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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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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03 Dec 2014

Claws, Paws and Prints

Many animals, like cats, dogs or the mythical griffin, have sharp claws. Let loose in a house, some of these charmers will engrave table legs, floor boards or virtually anything wooden. Artists who naturally have acute visual perception often relate this type of instinctual behavior to their...

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09 Jan 2014 | 7 Comments

Keith Haring’s Secret Knowledge

EPPH has already shown how at least 7 major artists depicted themselves as lions (see below). There are more to come but many are by Old Masters and are quite subtle. Here’s an obvious example, an actual self-portrait, by an artist who was all the rage in 1980’s New York, Keith Haring. Why...

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15 Dec 2013

Lotto’s Lion and The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine

After the recent post about how Sir Edwin Landseer became a couple of dogs (seriously), I thought it would be a good idea to keep up the pace and show how Lorenzo Lotto became a lion. Near the lower edge of one of his greatest masterpieces, The Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine (1524), is the...

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26 Nov 2013 | 2 Comments

Tips to Tell Art from Illustration

My definition of art, as I've said before, is not as wide as that used by the public and most scholars. I do not believe, for instance, that children create art nor the vast majority of adult painters. True artists paint themselves; they paint inwards and they paint the wisdom of the ages.  

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21 Sep 2013

Pens, Palettes and their Visual Metaphors

Thoth was an Egyptian god best known in art as having the head of an ibis (above left). He had many functions but was perhaps most celebrated as the scribe of the gods, the inventor of heiroglyphs and writing, and who, when people died, wrote down the weight of each heart as they entered the...

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08 Mar 2013

Dürer’s Foreign Language


"The art of painting cannot be truly judged save by such that are themselves good painters: from others, verily is it hidden, even as a strange tongue."

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)1

If, as I believe, Dürer disguised himself as a lion in the sketch at right, no wonder he described art...

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23 Mar 2012

Poems are Animals

A recent exhibition posted an interesting quote by the poet Ted Hughes. It was somewhat out of their context but in ours because I, of course, argue that true art is like a visual poem. Remember as you read it that although many published poems are true poetry, very few paintings are true art:

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30 Dec 2011

Carpaccio’s Dragon’s Blood

Carpaccio’s remarkable series of wall decorations on the saga of St. George in a small Venetian scuola captured my attention twelve years ago, at the start of my own quixotic quest to convince the art world that the subject of true art is art itself, or more precisely, the creative moment. St....

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04 Nov 2011

Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim

The Maurizio Cattelan exhibition opening today at the Guggenheim New York (on till Jan 22nd, 2012) is entitled All because it is meant to be a complete retrospective of the Italian artist’s career. In fact, aged 51, he has formally announced that this is also the end of his career and that he...

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17 Sep 2011

Artists are Animals

“Artists are animals” may seem like a derogatory statement but artists are animals and both art and intelligence are products of nature. We are not separate. We all play our part in the cosmos, all created by similar processes: rats, mice, cats, lions, birds, humans etc. etc. Artists, mystics...

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09 Sep 2011

Murder and Butchery by Picasso and Chagall

A recent article on Chagal discusses his well-known identification with animals. It concludes with a drawing called The Butcher (top) which is so similar in meaning and method to Picasso’s The Murder (bottom), both drawn in the early 1930's, that they are worth comparing. Both use knives for...

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30 Jul 2011

Titian is a dog

Some viewers remain convinced that artists subconsciously fused their features into their portraits of other people - as Leonardo misleadingly suggested - even though the evidence is now strong that face fusion was practiced consciously and with meaning. Artists, like writers, composers and...

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27 Apr 2011

Ratatouille and the Great Masters (of all genders)

What do Raphael’s La Fornarina and Ratatouille have in common? Much more than you might think, their superficial differences disguising their fundamental similarity. The idea that significant art depicts a moment of its own making within the mind of the artist is central to this website because...

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