Category Archives: art

Clark, Schama and Great Video

Summer is a great time to find new inspiration. You can get this from a walk in the park or from preparing a great meal for friends or family. And you can get it from great video. Great video? The phrase sounds a bit odd. But I can think of no better way to capture the idea. There are out there some truly great video series.

One is the series Civilisation by Kenneth Clark, produced back in 1969. It is a thirteen part masterwork that traces the history of European art from the fall of Rome to the twentieth century.  For me, this is more than just information about the past. Clark shares his deeply felt values about art, life and … well, … civilisation itself.  In other words, this is about where we are headed based on where we have been. Here is the grand man

But Clark does not spend all that much time on individual artists. If this is your thing, check out the series that Simon Schama did back in 2006 called “The Power of Art”.   Each episode is fantastic. But my favorite was the one on Bernini. After all, how can you explain something like this? Schama does it and does it well


Tanaka Tatsuya and Goofy Art

It is a funny thing. I sometimes get bored in museums where you can find really, really great art. But I am nearly always amused by goofy art. Stuff like the  dioramas that Tanaka Tatsuya makes each day.  Here is one

This Japanese Artist Creates a New Diorama Every Day

I found this and more from a Gizmodo post today.  What is the appeal? It is in part the whimsical style. But equally important, this type of art is closer to day to day life than … let’s say Michelangelo’s magnificent David..  Take away the whimsy and move the lens much closer to day to day foibles, and you get the art of Thomas Rowwlandson. These prints from the late 18th and early 19th century are always naughty, satirical and humorous with an edge. Here the new bride enjoys her honeymoon.

I do have a soft spot for Rowlandson.

Jönköping: Check out Johan Larsson

I have never been to Jönköping, Sweden. It looks like this

If you go there, you might be interested to know that freelance photographer Johan Larrsson lives there. He just did an interview for Berlin’s Posi+Tive Magazine.  And he offers some thoughts on who is who is Swedish photography
My favorite photographers are all swedes. Martin Bogren is talented. I’m inspired by his book Lowlands. It is a personal story about the village he grew up in. One of my photo projects (Barndomsbyn) is very similar to Lowlands. All Swedish photographers, both amateurs and professionals, admire Christer Strömholm. He’s dead now, but he is still very important on the Swedish photo scene.
Thanks Johan!

Tartu: How do you Honor a Semiotician?

Tartu is my home, and I do love it …  though we have some odd sculpture. Perhaps the most peculiar of them all is this one

I know. It looks like a plumbing problem, but in fact, it is a monument to the great and fondly remembered Semiotics Professor, Juri Lotman.  That boxy building in the background is the university library, built during the Soviet times.  It needs a city farming project on that silly flat roof (silly because it leaks … or at least it used to when I trod down the hallways).  I walk by this sculpture rather frequently and it has grown on me, though slowly. I still think a better tribute would have been the great Lotman chasing after Athena, goddess of wisdom, up Professor’s walk!  Sadly — at least for me — that idea didn’t fly.

Paris: Have You Met Willi?

I have a soft spot for doggies. And I have a soft spot for folks who love doggies. I have an even bigger soft spot for people who love doggies and art and wine. Which brings me to Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris, a place that I frequent when I visit  Who was Willi? Yes, the owner’s doggie. BTW, they do an annual wine poster, and yes, I do own at least one! You should get one too! You can order from their web site (which is pretty cool). This is my fav.

Blake is a Problem

So wrote Bernard Levin for The Times in 1978. What is the big deal? The problem is that Blake’s work is an assault on our modern sensibilities. He challenges us to re-think whether divine energy rather than reason carries us forward.  Yes, he thought Newton and the enlightenment in general, were ridiculous. You cannot disassemble energy! We would like to think that he had a few loose screws. Or, we hope that he did. But did he? Levin was not so sure.

Musashi in the Bath

This sounds a bit suspicious. But contrary to what you might think, Musashi was a  feared warrior, invincible in combat. He was also a great artist who did amazingly delicate pen and ink drawings. He said “when you have attained the way of strategy there will be not one thing that you cannot understand.” Here he is in full warrior mode escaping from the bath house where his enemies had planned to boil him alive! Yikes! Don’t worry, he got out ok.