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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 10 Dec 2012, 18:14

He had a wicked sense of humour, I'll give him that much.

Another Bosch, The Cure of Folly.



Edit. I love the woman with the book on her head!


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 10 Dec 2012, 18:26

'The Cure of Folly' ... ie the itinerant charlatan's act/operation of 'cutting for the stone', (the stone of stupidity). Another similar bitter observation of his fickle, fallable, fellow men is, 'The Ship of Fools'.

I'll try and find a pic of the 'Ship.. ', but just at the mo' my dinner is sounding it's 'ready' alarm.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 10 Dec 2012, 18:57

There we go....

'The ship of Fools' .... Dense in symbolism it was intended to exemplify the fallible human condition. The allegory depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction. The picture's narrative follows the contemporary well-known satirical book of the same title ('Daß Narrenschyff', in medieval German) written by Sebastian Brant and first published in 1494.

Again Bosch's painting was originally part of a triptych altar panel. The painting is now mostly in the Louvre but the bottom third (below what's shown here) under the title: 'Allegory of Gluttony', currently resides in Washington DC.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 11 Dec 2012, 16:16

May I just return very briefly to Caravaggio?

I read Ruskin's uncharitable comment about Caravaggio's obsession with "horror and ugliness and filthiness of sin" - felt smugly of course that Ruskin, unlike me, had missed the whole point. Then read the James Hall article (see link below) from the Guardian, and realised that I too was perhaps missing the whole point. I could well be in danger here of trying to sentimentalise the man and his works. It's that final paragraph, quoted below, that's got me thinking - I want Caravaggio of course to be the lonely sinner desperately searching for God, and finding Him (even if he didn't realise it at the time) in the desperate street life of Rome. Nice idea, but perhaps one that Caravaggio himself would find absurd? I'd like to think not...

But I could well be fooling myself. Did Caravaggio actually have far more in common with that other spitter and curser, atheist and fellow Prince of Darkness, Christopher Marlowe?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/apr/10/james-hall-caravaggio-rome

Caravaggio's art can be best understood as representing a "Machiavellian moment". He lived in an age when the term Machiavellian had become common currency, often as a term of abuse. But it was still granted huge explanatory force: the St Bartholomew's day massacre of Protestants in Paris in 1572 was attributed more to Machiavellian political manoeuvrings than to religious ideology. The metronomic intensity – and, to some extent, monotony – of Caravaggio's work stems from that fact that he is as interested in the natural and political history of religion as the spiritual history. His David is a narcissist, opportunist and realist before he is a prophet and author of the penitential Psalms.

PS Just been looking at "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" (probably by Pieter Brueghel the Elder) and the two *poems* this picture inspired. Will post picture and poems in a moment.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 11 Dec 2012, 16:22







Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Landscape With The Fall of Icarus

by William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there wasa splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning


Poor Icarus. Those litttle legs disappearing and no one gives a damn. I never know whether I'm supposed to laugh or cry at this one - its title should be Landscape (with the fall of Icarus, if you can spot it).


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 11 Dec 2012, 16:33

James Hall has a point. In that era in Rome there was hardly an artist being commissioned by the top people who hadn't at least one murder rap if not on his conscience then at least on his CV. The competition for patronage was often quite literally cut-throat and the studios run in a manner we now associate mostly with the Sicilian mafia. We tend to look at that group's works and associate them with a golden age of art, especially religious art, but what they really represent are some of the most bloodthirtsy and morally ambivalent minds (on both sides of the patronage equation) addressing issues that they most obviously did not innately understand. They are explorations, and often highly intelligent and astute observations, but they are essentially hypocritical in motive, a facet which is often exposed through their execution, however brilliantly in artistic terms.

That is why there are so few of them that do not, even to the most religiously ambivalent person today, contain an in-built contradiction and often more than a hint of what can only be described as evil about them, despite their lofty religious themes and subjects.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 11 Dec 2012, 17:53

Ice Age Art - the arrival of the modern mind.
An exhibition 40,000 years
in the making.

Discover masterpieces from the last Ice Age drawn from across
Europe in this groundbreaking show. Created between 40,000 and
10,000 years ago by artists with modern minds like our own, this is
a unique opportunity to see the world's oldest known sculptures,
drawings and portraits.

These exceptional pieces will be presented alongside modern
works by Henry Moore, Mondrian and Matisse, illustrating the
fundamental human desire to communicate and make art as a way of
understanding ourselves and our place in the world.

begining Feb 7 1013, at the British Museum.
http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/ice_age_art.aspx

This exhibition should be fascinating, early art is an area too often over-looked.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 10:35

Just a word of thanks for the on going contributions to this topic - I have followed up all the links and learned much - especially about Bernini whose works I have tried to see in my travels..... aside from the content and fascinating background to it, the man's skill alone is breath-taking... I did a sculpture course for a year in my enthusiastic youth. The first step in the the downward learning curve of accepting one's limited ability.

And how I love the works of the Breugal family. For many years I had a room covered with prints of their works - and after 20 years never tired of studying them in reflective moments - beyond the good 'ol diagonal structure, I mean. And yee, I agree with ID. Must make the BM exhibition. Carry on researching and posting, folks your thoughts and input are greatly appreciated.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 10:47

How odd - I for one was just about to sign off from this site for good (some hope, this place is like the Hotel California) thinking that no one is in the least bit interested in the ramblings of the few, but then you post that, Priscilla.

So come on, MM, nordmann, ID, ferval - we can Carry On Rambling a bit more...

Thank you, Priscilla.

How about a bit of still life? Not keen on flowers and bowls of fruit much myself, but they have proved popular over the years...

And what was the picture James Bond was looking at when he met the new Q (the wonderful Ben Whishaw) in "Skyfall"? Some old ship or other...





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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 10:53

Quote :
Just a word of thanks for the on going contributions to this topic - I have followed up all the links and learned much

Can I second that P. Fascinating stuff and so interesting to compare one's own, vague and untutored, thoughts about these with more learned opinion. I have always had an instinctive feeling that many, and Caravaggio is a good example, of these works, despite their religious themes, have little or nothing to do with belief in the transcendent and everything to do with the entirely mortal concerns of the artist.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 12:13

Temp, noooooooooo!!!!!!!!,
JMW Turner's Fighting Temeraire, "some old ship or other"



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 12:22

Irony, Trike, irony!

But I don't like it much, or the poem by Sir Henry Cricket-Balls Newbolt.

But it was voted the nation's favourite painting, so I'm obviously missing something...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2005/sep/07/1
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 12:24

An incredibly sad painting - she is on her way to the breaker's yard in the picture, being towed to her destruction by a nasty piece of smelly noisy crap; "the future". Turner was so moved by this image that he reversed the earth's spin (or else made Rotherhithe and Sheerness swap positions on the river) just to make sure she had a lovely sunset behind her.

If you ever get to look at it up close take a magnifying glass and have a gander at the ship's rigging. It's a whole painting within a painting, and not even of the same style as the rest. Turner was leaning towards an impressionistic vagueness at that age but knew that the rigging deserved better. By his own report it took longer to paint than the rest of the painting combined.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 12:40

Yes, the picture was used in the film as a metaphor for Bond's being consigned to the scrapheap.

Contemplating the Temeraire, Whishaw - the nerdy, but utterly brilliant, new Q - calmly tells 007: "I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop, sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of Earl Grey, than you can do in a year in the field."

The future all right.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 17:14

I adore Turner's work, he did light so very well. Even in his early work like The Fisherman at Sea, his first oil exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796 when just 21yrs.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 17:22

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 17:31

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Wed 12 Dec 2012, 20:41

I suppose as historians - or humble lovers of history - portraits of the famous should concern us.

But what of the unknown - the imagined - lives?

I love this picture of the "false Mary" - "Unknown woman (formerly known as Mary, Queen of Scots)" by Unknown artist, circa 1570.





The Unknown by the Unknown.

Any other favourite portraits of the known or the unknown by the known or the unknown?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 13 Dec 2012, 07:48

All paintings can be anonymous, even the most famous.

Here are two paintings by the same artist combined - El Greco's portrait of his son and another of his Toledo patron. This appreciation expressed in graphical form is based principally on the lead and copper content in the pigments he used.



(anonymous in the graph's legend applies to pigment used which cannot be traced back to his pallette)
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 13 Dec 2012, 09:39

Uh? A bit more explanation needed for the likes of me, I'm afraid. I can see that the lead content is largely identical in each but the copper and calcium differs. What's the significance?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 13 Dec 2012, 09:54

It means he used an apprentice to do some of the work.

That's another aspect to painting right up to the late 18th century that people tend not to think about any more but which was extremely important for jobbing artists. They made their own paints and the time and work involved in doing so far exceeded the execution of the painting itself. Caravaggio's "Supper at Emaus" was painted in one week as he got the commission just before he had to go on the run from the papal authorities and needed the cash. The cardinal who commissioned it gave him an offer he couldn't refuse and helped him escape on condition that he use the best materials he had. That's why there's so much ochre in it compared to his other paintings, and we know that he did not trust mixing ochre to his apprentices and that he took on average six months to mix it. El Greco seems to have been less fastidious (or richer).
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 13 Dec 2012, 10:42

So do the multiple peaks of Pb indicate the lead content in different pigments, from red on the left to blue on the right or the other way round? Was the apprentice being stingy with the malachite given the low incidence of copper in his palette?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 13 Dec 2012, 10:58

No, it's a measure of the nuclide emission relative to the different levels of gamma radiation measured on both paintings. Lead nuclides (Pb-211) are seen decaying most intensely at KeV levels 11 and 13 on the graph (level 405 in actuality). The apprentice's contribution matches El Greco's only in the lead content. His copper for example (KeV level 511 in actuality) emits radiation that has a half-life of five hours compared to El Greco's ten. The aberration in the other chemicals suggests that the apprentice was not even in the same studio - the only thing both artists have in common is the fixative they used.

An alternative theory is that El Greco stopped painting the portraits, abandoned all his paints except for his fixative, and then continued painting them in a whole new studio with freshly made pigments. And from the half-life measurement we even know when he did this or (more reasonably) an apprentice finished the work for him - early September 1602.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 14 Dec 2012, 00:34

Artists - then - had to live much as haidressers, courtouriers and master chefs do today. To produce the goods, a production team about them was to be expected. Artists today - the struggling kind - have to make do on benefits I imagine - or have another paying job until, if lucky or talented and better yet both, they can make money from their work. All that scientific examination only confirms what is known and has nothing to do with art, does it? Do five star menus give the calorific value - or a five a day guide? Sometimes the pursuit of truth seems destructive.

I'll get my broomstick.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 14 Dec 2012, 06:36

Scientific analysis of paintings can reveal much that wasn't known, most dramatically when x-rays were first applied and one could suddenly see the development of the image on the canvas before the final layers of paint, sometimes some very radical changes indeed. It provides an extra insight into the technique of the artist and often into the workings of his mind itself as he composed and finalised the image we ended up with. It can also be a rather strong clue to what was going on in the background to the commission and therefore an insight into much more than just the artist's artistic temperament, but that of his paymasters too.

Pigment analysis is used primarily to verify athenticity and provenance but it too can provide some useful insights. It is from this kind of analysis that we have largely been able to deduce the modus operandum of different artists often competing within the same market or even the same city, but who differed hugely in terms of their studio organisation. It was rarely a level playing surface these guys were playing on and an insight into how extensive or otherwise their production teams were helps explain otherwise unknowable background regarding choice of subject, strength of patronage and even development of style.

I introduced the idea into the discussion simply to highlight that appreciation of a painting can extend way beyond an aesthetic one, and in the case of the "old masters" such an approach renders their works not only part of our aesthetic heritage but also windows into the society and time, and also of course the artist, who produced them.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 14 Dec 2012, 09:46

Mmm - of course an artist often makes 'radical changes' to a work. All of Raol Dhal's (sp?) scraps of writing notes with his changes are all seriously filed - as are the current Poet Laureate's waste paper scraps - 'in case I throw out a very good idea I may want to retrieve' quoth he. I have been that route myself and know that is a vanity - and not worth expanding here. However, to keep on tearing the guts out of a work of acclaimed work detracts from what the artist decided to present finally..... and it is not easy to decide when to stop, either. From experience, sculptors have to be decisive like diamond cutters about each cut. ... I call that the 's**t' factor... no X-ray needed.

Knowing too much about a creative artist/ musician is little different from Daily Sun Celebrity News - perhaps that is why the great works of antiquity have so much appeal - to me at least. On the oter hand I must admit to like knowing something artists to match against what radiates from their creativity.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 14 Dec 2012, 09:58

It is essentially the difference between aesthetic and historical evaluation of something old, isn't it? To me the two can coexist - at least I have never liked a painting less for knowing more detail about its construction or the nature of the artist.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 14 Dec 2012, 10:12

Quote :
However, to keep on tearing the guts out of a work of acclaimed work detracts from what the artist decided to present finally..

Although I understand your point P, all these works have another and not entirely separate existence, that of archaeological artefacts and as such can yield up information in the same way as any other material remains.
Is there any difference between scientifically examining, say, a palaeolithic hand axe and a renaissance painting? Both can be aesthetic masterpieces but are evidence of much more than the creative impulse and expression of the maker: they are material evidence of the society that created and valued them and the technology and processes that spawned and constructed them are integral to that.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 14 Dec 2012, 10:33

Of course you are right, ferv re the artifact research. It's just the overlaying of too much knowledge about a creative object when reflecting on, say, a familiar El Greco painting. ...... it's like knowing too much about an actor. Who can watch anything with , say, Hugh Grant, without recalling that incident of his folly? Ah, there is so much to be said for privacy. I rather value those whom I would call 'private people.'

Yesterday I spent 2 hours on line looking at the photos of ancient exhibits taken in Turkish museums..... marvelling and also learning so much of unlabelled pices so I had to employ my mind somewhat.

What ever am I doing taking on a couple of Goliaths? And when I ought be doing something mundane but essential like seeing that people have food?

Will be back, defending my hopeless little corner, later.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Dec 2012, 12:53

@nordmann wrote:






I have to admit I wanted to run away and die when I saw that.

But having read the subsequent posts, I think I can appreciate what both nordmann and ferval are saying: from the point of view of the trained - disciplined - historian or archaeologist it *is* fascinating stuff. I just wish I could understand it - what on earth are decaying lead nuclides???

There was a brief clip on TV - very early this morning - of Tracey Emin being interviewed. Her interviewer was cradling an enormous alarm clock (it was one of those timed interviews). He held the giant clock out to the artist, and asked: "Is this art?"

She replied: "No. But it could be. It's all about context."

Context. I wonder what Emin would make of nordmann's chart? In what "context" could that graph itself become part a work of "art"? Perhaps positioned with the actual portrait of El Greco's illegitimate son, and maybe the portait of the young man's mother? (I think that beautiful woman in a fur was El Greco's mistress, the mother of his much loved boy - will find them both in a minute). Put their pictures along with another graph - one of the chemical composition of the human body maybe - and then add yet another image - that of the American doctor who, in 1907, tried to weigh a human soul (three quarters of an ounce, apparently). The doctor put a dying patient (who was in a bed) on a big balance and weighed him carefully as he died.

Crazy, jumbled ideas - but perhaps our Tracey could make something of it all.


PS Re Turner's picture of the fisherman - how did he capture the movement - the surge - of the sea the way he did? I find that more fascinating than the light effects. Or perhaps it was actually all about contrast?





Is this the right picture? It is Jorge Manuel, the artist's son.







Jeronima de la Cuevas, El Greco's mistress, possibly his wife. The mother of Jorge Manuel.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Dec 2012, 13:50

I've been going back to the original question: What is Art? Every definition I think of slithers away on closer examination but then I remembered a discussion I heard somewhere when the answer was given, "Art is what artists do". So maybe that is the real question: What is an artist?

It was in the context of objects trouve that it came into my mind, Douchamp's 'Fountain' for instance. What makes that, at least to some minds, art? It must surely be the imagination of the artist and the selection, be it of an item or in the choices that he/she makes in the creation of a painting, that allow the description 'art'. Above all it must be the intention to create something not just aesthetically pleasing but meaningful.

Nice article on 'The Fountain' http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/feb/09/art
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 15 Dec 2012, 14:15

@ferval wrote:


Nice article on 'The Fountain' http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/feb/09/art

It is a good article, ferval - thanks for posting it.

Was it all a piss-take? Sam Leith thinks so. His article begins: "Just how many of these damn pissoirs – sorry, historic artworks – are there?"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/apr/04/marcel-duchamp-urinal

So *was* Duchamp simply a "prankster" rather than a real "artist"? I have no idea. His urinal is not exactly art perhaps, but clever (and funny). A piss-artist taking the piss out of all the other piss-artists (and the art critics)?

"Duchamp's stepdaughter, Jacqueline Matisse Monnier, has been consulted, since she's head of the Association for the Protection and Conservation of the Works of Marcel Duchamp. (Could anyone have hoped for a more hilariously pompous-sounding organisation to have the task of guarding the legacy of a prankster?)"


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 00:03

Temp, re the Turner waves. I found them profound in his observation of moving water and light, clever in execution but the 'bowl' effect somewhat wanting in reality of wave troughs. That boat was likely to broach and helmed as depicted in such a way as an experienced fisherman would have avoided. We should get Gran in on that - perhaps I am wrong. (broaching, hull design and wave length and height make for interesting mathematcal challenges to hull designers)

Re the lovely lady in El Greco's life - do wives get such splendid furs? Well. with students colouring in his outlines with their do it themselves paint mixes and ol' El Greco only slapping on the final varnish on his master pieces he could have afforded it for both. There - too much knpwledge can be useful. What a seedy journalist I might have made
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 02:50

Sorry Priscilla, I love that Turner, havent seen it before but I wouldnt know a sail from an anchor. The yacht on my pic plies for hire on our harbour.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 07:14

@Priscilla wrote:
Re the lovely lady in El Greco's life - do wives get such splendid furs? Well. with students colouring in his outlines with their do it themselves paint mixes and ol' El Greco only slapping on the final varnish on his master pieces he could have afforded it for both. There - too much knowledge can be useful. What a seedy journalist I might have made

Me too. In fact you could have been my editor, P. All human life...

Would I have hacked Caravaggio's phone? Would he have given a damn?

But Cardinal Scipione Borghese's phone - now there's a thought. One should always have something sensational to listen to on the train...
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 10:42

El Greco self portrait, there is humour (and irony?) in his expression. Almost as if he didn't take himself too seriously.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 10:51

@Priscilla wrote:
Re the lovely lady in El Greco's life - do wives get such splendid furs? Well. with students colouring in his outlines with their do it themselves paint mixes and ol' El Greco only slapping on the final varnish on his master pieces he could have afforded it for both. There - too much knpwledge can be useful. What a seedy journalist I might have made

Yes, the students and apprentices of the masters is a fascinating subject P, and astonishing in how little of the great art pieces was actually painted by the hand it is ascribed to. I often think that Michelangelo would still be hard at work in the Sistine Chapel if it wasn't for the legion of understudies.

I'd imagine it would make authenticating a piece quite a nightmare for the experts also.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 11:35

And let's not forget the talented artists who copy any picture you care to name that proliferate on the web. The underlying point is that though immensly skilled, students and copyists very rarely innitiate the step forward that develops their own creativity; the skill that sorts sheep from goats and which might, somewhere along the way face us with that 'What is great art?' conumdrum nordmann introduced here a few pages back.

To be honest, if the work is something I like, I don't care if it's print or copy or originals by a gifted 'amateur'.... my house walls are covered with samples of all. A pair of large Leonardo portrait sketches are the most admired and dicussed and they will ever hold me in thrall. Otherwise, my choice of display changes once I am satiated by what I can glean from a work.... in some cases that took 50 years!
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 12:12

Now there is a thought, has there ever been a student who went on to exceed the master? I can't think of one off hand, does anyone have an example?

I'm taking the easy way out on Nordmann's What is Great Art conumdrum P, that there isn't an answer. It is purely in the eye of the beholder! Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 16 Dec 2012, 14:45

We all used to have Paint By Numbers sets.





Easy to mock, but the Museum of Modern Art in New York now displays four early paint by number masterpieces: I think they date from 1951.

EDIT - also found this snippet on Wiki:

In 1951 Palmer Paint introduced the Craft Master brand which sold over 12 million kits. This public response induced other companies to produce their own versions of paint by number. The Craft Master paint-kit box tops proclaimed, "A BEAUTIFUL OIL PAINTING THE FIRST TIME YOU TRY." Following the death of Max Klein in 1993, his daughter, Jacquelyn Schiffman, donated the Palmer Paint Co. archives to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.[2]



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Dec 2012, 06:48

@Islanddawn wrote:
Now there is a thought, has there ever been a student who went on to exceed the master? I can't think of one off hand, does anyone have an example?


Take your pick. Just about every European painter in oils in the post-Renaissance era right up to the 19th century served an apprenticeship in someone else's studio before they went out on their own and made a name for themself which often totally eclipsed their former mentor. That is why there are quite a few incidents of sons eclipsing their fathers. It is also why artists like Verrocchio are not so well recognised these days, and are now known best for other people's achievements and not their own - his studio gave a leg up for di Credi, Chirlandaio, Botticini, Perugino and a young lad called da Vinci who would eclipse them all. It's a pity in a way - he wasn't that bad himself and was equally good in almost every artistic skill of the day, just as he encouraged his students to be too.

Temp, painting by numbers was essentially how some of these lads trained. Artists could not trust apprentices to mix or apply shades based on their own visual judgment so many studios used a prism to refract and measure the reflected light from a pigment and then codify each required shade after mixing. A canvas with a cartoon sketched on it would then be handed over to the trainee with quite specific numeric instructions regarding what shade should go where. Some of these, not unsurprisingly, ended up looking exactly like those "paint by numbers" graphics. Sfumato, the technique associated primarily with da Vinci, mixes different shades in their application directly on the canvas and therefore means that the work cannot be the product of a "paint by numbers" technique. It was therefore a popular way for young apprentices to demonstrate that their skill was their own and not simply reproduction of a mentor's wishes. He was better at it than others but by no means its originator.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Dec 2012, 11:33

Of course, apprentices and students - how else would the learn? they very often surpassed their master. Talented Verrucchio was indeed a generous teacher.... a lead in for an interesting broader topic here if I knew how to word it.

In my last post I meant to imply only those who copy works; there have been some spendid forgers who have not furthered themselves in creating an original expression of their own creativity.... said she unable to name one at the drop of a posting. Perhaps I ought do something close to my league - like dusting. Nah, stand cards over it for a couple of weeks.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Dec 2012, 11:41

Of course there is another way of evaluating what is great art using a method which throughout this discussion has been very much the elephant in the room, offensive and all as it is to people who proclaim themselves aesthetes first and foremost ...

Here is a typical spiel from one of the many companies who now offer "art advice" services for a small fee:

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Here art is simply a commodity and while the site acknowledges that its customers might indeed have aesthetic sensibilities these are completely secondary to the real purpose of art, at least in its view. And who is to say that the assorted cardinals, popes, merchants and politicians etc of old would not have availed of just such a service had it existed at the time?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 17 Dec 2012, 11:57

And this from Vogue magazine showing the ten best art works of all time based on price paid for them:

1. Paul Cézanne, The Card Player, £160 million

2. Jackson Pollock, No 5 1948, £99 million

3. Willem De Kooning, Woman III, £97.5 million

4. Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, £95.2 million

5. Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Dr Gachet, £91 million

6. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at the Moulin de la Galette, £86.4 million

7. Pablo Picasso, Boy with a Pipe, £78.5 million

8. Edvard Munch, The Scream, £73.9 million

9. Pablo Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, £69.9 million

10. Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Joseph Roulin, £67.7 million

Some of these are all right but one or two are pure crap in my view.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Tue 18 Dec 2012, 05:36

The Portrait of an Old Man was authenticated as a Rembrandt earlier this year, which added a few million to it's value. Much to the delight of the Duke of Bedford, I dare say.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/mar/28/rembrandt-old-rabbi-painting-authenticated

The article says that Rembrandt's work is notoriously difficult to authenticate, but frustratingly, doesn't say exactly why. Although it hints that it was due to his students and studio assistants doing a lot of the work.

Interestingly The Old Man was painted on a mahogany panel, originally a packing case for sugar from the West Indies.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 21 Dec 2012, 08:05

Christmas Day BBC2 5.25pm "Arena: Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospel":

"The inimitable 82-year-old Carmelite nun and art aficionado...offers an insight into her personal life and religious calling while revealing how certain paintings by the greatest old masters can connect the viewer to the emotional insights within the Gospel stories they depict."

Alternatively, BBC2 "Doctor Who" or ITV1 "Emmerdale".
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 21 Dec 2012, 13:30

Ms Beckett has a rather sharp eye for detail in paintings that others don't even notice, and often relates the work to the artist in a way that shows she has done her historical and biographical research very thoroughly beforehand. I like her synopses of certain paintings very much, even if she herself is as daft as an old brush.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 14:25

I wonder if anyone else has seen the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures? The one on "The Modern Alchemist" on Boxing Day featured this painting by Joseph Wright. It shows the discovery of phosphorus by Hennig Brand in 1669.



I'd never seen this picture before! Didn't know you could extract phosphorus from urine, either!

Wonder what other great scientific moments have been painted?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:09

Here is another Wright picture - "The Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump" (1768):







An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump is a 1768 oil-on-canvas painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, one of a number of candlelit scenes that Wright painted during the 1760s. The painting departed from convention of the time by depicting a scientific subject in the reverential manner formerly reserved for scenes of historical or religious significance. Wright was intimately involved in depicting the Industrial Revolution and the scientific advances of the Enlightenment, but while his paintings were recognized as something out of the ordinary by his contemporaries, his provincial status and choice of subjects meant the style was never widely imitated. The picture has been owned by the National Gallery, London since 1863 and is still regarded as a masterpiece of British art.

The painting depicts a natural philosopher, a forerunner of the modern scientist, recreating one of Robert Boyle's air pump experiments, in which a bird is deprived of air, before a varied group of onlookers. The group exhibits a variety of reactions, but for most of the audience scientific curiosity overcomes concern for the bird. The central figure looks out of the picture as if inviting the viewer's participation in the outcome.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:22

I read this fascinating article on Alchemy not long ago Temp. Although not on the art, it may interest you none the less.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/11/2012/body-soul-and-gold-quests-for-perfection-in-english-alchemy
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:25

Here's Newton's discovery of The Refraction of Light, a fine, hand painted reproduction of which can be sourced from China for a mere $163.15. Your choice of Caravaggio is available for the same price.





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