Hieronymus Bosch, still inspiring art

Hieronymus Bosch, 10 August 2017

On 10 August 2017, we went to Den Bosch city, the capital of North Brabant province in the Netherlands. Here we saw this house, De Kleine Winst. In the fifteenth century, its owner was the father of famous painter Hieronymus Bosch, who probably spent his childhood here.

Hieronymus Bosch, window, 10 August 2017

Behind the windows, fantasy animals, inspired by Bosch’s art.

All photos in this blog post are cell phone photos.

This is a Dutch 360 degree video about De Kleine Winst.

In 2016 was the commemoration of Hieronymus Bosch’s death 500 years ago. That included exhibitions in Den Bosch, and elsewhere.

However, now in 2017, Den Bosch has not forgotten its artist. As 21st century art in de Kerkstraat (Church Street) shows.

Den Bosch city walls, 10 August 2017

This picture on a Kerkstraat fence shows a fishy monster, inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s works. The Dutch text is about Den Bosch’s city walls: first built in the 12th century, they were mostly torn down in the 19th century.

Den Bosch statue, 10 August 2017

The next picture shows another Bosch-style fantasy animal. The text is about the statue of Hieronymus Bosch at the central city square, erected in 1930. Sculptor August Falise made it.

Den Bosch fish, 10 August 2017

The next picture shows a very big fish.

Den Bosch lute player, 10 August 2017

The next picture shows a lute player, a common sight in the days of Hieronymus Bosch.

Den Bosch dragon, 10 August 2017

The last picture in this series shows a crowned dragon. The text is about a royal visit to the city in 1936.

Den Bosch kingfisher, 10 August 2017

Finally, also in the Kerkstraat, a shop sign depicting a kingfisher; a bird depicted by Hieronymus Bosch as well.

We continued to a theatre festival in Den Bosch. So, stay tuned!

Vincent van Gogh, new film

This video says about itself:

Loving Vincent, Official Theatrical Trailer

7 August 2017

LOVING VINCENT is the world’s first fully oil painted feature film. Written & directed by Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, produced by Poland’s BreakThru Films & UK’s Trademark Films.

The film brings the paintings of Vincent van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil-painting hand-painted by 125 professional oil-painters who travelled from all across the world to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production. As remarkable as Vincent’s brilliant paintings, is his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death.

In theaters beginning September 22.

Berlin, Germany artists against nazi swastikas

This video says about itself:

Paintback‘: Berlin artists change swastikas into art

23 August 2016

No chance for Nazi symbols – German artists start campaign to transform swastikas.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV 3 August 2017:

Making art of a Nazi symbol. That might sound crazy, but in Berlin, more than twenty big swastikas have disappeared from the street scene. Armed with graffiti, a group of young street artists are hunting swastikas.

Ibo Omari, 37, is the leader of the group and devised the #Paintback initiative last year. “By not removing the swastika but changing them into something loving or funny, we try to make people aware of racism.”

According to the graffiti artist, awareness is needed. “I see that xenophobia in Germany has increased in recent years.”

#Paintback was originally intended as a local project for young street artists, but is currently attracting worldwide attention. “I get messages from Russia, Spain and Italy from people who support our action.” …

Under the leadership of Ibo, a young group of street artists now goes new ways to change swastikas into art. “For example, we have changed a swastika into a bunny or two kissing men.”

The action of Ibo is original, but not new. The 71-year-old German Irmela Schramm has been removing nazi symbols for thirty years. Ibo with #Paintback worked with her and called her the grandmother of the project.

The elderly activist was charged several times for vandalism.

Rembrandt’s drawings online

Rembrandt, The Pancake Woman, from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam collection

From the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands:

Drawings by Rembrandt

Biblical and genre scenes, figure and animal studies, landscapes and portraits: an impressive selection of 64 drawings by the master that demonstrate his profound skill and penetrating psychological insight.

See all the works included in this catalogue.

Each entry can be found by scrolling down on the artwork page and clicking on ‘Catalogue entry’ below the image.

This online catalogue, an update of Peter Schatborn’s 1985 collection catalogue Tekeningen van Rembrandt, zijn onbekende leerlingen en navolgers/Drawings by Rembrandt, his Anonymous Pupils and Followers, features 58 sheets now considered genuine drawings by Rembrandt (1606–1669) in the Rijksprentenkabinet; with autograph versos, the tally comes to 64 drawings. If our holdings constitute only a fraction of Rembrandt’s surviving drawings, they provide a representative selection from his whole career.

The first seven drawings by Rembrandt to enter our collection – including the genre masterpiece The Pancake Woman – came through the Vereniging Rembrandt, a society founded by private individuals to save works for the nation from the 1883 sale of Jacob de Vos Jbzn. Nearly half of the collection comes from the 1906 donation of Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, briefly director of the Rijksprentenkabinet, whose comprehensive catalogue of Rembrandt drawings appeared in the same 300th anniversary year. His bequest includes Three Scribes (a study for the artist’s most important early painting) on the verso of the beautiful Study of a Woman’s Legs. The rare early Self-portrait belongs to another major gift, the bequest of Mr and Mrs I. de Bruijn-van de Leeuw, which arrived in 1961. Outstanding purchases in recent decades are the Studies for the Sick Woman in the ‘Hundred Guilder Print’ and the Cottage with White Paling among Trees, both connected to etchings by the artist. The only acquisition to post-date Schatborn’s 1985 catalogue, Portrait of the Actor Willem Bartholsz Ruyter, was completely unknown before a photocopy of it was sent to him for his opinion in 1995.

In the coming months, this online catalogue will be augmented with texts on drawings by named artists from the school of Rembrandt, as well as those by anonymous pupils and followers.

See also here.

Earliest Australians earlier than thought

This video says about itself:

Australian Cave Painting Found To Be One of World’s Oldest

18 June 2012

An archaeologist discovered an aboriginal cave painting in the Australian outback that was created 28,000 years ago.

Bryce Barker, from the University of Southern Queensland, originally made the find last year. Because most rock art is made with mineral paint, it’s difficult to get an accurate measure of age. But Barker’s find at the Nawarla Gabarnmang cave dwelling was created using charcoal, so he was able to employ radiocarbon dating, which gave him the astonishing age of the art—now believed to be one of the oldest in the world.

Spain’s El Castillo still has seniority over Australia’s find by about 12,000 years. But the Australian shelter may have had dwellers—if not decorations—for just as long.

From the University of Washington in the USA:

Artifacts suggest humans arrived in Australia earlier than thought

July 19, 2017

Summary: Archeologists have found and dated artifacts in northern Australia that indicate humans arrived there about 65,000 years ago — more than 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

When and how the first humans made their way to Australia has been an evolving story.

While it is accepted that humans appeared in Africa some 200,000 years ago, scientists in recent years have placed the approximate date of human settlement in Australia further and further back in time, as part of ongoing questions about the timing, the routes and the means of migration out of Africa.

Now, a team of researchers, including a faculty member and seven students from the University of Washington, has found and dated artifacts in northern Australia that indicate humans arrived there about 65,000 years ago — more than 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. A paper published July 20 in the journal Nature describes dating techniques and artifact finds at Madjedbebe, a longtime site of archaeological research, that could inform other theories about the emergence of early humans and their coexistence with wildlife on the Australian continent.

The new date makes a difference, co-author and UW associate professor of anthropology Ben Marwick said. Against the backdrop of theories that place humans in Australia anywhere between 47,000 and 60,000 years ago, the concept of earlier settlement calls into question the argument that humans caused the extinction of unique megafauna such as giant kangaroos, wombats and tortoises more than 45,000 years ago.

“Previously it was thought that humans arrived and hunted them out or disturbed their habits, leading to extinction, but these dates confirm that people arrived so far before that they wouldn’t be the central cause of the death of megafauna,” Marwick said. “It shifts the idea of humans charging into the landscape and killing off the megafauna. It moves toward a vision of humans moving in and coexisting, which is quite a different view of human evolution.”

Since 1973, digs at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in Australia’s Northern Territory, have unearthed more than 10,000 stone tools, ochres, plant remains and bones. Following the more recent excavations in 2012 and 2015, a University of Queensland-led research team, which included the UW, evaluated artifacts found in various layers of settlement using radiocarbon dating and optical stimulated luminescence (OSL).

The new research involved extensive cooperation with the local Aboriginal community, Marwick added. The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Mirarr people, joined much of the excavation and reviewed the findings, Marwick said. Researchers had both a memorandum of understanding and a contract with the community, which gave control to the Mirarr as senior custodians, oversight of the excavation and curation of the finds. The Mirarr were interested in supporting new research into the age of the site and in knowing more about the early human occupants, particularly given environmental threats posed by nearby modern-day mining activities.

Noteworthy among the artifacts found were ochre “crayons” and other pigments, what are believed to be the world’s oldest edge-ground hatchets, and evidence that these early humans ground seeds and processed plants. The pigments indicate the use of paint for symbolic and artistic expression, while the tools may have been used to cut bark or food from trees.

Labs in Australia used OSL to identify the age range, Marwick explained. Radiocarbon dating, which requires a certain level of carbon in a substance, can analyze organic materials up to about 45,000 or 50,000 years old. But OSL is used on minerals to date, say, the last time a sand grain was exposed to sunlight — helpful in determining when an artifact was buried — up to 100,000 years ago or more. That process measured thousands of sand grains individually so as to establish more precise ages.

The UW researchers worked in the geoarchaeology lab on the Seattle campus, testing sediment samples that Marwick helped excavate at Madjedbebe. One graduate student and six undergraduate students studied the properties of hundreds of dirt samples to try to picture the time in which the ancient Australian humans lived.

Using a scanning electron microscope, the students examined the composition of the sediment layers, the size of the grains of dirt and any microscopic plant matter. For another test, the students baked soil samples at various temperatures, then measured the mass of each sample, said UW doctoral student Gayoung Park, another author on the paper. Because organic matter turns into gases at high heat, a loss of mass indicated how much matter was in a given sample. This helped create a picture of the environments across the sedimentary layers of the site. The team found that when these human ancestors arrived, northern Australia was wetter and colder.

“Together, we were working on establishing questions: What kind of environments did these people live in? What was the climate like? Were there any disturbances to the site, and were artifacts mixed up from different ages?” Marwick said. “I’m proud of being able to involve UW students in this research in a really substantial way.”

One of the authors, Mara Page, was a senior double-majoring in archaeology and Earth and space sciences when she joined the project. She analyzed stable carbon isotopes found in sediment, which can reveal the types of plants present in the past and the kinds of environments they lived in. She determined that the vegetation at Madjedbebe remained stable during the time of human occupation, which suggests that there was no major environmental change that might have prompted humans to leave the area.

“I feel that I contributed something important by being able to rule something out of the story we were telling,” Page explained.

By placing the date of Australian settlement at around 65,000 years ago, researchers confirm some of the shifting theories about when the first humans left Africa. A common view is that humans moved into Asia 80,000 years ago, and if they migrated to Australia some to 15,000 years later, it means those ancestors co-existed with another early human in Asia, Homo florensiensis. It also means that these early Australians preceded early Europeans, who are believed to have entered that continent 45,000 years ago. A related question is whether these early human species left Africa at one time, gradually spreading the population through Asia, Europe and Australia, or whether there were multiple waves of migration.

In recent years, new evidence, obtained through DNA testing of a 90-year-old hair sample of an Aboriginal Australian man, suggests Australia was settled as far back as 70,000 years ago.

Marwick believes the Madjedbebe results, because they rely on so many artifacts and intensive analysis of sediment samples, confirm that early humans occupied Australia at least 65,000 years ago and support the theory that Homo sapiens, the species of modern-day humans, evolved in Africa before dispersing to other continents. The findings also suggest Homo sapiens’ predecessors, Neanderthals and Denisovans, overlapped with humans for a long period of time, and suggest a larger role for Australia, and the Eastern Hemisphere in general, in the story of humankind.

Marwick, who advocates for open science, particularly in data collection and the code used to analyze it, noted that the Nature paper is also pushing new frontiers because it combines three strands of reproducibility. Researchers examined a field site that has been excavated in the past; they’ve made available their raw data and code; and they consulted an outside lab for third-party OSL verification.

United States artist Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition in Canada

Abstraction White Rose, 1927 oil paint on canvas image: 914 x 762 mm Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Gift of The Burnett Foundation and The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation

By Lee Parsons in Canada:

The persistent Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986): An exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario

More than 100 works by the American artist

15 July 2017

Georgia O’Keeffe, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, April 22- July 30, 2017

On its only stop in North America, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, Georgia O’Keeffe features more than 100 works of art by the American artist. Organized by the Tate Modern in Britain in collaboration with the AGO, the exhibition, presenting Georgia O’Keeffe’s varied styles and subjects in drawings, paintings, photography and sculpture, spans her lengthy art career and demonstrates her versatility.

O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is perhaps the best known female artist the US has produced and as such has been subject to outsized scrutiny, analysis and commercial promotion. Though she is best known for her large, erotic floral paintings and her still-lifes and landscapes of the American Southwest, the early abstract work emerges as her most vital and urgent.

The artwork in the AGO show varies in quality as well as style–and not all of it is O’Keeffe at her best. A painting such as Calla Lilies on Red(1928), for instance, while it reveals the sort of strong graphic quality in much of her painting, is emotionally distant, even affected. This is a recurring weakness in her art. The desert subjects of her later years are competent technical explorations, but lack a strong emotional commitment.

Calla Lilies on Red, 1928 oil paint on canvas image: 816 x 435 mm Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Gift of Anne Windfohr Marion

Though O’Keeffe explicitly rejected association with any particular artistic school or movement and boasted she had never been to Europe, she was nevertheless profoundly rooted in the modern art world through her own influences and interests, as well as directly through famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz, whom she eventually married. He introduced O’Keeffe to the American avant-garde in New York early in her career at his pioneering Gallery 291.

Her disavowals aside (she also famously declared that she didn’t like looking at art), it is known that O’Keeffe attended cubist and post-impressionist exhibitions and various other shows while living in New York. In any event, it is apparent from her work that she was subject to the modernist artistic ferment–and, of course, the social ferment that produced it. Various works at the AGO can be seen as fine examples of symbolism, cubism, surrealism, futurism and even abstract expressionism, and this sheer diversity is a noteworthy strength of the show.

When O’Keeffe began her art career, before women even had the right to vote in most of the United States, female artists undoubtedly faced particular challenges. However, she always resented her qualification by the press and critics as a “female painter” because of its demeaning implications. Later in life O’Keeffe regularly rejected the claims made for her work by feminists and others.

Because issues of gender weighed so heavily in her critical treatment during her lifetime, one of the stated aims of the AGO exhibition is to shift the conversation away from these factors and to offer the artist the “multiple readings” she has previously been denied. Regardless of the packaging, some of O’Keefe’s work holds up and some of it doesn’t.

O'Keeffe, by Stieglitz, 1920

American Midwest modern

O’Keeffe was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, but her family moved to Williamsburg, Virginia when she was 15. Her mother, who had aspired to be a doctor, placed a premium on her children’s education, making sure they were given drawing and painting lessons at home.

O’Keeffe distinguished herself in her art education, first at the Art Institute of Chicago and then the Art Students League in New York, where she won a summer scholarship. She began teaching in 1911, but continued her art studies at the University of Virginia.

She developed a friendship around this time with photographer and suffragette Anita Pollitzer, through whom she became involved with the women’s right to vote movement, and who was instrumental in introducing her to Stieglitz. The two met in 1916 and embarked on a love affair and a life-long relationship.

Georgia O'Keeffe, photographed by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918

Deeply affected by the outbreak of war in 1914, O’Keeffe was greatly distressed when her brother Alexis joined the military in 1917. Teaching at a college in Canyon, Texas (near Amarillo) she found herself at odds with much of her community over her opposition to the war and her sympathies with German culture.

Stieglitz did not formally dissolve his quarter-century marriage to wed O’Keeffe until 1924, but in the interim their bond had grown through creative collaboration, as had their correspondence, which eventually swelled to some 25,000 pages. Georgia later asserted a greater independence and Stieglitz found himself increasingly alienated from her both geographically and intellectually. They stayed married, but both found other partners. O’Keeffe came to prefer solitude in her later life.

O’Keeffe found her way to life and art in New Mexico by the late 1920s and early 1930s. In her paintings from this period, she returned to representation of the landscape, abstracted and interpreted in her own distinctive style. A particularly strong work in the AGO exhibition, From the Faraway, Nearby(1937), depicts desiccated animal horns, which, along with skulls and bones, were among her favorite subjects. The work reveals a distinctly surrealist influence, although O’Keeffe made clear she did not embrace the ideas advanced by the surrealists, including their political-revolutionary conclusions. She did, however, maintain a dialogue with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who was deeply impressed with the surrealists’ aims.

From the Faraway, Nearby, 1937 oil on canvas 91.4 x 101.9 cm (36 x 40 1/8 in.) Framed: 95.3 x 106 x 4.4 cm (37 1/2 x 41 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959

During the Second World War, the dark and desolate landscape paintings conveyed O’Keeffe’s response to the unfolding tragedy, even as she kept her distance from society and friends in the East. She evinced a certain aversion to human society throughout her life and even a degree of misanthropy. Speaking in 1944 of New Mexico’s blue skies and her paintings of animal pelvic bones, she commented that “they were most wonderful against the blue–that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.” Indeed, around that time the first atomic bomb was being developed just over an hour away from her Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.

In 1946 Stieglitz opened the final show he was to have of O’Keeffe’s work at his new gallery, An American Place. He died some months later, but not before his wife had the first exhibition devoted to a female painter by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the years following, O’Keeffe continued to paint and to travel, incorporating the cultural influences especially of the Hopi and Pueblo Indians, but also of Greek, Egyptian, Asian and South American art.

Interpretations and sources

By the time O’Keeffe came across his Gallery 291 in 1915, Stieglitz was among the most influential figures in the New York modern art community. Intent on promoting the advances of modern artists centered largely in Europe well before they were brought to public attention in the renowned Armory Show of 1913, he was especially intent on developing a distinctively ‘American’ brand of modernism.

Sky with Flat White Cloud, 1962 oil paint on canvas image: 1524 x 2032 mm frame: 1530 x 2038 x 30 mm National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Never terribly comfortable with art theory, O’Keeffe’s own approach could best be described as intuitive. She was inclined at first to accept the views of Stieglitz and the avant-garde intellectuals around him, but embittered by some of the unwelcome or misguided attention she received, she grew wary and developed the view that “there are as many philosophies (I add ideas on ‘Art’) as there are temperaments.”

As a successful woman in a field dominated by men, she was almost inevitably a controversial figure and continues to inspire both boosters and detractors for secondary reasons such as gender.

Under the difficult intellectual conditions of the 1930s and 1940s, decades whose social and political traumas produced a deep disillusionment and turn inward in artistic circles (including toward Freud and psychoanalysis), it was also perhaps inevitable that an artist such as O’Keeffe would find means of expression obsessively at times bound up with her own physicality.

Her flower paintings–only a few of which are present at the AGO–have been interpreted in a sexualized manner and it is difficult not to see this sort of intimate imagery in a work like Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow (1923). Objecting to such interpretations of her work, O’Keeffe countered, “The subject matter of a painting should never obscure its form and color; which are its real thematic contents.” Her reluctance to acknowledge these subjects in her own work parallels her attitudes to society generally, which she also found uncongenial. These formal preoccupations or claims suggest a retreat from a painful, difficult world.

Oriental Poppies, 1927 oil paint on canvas 76.2 x 101.9 cm (30 x 40 1/8 in.) The Collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Museum Purchase, 1937

If O’Keeffe’ flower paintings, as she insisted, are devoid of sexual meaning, then however beautifully rendered, they are merely decorative. Either way, the concerns seem somewhat limited, given the convulsions of the century.

A fixation on O’Keeffe’s gender has undoubtedly obstructed an objective assessment of her work, but this is something that cuts both ways: on balance, it would seem that her art has been paid both too little and too much attention. One need not concur with the harsh assessment of art critic Clement Greenberg that her work “amounted to little more than tinted photography” to agree that her merits have been inflated.

In any event, while the innovations of the cubists and futurists in the 1910s were shaking the art world in Europe and Russia, the inroads in abstraction that O’Keeffe was making when she came to public attention were still unusual in America. Much of the work she did around this time is indeed striking for its inventiveness, passion and audacity–qualities that distinguish a good deal of the successful abstract art of the period.

Works such as Early Abstraction (1915) and Special No. 9 (1915) are among the most successful in the exhibition, representative of the strength of her craft and imagination during this period. Her early paintings of New York City, a challenging subject for any artist, such as New York, Night(1928-1929), are especially evocative of the city and the time.

New York, Night, 1928 - 1929 oil paint on canvas Image: 101.9 x 48.7 cm (40 1/8 x 19 3/16 in.) Sheldon Museum of Art, Sheldon Art Association, Thomas C. Woods Memorial

Reflecting an honesty and compassion evident in what I think is her best work, one of O’Keeffe’s sculptures, a small bronze figure simply titled Abstraction done in memoriam to her mother who died in 1916, is of special note in the AGO exhibition. Elegiac and somber, it is among the most memorable of her images. Here she demonstrated the creativity, heart and sincerity that set her apart.