Leonardo’s strange faces

Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.
Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.
Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.
Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.

There’s an excellent piece in the NY Times about Leonardo Da Vinci’s obsession with drawing weird faces:

Leonardo was a true Renaissance man, fascinated with everything — the mechanics of flight, architecture, engineering, botany, artillery and human anatomy — but one of his favorite private pastimes was to draw faces, either as scribbles in the margins of his notebooks or as fully conceived sketches later used for paintings.

Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.

Surreal paintings by Lithuanian artist Gediminas Pranckevičius

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Conceptual artist and illustrator Gediminas Pranckevicius creates digital art that instantly whisk viewers off into a world of imagination. The Lithuania-born artist uses soft light and blended colors to create harmonious worlds where it is easy to get lost in the surreal stories.

He uses software like Photoshop to produce the playful digital drawings that feature imaginative creations like giant trolls, flying pigs, and houses and towns perched on top of precariously balanced mountaintops. His places and characters come alive through layer upon layer of intricate details, which are evident in the final work.

(via)

Meet South African painter Ryan Hewett

Ryan Hewett is a South African contemporary artist whose rise to fame has accompanied the emergence of the gallery, Unit London.

Hewett will kick off the opening at Unit London’s new Hanover Square location this summer. The inaugural show, ‘The Garden,’ takes its name after Hewett’s painting below.

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The Garden, Courtesy Ryan Hewett & Unit London

You can see more of Hewett’s abstract oil paintings on his website.

Meet South African painter Ryan Hewett
Paintings from Hewett’s Order

The magical realist Arnau Alemany

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Catalan artist Arnau Alemany paints obscure urban neighborhoods from Paris, Barcelona, and New York and surrounds them in natural environments. “They exist at the frontier between the metropolis and desert, between the fields and the wastelands, he writes, “Beyond that boundary, there remain only some buildings in clear disrepair.”

Alemany calls himself the ‘magical realist,’ also known as a surrealist. He likes to remind his viewers that in a world of conformity, strangeness is still abundant.

Maybe these landscapes are not totally true to reality. I don’t know if they are exactly as I have seen them. I think they are somewhere, but I am not sure. Actually, I am not sure of anything…”

(All images courtesy Arnau Alemany)

The great German artist Albrecht Dürer

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Christ among the Doctors (1506)

Envious of the Italian artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, the German artist Albrecht Dürer ventured to Italy in 1496 to prove his worth as a painter. He had already gained a reputation for his woodcut prints.

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The Sea Monster (1498) © Getty

After years of hanging out in Venice and gathering the technique of oil paintings, he created one of his most notable pieces, Feast of the Rosary, In 1506.

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Feast of the Rosary (1506)

“I also silenced all the artists who said I was good at engraving but, as a painter, I did not know how to deal with colors. Now everyone says they have never seen more beautiful colors.”

At first, we develop good taste and copy. With time, we originate. 

Dürer is still considered “the greatest of all German artists.”


Art requires the long look

Photo by Wells Baum

Good art requires the long look, not for a lack of comprehension but for the growing realization of what the viewer fails to see.

Art is more about the space inside rather than the form of the envelope itself.

Artists put their life’s context into their craft. A poem, painting, a sculpture all contain intricacies of the mind that is profoundly personal but meant to be shared and understood by others.

Whether radical, nuanced and complex: the intriguing work passes onto trustful eyes an extended gaze.

Grasping artistic thought 

Photo by Wells Baum

Art makes sense of and confounds everyday objects. The dislocation between reality and artist interpretation brings interestingness to a work.

The viewer chews on a piece, trying to get into an artist’s mind that’s still evolving and exploring different ways. Both maker and fan dig through their inner space to tie their thoughts for an object together.

What starts out as a personal project gets validated as a social one. Art is a chance to be a little more understood. But it is not finite; rather it’s a perpetual experiment in altering the tones.

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Loving Vincent: When nobody becomes a somebody 

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The world’s first oil painted feature film: Loving Vincent

Vincent Van Gogh was a nobody. He only sold one piece of art while he was alive and it was to his brother!

But that’s who we all are at the core — small sprinkles on Earth in a vast universe. If the solar eclipse was any reminder, the cosmos operate whether humans exist or not.

Sure, we like to think we’re special. The neurological software in our head makes accomplishments feel significant. But as Zat Rana puts it: “We’re nothing more than a fraction of a ripple in an infinite sea of entropy.”

Aren’t we just all bits of code blindly riding the opportunity of free will? 

Art is just one instrument for coping with such human triviality. It’s a narcotic for nobodies. But so are distractions. The sterile glow of computer screens and pocket rectangles manufacture ‘busyness.’ Human minds have succumbed to habit design, never mind TV and shopping.

Given such meaninglessness, we have no choice but to seize the day. Perhaps Van Gogh was right, the real thrill of life is showing through our work what a nobody has in their heart.

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Artists painted 62,000 frames to pay homage to Vincent

Food porn in the 18th century

food porn and instagram via ikea

There’s a saying in table top advertising or food marketing that goes like this:

“The first taste is always with your eyes.”

Naturally, IKEA made an 18th-century version of social media food porn. The father hires an artist to paint the spread and then has his servicemen carry it around town seeking approval.

Flash forward two hundred years later and the painting is a photograph, and the Internet is where we go for the likes.

Two thumbs up!

(h/t via Kottke)

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The more authors a piece has, the less people like it

But in traditionally solitary art forms like painting and poetry, the more creators a piece has, the less quality it is perceived to have.

It turns out that there’s a greater chance someone will like your picture or poems if you write them yourself. Who said art was a team game?

“High and Low” by Jules de Balincourt High and Low would make a good jigsaw or drawing for a New Yorker cover. It’s the sort of painting you can project yourself into, losing yourself in this painted day. This is an unsophisticated sort of pleasure, but one I never wholly tire of. Children like to lose themselves in pictures like this. You imagine the lives people live there, and get distracted as you look. You could call it escapism but you always re-find yourself inside the labyrinth of looking, thinking and daydreaming. Looking is a beginning as much as an end in itself. Indeed
“High and Low” by Jules de Balincourt High and Low would make a good jigsaw or drawing for a New Yorker cover. It’s the sort of painting you can project yourself into, losing yourself in this painted day. This is an unsophisticated sort of pleasure, but one I never wholly tire of. Children like to lose themselves in pictures like this. You imagine the lives people live there, and get distracted as you look. You could call it escapism but you always re-find yourself inside the labyrinth of looking, thinking and daydreaming. Looking is a beginning as much as an end in itself. Indeed