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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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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05 Jul 2014 | 1 Comments

Why art’s meaning repeats

There is never any new content in art [see definition below].1 Art’s meaning is true. Truth is constant. Thus, it must always be true. And it must always have been true, at least since the development of mankind. So, if art expresses fundamental truths about the human condition, it has...

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21 May 2013

Plays on the Mind

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Richard Foreman, an experimental playwright for more than four decades "has presided over heady spectacles that mingle the conventions of theater with ... stroboscopic stage sets designed as embodiments of the working mind [my italics.]" In his...

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02 Feb 2013 | 15 Comments

Roy Lichtenstein’s Plagiarism

Plagiarize! Plagiarize! Let no-one else's work evade your eyes!
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize.....

Tom Lehrer's comical lyrics from the 1950's were pierced with the perceptive truth that nothing comes from...

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24 Nov 2012

Creativity in Science and the Arts

Today we tend to think that creative people find employment in the arts while those whose minds are capable of rigorous logic are more suited to science. It is, of course, entirely wrong as many may sense without knowing exactly why. The average scientist, indeed the vast majority of...

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23 Jun 2012

Cindy Sherman: Inside and Out

Cindy Sherman stands in an odd position in my pantheon of art. Her portraits, critics repeatedly tell us, are self-portraits but at the same time are not about her. That is my dilemma. The very characteristic that would make Sherman’s work interesting to study is dismissed by critics as...

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11 Apr 2012 | 2 Comments

Words on Words and Songs on Sound

My beat is art history and I’ve spent15 years reading nothing but non-fiction loosely or closely related to art.  My knowledge of contemporary literature  is tenuous at best; my familiarity with music worse but I have a belief based on truly profound levels of ignorance that something...

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27 Feb 2012

Degas on Reflection and the Great Masters

At the entry to a small, mildly interesting exhibition of Rembrandt’s engravings and their influence on Degas, the Metropolitan Museum has highlighted the following quote:

“What I do is the result of reflection and the study of great masters.”        Edgar Degas

That will not surprise...

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05 Dec 2011

Urinary Colors

Perhaps Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a photo of a crucifix in a bottle of his own urine, is not so unusual after all. I’ve just learnt that the red dyes used for high-status textiles in the Middle Ages (ecclesiastical, regal etc.)  would wash out quickly unless a “mordant” was used to set the...

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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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18 Jul 2011

Show me the Money!

If you are in New York, do visit Hans-Peter Feldman’s winning installation for the annual Hugo Boss Guggenheim prize. The prize is $100,000 so Feldman took the exact amount in dollar bills and pinned all 100,000 of them to the walls and columns of the side gallery at the Guggenheim New York....

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30 May 2011

Metamorphic Form

Craig Tracy, a painter and former illustrator, creates arresting images (left) and then shows us how he did it (right). Few art historians realize that great masters, far more creative obviously than Tracy (no offense intended), often use the same method but do not tell us. There are a few...

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29 May 2011

Gormley on Art

Contemporary art is not my specialty. I do, however, keep my eyes open and I can't help getting the sense that many prominent artists today practice every painter paints himself in one way or another. The British sculptor, Anthony Gormley (1950-), spent several years studying Buddhism in the...

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14 Jan 2011

What do Contemporary Artists Know?

Why do so many contemporary artists place themselves at the center of their work? Think about it. Yasamusa Morimura paints himself into his copies after old masterpieces; he’s not the only one to do so either. Cindy Sherman has photographed herself in hundreds of disguises taken from art; Liu...

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