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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Art History, Art Criticism, Art Museums, Art World's LiveJournal:

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Monday, December 6th, 2010
5:22 pm
[mikny_animacija]
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
2:04 am
[vanya796515]
The Art Story (Dot) Org
A new cool online resource center for everything Modern Art: http://www.theartstory.org

I happen to be one of the contributors) building my sixth (or is it seventh?) artist page now.

Cheers to all!
Sunday, April 6th, 2008
12:07 am
[vanya796515]
Geometric period amusements


this one's at the Met (of course). what we see is some sort of a "wheel-guy" playing with two horses (each having a bird underneath), the whole composition being coulissed by two prominent swastikas. what does it mean? I don't think we'll ever crack any iconographic mystery of such sort. You gotta love the silhouettes and the complete disregard for any sort of 'realism' (I'm obsessed with the issues of 'realism' these days). It should be noted that the representational details are quite prominent - our horses are actually exhibiting their manhood. It seems as if it were a deliberate caricature in fact - someone is utilizing, very consciously, a very peculiar pictorial language - a language that explicitly negates the necessity of a "life-like" portrayal. Antique pottery is so much fun.
12:05 am
[vanya796515]
Casting Negative Spaces: Rachel Whiteread
The project she did in Vienna is really quite remarkable - I hope I'll manage to explain its conceptual makeup lucidly enough: she casted the negative space of a library room, that is, not your usual perception of library shelves with the books' bindings and titles in front of you, but rather the view from the other side - it is the pages we are confronted with. Where is this work and what is it meant to commemorate? It is in the Judenplatz in Vienna, a square where the Jews were gathered under the Nazi rule before being shipped to the camps.



The people to whom this memorial is dedicated are thus portrayed as books - their stories now being permanently shelved within the historical discourse. I would also suggest that the concept of the 'library catalog' is employed here - just think of the numbers and overall "cataloging" that the Nazi prisoners were subjected to.



The books are also the first to be persecuted under the regime - it is the burning of books that usually precipitates the burning of the bodies.
Sunday, March 9th, 2008
6:56 pm
[vanya796515]
Hitler's watercolor sold for $40'000
c.1911 watercolor depicting Vienna's Votivkirche Cathedral by then-struggling-artist-soon-to-be-the-world's-bloodiest-villain was sold through Manion's auction house for $40'000. would you ever buy Hitler's art work?

5:15 pm
[vanya796515]
the Gardner paintings mystery
A couple of days ago we saw "Stolen" - a documentary on the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in Boston. It happened a while ago - back in 1990 I think, so some of you may have no idea what this affair was (and still is) all about. To put it in a nutshell - we are talking about a Vermeer and three Rembrandts, as well as some Degas and a Manet stolen and yet to be recovered. Vermeer's "Concert" is considered today's most valuable lost painting.



Although I visited Boston a number of times, I have never made it to the Gardner place (shame on you Ivan, shame on you, bad art history student Ivan, bad art history student). The building itself is quite remarkable - it is in fact a Venetian Renaissance palazzo turned inside out. While the exterior is rather austere, it is the atrium that is adorned with Venice-inspired gracious arches that bathe in generous natural light, emanating a truly unique American eclectic luxury and poise.

Exterior view:


Interior view:


Although the Gardner collection is worth a billion or two, the security back in 1990 was anything but adequate. The two night guards were overpowered by the villains and in about an hour or two the canvases were either cut out and rolled (a filthy vandalism) or taken down as is (relative humility on the robber's side). No one seen them since. The gravest loss to the art world is of course Vermeer's 'Concert', not only because it is a breathtaking masterpiece, but also because there are only about thirty-four known Vermeers out there today, hence loosing (just) one becomes a major blow to our collective cultural heritage. Loosing a Rembrandt's piece isn't a cause for festivities either, but in his case we possess roughly about 300 oils, which is quite a substantial number.

One of the stolen Rembrandts:


Christ and the Storm in the Sea of Galilee, 1633.

"Stolen" went as far as alleging a connection of the Gardner robbery to the IRA activities; I liked their concept of "art as a hostage". Although as far as I'm concerned, some of these canvases could very well adorn the walls of some new-Russian's palace in Moscow today. Anyway, although these jewels are gone, the Gardner Museum is still very worth a visit - it remains a world class collection of fine art, with Botticelli, Titian, Van Dyck and many other adorning its walls. Speaking of the museum walls - the empty frames now mark the spots where the stolen masterpieces once hung.


Monday, March 3rd, 2008
11:44 pm
[vanya796515]
De Gheyn's Witches and... a Hermit Crab





Bon Appetit and Sweet Dreams!
Sunday, March 2nd, 2008
10:40 pm
[vanya796515]
Van Gogh and Schiele: Artists' Bedrooms (Symbolist Self-Portraits?)
not my idea, really. the two hung alongside each other @ The Neue Galerie in New York as part of "Van Gogh and Expressionism" show.



Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
11:21 pm
[vanya796515]
Snakes of Sin and Virtue
one may think that the serpent (snake) would always represent Devil in the Christian iconography. well, not always. O.K.Werckmeister contends that the serpent, when depicted erect and confronting an obviously looking Muslim person, stands for the Christian martyrdom as an ultimate sacrifice in the fight against the sin. the image I found presents the serpent fighting a demonic beast, which must have been equated to a Muslim warrior in the Medieval Christian conscious (especially so in Spain). the traditional portrayals of the devilish snake, however, exist side by side with the more sacredly noble, hence totally antagonistic, representations of this wonderfully symbolic reptile.

A) Snake as a Christian warrior:



El Escorial (Beatus), c. 950-955

B) Snake as a Devil (defeated, of course)



Beatus d'Urgell, c.975
8:11 pm
[vanya796515]
Goltzius' Hand

Hendrick Goltzius, c.1600, pen and ink on paper. Originally from the collection of Emperor Rudolph II.

Although crippled as a child, his hand mutilated by a fireplace accident, Hendrick Goltzius became a preeminent graphic artist of his era (a painter, too, his oils are less than mediocre comparing to his works on paper). Here he portrays his unfortunate extremity, which also happens to be a bodily part of utmost importance to his 'trade' - the artist's hand. An ultimate self-portrait that tells you more about the author than any possible physiognomic depiction.
8:09 pm
[vanya796515]
Jael: Just as Strong and Courageous, but not as much Celebrated
It's an Old Testament story:
"Sisera was a cruel Canaanite leader who ruled the Israelites for twenty years. Barak defeated his nine hundred charioteers by a surprise Israelite attack. Sisera escaped and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. She gave the terrified Canaanite sanctuary. When he fell asleep, she drove a tent peg into his brain. The act fulfilled the prediction of Debora, prophetess and Israelite leader, who foresaw that a woman would slay Sisera." (www.artemisia-gentileschi.com)

There are two alternative traditions of depicting the courageous ladies of the Bible: either as true heroes who risk everything to save their tribe, or as a more generalized allegorical portrayal of women's wicked powers over men (and what letting women to exercise such powers leads to).

Consider these two examples:

A. Lucas Van Leyden, Dutch, c.1520



Don't you just love her gracious pose? One could easily think Maurice Bejart was responsible for the composition

B. Artemisia Gentileschi, Italian, c.1620



interestingly enough, these two images could be interpreted through both perspectives outlined above.
8:06 pm
[vanya796515]
Judith: A Strong Jewish Woman
"Judith was a Jewish widow of noble rank in Bethulia, a town besieged by the army of the Assyrian general Holofernes. She approached his tent as an emissary and captivated him with her beauty. He ordered a feast with much wine. After he passed out in his tent, Judith and her maid Abra saw their opportunity. Judith decapitated Holofernes with his sword and smuggled his head back to Bethulia. On seeing her trophy, the townsfolk routed the leaderless Assyrians. The story is an allegory picturing Judith as Judaism in triumph over its pagan enemy." (www.artemisia-gentileschi.com)

The depictions of Judith are numerous, hence I'm posting my personal favorites:

A. Caravaggio, Italian, c.1598



B. Artemisia Gentileschi, Italian, c.1620



C. Lucas Cranach the Elder, German, c.1530



D. Michelangelo, Italian (no kidding!), c.1610-15 (Sistine Chapel)



E. Gustav Klimt, Austrian, c.1901

7:52 pm
[vanya796515]
De Chirico, Picasso, Men, and Horses




something more transcendental than mere commonality in the subject matter unites the two I think... hard to pinpoint and verbalize it, perhaps a general slant of melancholic human solitude resolved through a certain intimacy with an animal... a human may be leading a horse in both of these works, but it seems as though the horse here is a vital support for the human figure, which, if stood on its own, would find itself left in a complete crippling loneliness.
Monday, January 21st, 2008
8:59 pm
[vanya796515]
Picasso's Blind Man's Meal
CLICK THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Pablo Picasso, The Blind Man's Meal, 1903. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

This painting g l o w s from certain view angles - if you have a chance to see it, be sure to explore the viewing possibilities. I also love it for its ultimate humane attitude - poor and disabled, this human being is portrayed with such a monumental dignity. The works of the Blue and Rose periods were Picasso's ultimate achievements, as far as I'm concerned. What about his cubist breakthrough you may ask? Well, that's where it gets tricky. I believe cubism is THE artistic development of the 20th century that re-defined the art, as well as the ways we look at it (for it was through the cubist perspectives that many "older" masters were reconsidered, especially Cezanne). However, in Picasso's personal oeuvre the cubist works are not the strongest - Blue & Rose are. Yet in the larger Modernist context it is Cubism that counts, not Picasso's melancholic beggars and acrobats. Universal vs. particular. A major trend vs. a specific period in the artist's oeuvre. Such dichotomy is the key to Picasso's genius - both universal and particular, he first defined himself as an artist (Blue and Rose), and later defined the ART of his era in itself (Cubism). We love to bitch about his weaker works (of which there are plenty), but in my opinion Picasso was, and still is in many ways, a major driving force of the artistic modernity.
Monday, January 14th, 2008
11:09 pm
[vanya796515]
Bosch's Tree Man
CLICK THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE


Hieronymus Bosch. The Tree Man. 1470s. Pen and bistre on paper. Albertina, Vienna, Austria.

It is truly amazing how surreal Bosch is, we all love his oils, yet his works on paper, as is often the case with the works on paper, are generally overlooked. his polymorphic anthropomorphic nightmares are astonishingly haunting and blissfully modern.
Monday, January 7th, 2008
11:12 am
[vanya796515]
I used to have a girlfriend known as Elsje...





Rembrandt Van Rijn, Elsje Christiaens on the Gallows, 1664.
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash.

The frontal view is at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

So what happened to Elsje? Why is there an ax hanging at her side? Elsje came to Amsterdam to Denmark in the search of employment as a servant; somehow she got into a fight with one of her landladies; the landlady wanted to beat her with a broomstick, so Elsje responded by grabbing the ax... the landlady flew down the stairs and never got up again.

Elsje's sentence was extremely harsh even by the 17th-century standards; in fact she was the first woman to be executed in Amsterdam in more than 20 years at that time; she was strangled and her body was left to rot exposed to the public as a warning against attacking your landlords and employers with axes I guess. Hence the ax hanging by her side is the weapon of her crime that defines her perpetration to the public.

Why did Rembrandt decide to depict her? Perhaps because the case received so much attention and it was quite a rarity to see a dead woman's body hanging from a stick in such a civilized city as Amsterdam in the 17th century. Perhaps it is not about Elsje and her story at all, but rather a study of a body in an unusual position and setting. Morbid, I know.
9:09 am
[vanya796515]
Aphrodite-Victory @ The City Museum of Brescia, Italy


What's interesting about this piece is that originally it was a statue of Aphrodite (Venus), executed c. 3rd century BC; however, in the 1st century AD the wings were added to the statue thus turning the sculpture into the the depiction of Victory (Nike). A great example of how art objects can change with time, reflecting new tastes, agendas, etc. A minor or a major addition thus completely changes the meaning, becoming a useful tool for us today in studying the way the meanings are constructed and communicated. She also looks rather clumsy, don't you think? It is as if she landed for the first on Earth and learning to walk, or, on the contrary, is only starting to explore her flying powers.
Sunday, January 6th, 2008
10:46 pm
[vanya796515]
Rosso @ The Boston MFA
Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo), Italian (Florentine), 1494–1540
The Dead Christ with Angels
c.1524–27
133.4 x 104.1 cm (52 1/2 x 41 in.)
Oil on panel




"Rosso Fiorentino was one of the primary practitioners of the highly refined and decorative sixteenth-century style now known as Mannerism. It is characterized by strong, unusual colors; crowded or ambiguous space; and elongated, often twisting figures. Rosso painted this altarpiece in Rome for his friend Leonardo Tornabuoni, the bishop of Borgo San Sepolcro. Rosso's admiration of Michelangelo's recently painted frescoes on the Sistine Ceiling is reflected in the muscular nude body of Christ. One of very few surviving works by this exceptional artist, the painting is also unusually well preserved." (Boston MFA)

This image provides for some extremely complex interpretations, especially in view of the Reformation/Counter-Reformation politics and iconography. Recommended article: Stefaniak, Regina. "Replicating Mysteries of the Passion: Rosso's Dead Christ with Angels." Renaissance Quarterly, Vol.45, no.4 (1992): 677-738. A very challenging and insightful read.
10:46 pm
[vanya796515]
Rosso @ The Boston MFA
Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo), Italian (Florentine), 1494–1540
The Dead Christ with Angels
c.1524–27
133.4 x 104.1 cm (52 1/2 x 41 in.)
Oil on panel




"Rosso Fiorentino was one of the primary practitioners of the highly refined and decorative sixteenth-century style now known as Mannerism. It is characterized by strong, unusual colors; crowded or ambiguous space; and elongated, often twisting figures. Rosso painted this altarpiece in Rome for his friend Leonardo Tornabuoni, the bishop of Borgo San Sepolcro. Rosso's admiration of Michelangelo's recently painted frescoes on the Sistine Ceiling is reflected in the muscular nude body of Christ. One of very few surviving works by this exceptional artist, the painting is also unusually well preserved." (Boston MFA)

http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=33615&coll_keywords=rosso+fiorentino&coll_accession=&coll_name=&coll_artist=&coll_place=&coll_medium=&coll_culture=&coll_classification=&coll_credit=&coll_provenance=&coll_location=&coll_has_images=&coll_on_view=&coll_sort=0&coll_sort_order=0&coll_view=0&coll_package=0&coll_start=1

This image provides for some extremely complex interpretations, especially in view of the Reformation/Counter-Reformation politics and iconography. Recommended article: Stefaniak, Regina. "Replicating Mysteries of the Passion: Rosso's Dead Christ with Angels." Renaissance Quarterly, Vol.45, no.4 (1992): 677-738. A very challenging and insightful read.
10:30 pm
[vanya796515]
Damien Hirst @ the Met

it is a real shark pickled in formaldehyde.

Many people say this piece belongs in the Natural History Museum across the park. What do you think?

CLICK THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE
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