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  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2017/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , Getty Museum, , National Gallery of Victoria, , painting, ,   

    “Photography always acknowledged there were cameras before photography”*… 


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    Bernardo Bellotto’s “The Demolition of the Ruins of the Kreuzkirche,” 1765

    In an era when photographs are the de facto language of record keeping, memories of modern history before the camera can sometimes feel a tad distant. But people and places did exist before 1839. And in 18th century Europe, the need to produce visual accounts of events large and small was becoming increasingly important. Social and technological developments in the early modern era were buttressing a new sense of global connectivity heralded by the rise of mercantilism and early colonial contact with the New World. It was a period defined by travel and trade, and the lords of Europe must have seen their situation as pivotal enough to commemorate with oil on canvas. The urge to self document is a modern one. A contemporary recognition of history as something worth immortalizing on one’s own terms. In keeping with the technological progress of the time, less than a century later a new medium would be invented to supersede painting’s documentary role.

    “Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth Century Europe,” now on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, gathers a series of such canvases by Italian-trained artists of the early modern era—painterly predecessors of breaking news photography. As a response to the increasing awareness of time as a commodity—an ephemeral something worth remembering—painters were commissioned to record the day’s most important spectacles and events. From political rallies and papal visits to public festivals and natural disasters, the images offer an expansive view of life at a time when the boundaries of time and space were opening up enormously—a sentiment reflected in their size and scope. Documentary paintings were one way for those in power to formalize the narrative, “making history” on their own terms and based on their own hierarchy of importance.

    More at: “These 18th century painters made eyewitness news images at the dawn of globalization“; see the exhibition at the Getty through July 30.

    * David Hockney

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    As we believe our eyes, we might send sharply-focused birthday greetings to Jennie Boddington; she was born on this date in 1922.  After a successful career as a filmmaker, she became the first full-time curator of photography for the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.  She was the first such curator in Australia, and perhaps only the third in the world.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:41 on 2016/03/12 Permalink
    Tags: Anthropomorphic Landscapes, , , Elaine de Kooning, , , painting,   

    “I think of two landscapes- one outside the self, the other within”*… 


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    Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder’s allegory of iconoclasm, ca.1566

    Although commonplace today, the landscape as a distinct category in painting only really began to establish itself in Western art during the Renaissance, a period in which natural views began to make their way to the fore of focus, no longer merely backgrounds to human figures. Perhaps an interesting quirk of this “transition” were the images which seemed to fuse the two: anthropomorphic landscapes. These images — particularly where landscapes are given the form of human heads — appear to be somewhat of a meme…

    Currier and Ives print showing a young man and a young woman looking through an opening in a wall (alternatively, a human skull)

    More of the story, and more (and larger) examples, at “The Art of Hidden Faces: Anthropomorphic Landscapes.”

    * Barry Lopez

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    As we put a human face on Nature, we might send dramatic birthday greetings to Elaine de Kooning; she was born on this date in 1918.  While she was overshadowed in the public view by her husband, Willem de Kooning, for much of her career, she was an important and influential Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era, and an editor of Art News.

    Her portrait of John F. Kennedy (National Portrait Gallery)

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:52 on 2015/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: Alexey Kondakov, , George Shepherd, , , painting, The Daily Life of Gods, , watercolor, William Blake   

    “The sublime splendour of ordinary existence was hidden from those who lived embedded in it”*… 


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    Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov unites the past and present by giving characters from classic paintings the chance to explore our modern world. The artist skillfully utilizes Photoshop to insert vintage muses in stores, on buses, on stairwells, and in the midst of urban alleyways for his ongoing series titled The Daily Life of Gods. Each image perfectly juxtaposes the paintings’ soft lines and subtle coloring with the harsh, blunt elements of urban locations…

    More at “Characters from Classic Paintings Are Inserted into the Modern World.”

    * François Mauriac, Thérèse

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    As we commemorate the quotidian, we might send delicately-colored birthday greetings to George “Sidney” Shepherd; he was born on this date in 1784.  A draughtsman and watercolor painter, Shepherd enjoyed renown in his day as a a topographical artist, painting “views” around England.  Shepherd was one of the founding members of the resurrected New Society of Painters in Watercolors (now the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colors), alongside the leading watercolorists of his day, including William Blake.

    Shepherd’s watercolor of Aldermaston village (1819)

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:56 on 2015/04/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , Black Paintings, Eugene Thacker, Fludd, , , painting,   

    “I see black light”*… 


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    Robert Fludd’s black square representing the nothingness that was prior to the universe, from his Utriusque Cosmi (1617) – Source: Wellcome Library

     

    Is black a color, the absence of color  or a suspension of vision produced by a deprivation of light?  Beginning with Robert Fludd’s attempt to picture nothingness, Eugene Thacker reflects on some of the ways in which blackness has been employed through the history of art and philosophical thought.  Head for the dark side at “Black on Black.”

    * Victor Hugo’s last words

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    As we paint it black, we might spare a thought for Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes; he died on this date in 1828.  A painter and printmaker who was Court Painter to the Spanish Crown, Goya is regarded both as the last of the Old Masters (for “La Maja Denuda,” among many, many others) and the first of the Moderns. Indeed, in the words of art historian Sir Kenneth Clark, “El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid” is “the first great picture which can be called ‘revolutionary’ in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention.”

    Goya’s “Black Paintings,” created late in his life, are anguished, haunted works, reflective both of his fear of dementia and of his dystopian outlook on humanity.

    “Saturn Devouring His Son” (detail), probably the most famous of the Black Paintings

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    Portrait of Francisco Goya by Vicente López y Portaña (1826)

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