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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22 Jan 2014 | 2 Comments

What’s Wrong with the Art World?

What is wrong with the art world? Why can't they see Van Gogh's self-portrait in the fireplace (above)? It is so obvious that a child would recognize it if shown. Whatever the reason, no expert can. That means that this colorful and late self-portrait by Van Gogh, a great rarity, is estimated...

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09 Sep 2013 | 2 Comments

Art’s Unknown Frown

Artists frown. Constantly. Why? Charles Darwin considered the corrugator, the muscle which results in a frown, as the most remarkable of the human face because it irresistably conveys the idea of mind.1 And that's why, in my opinion, artists have used it for centuries not only in their own...

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19 Nov 2012

Seeing Through the Artist’s Eyes

Michelangelo's Art Through Michelangelo's Eyes (2005) was my first publication because it demonstrates how important it is to look at poetic art that way, through the eyes of the artist. I have continued to show how the same method works with other artists too, often with visually astonishing...

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25 Jul 2012

Manet’s Little Cavaliers

Major artists are often inspired by earlier masterpieces yet when the young Edouard Manet entered the Louvre to copy whatever he wanted he chose an insignificant little painting. Yes, it was then attributed to Velazquez but Manet, with an in-depth knowledge of technique, is likely to have...

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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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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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04 Feb 2012

Physiognomy and Every Painter….

In the previous entry we saw how Degas’ beloved Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is partly modelled on the physiognomic ideas of Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) and others. I mentioned this because Lavater also wrote: “Every painter paints more or less himself. As one is, so he paints.” His...

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26 Aug 2011 | 2 Comments

Quotation of the Week #1

"For a painter, it is probably twice as interesting if, while painting a nest, he dreams of a cottage and, while painting a cottage, he dreams of a nest. It is as though one dreamed twice, in two registers, when one dreams of an image cluster such as this. For the simplest image is doubled; it...

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05 Jun 2011

Woody Allen’s a Great Master

I've just seen Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris. Spot on. Exactly as we explain great masterpieces. It's about an American writer, clearly Woody's alter ego, who gets lost in his own imagination. A car from the 1910's picks him up in 2011 and takes him to dinner with Hemingway,...

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23 Nov 2010

Art and Eckhart

“Knowledge of Meister Eckhart’s work is indispensable to the understanding of medieval art, even though he has been almost totally neglected by those who like to call themselves ‘historians of art.’”

So wrote the Egyptologist and scholar of mystery religions Christian Jacq on the opening page...

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27 Oct 2010 | 2 Comments

Van Gogh’s Nose

Noses are important in art history. Ovid's middle name was Nose, or naso in Italian, and his Metamorphoses were for centuries artistic fodder for painters and sculptors alike. Maybe that's why Michelangelo was so interested in his own nose, telling Vasari, it seems, numerous stories about it....

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27 Oct 2010 | 2 Comments

Van Gogh’s Eyes

Cruising along the Lungotevere on a Vespa I had time to admire the vast self-portrait of Vincent on the back of a Roman tour bus. The poster, promoting yet another one-man show of his work, had a glorious reproduction of the artist in which every brush stroke was enlarged to about 3”.  What...

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