Sunday, January 13, 2013

The RoboCop and Art History!

Happy New Year to all!

I know its been a while since my last post and I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

I was just going through my inbox and noticed an unread newsletter from my art-history daily subscription. The newsletter contained an interview with the RoboCop himself, Mr. Peter Weller! Now, I saw RoboCop when I was little but I used to watch Peter Weller's show on the history channel, Engineering an Empire...the show was so informative and interesting! There was an episode discussing Rome and he mentioned his interest in art history and his pursuit in the academic field. I always thought it was exciting how the RoboCop was studying art history! I would love to attend one of his lectures as he his now finishing up his PhD at UCLA. Well, enough of my's the article!

Friday, March 30, 2012

"The Ghent Altarpiece" and online viewing

Hello All,

Its been a while since my last post. I found this article about a website which allows viewers to get up close and personal to Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece (read here). As an enthusiast of Northern European works, I couldn't help but share! The site is called Closer to Van Eyck and it allows visitors to zoom in and out of the work without getting the pixelation which usually follows zooming in. It also includes various modes of x-ray and infrared modes of viewing. These options allow one to see the under drawing usually associated with works from this period.
Ghent Altarpiece, Jan van Eyck, Oil on Wood, 1432.

 While visiting this website, I couldn't help but think of how the internet is used to educate the masses and what it allows us to do. Sites such as this as well as the Google Art Project, which I have posted on before, allows art lovers and art historians to get nice and cozy with our favourite works, something not even the best art historians get to experience. However, this mode of viewing doesn't allow one to "feel" the work, something else I have written about.

Most of the works I have seen have been online, rarely experiencing them in person. My favourite site is probably There's a virtual tour of the Vatican and Saint Peter's and, for those who have an iPad (shameless plug!) allows one to rotate and swivel ones view of specific areas. Using such a site on this specific type of viewing device is almost like being able to touch the work. It feels as though that great distance between my couch in Toronto and Rome is removed and I am able to get up close and personal with my favourite works. Though I "ooo and aww" at these sites, I know I am missing the actual experience of standing before such perfection and genius!

This is only furthered when one gets to experience a work in person. My one and only trip to London, England allowed me to see some of my favourite works in person. And though I wasn't able to get so close to the Turners or Constables as I would be able to online, there is something about standing in front of the actual painting. It becomes real. It is no longer a piece of work that I have studied and zoomed in and out of online but something that's real. You can feel the movement of the brush strokes rather than plainly seeing them on a screen.

I am in no way stating that these sites are a bad idea, quite the opposite. It allows people like me and, I am sure some those who will read this, the opportunity to get personal with an artwork we will probably never see in person. But I think it is important to note that viewing it online is nothing like viewing it in person. It is an excellent educational tool and fantastic for research purposes. And though it brings us closer, there is still a distance that one is aware of which only makes that longing to see it in its flesh even worse!

My piece of advice is to view these sites as often as possible and be aware of all future sites which bring art to those who are interested. Art is not the most accessible source of education or entertainment and sites like these bring works to life and allow it to be accessible.

Happy viewing!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Restoration of Le Brun's Versailles Ceiling Paintings

I recently joined this online newspaper called Historical Fiction. Basically it's a community of history enthusiasts and writers who post stories and articles they have found. There are quite a few interesting reads and my pile of articles to be read is growing at a steady pace! Here's one about the restoration of the ceiling paintings at Versailles. I am jealous of restorers, I am pretty sure if I ever got that close to a painting I'd be bumrushed by a security guard! They get to touch these works and be part of their history. Imagine!

The MET's Christmas Tree

Happy Friday!
I know it's been a while. I came across this article about the MET's Christmas tree and I thought I would repost the article here. The photos are beautiful and the use of Baroque figurines is thrilling! Wish I could see it in person.

I love Hyperallergic! They always have insightful and fun articles about the art world, some of which I try to repost here.

Enjoy the article and I hope everyone has a restful and enjoyable holiday!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Spiral Jetty" up for grabs!

I've been following this story for a few weeks, if not more, and more news has surfaced which seems to have complicated the problem. Here are the two articles I read today concerning the lease issues concerning Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty.



And for fun, a video excerpt from Robert Smithson's film about the Spiral Jetty from YouTube:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Magic of London's V&A and National Gallery.

Hello All,

It has been a while since my last post and I must say quite a bit has happened. I am preparing myself for the application process to graduate school and have just returned from London, England. I know, London! I've never traveled and this was my very first plane ride! Exciting, to say the least!

The museums in London, as I am sure you are all well aware, are free...completely and totally free. I couldn't ask for anything more. I know these galleries have an extensive collection but their specific contents was not something I have a great knowledge of.  Needless to say, I found myself pleasantly surprised.

My trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum was fantastic. After making my way through the gallery, in a bit of a daze, I happened across a Bernini...I know, a Bernini! I flipped, literally. As I made my way through the sculpture atrium, I came across the work from behind, not really attuned to what it was.

I thought to myself " this is way Baroque is so brilliant. Look at the movement and weightlessness of the fabric." And then it happened. I turned the corner, face to face with the front of the sculpture and the name literally leaped off the plaque....BERNINI! I had lost my mom in the midst of the tourist crowd and was, therefore, alone, freaking out. It was a Bernini, a real Bernini. 

To be honest, it feels like a dream. I know I stood in front of it for quite a while as people came and went, but I don't feel like I actually saw it. The beauty of the V&A is you're allowed to take pictures, so I do have some physical evidence of my Bernini experience! Here are some of the many photos I took of the work:

 My trip to the National Gallery was a bit more surreal than the V&A. You're thinking how? Well, I was prepared to see Turner and Constable and others but not Caravaggio. I made my way through the maze of galleries looking for English favourites and excited to see their greatness in person. I turned into one gallery and there it was Supper at Emmaus.

Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus, 1600, Oil on Canvas. Image from Wikipedia.

Again, my heart racing (I should probably have this checked out!) and I glided towards the work. I clutched the strap of my bag as I stood before it in utter amazement. I had to contain myself as I almost cried standing so close the painting. You can never prepare yourself for the actual work. You see it a great number of times in text books and online but in person it's completely different. It's as though its alive and real. The work is so much more dramatic in person. The extreme contrast between light and dark, positive and negative space is so much more jarring and fantastic than when you see it on a page of a book. You can see brushstrokes and the dabbing and mixture of paint on the canvas allowing one to feel the presence of the artist. I was standing before an actual Caravaggio. I could smell the oil paint and the quickness of some of his strokes. I was in awe, to say the least.

Turner and Constable was just icing on the cake. Rain, Steam, and Speed always ends up on a slide carousel but to be honest I've never grown sick of it.

J.M.W Turner's Rain, Steam, and Speed. 1844. Oil on Canvas. Image from Wikipedia.
 It's massive in person and so colourful and dramatic. I fell in love all over again with Turner. There were about 5 or 6 works, giving the artist half of the space in the gallery. On the other side was Constable's Hay Wain which, I suppose, is in stark contrast to the quick and ease of Turner's brushwork.

John Constable's The Hay Wain. 1821. Oil on Canvas. Image from
 Constable is so detailed and concise, varying his brushwork from minimal, barely visible strokes, to long, wide strokes. However, there is never a quickness in his work. You stand before it and know this took time, patience, and motivation. Turner, on the other hand, is quick. You can feel his concentration and rhythm when you look at the work. You can feel the artist quickly applying paint, in long, sweeping strokes. It was pure magic!