14 Nov 2015

Balla’s Initial Idea

The house in Rome of Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), an Italian Futurist painter, is a kaleidoscope of color and creativity. I haven’t visited it but came across this photograph online of four of his clothes hangers. A commentator transcribes the handwritten inscription on one of these household...

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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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14 Dec 2013

Winking in Art

Russian artists in the early 20th century turned to the West to absorb the latest trends happening in Paris. That’s the conventional story. Yet, little known, at the same time they were also turning eastwards towards Siberia and Russia’s oriental cultures where they absorbed Tibetan...

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02 Oct 2013

Blindness Lets People See

"The blind can see" sounds like a biblical myth but it is true. The blind and the visually impaired can see visual art for what it is, at least the idea of it, while the sighted generally cannot. In paintings and sculptures over many centuries, artists have composed mental images uniting the...

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20 Apr 2013

Do you know what it means to come home?

Think differently. The old ways are often dull and didactic. Take, for instance, paintings and prints that seem to illustrate Bible stories. Why treat them as a narrative when mystical Christians, among whom must be counted many great Western artists, would not have thought of them as...

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18 Feb 2013

1+1=1: The Divided Self in Manet’s Railway

What is the girl up to? Who are they? What's happening? Why do they wear the same color clothes? Why is the girl's hair so odd?

In my explanation two years ago of Edouard Manet’s The Railway (1873) I noted that the extended arm of the girl, an alter ego, is “painting” the background and...

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10 Oct 2012 | 1 Comments

Art, Generalization and Sight

One of the keys to understanding art is generalization because many of the most creative artists donate their ideas not to contemporaries or to those in the generation afterwards, who might not even understand, but to other great artists centuries later in very different circumstances.

For...

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17 Apr 2012

St. George and the Dragon: Background

The legend of St. George is a mix of sources so dense with poetic allusion that the saint’s prominence in great art was almost inevitable. Today the narrative is not widely known but in the Middle Ages St. George’s story was a gripping and charming tale with roots in classical myth. 

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