Because it was neccessary.

Brought to attention by my dear friend Natalie, a moment of reflection on the part of one of the most important minds in the history of art.

"What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only his eyes if he's a painter, or ears if he's a musician, or a lyre at every level of his heart if he's a poet, or even if he's a boxer, just his muscles...? On the contrary, he's at the same time a political being, constantly alive to heartrending, fiery, or happy events, to which he responds in every way. How would it be possible to feel no interest in other people and by virtue of an ivory indifference to detach yourself from the life which they so copiously bring you? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy." - Pablo Picasso, 1945


Computer Down

Detail: Tintoretto, Belsazar's Feast (1544-1545)

Hi Everyone,

My apologies but there will not be a post today because of technical difficulties. I promise to return Monday come hell or high water. I am writing this from the library because my MacBook has decided to not work any longer, I think the thesis is just too amazing for it to handle :) It is in the shop now and will be, hopefully, returned tomorrow.

All my best,

For your patience you get to be the first people to view my official thesis title!! I know you are so excited, you just couldn't stand the suspence could you? Drumroll.....

The Writing on the Wall: Possibilities of Jewish Patronage in Renaissance Venice and the Workshop of Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto.

Above is a detail from one of the cassone panels I am working on. :)


Limborg Brothers, Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (c. 1410)

Limborg Brothers, Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (c. 1410). Illumination on vellum, 22.5 x 13.6 cm. Musée Condé, Chantilly, France. No longer available to see by the public.

January: Revelers exchange gifts at the New Year

February: Deep winter, peasants are shown in their homes staying warm by fires. The countryside is blanketed in snow.

March: Sowing the harvest. Château de Lusignan in the background.

April: With Spring comes love, a betrothed couple. Château de Dourdan in the background.

May: Procession to Paris, the Duke's Hôtel de Neslé is in the background.

June: Harvest Time! The Palais de la Cité forms the backdrop.

The Book of Hours of the Duke of Berry is one of the most important illuminated manuscripts in the Northern tradition during the 15th century. Unusual for a Book of Hours because it contains a full calendar of saint's days and festivals, the illustrated calendar is its standout component. Executed by the Dutch Limborg Brothers, Herman, Paul, and Johan, who are the most famous Northern Renaissance miniature painters, it was commissioned by the Duke of Berry. The calendar illustrations depict the months of the year and are identifiable by the activity going on within the image. I have included a list below of the various illustrations and their meanings. Also present in the illustrations are depictions of the Duke's various estates. They form the backdrop for every work and are magnificent in their detail.

Books of Hours were a common prayer book in the Medieval period that were widely commissioned by the wealthy elite. Many have multiple illustrations but the great number in this particular Book was unprecedented. The manuscript itself contains over 400 pages, has 131 miniature paintings and over 300 decorated capital letters. This work is the exemplar of border illustrations and text illustration. Though small the works make up in quality what they lack in size. The intricate detailing and lively expressions make these tiny paintings seem as vibrant as a van Eyck, whose brother oddly enough helped with the decorations.

July: The Sheep's Fur is Sheared, Château du Clain.

August: Hunting Season, Château d'Étampes.

September: Grapes are Gathered at the Château de Saumur.

October: With the Louvre in the background the fields are being tilled.

November: Acorns are Picked.

December: Boar Hunting, Château de Vincennes.


Exhibition Alert: New York, MoMA. Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present March 14–May 31, 2010

Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (March 14–May 31, 2010) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Marina Abramović is a revolutionary performance artist who challenges viewers through direct interaction. Though probably not widely known outside the art world her work is fascinating because of the drastic and often violent reactions to her works. This exhibition is not for children (unless they grew up on a commune and are comfortable with lots of naked bodies) or the faint of heart, but if you can face confrontation with an open mind this is definitely not to be missed. I will be catching the tail end of the run when I head to New York in May so you will definitely be hearing more about this from me. If anyone has visited the exhibit or does in the future, please let me know how it is!

About the Artist (from her gallery's website):
"Marina Abramović was born in 1946 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Since the beginning of her career, during the early 1970s where she attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Abramović has pioneered the use of performance as a visual art form. The body has been both her subject and medium. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. As a vital member of the generation of pioneering performance artists that includes Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, Abramović created some of the most historic early performance pieces and continues to make important durational works." - Sean Kelly Gallery, http://www.skny.com/artists/marina-abramovi/

About the Exhibition:
"This performance retrospective traces the prolific career of Marina Abramović (Yugoslav, b. 1946) with approximately fifty works spanning over four decades of her early interventions and sound pieces, video works, installations, photographs, solo performances, and collaborative performances made with Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen). In an endeavor to transmit the presence of the artist and make her historical performances accessible to a larger audience, the exhibition includes the first live re-performances of Abramović’s works by other people ever to be undertaken in a museum setting. In addition, a new, original work performed by Abramović will mark the longest duration of time that she has performed a single solo piece. (Please note: Abramović will not perform during MoMA Nights.) All performances, one of which involves viewer participation, will take place throughout the entire duration of the exhibition, starting before the Museum opens each day and continuing until after it closes, to allow visitors to experience the timelessness of the works. A chronological installation of Abramović’s work will be included in The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery on the sixth floor of the Museum, revealing different modes of representing, documenting, and exhibiting her ephemeral, time-based, and media-based works. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that includes an audio recording of the artist’s voice guiding the reader through the publication."
- MoMA, http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/965

*Photo credits: Marina Abramović. Portrait with Flowers. 2009. Black-and-white gelatin silver print; photo: Marco Anelli. © 2010 Marina Abramović. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Francisco Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (c. 1797)

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (c. 1797). Etching, 21.5 cm × 15 cm.

This famous etching by Francisco Goya comes from a set of works called "Los Caprichos" that included about 80 prints on a large range of controversial topics ranging from prostitution, witches, sexual abuse of children, and scathing comments on contemporary doctors and public figures. I have chosen to only speak about this work because of its fame and also because it has a subject matter than many people can relate to without knowing the wider context of the work and why Goya's "Los Caprichos" was so maligned at the time of its publication that the artist recalled any remaining unsold sets days after its release.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters show the artist himself asleep at his desk. The lone human figure is isolated against a backdrop of black birds and nightmarish creatures and seem to swoop and circle him like a carcass. The horned predatory birds and dark canine that sits at his feet symbolize the fantastical images humans can have while sleep lowers the defenses against the mind's wandering and dark thoughts. With the barrier of reason down the mind can be infiltrated with nonsensical and dangerous thinking from one's subconscious, where all of one's most base insecurities lie. These "monsters" of the human psyche attack at night when the mind is most vulnerable. Who has not had their mind wander into dark territory in the middle of the night when nothing seems quite reasonable or right? When reason sleeps, anything is possible.

Goya ((b. March 30, 1746 - April 16, 1828), whose full name is actually Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, was a Spanish artist who worked during some of the most turbulent times in Spain's history. One of Goya's most famous works is his The Third of May 1808 (1814) which shows Spaniards being shot by Napoleon's men during the French invasion of Spain. Goya's work alternates between the earlier years of court portraiture and more superficial fare, the political commentaries of The Third of May 1808, and his later, more disturbing interpretations of mythology such as his Saturn Devouring His Son (1819-1823), from his Black Paintings series.

This work, in particular, seems to be a forerunner to his later, darker works. Though the scene is set to seem a dream, the idea of monsters coming out at night is nothing new and was especially prevalent in the Romantic period that Goya worked in. The idea of night incubus' infiltrating homes and minds was discussed and often illustrated by Romantic artists. Though here the intent does not appear sexual, the dread or sinister intent of the animals seems clear. An inscription below the work reads, "Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels."