Roman mosaic discovery in Italy

This video says about itself:

14 January 2008

A short film about Roman mosaics. The film shows a series of Roman mosaics and information about their construction.

From Discovery News:

Ancient Roman Mosaic Found in Tuscany

Oct 6, 2015 02:30 PM ET // by Rossella Lorenzi

Italian archaeologists digging in a small Tuscan village have unearthed part of what they believe is a large and impressive ancient Roman mosaic.

Laying in a private property next to a local road in the village Capraia e Limite, the mosaic features two different designs. One, dating to the second half of the 4th century AD, features geometric patterns framed by floral motifs, the other, dating to the 5th century AD, boasts octagons decorated with animals, flowers and a human bust.

The large mosaic graced the floor of a luxurious Roman villa that stood in the Tuscan countryside for four centuries, from the 1st to the beginning of the 6th century AD.

Photos: See Images of the Mosaic

“Evidence of this villa was first found in 1983, when workers digging to build an orchard unearthed some black and white mosaic fragments and, most interestingly, an inscription mentioning one of the owners of the complex,” Lorella Alderighi of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany, told Discovery News.

The inscribed slab of stone referred to Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, one of the most famous pagan senators of the later fourth century AD. He came from an ancient and noble family and died in 384 while serving as the praetorian prefect at the court of Emperor Valentinian II.

It is well known that Vettius Agorius Praetextatus owned villas in Tuscany — and liked them very much.

“The Roman statesman and orator Quintus Aurelius Symmachus even complained in his letters that Vettius enjoyed too much opium in his estates in Etruria, instead of dealing with politics in Rome,” Federico Cantini, the archaeologist of the University of Pisa who led the dig, told Discovery News.

Built in the first century, the villa in Capraia e Limite had its most glorious time in the 4th century AD, when Vettius Agorius Praetextatus rebuilt it according to luxurious standards. By the beginning of the 6th century AD it was completely abandoned and plundered.

1500-Year-Old Mosaic Map Found

“Luckily, they could not remove the mosaics,” Alderighi said.

Excavations in 2013 brought to light a stunning oval mosaic with a wild boar hunting scene which dates to the second half of the 4th century AD.

Because of legal issues and lack of funding, the mosaic was covered soon after its discovery in order to preserve it. The finding prompted new archaeological investigations.

“We speculated the mosaic floor extends further, thus we tested the hypothesis with a survey dig,” Cantini said.

The excavation proved Cantini and his team were right.

Parts of two floor mosaics came to light. The older one consisted of geometric patterns framed by red decorations with acanthus and vine leaves in various shades of grey, blue and black. The other displayed scenes with animals, flowers, geometric patterns framed by octagons. Catching the attention at the center of one of such octagons, is the bust of a man with a tunic and large eyes.

“We believe it is not a portrait, but just a decoration,” Alderighi said.

According to the archaeologists, the investigated portion of the villa had an hexagonal structure with rooms opening onto a central hall.

“We estimate the size of the floor mosaic to be about 300 square meters (984 square feet). We only have unearthed one-eighth of it,” Cantini said.

Photos: Greek God Hermes Featured in Ancient Mosaic

Unfortunately, most of the mosaic lies beneath an industrial shed. Although the archaeologists believe the artwork is still intact, it is unlikely it will be brought to light in the near future.

The newly unearthed mosaics have been already covered for preservation — just like the mosaic with the hunting scene.

“Our goal is to open these beautiful artworks to the public. We are working to make this happen,” Alessandro Giunti, mayor of Capraia e Limite, said.

He added that the first mosaic to be restored and displayed will be the one showing the wild boar hunting scene.

Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, USA and art

This video from the USA says about itself:

ArtPrize entry highlights inequality, racial tension

One of the artists has created a piece inspired by the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. (Sept. 18, 2015)

By Koco McAboy in the USA:

ArtPrize entry highlights inequality, racial tension

September 18, 2015, 8:08 pm

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With ArtPrize just around the corner, many artists have already started installing their pieces, and one of the artists has created a piece inspired by the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

The piece is called “Exclamation,” and was created by Eric Wieringa, a teacher who lives near Ferguson, Missouri. It’s an oil painting featuring a man standing in the middle of the composition and is featured at the Fountain Street Church.

“You see this man, he sort of has something really important he’s trying to exclaim, but he doesn’t have a voice and so he sort of positions himself in a way that he becomes the punctuation to his own statement,” said Wieringa.

Wieringa said the painting was inspired by his personal experience, but is not about him.

“Living and teaching near Ferguson, Missouri, there were a lot of moments when I really had the desire to bring people together and I just didn’t have the power to do that. I teach at a school where I’m sort of on the border between a lot of rural areas and a lot of more urban low-income areas so I get students from all walks of life and I was very much in the middle in many cases,” he said.

Wieringa described the painting in more depth to 24 Hour News 8 saying it has a much deeper meaning.

“He’s right in the middle [the man featured in the painting] of the composition, and if you look close, he’s just a little bit to the side and what that means to me visually is that he hasn’t compromised his beliefs. He still has convictions, but he understands that you have to come to the middle in order for real words to be spoken, real solutions to be found with all of these tough issues that we face with social inequality and racial tension,” Wieringa said.

It’s a controversial piece and Wieringa said he was reluctant to enter it.

“There was some anxiety because I’ve had every advantage in the world so who am I to talk about this issue really. I didn’t really create this piece to make a political statement or push an agenda or anything like that, but really just to have people come together. After I discussed this with a lot of my colleagues from various backgrounds, even students from Ferguson and friends, I had overwhelming support from them and they encouraged me to show this,” said Wieringa.

Wieringa said he hopes the piece brings about good conversation.

“There’s always going to be a little tension and it’s still a fresh wound. We have to empathize with each other. We have to seek understanding and that understanding never happens unless we at least get close enough to each other where we can say words and hear words and not just be shouting words,” he said.

ArtPrize organizers said some other venues will be open this weekend as well.

Artists’ Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor London pro-refugee march

Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor march near Downing Street 10 in London, AFP photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Ai Weiwei‘s and Anish Kapoor‘s pro-refugees action

Today, 14:53

The world-famous artists Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor have led a demonstration in London to support refugees. They called for a “human rather than a political” solution to the refugee crisis. Both wore gray blankets as symbols of the plight of the 60 million refugees in the world. Several hundred people joined the duo.

“This problem affects everyone,” said Ai Weiwei. He called on the British government last week to let in more asylum seekers. The Chinese artist is in London to open a major exhibition of his work. It is the first time that he can do that personally since he got his passport back in July from the Chinese authorities who had taken it four years ago.

Anish Kapoor recently hit the headlines because his sculpture Dirty Corner in the palace gardens of Versailles on two occasions had been daubed with anti-Semitic slogans.

During their more than 10 kilometers long march they passed, eg, the official residence of the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament near the Thames. Ai Weiwei and Kapoor will repeat this action in the near future in other cities around the world.

French anti-Semites attack ‘degenerate’ art

This video from France says about itself:

7 September 2015

Vandals have damaged British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor’s ‘queen’s vagina’ installation at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. The graffiti appeared on Sunday and is the second such attack on the sculpture in three months. A series of sentences, some of which were anti-Semitic, were painted on Kapoor’s 60-metre steel and rock abstract sculpture

One of the slogans daubed by the vandals was: ‘A Versailles le Christ est roy’ [In Versailles, Christ is king; archaic spelling]. This alludes to nostalgia to the seventeenth-eighteenth century fanatically Roman Catholic absolute monarchy. And it alludes to twentieth century fascist slogans. In Spain, the Guerilleros de Cristo Rey, the Warriors of Christ the King, were a pro-dictator Franco terrorist group. In Belgium, nazi leader Léon Degrelle called his party, in Latin, ‘Christus Rex’, abbreviated to ‘Rex’.

After Adolf Hitler’s attacks on ‘degenerate’ art … after the recent Swedish neo-nazi attacks on ‘degenerate’ art … now, France.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Anish Kapoor’s ‘queen’s vagina’ vandals and the rise of cultural fascism in France

The ‘abominable’ antisemitic slogans graffitied on Kapoor’s sculpture linked to peak in support for the far-right Front National

Anish Kapoor’s ‘queen’s vagina’ sculpture vandalised again

Kim Willsher

Tuesday 8 September 2015 10.44 BST

Even before Anish Kapoor’s installation at the Château de Versailles was vandalised this weekend for the second time there were concerns that France was in the grip of a wave of “cultural fascism”.

The contemporary work – officially called Dirty Corner but nicknamed the queen’s vagina – had already been defaced this June and was cleaned. This weekend it was daubed with antisemitic slogans, which Kapoor has said will remain on the work as a witness to hatred.

The perpetrators may be, as everyone agrees, a minority in a country that places a high value on cultural and artistic expression, as epitomised by the French l’exception culturelle, but the recent targets have been high profile.

Last October, vandals deflated a American sculptor Paul McCarthy’s massive sex toy-shaped sculpture at Place Vendôme, the epicenter of Parisian luxury. The damaged work was removed.

The vandalism is reminiscent of attacks on Daniel Buren’s black-and-white striped columns, Les Deux Plateaux, which were controversial when they were installed at the Palais Royal in 1985. They have since become part of the Paris cultural landscape, but when they were installed, antisemitic slogans including “Out Socialist Jewish columns” were pasted over walls around the site. Then Socialist Party culture minister, Jack Lang, was accused of supporting “Jewish art”.

Fabrice Bousteau, editor-in-chief of Beaux Arts magazine and a commissioner of contemporary art exhibitions, said that each time a contemporary work was vandalised it could be linked to peaks in support for the far-right Front National (FN) in France. “We saw this vandalism at the end of the 80s with Daniel Buren’s columns in the Palais Royal. These were also the object of antisemitic inscriptions … Buren was shocked, saying it was the first time he had seen such inscriptions since the second world war,” Bousteau told the Guardian.

“There is a minor faction of the French population that is fascist about culture and especially about what it considers to be degenerate art. Most French people are respectful of contemporary art, but these people see it as an expression of France’s degeneration.

“Anish Kapoor has said he will keep the inscriptions, and in the sense that his work is a sociological statement, he is right to do so.”

Bousteau added: “The Palais Royal, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles: these are symbolic places in the French republic. The vandals reject contemporary art, which they see as a loss of values. Listen to the FN and you realise its only view of culture centres on the conservation of heritage.

“And each time the vandalism is against a contemporary work in a symbolic place open to the public. It doesn’t happen in a museum.”

Kapoor’s giant steel and rock sculpture, on display in the Versailles gardens facing the palace and measuring 200 feet long and 33 feet high, is a huge funnel, which the 61-year-old artist has admitted is “very sexual”. Shortly after it was unveiled in June, it was splattered with yellow paint. This was subsequently cleaned off.

This week, French president François Hollande condemned the latest attack and the antisemitic slogans sprayed on the sculpture as “hateful”. Culture minister Fleur Pellerin said she was “angry and shocked”.

“This nauseating act constitutes a further step towards obscurantism. Art can stimulate debate, even shock, but should never be subject to destruction,” Pellerin said.

Bousteau added: “What is even more abhorrent about this vandalism is that the Château de Versailles was, at the time it was built, a contemporary experiment.”

“I’m very happy with the government’s reaction to this. As the minister said it is cultural fascism, and she is exactly right. It ties in with images we have seen recently of Daesch’s destruction of heritage in Syria. It’s a war of images.”

In June, the magazine InRocks wrote: “These attacks have nothing to do with aesthetic disagreements; they are part of a long political strategy by the extreme right in France. For a long time, the Front National and its satellites (the family associations, the newspaper Minute, various websites …) have made contemporary art their chosen target. This strategy is wide and varied and uses a large range of actions: complaints and legal actions, public protests, diatribes, caricatures and, finally, vandalism.”

Catherine Pégard, president of the Palace of Versailles, said she was “scandalised” by those who had defaced a work of art by a great international artist with “the most abominable references”. …

2014: The town fountain at Hayange, in Moselle, created by Alain Mila and featuring a rock and an egg-shaped form, was painted blue on the orders of the Front National mayor.

Witches, how Bruegel, other artists, depicted them

This video is about the exhibition De heksen van Bruegel (Bruegel‘s witches), in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, the Netherlands; 19 September 2015 till 31 January 2016.

Translated from the site

Witches are ugly women, who fly on brooms or make magic potions in a big pot on a stove. That is the image we have today of witches. But who knows that this originated in the work of the famous Brabant artist Pieter Bruegel?

Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht presents the first exhibition about witches in art.

For just one time you can see a unique collection of witch scenes from the turbulent period of witch persecutions in the Netherlands (1450-1700).
The Witches of Bruegel is a journey through the most beautiful and impressive depictions of witches produced the Low Countries. From the first images of witches in legal treatises and precious manuscripts, to the matchless prints by Pieter Bruegel and the spectacular depictions of sabbaths by his followers. A journey through the evolution of the witch image. From fear to fantasy, from nightmare to fairytale figure.

Unknown Escher drawing discovery in the Netherlands

The newly discovered Escher drawing

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Unknown work by M. C. Escher discovered

Today, 12:48

The Escher Museum in The Hague has discovered a special drawing of artist Maurits Cornelis Escher. The Dutchman made the work in 1924 when he lived in Rome.

On the large piece of paper one can see the Italian town Montecelio. Escher used in making it, inter alia, templates, stamps and Japanese elements. Thus, according to the curator of the museum, this was already a peek into his future as an artist.


The Escher Museum speaks of a “valuable” discovery, because Escher never made prints of this. There is only one copy of and this has been acquired by the museum now.

The artwork was in the possession of Escher’s family, but no one besides them knew of its existence.

See also here.

This video is about museums in the Netherlands.