Category Archives: art

When Blake Met Constable

As told by Aldus Huxley in “Doors of Perception”

One day, towards the end of  his life, Blake met Constable at Hampstead adn was shown one o fthe younger artist’s sketches. In spite of his contempt for naturalistic art. the old visionary knew a good thing when he saw it — except of course, when it was by Rubens. “This is not drawing,” he cried. “This is inspiration!”  “I had meant it to be drawing” was Constable’s characteristic answer. Both men were right.

The Lure of the Sea

The oceans are indeed full of mysteries. From sunken ships to marauding orcas they exist in a dimension that is beyond our immediate sight though not our imaginations. Perhaps this is why the sea has attracted artists through the ages.

Philip Hoare fits into that group, and he offers us a quick view of the effects the sea has had on writers and painters. From Shakepeare to Mellville. From Shelley to Woolf, the allure seems to be eternal.

Check it out! And here is a view of the ocean painted by one of the artists mentioned, Pat de Groot

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Two Artists of Weimar Germany

These days, it is easy to forget that the first world war changed everything. But the simple fact is that you cannot understand the 20th century without departing from this point.  The war strangled 19th century European complacency.

One of the startling effects of the war was an explosion of new forms of artistic expressionoin. According to Robert Hughes, modern art was born out of the intense anger about the war.  No more so than in Weimar Germany.

The paintings of Otto Dix bring us into that frenzied era.

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Yes, Liza Minelli in Cabaret was rather tame compared to the world that Dix brings us. This image speaks volumes about where this craziness comes from

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August Sander’s photographs also bring us into the Weimar scene. But there is a strange detachment.

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And Sander shows us people who had little to do with the sophisticates that Dix presents

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Those other folks — who were the majority of Germans — would be the group that delivered Germany to the Nazis in a doomed hope of regaining the confidence of the pre-war era.

Jonathan Jones tells us more about these two artists and exhibits where you can check them out

Go for it!

Better Not Call Saul …

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul offer more of a storyline that is persistently popular in America – the deep exploration of guys gone bad. Let’s face it – America loves its fictional criminals.

Why? Could it be that America struggles with an overly aggressive moral code that makes rebellion stories so seductive? Is Better Call Saul the grown up version of the 50’s teen rebellion flick? Is Breaking Bad a riff on the doomed rebellion that Paul Newman played so well in Cool Hand Luke? Or are they Easy Rider without the hippie attire and acid? Or could it be that the amoral criminal better reflects a deep interest in winning at all costs? The dark side of James bond?  Thomas Crown removed from Wall Street? I am not sure. Perhaps it is both.

Perhaps Gatsby distills this brew to its most inebriating level. We don’t really care how Gatsby got his enormous fortune. He has it and uses it to play for the highest stakes possible – true love. That game is played out on the individual level. Societal norms are secondary.  And Gatsby takes us for one hell of a ride as he chases madly after Daisy. Not the real Daisy, but his dream of her. Or is it his dream of himself?

So perhaps in the end,  these stories are really just about adrenilin and motivation. They are as related to Tony Robbins events as they are to Tom Sawyer trickery. What motivates doesn’t matter. But we love seeing what happens after the hero sips some firewater and gets everyone all worked up!

Here is the Guardian’s take on how Better Call Saul is developing.


Frank Lloyd Wright Hated Cities?


… the flip side of Wright’s deep love of the natural world—the inspiration for many of his designs—was a loathing of the urban. “To look at the plan of a great City is to look at something like the cross-section of a fibrous tumor,” he once wrote.

But not all of his work is to be found in the boonies. CityLab offers a nice list of Wright buildings that are either in or near urban areas.

After all, we are celebrating the great man’s 150 birthday!

Here is a peek inside the LA Hollyhock House

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Another image

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Mondrian the Theosophist

We have reached a milestone in history – 100 years from 1917.

In 1917 the October Revolution transformed geopolitics and Marcel Duchamp sent a porcelain urinal to an art exhibition – but in the Hague they are celebrating another 100th birthday, that of De Stijl (pronounced, and meaning, “style”), the movement in which Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg, Gerrit Rietveld and other Dutch artists and architects set out to transform the world with pure geometric design and unadulterated primary colours.

And one of the more fascinating  proponents of the De Stijl moveemnt was Piet Mondrian. The story of his spiritual evolution helps us understand the revolution that modern art became. From art that copies reality to art that sees beyond reality.

Jonathan Jones writes about the path that Mondrian took. Here is the core idea

… it is only by following Mondrian’s long and tortured artistic evolution that you can truly understand his courage and integrity. For he did not just wake up in 1917 and start painting coloured squares. His ideas developed gradually. His discovery of abstract art was the climax of a spiritual quest.


We move from this

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to something loke this

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