Thursday, August 30, 2012

Was Van Gogh Color Blind?

If there’s any artist who ever lived and knew color in his soul, it was Vincent Van Gogh. Almost mad with color, Van Gogh owned a box of different-colored yarn just so he could tangibly handle color and literally weave them together to determine how the combinations might look when put into paint. Walk through any Van Gogh exhibition on Earth and you’ll come out the other side drunk on color. But a Japanese medical scientist now contends that Vincent’s unique color palette was literally a function of his vision—specifically, a kind of color blindness. According to this researcher, Van Gogh’s unforgettable wheatfields and starry nights stick in our minds because they lack a color component most of us can see in nature. Is it possible that some of Van Gogh’s power to fascinate comes from a visual disability, or is this researcher demonstrating a different kind of blindness? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Was Van Gogh Color Blind?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What’s Frank Lloyd Wright Doing at the Republican National Convention?

Now that Hurricane Isaac is off to wreck havoc on New Orleans, the 2012 Republican National Convention can get down to business. The list of people scheduled to parade across my television screen features the usual suspects (Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Chris Christie) and even some unusual suspects (Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kid Rock), but one unlisted and highly unusual name really caught my eye—American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The backdrop of the speaker’s stage (shown above)—the eye of the 4-day political hurricane—features interconnecting horizontal shapes and bands of windows meant to pay homage to Wright’s “Prairie style.” The designers hoped to convey the warmth, Midwestern flavor, and quintessential Americanness of Wright’s vision, but the additional connotations Wright brings may pose problems for Republicans or slyly send messages to supporters—all depending on how you see Wright and the GOP. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "What’s Frank Lloyd Wright Doing at theRepublican National Convention?"

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Furniture—Ourselves?


While flipping through Modern Furniture: 150 Years of Design, I couldn't help but stop and smile at seeing the same monobloc chair sitting on my backyard deck sitting there on the pages of a proposed history of modern furniture design. When we think of modern furniture design, we too often think of wildly experimental and wildly expensive items found only in the homes of the rich and famous. However, as Andrea Mehlhose and Martin Wellner , founders of the design company Fremdkörper and editors of Modern Furniture, show, modern design is all around us in such a ubiquitous way that we barely notice. Recognizing the power of design to simplify and change our lives can help us recognize a great deal of our culture. Modern Furniture demonstrates that our furniture really tells us a lot about ourselves. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Our Furniture—Ourselves?"

[Image: 2008, Meltdown Chair PP Tube, Tom Price, © Christoph Bolton.]

[Many thanks to h.f. Ullmann for the image above and for a review copy of Modern Furniture: 150 Years of Design.]