Tag Archives | art history

Bauhaus Surrealist Prisons Of The Spanish Civil War

prisonNot that I condone mental torture, but there is something appealing about anarchists using modern art as a weapon against the fascist war machine. From the Guardian archives:

A Spanish art historian has uncovered what was alleged to be the first use of modern art as a deliberate form of torture — mind-bending prison cells were built by anarchist artists 65 years ago during the country’s bloody civil war.

Bauhaus artists, as well as the surrealist Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells built in Barcelona and elsewhere.

Most were the work of an enthusiastic French anarchist, Alphonse Laurencic, who invented a form of “psychotechnic” torture, according to the research of the historian Jose Milicua.

Mr Milicua’s information came from a written account of Laurencic’s trial before a Francoist military tribunal. Laurencic, a painter, created his so-called “coloured cells” as a contribution to the fight against General Franco’s rightwing rebel forces.

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The First Feminist Film

In the mood for a lost landmark? The Smiling Madame Beudet, from 1922, may be the prototype of feminist cinema. Directed by Germaine Dulac, the lone female figure among the notable French avant-garde filmmakers of the 1920s, it’s an impressionistic, surrealist, silent tale of a woman’s psychological imprisonment. Her primary source of release is playing her piano, to which her husband holds the keys. Futher explanation available at The House of Mirth and Movies:

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Experimental Animation Pioneer Robert Breer Dies

BREER1-obit-articleLargeHis style was followed by everyone from Monty Python to MTV, but for sheer optical pleasure, Robert Breer’s short avant-garde animations can’t be beaten. The New York Times eulogizes:

Robert Breer, an animator whose use of novel techniques opened up a new language for film, died on Aug. 11 at his home in Tucson. He was 84. Mr. Breer, a painter by training, early on saw the potential for breaking with the narrative sequences and anthropomorphic forms that defined the medium [of animation].

Viewers were bombarded with wiggling lines, letters, abstract shapes and live-action images that jumped and flashed, zoomed and receded. “He was a seminal figure in the new American cinema and the American avant-garde beginning in the 1950s and continuing right up to the present,” said Andrew Lampert of the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.

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The Artist Who Forged Himself

marg_614147tRené Magritte may have been one of the twentieth century’s great Surrealist painters, but for income, he created and trafficked forgeries of famous works by artists such as Picasso, Ernst…and Magritte. Further confusing matters, his forging could in itself be a grand Surrealist statement. The Independent attempts to explain:

One is an original. The other, evidently, a copy. But René Magritte was a Surrealist, and the truth behind The Flavour of Tears suggests he was enjoying a huge – and probably lucrative – joke.

The Flavour of Tears was produced around the time Magritte’s close friend Marcel Mariën claimed Magritte was creating forgeries. In his 1983 autobiography, Le Radeau de la Mémoire, Mariën said Magritte was making money by selling and producing forgeries of works by Picasso, Titian, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico and Meindert Hobbema.

Two collectors saw The Flavour of Tears independently in Magritte’s studio. “We can only assume Magritte painted two identical versions of the same painting.

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Could Children And Chimps Really Do Modern Art?

Psychology Today discusses a smart-alecky study in which art-majors were shown unlabeled paintings — some by great abstract artists and some by toddlers, primates, and elephants — and asked to pick the superior pieces. The professional works were preferred about two-thirds of the time, suggesting that chimpanzee and infant painters can at least hold their own in the realm of world-class contemporary painting. To me, the lesson is not that modern art is worthless — just that artistic expression is both highly subjective and can be found everywhere.

Below: works by a 4-year-old and by abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann.
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Mona Lisa Is Painting Of Da Vinci’s Gay Lover, Italian Researcher Claims

156-1258703207Is the most beautiful and iconic woman in the history of art actually a man? When one compares the Mona Lisa to other works in question (see right), the facial similarities are striking. The Washington Post reports on the controversial theory:

A male apprentice, longtime companion and possible lover of Leonardo da Vinci was the main influence and a model for the “Mona Lisa” painting, an Italian researcher said.

But the researcher, Silvano Vinceti, said Wednesday the portrait also represents a synthesis of Leonardo’s scientific, artistic and philosophical beliefs. Because the artist worked on it at various intervals for many years, he was subjected to different influences and sources of inspiration, and the canvas is full of hidden symbolic meanings. “The ‘Mona Lisa’ must be read at various levels, not just as a portrait,” Vinceti said.

The apprentice Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salai, worked with Leonardo for more than two decades starting in 1490.

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Michelangelo Hid Anatomical Illustrations Of The Brain In The Sistine Chapel

22brain-popupMichelangelo loved to do illustrations of dissected corpses, yet remnants of such works are scarce. What happened to them? Apparently they’re hidden, but have been staring people in the face for centuries — this is pretty crazy. The New York Times reports:

This is not the first picture of a human organ someone has found, or at least imagined, in Michelangelo’s Sistine frescoes. In 1990, in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a physician described what he saw as a rendering of the human brain in the Creation of Adam, the panel showing God touching Adam’s finger. And one physician published an article in a medical journal in 2000 suggesting that Michelangelo had included a drawing of a kidney in another ceiling panel.

The latest find, described in a study in the May issue of the journal Neurosurgery, appears directly above the altar in “The Separation of Light From Darkness,” another panel from the series of nine depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis.

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