05 Dec 2014 | 2 Comments

As in Painting, so is Poetry

The image above, a detail of a painting by Balthus called The Painter and His Model, goes particularly well with the poem below by James Merrill. Balthus, his head wrapped in a cloth to keep paint off his hair, seemingly pulls the curtain aside but, on our level, he really has the extended arm...

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02 Dec 2014

How Portraiture Causes Blindness

Specialisation has crippled art history, blinding its practitioners to what is common. For over six years EPPH has been arguing that many portraits by major artists are fusions of the artist's facial features with the sitter's. They were never intended (by the artist, at least) as an accurate...

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17 Oct 2014

Brushing up on the Painter’s Sword

The mind of an artist is poetic so, if you want to understand painting and sculpture, read poets. Their literary metaphors are the artist’s visual ones. However, beware: poets understand visual art no better than most people. Emile Zola, Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé all wrote...

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20 Aug 2014

The Craftsman’s Christ

This is a scene by an unknown 16th-century artist, probably Flemish, at a time when artisanal effort was admired not just for the perfection of the end-product but for the artisan’s closely-guarded knowledge of materials. Wood, stone, minerals, plant extracts, gold-work, smelting etc. No-one...

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28 Jul 2014 | 4 Comments

Ego’s Poetic Powers

EPPH has long argued that artists mute their ego to gain access to poetic depths. Yet in the passage below Colin Wilson, the English philosopher and novelist who died last year, describes a more balanced understanding in which poets identify with nature (see, for instance, Artists as Animals)...

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16 Feb 2014

Is Stoning Stephen Grinding Colors?

In the wider world of art history where the word "art" has not been properly defined, the search for meaning is more complex and difficult than it is here. If biologists studied different types of trees without agreeing on what a tree was, they too would sound confused. That's why the search...

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10 Feb 2014

The Poet’s Eye

What you see may not be all you see because somewhere inside most true artworks one form is laid over another. Here's a simple example from a print made by Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), a leader of the New York School in the mid-twentieth century. If it were not titled The Poet's Eye, you...

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04 Nov 2013

Do artists still keep secrets?

Is there, as EPPH proposes, a secret tradition, handed down in virtual silence over many centuries, from one artist to another but which is still completely unknown to art historians? I admit that seems unlikely and though I have revealed it in works by well-known living artists (Elizabeth...

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31 Oct 2013

A Sioux Story on Creation

Every painter paints himself is not just an expression of a poetic method but an insight into the nature of reality. That’s why it’s so important. You can only see in front of you what you already know or feel inside you. Thus, we too paint our own experience.  We just don't know it or...

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14 Oct 2013

The Error of Art History

Yesterday I wrote about how some errors make the world interesting and beautiful. This one does not. 

Read the Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who rarely saw great art, and you will learn about it on every page because the truths he knew are those of poetic painters too. The biggest mistake...

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28 Sep 2013

How Manet and other artists shoot their paintings

Have you ever shot your mother? Directors shoot movies and nearly everyone has made a snap-shot with a camera but few imagine that artists shoot paintings. In fact they have shot nearly every canvas with a gun in it since the devilish implements were invented. The Irish poet Seamus Heaney...

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09 Sep 2013 | 2 Comments

Art’s Unknown Frown

Artists frown. Constantly. Why? Charles Darwin considered the corrugator, the muscle which results in a frown, as the most remarkable of the human face because it irresistably conveys the idea of mind.1 And that's why, in my opinion, artists have used it for centuries not only in their own...

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17 Jul 2013 | 1 Comments

Michelangelo Rocks in The Battle of Cascina (1504)

This post explains additional obervations not included in the original article here on Michelangelo’s The Battle of Cascina, a 1504 cartoon for a never-completed mural in the civic heart of Florence. It is one of the most celebrated and influential works in the history of art. A composition...

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05 Jul 2013 | 2 Comments

Art’s Etymology

The successful Germans are not very popular at the moment in France, Italy and Great Britain, all suffering economically. But who do you think understands art better? Well, if language is anything to go by, it's not the Romance languages and English.

Art, short and simple, shares the same...

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13 Jun 2013

Nature and Us

Great artists may follow dogma out of social etiquette or necessity but they think freely, leading them somewhat paradoxically to a similar conclusion.1 They know in unison, as do poets and other sensitive types, that our minds trick us into thinking that we are only self-contained,...

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