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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07 Mar 2016 | 1 Comments

Try Sleeping on Dürer’s Pillows

Surprise, surprise. In great art you never stop seeing new perceptions in long-familar images because art by its very nature exists on multiple levels. And seeing them without help from others is both edifying and deeply satisfying, certain to brighten your spirits on a dull day. Our subject...

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14 Nov 2015

Balla’s Initial Idea

The house in Rome of Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), an Italian Futurist painter, is a kaleidoscope of color and creativity. I haven’t visited it but came across this photograph online of four of his clothes hangers. A commentator transcribes the handwritten inscription on one of these household...

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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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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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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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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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19 Jul 2014 | 1 Comments

How many features does a face need?

How much information do we need to recognize a face? Astonishingly little. Here George Washington’s can be recognized in the handle of a wooden seal (c.1810). This explains, perhaps, how artists can continuously convey their features in other objects, in landscapes or still-lifes for example,...

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17 Jul 2014 | 1 Comments

Bacon’s Frank about Portraiture

Occasionally an artist's recorded thoughts give hints that their views on portraiture are not conventional. I have quite a collection of them. However someone just sent me this 1971 statement by Francis Bacon in which he completely rejects the standard view still widely held in the art world...

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26 May 2014 | 1 Comments

Magic from Matisse and Michelangelo

What does Matisse’s figure from Dance II (1910) have to do with Michelangelo’s St Peter from the Last Judgment (1534-41). More than you might think. Bear with me. Both are nude against a blue sky, facing us and facing left; both look a little hunch-backed. Matisse’s dances;...

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12 Feb 2014

Note on Palette Sounds

My recent post on artists using stringed instruments as metaphoric palettes was restricted to guitars so I did not use this image. Perhaps I should have because while musicians may think lutes and guitars are very different, in artworks they are much the same. Johannes Cornelisz van Swieten, a...

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09 Feb 2014

Artists and the Thumb-hole of a Guitar

I read once that Cézanne prepared his palette with as many as 18 pigments and lined them up in a series like musical scales.1 It’s an apt analogy because painters have long portrayed musicians as an allegory of their own poetic performance in the studio. When Manet and Courbet painted...

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04 Feb 2014

A Musical Note and Letters

It's a red-letter day for Raphael. I have been showing a lot of letters recently, how Raphael and Renoir each used objects shaped like an R, how Manet and Matisse used M’s and Ingres used an I. And I doubt before this evening that anyone has ever shown that the Virgin in Raphael's great...

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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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