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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Midnight in Paris

I recently had the pleasure of watching a movie called Midnight in Paris.  Mind you, it’s not that movie about a certain starlet named Paris.  This is a movie produced by Woody Allen that takes place in the city of Paris, where a nostalgic writer (Owen Wilson), on vacation with his fiance (Rachel McAdams), finds himself transported back in time to 20s Paris every night at midnight, where he is surrounded by the famous figures of the day.

I recommend the movie to you because our protagonist finds himself rubbing elbows with the famous writers and artists of the era.  There’s more emphasis on the writers, because the main character is himself a writer, but there are also many famous artists featured.  Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Edgar Degas make appearances in the movie.

The movie is an entertaining watch with some valuable insights about each genration’s nostalgia for an era gone by, but I also found myself tense throughout much of the movie because some of the actors and actresses were too believable in their portrayals of very unpleasant characters.  Overall it was a fun watch which I recommend to you.

Here’s the trailer for the movie.


Google Cultural Institute

So I’ve discovered a website/application so mind blowing, I have to climb to a top of a mountain and shout it to the world.  Err, maybe we’ll just skip the whole mountain climbing business.  But I simply have to share it with y’all.  It’s called Google Cultural Institute.

On their About page, Google describes the project as:

Google has partnered with hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and archives to host the world’s cultural treasures online.

With a team of dedicated Googlers, we are building tools that allow the cultural sector to display more of its diverse heritage online, making it accessible to all.

Here you can find artworks, landmarks and world heritage sites, as well as digital exhibitions that tell the stories behind the archives of cultural institutions across the globe.

This idea of sharing knowledge and making the world’s treasures available to everyone is great.  I think it’s a beautiful example of how the internet can be a force of change, serving the greater good. (Not that I’m opposed the wasting hours and hours watching funny cat videos…:P )  What Google is doing here is an amazing thing for those who don’t live in areas where art museums or other cultural attractions are available.  If I want to see famous artwork I don’t have to throw down a bunch of money, pack my bags, and fly across the country (or ocean) to see it.  Google is bringing it to me, in the comfort of my own living room, and they’re not charging a dime for it.  That’s pretty neat.

Aside from the convenience of what they’re doing, I also think it’s going to revolutionize education.  Part of why I was so struck by the Cultural Institute is that it makes so very much possible for educators.  In the example of an art teacher, such as myself, who uses Art Project (a subsection of the larger Cultural Project),  I can show famous artwork to my students in a format that allows them to get up close and personal, zooming in to ultra-high quality photos so close they can see individual brush strokes.  They can virtually tour museums.  The students can also pick and choose items to compare side by side, activating higher thinking.  Teachers and students can curate their own lists, whether it’s their favorite items, art from a specific period, or pieces that support a current unit in the curriculum.  On top of that, they can search pre-organized sets or look at collections put together by other people.  And best of all, Google has gone ahead and made print-outs and lesson plans available to educators.  I’d call that more than just a nifty tool.  It’s fantabulous.

(See more About Art Project.)

But I realize I’m rambling when maybe not all of you care as much about how teachers can use this.  I’ll let Google’s promotional/how-to videos speak for themselves, and let you imagine the possibilities.

P.S.  Expect to see more content from Art Project featured here, on my blog.

P.P.S.  Google didn’t pay me anything to post this.  I’m just really excited about what they’re doing (can you tell?) and want to share it with others.


Documentary: The World’s Most Expensive Paintings

Description from the YouTube page:

“Art critic Alastair Sooke tracks down the ten most expensive paintings to sell at auction, and investigates the stories behind the astronomic prices art can reach. Gaining access to the glittering world of the super-rich, Sooke discovers why the planet’s richest people want to spend their millions on art.

Featuring works by Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Klimt and Rubens, Sooke enters a world of secrecy and rivalry, passion and power. Highlights include a visit to the art-crammed home of millionaire author Lord Archer; a rare interview with the man at the heart of the sale of the most expensive old master of all time; privileged access to auctioneers Christie’s; and a glimpse of the world of the Russian oligarchs.

These revelatory journeys allow Sooke to present an eye-opening view of the super wealthy, and their motivations as collectors of the world’s great art treasures.”

O’Keeffe Corn

I was out taking some photos this evening, and ended up taking some macro shots of cornstalks.  Some of the resulting photographs reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, specifically her flower abstraction paintings.  The up-close cornstalk images with their wavy leaves, streaks of color, and organic depths reminded me of some of O’Keeffe’s iris paintings.  If I had the time I would try painting some of the corn photos in her style.










The Black Iris, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1926, oil on canvas, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Da Vinci’s Demons

Disclaimer:  This show is aimed at an adult audience.  The preview includes quick glimpses of more mature subject matter.  View discretion is advised.

Da Vinci’s Demons, a new series on Starz.

I’m intrigued.

Obviously they’ve taken some liberties with Leonardo’s personality and his inventions, but what show doesn’t?  It’s an interpretation meant to entertain.

I haven’t seen any of this, I just found out about it.  Have any of you been watching this series?  What do you think?  I’d love to hear some reviews.

You’re In Luck

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Art fans are in luck, because Trinity College has released a new digital version of the Book of Kells, free for viewing online!

The Book of Kells transparencies, originally captured by Faksimile Verlag, Lucerne, Switzerland in 1990, have recently been rescanned using state of the art imaging technology. These new digital images offer the most accurate high resolution images to date, providing an experience second only to viewing the book in person.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on the Book of Kells, so I’ll send you to Wikipedia to learn more about it.  What I do know comes from the many art history classes I have taken, where it is mentioned quite often.  This ancient manuscript is beautiflly illustrated with Celtic knots and gold leafing.  The details are so painstakingly wrought, I cannot even begin to imagine how much time was invested in it  (zoom in extra close to appreciate the tiny brushstrokes!).  If you have a moment, drop by the digital version of the book and appreciate the work of the Celtic monks, “widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure.”

Page from the Book of Kells, from Wikimedia Commons

Art History by Incidental Comics

A few brief lessons on art history, thanks to Grant Snider of Incidental Comics.

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