Anna Hyatt Huntington

The Sculptural Work of Anna Hyatt Huntington

A master of naturalistic animal sculputes, Anna Hyatt Huntington was born in 1876 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Adiella Hyatt, an amateur landscape artist, and Alpheus Hyatt, a professor of paleontology and zoology at Harvard University and MIT. During her childhood years, she developed a passion for drawing and an extensive knowledge of anatomy and animal behavior.

After studying several years to become a concert violinist, Huntington switched her studies to sculpture under portrait sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson at his Boston studio. Her first one-woman show, consisting of forty animal sculptures, was held in 1900 at the Boston Arts Club. During this year, Huntington produced her first commissioned work; two Great Danes cut from blue granite for wealthy Boston merchant Thomas Lawson.

After the death of her father and marriage of her sister, Huntington  left Boston, moving to New York City. She attended the city’s Art Students League, studying under marble sculptor George Grey Barnard and Hermon MacNeil, whose sculptures concentrated on American Indian subjects. Huntington studied briefly under Gutzon Borgium, the designer of Mount Rushmore, but left after criticizing his knowledge of animal anatomy. Choosing to be more independent, she started spending most of her time at the Bronx Park Zoo and circuses to model animals. The result of her observations there were her first major works: the 1902 equestrian work “Winter Moon” and the 1908 “Reaching Jaguar”.

Anna Huntington shared a studio with sculptor Abasteria St. Leger Eberle for several years, collaborating in partnership on works for two years. Two of their collaborative works were: “Men and Bull”, which won a bronze medal at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and “”Boy and Goat Playing” which was exhibited at the gallery of the Society of American Artists in 1906. Between 1906 and 1910, Anna Huntington, confident of her skills, traveled several times between New York, Paris and Naples, working on commissions and exhibiting her works.

After an early model of a Joan of Arc equestrian statue gained honorable mention in the 1910 Paris Salon, Huntington received a commission by the City of New York to produce a life-sized bronze statue from the model. After extensive research on medieval armor at the Metropolitan Museum and a search for the perfect horse model, Huntington finished the large-scale “Joan of Arc” clad in a full suit of medieval armor. The unvieling occurred on December 6th of 1915, marking it as New York City’s first monument made by a woman, and the first monument to feature a real woman of history as its subject.

In 1923 Anna Huntington married her husband, railroad heir and philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington, who supported her work both financially and emotionally. Anna Huntington continued to work on her sculptures, winning new commissions including the equestrian work “El Cid Campeador”, the cast-aluminum “Fighting Stallions” at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, and “Diana” installed in 1948 at the National Academy of Design. 

In the late 1930s, Anna and Archer Huntington donated their Fifth Avenue townhouse to the National Academy of Design. A few years later, as Archer Huntington became quite ill, they donated their Haverstraw, New York, estate and zoo to the state of New York. In 1931, Anna and Archer Huntington established  Brookgreen Gardens, the first public sculpture garden in the United States. 

Following Archer Huntington’s death in 1955, Anna Huntington returned to full-time art work, despite being in her 80s. Between 1959 and 1966, she completed five more equestrian statues, including one of the late nineteenth century writer and activist  José Marti, one of a young Abraham Lincoln, and one of a young Andrew Jackson. On Huntington’s ninetieth birthday in 1966 she was still working, reportedly on a bust of the composer Charles Ives. Around the end of the 1960s, Huntington finally retired from creative work. She died on October 4, 1973, in Redding, Connecticut, following a series of strokes at the age of 97.

Note:  The Brookgreen Gardens contain many of Huntington’s works and many figures by other artists, the acquisitions being a boon to struggling artists of the Depression era. Now a National Historic Landmark, it is the most significant collection of figurative sculpture, in an outdoor setting, by American artists in the world. It also has the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and contains thousands of acres of Wildlife Preserve.

William Brickel

Watercolors by William Brickel

Born in England near the Welsh border in 1994,  William Brickel studied Fine Art Photography at Cumberwell College of Arts, graduating in 2017 and earned his Masters Degree the following year at the Royal Drawing School in London. 

The human figure is a recurrent and central concern in Brickel’s work. Depicted with contorted bodies, the figures gaze away from the center and the viewer toward the edge of the picture plane, looking beyond the other figures and the cramped surroundings. If not alone, the brooding figures, when they appear in pairs or groups, playfully and wistfully wrap around and caress one another with enormous, unwieldy hands.

Backgrounds are often more suggestive than explicit; but mindful attention is given to the patterns of fabrics and, particularly, the gradations of light on the forms. A great deal of skill is exhibited in William Brickel’s watercolors. It is not a very tolerant medium; mistakes are hard, almost impossible, to correct and even oil from your skin can effect the paper’s absorption of the color. 

William Brickel’s work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions in the United Kingdom and Europe. His work will be featured at the 2020 Marfa International Exhibition at the August 13th to 16th event held at George Hall in Marfa, Texas.

 

The Faces of Man: WP Photo Set Seven

The Faces of Man:WP Photo Set Seven

“To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.
To take photographs means to recognize—simultaneously and within a fraction of a second—both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers

Yuri Annenkov

Yuri Annenkov, “Portrait of Daniel Geccen”, 1922, Watercolor with Pen and Ink, 44.5 x 37.7 cm,  Private Collection

Born into an old family of noble descent in Petropavlovsk, Russia, near the Sea of Japan, Yuri Annenkov was formally trained as an artist at the St. Petersburg University. There he studied from 1908-1909 under the direction of Savelli Zaideberg, and from 1909-1911 under painter Yan Tsionglinsky of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. Annenkov left Russia in 1911 and traveled to Paris, enrolling at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he met many of his compatriots, including Marc Chagall and sculptor Ossip Zadkine.

While in Paris, Annenkov entered the studio of painter Maurice Denis and printmaker Felix Vallotton, both members of the Les Nabis, a group of young artists transitioning to symbolism and abstract art. During the years 1913 to 1917, while illustrating for text publications, Annenkov confirmed his personal style, rooted in the Constructivist form of the time, but with a contemporary personal interpretation adapted to the genre and medium used.

Annekov regularly contributed to the Russian illustrated weekly magazine  “Tetr I Iskuustvo (Theater and Art)” and a variety of other publications. His first work as a book designer was social-realist writer Maxim Gorky’s 1917 fairy-tale book “Samovar” with illustrations by E Popkova.  Annekov gained notoriety when he adapted his constructivist style to a series of illustrations for Russian poet Aleksandra Blok’s emotional revolutionary poem “Dvenadtsat”. This was one of the first poetic responses to the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, a poem later widely condemned by the Russian intelligentsia.

In 1920 Annenkov joined Mstislav Dohuzhinsky, known for his cityscapes, and architect Vladimir Shchuko in preparing theater sets in Saint Petersburg, under the commission of the Bolshevik government. The work included the massive 1920  production “The Storming of the Winter Palace”, performed on the Palace Square, an effort not only to commemorate the Revolution’s third anniversary but also, by design, an attempt to break the barrier between actors and audience. Annenkov’s 1920 production “Hymn to Liberated Labor”, a one-time, open air spectacle with a cast of four thousand, was staged in front of an emotionally charged audience at the old St. Petersburg stock exchange.

Annenkov, in the years from 1920, started to seriously work in the genre of portrait painting. While in Russia, he painted portraits of the renowned artists and politicians of the era, including Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin, art critic and historian Alexander Benois, and poet and novelist Boris Pasternak. Annenkov’s book “Portraits”, published in 1922, contained eighty portraits, made between 1906 to 1921, of the main figures of Russian art at that time.

Immigrating to Paris in 1924, Annenkov worked as a book illustrator and as both cinema and theater set designer until his death in 1974. He was co-nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for work in the 1953 film “The Earrings of Madame de. . .”, a romantic French drama film by Max Ophüls.

Note: Annekov’s watercolor “Portrait of Daniel Geccen”  is signed in cyrillic and dated 1922 in the upper right corner. The inscription on the obverse, written by the sitter Daniel Geccen states: ‘1924 9 October – 29 March  To my baby friend – my wife, memory about her I will carry through all of my life, let my love and her love never touched by course of time. Yours Dan…’

An Oasis in the City

Photographer Unknown, (An Oasis in the City)

“WIDE, the margin between carte blanche and the white page. Nevertheless it is not in the margin that you can find me, but in the yet whiter one that separates the word-strewn sheet from the transparent, the written page from the one to be written in the infinite space where the eye turns back to the eye, and the hand to the pen, where all we write is erased, even as you write it. For the book imperceptibly takes shape within the book we will never finish.

There is my desert.”
Edmond Jabès, The Book of Margins

Alex Yocu

Alex Yocu, Five Photographs from “The Fight Club” Series, Date Unknown, Moscow

Born in Moscow, Alex Yocu is a photographer and producer of television and internet media. He studied film making at the Moscow School of New Cinema. Yocu is the Studies Director of Photography at the School of Cinema and Television Industry in Moscow and the founder of his own studio Alex Yocu Photography.. Previously, he worked as the in-house photographer for the Gogol Center, Russia’s leading avant-garde theater and arts complex in Moscow.

Yocu started his professional photography in 2010, cooperating with leading Russian theaters. His very impressive portfolio covers fashion, advertising and reportage; but he has established a reputation as one of the leading theatre photographers based in Moscow’s premiere Gogol Center. As a producer and director of photography, Yocu has also created several short internet series and short films. 

In addition to his portrait and commercial work, Alex Yocu has produced several photographic series of behind-the-scenes film, theater, and sports images. These include Kirill Serebrennikov’s 2018 musical biopic “Leto (Summer”; a dance series with Russian professional dancers Alexey Kots, Ygor Sharoyko and Artem Gerasimov; and a series with martial art fighters at a Russian fight club, among others.

Alex Yuco’s first personal photo album “Gogol Center:Backstage” was published in 2017, containing photos from the series “The Backstage Life of the Theater”. The project was started in early 2016 with the idea of capturing artists in a unique borderline state between real life and the stage, including the preparation and backstage moments between scenes. Over fifteen hundred images of two hundred performances were shot, of which five hundred were selected by Kirill Serebrennikov and published in the limited edition photo book.

Will McBride

Photography by Will McBride

Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1931, Will McBride was an American photographer, book illustrator and painter who grew up in Chicago. He studied painting under Norman Rockwell and later attended the National Academy of Design in New York. McBride studied drawing and painting at Syracuse University in New York, earning his BA in Fine Arts in 1953. After serving from 1953 to 1955 in the US Army at its base in Wùrzburg, Germany, he remained in Germany until his death in 2015.

Largely remembered as a celebrated documentarian of the new generation of postwar youth and the sexual revolution in Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s, McBride regularly photographed for a number of European periodicals, including most notably the German youth magazine “Twen.” Working in a documentary style for the purpose of telling a multi-faceted story, McBride would shoot literally hundreds of negatives while on assignment.

In 1963, the magazine “Twen” commissioned Will McBride to shoot a photo-essay on the School of Salem Castle, long considered one of the most elite boarding schools in Europe. McBride’s images chronicle many aspects of the students’ lives from meals and lessons to athletics. “Twen” published a number of photographs from the shoot at the School of Salem Castle, the most famous being “Mike Wäscht mit Anderen Schule, Salem”, a photograph shot in the communal showers. 

Exhibitions of Will McBride’s photography have included those at the Galleria d’Art Moderne in Bologna, Italy; the Dany Keller Galerie in Munich; and the Galerie Argus Fotokunst and the Haus am Waldsee, both in Berlin. In 2004, Will McBride recieved the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize, a lifetime achievement award, from the German Society of Photography.

In 2014 New York’s ClampArt Gallery held a first-time-seen  exhibition entitled “Salem Suite”, which included sixteen related photographs from the Salem shoot that were personally selected by McBride. 

Calathea Majestica

Photographer Unknown, Calathea Majestica

The tropical plant Calathea Majestica is native to South America’s countries of Colombia and Venezuela. Calathea plants are part of the family of plants known as Marantaceae, which is a species of flowering plants from tropical areas such as Africa and South America. Calathea are famous for their wide, green, colorful leaves with stripes of very light green. In nature, these plants, being very tolerant of low light, are found in jungles and at the base of trees

 

New Power

Artist Unknown, (New Power), Computer Graphics, Anime Film Gifs

“Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Any information on the artist or film source would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Yisrael Dror Hemed

Paintings by Yisrael Dror Hemed

Born in Israel in 1975, painter Yisrael Dror Hemed currently lives and works in Netanya, a resort city in north central Israel. He received both his BA in Law and MA in Law from Tel Aviv University. Between 2007 and 2010, Hemed studied under painter and sculptor Maya Cohen Levy of the Kalisher Art School in Tel Aviv.

Hemed’s work, known for his portrait paintings, explores the image of the male figure, both in its cultural and social spheres. His figurative paintings, mainly in oil, are based both on personal relationships as well as people he has photographed in public spaces. The paintings are characterized by their soft tones and suppleness of form, created by his palette choices and the figure placement on the canvas. 

Yisrael Hemed has exhibited in a variety of exhibitions: the Gross Gallery in Tel Aviv, the Egozi Gallery in Tel Aviv, a solo exhibition in 2013 at the Israel Museum of Art in Ramat Gan, which holds several of his paintings in their collection, and various group exhibitions in Israel and abroad. Hemed also had a solo exhibition in 2019, presented by IAILA, in collaboration with Los Angeles’s Department of Cultural Affairs, as part of LBGT Heritage Month. 

Two Things to Remember

Photographers Unknown, (Two Things to be Remembered)

“Two things are to be remembered: that a man whose opinions and theories are worth studying may be presumed to have had some intelligence, but that no man is likely to have arrived at complete and final truth on any subject whatever. When an intelligent man expresses a view which seems to us obviously absurd, we should not attempt to prove that it is somehow true, but we should try to understand how it ever came to seem true. This exercise of historical and psychological imagination at once enlarges the scope of our thinking, and helps us to realize how foolish many of our own cherished prejudices will seem to an age which has a different temper of mind.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

 

Simon de Pury

Simon de Pury, “Monte Carlo in November”, 2019

Born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1951, Simon de Pury is a photographer, art auctioneer and collector. His art career began when he studied Japanese painting techniques at the Tokyo Academy of Fine Arts. He began his auctioning career working for the Swiss auction house Kornfeld and Klipstein in Bern. 

After studying at the Sotheby’s Institute, de  Pury in 1974 began working for Sotherby’s London and Monte Carlo offices, later moving to the new Geneva, Switzerland, branch. He was curator of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection from 1979 to 1986. In 1986, de Pury was appointed chairman of Sotherby’s Switzerland and later became chairman of Sotherby’s Europe.

In 2020, Simon de Pury became artistic director of the new United Kingdom gallery Newlands House, set in an 18th century townhouse in West Sussex. He is overseeing the gallery’s programming, which is dedicated to modern and contemporary art, photography, and design. 

George Inness

George Inness, “Sunset at Etretat”, c 1875, Oil on Canvas, 51.4 x 76.8 cm, Private Collection.

Born in Newburgh, New York, in May of 1825, George Inness grew up on the family farm in Newark, New Jersey. His art training consisted of studying under itinerant artist John Jesse Barker, who had studied with portrait painter Thomas Sully, and a year’s apprenticeship with the  engraving firm of Sherman & Smith and then with Currier & Ives. 

In 1843 Inness was accepted into the National Academy of Design, where he rejected the fashion for sentimental scenes and painted quiet landscapes of the natural world. After taking additional lessons from French landscape painter Régis François Gignoux in 1843, Inness first began exhibiting in New York at the National Academy of Design in 1844. He officially joined the New York art world when he opened his own studio in the city two years later. 

Inness’s first international trip in 1851 took him to Rome and Florence. In Florence, he met the portraitist William Page and almost certainly discussed the works of Titian, which Page often copied and which moved Inness’ style in a more painterly direction. Perhaps most important, through Page, Inness came to know the writings of the Swedish scientist, theologian and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, which increasingly shaped his personal and aesthetic philosophy. During a Paris stop on his way back to the United States, Inness attended the Salon and for the first time saw paintings by the Barbizon school artists. While Inness was inspired by the idea of divine significance in nature, he was drawn to the fresh, loose brushwork and overt emotional significance of Barbizon paintings. 

After a move to Medfield, Massachusetts in 1860, Inness spent four years painting pastoral scenes in the fresh air in an effort to improve his health. In 1866, he received a commission to paint a series on a central theme of Swedenborgian doctrine. Collectively entitled “The Triumph of the Cross,” the three paintings—only “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” survives intact—used the trope of the pilgrim’s journey to manifest the transition from the desolate, natural realm, illuminated only by a glowing cross in the sky, to the verdant spiritual realm. A profile on Inness in the July 1867 “Harper’s Weekly” defined him as a Swedenborgian and marked the first public affiliation of the two men. 

In 1870, Inness began a four-year stay in Europe. In Rome, he rented the studio on the Via Sistina said to have been occupied by Claude Lorrain. During these years, he created landscape paintings primarily in two styles: one group with crisp, geometric spaces that resonate with Swedenborg’s description of the structured character of the spiritual realm, and a second group with generalized spaces and rich, gestural brushwork.

In the summer of 1875, Inness lived in the recently opened grand hotel Kearsarge House at the base of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Inness painted several landscapes of the mountain, concentrating not on the majestic scenery but rather the atmospheric effects he observed. In June 1878, he rented the Dodge estate in Montclair, New Jersey; during the next sixteen years, he would perfect his signature style of painting.

In 1879 and 1883, Inness spent two summers painting on Nantucket Island, where his style continued to change, using softer tones that approached the colored atmosphere and tonal qualities of his late work. In December 1884, he purchased the estate in Montclair and, the following February, moved to the estate permanently, though he continued to retain his studio in New York. His membership in the Society of American Artists, founded in 1878, underscored his commitment to expressive painting. His progressive stance in politics continued with his involvement in Henry George’s single-tax movement and his profound concern for workers’ rights.

Inness’ body of work, which comprises more than 1,150 paintings, watercolors, and sketches, remains an extraordinary testament to his lifelong devotion to landscape painting and his ongoing search for fresh pictorial techniques. Often described as a Tonalist, Inness remains distinct from such artists as James Whistler and Dwight Tryon in his commitment to the Swedenborgian belief in the existence of a relationship between the natural and spiritual realms. 

Armando Cristeto

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Nine

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Nine

“Ah, peace; it was peace, after all, that he wanted! Though not the peace in an empty, hollow void, but a gentle, sunny peace filled with good, tranquil thoughts. All his tender love of life trembled through him at that moment, all the profound yearning for his lost happiness. But then he looked around at the silent, endlessly indifferent peace of nature, saw the river flowing along in the sunshine, saw the grass quivering and moving and the flowers standing where they had blossomed in order to wither and then waft away, saw everything, everything yielding to existence with that mute devotion—and he was suddenly overwhelmed with the sensation of friendship and rapport with the inevitable, which can make us superior to all destiny.” 

—Thomas Mann, Death in Venice and Other Tales

Kintsugi (金継ぎ): The Golden Joinery

Kintsugi (金継ぎ): The Golden Joinery

Translated poetically as ‘golden repair’ Kintsukurai, or ‘golden journey’ Kintsugi, is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery, which became the common practice of restoration by the 17th century.

The kintsugi technique may have been invented around the fifteenth century, under the rule of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. This seems plausible because the invention of kintsugi is set in a very fruitful era for art in Japan. Under Yoshimasa’s rule, the city saw the development of the Higashiyama Bunka cultural movement that was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism; the start of the tea ceremony Sado or the Way of Tea; the tradition of Ikebana called Kado or Way of Flowere; the Noh theater; and the Chinese style of ink painting.

The repair of the broken pottery is achieved by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e (蒔絵) technique, which was used for decoration purposes on pottery. The glue traditionally used to bring the pieces together is the urushi lacquer, which is being sourced for thousands of years from the Rhus verniciflua plant.

Once the repairs are completed, beautiful seams of gold  and silver glint in the conspicuous cracks of the ceramic wares. Every repaired piece is unique, because of the randomness with which ceramics shatters and the irregular patterns formed that are enhanced with the use of metals.

Kintsugi does not disguise the breakage but, philosophically, treats the breakage and the repair as part of the history of the object. The art of Kintsugi has similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Marks of wear by the use of an object are valued by Japanese aesthetics. The repair marks are highlighted, proof of an event in the object’s lifetime, and the object is allowed to continue its existence.

Kintsugi is comprised of three predominant styles: the crack; the piece-method; and the joint-call. In each case the pottery is repaired by a gold, silver, or platinum-dusted epoxy; however the finished results and the techniques used vary.

The most common method of repair is the crack approach where objects are mended with a minimal of lacquer. This method culminates in shining veins of precious metal, which defines the art form. Works restored with the piece-method feature replacement fragments made entirely of gilded epoxy. Pottery repaired using the joint-call technique employ similarly-shaped pieces from other broken wares, combining the two aesthetically different works into one unique unified piece. 

Images are reblogged from kintsugi artisan Joseph Weaver’s site: https://josephweaver.com

Pierre Emō

Pierre Emō: Scenes from Vann Gonzales’s “Un Couteau dans ke Coeur (Knife + Heart)”

French model and actor Pierre Emō first came to the attention of audiences in Germany and France with his appearances in the 2013 film “Only the Fire” by  director and cinematographer Christophe Pellet and the 2014 film “While the Unicorn is Watching Me”, by director Shanti Masud, known for her 2013 “Pour la France”. Emō’s first appearance in a film by director Noel Alejandro was the short award-winning LBGT film “Call Me a Ghost” shown at the 2017 Chéries-Chéris film festival in Paris.

At the age of twenty-four in early 2017, Pierre Emō had already  appeared in five movies, He next co-starred with French actress and singer  Venessa Paradis and actor Félix Maritaud in director Vann Gonzales’s 2018 LBGT murder mystery thriller “Un Couteau dans le Coeur (Knife + Heart)”, which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. 

In 2018, Emō appeared in several films including “Lemon Taste” by Nicky Miller and “Les Fantômes”, a horror thriller directed by Alexandre Vallès. Director Noel Alejandro again cast Emō in two more of his films, the 2018 “The Seed”, a short erotic art film, and the short 2018 drama film “The End”. Emō appeared in a small role for Latvian director Rosa von Praunheim’s 2019 crime thriller “Darkroom”, which was based on a true story and filmed in Germany. 

Pierre Emō lives and works in both Paris and Berlin. On stage, he has played small parts with the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, a German theater company established in 1949 by actress Helene Weigel and playwright Bertoit Brecht.

The photo Images and gifs are from “Un Couteau dans le Coeur” by director Vann Gonzales. The film was shot on 35mm under the direction of cinematographer Simon Beaufils, who oversaturated some scenes in shades of blue and red. The soundtrack features the Gallic band M83.

The images and gifs were reblogged with many thanks to: https://doctordee.tumblr.com

John La Farge

John La Farge, “Swimmer”, 1866, Watercolor, 32.5 × 28.2 cm, Yale University Art Gallery

John La Farge was an American painter, muralist, writer, and stained glass designer. Among his many notable commissions, his decoration of Boston’s Trinity Church placed him among the most prominent artists of the American Arts and Crafts movement. By birth, upbringing and life-style, John LaFarge was a cosmopolite and, judged by his contemporaries, one of considerable personal magnetism.

John La Farge, the son of wealthy French emigrants, was born in New York City in 1835. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College in Maryland, he went to Europe in 1856 to study art. La Farge studied briefly in Paris under the portrait and historical genre painter Thomas Couture, later traveling to England where he discovered the work of the Pre-Raphaelite painters. In 1857, he rented a studio, which he maintained for the rest of his career, in New York’s Tenth Street studio building, where he met the building’s architect Richard Morris Hunt. This was the likely impetus for La Farge’s decision in 1859 to travel to Newport, Rhode Island, and study painting with the architect’s brother, landscape painter and portraitist William Morris Hunt.

In the period of the late 1860s, La Farge cultivated an interest in Japanese art, admiring its patterning and formality, and explored a highly personal style of still-life and open-air landscape painting. By 1875, he was working in stained glass, and a year later, he directed the decorative program for Trinity Church, Boston, designed by architect H.H. Richardson. Through his invention of opalescent glass and his imaginative designing, La Farge  contributed to a revival of the art of stained glass in America and gained an international reputation. 

La Farge experimented with the problems of shifting and deteriorating color, especially in the medium of stained glass. His work rivaled the beauty of medieval windows and added new resources by his use of opalescent glass and by his original methods of layering and welding the glass. Opalescent glass had been used for centuries in tableware; but it had never before been formed into flat sheets for use in stained-glass windows and other decorative objects.

La Farge became a leader in the mural movement, and his commissions for churches, government buildings, and opulent private homes were a welcome source of income for supplies in later years. As an easel painter, John La Farge was associated with the Society of American Artists, the organization of younger, progressive painters opposed to the National Academy of Design. La Farge, though, was also a member of the Academy; and he was extremely concerned with exhibiting his work widely, not just in New York, but across the country.

An inveterate traveler, La Farge made several trips to Europe and two highly publicized Pacific voyages with his close friend Henry Adams: one to Japan in 1886 and one to the South Sea Islands in 1890-1891. He documented his trips with extensive series of watercolors and with a succession of articles and books. His impressions of the Japanese voyage was published in 1887 under the title “An Artist’s Letters from Japan”.

In addition to his design work and writings, John La Farge was also known as a lecturer on art matters; although this great variety of activities became increasingly taxing in his final years. He continued to take on large commissions, however, even as his fragile health became critical. For the Minnesota State Capital at St. Paul, La Farge executed at age 71 four great lunettes representing the history of law. He also created a similar series based on the theme of Justice for the State Supreme Court building located at Baltimore, Maryland.  John La Farge died in 1910 at the age of 75 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Sator Square

 

Photographers Unknown, (The Sator Square; A Collection)

The Sator Square is a word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome in a sequence of characters that reads the same backward as forward. It is a five by five square made up of five five-letter words, consisting of twenty-five letters in total. These twenty-five letters are all derived from eight Latin letters, consisting of five consonants (STRPN) and three vowels (AEO).In particular, thr Square is a square 2D palindrome, which is when a square text admits four symmetries: identity, two diagonal reflections, and 180 degree rotation. As can be seen, the text may be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, or right-to-left; and it may be rotated 180 degrees and still be read in all those ways.

The Sator Square is the earliest dateable 2D palindrome. It was found in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy, at Herculaneum, a city buried in the ash from the 79 AD Mount Vesuvius eruption. It consists of the five Latin words: Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, and Rotes. Other Sator Squares have also been found in excavations under the church os Saint Marie Maggiore in Rome; at Cirencester in Cotswolds, England; at Dura-Europos in Syria; at the Valvisciolo Abbey, Latina, Italy; and as a partial inscription on a rune stone at Närke, Sweden.

“It seemed to him that the Square, itself the accidental masonry of many years, the chance agglomeration of time and of disrupted strivings, was the center of the universe. It was for him, in his soul’s picture, the earth’s pivot, the granite core of changelessness, the eternal place where all things came and passed, and yet abode forever and would never change.” 

–Thomas Wolfe, Lost Boy: A Novella

Looking at Mapplethorpe

Photographer Unknown, (Looking at Mapplethorpe), Photo Shoot, Model Unknown

In June 1989, just a few months after his passing from AIDS, a retrospective of over 150 of Robert Mapplethorpe’s works, titled “The Perfect Moment” was due to open at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, DC. In a misguided attempt to avoid controversy due to the sexually-explicit nature of some of the photographs, the director cancelled the exhibition.

In protest, Mapplethorpe supporters congregated outside the gallery on the evening of June 30, 1989, projecting giant images of his work onto the side of the building, creating a powerful and moving tribute, and demonstrating the strong impact that the artist’s work had made on popular culture.

“I am obsessed with beauty. I want everything to be perfect, and of course it isn’t. And that’s a tough place to be because you’re never satisfied.”

-Robert Mapplethorpe