what neuroscience is doing to art”: “Gustav Klimt in the Brain Lab.”

* Bill Watterson

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As we think about thinking about it, we might spare a thought for Jacob Lawrence; he died on this date in 2000.  One of the best-respected 20th century American painters, and one the most well-known African-American artists, Jacobs described his style as “Dynamic Cubism.”  His works are in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Phillips Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

He is perhaps best known for a 60-panel work, Migration Series (depicting the migration of rural southern African-Americans to the urban north), which he painted on cardboard.  The collection is now held by two museums: the odd-numbered paintings are on exhibit in the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the even-numbered are displayed at MOMA in New York.

Migration_Series_Panel_1

The first panel of Migration Series [source]

220px-Portrait_of_Jacob_Lawrence_LCCN2004663191 source

 

Written by LW

June 9, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Photography always acknowledged there were cameras before photography”*…

 

Bernardo Bellotto’s “The Demolition of the Ruins of the Kreuzkirche,” 1765

In an era when photographs are the de facto language of record keeping, memories of modern history before the camera can sometimes feel a tad distant. But people and places did exist before 1839. And in 18th century Europe, the need to produce visual accounts of events large and small was becoming increasingly important. Social and technological developments in the early modern era were buttressing a new sense of global connectivity heralded by the rise of mercantilism and early colonial contact with the New World. It was a period defined by travel and trade, and the lords of Europe must have seen their situation as pivotal enough to commemorate with oil on canvas. The urge to self document is a modern one. A contemporary recognition of history as something worth immortalizing on one’s own terms. In keeping with the technological progress of the time, less than a century later a new medium would be invented to supersede painting’s documentary role.

“Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth Century Europe,” now on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, gathers a series of such canvases by Italian-trained artists of the early modern era—painterly predecessors of breaking news photography. As a response to the increasing awareness of time as a commodity—an ephemeral something worth remembering—painters were commissioned to record the day’s most important spectacles and events. From political rallies and papal visits to public festivals and natural disasters, the images offer an expansive view of life at a time when the boundaries of time and space were opening up enormously—a sentiment reflected in their size and scope. Documentary paintings were one way for those in power to formalize the narrative, “making history” on their own terms and based on their own hierarchy of importance.

More at: “These 18th century painters made eyewitness news images at the dawn of globalization“; see the exhibition at the Getty through July 30.

* David Hockney

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As we believe our eyes, we might send sharply-focused birthday greetings to Jennie Boddington; she was born on this date in 1922.  After a successful career as a filmmaker, she became the first full-time curator of photography for the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.  She was the first such curator in Australia, and perhaps only the third in the world.

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Written by LW

June 7, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I think of two landscapes- one outside the self, the other within”*…

 

Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder’s allegory of iconoclasm, ca.1566

Although commonplace today, the landscape as a distinct category in painting only really began to establish itself in Western art during the Renaissance, a period in which natural views began to make their way to the fore of focus, no longer merely backgrounds to human figures. Perhaps an interesting quirk of this “transition” were the images which seemed to fuse the two: anthropomorphic landscapes. These images — particularly where landscapes are given the form of human heads — appear to be somewhat of a meme…

Currier and Ives print showing a young man and a young woman looking through an opening in a wall (alternatively, a human skull)

More of the story, and more (and larger) examples, at “The Art of Hidden Faces: Anthropomorphic Landscapes.”

* Barry Lopez

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As we put a human face on Nature, we might send dramatic birthday greetings to Elaine de Kooning; she was born on this date in 1918.  While she was overshadowed in the public view by her husband, Willem de Kooning, for much of her career, she was an important and influential Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era, and an editor of Art News.

Her portrait of John F. Kennedy (National Portrait Gallery)

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Written by LW

March 12, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The sublime splendour of ordinary existence was hidden from those who lived embedded in it”*…

 

Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov unites the past and present by giving characters from classic paintings the chance to explore our modern world. The artist skillfully utilizes Photoshop to insert vintage muses in stores, on buses, on stairwells, and in the midst of urban alleyways for his ongoing series titled The Daily Life of Gods. Each image perfectly juxtaposes the paintings’ soft lines and subtle coloring with the harsh, blunt elements of urban locations…

More at “Characters from Classic Paintings Are Inserted into the Modern World.”

* François Mauriac, Thérèse

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As we commemorate the quotidian, we might send delicately-colored birthday greetings to George “Sidney” Shepherd; he was born on this date in 1784.  A draughtsman and watercolor painter, Shepherd enjoyed renown in his day as a a topographical artist, painting “views” around England.  Shepherd was one of the founding members of the resurrected New Society of Painters in Watercolors (now the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colors), alongside the leading watercolorists of his day, including William Blake.

Shepherd’s watercolor of Aldermaston village (1819)

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Written by LW

December 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I see black light”*…

 

Robert Fludd’s black square representing the nothingness that was prior to the universe, from his Utriusque Cosmi (1617) – Source: Wellcome Library

 

Is black a color, the absence of color  or a suspension of vision produced by a deprivation of light?  Beginning with Robert Fludd’s attempt to picture nothingness, Eugene Thacker reflects on some of the ways in which blackness has been employed through the history of art and philosophical thought.  Head for the dark side at “Black on Black.”

* Victor Hugo’s last words

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As we paint it black, we might spare a thought for Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes; he died on this date in 1828.  A painter 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 on 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

April 16, 2015 at 1:01 am

Hours of fun!…

 

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):

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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.

Self-portrait, 1623

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Written by LW

May 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

Is it real or is it…?

 

Australian artist Jeremy Geddes creates oil paintings that are astonishingly– dangerously– counterintuitive, at the same time that they’re astoundingly photo-realistic.  Geddes’ describes his process in this 2011 interview with Empty Kingdom.

[TotH to Laughing Squid]

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As we look away then back again, we might spare a thought for Jean-François Lyotard; he died on this date in 1998.  A co-founder (with Derrida, Châtelet, and Deleuze) of the Collège International de Philosophie– the bastion of Postmodernism– Lyotard was a philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist.  As a champion of “the sublime”– in Lyotard’s rehabilitation of an ancient aesthetic concept, the pleasurable anxiety that one experiences when confronting wild and threatening sights– he would surely have approved of Geddes’ work.

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Written by LW

April 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

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