Escher as mentor

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Escher is famous for his impossible constructions and transformation prints. Most people know his ‘tower of Babel’, ‘Belvedere’, ‘day and night’, ‘drawing hands’, ‘relativity’ and many, many more. All of them are to be admired in the former palace of the Dutch queen Emma in the center of the Hague. And that’s where I went one weekend in 2014.

It not only was delightful to watch those drawings, litho’s and woodcuts, it also was educational. Escher not only is a master of surreal images, he also displays a very excellent study of perspective and symmetry. His works are really geometrically fabulous.

Remembering some difficult angles for drawing, I especially was interested in Escher’s top down perspective.

rome tekeningIn Rome I once made a drawing, sitting in castel st. Angelo, looking down on the st. Peter’s basilica of the Vatican. I planned to draw all the roofs, with the basilica in the middle. But I got lost due to the huge amount of roofs.Esscher 01

Escher had dealt with this problem. His woodcut ‘roofs’ is a very good example of how I would have drawn my view from castel st. Angelo. How did he do that?

His drawing ‘Atrani’ (in the left circle below) shows us how. He had drawn lines on the sketch, to make sure everything had the right proportion. His litho ‘Castrovalva’ also reveils a trick (in the right circle below). This trick actually can only be noticed when you place the litho next to a photograph of the original view. You will note that Escher left out some of the houses. I bet the  houses were indistinguishable due to their quantity, so drawing veraciously would not make such a beautiful litho.

I’m planning to apply these lessons from Escher one day. I really would want to go back to Rome to redo the drawing. I hope that day will come before I grow too old to hold a pencil. 😀 Esscher 07

No painting

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Today on pinterest, I was searching for art. I’m especially interested in new, unknown artists, who deserve to be discovered by me. 😀 That’s how I came up against a remarkable realistic and awesome still-life of cheese and wine. Realism is something I really admire in pictures. I’m really impressed by painters who can create photo-like paintings, I think those painters deserve to be venerated, and mostly they are. So that’s why I was surprised that, by googling the name of the artist of the cheese and wine picture, I found nothing,..

That was the first clue,..

The absence of any art-like ‘hits’ on google, when entering his name, made me curious. Because: even if you google me; a very unknown artist, with not much paintings, and without the ability to create photo-realistic paintings, you’ll find my art! So; what was with this guy: Nikolai Panov? To find out I followed the link of the pinterest-picture to the original website: http://500px.com/photo/41661488/cheese-&-wine-by-nikolai-panov: no information about the picture or the artist AT ALL! Again; what’s with this guy? *second clue*

Nicolai PanovOn the website you were able to buy the picture on canvas, wallpaper, or buy a licence for using the picture. These are great ways to sell your art, by the way. You get to keep the original, get money for your work, and your art travels the world, spreads among the people, and will ultimately promote your work! But, I didn’t visit the website to buy; I wanted to know more about Nikolai Panov, because I started to get the impression his art was not painted, but photography. No clues on this website though,.. I thought,..

After some more googling I found the same guy again on http://www.artflakes.com. Again; an artshop, and again no information on the guy. But they did provide me some more pictures. I posted one of his artworks right here; I’m probably not allowed to do so, even though I’m promoting Panov’s work by posting it,.. But I really wanted to share it with you. What do you think: painted of photography? Difficult; right? It is so realistic! But it really looks like a painting still! (Only without signature,.. which could be a third clue,..)

But, about a year ago, I visited an exposition of pictures of Bas Meeuws in the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands. This Bas Meeuws created still-lifes, inspired by the popular, supererogated, flower compositions from the 17th century. Meeuws’ pictures are digitally manipulated photographs, and therefore deceptively real. (check his website) If you do not know they’re manipulated photo’s, you’ll spend you’re time in front of the picture wondering it’s character. Just like I did with the pictures of Panov.

But eventually, my presumptions were confirmed by checking the http://www.500px.com website again. (This was the website the pinterest-link directed me to) The website appears to be a premier photography community; Panov definitely is just like Meeuws! Still awesome pictures, and they kept me busy for a while, but they’re no paintings.

With the rise of photography, the world of art changed. People like Panov and Meeuws confirm this change, and actually I think it’s a good thing; it really is art. But I don’t think they’ll replace painted art ever.

 

Meet the master of light

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ImageDelft. Famous for its Delft’s blue porcelain and Vermeer. So when I visited Delft last weekend, I naturally went to the Vermeer Center. And yes, the name of the museum already suggests it’s not the house of Vermeer, unfortunately. The center is located about 100 metres from the place Vermeer’s house was located. Past tense; the house is razed, therefore tourists have to visit a center instead of a Vermeer’s house. But, to compensate the loss, they chose a very good location for the center, which is located in the building of the St. Luke’s guild. (see picture above) This used to be the guild for Delft’s artists and artisans. In his time, Vermeer was head of this guild.

Before I entered the Vermeer Center, I knew a bit about Vermeer. For instance, I knew that the 37 paintings of Vermeer are divided between Europe and America. 7 of them are in the Netherlands, but none of them is in Delft. So what we were about to see were reproductions of Vermeer’s paintings. I was curious if observing prints would satisfy me. I was curious how the prints were presented and what other information and objects were shown, for all I know about Vermeer is that there is little to know.

ImageVermeer is a mystery man, people nowadays know little about his life. We know where he lived, we know about his paintings, we know he got 15 children, of which 4 died, but we don’t know about his mentor, for example. This question got it’s own special place in the museum. In the picture above you can see the possible mentors of Vermeer. But he also could have had no mentor at all, perhaps he was a self-taught-man.

ImageThe Vermeer Center displays all of the 37 paintings in print, in actual size. It was nice to see them all brought together in one room, but I also have a book in which all of the paintings are collected, and I actually did not prefer these prints over the book. So what did the museum offer, next to the prints? Well; no more then the information I was able to read in the book I just mentioned, but a book takes a lot more time to go through than a museum, so I guess the museum basically was a time-saver, compared to the book. It gave information on 17th century Delft, on Vermeer’s paintings, on Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, (Vermeer’s curator,) on Vermeer’s techniques and hidden messages.

The center said Vermeer used symbolism in his paintings. On most of the paintings of Vermeer are women. When they are working, the message is clear; working is a virtue. But when they aren’t, most of the time Vermeer painted symbols next to the not-working women to signify vice. Most of the time this vice was a forbidden love, referred to by music instruments, wine or letters.

They also said that Vermeer had studied the effects of lights extremely well, and therefore he is to be called the master of light. One example, and in my opinion the best example, are the highlights. If you look close to the paintings of Vermeer, he used an innumerable amount of white dots to highlight (and revive) objects in his paintings. The best example is Vermeers view of Delft; the buildings and the boat is loaded with white dots, and it works; it completes the painting.

ImageThe fact that Vermeer produced so little paintings, makes us think he spent a long time thinking on the techniques, perspective, and symbolism in his paintings. But still, we do know so little about the guy. I wonder; perhaps he just copied his environment with a rare precision, and just painted what he saw, without thinking too much about it. Maybe he just liked what he saw and didn’t do anything to manipulate the light,..

But maybe he did, and if he did, he just could be the master of light indeed.

learning in the museum

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I’m a student. I’ve been a student the past 7 years, and I wish I could remain a student for the next 7 years, but unfortunately I have to finish off and start earning money. Therefore I hope my final diploma will give me the possibility to earn a job as a teacher. I’m learning to become a teacher in religion, but during this education I got the opportunity to learn some tricks and skills on arts and cultural education as well.

Today my arts and cultural education class went on a field trip. Yay!! Finally; I got the chance to learn how arts and cultural education is put in practice!

We payed a visit to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and we got an assignment as soon as we got there. This assignment concerned the visible thinking strategies from Perkins and dialogical learning from Wegerif. This meant that we had to choose two objects in the museum, and follow the instructions in the assignment.

Chosing an object was quite difficult. The object concerning the assignment on visible thinking strategies had to be something appealing to me. The object concerning dialogical learning had to be connected to religion, since I’m learning to become a teacher in religion.

I chose the following objects:

ImageImageYou probably recognize at least one; right? Kandinsky. The first one is a picture taken by Dan Zollmann. The Jewish Historical Museum had an exposition of both paintings of Kandinsky and photo’s of Dan Zollmann.

What was the assignment?

I chose Kandinsky to fulfill the assignment on visible thinking strategies. The first instruction was to describe the painting. But before I started describing the painting, I read the information accompanying the painting. It said that the circle represents a synthesis of the greatest oppositions: concentrism and excentrism. ImageSo I imagined Kandinsky was trying to represent totality. A circle is total. It’s enduring; no beginning, no end. Next to the circle, Kandinsky used every imaginable color and presented every imaginable shape. I figured he wanted us to see it ALL; just evertyghing. And I am used to interpret ‘everything’ as God. God is everything, right? At least I think God can be seen as a synthesis of the greatest oppositions. So maybe Kandinsky wanted to represent God. Just maybe. And since the assignment didn’t order us to be correct, and just told us to give our own impression, I stick to this conclusion.

The next question concerning the visible thinking strategies was: If this object was in the middle of a story, what would be the preceding picture, and what would be the subsequent picture? I again consulted the accompanying information: it told me the name of the painting was: Yellow Center. So I figured the preceding picture would be the same painting with a white center, for if the painting would refer to God, God needs the be pure, at least at the start. The subsequent picture would be called ‘black center’, because black represents all the colors. It could only be black because it is the sum of everything, it would be the final resolution. It’s like the black square of Malevich, which also represent the whole of all.  (at least, that’s what I thought)

ImageThe last question on visible thinking strategies was to connect this painting with any other object in the museum. So I started my search for any other object which also could represent God. And I found Baruch de Spinoza. No, he’s no god. But he too was in search for God and created a philosophy on pantheïsm: everything IS God. I thought this was the ultimate link with my interpretation of ‘yellow center’.

Next was the assignment on dialogical learning. You noticed I chose a photo of Jewish boys at a candy machine. I had to formulate a hypothesis based on this photo, this hypothesis was meant to evoke questions; a dialogue. My hypothesis was: These are religious boys, who have their first encounter with modern temptation. And yes; this hypothesis evokes questions, for; are they really religious? Is it really the first encounter? Are they tempted by the candy, or the machine? Etcetra.

ImageI learned a new approach towards art. I learned that a real art connoisseur does not read the information accompanied by the object. He thinks freely; I just partly did that. But it sure was fun and I definitely will use this approach the next time I take my son to a museum. I presume he will start loving visiting museums.

(c) Anya Janssen

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(c) Anya Janssen

When I was visiting the MMKA (Museum for Modern Art Arnhem), I decided I wanted a postcard of the painting ‘rites of passage 2’ of Anya Janssen. But it wasn’t available there.

Now I found this website: http://www.artunlimited.com which sells postcards of allmost every painting in dutch museums, so I finally was able to buy the postcard. 😀 And by buying it, I kinda had the feeling I bought my right to copy the painting.

Hope Anya Janssen doesn’t mind.

Vermeer

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It’s been a busy week,.. no painting unfortunately, but I did find some time to read. Not only on art, but also on philosophy. (Which Imagereminds me to add a book on philosophy and art to my wishlist,.. 🙂 )

This week I read a book on Vermeer, which I was intended not to review before I will finish the book. But there are some interesting parts which can be separated from the whole, and be written about, even before I will finish it. This is mainly because the book discusses themes in his paintings. Themes like views, love, historical paintings and wine. The book is filled with pictures of Vermeer’s paintings and when you look at them, the most prominent parallel between the paintings is the room. It’s the same room, over and over again. The tile floor and paintings on the wall differ, as do the people on the paintings. But the room not, and it always is painted from the same point of view. The book has pictures of all the paintings, made in that room, next to each other, and I actually liked to see this parallel, because it was the perfect illustration for another book on Vermeer I read: Girl with a pearl earring from Tracy Chevalier. This was, contrary to the Vermeer-book I was reading this week, a fictional book, which is based on the little information we know about Vermeer. It’s about the painting girl with the pearl earring. The girl in the painting is the main character of the story and she tells her readers how Vermeer Imageworks on his paintings.

Like I said, we actually don’t know how Vermeer worked on his paintings, but it was só nice to read this book and pretend to know how he worked on his paintings! It feels so real, for the book describes Vermeer’s atelier exactly the way you can observe in his paintings. And ever since I read the book, I can’t look at the painting of the girl, without wondering if the actual girl, like the main character in the novel, had to pierce her ears only for this painting, and just in order to wear this earring. I also wonder whether the actual girl had sore ears because of the piercing. When I look at the painting, I can almost feel the pain in my own ears. The only thing Chévalier does not tell about, which I did read in the other book on Vermeer, was the iconography. After reading ‘girl with a pearl earring’ I thought I knew everything about Vermeer, but this week I was surprised to read about his use of iconography. It makes me love Vermeer’s paintings even more, for I love iconography. After receiving this new knowledge I’m curious if I will read more interesting information on Vermeer, as I finish the book. Therefore I will get back to you with a full review as soon as possible.

Occupy facebook

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I don’t know if it’s a ‘Dutch’ thing, or perhaps global; but I was requested to occupy facebook with art. And I didn’t dare to say no to that request. In fact; I really liked the idea, so I gladly joined the ‘facebook art-occupiers’, which sounds more serious than it was, actually.

How did it begin? Well, last month (or should I say; last year, for it was in December,..) the Dutch version of this ‘game’ appeared on my wall. It was a real nice surprise to see paintings from Pia Erlandsson, Annemarie Busschers and Peter Wever. All three of them contemporary, European artists, and all three of them interesting and beautiful. I liked the painting from Pia Erlandsson (a Swedish painter) the best, so I entered the game by liking this painting. (for those of you who don’t have a facebook-account; you are able to click the button ‘like’ if you like something someone posted on facebook :-D)

After liking this painting, my facebook friend, gave me the name of another artist: Udo Braehler. Now I was supposed to post a painting from Udo Braehler. So I searched on the internet to see what kind of artist he is, and I kinda understood why Udo Braehler was given to me: he creates religious art. And I, Master of religious studies, really love everything which has a connection to religion. But, just like Udo, I like non-religious art as well; so he also creates a great deal of non-religious artworks. In fact, I chose a non-religious artwork, called: After now. I would love to show it to you, but I’m afraid he’s got copyrights on his paintings, so I’ll advise you to visit his website. This is a link directly to the painting I chose. I chose this one for the colors (I like bright colors) and for the display of different techniques. You can see the use of print and paint, but he also works with ink, pencil, photo’s and epoxy. His website unfortunately doesn’t tell what specific kind of techniques were used for this particular painting, but I do like the end result.

Four people liked my post. So I was to give them names of painters, for them to post a painting of. I gave them Yossi Kotler, Steve Hanks, Justyna Kopania and RemziTaşkıran. All of them contemporary artists, who I got familiar with through pinterest. Awesome, right? How social media helps us to discover new art. I think it is.

It was sad though, that only one of the four facebook friends actually posted a work of art on their wall. But then again; even one work of art shared on facebook can make a difference. I bet a lot of people enjoyed the painting by Steve Hanks my friend posted. At least I did.