World’s oldest drawing discovered in South Africa

This 12 September 2018 video says about itself:

Oldest Drawing Ever Found Discovered In South African Cave

The researchers examined the marks and even recreated the patterns themselves, concluding they had definitely been deliberately applied with an ochre crayon.

Archaeologists used to think the ability of our species to think symbolically did not emerge until Homo sapiens colonised Europe around 40,000 years ago.

However, a steady trickle of evidence from places as far apart as Morocco and Indonesia has revealed that humans began practising art far earlier.

From Nature:

12 September 2018

World’s oldest drawing is Stone Age crayon doodle

‘Hashtag’ pattern drawn on rock in South African cave is 73,000 years old.

Colin Barras

Sometime in the Stone Age, human artists began experimenting with a new form of visual art: drawing. Now, from the ancient rubble that accumulated on the floor of a South African cave comes the earliest-known example — an abstract, crayon-on-stone piece created about 73,000 years ago.

“If there is any point at which one can say that symbolic activity had emerged in human society, this is it,” says Paul Pettitt, an archaeologist at Durham University, UK, who was not involved in the discovery. The find is described in a paper published on 12 September in Nature.

Ancient Egyptian tomb, new research

This 12 September 2018 video says about itself:

A 4,000-year-old tomb was recently opened in the town of Saqqara Necropolis outside Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis. The tomb, containing six burial chambers, is believed to belong to Mehu, a man so powerful that the walls list him as having 48 different titles. The tomb also contained colorful images depicting the life of Mehu as a ruler and a hunter. RT’s Trinity Chavez reports.

Mehu was an Ancient Egyptian vizier who lived in the Sixth Dynasty, around 2300 BC. The office of vizier was the most important one at the royal court: here.

Vertebrate animals, science and art

This 2016 video is called Skeletons and vertebrates.

From the University of Kansasin the USA:

State-of-the-art imaging techniques reveal heightened detail and beauty of vertebrate life

September 4, 2018

A mingling of science and art, the next-generation photographs of vertebrate skeletons are at once fascinating, eerie, intricate and exquisite.

“People are inherently interested in how these skeletons look”, said W. Leo Smith, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and associate curator at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum. “In any given scholarly paper, you’d be lucky to have a couple of hundred people read it top to bottom — but a lot more people will look at the images. The more we can improve that, the more people you can get interested in your research.”

Since the 1800s, biologists and paleontologists have taken pictures of specimens to perform comparative anatomical studies. Now, techniques pioneered by Smith and a team of researchers headquartered at KU are giving scientists around the world fresh methods to capture images of vertebrates — a breakthrough enabling better, more useful digital pictures of Earth’s biodiversity.

The team describes the two novel imaging procedures in a new paper appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Copeia.

One new process involves “cleared and stained” specimens, which have been stripped of their muscles in a time-honored technique using cow enzymes. The team discovered how to position such specimens within a glycerine-gelatin mixture for otherwise impossible images.

“The problem we had was we couldn’t pose these animals because we’ve digested away all of the muscles,” Smith said. “They’re flaccid and useless, like a pile of clothes that fold in every direction. We wanted the ability to pose them.”

The researchers hunted for the best ratio of glycerine and gelatin that allowed specimens to be posed in a nondestructive medium that could be simply washed off after photography. Much of the “nitty gritty” work was performed by doctoral student Matthew Girard and intern Chesney A. Buck, an aspiring taxidermist interning with Smith’s group from Van Go Inc., an arts-based employment program for at-risk teens and young adults.

“She was interested in artistic taxidermy, mixing animal parts like have been done with the jackalope“, Smith said. “She knew about clearing and staining and wanted to know how to do it. After her internship, she volunteered for a year more. There was a lot of trial and error. We tried lots of different things.”

Other co-authors on the new paper are Gregory S. Ornay, Rene P. Martin and Girard of KU’s Biodiversity Institute, along with Matthew P. Davis and Sarah Z. Gibson of St. Cloud State University.

Eventually, the team found a 40 percent glycerine mixture that held specimens well and was sufficiently translucent for photography, allowing them new looks at specimens that could “float” within the matrix.

“You can see through this medium and give the specimen structure”, Smith said. “Now you can get a photo of a fish specimen head on and look at it from all these different angles. There’s something different about being able to see anatomical structure in new ways that really does help analysis. Before, we struggled with how to pose these things. For instance, fish are famous for having two sets of jaws, an oral set like ours and then another set of teeth where our voice box is — you couldn’t get a photo of these teeth head-on before now.”

Smith said the new technique could be used on a host of vertebrate species beyond the fishes he studies.

“It’d be great to pose a snake coiled, but before now they just wouldn’t hold in that pose. Or if you were trying to get an image of some structure obscured by the wing of a bird and couldn’t get it out of the way, we’ve often had to cut the wing off, but now you could deflect the wing to show that structure.”

A second method developed by the group employs fluorescent microscopy to examine specimens and create captivating images of alizarin-stained recent and fossil vertebrates. The work hinges on the fact that alizarin, a stain long used in the clearing and staining process to identify bones in a specimen, fluoresces when exposed to the right wavelengths of light — a phenomenon Smith discovered himself. (Another team independently discovered the phenomenon in a paper about zebrafish.)

“Alizarin red is used to dye a specimen’s bones, and it fluoresces like a Grateful Dead poster”, Smith said. “We use lights that have high energy and look for reflections of re-emitted fluorescent wavelength, and the microscope has filters that block all the other light. The skin and everything else disappears because it doesn’t fluoresce — it’s a fast way to clear out all the extra stuff and is incredibly useful when you’re trying to see where bones are connected. It was pure luck to find this.”

The KU researcher reported the fluorescence microscopy finding to colleagues last year at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and today other investigators in the field already are using the matrix in their own digital imaging work thanks to the presentation.

“Now lots of people are doing it,” Smith said. “It’s been really rewarding. You feel like you contributed something to make this kind of research more interesting and allow us to study anatomy better.”

While Smith doesn’t consider the how-to descriptions of new imaging techniques to be of equal weight as the scientific papers he regularly produces, he stressed the importance of providing compelling images to conveying information to fellow investigators and the public alike.

“At end of the day, the picture is worth a thousand words,” he said. “Images allow you to fundamentally share how things work and improve your ability to tell someone else about your novel discoveries.”

New Rembrandt painting discovery

This 14 August 2018 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

On May 17, Young Rembrandt Studio opened its doors in a very special location. Langebrug 89 is the cosy 17th century dwelling where Rembrandt received his first painting lessons from his mentor, Jacob van Swanenburg. This listed building now houses a unique stop in the “Footsteps of the Young Rembrandt” walking tour through the city of Leiden.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

For the second time in a short time a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn has been discovered. According to the Leidsch Dagblad daily, the work is currently being restored and will then be exhibited at the De Lakenhal museum in Leiden.

Ancient Art Curator Christiaan Vogelaar of the museum says in the newspaper that the painting was discovered abroad. He does not want to reveal more about it yet. “We first have to make sure that it will have been restored in time, so that there will be enough time for research into the work, but I can not say more about it”, says Vogelaar. …

The Lakenhal will exhibit the painting as the first museum in the world, in the exhibition Young Rembrandt. In that exhibition, which will open on 3 November 2019, there are about 40 paintings, 120 etchings and 20 drawings by the Leiden-born artist and his contemporaries.

Painter Raphael on film, review

This video says about itself:

Raphael: The Lord of the Arts – Extended Theatrical Trailer

24 March 2017

Raphael – the Lord of the Arts is the first film adaptation of the life and work of one of the most famous artists in the world, Raphael Sanzio. Few figures in the history of art have lived a life so full of intensity and fascination. He died young, aged 37, and yet managed to leave an indelible mark on the artistic world. In a well-balanced dialogue between historical reconstruction and expert commentary, the film retraces the most significant moments of Raphael’s life.

Set in 20 locations, two of which are major exclusives – the Vatican Logge and Cardinal Bibbiena’s apartment in the Apostolic Palace – the film explores more than 30 works of art, including the most famous and most representative of Raphael’s work. Beauty comes to life through the brushwork and enduring genius of one of the most talented artists the world has ever known.

Luca Viotto is the director of this film. The main roles are by Flavio Parenti as Raphael; Angela Curri as Margarita Luti, aka La Fornarina, Raphael’s model and lover; Enrico Lo Verso as Giovanni Santi, Raphael’s father, and Marco Cocci as Cardinal Pietro Bembo, whose portrait Raphael made.

On 19 August 2018, I went to see that film on Italian Raphael, 1483-1520. He was a painter´s son, making it easier to become a painter himself. Though his father died when he was only eleven years old.

Raphael is one of few painters whose name was incorporated in the name of an artistic movement. It was the 19th century British Pre-Raphaelite movement. That these British artists chose that name on the one hand shows that Raphael was famous, even more than three centuries after his death. On the other hand, it shows they did not want to emulate Raphael, but rather preferred earlier painters.

Young artists, opposed to the artistic establishment, founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, a year of revolutions. Originally, they were a secret society.

Their inspiration was influential art critic John Ruskin. According to Ruskin, in medieval art truth prevailed, correctly, over beauty; and in most later art, beauty prevailed, wrongly, over truth. Ruskin wrote that Raphael was the prominent example of that change. Truth, he said, should become more important than beauty again: artists should once again become ‘Pre-Raphaelite’.

Meghan Trudell wrote on the Pre-Raphaelites:

The Pre-Raphaelites rejected academic artistic conventions, in particular the insistence that Italian Renaissance painting had set the standards for composition and subject matter in painting.

They denounced the Royal Academy as a reactionary institution and official art as conservative and pretentious, and called for a wide ranging artistic and moral renewal.

In particular, the Pre-Raphaelites looked back to the “primitivism” of Medieval painting. This was a move away from grandiose historical and religious subjects towards a more intimate style that emphasised emotion and literary themes.

Here, I disagree somewhat with Ms Trudell. Though rebellious, the pre-Raphaelites still, like the art establishment, had many historical and religious subjects in their work. Like there had been mostly religious subjects in their beloved medieval art. They were arguably the first artistic movement ever naming themselves.

Their contemporary Gustave Courbet, a French rebel against then predominant classicist and romantic art, went a step further, rejecting painting historical subjects. In 1848, he already painted in a new, realist, style. In 1855, Courbet wrote the manifesto of the new realist movement. Courbet´s example of artists naming their movements themselves, organizing exhibitions together, etc. became an example for later tendencies, even for opponents of realism like the, mainly French, symbolists.

Another issue with Meghan Trudell’s article is that Raphael is usually considered as, along with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, one of the three great artists marking the transition from High Renaissance to Mannerist art; not from Medieval to Renaissance art. Raphael was one of the first depicting emotions on human faces; paving the way from High Renaissance to Mannerism. So, when Meghan Trudell writes the Pre-Raphaelites wanted to ’emphasise emotion’ then they were arguably more ‘Raphaelite’ than ‘Pre-Raphaelite’.

Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo did not call themselves ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Mannerist’ artists. Art historians called them that after their deaths. Contrary to 19th century and later artists considering themselves realists, symbolists, futurists, dadaists, etc.

Raphael was one of the first artists to employ female models. He was also innovative otherwise: depicting emotions on human faces, as we wrote earlier. His strategy, the film says, was: learn from other master artists; try to equate them; then try to surpass them.

As the film shows, Raphael was born in Urbino, a small, but then artistically important town. He continued to bigger, still artistically more important, Florence. Finally, to Rome, where ‘Renaissance popes‘ could afford money for art.

Besides painting, Raphael also worked at architecture and drawing, eg, designing tapestries.

This video is called Raphael’s Drawings.

In her review, Joyce Glasser calls it unfortunate that the film says nothing about the rivalry between Raphael and Michelangelo, while they both worked at the Vatican; a point about which Hudi Charin says in her review: ‘Raphael and Michelangelo’s relationship is almost entirely skipped over.’ The film suggests wrongly, according to Glasser, that Raphael became a universally beloved artist without any conflicts.

I would not say that the film says nothing at all about the Raphael-Michelangelo rivalry. But it hints at it rather than making it a central theme.

The film also shows Leonardo da Vinci unveiling his Mona Lisa in his workshop, with only Raphael being present. We don´t know whether that really happened, writes Ms Glasser. The problem with Raphael, like with many 16th century artists, is that we don’t have very many reliable biographical facts.

The film set showing Leonardo's Mona Lisa, with director Luca Viotto on the right

The good side of the film, Joyce Glasser says, is that it shows so many of Raphael´s works.

Hudi Charin writes:

In partnership with the Vatican Museums, it provides us with incredible insights into rooms that are normally packed full of visitors. One of the most enchanting moments has to be in the Raphael Rooms.

As I saw in Rome only a few months ago, these rooms are always full of tourists, meaning you can never experience it fully. With steady camera-work Raphael takes us through each room, projecting the full journey the artist would have intended for his audience.

However, ´the names of the paintings and their locations, as well as proper names, are rattled off in Italian so that these citations are all but meaningless for the average viewer´, Joyce Glasser criticizes. That may be true for the version of the movie which Ms Glasser saw. However, not for the version which I saw: English spoken, Dutch subtitles.

One of the paintings in the film is the Madonna of the goldfinch.

Raphael, Madonna of the goldfinch

The Dutch subtitle wrongly translates English ‘goldfinch’ as ‘goudvink’. That is a literal translation: gold is ‘goud’ in Dutch; finch is ‘vink’. However, the bird species called (European) goldfinch in English is called ‘putter’ or ‘distelvink’ (thistle finch) in Dutch. The species called ‘goudvink’ in Dutch is called bullfinch in English.

Raphael also depicted bigger birds in his religious works; like the Eurasian cranes on the right here, in a tapestry design showing the Miraculous Draught of Fish.

In this cartoon by Raphael, Christ tells Peter to cast his net into the water whereupon he and his fellow apostles make a miraculous catch. The story refers to Peter’s role as “fisher of men”, who converts others to Christianity. It also demonstrates his humility as he kneels before Christ to acknowledge His divinity, and confess his own sinfulness. Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Hudi Charin writes:

We are also told [in the film] Raphael was ground-breaking, and it is true that he was, but without comparisons with earlier Renaissance paintings, his mastery can not really be appreciated.

The same problem is seen in the Transfiguration analysis where the voice-over describes it as the best painting of Christ in the whole of art history, which is quite a claim without a comparison with any other paintings of the same subject.

The Transfiguration is said to be the last painting Raphael made before he died; probably of malaria.

The last scene of the film shows Raphael’s grave in the Pantheon. The Pantheon was the only ancient Roman building still standing in 16th century Rome. Originally a polytheist temple, it later became a church. During most of the film, we have seen churches and other buildings full of paintings. There are not any paintings in the Pantheon. Somewhat symbolic for the empty spot Raphael left behind by dying.

Director Luca Viotto died in February 2017, just before the première of his Raphael film. The very beginning of the film commemorates him.

Art Against War, exhibition in England

This 19 June 2018 video from England says about itself:

Art Against War: Peter Kennard

Peter Kennard has created some of the most potent anti-war images of the past 50 years. Throughout the 1970s and 80s Kennard’s hugely powerful photomontages ensured that the CND movement, and the striking imagery that came to represent it, were etched onto the public consciousness. He has gone on to become one of Britain’s leading political artists, creating work which has come to define modern protest.

His iconic, haunting images have appeared in publications such as New Scientist, The Guardian, New Statesman and many more. Art Against War: Peter Kennard and the CND Movement is on display at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield until 7 October 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free.

For more information visit here.

From the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield:

Art Against War marks the 60th anniversary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament with a showcase of work by an artist who created some of the movement’s most potent images.

CND was formed in February 1958 in response to the detonation of Britain’s first hydrogen bomb and the Government’s agreement to house American nuclear weapons on British soil.