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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17 May 2015

Bread, art and metamorphosis

I just spent the past week learning how to bake bread properly, taught by an artisan baker. The effects were startling. Time passed unnoticed; the scraper became an extension of my body; and only by thinking of what it was like to be the dough did I learn to handle it gently. Anything done with...

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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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05 Mar 2015

Picasso runs his fingers through her hair

No doubt in life Picasso did run his fingers through his girlfriend's hair. In the drawing (left) from 1906 he did so too, turning an image of Fernande into a representation of himself. He might have learnt the method from any number of artists including Michelangelo or Fra Filippo Lippi....

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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.

11 Jan 2015

Hans Memling and Cubism

Every time I look at this Portrait of a Man by Hans Memling I feel a little sick. I’m serious. It makes me slightly nauseous. Perhaps Walter Pater, the 19th-century art historian, felt similarly about the Mona Lisa. He described her as a weirdo and he's right.1 No Renaissance woman had...

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17 Oct 2014

Brushing up on the Painter’s Sword

The mind of an artist is poetic so, if you want to understand painting and sculpture, read poets. Their literary metaphors are the artist’s visual ones. However, beware: poets understand visual art no better than most people. Emile Zola, Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé all wrote...

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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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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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25 Feb 2014


Many great artists I follow use a feature other than the face to identify themselves in pictures that are not self-portraits. Given that all their figures represent the artist, they need a variety of methods to hide and reveal their self-references. Stripes were one of Courbet's favorites. In...

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13 Jan 2014

Good Art is Not Original

There are some no-nos on EPPH to make conventional minds scream. No biography. Who cares how many women Picasso lived with? It makes no difference to the meaning of Guernica or even to images nominally depicting his loves. No historical or literal reading either. Art is for the ages; the true...

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20 Nov 2013

Picasso Hid a Sword in Nazi Loot

Sometimes I do no work at all. Things just pop in my face. I suppose I'm so used to looking for certain features that my eyes know what to look for subconsciously. That's what appeared to happen last week as I read the news that the Germans had confiscated a trove of paintings stolen by the...

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10 Nov 2013 | 3 Comments

Why Art is So Similar

Some readers question whether the common themes of art explained here really exist because, in their minds, art is a product of individual expression. No wonder. That is what children are told and art lovers too. Picasso, for instance, is said to have often painted the romantic and sexual...

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29 Jan 2013 | 5 Comments

2nd Self-Portrait Found in Same Met Gallery!

After discovering a self-portrait by Picasso four days ago (see blog), I think I've discovered another one, this time by Bonnard.....hanging right opposite the other one at the Metropolitan Museum! The "coincidence" demonstrates, if nothing else, that you can walk into almost any important...

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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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