Friday, December 19, 2008

Attractions for tourists

Right timing is the secret of success. All magic you do in your life needs to be started at the right time. It is just the same for posting an article. I missed the right time for that post - I am about seven months late. Everything changed meanwhile. But, what I am sure about is the possibility, that in four months that post will be just as actual as it was at the beginning of that year. Because - to be clear - the theme is: how the streets of Bratislava get ready for tourists.

The pictures are best documentation to what I would like to say. Words are pointless here, but let me comment the disorder and untidiness in the streets of the city (I found out in the dictionary that the word "disorder" could be translated as well with the word fuck up - and I found out that 80 percent of the words in the post could be translated with that word too - and I really wonder how strange language the English is, isn't it?).

It is well known fact that just before the summer starts all the streets in the city-center of Bratislava have to be messed, excavated, interwoven with ditches and occupied with the ditchers. That is the main rule you have to learn after you move with intention to stay a few years here. Is that a reality of other cities too? Or is that only our way we show off in front of foreign tourists? Did you ever met that phenomenon somewhere in the world?

I can exclude an idea it is just a problem of the modern city dealing with modern demands. I am pretty sure we are not first generation facing it. During communist time we had a humoristic magazine called Prong-buck. Slovak cartoonists (and there was a really strong generation of cartoonists here) published their cartoons in the magazine. One of them, Viktor Kubal, published that cartoon (March 1977):

viktor kubal

Text: I am just checking, which street we haven't excavated yet...

As you can see, it is not a problem of the city, but a long maintained tradition. That's main idea behind my pictures I made for you. To familiarize you with the tradition which you could easily think to be a conspiracy or sabotage. Hope you enjoy the show. Keep coming.

bratislava streets
bratislava street
Bratislava street
Bratislava street
Bratislava street
Bratislava street
Bratislava street

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jutta Müller - the coach and the legend

Celebrities and famous people become the target of our interest mostly when they have their fifteen minutes of fame. Then all the world forgets about their existence, spotting new targets. But I am the type of person with questions coming: what happened with that person, what is he doing right now? Sometimes a notice appears on the web, reminding us of their existence. This one is of that sort of news.

Jutta Muller

It perfectly relates to the post I published recently about the former East German figure skater Katarina Witt. Her coach Jutta Müller became an honorary citizen of her home city of Chemnitz on Friday, one day before her 80th birthday.

Müller's skaters won 57 medals at Olympic Games, world and European championships.

Witt won two Olympic gold medals under Müller's guidance. Müller also coached Jan Hoffmann, her daughter Gaby Seyfert and Anett Poetzsch, who won gold at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

Witt, who became an honorary citizen in 1988 when the city was known as Karl-Marx-Stadt during the Communist era, has congratulated Müller on her award.

Despite her age Jutta Müller still goes three times a week to ice stadium in Chemnitz to help young skaters learn to make their jumps.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Picks of the world's insane celebration

The moment I am living right now is unique because of many reasons – without farther explanation. The speakers are exploding with Jimi Hendrix and his noise. The screen is filled with the selection of images and texts which are considered to be the top of the history.

Do you agree?

Why to bother with looking at things, which are not on the top? Who will waste a time listening to noise of the losers? Who lives without intention to experience the most unique life in the recorded reality?

Is this your story?

I offer to you my choice, the staff I selected and you can see it all around the world.

I. M. W. Turner oilpainting
I. M. W. Turner oilpainting
I. M. W. Turner is one of my favorites. I love most his watercolors, that is one of the wonders of the world to me. The first major retrospective of his work to be presented in the United States in more than 40 years will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning July 1, 2008. The exhibition J. M. W. Turner will represent the artist's extensive iconographic range, from seascapes and topographical views to historical subjects and scenes from his imagination.

Salvador Dali
Well, I cannot say Salvador Dali is on the level of god to me. Nevertheless I have to admit he had excellent imagination and could produce excellent works of art. It is worthy to look, it is worthy to contemplate. The Museum of Modern Art presents Dalí: Painting and Film, the first exhibition to focus on the profound relationship between the paintings and films of Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989). The exhibition proposes that Dalí’s personal engagement with cinema—as a filmgoer, a screenwriter, a filmmaker, and an art director—was fundamental to his understanding of modernism and deeply affected his art. Comprising a gallery presentation of more than 130 paintings, drawings, scenarios, letters, and films. The exhibition is on view from June 29 to September 15, 2008, with the first film program beginning on June 20.

Gustave Klimt
Vienna is overfilled with the trash like Kiss painted by Gustave Klimt. Anyway, if you are willing to search more, to go deeper and are patient enough, you will discover more interesting side of that painter. Tate Liverpool presents a full-scale reconstruction of The Beethoven Frieze (1901-2 / 1984) a monumental installation by Gustav Klimt. The Frieze is a major highlight of Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life in Vienna 1900, the first comprehensive exhibition of Klimt’s work ever staged in the UK and a key event in Liverpool’s programme for European Capital of Culture 2008. On view through through 31 August, 2008.

Salvador Dali
I suppose you will be glad to see one more Dali, something you cannot see everyday, something what is not presented so often. Continuing to explore Salvador Dalí’s work in new ways, the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg presents Women: Dalí’s View, an exhibition which examines Dali’s artistic obsession with the female form. On view until September 21, 2008, the paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints and objects assembled from the museum’s permanent collection – the largest outside of Dalí’s native Spain – represent a diverse range in the artist’s approach to the female form, and reveal how images of women dominate Dali’s work, much as they do the history of art.

I believe that once you visit my blog, you will never be people that like their todays and tomorrows to be the same. Keep coming again.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Zuzana is home alone

Recently I posted a story about my experience in Cafe Stink here. Did you read it? This one is sequel to the story, and if you are curious about the main star casted – Zuzana – you are on the right place.

Zuzana, ink drawing, portrait
I did hundreds ink drawings of that person. My friends laugh at me that I am actually drawing a comics. You can look at a small selection in the mentioned post. But in this case ink drawing is not enough to express a vision of artist. Surely, these simple means have been used many times to create something great - just look at Rembrandt's ink drawings –thy stand for real masterpieces. I have created several studies by ink from the life drawings made in The Stink, obviously it is just a search for something in the air I could not entirely grasp, but I could feel, smell, dream of.

ink drawing, Zuzana
Anyway, now I feel I could do something more. The possibilities offered at extraordinary meeting of light and shapes in the personality of Zuzana didn't let me rest. Somewhere inside of my head I foresee large oil paintings, many large oil paintings.

My assets are lack of free time, large atelier, one extraordinary model able to withstand my interrogative gaze and a heap of ink drawings featuring the figure in all possible movements and positions.

Well, right now I decided to choose a few most attractive compositions and enlarge them as charcoal or pastel drawings. The important thing is to isolate the content from it's environment. One sheet in sketchbook looks a bit messy, you need a really strong impulse of inspiration to foresee a large paintings from these drawings:

ink drawing, sketchbook

But it is possible. If you are right man on right place in right time, you can do it. I did several little black ink paintings with isolated motives:

The satisfaction was adequate. The charcoal magic followed, and then dry pastel drawings. Not many colors yet. Probably the blue period seems to be most appropriate. The pink and violet is next choice.

That's the state of the project I decided to call: Zuzana is home alone. Soon I'm going to bring news about further development and results of that effort. And if you wish to know more, wait for a while. I'm going to interview the main role person in this story. Are you curious, who she is? Me too...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From the other side: Rasťo Čambál

He began to respond to articles on my blog. Then we met for the first time. I was in the role of the translator. Then my lecture in his photo club FOPA followed. He said that I had to disclose the code of Hans Holbein to the club members. After that the meeting in my workshop took place. This way, step by step, I encountered a new person, that's a social network reality. He will reveal more by himself. Rasťo Čambál.

PF 2008
PF 2008

I heard you become photography addict from your youth with one 25 years long break. How did you encounter the photography as a teenager?

I think I encountered it in a very natural way. We had a Flexaret at home, my brother was using it and I tried it too. Simply as children copy activities of elders, I began to do what they did. Of course, if the activity would not amuse me, I would give it up. I took pictures of my family, friends, of my school environment and school trips. We had completely equipped dark room at home, so I did not have to search for the first experience far. I applied to photo club when I was in primary school. I do not remember how much I progressed in the club, probably not much. Surely I got basic craft skill there but not very high.

Why did your break last a quarter of a century? Don't you have a feeling, that you missed the most important time to your creative development?

Why so long break? You have to ask my cubhood :-) . Probably the most important impact on my life than had my interest in playing guitar. Of course, the reason behind it was a girl I fell in love with, and she played the guitar too. That was the beginning of my "musician period", and it lasted 18 years.

And did I really miss the period of creative development? Probably not, because I was involved in my own music, which demanded a lot of creativity, ideas and imagination. I don't want to say I was the only creative person in the group. We worked as a team. I learned there to exploit the alpha level – I exploit it when I create till today.

photography Rasto Cambal
My landscapes

The comebacks aren't easy. Didn't you feel that challenges could be too big for you after so long break?

No, I don't think so. Because I did not do creative photography when I was young I was therefore on the start line. A few years after I finished my music activities I felt lack of creative activities. I had positive relationship to computers so I decided to buy my first digital camera. That was the comeback to my interest in photography. It was just the beginning, right now I do a classic photography. I use different cameras for different sizes.

A job, family, photography. Is it possible to combine them all?

Yes, it is possible, with certain limitations. You have to set up priorities and then you act accordingly. My priorities put photography in a high position, but I know a few very good photographers, who don't do it. I think it's a pity.

photography Rasto Cambal
My landscapes 2

What motives attracted your lenses when you were young? Were they different from today's ones?

I used to take pictures of my schoolmates, but most pictures I took at home. My family. Sometimes I got some orders. Of course, nothing serious. It was all around my schoolmates and family.

Today you focus on man in your artwork. Do you think, that so unfathomable subject can be understood and expressed meaningfully?

I hope not :-). If I did it, what else could I do then? For me most important is searching connected to creating. As we say "The goal is not important, what is important is the way to the goal. There is a philosophy in it. Even if I search for something that has already been discovered. To me it is a process to know it myself.

photography Rasto Cambal

There is a motto in your first picture publication called Identity: "A good looking photography doesn't have to be good, and a good photography doesn't have to be good looking at all." How do you percept and differentiate the beauty and quality in photography? Where are the limits of your criteria defining the basic categories?

There was a time I strived for good looking pictures. And the people enjoyed them. I won several competitions that way. I noticed however that people responded mostly to pictorial form, not to the content. The beauty was in first plane. The content was in the second one. And my desire was to revert it. Then I realised that the beauty is the neighbour of the kitsch. So I excluded beauty from my pictures and began to put it into the content. I noticed I cannot rely on the general view of irony, parody or wit anymore but that I have to be genuine and it has to be about me, my opinions, feelings, that I have to undress completely in public. For me a good picture is the one which doesn't loose its value even after long time. When the picture is timeless. I prefer decadent pictorial form to let the content stand out.

I have a feeling from your work of art, that you want to testify about certain features of human character. Features which are very obvious but we pretend they don't exist, and if they do, then only in the lives of the other people, not in ours. Do you think your pictures bring about feelings of trying to stop disclosing the dark spots in human nature?

People generally don't like to reveal their hidden feelings and emotions. We are different in public and different in private lives. But in spite of this I think my pictures don't cause that kind of response. I rather think people have no desire to understand it, they resist to being genuine to themselves. For example, if we do something wrong, how many reasons to excuse ourselves we find and how much are we willing to admit our own mistakes? Many people find my pictures depressive and I have a suspicion that the only reason of it is that pictures are black and white.

Where do you search and discover the "readers" of your art work?

I don't search for "readers" of my art work. I don't create for a target group. I create mostly from my inner necessity. I am pleased with the fact my work meets positive response, but I don't have illusions about it.

photography Rasto Cambal

Symbolism is main content and means which you use to narrate austere stories. Do you think, that contemporary people who grewn up on the straightforward consumption of unassuming "culture" production can grasp the story you offer?

Probably not. We read symbols differently. Uneducated person can read it mostly based on his own life experience. And we all have our own. But I don't mind if a person finds his own story in the content of my photography. Most important is that he has a will to search for the story.

The contrast is another means of expression you use in your works. Do you follow any theory or rules of the game?

No, I do not follow any. I follow my intuition. Right now I am satisfied with wide range of gray scale. I don't use high contrast. I tend to leave out the white.

photography Rasto Cambal

You are president of photo club in Galanta, member of photo club FOPA in Bratislava and member of Alliance of artists of western Slovakia. Can you tell us something about how they function, about the atmosphere and people there?

Everything depends on good will of the members to join the club activities and educate themselves. Nevertheless the education is not the main priority of the club. If the members have a good feelings from being there and are enjoying meetings with others, the purpose is fulfilled. Unfortunately I have to admit that activities of the club lay upon heads of a few people. I heard that similar clubs abroad have similar experience. It is simply human character. Otherwise I have no reason to complain. There are many photo activities during the year, I have to select.

You had a few exibitions of your artwork in the country and abroad. What message could you send to the world and what message did you get? Do you have a feedback?

I could only say that I exist. The feedback is not my main priority. Of course I'm glad whenever I get a positive response, who wouldn't be, but it is not the main thing to me.

You can find Rasťo and his pictures on

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Anniversary of the Atomium

Designed to represent Belgium at the Universal Exhibition in 1958 in Brussels, the Atomium was intended to last only for the six months of the Expo, from 17 April to 19 October 1958. Fifty years on, this architectural masterpiece remains one of the world's best-known and most visited buildings. Attached as they are to this symbolic edifice over 100 meters high, Belgians tend to forget just how daring, creative and modern engineer André Waterkeyn's design was.

The Atomium

Waterkeyn's intention was to represent an iron crystal – not a molecule or atom as is sometimes believed - 165 billion times its actual size, in the form of an assembly of 9 spheres connected by 20 tubes. Three years of design and construction work were required to develop and implement a project which was to shoot to international fame and contribute to the international visibility of the capital of Europe. The Architects were André and Jean Polak.

The Atomium, which had aged over the years, was entirely renovated between 2004 and 2006. Its exterior was fully re-clad, the exhibition and reception areas, shops and restaurant were reconstructed, an outdoor ticket pavilion was built and the square around the building was redesigned. This renovation work gave the Atomium a new lease of life and has met every expectation. Since reopening in February 2006, the Atomium has welcomed over 1.400.000 visitors and is once more arousing the curiosity and enthusiasm of both Belgians and foreign visitors.

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Atomium management has drawn up a schedule of many activities on the theme of " Brussels Happiness " and of the links between technological progress and the promise of happiness. Almost 50 events (exhibitions, shows, outings, evenings, special publications, etc.) will be taking place between 17 April and 19 October 2008, i.e. during the exact period of the 1958 Universal Exhibition, only half a century later.

Situated on the northern outskirts of Brussels, between the royal estates of Laeken and Stuyvenbergh, and the chaussée romaine, the former Osseghem plateau consisted of meadows and fields during the nineteenth century.

From 1889 onwards, King Léopold II, whose wish it was to enhance the surroundings of the royal palace by the urbanisation of this plateau, undertook a vast program of land purchases, to the point that within twenty years, he had acquired a vast domain of 200 hectares, which he left to the Belgian state on his death in 1909.

While the Atomium remains the main attraction of what is known as the Heysel plateau, a number of other substantial activities have been developed there since 1936: exhibition halls, a congress centre, a leisure and tourist centre, a cinema complex, a planetarium, a stadium, sports grounds, green spaces and restaurants are all there for the greater enjoyment of visitors.

Universal Exhibiton 1958 - 50 years ago. c) SABAM (c) ASBL Atomium (c) Istratov Alexandre.

The Universal Exhibition, inaugurated on 27th April 1935, was certainly the starting point for this development. 20 million people visited the 150 hectares of gardens, ponds, buildings and pavilions sponsored by more than twenty different countries. At night, the area was lit up like an illuminated fairyland with the added enchantment of numerous firework displays.

Twenty years later, the International Exhibition of 1958 confirmed the hosting capacity of this site, enabling almost forty million visitors to view the technical and scientific progress of the modern world in an atmosphere of optimism and enjoyment. The general layout of the exhibition centred on the Atomium, an imposing structure, and comprised six separate sectors spread out over 200 hectares.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Zaha Hadid Wins Competition to Develop Design for Proposed Museum in Vilnius

A jury of six members today announced that Zaha Hadid, London, has won the architectural competition to develop a design for a proposed museum in Vilnius. The architectural competition is part of a feasibility study undertaken by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and The State Hermitage Museum. The directors of both institutions participated in the jury selection process.

Zaha Hadid Architects.

In addition to Zaha Hadid Daniel Libeskind, New York, and Massimiliano Fuksas, Rome , submitted designs for the proposed project.

"The creation of the new center of contemporary and media art in Vilnius would be an important phenomenon in European cultural life,” said Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum . “We are honored that The State Hermitage Museum is participating in such a significant undertaking. The project in Vilnius would be an excellent complement to the programme we have recently developed exhibiting contemporary art at the Hermitage."

Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said, “ has set its sights on becoming a premier international center of art. We can think of no better institutions -- The State Hermitage and the Guggenheim Foundation -- to help guide us in this project. Their participation on our jury has led to selecting Zaha Hadid to design the new venue, which we believe will best enable our capital city of Vilnius to achieve this goal.”

An exhibition organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, entitled “Imagining the Future: Design Proposals for a New Museum in Vilnius” will open to the public on April 10th at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius and will allow visitors to view the works of all three architects who competed for the project.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Magic of Things: Still Life Painting 1500–1800

The Stadel Museum in Frankfurt presents the exhibit The Magic of Things: Still Life Painting 1500–1800 through August 17. Dewdrops on dainty petals, light glancing off glass drinking goblets and precious silver dishes, candied sweetmeats in blue-and-white porcelain bowls from China, the delicate fluff of a peach, the pallor of a skull... To this day, still lifes captivate us with their close-up views of objects no longer living but far from lifeless, reproduced with painterly finesse and subtle colouration. However, still life painting was anything but a purely aesthetic matter, even if the present-day viewer tends to perceive it as such. The exhibition “The Magic of Things. Still Life Painting 1500–1800” is designed to convey both aspects – the genre’s aesthetic pleasure as well as its contemporary context with regard to meaning and function.

Pieter Aertsen (1507/08 - 1575), Market Piece with Christ and the Adulteress, 1559
Oil on oakwood, 122.5 x 180.5 cm. Inscribed left on barrel “P A / 1559”.
(between P and A a trident; only upper triangle of “A”)
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Artothek

With more than ninety masterworks, the show spreads out a panorama of the still life’s development in the Netherlands and Germany from its beginnings in the late fifteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. To this end, it unites the superb holdings of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt and the Kunstmuseum Basel, enhanced by a number of selected loans from other collections, public and private.

After its liberation from the religious painting of the late Middle Ages, the still life initially served as a means of recording and interpreting the stationary objects found in the viewer’s everyday surroundings, objects in which the order and structure of the abstract world of the Baroque could be mirrored: for example the individual’s senses and “humours”, the elements or seasons which shaped and moulded his environment, or the mortality of mankind in general and man’s longing for redemption from sin. Due to its concentration on a small number of consistently recurring objects, however, the late Baroque still life also served as an ideal experimental laboratory for means of artistic expression. The still life ranked low in the hierarchy of genres, and to attain success its practitioners had to use it to demonstrate their special artistic abilities: a work owed its charm and value to its composition, the meaningful combination of objects and the skilful brushstroke. As a result, the paintings bear witness to mastery in the wonderful rendition of various surfaces.

Willem van Aelst
Fish on a Tin Plate and Two Glasses, 1679

Retracing the evolution of still life painting from 1500 to 1800, while also acquainting the visitor with the most important pictorial motifs and types, the show begins with the forerunners to the still life produced in the period marking the transition from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern era. The first section thus illustrates the process of the still life’s emancipation from its role as a symbolically charged accessory of religious painting to a pictorial theme in its own right.

The subsequent section is devoted to the early autonomous still life of around 1600 with Jan Brueghel and Georg Flegel as its chief exponents. Here the superb selection of splendid works already constitutes one of the exhibition’s highlights.

Following the cartouche paintings, banquet pieces and vanitas still lifes make up the next group of works, introducing viewers to the symbolism of Baroque imagery and its highly idiosyncratic blend of sensual stimulation and admonitions regarding the transience of earthly existence.

By contrast, the following department on fish and hunting still lifes exemplifies the considerable extent to which seventeenth-century painters specialized in certain genres as a means of gaining a competitive edge on the art market: often one artist in a given city would virtually hold a monopoly on a certain type of composition. The “sumptuous still life”, for its part, – represented above all by the names Jan Davidsz. de Heem and Willem van Aelst, with several works by each of them on view – was entirely dedicated to the description of luxuriance as well as the demonstration of fine-painterly virtuosity.

The final chapter of the show explores the eighteenth century, which lends particularly apt expression to the theme of the “magic of things” in the paintings of Justus Juncker – an artist who elevates a pear, for example, to imposing monumentality by enlarging it and placing it on a pedestal. Jean Siméon Chardin’s Städel painting “Still Life with Partridge and Pear” employs no more than a few laconic brushstrokes to endow those objects with astonishing presence, bringing the exhibition to its magnificent conclusion.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The painting Adolf Hitler liked

Unpopular heroes are marked with dislike and nobody wish to share their taste for something. Is there a killer or criminal preferring special type of meal, necktie or hair style? I am sure you will avoid of the same liking. How about paintings?

Let's take one of the most destructive man in human history. He had a passion in art and he owned a collection of artworks. Some say his cultural pretensions meant nothing. Others feel very differently about it. The National Gallery in London made a discovery recently. It reveals an interesting fact about a medieval erotic painting Cupid Complaining to Venus by the German Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder. The point is: the painting was once part of Adolf Hitler’s private collection.

Cupid Complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Cupid Complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder (about 1525). Oil on wood, 81.3 x 54.6 cm. Cupid complains to Venus that he has been stung by bees. He holds in his hand the honeycomb that has been stolen from them. The Latin verses in the upper right point up the moral message in this picture that life’s brief pleasure is mixed with pain.

The research has been carrying out by Dr Birgit Schwartz. The National Gallery believes that her identification of the painting in a photograph of Hitler’s private gallery is correct. The photograph is in an album that is part of Hitler’s former library of 1200 volumes.

For some people many problems arise with this finding. It looks like the artwork got stained and deflated by watching, touching and probably fantasised by the dictator. Shell we watch it, touch it and fantasise about it in spite of all that? Should we mind?

There is an excellent article by Jonathan Jones here (and I have to admit I like to read his articles a lot) throwing light on the historical background of the painting. It is long and worthy to read. Another insightful text about the painting is here.

So, read through and come back. What opinion do you share on the topic? Do you mind who owned a painting you admire? Or will you reconsider your emotions towards the masterpiece?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Temptation of St Anthony

I encountered that legend by reading the book of Gustave Flaubert. This quite surrealistic text caused excitement and storm in my fantasy. The story of St Anthony was very inspiring to many other artists in history, probably because it gave freedom to imagination and creativity of the people. Particularly in the age - when media and the flood of fantastic images was missing - they could stand in the role of visionaries depicting monsters, worlds, creatures the ordinary peasant could fear of to death.

Here is a little selection of paintings dealing with the subject.

Hieronymus Bosch The Temptation of St Anthony
Hieronymus Bosch c. 1500; Oil on panel
Bosch's spiritual heroes were the saints who endured both physical and mental torment, yet remained steadfast. Among the saints, Bosch's favorite was Saint Anthony, the subject of his triptych The Temptation of Saint Anthony which features physical punishment on the left wing, a Black Mass in the center, and the blandishments of food and sex on the right wing. St. Anthony's triumph over such trials is mirrored by those of other hermit saints and by the Passion of Christ. In Bosch's day, temptation not only had the meaning it has today, but also meant physical/mental assault by demons. So St Anthony is not only tempted by the pleasures of the flesh and so on, he is also beaten up and terrorized by the demons. The central panel of this triptych illustrates the kneeling figure of St Anthony being tormented by devils. These include a man with a thistle for a head, and a fish that is half gondola. Bizarre and singular as such images seem to us, many would have been familiar to Bosch's contemporaries because they relate to Flemish proverbs and religious terminology. What is so extraordinary is that these imaginary creatures are painted with utter conviction, as though they truly existed. He has invested each bizarre or outlandish creation with the same obvious realism as the naturalistic animal and human elements. His nightmarish images seem to possess an inexplicable surrealistic power.

Martin Schongauer The Temptation of St Anthony
Martin Schongauer ca. 1470–75, Engraving
Saint Anthony gazes serenely out at the viewer as frenzied demons grab at his limbs, clothes, and hair and pound him with sticks. Schongauer depicted these imagined creatures in a remarkably convincing way. His realistic description of their scales and fur point to his direct observation of animals, yet he compiled these naturalistic details to produce some of the most fantastic and grotesque fabrications in the history of printmaking. Although this is one of Schongauer's earliest prints, it was probably his most influential: Vasari recounted that even Michelangelo made a color drawing of the work at the age of thirteen.

Mathis Grünewald The Temptation of St Anthony
Mathis Grünewald, c. 1515
It was painted for the monastery of St. Anthony Isenheim. Grünewald shows the saint harassed by hideous demons in the wilderness. The figure on the left suffers from the skin disease ergotism, known as "St. Anthony's fire", caused by eating contaminated rye.The work's original viewers were from hospital dedicated to skin diseases attached to monastery.

Max Ernst The Temptation of St Anthony
Max Ernst, 1945
Clearly inspired by Grünwald's painting on the same subject, but transmogrifies the landscape into dead water and "fishbone forest". Although Ernst lived in America from 1941, the setting of this work, painted in the wake of Second World War for a Hollywood film set evokes the devastated cities of Europe. St Anthony is inextricably entangled in a dense web of nightmarish creatures, phantasmagoria of the subconscious mind.

Salvador Dali The Temptation of St Anthony
Salvador Dali, 1946
In this picture temptation appears to Saint Anthony successively in the form of a horse in the foreground representing strength, sometimes also symbol of voluptuousness, and in the form of the elephant which follows it, carrying on its back the golden cup of lust in which a nude woman is standing precariously balanced on the fragile pedestal, a figure which emphasizes the erotic character of the composition. The other elephants are carrying buildings on their backs; the first of these is a obelisk inspired by that of Bernini in Rome, the second and third are burdened with Venetian edifices in the style of Palladio. In the background another elephant carries a tall tower which is not without phallic overtones, and in the clouds one can glimpse a few fragments of the Escorial, symbol of temporal and spiritual order. This picture was painted in the studio that the artist occupied for a few days next to the Colony Restaurant in New York. It is the first and only time that he participated in a contest. It was an invitational artistic competition for a painting of the theme of the temptation of Saint Anthony, organised in 1946 by the Loew Lewin Company, a movie- producing firm. The winning picture was to figure in a film taken from the story "Bel Ami" by Maupassant. Eleven painters took part in the competition, among them Leonora Carrington, Dali, Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, and Dorothea Tanning. The prize was given to Max Ernst by jury composed of Alfred Barr, Marcel Duchamp, and Sidney Janis. All these works were shown at an exhibition in Brussels and in Rome during 1947.

Salvator Rosa The Temptation of St Anthony
Salvator Rosa, 1646
St. Anthony was particularly solicitous about animals, to which a whimsical picture by Salvator Rosa represents him as preaching. From his practices, perhaps, arose the custom of blessings passed on animals still practised at Rome; he regarded all God's creatures as worthy of protection. The painting contains Rosa's own portrait.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Apple To Offer Subscription Music Service?

Apple makes a change in strategy. A year ago, Chief Executive Steve Jobs said he didn't believe most consumers wanted to rent their music and that Apple had no plans to offer a music subscription service. "Never say never, but customers don't seem to be interested in it," Jobs told Reuters then.

The Apple company logo at the Apple store in New York. Foto: Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

iTunes is today the biggest online seller of music. Apple may be rethinking how it sells music, offering a subscription service. "Apple's position might be changing, in part because of competition in the online music market, where music is increasingly sold without digital copyright protections that keep it tied to one device."


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Warhol and his rare art

There are always works of art the public does not see so often. Such are the Ten Portraits Reconsidered by Andy Warhol. The paintings will be on view at The Jewish Museum, New York, through August 3, 2008. When it premiered in 1980, Warhol’s Ten Portraits of the Twentieth Century was met with both admiration and hostility.

Andy Warhol - Sarah Bernhardt painting
Andy Warhol, Sarah Bernhardt from Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century, 1980, synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. Private collection. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society, New York/Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

The series depicts such luminaries of Jewish culture as Sarah Bernhardt, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, the Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, and Franz Kafka, among others. On view in this exhibition are the photographs that Warhol used as source images, several preliminary sketches, a preparatory collage, an edition of the final silk-screen print portfolio (of which 200 were published), and one of the five complete sets of paintings that he made for the series. The drawings and source photographs have not previously been exhibited alongside the finished pictures. Additional materials related to the portraits, including the list of nearly 100 “famous Jews” prepared by Warhol’s dealer, and television coverage of the artist’s trip to Miami for the world premiere of the series, will shed light on their creation and display. Following its New York City showing, the exhibition will travel to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (October 12, 2008 – January 25, 2009).

The Jewish Museum initially showed three sets of paintings and an edition of prints in the fall of 1980. While Jewish audiences tended to embrace Warhol’s series, several leading art critics dismissed it as crass and exploitative. In the twenty-eight years since its debut, Ten Portraits has continued to confront viewers with these questions: Why did a Pop artist who otherwise displayed little interest in Jewish culture or causes create a series devoted to eminent Jews? How do we reconcile Warhol’s commercial motives with the high-minded portrayal of cultural and historical icons? How has our view of Ten Portraits changed since its first showing?

Andy Warhol - Sigmund Freud painting, rare artwork
Andy Warhol, Sigmund Freud (detail) from Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century, 1980, synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas. Private collection. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society, New York/Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

Unlike many of Warhol’s portraits, Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century depicts subjects whom the artist never met. Warhol was evasive when asked to divulge his selection criteria for the series and once told a reporter that he chose these ten subjects “because I liked the faces.” The idea for Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century originated with Ronald Feldman, a New York gallerist, who commissioned it with Israeli art dealer Alexander Harari.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I am a born artist and oil canvas paintings are my passion

Internet discussions are full of similar (and a bit naive) requests: I am a beginner, where do I start? How to begin my career in art? I want to sell my paintings and really want to paint and sell and I want to grow my art skills but I don't know how to start and where. I don't know what's going on in today's art market, how much money to sell my work for and where? Do really anyone buy my paintings? Do I need to attend classes, or anyone can suggest me anything?

prophet and the folks drawing by Michal SplhoProphet and his contemporaries, drawing by Michal Splho

What would you answer to that guy? Is it worthy to express true opinion to his questions? A girl with good heart came and gave suggestion:

I would attend classes. I would go to art school and get a bachelors of science. You will learn how to make a professional portfolio, and how to work in the world of art. I go to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I learned there is so much more I need to learn. I learned how to communicate with people. I learned the value of art history.

Not bad answer, isn't it? A single-minded guy see the thing clearly without any obstacles, the success guaranteed:

Very simple, as fast as you make your project you start exhibit it here and there. Just like fair, town hall, and some small size painting you sale in gift item shop and you contact all embassies to sale your item in another country.

If that does not help, a real artist bothers to give a sound advice:

OK, I am an artist, I can help you now and give you notes, advice and little projects to get you where you need to be.
My questions are: Can you come up with your own ideas for an art painting? Do you understand value, do you know the primary and secondary colors? This will allow me to know where you are as an artist.

Looks like the requesting guy should turn to that artist, but if the answer is still not yet satisfactory, another clever ideas are coming:

First thing you need to do is get some work created before you start worrying about the rest. If you have the passion you say you do, this will be easy work. Do a few paintings and then get a portfolio together. Try to find a niche subject that you like to portray. Depending on how you want to sell your work, there are multiple venues - from local craft fairs to galleries. If you want to grow your skill, you should definitely take classes that will teach you varied technique. The rest comes with practice as you develop your own style. Many artists sell work as a secondary source of income, and much is freelance. Good luck.

Can you still breathe well? The guy is lucky and another expert advice follows:

In my opinion, before you start painting you should have a pretty solid course in drawing. They are different, but you still will find ways of expressing volume/form, and some painters use line in their paintings. Also, color theory. Start with a limited palette and don't just use black or white to lighten or darken colors...

Finally, some light:

Most of all, I think you need to paint because you NEED to paint. Not because you want to sell art and make money. If you want to do that, it's actually harder to make it, because you're less willing to put the time and passion into learning art.

This is the short guide to fulfill your desire to develop your talent. Are you a born genius? Do you have all the questions the guy expressed in the beginning of that article? Then the answers are right for you. And what's my suggestion? What would I answer to the questions? I would say: A born artist should know all that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Painting of Renoir on view

We all know the basic set of paintings, which represent each master of brush and color in books about art. To see other aspects of their work, to see rare paintings you need to travel around the world. One of such a paintings is Young Woman in White Reading painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919).

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Jeune femme en blanc lisant Young Woman in White Reading
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), ‘Jeune femme en blanc lisant’ (Young Woman in White Reading), 1873. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.

The National Gallery of Ireland has placed on view this recent acquisition. The painting, which is the first Renoir to enter the collection, was purchased at auction, at Sotheby’s Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York (November 2007).

Janet McLean, the National Gallery’s Curator of European Art 1850-1950, says that this recent acquisition is considered a fine example of the artist’s work and will strengthen the Gallery’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.

Painted in 1873, the painting depicts a fashionably dressed woman seated on a sofa absorbed in a book. The sitter is unknown, although it may portray Camille Monet, wife of the artist Claude Monet. Capturing an informal, everyday moment with an immediate accuracy, the painting also anticipates the motif of the intimate interior.

Do you find it attractive?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Volcano on ice - the icon Katarina Witt

Is there a person you can steel horses with? This German expression indicates someone you can share everything with, that you can share all sides with. Someone that is honest, trustworthy, funny – a little bit of everything. I cannot say whether Katarina Witt is such a person, but certainly she is a phenomenon functioning as a symbol transformed into myth. It was possible because of the right combination of the political climate, historical timing, exploitation of great amount of talent – at the time, when there were all conditions ready.

Katarina has ended her show career on ice one week ago in Hannover, with show in great style in front of audience of eight thousand people. She drew thunderous applause with a final performance as Carmen – the role that accompanied her greatest triumph. She showed a video montage of her career that dated back to when longtime coach Jutta Müller first began to groom the five-year-old for ice skating glory.

Carmen, Olympic games 1988

Thousands of young people spent their youth on ice. Just handful could become the top of glacier. Salvador Dalí once wrote, that you can be a best draughtsman in the world, but if there is no angel standing by you and leading your hand, your artwork will not be good nor attractive nor successful. Maybe here lies the secret of Katarina Witt's myth. How else can we comprehend the difference, when after perfect "athletic" performance of Debi Thomas enters Katarina and whole world suddenly revives, the atmosphere gets charged with energy, beauty, charm not much connected to physical abilities of the skater. It is aureole, shining phenomenon which is filling the stadium and the hearts of fans watching the competition at home. She fascinates, sweeps to agreement, excitement, evoking feelings of closeness. Surely you remember it.

Broadway medley, World championship 1988. Just a few figure skaters can end up their performance with tap dancing sequence.

It is a story of a girl willing to believe in hard toil, give up the pleasures of childhood, one of the million, who could break down the jail and scheme of mediocrity, where the people are imprisoned from the beginning of time. Charm, sensuality, a character of perfectionist, success in dominating the figure skating domain nearly for a decade, unbelievable ability to gain an international sympathy of audience. Embodiment of great self control – which is paradoxically, feared by mass, because it feels threat of getting under control. In spite of this mass acceptes and embraces her.

Gala program, World championship 1987. Tango.

She could endure a life disclosing a pattern, which opens a way out of the trap – for those who see and want to see and those who hear and want to hear. The price paid if you waste the opportunity in early childhood is lifelong wandering on the side line, if not in a blind street. The desire for comfort is imprisoning, there is no escape anymore.

Where have all the flowers gone, Olympic games 1994

The combination of a little dictator in person of Frau Müller, system controlling everything including the first touch of love, which had to end as "responsible" people arranged it, and incredibly stubborn and ambitious girl, who resolved to touch the sky and stars – this all made possible the rise of phenomenon. In addition the incredible ability to come through when she had to, to withstand pressure and skate better than she normally did in practice.

Rare performance from 1978, aged 13.

A bowl of rice and apple instead of good lunch after hard, seven hours training, ban on chocolate, which could be eaten in precious moments behind the back of the coach Frau Müller, long years of discomfort in own body, endless hours of boring training of obligatories. Six times gold on European championship, four times gold on World championship, two consecutive Olympic gold medals. Only one person in history of figure skating could do it.

Video montage in farewell show last Tuesday.

There are several ways you can pay tribute to somebody. I have chosen my own approach. What is the meaning of the toil of that ambitious person? First of all setting of co-ordinates, which enlighten the way wandering mankind is undertaking for centuries.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Apple logo mystery

Developing company needs to establish it's distinct identity. Such an identity is typically reflected in the company's logo. There is a text giving deeper insight into ideas and thoughts behind this process.

apple logo semiotics
A past chairman of the Apple Products division is explaining the logo: "Our logo is a great mystery. It is a symbol of pleasure and knowledge, partially eaten away and displaying the colours of the rainbow, but not in the proper order. We couldn't wish for a more fitting logo: pleasure, knowledge, hope and anarchy".

Clearly, the bitten apple refers both to the story of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden and to association of IBM with the east coast and the "Big Apple" of New York. The psychedelic mixed-up rainbow (green, yellow, orange, red, violet and blue) signifies the west coast hippie era of the 1960s, with its associations of idealism and 'doing your own thing'. Thus, despite representing a binary opposition to the IBM logo, the multi-colored Apple logo seeks to signify a rejection of the binarism reflected in the 'black-and-white' (or rather monochrome)linearity of IBM logo.

Does your company have logo with the deeper meaning too? Leave here a link, it can be featured in next post!