Picasso’s Blue Period–or basically anything he did before Cubism–has always struck me as more powerful than anything he did later, which seems mostly theoretical playing. Not that I think somebody as vast as Picasso could stay in one phase forever (I’ve asked before what a genius is supposed to do when they’re almost too good.) Works like Guernica and his […]
Mothers, Ironers, Workers at a Cotton Office, Farmers, Floor Strippers, Writers, Waitresses, Stonebreakers, Gleaners, Apple Pickers, Sowers….
Manet’s 1862 painting The Old Musician is a great human riddle. Just what everybody is doing here, and why they’re gathered together, is a mystery. Yet it’s a puzzle more emotional than academic. Held in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., you can read their page about it here, or the Wiki page.
The affront that many of Caravaggio’s greatest paintings presented to their first audience must have been astonishing: casting a local girl as the Virgin Mary being visited by pilgrims, or the body of a prostitute as her corpse after death; filling almost the entire canvas of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus with the horse he’s just fallen from; […]
From childhood through old age: Albrecht Dürer, “Self-Portrait” (1484) Albrecht Dürer, “Self-Portrait” (1493) Albrecht Dürer, “Self-Portrait” (1498) Albrecht Dürer, “Self-Portrait” (1500) Albrecht Dürer, “Self-Portrait” (1522)
Here are a few dozen faces I always go back to, from the collection of Greek & Roman sculpture I was lucky enough to at the National Archaeology Museum in Athens, back in 2007:
from Thomas Cahill’s Heretics & Heroes: …. [Michelangelo’s] next work displays a grasp of human anatomy seldom seen in the history of art: a Pietà, his first but hardly his last interpretation of the subject. The Italian word has many grades of meaning: pity, compassion, mercy, piety, devotion. Capitalized, however, it refers to a scene not found in the gospels […]
As I’ve written elsewhere: “Except for his earliest work, there were no grand subjects in Vermeer, and very little else but a room and a window; tiled floor and tapestries and carpeted tables; maps and light and exactitude; liquid, lace, poured milk, lute strings and the weighing of pearls; the reproduction by brush and color of glass, a glass of […]
A drawing from 2015 that I suddenly found again today:
For some reason the Mérode Altarpiece, painted in the late 1420s by Robert Campin, has become an obsession of mine. I can look at it for hours, and its strangeness never ends. Better than any TV show, I’ve found one of the best uses of a flat-screen is putting the Mérode up on it, and staring. Held in the Cloisters […]
No matter how poor he got, and no matter what of his belongings he had to sell to get by, William Blake always held onto a print of Albrecht Dürer’s 1514 work, Melencolia I; it was found in his workroom when he died. And so it is worth looking in detail, again and again, at anything which an artist and […]
The Austrian artist Egon Schiele’s brutal self-portraits, many dating from before World War One, seem to presage all the carnage and atrocity and alienation that was to come. As more famous artists from the time look terribly dated today, Shiele seems like he could still be working right now: Egon Schiele – Self Portrait (1911)
Among the earliest photos taken of Paris were those of Eugène Atget, beginning in the late 1800s. Here is only a sample:
I first came across Claude Lorrain’s fantasies of classical Greece and Rome on the cover of an old paperback of the Aeneid. These are my favorites, but there are many more of them here. Click on each image to enlarge:
It’s too bad Nicholas Poussin’s Shepherds of Arcady/Et in Arcadia (Even in Arcadia, there am I) can’t get much attention except as a link to the Holy Blood-Holy Grail/Dan Brown stories. It’s magnificent enough on its own. You can also read more about it, including the conspiracy stuff, here. Click on the painting to enlarge:
from Thomas Cahill’s Heretics and Heroes: In a collection of travel essays published in 1925, Aldous Huxley had called Piero [della Francesca’s] Resurrection, the fresco that decorates the Museo Civico of Sansepolcro, “the greatest picture in the world.” In the last days of World War II, as British soldiers began shelling Nazi-occupied Sansepolcro with the intention of reducing it to […]
One of the great jazz standards of Medieval & Renaissance art, here’s only a selection of all the depictions of St. Jerome: studying indoors or out, with or without his lion or skull, probably translating the Bible as he goes, reading or writing always. All a good excuse for artists to place him in contemporary landscapes, or familiar book-lined rooms. […]
At least for me, John Singer Sargent’s “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit” is one of the more haunting paintings. What it appears to say about family, isolation, childhood, the lives of women and girls, and perhaps even the deleterious effects of being rich, seem quite endless. And the history of each of the girls’ later lives only adds to […]
The way I heard it, Salvador Dali saw a reproduction of Millet’s Angelus in his classroom during childhood, and it became one of his great personal images: Jean-Francois Millet – The Angelus (1857-1859) Salvador Dali – Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus (1935) Salvador Dali – Atavism of Twilight (1933-1934) Salvador Dali – Gala and The Angelus of Millet Before the […]
Taken from John Richardson’s biographies of Picasso. Click on each to enlarge:
The French painter and model Victorine Meurent (1844-1927) appears in some of the most famous of Édouard Manet’s paintings. Click on each to enlarge:
The number of Rembrandt’s self-portraits alone far outnumber the entire output of many artists. Here is only a fraction of them, but watch him grow up, change, and emerge with many moods. Click on each to enlarge:
Scroll through this selection of preliminary studies & photos of the canvas as it was worked on & completed. Pretty astonishing, & all done in about five weeks.