"La Gioconda was painted by a pupil or follower of the artist at the same time as the original. The importance of this discovery, which was made during the study and restoration of the painting at the Prado for its inclusion in the exhibition at the Louvre on Leonardo that opens on 29 March, lies in the fact that as a contemporary and perfectly preserved copy, it contributes important information on both the landscape background and on numerous details of the mysterious sitter. The latter include the shape of the chair, the ornamentation of the cloth covering her breast and the semi-transparent veil around her shoulders."
The eerie stencil paintings of human hands in Spanish caves might not be from humans at all. New dating methods of the paintings suggest some of the cave art is more than 40,000 years old and could have been drawn by Neanderthals.
"The town of Ascoli was under papal rule and in 1482 Pope Sixtus IV granted it a degree of self-government. [...] News of Ascoli's new status reached the town on the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, which then became a special feast day when the town celebrated its liberty."
The crisp detail in this work makes it just pop. There is so much going on that the eye is constantly pulled away from the Annunciation scene, or more specifically, Mary. Her room tucked away in the corner is like a hidden treat to be discovered and rediscovered as you look at the painting.
Mary is calmly reading, so the scene would seem to occur in the instants before she addressed by Gabriel. It is interesting to think that we are seeing her right before her life changes forever.
(I love the National Gallery's website. I'm constantly discovering new treats. This page has audio of a historian talking about the food shown in the painting.)
These flowers are more than just pretty. They tell a story of life, death and friendship.
For a while in Madrid, I used to walk by a florist shop on my way home several times a week. I would buy myself bouquets of carnations (one of my favorite flowers) on a regular basis. It always felt like such an indulgent and joyful treat.
"These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations."
Pop! I love the gorgeous color in these images. The Depression may not have been a pretty time, but to my 21st-century eyes, these photographs resonate with a wistful beauty.
We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
While I certainly could not agree less with most of this (being then, now and forever a tremendous fan of "Mythology and the Mystic Ideal"), it is a compelling, and at times hilarious, read. And I do take umbrage on behalf of poor Nike.
Such fresh enthusiasm for celebrating "good factory muck", war and "scorn for woman" seems impossible today. Or is that just wishful thinking?
"The goddess of Victory (Nike, in Greek) is shown in the form of a winged woman standing on the prow of a ship, braced against the strong wind blowing through her garments."
I find Winged Victory breathtakingly powerful and beautiful. I long to see what her head and face looked like.
As you stand near it, you can almost feel the wind rippling through her robes. I can imagine how she must have stirred the hearts of the victorious warriors and the people of their city, evoking the feeling of power and excitement as their ship raced towards victory.
"Xu Jiang was born in Fujian province in 1955. [...] Since 2003, Xu Jiang's woks has focused on sunflowers. They relate to his experience living in the countryside of Fujian province as a middle school teacher. Xu Jiang once said sunflowers are not always facing the sun, but 'stands to one direction, where the sun rises.'"
Hiemstra's work is a treat for the eyes and the mind. I own the Marie print shown and never tire of gazing at it.
Her use of found objects to paint on is particularly fascinating to me. The idea of making something old (more) beautiful opens my eyes to a world of possibility everytime I visit a thrift shop or garage sale.
"In Britain we imagine the traditional Gypsy home to be a gaily decorated wooden caravan pulled along by a plodding horse. But in reality, caravans have only been used by Gypsies for 150 years. [...] Gypsies only began living in them about 1850. They called their home a 'vardo' and it became their most prized possession."
I don't think I would make a very good Gypsy, too much of a pack-rat, but I sure do dig their rides! It seems to me so much more worthwhile to put such care and attention into a lovely individual travelling home than a chunk of rolling metal.
On the other hand, there is something very appealing about reducing your possessions to a minimum and appreciating all you have, but I'm still at the loving my pretty, pretty things stage.
"A self-taught photographer, he began taking photographs in 1893 and soon developed a style that showed the influence of Whistler, Sargent and Japanese prints."
There is something so evocative about black and white photography. The distance that old b&w photos provide, both in technology and time, only serves to augment this feeling in me. I pore over them, looking for clues to another age.
[Image: Clarence H. White. Entrance to the Garden, 1906. MOMA]
Even this massive sculpture can be dwarfed by its home in the hall of a modern museum. I wonder how this size contrast relates to its original location "in a rock niche that had been dug into a hill; it overlooked the theater of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods" (http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/winged-victory-samothrace).