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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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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08 Nov 2014

3 Practical Ways to Understand Art

Artists of the past generally practised their craft from a very young age.They often prayed at their easels too. Today we who wish to understand their works cannot mimic their practice to any great extent. Yet their experience helped form their art. It probably included intellectual discussions...

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23 Oct 2014

The Male Artist and His Female Muse

Mona Lisa was Leonardo’s muse and he kept the portrait with him until his death. The beautiful, semi-nude La Fornarina was Raphael’s. Titian’s muse and Palma Vecchio’s are both called Beautiful or La Bella in Italian. Parmigianino’s is known as Anthea. Today not one of these women has...

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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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26 Jan 2014 | 1 Comments

Trees as Paintbrushes

Looking out my study window in Italy something struck me that you might only notice in life not paint. Not far from the house, lower down, is a row of cypresses. When the wind blows, the pointed tops move back and forth over the distant landscape which, of course, remains quite still, unmoved....

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09 Jan 2014 | 7 Comments

Keith Haring’s Secret Knowledge

EPPH has already shown how at least 7 major artists depicted themselves as lions (see below). There are more to come but many are by Old Masters and are quite subtle. Here’s an obvious example, an actual self-portrait, by an artist who was all the rage in 1980’s New York, Keith Haring. Why...

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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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12 Apr 2013 | 7 Comments

How a Scientist Solved the Puzzle of the Mona Lisa

The true identity of Leonardo's Mona Lisa has been a long-running mystery captivating generations of art lovers and scholars. Yet the most crucial piece of information about the Mona Lisa missing from standard textbooks is that the proportions of the Mona Lisa’s face differ from an earlier...

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10 Apr 2013 | 1 Comments

Leonardo’s Facial Mystery

The discovery that great portraits do not depict identifiable people, as long believed, is a real eye-opener. (See the book free online titled Every Painter Paints Himself.) Yet the significance of what you can now see in portraiture can only be grasped when one recognizes that even depictions...

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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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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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22 Jul 2012

Anthropomorphic Landscapes

Visual metamorphosis. It's my term to describe a compositional method long used by major artists but virtually unknown to the art world except in a few rare cases. The only major exceptions I can immediately think of are Martin Schöngauer, Albrecht Dürer and Gustave Courbet three centuries...

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13 Mar 2012

Painting vs. Poetry

In the Renaissance there was a long-running debate over whether painting was as intellectual a medium as poetry. Poetry, whom no-one doubted was a “liberal” art, usually won the day as I believe it still would do in our contemporary world. Even art scholars too often think that painting merely...

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23 Feb 2012

Faces in Our Minds

Humanity’s existence is so dependent on recognizing faces that our visual system specializes in it, reserving a large proportion of the brain’s neurons solely for that purpose. Amazingly we can even recognize a person in profile when we have only ever seen them from the front. The brain...

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