Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Just as poet William Blake asks us “To see a world in a grain of sand” in his poem “Auguries of Innocence,” painter Paul Cézanne asks us to see the world in an apple in the many still lifes that span his long career. In The World Is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne currently at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, we’re invited to
into the world of “the painter of apples” and come away with new eyes
that see what Cézanne called the “ambient penetration” of all things,
that living quality of even inanimate objects best captured in the still
life, or as the French would say, “Nature morte,” literally and
paradoxically “dead life.” Using one of the oldest of genres, Cézanne
set the rules for the modern art that followed him while forging a
naïve, simplistic persona the real philosopher in paint hid behind.
After viewing The World Is an Apple, you’ll come away with a
new appreciation not only of Cézanne the painter, but also of Cézanne
the visionary who saw the whole world in even the simplest apple and
wants you to, too. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Cézanne Saw a World in an Apple."
Thursday, March 27, 2014
“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” Frank Sinatra warbled in “My Way,” before adding wistfully, “But, then again, too few to mention.” Sinatra sang that song at the end of a long, successful career as a titan turning back and surveying the long road behind him and the shorter one ahead. A similar kind of retrospection turns the Museum of Modern Art in New York City’s new exhibition Jasper Johns: Regrets, which runs through September 1, 2014, into
a survey of art history in the making. Not only is the show about canonical artist Jasper Johns’
latest additions to art history, but also about the history of making
art, of taking different raw materials and media and entering the
process of creating art. For a relatively small show on a tightly
targeted subject, Jasper Johns: Regrets hits the mark beautifully and raises a triumphant flag signaling that art and art history aren’t dead just yet. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Jasper Johns and Art History in the Making."
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Not many art stories make the cover of both TIME and Newsweek in the same week, but the revelation of Andrew Wyeth’s infamous “Helga Paintings” in 1986 caused a news stir that spilled outside the confines of the culture sections. The tale included all the ingredients of a ripping yarn for the masses—deceit, fame, big money, and a pinch of sex to spice things up. The “Helga” of the “Helga Paintings,” Helga Testorf, fled the paparazzi at the time and maintained her silence both about the paintings themselves and the nature of her relationship with Wyeth before, during, and years after their creation. In the BBC Program Michael Palin in Wyeth’s World, former Monty Python member and amateur art historian Michael Palin finally entices Helga from the shadows to speak about the paintings and the painter. What she shares raises new questions about the works as well as what the legacy of Andrew Wyeth should be. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Michael Palin Broke the Silence of The Helga Paintings."
Friday, November 8, 2013
by Bob Duggan
November 8, 2013, 9:18 AM
Monday, May 27, 2013
How desperate can a city facing financial armageddon get? What’s the last resort for cities such as Detroit, wounded first by the failing American auto industry and then set bleeding like every other American city after the 2008 financial crash? Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr raised the possibility of selling the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, worth about $15 billion, to help pay off some of the city’s debt. Setting aside the complicated issue of whether a city even has the legal right to sell its museum’s collection like any other movable asset, does a city have the moral right to sell works of art? What would the long-term effect of making such a short-term decision? If dying Detroit murders its museum, will it lose its soul, and the soul of its people? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Is Dying Detroit Trying to Murder its Museum?"
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
No myth about art and artists abides as pervasively as that of Vincent Van Gogh, the mad genius. To mark the grand reopening of the renovated Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, curators and conservators hope to renovate Van Gogh’s madman mythology with the exhibition Van Gogh at Work. That workmanlike title relates perfectly the show’s goal to demonstrate just how workmanlike Van Gogh was in developing and thriving as an artist. Less a portrait of a man touched by angels and demons and more a depiction of a troubled man who immersed himself in the craft of painting, Van Gogh at Work might succeed in making Vincent more normal, more relatable, and less crazy after all these years. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Van Gogh: Less Crazy After All These Years?"
[Image: Vincent Van Gogh. Self-Portrait as an Artist (detail), 1887. Image source.]
[Many thanks to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for providing press materials related to the exhibition Van Gogh at Work, which runs through January 12, 2014.]
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Can the study of art history stop looking like ancient history itself? Can it transcend the old approaches and embrace the digital world? As digitized as art history has become in terms of merely creating online repositories of texts and images, it still lags in going fully digital in terms of using computers to aid in the analysis of art. A recent issue of Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation dedicated to the question of “Digital Art History” gathered experts in the field to weigh in on the potential advantages and disadvantages of studying art digitally. Is this a brave new world that will bring us closer than ever to understanding the great works of art, or will technology actually get in the way and separate us from the human element in the work, effectively erasing the traditional goal of studying art? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "What Would Digital Art History Look Like?"
[Image: Vincent Van Gogh. Starry Night, 1889. Extreme magnification via Google Art Project.]