Images: Edward Hopper

I had heard of Edward Hopper before, but it wasn’t until a summer or two after high school, when I was working the overnight shift at a gas station, that I was hooked. I saw his painting “Gas” and was shown how even my lonely hours at BP could become the subject of art. He…

Images: Gustave Courbet

Take a look through some of the best paintings of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). Is the general claim true, that in his landscapes, portraits and self-portraits, that what we call modern art, began here? Click on each image to enlarge, or watch the video below.

Images: Caspar David Friedrich

Three weeks ago I’d barely heard of the painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). Awhile ago I had noted down that I might want to look at his paintings, and now they’re burned into my mind forever. Here are some of my favorites: you can watch the video below, or click on each image to enlarge:

Images: Jean-François Millet

Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) was a formative influence on artists as diverse as Salvador Dali and Vincent van Gogh (his famous sower was lifted from Millet). Looking at two dozen or so of his best paintings, I understood why. Click on any image to enlarge:

Unfinished Michelangelo (poem)

Unfinished Michelangelo The impossible bodies of apostles, messiahs and slaves, statues that couldn’t have stood had he finished them, faces half buried in membranes of marble that threaten to swallow and take them back; bodies climbing without hands or feet or legs out of the mineral morass in the great struggle for birth: a nearly…

Picasso’s Blue Sympathies

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.)…

The Past is Not Dead: There is Only Continuity

from Peter Ackroyd, at the end of his first volume of the history of England: Other forms of continuity are also evident. Modern roads follow the line of old paths and trackways. The boundaries of many contemporary parishes follow previous patterns of settlement, along which ancient burials are still to be found. Our distant ancestors…

History is An Accident

from Peter Ackroyd, at the end of his first volume on the history of England: When we look over the course of human affairs we are more likely than not to find only error and confusion. I have already explained, in the course of this narrative, that the writing of history is often another way…

Caravaggio’s Dirty Feet

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…

Images: Dürer’s Self-Portraits

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)