04 Jul 2015

Miró‘s Advice for Young Painters

The just-published entry on Joan Miró's Self-portrait (1919) shows what he meant when, in a recording from 1951, he reminds young painters not to copy  nature as taught in academies of art.

"He who wants to really achieve something has to flee from things that are easy and pay no...

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20 Mar 2015

Whose God is on the dollar bill?

Art is too often seen as a literal representation of the artist's own small, physical world. The idea that it uses metaphoric language to express much larger, eternal truths shared by all mankind is seldom realized. The same happens with the dollar bill. Six local Republican legislators want to...

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26 Feb 2015

Art in Search of Self-Knowledge

One of the great shibboleths of art history is that High Renaissance masters depicted the exterior world. Few, of course, doubt that landscapes and portraits represent exterior nature. EPPH, on the other hand, argues that all scenes in art are internal in the long millennia-old search for...

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29 Dec 2014

For how long have we read the Bible literally?

I learnt an astonishing fact today.1 The habit of reading the Bible as though it is historically true (especially the New Testament) started during the Protestant Reformation which began in 1517 and lasted more than a century. For the first 1,500 years the New Testament like all scripture...

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10 Dec 2014 | 1 Comments

Van Eyck’s Alpha and Omega

The world seems to work in our favor. Things happen which I used to call coincidence but which, in hindsight, are often far too fortuitous to be chance. Carl Jung described such events, at least the unusually important ones, as synchronicity and did not think they were coincidence. As an idea I...

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02 Dec 2014 | 11 Comments

Your Go: Explain this picture!

OK, readers, this a chance to practice your own powers of perception and interpretation before I comment: 

Explain below what this Crucifixion scene might mean and the oddity of Christ’s loincloth. I am drawing attention to that particular detail because, as always, oddities, "errors" and...

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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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24 Oct 2014

Science, Religion and Art: Einstein on the Inner Tradition

Perhaps the most difficult part of understanding art is the Inner Tradition, the path that links not only all the world’s major religions but science, literature and music too. Religious believers strongly attached to a particular creed are unlikely to accept this; committed atheists like...

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06 Oct 2014 | 1 Comments

Dürer, Titian, Art and Blasphemy


For those who have trouble - I certainly did - understanding how artists like Dürer (top) and Titian (below) could have portrayed themselves as Christ, here is a poem attributed to an 11th-century spiritual master of the Greek Orthodox Church.1 The truth he writes about - that we are...

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20 Aug 2014

The Craftsman’s Christ

This is a scene by an unknown 16th-century artist, probably Flemish, at a time when artisanal effort was admired not just for the perfection of the end-product but for the artisan’s closely-guarded knowledge of materials. Wood, stone, minerals, plant extracts, gold-work, smelting etc. No-one...

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25 Jun 2014 | 2 Comments

Is self-representation self-centered?

(On vacation. A re-post from last summer)

The practical and philosophical issue of whether figures in art depict the artist or the apparent character is well expressed by two different translations of the same text in a Upanishad. The passage in question helps explain why art, though focused...

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01 May 2014 | 1 Comments

An Intriguing Self-portrait, c.1345 BC

One of the earliest surviving self-portraits from antiquity is that of Bak, chief sculptor to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten. It is beautifully preserved in Berlin (above) and is very intriguing given Western art history’s traditional description of Egyptian art as something foreign.

As...

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23 Apr 2014

Raphael, a Brother, and an Initial Idea

Art, according to EPPH, is esoteric, a visual primer on the Inner Tradition created by women and men every bit as spiritual as a robed monk, often more so. Indeed in the Middle Ages most artists were clerics or monks working in the scriptorium of a monastery. After the recent revelation here...

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18 Feb 2014

Art’s Purpose

To become like God (ie, gain access to Wisdom) has long been the principal goal of all who practice inner-focused spirituality. The group includes not only monks and nuns in cloistered communities but spiritual seekers in the wider world as well, including true philosophers, esotericists of...

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15 Dec 2013

Your Self is My Self

You can find wisdom within all major religions (and an awful lot of nonsense too). Some of the Eastern traditions which openly concentrate on training the mind and looking inwards are particularly useful for understanding art in all media. That’s partly why the Beatles went to India in the...

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