05 Apr 2016

The Poetry of Turner’s Eyesight

The quality of an artist's eyesight is usually irrelevant. Impressionist paintings were once said to have no meaning because they were exact reproductions of what the artists saw. Now we know they were not. I'm embarrassed to admit it, however, but even I swallowed that one for a few years. I...

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07 Mar 2016 | 1 Comments

Try Sleeping on Dürer’s Pillows

Surprise, surprise. In great art you never stop seeing new perceptions in long-familar images because art by its very nature exists on multiple levels. And seeing them without help from others is both edifying and deeply satisfying, certain to brighten your spirits on a dull day. Our subject...

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29 Feb 2016

Re-writing Writers on Art

Years ago I thought that the Renaissance humanists who fought to have painting accepted as a liberal art knew a lot about the subject. It seemed a natural assumption but I was wrong. For us in search of art’s underlying meaning, it’s more important to absorb literature's philosophy and...

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21 Feb 2016

Harper Lee on Every Painter Paints Himself

Harper Lee’s passing reminded me of a deservedly famous line in To Kill A Mockingbird: "You never really understand a person… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." To my mind she was not just portraying a wild imagination, as a surface reading suggests, but that what seems...

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29 Oct 2015

On Art’s Unity


If anyone doubts that there is more unity to visual art than is currently recognized or imagined, think about what Maya Angelou, the American poet, had to say about art in general. She was not given to hyperbole or exaggeration and chose her words carefully.

"All great artists draw from...

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10 Aug 2015

Eye-Opening: Michelangelo, Goya and Pixar’s Inside Out

Don’t get misled by Pixar's new Inside Out. It's not for children. It’s an animated film so obviously based on the paradigm of Western art that it demonstrates what EPPH has often argued: that ever since the 1940’s many, if not most, successful Hollywood films have been made according to...

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01 Aug 2015

Joanna Woodall on Cooking Artists in Dark Rooms

Many are the ways to demonstrate that a given picture represents the artist in his or her mind: resemblance, pose, apparent errors, "nonsensical" shading, tools expressed in metaphor, etc. We have shown you at least thirty different methods, most of them unknown to art historians in...

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04 Jul 2015

Miró‘s Advice for Young Painters

The just-published entry on Joan Miró's Self-portrait (1919) shows what he meant when, in a recording from 1951, he reminds young painters not to copy  nature as taught in academies of art.

"He who wants to really achieve something has to flee from things that are easy and pay no...

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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 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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30 Oct 2014

An Artist’s Path to Certainty

How does a great artist know he is on the right track before being recognized as canonical? Van Gogh, for example, knew his own importance despite commercial and critical failure; Picasso was convinced at a very young age. The answer, I believe, is that they study art in ways few others do and...

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24 Oct 2014

Science, Religion and Art: Einstein on the Inner Tradition

Perhaps the most difficult part of understanding art is the Inner Tradition, the path that links not only all the world’s major religions but science, literature and music too. Religious believers strongly attached to a particular creed are unlikely to accept this; committed atheists like...

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