Posts Tagged ‘art’

Henry Miller on Art, War, and the Future of Mankind by Maria Popova

In art, civilisation, culture, history, literature, society, war, writers on February 4, 2013 at 19:16

From: Henry Miller on Art, War, and the Future of Mankind by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings,

The problem of power, what to do with it, how to use it, who shall wield it or not wield it, will assume proportions heretofore unthinkable. We are moving into the realm of incalculables and imponderables in our everyday life just as for the last few generations we have been accustoming ourselves to this realm through the play of thought. Everything is coming to fruition, and the harvest will be brilliant and terrifying. To those who look upon such predictions as fantastic I have merely to point out, ask them to imagine, what would happen should we ever unlock the secret patents now hidden in the vaults of our unscrupulous exploiters. Once the present crazy system of exploitation crumbles, and it is crumbling hourly, the powers of the imagination, heretofore stifled and fettered, will run riot. The face of the earth can be changed utterly overnight one we have the courage to concretize the dreams of our inventive geniuses. Never was there such a plentitude of inventors as in this age of destruction. And there is one thing to bear in mind about the man of genius — even the inventor — usually he is on the side of humanity, not the devil. It has been the crowning shame of this age to have exploited the man of genius for sinister ends. But such a procedure always acts as a boomerang: ultimately the man of genius always has his revenge.

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Reposted with permission from: Maria Popova


In Between Insomnia and Scandinavia by Carson Ellis

In art, books, Europe, history, interview, literature, North America, space, visual arts on December 12, 2012 at 19:07

From: In Between Insomnia and Scandinavia by Carson Ellis, The Morning News,

fate-1TMN: For the Wildwood art, did you do any actual location scouting, despite the locations not being real? Assuming the Impassable Wilderness isn’t real? And if it is, should we be concerned for our children?

Carson Ellis:

The Impassible Wilderness is actually based on a very real place: Forest Park, a 5,000-acre woodland in the west hills of Portland. Colin [Meloy, her husband and author of the Wildwood books] and I knew we wanted to set the books there before we knew what they would be about. Before there were characters or a plot, we traced the boundaries of Forest Park onto a big piece of paper and made a map that we populated with real and imagined places and then revised and revised as the story took shape. (It’s now the map on the books’ endpapers.)

We live next to the park, which is just a big forest crisscrossed with 80 miles of trails, and Colin outlined a lot of the books while were walking in it. So yes, the Impassable Wilderness is real and really teeming with coyotes, though they aren’t the Napoleonic uniform-wearing, saber-wielding kind. Just the housecat-devouring kind. So you should be concerned for your cats. Some of the locations within it are real too: Pittock Mansion, for example, the seat of government in the books, is an actual, old historic mansion in the southern part of the park.


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Reposted with permission from: The Morning News

The Making of Cezanne’s Palette by Philip Ball

In aesthetics, art, Europe, history of art, nature, science on November 14, 2012 at 20:54

From: The Making of Cezanne’s Palette by Philip Ball,

Innovation in art has always been a gamble. While originality may be given lip-serving credit, unfamiliarity has an even chance of breeding contempt. There is no other word to describe the critics’ response to the first independent exhibition by the Impressionists in Paris in 1874. These artists, it was claimed, had rejected “good artistic manners, devotion to form, and respect for the masters”. Part of the outrage was directed at the choice of subject-ordinary people going about their business, for goodness’ sake-and part at the quick-fire style of the brush strokes. But the detractors were also offended by the colours.

The critic E. Cardon said sarcastically, “Soil three quarters of a canvas with black and white, rub the rest with yellow, distribute haphazardly some red and blue spots, and you’ll obtain an impression of spring in front of which the adepts will be carried away by ecstasy.” The second group exhibition two years later elicited similar complaints: “Try to make M. Pissarro understand that trees are not violet, that the sky is not the colour of fresh butter…”. Renoir’s “green and violet spots” in areas of flesh were seen to “denote the state of complete putrefaction of a corpse”.

Yet these were not new charges. In England, the Pre-Raphaelite painters such as William Holman Hunt and John Millais stood accused in the 1850s of using greens “unripe enough to cause indigestion”. J. M. W. Turner, the supreme British colourist of the early nineteenth century, had in 1829 been denounced for producing “a specimen of colouring run mad” in his Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus (Figure 1).

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Reposted with permission from: Philip Ball


Losing Things by Rachel Howard

In art, literature, writers on October 29, 2012 at 22:45

From: Losing Things by Rachel Howard, berfrois,

My problem is that I don’t care about losing things.

Last month, at a restaurant, I left a rough grey scarf that my husband gave me on a rainy evening shortly after we began sleeping with each other, shortly after we fell in love—the scarf that, even after warm spring days arrived, I’d worn everywhere like a child’s blanket. Oh well, I immediately thought when I realized it was gone. I’ll always remember that scarf.

Last year, departing an artist’s studio, I left a herringbone-striped inky blue kimono that an ex-boyfriend purchased in Japan, a kimono many artists liked to draw me wearing because it draped such an entrancing pattern over the forms otherwise known as my hips, my shoulders, my breasts—a kimono that suited me because I had worn it to so many sessions that it felt as natural as my own hair, my own skin. I realized I’d left it only hours after the painting session ended; I took three months to call the artist about getting it back. By then she’d given it to Goodwill. Oh well, I thought, I’ll always remember that kimono.

I have the kind of strong memory that gives you a false sense of indifference towards materiality.

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Reposted with permission from: berfrois


The Ideology of Color by Fernando Castro

In aesthetics, art, culture, ethnicity, Europe, history of art, politics, religion, sociology, South America, visual arts on October 15, 2012 at 19:07

From: The Ideology of Color by Fernando Castro, Literal Magazine,

Many of the works of The Ideology of Color arose from Texas ́ history class when one of my Mexican students of Native-American descendance asked me when white people first arrived. Any artist who ever painted people knows that white is perhaps the only color not to be used for human skin –unless you are painting dead people. Even the ghostly skin of Giovanna Cenami in Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage (1414), is conspicuously different from the truly white headpiece she is wear- ing. After this two-second thought I blurted out, “There are no white people.”

Noticing the skeptical expression on my student’s face I took out a piece of white paper and added, “There is nobody this color.” In order to show my young students how white people would look like if they existed, I decided to make photographs of truly white people. I went through my negatives to see which ones I could use for what would become the White People series. Back in 1988 I had taken pictures of people and their dogs in a canine competition in Peru. These images were fitting because some of the ideas behind the motivation of many people to call themselves “white” are connected to the project of selectively breeding dogs to obtain Dobermans, French Poodles, etc. I painted the skin in the black-and- white negatives with an opaque medium so that they printed totally white.

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Reposted with permission from: Literal Magazine


The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism by Mark Anthony Signorelli and Nikos A. Salingaros

In aesthetics, architecture, art, civilisation, culture, education, nature, society on October 7, 2012 at 04:01

From: The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism by Mark Anthony Signorelli and Nikos A. Salingaros, New English Review,

We who live in the Western world at the present time continue to suffer under the reign of a great tyranny — the tyranny of artistic modernism. The modernist aesthetic, which dominates our age, takes a variety of forms in the respective arts — in architecture, a lack of scale and ornamentation combined with the overwhelming deployment of materials like glass, steel, and brutalist concrete; in the plastic arts, a rejection of natural forms mixed with an unmistakable tendency towards the repulsive or meretricious; in literature, non-linear narrative, esoteric imagery, and an almost perfect lack of poetic form and diction. Yet common now to the practice of all these arts are certain primal impulses which may be said to form the core of the modernist aesthetic — a hostility and defiance towards all traditional standards of excellence, discovered over millennia of craftsmanship and reflection; a notion of the artist’s freedom as absolute, and entirely divorced from the ends of his art; and, as Roger Scruton has so clearly demonstrated, a refusal to apply the category of beauty to either the creation or the estimation of artwork. Standing behind this aesthetic is an ideology supported by nearly the entire institutional structure of the Western world — the universities, the publishing houses, the galleries, the journals, the prize committees, the zoning boards. Books that evince a fidelity to modernist principles are the ones that get published. Buildings that conform to the brutal codes of modernism and its derivatives are the ones that get built. Whatever creative efforts spring from other sources of inspiration other than modernist aggression are invariably ignored and dismissed as something antiquated or reactionary. This is the great totalitarian system of our times — the dictatorship of modernism.

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Reposted with permission from: New English Review


Forgetful Pleasures by Marta Figlerowicz

In art, books, literature, writers on October 4, 2012 at 01:00

From: Forgetful Pleasures: Michel Houellebecq’s Exciting Tale of Boredom by Marta Figlerowicz Michel Houellebecq’s Exciting Tale of Boredom, Boston Review,

It’s become something of a joke: when you reach for a Michel Houellebecq novel, you brace yourself. For what? Shock, goes one pat answer. Boredom, goes the other.

Both are somewhat disingenuous. On the grand scale of literary excesses, Houellebecq’s stylistic and sexual offenses are trifling. He’s no Marquis de Sade, no D. H. Lawrence, no Joseph Conrad, no Robert Musil. Yet, together, these answers get at the heart of what might make you keep turning his pages no matter how much effort it takes.

Houellebecq’s prose shows a heightened self-awareness about excitement. His characters study stimulating pleasures—sex, usually—like a set of impossibly difficult equations. How many sexual acts equal a happy week, a happy year, a happy marriage? How many satisfying ones in sequence do you have stamina for? (The Elementary Particles: “By violently contracting the muscle and inhaling deeply just before orgasm, it was possible to avoid ejaculating. . . . it was a goal, something worth working toward.”)

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Reposted with permission from: Boston Review


Anaïs Nin on Paris vs. New York, 1939 by Maria Popova

In art, books, community, culture, Europe, immigration, North America, psychology, society, writers on October 1, 2012 at 02:00

From: Anaïs Nin on Paris vs. New York, 1939 by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings,

From The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 3: 1939-1944 (public library) comes this poignant, articulate description of what Nin experienced as the difference between Parisians and New Yorkers — something recently explored in much lighter, more tongue-in-cheek terms — penned in the winter of 1939:

In Paris, when entering a room, everyone pays attention, seeks to make you feel welcome, to enter into conversation, is curious, responsive. Here it seems everyone is pretending not to see, hear, or look too intently. The faces reveal no interest, no responsiveness.

Overtones are missing. Relationships seem impersonal and everyone conceals his secret life, whereas in Paris it was the exciting substance of our talks, intimate revelations and sharing of experience.

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Reposted with permission from: Maria Popova


Whitescapes by David Batchelor

In aesthetics, art, literature, philosophy, poetry, society, space on September 8, 2012 at 19:19


From: Whitescapes by David Batchelor, Cabinet Magazine,

To mistake the colorful for the colorless or white is nothing new. However, it is one thing not to have known that Greek statues were once brilliantly painted, it is another thing not to see the color when it is still there. This seems to speak of a different psychological state, of a different level of denial. Not perceiving what is visibly there: psychoanalysts call it negative hallucination. But we have to tread carefully here, and we should be especially careful not to get drawn into seeing color and white as opposites. White was sometimes used in Minimalism, but it was mostly used as a color and amongst many other colors. Sometimes it was used in combination with other colors and sometimes it was used alone, but even when used alone it remained a color; it did not result, except perhaps in LeWitt’s structures, in a generalized whiteness. In these works, white remained a material quality, a specific color on a specific surface, just as it always has done in the paintings of Robert Ryman. Ryman’s whites are always just that: whites. His whites are colors; his paintings do not involve or imply the suppression of color. His whites are empirical whites. Above all, his whites are plural. And, in being plural, they are, therefore, not “pure.” Here is the problem: not white; not whites; but generalized white, because generalized white, whiteness, is abstract, detached, and open to contamination by terms like “pure.”

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Reposted with permission from: Cabinet Magazine


Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity by Maria Popova

In art, books, society, writers on September 3, 2012 at 19:31


From: Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings,

The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947:

…The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.

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Reposted with permission from: Maria Popova


Eccentric Characters by BibliOdyssey

In art, books, history, society on August 27, 2012 at 18:04


From: Eccentric Characters by BibliOdyssey,

Illustration plates (lithographs) from ‘The Book of Wonderful Characters: Memoirs and Anecdotes of Remarkable and Eccentric Persons in all Ages and Countries, Chiefly from the Text of Henry Wilson and James Caulfield’, 1869

Francis Trovillou – The Horned Man

“In the year 1598 a horned man was exhibited for a show, at Paris, two months successively, and from thence carried to Orleans, where he died soon after. His name was Francis Trovillous, of whom Fabritius, in his Chiurgical Observations, gives the following description:- ‘He was of middle stature, a full body, bald, except in the hinder part o’ the head, which had a few hairs upon it; his temper was morose, and his demeanour was altogether rustic’.

He was born in a little village called Mezieres, and bred up In the woods amongst the charcoal men. About the seventh year of his age he began to have a swelling in his forehead, so that in the course of about ten years he had a horn there as big as a man’s finger-end, which afterwards did admit of that growth and increase, that when he came to be thirty-five years old this horn had both the bigness and resemblance of a ram’s horn.”

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Reposted with permission from: BibliOdyssey


A rear view of Alfred Hitchcock by Alan Saunders

In culture, film, interview, philosophy, visual arts on August 21, 2012 at 21:39


From: A rear view of Alfred Hitchcock by Alan Saunders, The Philosopher’s Zone, ABC Radio National,

Alan Saunders: Now the action of the movie occurs naturally, given the single-take effect; it occurs more or less in real time, which means that the murder is committed by daylight, and as the time goes on, is discovered at night after a party attended by the parents of the boy they’d murdered. What does this move from daylight to night, what does this have to tell us about the moral world of the movie?

William A. Drumin: The meaning that Hitchcock, as the director, seeks to ascribe to a film, philosophic or otherwise, is how he films it. Now my view is that see these two young killers want to cut themselves off from society, they regard themselves as above society, and that apartment, that closed-in compartment that’s kind of a separate world, as if it said they are the gods of this world you see, disposing of things by their superior intellects, and that kind of thing. So by filming continuously, I feel that Hitchcock is acting to break, to oppose the attempt of those killers. To say, No, you are wrong, society will re-assert its authority. You cannot arbitrarily cut yourself off from the social relationships you see.

You remember at the end of the film how Jimmy Stewart opens the window and fires the three gunshots out of the window? And then you hear the noises from the street filtering up, and the sound of the police siren and so on. That’s a liberating act, because this closed apartment has kind of been a vision of hell, where God and morality has been shut out, and now continuity has been re-established. So I think that in filming continuously, he establishes his stance towards the action of the film.

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Reposted with permission from: ABC Radio National


Gustavo Díaz: The Art of Questioning by Rose Mary Salum

In art, interview, philosophy, science on August 16, 2012 at 05:40


From: Gustavo Díaz: The Art of Questioning by Rose Mary Salum, Literal Magazine,

Rose Mary Salum: It strikes me how fascinated you seem to be with the concept of complexity. I’d like to know if this has to do with mental or artistic complexity, or if it relates to science?

Gustavo Díaz: Complexity is all that exists in the universe. On micro and macro scales, every process is complex, from breathing to walking. We assimilate the most basic, habitual processes as natural to us, but they actually come about as the result of macro or micro complexes. I am quite passionate on this subject at any scale. When you zoom in on your own gaze or concepts and see the small details of things, they possess formal, functional, and operative complexities. The same thing happens when we observe on a macro scale.

I feel this is an important matter. It’s a very timely subject, given that the world is gaining complexity on all levels. The growth of cit- ies and transportation systems, for example, display high entropy, transformation that leads to disorder. All these are ideas that can be considered in the context of physics, but also of sociology, philosophy, anthropology, etc. One can consider complexity from within different disciplines, because it is present in everyday life.

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Reposted with permission from: Literal Magazine


The Rhetorica – BibliOdyssey

In art, books, history on April 27, 2012 at 09:43



Guillaume Fichet (1433-?1480) was a leading humanist figure during the French Renaissance. As a lecturer in theology, philosophy and rhetoric, Fichet was awarded a doctorate and professorship and became Rector of the University of Paris (Sorbonne).

Together with an academic colleague, Fichet was responsible for bringing the newly created printing press to Paris for the first time in 1471, where it was installed at the Sorbonne.

It is with some measure of irony that the manuscript seen above from 1471 – essentially a record, in Latin, of 10 years of secular teachings by Fichet on the art of rhetoric – was also among the earliest books to be published by Fichet’s printing press in that first year.

The top image above shows this manuscript of Fichet’s teachings being presented to a representative from the royal family who sponsored the work, Princess Yolanda of Savoy. A total of four hand-written manuscripts of ‘The Rhetoric’ were known to have been produced.

See more here

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