18 May 2015

Still-lifes by Peale and Core

Names are important in art. The American master Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) had three sons who became painters: Rembrandt, Raphaelle [sic] and Titian. His fourth son was Rubens. Raphaelle is thought to be America’s first still-life painter who, on occasion, punned on his name as in the...

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17 May 2015

Bread, art and metamorphosis

I just spent the past week learning how to bake bread properly, taught by an artisan baker. The effects were startling. Time passed unnoticed; the scraper became an extension of my body; and only by thinking of what it was like to be the dough did I learn to handle it gently. Anything done with...

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15 Apr 2015

The World is a Mirror

Like many stories conveying wisdom, this anonymous one is slightly silly. However, it suggests why so many masterpieces of painting, like Velazquez’s Las Meninas for instance, only make sense when its surface is seen as reflective. No doubt this story unravels his Rokeby Venus too (above) by...

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03 Apr 2015

Good Goal: Study Design


Once in a while I try to remind myself to study good graphic design because, while illustration is not art, it uses the same techniques more openly. Illustration's purpose is not to hide meaning that most people will misconstrue as in art but to convey a message with skillful efficiency to...

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26 Mar 2015

Ssh! The Secret of Picasso’s Ear

Ears make sense as one of the five: touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. But who thinks about Picasso's ears? We mostly remember his eyes: deep, dark and powerful. Yet he himself - as I don't think has been noted before - seems to have been very conscious that he had large ears. Noddy, a...

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25 Mar 2015

Wisdom, Art and a Cat

I'm always on the lookout for written expressions of the basic ideas about visual art conveyed on EPPH. Here's one that backs up the concept that art and the practice of it leads to wisdom. A beautiful old Irish poem, now known as Pangur Bán after the anonymous author's cat, dates from no...

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20 Mar 2015

Whose God is on the dollar bill?

Art is too often seen as a literal representation of the artist's own small, physical world. The idea that it uses metaphoric language to express much larger, eternal truths shared by all mankind is seldom realized. The same happens with the dollar bill. Six local Republican legislators want to...

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06 Mar 2015

C.S. Lewis on a Poetic Method

The late Sidney Geist, a sculptor and controversial interpreter of Cézanne's art, invited me about 12 years ago to come and see him at his studio in Manhattan. I had spent the past year studying everything about Edouard Manet and was excited to discuss with him some of what I had discovered....

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05 Mar 2015

Picasso runs his fingers through her hair

No doubt in life Picasso did run his fingers through his girlfriend's hair. In the drawing (left) from 1906 he did so too, turning an image of Fernande into a representation of himself. He might have learnt the method from any number of artists including Michelangelo or Fra Filippo Lippi....

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26 Feb 2015

Art in Search of Self-Knowledge

One of the great shibboleths of art history is that High Renaissance masters depicted the exterior world. Few, of course, doubt that landscapes and portraits represent exterior nature. EPPH, on the other hand, argues that all scenes in art are internal in the long millennia-old search for...

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26 Feb 2015 | 2 Comments

Picasso on EPPH

At the small but excellent Museu Picasso in Barcelona, a repository for much of Picasso's early work and the complete series of paintings on Las Meninas, they sell a pencil (above). Draw your own conclusions. No comment.

05 Feb 2015 | 1 Comments

Do you draw your own features unintentionally?

Readers, especially artists, I could do with some help. Do you reproduce your own features without meaning to? Do you have examples? Many initial viewers, usually those who can draw, ask me whether artists fused faces (see above) intentionally or unintentionally. They say that it’s well-known...

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26 Jan 2015 | 2 Comments

Male Artist on Female Figures

Facebook comments can be revealing. Alan Feltus is a contemporary artist whose work I have written about before. He just posted photos on his FB page of 3 paintings done while he was a resident Fellow at the American Academy in Rome in the early 1970's. It was there that he started painting...

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16 Jan 2015 | 2 Comments

The Centrality of Tools

Art sometimes seems like a meditation on the brush. Certainly visual metaphors for art's tools abound from, say, Edouard Manet’s early Boy with a Sword (in effect he holds a giant paintbrush, see explanation) to Diego Velazquez’s Portrait of the Infanta Margarita in the Louvre whose figure...

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11 Jan 2015

Hans Memling and Cubism

Every time I look at this Portrait of a Man by Hans Memling I feel a little sick. I’m serious. It makes me slightly nauseous. Perhaps Walter Pater, the 19th-century art historian, felt similarly about the Mona Lisa. He described her as a weirdo and he's right.1 No Renaissance woman had...

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