(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘painting

“Every picture tells a story”*…

The author’s own images…

“What is the use of a book”, asks Alice in the opening scene to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “without pictures or conversations?” This question from Alice is at once a critique of her sister’s pictureless tome, and a paving the way for the delight of words and images to follow. Indeed, John Tenniel’s famous illustrations — for both the first edition of Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass — have become integral to how we experience the story, in both books and film. Tenniel, however, was not the first to illustrate the tale. That honor belongs to Carroll himself, whose original manuscript of the story (then titled “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”) is littered with thirty-seven of his own sepia-ink drawings. It seems this entwining of word and image — so important to the published version — was there from the beginning…

More of the backstory- and all 37 drawings– at “Lewis Carroll’s Illustrations for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground,” via @PublicDomainRev.

For more of Carroll, Alice, and her adventures, see here and here.

* Cheshire Cat

###

As we believe impossible things, we might spare a thought for Robert Smirke; he died on this date in 1845. A painter and illustrator, he specialized in small pieces that depicted scenes in literature— for which he was elected to the Royal Academy.

source

“Send me a postcard”*…

Ellsworth Kelly was a major figure in American modern art. A painter, sculptor, and printmaker associated with hard-edge painting and Color Field painting, he was a leading Minimalist. But as Hyperallergic reminds us, he also worked in– on, with– postcards…

From the late 1940s to 2005, Ellsworth Kelly produced some 400 photo-based works using ordinary, mass-market postcards as the substrate. Handfuls of these gems of the art of collage are tucked into various Kelly monographs and other books; Ellsworth Kelly: Postcards, at the Tang Museum through November 28, assembles 150 of them, and the accompanying catalogue includes dozens more. The spirit of playful improvisation is up front in these works, their range of figural and genre references experimental in spirit, their facture seemingly unlabored (sometimes downright scrappy). Delightful in themselves, they compel reconsideration of the late, great artist’s more austere, visually refined abstractions with an awareness of both his sense of humor and his sense of place… 

An appreciation– and more wonderful examples– at “The Unexpected Humor of Ellsworth Kelly,” from Stephen Maine in @hyperallergic.

* Shocking Blue, “Send Me A Postcard

###

As we contemplate collage, we might send expressive birthday greetings to Benny Andrews; he was born on this date in 1930. An activist and educator, he is primarily remembered as an artist, especially for his expressive, figurative paintings that often incorporated collaged fabric and other material. A minimalist (like Kelly), Andrews was interested not in how much he could paint, but how little.

See more of his work here.

source

“As long as art lives never shall I accept that men are truly dead”*…

From a self-portrait by Giorgio Vasari [source]

An appreciation of Giorgio Vasari’s seminal The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, the beginning of art history as we know it

I found Giorgio Vasari through Burckhardt and Barzun. The latter writes: “Vasari, impelled by the unexampled artistic outburst of his time, divided his energies between his profession of painter and builder in Florence and biographer of the modern masters in the three great arts of design. His huge collection of Lives, which is a delight to read as well as a unique source of cultural history, was an amazing performance in an age that lacked organized means of research. […] Throughout, Vasari makes sure that his reader will appreciate the enhanced human powers shown in the works that he calls ‘good painting’ in parallel with ‘good letters’.”

Vasari was mainly a painter, but also worked as an architect. He was not the greatest artist in the world, but he had a knack for ingratiating himself with the rich and powerful, so his career was quite successful. Besides painting, he also cared a lot about conservation: both the physical preservation of works and the conceptual preservation of the fame and biographies of artists. He gave a kind of immortality to many lost paintings and sculptures by describing them to us in his book.

His Lives are a collection of more than 180 biographies of Italian artists, starting with Cimabue (1240-1302) and reaching a climax with Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). They’re an invaluable resource, as there is very little information available about these people other than his book; his biography of Botticelli is 8 pages long, yet on Botticelli’s wikipedia page, Vasari is mentioned 36 times…

Giorgio Vasari was one of the earliest philosophers of progress. Petrarch (1304-1374) invented the idea of the dark ages in order to explain the deficiencies of his own time relative to the ancients, and dreamt of a better future:

My fate is to live among varied and confusing storms. But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish you will live long after me, there will follow a better age. This sleep of forgetfulness will not last forever. When the darkness has been dispersed, our descendants can come again in the former pure radiance.

To this scheme of ancient glory and medieval darkness, Vasari added a third—modern—age and gave it a name: rinascita. And within his rinascita, Vasari described an upward trajectory starting with Cimabue, and ending in a golden age beginning with eccentric Leonardo and crazed sex maniac Raphael, only to give way to the perfect Michelangelo in the end. It is a trajectory driven by the modern conception of the artist as an individual auteur, rather than a faceless craftsman.

The most benign Ruler of Heaven in His clemency turned His eyes to the earth, and, having perceived the infinite vanity of all those labours, the ardent studies without any fruit, and the presumptuous self-sufficiency of men, which is even further removed from truth than is darkness from light, and desiring to deliver us from such great errors, became minded to send down to earth a spirit with universal ability in every art and every profession.

This golden age was certainly no utopia, as 16th century Italy was ravaged by political turbulence, frequent plague, and incessant war. Many of the artists mentioned were at some point taken hostage by invading armies; Vasari himself had to rescue a part of Michelangelo’s David when it was broken off in the battle to expel the Medici from Florence.

And yet Vasari saw greatness in his time, and the entire book is structured around a narrative of artistic progress. He documented the spread of new technologies and techniques (such as the spread of oil painting, imported from the Low Countries), which—as an artist—he had an intimate understanding of.

This story of progress is paralleled with the rediscovery (and, ultimately, surpassing) of the ancients. It would take until the 17th century for the querelle des Anciens et des Modernes to really take off in France, but in Florence Vasari had already seen enough to decide the question in favor of his contemporaries—the essence of the Enlightenment is already present in 1550…

Art history, cultural history, tech history, the history of ideas– a review of Vasari’s The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by @AlvaroDeMenard.

* Giorgio Vasari

###

As we frame it up, we might recall that it was on this date in 1946 that the first Cannes Film Festival opened.  It had originally been scheduled for September, 1939 as an “answer” to the Venice Film Fest, which had become a propaganda vehicle for Mussolini and Hitler; but the outbreak of World War II occasioned a delay.

source

“The picture itself is just the tip of the iceberg”*…

Your correspondent’s rendering of an iceberg

Icebergs are less dense than water, so they always float with about 10% of their mass above the water. But which way up? An iceberg wouldn’t float exactly like on this page in reality. Its three-dimensional distribution of mass and its relative density compared to the water are both significant factors that are only approximated here.

From Joshua Tauberer (@JoshData), a tool that will let you draw an iceberg and see how it will float: “Iceberger.”

For inspiration, see Frederic Edwin Church’s 19th century iceberg paintings.

Frederic Edwin Church, Drawing, Floating Iceberg, June or July 1859
Brush and oil, graphite on paperboard, 18.8 x 37.5 cm (7 3/8 x 14 3/4 in.)
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

* Sebastiao Salgado

###

As we seek balance, we might note that today is International Polar Bear Day. an event celebrated each year on this date to raise awareness about the conservation status of the polar bear.

source

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint”*…

Studies of various types of water bird, swimming and diving among river weed. This work seems to have been intended as a kind of picture thesaurus.

One of the world’s most important collections of art has re-emerged after having been lost for more than 70 years.

The corpus – 103 original drawings by the non-Western world’s most famous artist, the 19th century Japanese painter, Hokusai – came to light in Paris and has now been bought by the British Museum.

The newly discovered artworks appear to have formed part of one of the most ambitious publishing projects ever conceived – a Japanese plan to create a huge pictorial encyclopaedia.

Known as the Great Picture Book of Everything, it was conceived by Hokusai (best known for his most famous work – The Great Wave) – but was never completed.

Published at around the same time as Hokusai was producing the 103 recently rediscovered drawings, The Great Wave is the artist’s most famous painting

The project was abandoned in the 1830s – either because of cost or possibly because Hokusai insisted on reproduction standards that were difficult to attain.

The Great Picture Book of Everything was to have been a comprehensive way for the Japanese to have access to images of people, cultures and nature around the world – at a time when virtually no Japanese people had been allowed out of Japan for some two centuries –  and virtually no foreigners had been allowed into 99 per cent of the country.

In that ultra-restrictive atmosphere, the project was to have given people an opportunity to explore a highly stylised printed version of the outside world as well as Japan itself…

The full story (and more examples of the work) at “Hokusai: More than 100 lost works by non-western world’s most famous artist rediscovered“– the artist’s abandoned attempt to create Great Picture Book of Everything.

* Edward Hopper

###

As we picture that, we might send challenging birthday greetings to Hans Peter Wilhelm Arp; he was born on this date in 1886. A sculptor, painter, and poet (who also worked in other media such as torn and pasted paper), Arp was a friend and associate of Hugo Ball and a regular at the Cafe Voltaire, where he helped create the Dada Movement; at the same time he was associated with the Surrealists. But he broke with those movements to found Abstraction-Création, working with the Paris-based group Abstraction-Création and the periodical, Transition. Beginning in the 1930s, he expanded his efforts from collage and bas-relief to include bronze and stone sculptures, and to write and publish essays and poetry. Examples of his work are here.

source

%d bloggers like this: