Category: Arts

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William Shakespeare, Poet and Gentleman

The Guardian newspaper recently published an article about new manuscript discoveries concerning the life of William Shakespeare. These discoveries, made by Heather Wolfe, are described as a decisive blow to the belief that Shakespeare was a front man for someone else—a smoking gun that disproves the claims for other candidates such as Edward de Vere, Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, or Queen Elizabeth.
By Heather Wolfe and Michael Witmore
The Collation
CC BY-SA 4.0

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An Artist’s Dog Photobombs the Middle Ages

It goes without saying: people are devoted to their pets. The same charming dog appears in illumination after illumination by late-medieval artist Simon Bening. Was it possibly his own pet?
6 Minute Read
This post is by Elizabeth Morrison for The Iris: Behind The Scenes At The Getty
CC BY 4.0

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The Bug That Had the World Seeing Red

Once there was a color so valuable that emperors and conquistadors coveted it, and so did kings and cardinals. Artists went wild over it. Pirates ransacked ships for it. Poets from Donne to Dickinson sang its praises. Scientists vied with each other to probe its mysteries. Desperate men even risked their lives to obtain it. This highly prized commodity was the secret to the color of desire—a tiny dried insect that produced the perfect red.
This post is part of the series Open Art, an arts engagement project of Zócalo Public Square and the Getty.
5 Minute Read
Amy Butler Greenfield for The Iris: Behind The Scenes At The Getty
CC BY 4.0

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To Publish an Subversive Novel, Have a Main Character Who’s Fat

Rather than try to ban books, a better approach is to instead teach media literacy so young people are better able to contextualize what they’re exposed to.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

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The Myth of the Disappearing Book

After years of sales growth, major publishers reported a fall in their e-book sales for the first time this year, introducing new doubts about the potential of e-books in the publishing industry.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

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Russian Paintings in the Limelight

An exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery features paintings of some of Russia’s legendary creative figures. Russia and the Arts, which draws attention to a generation of overlooked artists, is curated by Dr Rosalind P Blakesley.
University of Cambridge
CC BY 4.0

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The Art and Design Behind Pixar’s Animation

An exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt in New York City draws on the rich backstory of what it takes to give computer-animated life to pen and ink sketches
Smithsonian

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Before Serial: Examples of Serialized Non-Fiction

Can’t wait for the next episode of the podcast series? Take a look at these popular predecessors.
Smithsonian.com

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Shakespeare Is For The Birds

The following is a guest post by Abby Yochelson, English and American Literature reference specialist at the Library of Congress’s Main Reading Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Division. This is the third in a small series of blog posts on Shakespeare at the Library of Congress.

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Seeing is Believing: the Trick of the Trompe l’oeil in Art

Trompe l’oeil, means to ‘deceive the eye’. It's a fantastic bit of trickery that makes us think we're seeing something other than what's really there. How did it get started? Well, it started with a bet...
Europeana Blog
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Rudyard Kipling: An Interview with Mark Twain

An Interview with Mark Twain was published in 1890, the year after Kipling, then 23 years old and on his overseas tour to Europe and the USA, interviewed the great man.
Whispering Gums
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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5 Surprises From The Indiana Jones Films

Here are some of the more surprising things the films got right.

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Cinema Classics: 5 Best Science and Technology Films

Here are some of the greatest triumphs of cinema’s fertile engagement with science and technology.

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The Artist’s Dilemma: What Constitutes Selling Out?

Artists need to be industrious in order to make a living from art, and may choose to work with government organizations or corporations to supplement their income. So, how does one cooperate with a large entity while ensuring moral ground?

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Editing Your Writing Is An Art

Everyone’s a critic. But how good are people at taking their own medicine? Any why should writers strive to embrace and even welcome constructive criticism?

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Historical Fiction: Stories We Tell About the Past

This introductory article is the first in a new series examining the links, problems and dynamics of writing, recording and recreating history, whether in fiction or non-fiction.

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Michael Jackson: Posthuman

Cary Wolfe, an English Professor and author of the book What is Posthumanism, writes that we are “fundamentally prosthetic creatures,” that we rely on entities outside the self – other humans, animals, technology – in order to function and thrive. Jackson celebrated the prosthetic idea of the human in a number of ways.

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Breath New Life Into Your Art Collection with Theresa Marino

You’ve been acquiring artwork throughout your life and now you’re feeling restless and not sure why. Let me suggest some simple steps to bring excitement back into your art collection.

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In Today’s Most Popular Shows, Shakespeare’s Iconic Characters Live On

When thinking about the reasons for Shakespeare’s enduring popularity, you could point to his facility with language, his ability to deliver moments that possess both poetic complexity and heartrending simplicity. But many feel most attracted to Shakespeare’s characters, who seem to have lives that transcend the stage.

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Looking For Art In Artificial Intelligence

Algorithms help us to choose which films to watch, which music to stream and which literature to read. But what if algorithms went beyond their jobs as mediators of human culture and started to create culture themselves?

Category: Science

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What It Means That We're Lindy Hopping Again

Yes, the younger generation loves that old time jazz, but why?

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Food Fraud is Still Hard to Detect – So Follow the Money

Food mis-labelling is widespread, as is the practice of substituting premium commodity products in whole or in part with cheaper ingredients.

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Handle With Care

This artist’s handmade porcelain reefs are almost as fragile as the real thing.

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Who Says Michelangelo Was Right?

When the lost classical sculpture Laocoön and His Sons — lauded as representing the very highest ideal of art — was dug up in 1506 with limbs missing, the authorities in Rome set about restoring it to how they imagined it once to look. Monique Webber explores how it was in reproductive prints that this vision was contested, offering a challenge to the mainstream interpretation of Antiquity.

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Italy's Renaissance 06: Painting Post-Masaccio

Click here to begin with the 1st Installment of Italy's Renaissance.
Masaccio is widely regarded as the first Renaissance painter of the Italian Quattrocento, and despite the brevity of his career, had the most profound influence on his successors. Florentine painting greatly increased in range and richness after Masaccio's death, and fifteenth-century artists adopted and built on the style and techniques that he had introduced to Italian painting, most notably the drive towards naturalism, and the use of linear perspective, sfumato, and chiaroscuro. Artists also began to focus even more on proportional and anatomically accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes.
This NoteStream includes two quiz questions at the end so you can show-off your new knowledge!

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Painting Plants In Roman Egypt

The illustrated herbal is a genre of pharmacological book known in Graeco-Roman antiquity from at least the first century BCE. The encyclopaedist Pliny the Elder (Natural History 25.8), for example, mentions a number of writers of herbals who provided pictures of the plants above descriptions of their medicinal effects.

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There Will Be Eggs

A universal symbol of creation is the hatching of an egg. The egg itself figures as an important symbol in many early creation myths across the world, embodying the concepts of birth and rebirth, new life and fertility. Throughout history eggs have been at various times magical, protective, divine — even evil, and they are an obvious fertility symbol.
Beautiful multi-colored and elaborately decorated eggs are a popular folk art across the world. Learn more about their fascinating journey through history!

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Italy's Renaissance 05: Florence Painting

Click here to begin with the 1st Installment of Italy's Renaissance.
Fifteenth-century Florence was the birthplace of Renaissance painting, which moved away from the comparative flatness and stylized nature of Gothic art to focus on accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes. Florentine painting received a new lease of life in the early fifteenth century, when the use of perspective was formalized by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and adopted by painters as an artistic technique. This development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts.
Two quiz questions included!

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Italy's Renaissance 04: Florence Sculpture

Click here to begin with the 1st Installment of Italy's Renaissance.
Commonly known as "the cradle of the Renaissance," 15th-century Florence was among the largest and richest cities in Europe and its wealthiest residents were enthusiastic patrons of the arts, particularly sculpture. Departing from the International Gothic style that had previously dominated in Italy, and drawing from the styles of classical antiquity, Renaissance sculpture originated in Florence and was consciously influenced by ancient Roman sculpture. Quiz question at the end to show you got it!
Originally posted by Boundless (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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The Academy’s Old Boys' Club

By: Eddy Von Mueller 28150
In what’s becoming an annual occurrence, we’re in the midst of a highly publicized debate over the lack of diversity among the Oscar-nominated performers and filmmakers. Outside groups, including the NAACP, are up in arms. Several celebrities – some of them Academy members – have announced their intention to boycott the big night.
It’s not the first time that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been taken to task for what seems to be ethnic or racial bias.

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Italy's Renaissance 03: Florence Architecture

Click here to begin with the 1st Installment of Italy's Renaissance.
The Quattrocento or the 15th century in Florence was marked by the development of the Renaissance style of architecture, which represented a conscious revival and development of ancient Greek and Roman elements. The rules of Renaissance architecture were first formulated and put into execution in 15th-century Florence, whose buildings subsequently served as an inspiration to architects throughout Italy and Western Europe.
The Renaissance style of architecture emerged in Florence not as a slow evolution from preceding styles but rather as a conscious development put into motion by architects seeking to revive a golden age.
Only one question at the end!

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Explainer: The Oscars

The first thing to understand about the Oscars is that, as a measure of the aesthetic value of films, they are completely unreliable. To understand why this is the case, we need to know what exactly “The Academy” is and how it operates.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, established in 1927, is an invitation-only honorary society made up of people who work in the film industry, mainly in Hollywood. The Academy has several branches: one for actors, one for editors, one for executives, and so on. Memberships, once gained, do not expire.

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Italy's Renaissance 02: Humanism

Click here to begin with the 1st Installment of Italy's Renaissance.
Humanism, also known as Renaissance humanism, was an activity of reform engaged in by scholars, writers and civic leaders in 14th and early 15th century Italy, which later spread to the rest of Europe becoming known as the Renaissance.
Humanists sought to create a citizenry (frequently including women) able to speak and write with eloquence and thus able to engage the civic life of their communities. This was to be accomplished through the study of the "studia humanitatis" or the "humanities": grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy.

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Why so Many Find Meaning in Star Wars

After witnessing the overwhelming popularity of Star Wars, director Francis Ford Coppola told George Lucas he should start his own religion.
Lucas laughed him off, but Coppola may have been onto something.

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Prescribing And Describing Art Technology

This recipe describing how to dye wool a golden color is just one example of the many sources on art technology that have come down to us as from as early as 2000 BCE.

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Sculpture Creation by Rodin

It is easy to lose sight of how innovative and revolutionary Rodin's work was in its own time. His conception of sculpture and the creative process were radically different from those of any sculptor before him. Rodin was not just the first modern sculptor—he transformed the art of sculpture. This NoteStream explains his process for manufacturing such beautiful works of art.

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The Smirk & The Smile in Portraiture

Today when someone points a camera at us, we smile. This is the cultural and social reflex of our time, and such are our expectations of a picture portrait. But in the long history of portraiture the open smile has been largely, as it were, frowned upon.
Why do we so seldom see people smiling in painted portraits? Nicholas Jeeves explores the history of the smile through the ages of portraiture, from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Alexander Gardner’s photographs of Abraham Lincoln.
Written by Nicholas Jeeves: an artist, writer and lecturer at Cambridge School of Art.

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Italy's Renaissance 01: Introduction

The Art of the Italian Renaissance was influential throughout Europe for centuries. In this introduction, we'll cover some key points and define some of the specific techniques used. Upon completion, you'll be able to discuss the work and influence of Botticelli and generalize the art and periodization of the Italian Renaissance.
Oh - and there's a three question quiz at the end to make sure you got it! Good luck!

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15 Food Photography Tips from Andrew Scrivani

New York Times photographer Andrew Scrivani came to Seattle to lead two four-hour long workshops. The events were organized and hosted by Seattle Bon Vivant herself, Myra Kohn. Going in with only a camera, some basic light manipulation tools, and a fuzzy understanding of what makes food pictures evocative, I left the workshop confident and ready to take better photographs. Scrivani is one of those people with a passion for what they do that is palpable. It's inspiring. It's genuine.
Here are just 15 of the valuable tips he taught me:

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So You Think You Can Dance And The Pleasure Of Screen Dance

Last month, the American reality dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) celebrated its ten-year anniversary. To mark the date, a special 60-minute episode called A Decade of Dance was aired, with re-stagings of some of the show’s most memorable dance routines by its most popular contestants.
These were interspersed with montages drawn from 11 seasons of the show: the good, the bad, the funny, and the often jaw-dropping athleticism and virtuosity of the dancers.

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The Secret To All Great Art Forgeries

In A Forger’s Tale – convicted forger Shaun Greenhalgh’s new memoir – Greenhalgh reveals that he drew Leonardo da Vinci’s La Bella Principessa, which has been valued upwards of US$100 million.
Greenhalgh even admits that he modeled the subject after a supermarket checkout girl.

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Anything to Get the Shot: Photos by “Flash-Light”

Nowadays, we take for granted the ability to photograph under almost any light conditions, but photographers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century went to great lengths to capture images by “flash-light” (not to be confused with our modern battery-operated flashlights).

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Explainer: Magical Realism

A mother lives in Ohio in the aftermath of the Civil War with the child she murdered as a slave. A poor Nigerian boy, who is also an abiku or spirit child, fights supernaturally corrupt politicians to remain in the land of the living. Welcome to magical realism: a type of storytelling in which the magical makes a surprising appearance in a realistic context. The contrast between the fantastical and real elements is used to heighten drama and challenge perceptions.

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Il Libro Dell’Arte (The Craftsman's Handbook)

For art historians, one of the most important and best-known ‘recipe books’ is Cennino Cennini’s (c. 1370 – c. 1440) Il Libro dell’arte (The Craftman’s Handbook). The Italian treatise is famous because it offers the reader many detailed recipes that explain how to make a panel painting.

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Banksy’s Dismaland Is Pure Magic

It’s not easy being a superstar anti-establishment art celebrity. Back in the late 1990s I was one of a group of art students who, for a time, became mildly famous as art pranksters. Within the group we could never be sure – and this despite our most earnest efforts – that our work really was the stuff of revolution. But we were in the papers. We were on the Turner Prize programme. We were even offered a book deal. Nonetheless it’s hard to maintain revolutionary kudos once you’ve been interviewed by Timmy Mallett.

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How The Painting Got Its Name

I have a confession to make: I rarely walk into a museum or gallery without finding my eyes drifting down to the title of a painting – often before even looking at the painting itself.
Though I feel guilty about this habit, I suspect that I have a lot of company in my fellow museum goers, who probably also share my sense that there is something illicit about the practice.
But why did pictures acquire titles in the first place, and what accounts for my twinge of guilt when I turn to them?

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Does Translating Shakespeare Diminish It?

An uproar ensued after it was reported that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) – southern Oregon’s 80-year-old annual theatrical extravaganza – would be commissioning playwrights to “translate” all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.
The project drew jeers from Shakespearean professors, arts practitioners and others who believe passionately in the power of Shakespeare’s original texts, who abhor any attempt to “dumb down” their language.

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Economics, Literature and the Detective Story

If you read or watch detective stories, you probably don’t think about them as an expression of economic principles. But at their heart, that’s exactly what they are.

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Can Jazz Thrive in China?

Earlier this summer, the famed New York City jazz club Blue Note announced that it would be opening a venue in the basement of the old American Embassy in Beijing. In addition to the Beijing club, Blue Note expects to push ahead with new operations in Shanghai and Taipei in coming years.

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Exploring How Black & White Artists Depict Race

In 2013, when Graham C Boettcher, chief curator at the Birmingham Museum of Art, first conceptualized a small exhibit examining the visual representation of race in American art, he couldn’t have anticipated the present political moment. From events in Ferguson and Baltimore to the senseless murder of nine innocent people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, America finds itself at another crossroads in race relations because of the harrowing effects of systemic racism. When I was asked to co-curate this exhibition last year, I emphasized that race – specifically, “blackness” – has been constructed and visually represented from the perspectives of both blacks and whites.

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Which Paintings Were The Most Creative Of Their Time?

From Picasso’s The Young Ladies of Avignon to Munch’s The Scream, what was it about these paintings that arrested people’s attention upon viewing them, that cemented them in the canon of art history as iconic works? In many cases, it’s because the artist incorporated a technique, form or style that had never been used before. They exhibited a creative and innovative flair that would go on to be mimicked by artists for years to come. Throughout human history, experts have often highlighted these artistic innovations, using them to judge a painting’s relative worth. But can a painting’s level of creativity be quantified by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

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Kitsch to Park Ave: History of Plastic Pink Flamingos

In 1957, a 21-year-old art school graduate named Don Featherstone created his second major design for the Massachusetts-based lawn and garden decoration manufacturer Union Products: a three-dimensional plastic pink flamingo propped up by two thin, metal legs that could be plunged into soft dirt. Featherstone’s duck and flamingo ornaments sold in pairs for $2.76, and were advertised as “Plastics for the Lawn.” They became simultaneously popular and derided in the late 1950s and remain a recognizable species of American material culture.

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Walnut Oil

In order to create their colorful palette, fifteenth-century panel painters had to produce most paint supplies from scratch. Unable to walk into a shop of artist’s supplies as we can today, they obtained color from different kinds of earths, minerals, metals, flowers, roots and insects. A binding medium was required to transform all these pigments into paint. By the end of the fifteenth century, both North and South of the Alps, panel painters mostly used oil for this purpose. Painter’s oil is not just any type of oil, however; it needs to have drying properties.

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Extraordinary Life of Whistler’s Mother

Many are familiar with James McNeill Whistler’s portrait of his mother – officially titled Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 – which is being exhibited this summer, starting July 4, at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Given the picture’s iconic status as a symbol of motherhood, many also believe that they can guess the character, personality and life experiences of the quiet, seemingly frail, little woman sitting in that chair. You might opine that she led an isolated or sheltered life, or spent her days baking cookies. But you’d be wrong.

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Marilyn Minter

From a January 2014 interview with Marilyn Minter. The questions, which were three times longer than Minter’s answers, have been omitted.

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Awkward In An Interesting Way: Doig

Peter Doig (Scottish-Trinidadian-Canadian, b. 1959) received his BA from the Chelsea School of Art (1983) and his MA from the St Martin’s School of Art (1990). He was nominated for the Tate Gallery’s prestigious Turner Prize in 1994 and from 1995-2000, he served as a Tate Trustee.
His paintings have sold for record-breaking prices at auction; in February 2015, his Cold Blooded (2003) sold for £1.3 million and in May 2015, his Swamped sold for $26 million.
Tags: peter doig, british painting - 21stc, landscape painting, figurative paiting, francis bacon, david hockney, chris ofili

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Le Douanier Rousseau

In 1893, at the age of 49, Henri-Jean Rousseau (French, 1848 - 1910) retired from his position at the octroi of Paris to devote himself to painting. His naive pictures of mysterious happenings in hallucinatory, exotic settings would become touchstones for the Surrealists but in the later 19th century they were objects of ridicule. Picasso bought one of Rousseau’s paintings from a junk dealer for a few francs in 1898.
Tags: henri-jean rousseau, art primitif, le douanier rousseau, pablo picasso, gertrude stein, banquet rousseau, le bâteau-lavoir, andré salmon

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Computers Reveal Gauguin’s Techniques

Paul Gauguin’s art has always held special meaning for me. When I was six years old I spent a year on the small island of American Samoa. Faint memories of eating fresh guava plucked from trees, sliding down waterfalls and joining in Fia Fia – feasts where we would eat taro-root and chicken cooked in a pit – are triggered whenever I see Gauguin’s Tahitian imagery. So when I had a chance to lead a project on the technical analysis of the Gauguin’s prints, drawings and watercolors, I jumped at the opportunity.

Category: Science

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Philosopher John Searle: Mind & Consciousness

Dan Turello interviews philosopher John R. Searle, philosopher and member of the Library of Congress Scholars Council. Searle is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published extensively on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, and has been at the center of discussions with philosophers and scientists around the world in an effort to better understand the nature of consciousness.

Category: Science

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Inheritance Without Love: Picasso Family’s Sale

Earlier this year, an anonymous “friend” of Marina Picasso – the granddaughter of artist Pablo Picasso – revealed to the New York Post that the heiress was looking to put up a number of her grandfather’s works up for sale. This was confirmed by Ms. Picasso, who seeks to raise funds to increase her philanthropic work.

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Snowballs to Sculptures: Material Culture that Melts

Making things from snow and ice no doubt dates from very ancient times. But snow leaves no artifacts and so we can only imagine the surprise of the first human pelted by a snowball. In spite of its temporary nature, things made of snow are part of material culture: the traditions related to physical objects and how they are made and used. In the Arctic, understanding the insulating value of snow is important for survival, as was probably true for our ancestors during the last ice age.

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How Photography Evolved from Science to Art

Much like a painting, a photograph has the ability to move, engage and inspire viewers. It could be a black-and-white Ansel Adams landscape of a snow-capped mountain reflected in a lake, with a sharpness and tonal range that bring out the natural beauty of its subject. Or it could be Edward Weston’s close-up photograph of a bell pepper, an image possessing a sensuous abstraction that both surprises and intrigues. Or a Robert Doisneau photograph of a man and woman kissing near the Paris city hall in 1950, a picture that has come to symbolize romance, postwar Paris and spontaneous displays of affection.

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Harvard’s Rothko Murals Restored-W/O Touching

Mark Rothko is one of the preeminent abstract expressionist artists of post-war America. The Harvard Murals (one of only three mural commissions painted during his career) were originally installed in a penthouse of the university’s Holyoke Center in 1964. The colors of the murals soon faded from exposure to direct sunlight, and each of the paintings faded in its own distinct way.
In 1989, I was a conservation student at the Courtauld Institute in London. During a class on varnish removal, my professor, Gerry Hedley, demonstrated how shining blue light on a picture made it seem as if the yellowed varnish had been cleaned away – returning the painting to how it originally had appeared. It was successful enough to convince me that one day, projected light could be used to restore the appearance of a painting without actually touching the surface.

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Bill Phelps: Photographer

There is something magical about a photographer’s ability to tell a story with a single snap of the shutter, and capture the very essence of the person behind the lens. Bill Phelps is not your average photographer. Sure he takes pictures of well-known celebrities, and has won numerous awards (both an IPA Lucie Award and the Grand Prize of Portraits for the World Press), but it’s his ability to transcend time and space through whimsy that breaks boundaries, invokes thought and implores you to take a closer look. He is a beautiful photographer journaling the many facets of humanity through soulful imagery, fashion, and emotion.

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W New York: Transformation—A Film

W New York has collaborated with cultural brand Liberatum to present a unique short film featuring notables discussing their most transformative moments. A nod to the life-changing instances that define us from childhood, gender, city and location, career to parenting and beyond, the discussion points of the various notables pay homage to the W passion points of music, film, design and fashion.

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Natural Design: Teatro Olimpico

Theatre design was a natural extension of Palladio’s interests in stage-like architecture, one-point perspective and classical antiquity, so when the officers of the Accademia Olimpica, a learned society based in Vicenza, of which he was a member, approached him in 1580 about building a theatre in Vicenza, he readily assented even though he was 72 years old at the time. He died shortly after the designs were approved, and it fell to his son, Silla, to carry out the construction of the theatre, which was built entirely of wood.

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Platinum Photographs: Art from a Noble Metal

Imagine how people understood photographs in 1900, when photography had been around for just over sixty years.
Were photographs factual documents? Could they be a new form of artistic expression? Those producing photographic prints knew, but the public was unsure whether photographs could be art.
American Pictorialists soon dominated shows in a variety of locations, and shared with their counterparts in the graphic arts an interest in old master and Japanese prints, subtle printing effects, and technical experimentation.
Among the experiments were photographs with the precious platinum metal as their base.

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Controversial Art: Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe was the subject of two retrospectives in the last year of his life, “Robert Mapplethorpe,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (26 July - 23 October 1988) and ”Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment,” organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, which traveled to Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, five other museums in 1989-90. The religious right successfully pressured the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington to cancel the exhibition before it opened in 1989 and caused the Cincinnati district attorney to bring criminal obscenity charges against curators of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center in 1990. Right wing politicians made the exhibition the centerpiece of their campaign to discredit and do away with the National Endowment for the Arts, which ultimately failed.

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Understanding Photorealism

Photorealist paintings are replicas of photographs, not representations of directly observed phenomenal reality. Photographs are not the sources of the paintings, they are the subject of the painting. Candy shop windows, New York streets, reflecting neon signs, and 1970s cars were the subject of the photographs.

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Minor Masters: Arnold Boecklin

Arnold Boecklin is a minor master in the greater scheme of things, and, to some, he is an aesthetic atrocity (Clement Greenberg wrote that Böcklin’s work “is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was now disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century”). Boecklin has a gift for devising extremely unflattering poses and capturing awkward moments, like the intervention of the incensed blowfish on behalf of a mildly abducted Meerkuh. The Alte Pinakothek in Munich, a comprehensive museum dedicated to the art of the Germanic countries before 1900, has one large Boecklin picture on display.

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Botanical Beauty: A Scientific Approach

Careful observation is critical to both science and art. This comes to the fore in a new exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery highlighting the art of Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). Blossfeldt was a self-taught photographer who photographed almost nothing but flowers, buds and seed capsules for 35 years. His keenly observed photographs from the seminal Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature) not only link Art Nouveau with Modernism, but also art with science.

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Snowflakes: Once In A Septillion

While winter has not yet officially arrived, some of us have been given a taste of the season to come with cold temperatures, frigid winds, frost, ice, and even powdery snow. When I think of winter, I think of twinkling ice crystals falling from the sky and colliding to become intricate snowflakes. Each winter there are about a septillion (trillion trillion) snowflakes that fall from the sky.
Around this time of year, we frequently receive the question Is it true that no two snowflakes are alike?

Category: Arts

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Explainer: Cubism

There’s a problem with the history of western art: we face it from the wrong side of decades of discursive dismantling. The conventional “story” of early 20th-century modernism, in which an advanced guard of painters moved towards greater forms of abstraction, seems so thin today, so limited in its scope, and so completely mired in gender and material prejudices.

Category: Arts

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Art Shedding Light on Vision

The place where art meets the science of perception is a fertile one for collaborations between artists and scientists. And Light Show at the London Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery captures this in a brilliant exhibition that makes your eyes hurt and leaves the outside world looking ever-so-slightly dull.

Catalog image courtesy Flickr user Razi Marysol Machay. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Category: Arts

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All About the Moon

The moon is a place both for science and the imagination. While the American moon landings of the 20th century were, arguably, feats primarily of science, technology and politics, they also required a good bit of imagination and were the manifestation of our collective fascination with that silvery orb. And even if, today, the moon seems to principally be the realm of scientists and of global power games, the first people there were undoubtedly artists, writers and dreamers. In a fascinating new exhibition curated by art/science provocateurs The Arts Catalyst, a group of artists declare a Republic of the Moon.
http://artscatalyst.org/

Category: Arts

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The Girl in the Man's Coat

On the back of the painting it says:
"In 1506 on June 1 this was painted by the hand of master Zorzi from Castelfranco, colleague of master Vicenzo Catena, on request from master Giocomo."
Zorzi is made respectable as Giorgione, and sometimes the girl is called Laura, though that is not necessarily her name. Sometimes she is "Portrait of a Young Bride" which makes her undress respectable.
Her portrait is said to have freed Venetian artists to paint all those drowningly lovely nudes with skin like cream, and mirrors, furs and pearls and splendid hair.
But the girl was not important enough to be mentioned in the inscription on the back.

Category: Arts

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A Most Beautiful Red Parrot

In the summer of 1485, diplomat Giovanni Dario and the Ottoman court had to attend the hunting camp of the Sultan, Beyazid II. The weather was exceptionally hot, everyone had to live in tents, and cold water was unavailable. This parrot, or one like it, came back to Venice with Giovanni Dario . It appears in Venetian paintings of the period - but what do we know about it?.

Category: Arts

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Photography and Our Changing Environment

Can photography impact the way that we view our environment? Part art and part document, does this medium have the capacity to really change our minds? This question, which has a semi-permanent place in the back of my mind, rose to the surface most recently at Landmark: the Fields of Photography, an exhibition that brings together a diverse range of photographers to show the brazen, and sometimes beautiful, reality of our impact on the environment.

Category: Arts

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Perceptions of Evil – What is Evil?

We know “evil” when we see it from an outsider’s perspective and can judge how one’s actions have affected another individual or a larger community. One of humanity’s most common theological questions is how to answer the fundamental question, “What is evil?” Certainly, human intent to do harm should play a large role in the definition, but with so many intricacies, it’s not surprising that people have grappled with the concept of what evil is for millennia.

Category: Arts

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China's Lost Civilization: The Mystery of Sanxingdui

In 1929, a farmer unearthed a large stash of jade relics while digging a well. Generations of Chinese archaeologists searched the area without success until 1986, when workers accidentally found sacrificial pits containing thousands of gold, bronze, jade, and pottery artifacts that had been broken (perhaps ritually disfigured), burned, and carefully buried.

Category: Arts

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Ten Simple Tips for Better Photography

This NoteStream will introduce you to ten photo compositions guaranteed to increase the value of your images. If you’re a novice photographer, keeping these compositions in mind will change the way you look at how you photograph family, friends, strangers, landscapes, and more. With a little practice, you’ll be shooting more “keepers” than ever before.

Category: Arts

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Tragedy 01: Defining Tragedy

Tragedy has been around for over 2500 years, from its earliest manifestations in the huge open-air gathering-places of Athens and other Greek city-states, to the theatres of Renaissance England, Spain and France, right through to the twentieth century with its cinematic tragedies, and the disturbing works of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. In four dialogues, Oliver Taplin, Emeritus Professor, and Joshua Billings, a graduate student in the Oxford Classics Faculty, ask and discuss what tragedy is, what tragedy does for people, whether tragedy teaches, and if tragedy is still alive today.

Category: Arts

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Italian Futurism: Art + Drink

When I first heard about a bartender at an art museum who was himself an exhibit, someone who crafted molecular cocktails in which the drinker’s psychological mood was a key ingredient, I admit I sort of rolled my eyes at just how out of control and comical these complicated, novel variations on mixing a drink had become. Little did I know that there was already a substantial foundation for such mixological tomfoolery, reaching as far back as the early 20th century.

Category: Arts

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Tragedy 02: What Does It Do For People?

A discussion of what the use of tragedy is, and whether the emotional experience of tragic theatre is simply a passing thrill or a vital part of life.

Category: Arts

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Athena: A Voyage with the Gods

A Voyage with the Gods describes Athena's numerous challenges and deeds; from the classical Greek era, to Roman fables, through post-classical culture, to modernity. Perhaps most interesting of all are the iconic representations of Athena that still appear today; where her qualities of wisdom, strength, strategic warfare and civilization are called upon to imbue all these qualities for all of us as we go about our contemporary life.
We welcome you to a Voyage with the Gods.

Nearly all the resources for this NoteStream have been retrieved from Athena (http://151.12.58.141/virtualexhibition/welcome.html). Creative Commons 2.5 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/legalcode

Category: Arts

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Sacred Art of Sand Mandalas

Tibetan sand mandalas are an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “cosmogram” or “world in harmony.”
In Tibetan, this sacred art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor which means “mandala of coloured powders.” The sand mandala is carefully constructed from dyed sand particles to represent the particular esoteric, textual traditions of Buddhism. It’s a transient art form, thought to have originated in India and transferred in the middle ages to Tibet. The sand mandala is constructed as a vehicle to generate compassion, realize the impermanence of reality, and as a social/cosmic healing of the environment.
A short video of the construction of these beautiful creations is included at the end.
Originally posted to The Mindful Word. CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

Category: Arts

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The Girl With The Pearl Earring

This may be the loveliest picture in the world. When people talk about this painting, they immediately use the word "luminescent," mention how perfectly the pearl is painted, and go on to how the girl herself looks like a pearl. But that is how Vermeer painted. This painting is not about a face: it is not a portrait. It is about a young girl overwhelmed by feeling, a young girl in the fraction of an instant before her future happens.

Category: Arts

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Italy's Renaissance 07: Urbino

Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro. It is notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico III da Montefeltro, the duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482. We'll explore the Palazzo Ducale and the Duomo di Urbino, and learn about Duke Federico III da Montefeltro. Quiz question at the end to lock in your new knowledge!

Category: Arts

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Italy's Renaissance 08: Mantua

The City of Mantua, located in the northern Italian plain, was traditionally a center of cloth manufacture. On August 16, 1328, the Bonacolsi family was overthrown in a revolt backed by the House of Gonzaga. The Gonzagas built new city walls with five gates and renovated the architecture of the city in the 14th century, but the political situation in the city did not settle until the third ruling Gonzaga, Ludovico Gonzaga, eliminated his relatives, seizing power for himself.
During the Renaissance, the Gonzaga family softened their despotic rule and raised the level of culture and refinement in Mantua. Because of the city's wealth and the Gonzaga support of arts and letters, the Mantuan court became one of the most brilliant in Italy.
Two Quiz questions at the end!

Category: Arts

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Italy's Renaissance 09: Rome and the Papal States

In the latter half of the 15th century, the seat of the Italian Renaissance moved from Florence to Rome. Because the Papacy wanted to surpass the grandeur of other Italian cities, the popes built increasingly extravagant churches, bridges, town squares, and public spaces, including a new Saint Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Ponte Sisto (the first bridge to be built across the Tiber since antiquity), and Piazza Navona.
Rome became a center of Renaissance culture in duing this period, and its Pope-Kings were important patrons of the arts.
Two Quiz Questions included!

Category: Arts

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Italy's Renaissance 10: Florence Late 1400's

During the Early Renaissance, Italy was divided into many city-states (Florence, Milan, Veniceetc.), each with their own form of government. There are several reasons for the extraordinary rebirth of the Renaissance in Florence at this time. Successfully defeating several would-be conquerors in the early 15th century, Florentines imagined themselves as the "New Rome" -- in other words, as the heirs to the Ancient Roman Republic, prepared to sacrifice for the cause of freedom and liberty. This emphasis on freedom and individuality was key to the cultural and intellectual growth that defined the Renaissance. Quiz question included!

Category: Arts

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Italy's Renaissance 11: Venice

In the latter years of the 15th century, Venice had a distinctive, thriving, and influential art scene. Considered to bring a primacy of color over line, the Venetian tradition begun by Bellini was seen to contrast with Mannerism, which was prevalent in much of Italy. The Venetian style is viewed as greatly influencing the subsequent development of painting. Two Quiz Questions - and you'll have complete this Series! Congratulations!

Category: Arts

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