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Art

Salvator Mundi by the MIAOAT

Sunday, 15 October, 2017 0 Comments

Here, MIAOAT stands for the “most important artist of all time.” We’re talking Leonardo.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting disappeared in 1763 and didn’t reappear again until 1900 in London. Sir Charles Robinson had bought it, believing it to be a work by Leonardo’s disciple, Bernardino Luini, for Sir Francis Cook’s famed collection at Doughty House on Richmond Hill. By this time, the Saviour’s face and hair had been repainted and a photograph taken in 1912 records the changed appearance. When the Cook Collection was sold at auction in 1958, Salvator Mundi fetched £45, after which it disappeared again. It re-emerged in 2005 and was sold by an American estate for $10,000. All along, it was believed to be a Leonardo copy.

On Wednesday, 15 November, Salvator Mundi, now verified as an authentic da Vinci, will be put up for sale at Christie’s auction house in New York. The estimated price is $100 million but it could easily go much higher. “Discovering a new painting by Leonardo is like finding a new planet,” says art critic Alastair Sooke, in a discussion with Christie’s Chairman Loic Gouzer and Old Masters specialist Alan Wintermute.

Salvator Mundi


Shadow dancers

Thursday, 21 September, 2017 0 Comments

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” — Merce Cunningham

Dancing on air


Jane Austen endures and entertains

Tuesday, 18 July, 2017 0 Comments

“How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Two-hundred years ago today, 18 July 1817, Jane Austen departed this world, taken by a mysterious illness. She was just 41 years old.

Two-hundred years later, she has never been more alive, more popular, more relevant.

The novelist who gave us Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy — the mismatched lovers of Pride and Prejudice — is as endurable as Shakespeare. The eternal entertainment she created in a handful of Regency novels is based on life’s fundamentals: society, money, friendship, love, marriage, pride, prejudice, vanity and all the other shortcomings of human nature. Our world, with its excesses of sex and suicide bombers, appears deranged by comparison and the difference is that in Austen’s world decorum dominates while restraint rules. People observe a code of behaviour, especially regarding feelings and in what they are allowed to say. We don’t face such restrictions. We can say whatever we want. And we do. “Angry people are not always wise,” Austen noted, wisely, in Pride and Prejudice.

“Jane Austen was born before those bonds which (we are told) protected women from truth, were burst by the Brontës or elaborately untied by George Eliot. Yet the fact remains that Jane Austen knew more about men than either of them. Jane Austen may have been protected from truth: but it was precious little of truth that was protected from her.” — G.K. Chesterton


The Right Banksy

Friday, 23 June, 2017 0 Comments

“The day I came to love Donald Trump was when I saw how hard he was kicking liberals in the teeth,” so says Sabo, the “unsavory agent” who has taken to “appropriating” the propaganda formats of the left for his own purposes. “I am on the edge, the only true rebel artist in LA.,” he declares. With his hilarious posters, the ex-marine has targeted Katy Perry, Jon Stewart, Madonna, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams and many other anti-Trump “artists”. As he told The Guardian: “I cater to the street urchins, the young people. I want them to understand that there’s another message out there.”

Sabo Trump


The Deposition at Lisvernane

Saturday, 1 April, 2017 0 Comments

The ecclesiastical definition of the noun deposition means “a work of art depicting Christ being lowered from the Cross.” Rubens and Caravaggio did famous depositions, but the grandfather of the theme, as it were, is The Deposition of Christ by the Italian Renaissance master Fra Angelico, which was executed between 1432 and 1434 and is now housed in the Museo di San Marco in Florence. Giorgio Vasari declared it was “painted by a saint or an angel.”

A more modest but no less saintly deposition in wood can be found in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Lisvernane in Tipperary.

The Deposition at Lisvernane


Unboxing a book of Vermeer

Saturday, 25 March, 2017 0 Comments

The trend of making videos of the unpacking of a newly-purchased box containing a desirable gadget has given dictionary makers the word “unboxing.” Example: “Did you see Juan’s unboxing of the new super-thin Asus ZenBook UX305?”

A book can be unboxed, too. Here, Vermeer — The Complete Works by Taschen, the art book publisher based in Cologne, is unboxed by Annie Quigley, owner of Bibliophile.

Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) painted during that extraordinary period of exploration, trade and creativity that occurred during the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century. The modern eye is tempted to compare his works to photographs, but deeper observation reveals far more. His paintings are, in fact, exquisitely designed compositions of light and shadow, colour, contours and shapes.


Portraits and Profiles of warriors and senators

Friday, 3 March, 2017 0 Comments

After leaving the White House in 2009, George W. Bush found inspiration in painting. This has now resulted in a book of 66 portraits of post-9/11 US veterans called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. The proceeds from the book will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, “a non-profit organization whose Military Service Initiative works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.”

Portraits of Courage

Note: Portraits of Courage echoes Profiles in Courage, a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Senator John F. Kennedy. Profiles consisted of short biographies describing acts of courage and integrity by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate’s history. The book became a best seller, but in his 2008 autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, Kennedy’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen claimed that, while the senator had provided the theme, the speechwriter wrote most of the book.


Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, 1 March, 2017 0 Comments

“In Young Mother, the ash is used to portray anonymous woman, her humble and demur demeanour is reminiscent of depictions of the Madonna.” — Zhang Huan

A founding member of Beijing’s conceptual artists movement in the 1990s, Zhang Huan moved to New York in 1998 and developed a unique style that mixed East and West. Upon returning to China a decade later, he had an epiphany, which he described as the “magic” of prayer and the power of the incense ashes. For him, ash has a metaphoric connection to memory, the soul and the spiritual. “Everything we are, everything we believe and want are within these ashes,” says Zhang Huan.

Your mother


Dylan city map

Wednesday, 7 December, 2016 0 Comments

“Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
‘We’ll meet on edges, soon,’ said I
Proud ‘neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.”

My Back Pages from Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964).


In His Own Words: Bob Dylan paints

Sunday, 13 November, 2016 0 Comments

“I believe that the key to the future is in the remnants of the past. That you have to master the idioms of your own time before you can have any identity in the present tense.” So writes Bob Dylan, the recent Nobel laureate in Literature, in the introduction to Bob Dylan, The Beaten Path, an exhibition of his landscapes at the Halcyon Gallery in London. The exhibition is on view until Sunday, 11 December.

Bob Dylan


Here’s a health to Bunclody

Sunday, 23 October, 2016 0 Comments

Before he became a wandering minstrel, Sam Lee was a wilderness survival expert. Now, he spends time among marginal communities and uses his iPhone to save the remnants of their ballad culture, with its rich trove of stories about love, hate, wealth, poverty, parting, exile and sorrow. He collected the The Moss House in Wexford from an Irish singer called Sally Connors and it concludes his album The Fade In Time. My mother sang a version titled The Streams of Bunclody that included this verse:

“That’s why my love slights me, as you may understand
For she has a freehold and I have no land
She has a great store of riches and a fine sum of gold
And everything fitting a house to uphold.”