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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24 Sep 2014 | 2 Comments

Reading Art: Manet, Picasso and Alfonso Ponce de Leon

My vision, like most people’s, is often cloudy which is why when the sun breaks and I gain some understanding, I get excited. You must excuse me. It may sometimes seem as if no-one before me has made similar observations. After all, all my entries on EPPH must include something unknown to...

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03 Sep 2014 | 1 Comments

Leonardo’s Skull Rocks

Art is visual which means, contrary to a lot of theoretical discourse, so are its secrets. And if you train your eyes to search for similarity rather than difference, you'll be amazed at what you can discover. 

Few paintings have been analyzed as much as Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks in...

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01 May 2014 | 1 Comments

An Intriguing Self-portrait, c.1345 BC

One of the earliest surviving self-portraits from antiquity is that of Bak, chief sculptor to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten. It is beautifully preserved in Berlin (above) and is very intriguing given Western art history’s traditional description of Egyptian art as something foreign.

As...

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14 Apr 2014

Joseph Cornell gives birth to a box…

Birthing, physical birth, is one of poetry and art’s most powerful metaphors used for many centuries, perhaps ever since art first appeared. It plays on the relationship between sexual conception and mental conception while often conveying that our physical bodies do not determine our soul....

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13 Mar 2014

Flat Noses on a Frontal Face

A year ago I used this early portrait drawing by Ingres (left) to demonstrate that Picasso's combination of faces from differing viewpoints, a hallmark of Cubism, was a technique practiced by earlier artists for a similar reason. Ingres, for instance, drew Monsieur Devillers' face frontally but...

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10 Mar 2014

Egon Schiele’s Green Belly

There is no such thing as art for art’s sake. It is a contradiction in terms. The early 19th-century art historians could see little beyond narrative so when art started to lose its connection to an apparent subject, they assumed such works were composed for visual effect alone. That, of...

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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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05 Jan 2014 | 2 Comments

How God became Woman

Art is so pregnant that it can take months for its hidden meaning to emerge in your thought. That’s why we try to enter the artist's mind, not just through social customs and the religious dogma of a period but also through art's own culture which, though barely known, is simpler to recall...

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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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13 Jul 2013

Hockney Draws Rain or Shine


When an artist paints a subject, what is most likely to dominate their thoughts: the subject, the process of creating it or both? Well, you all know the answer to that one. Still, it was sweet to read David Hockney confirm it while discussing his prints on the weather. It shows that the...

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11 Dec 2012

Memory Holloway and Picasso

Memory Holloway, an art historian at the University of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, has written a wonderful book on a magnificent group of etchings by Pablo Picasso. It is titled Making Time: Picasso's Suite 347. Suite 347 is the name given to 347 etchings that the Spanish artist produced in his...

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09 Nov 2012

Creation Theology

The painting above by an artist little known outside of Italy, Benedetto Bonfigli, is often titled The Annunciation of the Notaries and is dated to the middle of the fifteenth century. St. Luke who can be seen writing his gospel between the Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel is said to be a...

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29 Oct 2012

Leonardo’s Hurricane Sandy

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast of the United States tonight, I thought I should take the opportunity to tell our users there that we are thinking of them and wish them well. We're in it too. If you have a second to take your mind off the monstrous storm outside - before the...

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25 Oct 2012

Jackson Pollock’s Poetry of the Self

“Painting is a state-of-being….Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock (1912-56)1

Like hundreds of artists since the early Renaissance, and probably from even before then,  the true meaning of Jackson Pollock’s paintings is not made...

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