The history of pigments goes back to prehistoric times, but much of what we know about how they relate to the art world comes from Edward Forbes, a historian and director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University from 1909 to 1944. Considered the father of art conservation in the United States, Forbes traveled around the world amassing pigments in order to authenticate classical Italian paintings. Over the years, the Forbes Pigment Collection—as his collection came to be known—grew to more than 2,500 different specimens, each with its own layered backstory on its origin, production, and use.
from this Fast Company article by Diana Budds (great name) about a color library at Harvard.
Why did Obama talk in this weird way, and not sitting at the desk? I dunno, but it looks like he got some new paintings for the Oval Office to replace Childe Hassam. I learn they are Josephine Hopper’s, on loan from the Whitney:
Says Whitney curator Dana Miller:
How did you feel when you saw the works installed on the Oval Office wall? Does their new context change the way they read?
There was something pretty wonderful about the way the light was streaming into the Oval Office the day we hung the works, in that it mimicked the lighting in Cobb’s Barn. With Hopper it is so much about the quality of light, and I think the early morning light at that moment echoed what we were seeing in the painting and I remember remarking upon that to Barbi Spieler, Head Registrar for the Permanent Collection, who was there as well. For obvious reasons we don’t often see Hopper paintings in natural light at the Museum.
When I saw the official White House photograph taken by Chuck Kennedy of The President standing in front of the two paintings, I thought it looked like a Hopper composition. Hopper’s urban scenes are often of a solitary figure caught in quiet contemplation, and that’s what the photograph captured. The light in the office and the sense of stillness are very Hopper-esque; the sun even seems to be coming into the office at the precise angle of the sun in the painting. And the back of The President recalls the back of the figure in Hopper’s most famous painting, Nighthawks. I’m guessing Chuck Kennedy knew exactly what he was doing. And of course, it was deeply gratifying to see an image of President Obama so intently focused on the paintings.
The paintings are of Cobb’s Barn in South Truro, Mass. — Cape Cod. Both Hoppers were like obsessed with Cobb’s Barn, here is Edward:
Far as I can tell Cobb’s Barn isn’t there anymore. Bit of a bummer, maybe they should put up a plaque or something.
That’s her painted by Robert Henri, who loved to paint babes:
Henri was, by this point, at the heart of the group who argued for the depiction of urban life at its toughest and most exuberant. Conservative tastes were necessarily affronted. About Henri’s Salome of 1909, critic Hughes observed: “Her long legs thrust out with strutting sexual arrogance and glint through the over-brushed back veil. It has far more oomph than hundreds of virginal, genteel muses, painted by American academics. He has given it urgency with slashing brush marks and strong tonal contrasts. He’s learned from Winslow Homer, from Édouard Manet, and from the vulgarity of Frans Hals”.
Now, what painting is in the Oval Office may seem meaningless but I gotta tell ya: I like living a country where the President is expected to have some taste and make some choices about putting some cool art on the wall.
Presidents have different art on the wall, but it means something to them. George W. Bush made a real point of having a bust of Churchill in there. Obama allegedly returned it, right? Ted Cruz definitely tells the whole truth about that?
New president, new art. We can all find American art we like, that’s a great thing about us. You can bet in the Reagan days they made choices about the art:
Looks like Reagan has The President’s House up there.
From the “Artwork” section of the Wiki page on Oval Office:
Most presidents have hung a portrait of George Washington – usually the Rembrandt Peale”Porthole” portrait or the Charles Willson Peale three-quarter-length portrait – over the mantel at the north end of the room. A portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully hung in Lyndon Johnson’s office, and in Ronald Reagan’s, George H. W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s. A portrait of Abraham Lincoln by George Henry Story hung in George W. Bush’s office, and continues in Barack Obama’s. Three landscapes/cityscapes by minor artists – The City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard by George Cooke, Eastport and Passamaquoddy Bay by Victor de Grailly, and The President’s House, a copy after William Henry Bartlett – have adorned the walls in multiple administrations. The Avenue in the Rain by Childe Hassam and Statue of Liberty by Norman Rockwell flanked the Resolute Desk in Bill Clinton’s office, and do the same in Barack Obama’s.
What a slam! “minor artists”. The friggin’ President looks at your painting every day and you’re still minor. These art world guys are tough on each other, I tell ya.
Reader reaction is encouraging me in a White House kick. Be sure to weigh in to Helytimes if you know any facts about Oval Office art. Somebody out there knows what Bartlett had up.
Went through NASA’s new Flickr of the Apollo missions looking for good ones I hadn’t seen before.
This one prompted me to pick up a book I’d been hearing about for awhile. Wade Davis has been featured on Helytimes before.
The opening chapter of this book is intense, vivid writing about the British experience on the Western Front during World War I. Thought I’d read enough about that horror show: Robert Graves and Paul Fussell and Geoff Dyer. Maybe the guy who hit me in the guts the hardest was Siegfried Sassoon, in part because of what a groovy idyllic life got catastrophically ruined for him.
But Wade Davis makes it all new again. One paragraph will do:
Click here if you want to see a photo of Mallory’s dead body, discovered in 1999, seventy five years after he was lost on Everest. Only halfway through Davis’ book, at the moment I’m deep in Tibet suffering along on the painstaking surveying expeditions.
A character keeps popping like a fox into the story and then disappearing — a rival mountaineer, the Duke Of Abruzzi.
(You can read about Abruzzi, why I’d be interested in a duke from there here.) What a life. Says Wiki:
He had begun to train as a mountaineer in 1892 on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa (Italian Alps): in 1897 he made the first ascent of Mount Saint Elias (Canada/U.S., 5,489 m). There the expedition searched for a mirage, known as the Silent City of Alaska, that natives and prospectors claimed to see over a glacier. C. W. Thornton, a member of the expedition, wrote: “It required no effort of the imagination to liken it to a city, but was so distinct that it required, instead, faith to believe that it was not in reality a city.”
Another witness wrote in The New York Times: “We could plainly see houses, well-defined streets, and trees. Here and there rose tall spires over huge buildings which appeared to be ancient mosques or cathedrals.”
If you’re climbing K2 you’re liable to be on the Abruzzi Spur:
Late in life:
In 1918, the Duke returned to Italian Somaliland. In 1920, he founded the “Village of the Duke of Abruzzi” (Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi orVillabruzzi) some ninety kilometres north of Mogadishu. It was an agricultural settlement experimenting with new cultivation techniques. By 1926, the colony comprised 16 villages, with 3,000 Somali and 200 Italian (Italian Somalis) inhabitants. Abruzzi raised funds for a number of development projects in the town, including roads, dams, schools, hospitals, a church and a mosque. He died in the village on 18 March 1933. After Italian Somaliland was dissolved, the town was later renamed to Jowhar.
Let’s skip to the best part of any Wikipedia page, “Personal Life:”
In the early years of the twentieth century the Abruzzi was in a relationship with Katherine Hallie “Kitty” Elkins, daughter of the wealthy American senator Stephen Benton Elkins, but the Abruzzi’s cousin King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy refused to grant him permission to marry a commoner. His brother, Emanuele Filiberto, to whom Luigi was very close, convinced him to give up the relationship. His brother later approved of young Antoinette “Amber” Brizzi, the daughter of Quinto Brizzi, one of the largest vineyard owners in northern Italy. In the later years of his life, Abruzzi married a young Somali woman named Faduma Ali.
Here is a picture of the Duke of Abruzzi:
That was taken by Vittorio Sella.
The high quality of Sella’s photography was in part due to his use of 30×40 cm photographic plates, in spite of the difficulty of carrying bulky and fragile equipment into remote places. He had to invent equipment, including modified pack saddles and rucksacks, to allow these particularly large glass plates to be transported safely. His photographs were widely published and exhibited, and highly praised; Ansel Adams, who saw thirty-one that Sella had presented to the US Sierra Club, said they inspired “a definitely religious awe”.
Hey again I just yank photos and stuff from books from all over — not sure if that’s like an ok practice but this is a non-profit site, try to credit everyone, the whole point is that maybe you will want to go look at/read the originals.
W. B. Yeats the poet had a kid brother, Jack Yeats, a painter.
Early in his career he worked as an illustrator for magazines like the Boy’s Own Paper and Judy, drew comic strips, including the Sherlock Holmes parody “Chubb-Lock Homes” for Comic Cuts
Jack Yeats won a silver medal at the 1924 Olympics (the Chariots Of Fire Olympics). They used to give out medals in art and culture categories, and Jack won for The Liffey Swim:
The juried art competitions were abandoned in 1954 because artists were considered to be professionals, while Olympic athletes were required to be amateurs.
Bring ’em back I say!
Fair to say I’m more interested than most people in old photos.
There are amazing collections of old photos in various US government archives, but they’re not always easy to find or sort through online.
Somehow I stumbled on this US Navy photographic archive.
“Pilot Tells of Dive-Bombing Wake Island in ready room of USS Yorktown (CV-10), 10/1943” is the title of that one.
“Pin-up girls at NAS Seattle, Spring Formal Dance. Left to right: Jeanne McIver, Harriet Berry, Muriel Alberti, Nancy Grant, Maleina Bagley, and Matti Ethridge.”, 04/10/1944″
“Sign on Tarawa illustrates Marine humor and possible lack of optimism as to duration of war., 06/1944”
“Much tattooed sailor aboard the USS New Jersey, 12/1944”
“Crewmen aboard USS Yorktown (CV-10) dash to stations as general quarters sound., 05/1943”
“Filipinos with their ‘bancas’ loaded with wares, paddle out to anchored destroyer to trade with crew., 06/1945”
“Personnel of USS LEXINGTON celebrate Christmas with make-shift decorations and a firefighting, helmeted Santa Claus., 12/1944”
“Graves of U.S. Marines who died taking Tarawa, before headstones were prepared. In background are the first tents put up after occupation of the island., ca. 11/1943”
“Marines installing telephone lines under fire on Peleliu. In the background is seen part of famous Bloody Nose Ridge, scene of the fiercest fighting on Peleliu., 09/1944”
“Sailor asleep between 40mm guns on board the USS New Jersey (BB-62)., 12/1944”
“F6F taxies into position after landing on board the USS Lexington (CV-16)., ca. 11/26/1943”
“Sailor eating sandwich beneath propellers of torpedo being loaded aboard U.S. submarine at New London, Connecticut., 08/1943”
“Children in Naples, Italy. Little boy helps one-legged companion across street., 08/1944”
“Torpedomen relaxing beneath rows of deadly torpedoes in torpedo shop., ca. 05/1945”
Lord knows what you’d find if you dig through the archives in person. This is just what’s digitized and online.
Happy Memorial Day, errboddy.
As he gave drawing instructions to his friend and fellow artist James Edward Kelly (1855-1933), [Winslow] Homer once said, “You should practice drawing old shoes and getting their character…”
I knew there was a Homer quote about old shoes, and when I went looking for it found it in an “About The Cover” column for Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal published by the CDC, written by the excellently named Polyxeni Potter:
Since 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published Emerging Infectious Diseases, a public health journal that endeavors to improve scientific understanding of disease emergence, prevention, and elimination.
Widely known for its leading research in infectious disease, EID is also recognized for its unique aesthetic, which brings together visual art from across periods and, through prose, makes it relatable to the journal’s science-minded readership.
In Art in Science: Selections from Emerging Infectious Diseases, the journal’s highly popular fine-art covers are contextualized with essays that address how the featured art relates to science, and to us all. Through the combined covers and essays, the journal’s contents — topics such as infections, contagions, disease emergence, antimicrobial resistance — find larger context amid topics such as poverty and war, the hazards of global travel, natural disasters, and human-animal interactions.
In May 1908 Homer suffered temporary impairment of his speech and muscular control as the effects of a mild stroke; on June 4 he wrote his brother Charles that “I can paint as well as ever. I think my pictures better for having one eye in the pot and one eye up a chimney— a new departure in the art world.” By July 18 he was able to write that he had regained his abilities with the exception of tying “my neck tie in the way that I have done for the past 20 years….Every four or five days I try to do it but….it has been of no use.” Although he never completely recovered, Homer was well enough to attempt a major work, and it is probably Right and Left that he referred to in a letter to his brother Charles dated December 8, 1908: “I am painting when it is light enough on a most surprising picture”.
The Times further reported that [Thomas Kinkade] openly groped a woman’s breasts at a South Bend, Indiana, sales event, and mentioned his proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination, once relieving himself on a Winnie the Pooh figure at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim while saying “This one’s for you, Walt.”
In 2006, John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion six years previous, Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried & Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting “Codpiece! Codpiece!” at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.
Reader “Matt M.” in La Jolla writes:
I know you’ve been accused of being “Headstrong” so I thought you might enjoy DVW’s image of the same name, which I saw on the Autry Museum’s Pinterest page.
Love the site!
– Matt M.
Right you are, Matt. Thanks for reading. That painting is oil on linen. Van Wechel is truly one of our finest living buffalo painters.
You can write to HelyTimes Mailbag at helphely at gmail, subject line “Mailbag.”
Nice work boys.
Wilson got his start doing a survey of all the ants in Alabama.
There’s the question of, why did I pick ants, you know? Why not butterflies or whatever? And the answer is that they’re so abundant, they’re easy to find, and they’re easy to study, and they’re so interesting. They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture. So each species is a wonderful object to study in itself. In fact, I honestly can’t…cannot understand why most people don’t study ants.
Plus look at the wild coolness on Bert Hölldobler:
And in the morning I took the Bible; and beginning at the New Testament I began seriously to read it,1920.
Illustration for Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.
Reading this interview with Mark Normand, comedian I had not heard of, on Splitsider.
This got my attention:
It’s often said when starting in comedy, you’re doing someone else’s act. What was your style when you first started?
I hate to say it, I was Seinfeld all the way.
“What’s the deal?”
Not really “what’s the deal,” but like, rhythm, and that weird voice thing. I’d have jokes like, “Adult books? Get the movie!” It was so bad that I remember one time I walked on stage in New York and one guy went [Seinfeldbaseline], and it crushed me. It was like a stab in the heart, and after that I was like, “I have to change my ways!” It killed me.
How long did it take, then, to find the voice that you use now?
Phew, a while. It took a meltdown. I had a meltdown in New York at some open mic because I was bombing and bombing for like a year, and eventually I was like, “Fuck you, I can’t take this anymore!” It broke me. But it took that meltdown. And I was fighting against it in my head, like, “Just keep it together buddy, keep it together,” when something had to get out. Then I was finally myself, and that’s what did it.
What was the crowd’s reaction like when you had your meltdown? Were you just like, “Fuck you all?”
Yeah, yeah. I was like, “I’m fucking funny, I hate all of you.” And then they started laughing, like, “All right, this is the real you.” Because crowds don’t want the polish. They want a comic who’s the same guy on and off. That’s the best comics – like, Louis C.K., walking on the stage, doesn’t go, “All right, pick it up, here it comes.” He’s just the same. Even if you see a comic bombing, and he goes, “Well, this is awful,” that gets a laugh. Because that’s the first real thing he’s said.
That last line. In my experience watching amateur/bad standup this is super true. In all the best comedy interviews they eventually get to the weird paradox of how hard it is to be honest, how uncomfortable and painful and terrifying it is to find your actual honest self and present it. The drunkest, dumbest audience in the world can distinguish fakery/honesty in about two seconds.
- the you that you want to be or think you are probably isn’t the you that you are. Learning that must be crushing/terrifying/impossibly frustrating.
- if you’re doing standup comedy in the first place, you at the very least have some unresolved tension between the “you” you’re living with and the “you” the world perceives
- being on stage is so weird and unnatural that achieving the comfort to project your best “you” while standing there will require agonizing failures that will hurt and rattle you and could possibly turn you back on yourself in a way that’ll make you worse at being the best you, in a wrenching spiral!
A long process of reconciling various yous, amazing when achieved.
That painting of commedia dell’Arte is by Karel Dujardin. Here’s his self-portrait:
He gets it.
the young Dujardin went to Italy, and joined the Bentvueghels group of painters in Rome, among whom he was known as “Barba di Becco”, “goat-beard”, or Bokkebaart. Here he encountered his first artistic successes.
(Mark Normand photo from his twitter)
In 1899 companies were crazy.
This man, James Hazen Hyde, inherited the Equitable Life Insurance Company from his dad when he was 23. The company had $400 million in assets.
A few years later he threw a crazy costume party. J. P. Morgan and some other tricksters claimed he’d charged the party to the company, which I guess wasn’t true. Hyde lost his job, and the tricksters got their hands on the company themselves.
I hope he didn’t lose his good looks, though.
“Paul may have the genius of a great painter, but he will never possess the genius actually to become one. He despairs at even the smallest obstacle.”
That’s what Cezanne’s childhood buddy Emile Zola said about him.
Cezanne was sorta slouching toward law school back in Aix like his dad wanted him too. Zola was having none of it:
Is painting only a whim that took possession of you when you were bored one fine day? Is it only a pastime, a subject of conversation, a pretext for not working at law? If this is the case, then I understand your conduct; you are right not to force the issue and make more trouble with your family. But if painting is your vocation – and that is how I have always envisaged it – if you feel capable of achieving something after having worked well at it, then you are an enigma to me, a sphinx, someone indescribably impossible and obscure… Shall I tell you something? But do not get angry: you lack strength of character. You shy away from any form of effort, mental or practical. Your paramount principle is to live and let live and to surrender to the vagaries of time and chance… Either one or the other – either become a proper lawyer, or become a serious painter, but do not become an undecided creature in a paint-splattered robe.
Shall I tell you something? But do not get angry. That’s terrific, Zola.
Cezanne got it together eventually. Maybe he was inspired by his buddy Achille Emperaire:
Achille was a dwarf and a hunchback, also from Aix. But he had the stones to go to Paris and hack away at painting. Wikipedia:
Adamant to make the grade, [Achille] would ask for help anywhere, undaunted by the prospect of living in the streets. He even wrote in his letters, ‘When occasionally I can spend 80 centimes on a meal, it feels like an orgy. […] The rest of the time, to skip a meal, I quell my hunger by eating bread crumbs with wine and sugar.’. Also, ‘Paris is a massive tomb, an unquestionable and awful mirage for most people. While a few get along, most of us fail, believe me.’
Getting those Zola quotes from this book I bought at the Taschen store for $9.99.
Thanks for the good work, Ulrike Becks-Malorny!
The Skating Minister, painted by Sir Henry Raeburn. (Danloux attributionists NOT WELCOME)
The Skater, painted by Gilbert Stuart
Wayne Gretzky, Polaroid by Andy Warhol
The Metropolitan Museum has five portraits that they’re pretty sure are by Hans Holbein The Younger. Let’s have a look:
Here is Derick Berck of Cologne:
Here is Erasmus of Rotterdam:
Here is a member of the Wedigh family, probably Hermann von Wedigh:
“Truth breeds hatred,” is what that note in the book says, according to the Met, which “perhaps served as the sitter’s personal motto.” Weird motto, bro.
And here is Man In A Red Cap:
Now. Take a look at this one, of “Lady Lee”:
The Met says “The painting is close to the manner of Holbein, but the attention paid to decorative effects and linear details at the expense of life-like portrayal of the sitter is indicative of workshop production. The portrait was likely based on a Holbein drawing.”
(Are these guys for real?)
I can’t recall how I got my hands on the postcard – perhaps a teacher gave it to me – but it showed one of the seminal paintings of world art, the one that opened the eyes of European painters to the realities of landscape painting. It bore a name that enchanted me, and from the first moment I saw it, it has been enshrined in my memory, to be recalled whenever I chance to see a row of fine trees leading down a country lane. The Avenue at Middelharnis, by the Dutch painter Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709) seems at first to simplicity itself – it is a perfectly flat landscape with minute distant building showing and down the dead middle of the canvas runs a dirt road flanked on either side by a row of very tall, scraggly trees of almost repugnant form, totally bare of limbs for 90 percent of their height but topped by misshapen crowns of small, heavy branches. It would seem as if almost anyone could paint a better picture than this, but if it commanded my attention and affection at age seven, so also did it captivate the artistic world; it proved that noble landscape painting could be achieved by using simple color, simple design and straightforward execution. People who love painting love Avenue, Middelharnis, and I am pleased to say that as a child I made that discover on my own.
(that one’s at the National Gallery of London)
A recent Artwork of the Day at the Met.