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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05 Dec 2014 | 2 Comments

As in Painting, so is Poetry

The image above, a detail of a painting by Balthus called The Painter and His Model, goes particularly well with the poem below by James Merrill. Balthus, his head wrapped in a cloth to keep paint off his hair, seemingly pulls the curtain aside but, on our level, he really has the extended arm...

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03 Dec 2014

Claws, Paws and Prints

Many animals, like cats, dogs or the mythical griffin, have sharp claws. Let loose in a house, some of these charmers will engrave table legs, floor boards or virtually anything wooden. Artists who naturally have acute visual perception often relate this type of instinctual behavior to their...

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03 Mar 2014

The Brush-Sword of Mattia Preti

After the recent post on a new book of cartoons, Daggers Drawn, this one is on the same subject 350 years earlier.

Mattia Preti (1613-1699) was a major Italian artist who is little-known because he spent much of his life on the island of Malta where many of his pictures remain. Here he...

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23 Feb 2014

Daggers Drawn

Daggers Drawn. A new compendium of a political cartoonist’s 35 years in the business and on the cover he stands at his desk, pen drawn, facing the dictators and democrats he has followed, all with daggers drawn too. The conclusion is simple to draw. Daggers, swords and other sharp weapons are...

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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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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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26 Nov 2013 | 2 Comments

Tips to Tell Art from Illustration

My definition of art, as I've said before, is not as wide as that used by the public and most scholars. I do not believe, for instance, that children create art nor the vast majority of adult painters. True artists paint themselves; they paint inwards and they paint the wisdom of the ages.  


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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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10 Aug 2013 | 2 Comments

Soak it up! The Story of Degas’ Sponge.

Degas was a well-known miser so some people might still think of him as a sponge. That would be appropriate. Artists don't always handle brushes; they use anything that works, sponges included. A selection sold for use by artists is illustrated (above right). Degas, for instance, might well...

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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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01 Dec 2012

Pointing at the Edge

If you cruise the various interpretations on this site, you might have noticed a tendency to explain a figure with an arm or hand pointing to or touching the edge of the image as the artist himself painting a self-portrait. Michael Fried first noticed this phenomenon in an early painting by...

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12 Jul 2012

Ink Flies in a Mind

If anyone doubts that St. Sebastian holds a special place in the creative mind as a symbol of the artist’s self and the idea that every painter paints himself, then take a look at Jaff Seijas’ self-portrait above. It is not proof but it is telling. I came across it on the web a few days...

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