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Why the Birth of Shakespeare Is the Birth of Modern Art

April 23, 2014, marks the 450 th birthday of William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time and an inescapable influence not just on literature, but also on every form of culture since the 19 th century. Although the canon...Show More Summary

Mythical Villain

The Death of Ravana King of Lanka (1875) by the French painter Fernand-Anne Piestre Cormon (1845-1924). Ravana is the villain in the Hindu epic Ramayana where he kidnaps Rama's wife. Cormon depicts him like an ancient warrior king mourned by his wifes.

Archibald Ramsay, the Right Club and British Fascism

In reviewing the television film Churchill & The Fascist Plot (His­tory Channel), I loved the era, the historical records acc­es­sed and the connection to my other posts on late 1930s Britain. How­ever the title of the programme wasShow More Summary

How Neurocomic Gets Into Your Head

The two “go to” occupations for conveying the idea of genius are usually “rocket scientist” and “brain surgeon.” Only the best minds pursue the mysteries of the outer space beyond our atmosphere or the inner space between our ears. We...Show More Summary

Two Intrusive Elders

Susanna_and_the_Elders by Guerrieri by the Italian painter Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri (1589-1655).

San Francisco - before, during and after the 1906 earthquake

My favourite spot in San Francisco is Ghirardelli Square, created when an Italian chocolatier moved to Calif­orn­ia in 1848 to pursue the gold rush. Later his wife joined him in San Francisco and soon became his business partner. The...Show More Summary


Aeskulap by the English painter Edward Poynter (1836-1919). Looking at the four patients I suspect Aeskulap was more an excuse to show some nudes.

Stephen Colbert and the End of "Stephen Colbert"

On October 17 th, 2005, comedian Stephen Colbert introduced the persona “Stephen Colbert” on the first episode of The Colbert Report by also introducing to the world the concept of “Truthiness.” That bit (the full video’s here) not only...Show More Summary

A history of the Papacy moving to France. To France??

In the book A History of God, Karen Armstrong showed how, in the history of the major monotheistic traditions, the idea of God evolved over time. Of course everything has a history.. but I had never thought of “God” having one. Inevitably...Show More Summary

Museum of Oliver Cromwell: 17th century hero or villain?

Who in their wildest nightmares thought that there would ever be a civil war in England? Who believed that a British king would ever be executed on the lawful orders of 59 judges? Who envisaged that the British Parliament could everShow More Summary

Documenting China’s Fake Case Against Ai Weiwei

“You criticize them too much. If this was 1957 they would have killed you already,” Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s worried mother tells him in a new documentary titled Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, which documents the Chinese government’s fabricated...Show More Summary

Columbus Landing

Columbus Landing by the American painter John Vanderlyn (1775-1852). This painting was commissioned by the Congress in June 1836 for the Capitol Rotunda. Columbus was claimed as a forefather of the modern USA.

Why Does George W. Bush Paint (and Why Do We Look)?

When former President George W. Bush’s self-portraits in the shower and tub slipped into public sight a year ago, the general critical approaches either commented on the amateur quality of the work, on the obvious symbolism of cleansing (if you were a critic and thought he had something to cleanse himself of), or on both. Show More Summary

French Deco architecture in Shanghai between the wars

The first important modern European architect in Shanghai might have been László Hudec. After being a soldier in WW1, he moved to Shanghai in 1918 and opened his own practice in 1925. Hudec designed dozens of buildings in the inter-war...Show More Summary

Freaky Composition

Judith with the Head of Holofernes by theItalian Mannerist painter Jacopo Coppi (1523-1591).

Arcadian Adelaide - too much church, not enough humility

Thistle Anderson was born in 1878 to Scottish parents who migrated to Melbourne when she was a young lass. She joined JC Williamson’s touring theatre company which travelled to Adelaide in 1900. Then she travelled with the company on to New Zealand and Britain. Show More Summary

Audubon Prints at the New York Historical Society

The New York Historical Society show, Audubon's Aviary: Parts Unknown, showcases a breathtaking display of Audubon prints. If you've ever had the slightest interest in birds or the work of John James Audubon (1785-1851), this show will stoke it. The New York Historical Society functioned until 1870 as both an art and a natural history museum. Show More Summary

Loving Wife

A nice illustration to Shakespeares Antonius and Cleopatra by the American artist Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911). It was published in Harper's Monthly Magazine in September 1909.

Why Judy Chicago Still Fights for Feminist Art at 75

Chicago native Judy Cohen Gerowitz became Judy Chicago in 1970 for many reasons. One was to throw off her father’s and husband’s names and the male dominance behind that practice. Another, as shown in the now famous Jerry McMillan photo...Show More Summary

Is an Artist’s Studio a Window into Their Soul?

If the eyes are the windows of the soul, can the windows of an artist’s studio—the vistas they viewed daily for inspiration—offer a glimpse into their soul? In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking...Show More Summary

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