Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Ecstatic Abstract Explorer: Richard Pousette-Dart

“The extasy [sic] of abstract beauty,” artist Richard Pousette-Dart scrawled in 1981 in a notebook on a page across from a Georges Braque-looking abstract pencil drawing. Although included in Nina Leen’s iconic 1951 Life magazine photo “The Irascibles” that featured Abstract Expressionist heavyweights Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman, Pousette-Dart has always stood on the edges, as he does in the photo, of full identification with that group. The “X” factor that frees Pousette-Dart from that and other “-isms” is both his ecstatic spirituality and endless artistic exploration stretching across six decades of work. The new Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition Full Circle: Works on Paper by Richard Pousette-Dart takes aim not at pinning down Pousette-Dart, but rather at targeting his insatiable drive to work through the ideas of modern art on paper by continually building them up before breaking them down again. You’ll think you’re touring a group show before realizing that it all came from one artist’s vision—an ecstatic celebration of Richard Pousette-Dart’s celebration of the making of art itself. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "The Ecstatic Abstract Explorer: Richard Pousette-Dart."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Forget Da Vinci, Try Solving the Piero della Francesca Code

Fans of Dan Brown (and Tom Hanks) hoped to get an education in the Italian Renaissance along with their beach reading (and movie-going) of The Da Vinci Code. But they and those who think that Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello are just Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are missing out on a Renaissance master of art and mathematics just as captivating and mysterious as Da Vinci—Piero della Francesca. In Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man, James R. Banker relies on newly discovered documents and years of study of the Renaissance to crack the “Piero Code.” You won’t run across the Knights Templar or unearth the Holy Grail in Banker’s biographical study, but you will come away with a real-life detective tale compellingly told and a greater understanding and appreciation of an artist whose art may look otherworldly but, as Banker suggests, grew directly from Piero’s hometown roots. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Forget Da Vinci, Try Solving the Piero della Francesca Code."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Naked Truth About the Nude in Art

When you get down to the bare facts, there’s no genre of art older than that of the nude. The bare human figure—male and female, but more often female—commands attention as much as it makes us turn away in modesty or, worse, shame. The duality of that “truth” of the nude as well as our reaction to it is the slippery subject of Being Nude: The Skin of Images by Jean-Luc Nancy and Federico Ferrari (translated by Anne O’Byrne and Carlie Anglemire). Nancy and Ferrari argue for “something true right at the skin, skin as truth” as the exposing of flesh “reveals is that there is nothing to be revealed, or that there is nothing other than revelation itself, the revealing and what can be revealed, both at once.” At times a hard philosophical road to slog, Being Nude gives you a multidimensional, multimedia, multigenerational musing on the nude that may not lay all the facts perfectly bare, but will leave you looking at and thinking about the nude in a different way than ever before. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "The Naked Truth About the Nude in Art."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Does Art Need Religion?

Everyone knows there are two things you never bring up in conversation—politics and religion. In this secular age chock full of wars fought over one faith or another, many never want to hear about the role of religion in the world, unable to see any good within all that bad. But if you turn the conversation towards the safer topic of the arts, quite often you’ll hear someone long for the good old days, when great artists made great art rather than the poor efforts of contemporary art’s lesser talents. Is it possible that such Old Masters as Michelangelo were great because they lived in more religious times? Is the connection between great art and religious influence a correlation or just coincidence? Does art need religion? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Does Art Need Religion?"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Is Haruki Murakami the Thelonius Monk of Fiction?

From 1974 through 1981, Haruki Murakami ran a jazz club in Tokyo, Japan, and wondered what direction his life would run. After long soul searching, his life ran in the direction of becoming a novelist. He hasn’t stopped running since, producing 13 novels that not only have won international awards, but also have been translated into over 50 languages, thus making him the most well-known Japanese novelist in the world. His latest novel to be translated into English, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, adds to his oeuvre one more tale of dreamy, surreal, puzzling, yet oddly beautiful human existence. Despite his success, Murakami (shown above) still faces criticism for his writing style, which some see as overly simple and occasionally downright ugly—criticisms once aimed at the Murakami beloved bebop jazz, the style employed by the enigmatic, brilliant pianist Thelonious Monk. Is Haruki Murakami the Thelonius Monk of fiction? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Is Haruki Murakami the Thelonius Monk of Fiction?"