Revelations: The Apparition

Revelations
The Apparition
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

Gustave Moreau, The Apparition, 1876

This piece shows Salome, a woman who, with her dancing, bewitched her mother's husband Herod Antipas. As a reward, she was given the head of John the Baptist. What the hell? This is the idea: "Let me just get naked and dance for my father-in-law so he can give me a saint's head real quick". 

Moreau could be showing a few different parts of the scene. It could be after Salome's dance, with the apparition being her terrifying wish not yet coming to fruition. Or it could be a scene after the beheading, where she feels remorse for her sexy-dance for her father in law... This is just weird.

John the Baptist's head is the clear focal point, though it honestly resembles Jesus' head. Salome is the only completely visible other character, this scene clearly between just the two of them. No other character is important here, only their interaction. 

The detailing on the piece is incredibly delicate, most of it looking as if it was sketched onto the piece as an afterthought - or as if it was unimportant as well, fading away like everything else in the room.

  • 7:00 AM

Revelations: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Revelations
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

Salvador Dali, The Horseman of the Apocalypse, 1970

It's rough, this sketch of the horsemen. But it makes its own message by being so harsh, with every color slicing through the others instead of blending in. Dali's interpretation of the horseman differs from the usual. He doesn't focus on them as a group, more focusing on each individual horseman.

Traditionally, the four horsemen come as one and signify the apocalypse. The color palette Dali uses here perpetuates the hellish aspect, but the unfinished appeal of it changes things. As opposed to the horsemen interpretations of Durer or the like, this piece has less emphasis on their overwhelming presence and more on their entrance. Dali's piece is more frightening for this because the bodies and details are clearly unnecessary. The entrance of the horsemen is the truly scary part - the horsemen are a means to an end.

There are also only three horsemen here. In the Book of Revelations, each horseman represents something different. First is the White Horse, the figure of military prowess, usually referred to as Conquest. Red Horse, or War, signifies mass slaughter, his color specifically being a fiery red. Third: the Black Horse, or Famine. Then comes Pale Horse, the only horse whose rider is explicitly given a name: Death. Out of what is seen of Dali's piece, it seems that Red Horse, Black Horse, and Pale Horse are depicted. Which is fitting for the terrifying scene. Dali seems to focus more upon the terrifying aspects of the horsemen, leaving out White Horse - in many theories, conquest is thought of as a benevolent being, sometimes even as Jesus Christ himself. Dali would have left him out for a reason, then.

  • 7:00 AM

Revelations: The Fisherman, Early Morning

Revelations
The Fisherman, Early Morning
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

Pierre-Étienne-Théodore Rousseau, The Fisherman, Early Morning, 1865

He's alone, making his journey to do as he pleases in the early morning. This isn't your stereotypical apocalypse painting, with fire and brimstone and all that. But it struck me, the lonely figure venturing out into the wilderness.

The figure practically fades into the lush wilderness around him. Under him seems a jungle, above him sparks images of a big, green swamp. He knows exactly what he's doing, where he's going, and how to do it when he gets there. That's something I envy with every ounce of my body. 

Rousseau's color palette is warm, the light of this early morning just peeking through the dense trees. The green is so deep and so complex that it, by itself, gives off the lushness I think Rousseau was aiming for. Honestly, the figure is the subject of the painting, but Rousseau doesn't take huge efforts to accentuate him. He allows him to just be a part of his environment, therefore allowing the viewer to make their own journey through the piece. Kind of funny how much I like this piece, but when I think about it, it all makes sense. He knows what he needs to do and immerses himself in it.  

  • 7:00 PM

Revelations: Triumph of Death

Revelations
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

Pieter Bruegel I, Triumph of Death, 1562

Can't get much more apocalyptic than skeletons battling it out with the living. This scene gives the viewer a disturbing, yet funny, glimpse into the mind of Bruegel. The entire battle is set in a sickly yellow-green hue, emphasizing the awful scene.

Of course, all of Bruegel's pieces have political context and represent the political climate of his period. Here, he represents a crazy scene with all life being taken off of Earth indiscriminately. The high-set horizon allows the scene to take over the canvas, with chaos everywhere. There are two points of view in the piece, which I found fascinating in their integration. Firstly comes Death, obviously, on his white horse on the left side of the painting, leading his troops to destroy life. But secondly comes the political message. On the bottom of the piece, Bruegel depicts individuals in different stations in life. No one is safe from Death, no matter how wealthy. He shows a king, a cardinal, chess players, a couple, and a knight - and all are slaughtered.

This piece is all too similar to the events occurring in Antwerp during this period and Bruegel's message is clear: death cares not about social class nor status.

  • 7:00 AM

Revelations: The Seven Works of Mercy

Revelations
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

Caravaggio, The Seven Works of Mercy, 1607

The seven corporal works of mercy are as follows: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbour the harbourless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. Caravaggio shows each here in his definitive chiaroscuro style.

Caravaggio developed his style through many hardships and expressed his suffering through his art. This piece captures a tone that makes all of the figures meld together in one snake-like, upward movement. The setting of the painting is an interesting choice as well, as he could have painted seven different scenes rather than one containing them all. By doing this, he makes the works meld into one grand act, one true moment of true benevolence. 

These poor beggars in the piece were clearly cast out and left at the mercy of those who could do something to end their suffering. This really struck me as an odd thing to paint, so much pain and suffering in their faces when the man who painted them was living so large. Caravaggio shows his discipline and his humble upbringing, perhaps even his own inner suffering, to remind those around him that he is one of them. 

  • 7:00 AM

Revelations: Agony in the Garden

Revelations
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

El Greco, The Agony in the Garden, 1597

With intensely contrasting colors, El Greco creates forced perspective and a strong focus upon Jesus' conversation with God. In the Bible, he is described as discovering the true meaning of agony, pleading with God and saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it." 

Overwhelmed with sadness and pain, Jesus sheds his tears which, in the Gospels, are said to fall as drops of his blood onto ground beneath him. The three apostles are seen sleeping in the cave, oblivious to his agony. El Greco frees the scene from structure and forms a fluid background instead of showing division, all the shapes further accentuating Jesus in dead center. It's incredible how he puts in every important part of the scene but manipulates their shapes so that Jesus is the sole focal point, the colors around him showing his inner turmoil and fear. The harsh diagonal colors and light contrast the curves of the figures and the rocks. The bleak background and lack of folliage really place Jesus in total environment of sorrow and anguish. All others in the piece are sickly in appearance, throwing the viewer in as an onlooker of Jesus' private battle. 

  • 7:00 AM

Revelations: Kiss of Judas

Revelations
Kiss of Judas
Curated by Arsam Yazdani

Giotto, Kiss of Judas, 1304

It marked the beginning of the end, the betrayal of all betrayals. With a kiss, Judas single-handedly destroyed any hope of Jesus' survival or continued mission for peace. The first thing you feel as you look into the piece is the movement, the harsh emotions and though that a sense of the magnitude of the situation. The scene is chaotic, but Giotto artfully pulls all the focus to the interaction in the middle, the rest just background colors compared to Judas' bright yellow drapery.

Giotto drapes all his figures heavily, but really focuses primarily on faces. Jesus and Judas face off in the middle, their division marking the division between the sides of the piece. One side being the disciples and the other being the Roman soldiers Judas brought to take Jesus. The kiss not only signifies a physical betrayal, but also visibly shows the split, both spiritual and literal, between Jesus and the Roman Empire. Judas, his trusted friend, helps break apart Jesus' inner circle just for coin.

  • 7:00 AM

Art in Metamorphoses: Jupiter and Semele

Art in Metamorphoses
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn


Ricci, Jupiter and Semele, 1695
"As she was ignorant 
Of the game she was playing.
She laughed 
To have won the simple trick
That would wipe her out of existence

So easily. 'I want to see you,' she said,
'Exactly as Juno sees you when she opens
Her arms and body to you. As if i were Juno,
Come to me naked-in your devine form.'
Too late"
-Ovid's Metamorphoses

One of Jupiter's many lovers, Semele, is with child, and a jealous Juno goes after the girl. Posing as a nurse, Juno begins to talk with Semele about the father of her child and Semele starts to question the true identity of the father of her child. When Jupiter comes to visit Semele the next day, she asks a request for him, to which he says he will grant whatever she wishes. Semele asks Jupiter to come to her in his godlike form and show her his true self. Reluctant to do so and sorry that he ever promised her anything, Jupiter unveils his bright supernatural self. Upon seeing this image of immortality, Semele cannot bare the brightness and is immediately incinerated. Desperate to save his child, Jupiter takes the baby from Semele's womb and sews the baby onto his side. Later, Bacchus is born from Jupiter's side, and that is why the god of wine is said to have been 'twice born.'

Right before the crazy immolation, Ricci paints Jupiter and Semele as Jupiter reveals himself to her. Clearly he has a skill for curvaceous bodies, Ricci does a nice job of making the scene intimate between the two bodies, but also hides the most important character of the baby by having Semele's body facing away. Also her foot underneath her leg sticks out to me because it seems quite small and like it wouldn't fit the rest of her body. Beyond that I think this painting is a fair representation of the myth and Semele's face turning away and lifting up the blue draping lets the viewer see that her wish will not turn out in her favor.

  • 7:00 AM

Art in Metamorphoses: Pyramus and Thisbe

Art in Metamorphoses
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn


Baldung Grien, Pyramus and Thisbe, 1530

"'Remember how we died. Remember us
By the colour of your fruit.
So when men gather your fruit, and crush it ripens,

'Let them thing of out deaths,'
She spoke, then set the point of the warm sword
Beneath her breast and fell on it.

With her last strength she wound his with her arms
and legs."
-Ovid's Metamorphoses

The original Romeo and Juliet. Forbidden lovers by their parents' disapproval, Pyramus and Thisbe fight for their love by secretly meeting and talking through a hole in the wall between their two houses. With plans to run away and meet at a spring not far off, the two set off one night. Thisbe, the first to arrive, is greeted by a lioness drinking at the spring. Frightened, the girl flees to a cave and waits, leaving behind her veil. When Pyramus arrives, the lioness has departed and left behind a shredded veil with blood streaks for a previous hunt. Pyramus recognizes the veil as Thisbe's. Sure that his forbidden love has been killed by the lioness, Pyramus uses his dagger to take his own life. When Thisbe believes the coast is clear of all lionesses, she returns to the meeting place to find Pyramus dead, and proceeds to kill herself in the same fashion. It is told that the loves spilled blood forever turned the forest's white mulberries red.

The dark sky of the night and the hint of the moon behind the clouds give this painting the intimate feeling that this union was secret. With that secret comes the loneliness, and no one to help comfort Thisbe as she stands over her lovers dead body. The body is painted relaxed as if Pyramus is taking a nap waiting for Thisbe to awaken him, but of course we know that she will soon join him in his everlasting slumber. Though what confuses me about this painting is the lack of shock, and little desperation or motion. One would think that Thisbe would be terrified and looking to save her love or screaming for help, but she looks at him with sorrow and understanding of both their fates.  

  • 7:00 PM

Art in Metamorphoses: Echo and Narcissus

Art in Metamorphoses
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn


Waterhouse, Echo and Narcissus, 1903
"The moment Echo saw Narcissus
She was in love. She followed him
Like a starving wolf
Following a stag too strong to be takled.
And like a cat in the winter at a fire
She could not edge close enough
To what singed her, and would burn her.
She almost burst 
With longing to call out to him in somehow
Let him know what she felt.
But she had to wait
For some other to speak
So she could snitch their last words
With whatever sense they might lend her."
-Ovid's Metamorphoses


Caravaggio, Narcissus, 1599 
Narcissus, considered the boy next door who girls and men alike cannot control their attraction for, would rather be out hunting then indulging in the attention of his fans. A nymph cursed by Juno is forced to only speak the last words of the sentences she hears. The nymph's name is Echo, and when Echo falls for Narcissus, she waits patiently for someone else's words so that she may tell him her feelings. The story goes that Narcissus does not feel the same for Echo and the nymph proceeds to beg the gods to punish the man for not loving her back. This prayer is received by Nemesis, the god of revenge. For Echo's revenge, Nemesis finds Narcissus after a long days hunt and punishes him by having him fall in love with is refection in the stream.

Narcissus has been painted through the years looking into his refection and withering away with self absorption. Earlier works, such as this Caravaggio painted in 1599, shows  pieces new techniques and perspective, which this particular myth allowed. Waterhouse painted Echo in the scene as well and also puts Narcissus laying all the way down to the stream. This positioning and the other character adds to Narcissus' self-obsession to not even notice his almost lover. Both paintings show a different type of loneliness in them. The loneliness of Echo as she watches her love in Waterhouse's, and the complete darkness of being still and alone in Caravaggio's demonstrate the transformation of the story over the years.

  • 7:00 AM

Art in Metamorphoses: Fall of Phaeton

Art in Metamorphoses
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn


Rubens, Fall of Phaeton, 1605

"'You God of the Gods,
If my annihilation 
Has been decided, why drag it out?
Where are your thunderbolts
To finish the whole thing quickly
If I am to end in fire
Let it be your fire, Oh God,
That would redeem it a little.
I can hardly speak.'"
-Ovid's Metamorphoses

Determined to find his father, and prove that his father is, in fact, Apollo, Phaeton goes to see his absent dad and asks for a favor. Apollo, being a show-off like most Gods, tells his son that he will give his whatever he wishes. Phaeton then asks to drive his chariot and light the sky. Upon this request, Apollo explains the difficulty of the task, his clear concern, and is generally not supportive of the idea. Phaeton, being ignorant and a smart-ass, tells his new-found father, that if they are related then this task should be a breeze.

Setting off, Phaeton proceeds to light the whole earth on fire, destroying everything the in its path. The horses go mad, and Phaeton is out of control. The Earth tells Zeus the above quote and pleads for him to end her suffering by ending Phaeton. Zeus eventually has no choice and throws a thunderbolt into the son of Apollo.

Ruben's painting of this scene is cluttered and confusing, but I enjoy that because I can only image this myth being exactly that. Parents making wrong choices, kids being stupid, and the big man having to think on his feet to end it all...and all of that happening so quickly. I can only think that Ruben's used all of this fast action to paint Phaeton falling from the chariot. Looking at this piece, I don't know where to start. I understand that the bolt has been thrown by the light in the sky, but the horses and and people are everywhere, moving in terror and hoping not to get burned. I really enjoy the darkness at the bottom of the painting, I think it perfectly fits the falling of Phaeton into the darkness he created.

  • 7:00 AM

Art in Metamorphoses: Nessus and Deianira


Art in Metamorphoses
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn

Reni, Nessus and Deianira, 1621

"'You fool,' roared Hercules,
'Do you think your horse hooves are equal
To your mad idea?
Do you think you can plant your family tree
Between me and mine?
Nessus, the cure for you is on it's way.
Niether respect for me 
Nor your father's howls in hell
Chain on his wheel of fire
Can deflect you from the forbidden woman.
But I shall overtake you, 
Not on my feet, but flying
On the feather of a weapon.'"
-Ovid's Metamorphoses

As Hercules and his new bride are traveling together, the two approach a river. Being a gentleman, Hercules allows the Bull, Nessus, to carry his beloved across stream. While uneasy on the back of the beast, Deianira jumps aboard the ride of her life. Down the river, Nessus falls madly for his rider and attempts to take Deianira away. Running off with Hercules's new bride, the hero notices and after reciting the above quote kills the bull with a single arrow.

On Nessus' deathbed, he orders Deianira to take some of his blood, telling her that it is a love potion and should Hercules ever stray, the blood of the bull would bring him back to her. Down the long, winding road of marriage, Hercules does become distant to his beloved, so Deianira sends her husband a gift laced with the blood. Hercules then deteriorates quickly and the blood causes him terrible pain and misery. Begging for death, Hercules dies and Nessus gets his revenge. Meanwhile, Deianira, feeling just horrible about the whole situation, kills herself.

Reni's painting takes us back in the story to Nessus' love for Deianira and fleeing with his prize. Deianira is shown uneasy and slightly frightened by her abductor. She looks off and reaches for her husband, who's behind them on the shore. Hercules is about to throw his arrow and save the day once again. This piece doesn't leave much else too look at besides the three figures, but the clothing and bodies are done well and I really enjoy Nessus' emotion as he holds on to Deianira.

  • 7:00 AM

Art in Metamorphoses: Venus and Adonis

Art in Metamorphoses 
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn


Titian, Venus and Adonis, 1554

"And this miraculous baby of his sister,
Sired by his grandpa, just not born of a brush
Barley a boy, in the blink of an eye is a man."
-Ovid's Metamorphoses

Adonis, the child of Myrrha who bedded her father and then transformed into a tree, was born from this tree with the help of the goddess of childbirth, Lucina. Venus immediately falls for the child and takes Adonis under her protection. Venus puts Adonis under Proserpina's care, but she too falls for the child. As this conflict of interest arises, Jupiter enters the feud and settles the goddesses with an agreement. The agreement stated that Adonis would spend part of the year with Venus and part with Proserpina.

In Metamorphoses, Ovid explains how Venus was pierced with one of cupid's arrows when Adonis was birthed from the tree. Titian's painting of Adonis struggling to leave Venus illustrates the lust Venus feels for the boy. Also, painted in the background by the tree we see Cupid sleeping and his arrows hanging in the tree. Adonis, probably off to his other maiden, Proserpina, looks at Venus without much attraction, but rushing to leave her. Venus, literally lovestruck by Cupid's arrow begs for her love to stay. The phenomenon is strange to me because of the back story. I mean Adonis' mother, who is also his sister, and who's grandpa is also his father, came from a tree to be sort of mothered by Venus, who then also falls in love with him. That sort of incest is hard to come back from, I can only imagine the struggles.

  • 7:00 AM

Art in Metamorphoses: Abduction of Persephone on a Unicorn

Art in Metamorphoses
Centuries of Ovid's Influence
Curated by Natalie Dockhorn


Durer, Abduction of Persephone on a Unicorn, 1516

The stories of Metamorphoses has given many artists stories and myths to research and paint through the years. Ovid's Metamorphoses shares short poems and compacts these stories that have not only become world renowned poetry, but also a chance to make some fantastic art.

Here, in Durer's etching of the Abduction of Persephone, Hades has spotted Persephone and fallen for her, without warning he snatches the helpless girl and takes her to the underworld. Ovid writes this story saying, "He fell in love/And snatched her away-/Love pauses for nothing/Terrified she screamed for her mother,/And screamed for her friends. But louder/And again and again to her mother."

Durer captures Persephone's fear perfectly as she struggles with Hades reaching for her mother or a friend. Hades holds on to the girl fiercely, Durer draws his god-like figure strong and well attached to the horse with his muscular leg, and he takes his prize with no question. The detailed bodies and intricate clouds scream Durer and also shows his knowledge of human bodies as well as emotion and movement throughout the piece.

  • 7:00 AM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Olive Trees

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth

Vincent Van Gogh, Olive Trees, 1889

The final piece. Van Gogh's paintings in his later life are some of my favorite paintings of all. This period of his life, though dark, was also his most creative. By 1888, the year before the creation of this piece, Van Gogh's panic attacks and epileptic fits grew in frequency, one of which led to him chasing Gauguin around with a knife and threatening his life. Later that day he cut his ear off and gave it to a prostitute. After these fits became too intense and far too frequent, Van Gogh committed himself to an asylum.

In this asylum, he got in touch with the more intense, darker elements of his art . He couldn't paint or draw for long periods of time without having an attack, but those pieces he did complete were very different from the ones of the past. His work became darker, this piece in particular showing the type of place his mind was. The trees blend seamlessly with the rolling hills, the movement and chaos of the piece unmistakably Van Gogh, but something is different. His style is shaky, the movement turbulent, and this new technique was visible in all of his work while in the asylum, especially in Starry Night - which remains his most popular work.

Van Gogh's popular works aren't the things that enchant me, though. He is absolutely part of his canvas, painting his emotions just as deftly as he paints these trees. Through, and possibly because of, all he endured, his art wasn't just a talent or a calling. It became an outlet to work things out on, to share with the world. He was so critical on himself, trying to end his life because he felt he had failed in his art and was never good enough. There are always tortured artists, but Van Gogh holds a special place in my heart for never feeling his work, in a caliber of its own, was never quite good enough - even though he became legendary to everyone else. That takes a special kind of person, and an even more special kind of person, to be strong enough to put these painful, vulnerable thoughts on a canvas and make them into something so beautiful.

  • 7:00 AM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: The Fairy-Feller's Master Stroke

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth

Richard Dadd, The Fairy-Feller's Master Stroke, 1855-64

While in a criminal asylum, where he created all of his most celebrated pieces, Dadd painted this piece over nine years, inspiring his cryptic poetic commentary of it. The poem itself is extensive (and inspired a Queen song), though its end lines seem to represent Dadd's mental state well. His piece completely reflects the chaos in his mind, even with the amount of detail he put in. Using a miniature layering technique, some of the piece seems three-dimensional, exemplifying his rather impressive skill as a miniaturist. He deemed the piece unfinished, with the lower left corner only sketched in. The poem has even been viewed as a description of the split second where Dadd decided to attack his father and seal both of their fates.

"What here I’ve said from fancy’s wing
A sense supporting of my need
You may deny – say – no such thing

’Tis all wrong every bit indeed.

Well! to your judgment I must bow
Freely it’s exercise allow
You perhaps to such are more inured.
Your notions may be more endured
But whether it be or be not so
You can afford to let this go
For nought as nothing it explains
And nothing from nothing nothing gains."

He entered this asylum shortly after an interesting sequence of events. While on a trip in Egypt, Dadd took a boat down the Nile and had a fit of sorts (now believed to be caused by sunstroke) and became violent. He believed he was under the mental control of the Egyptian god Osiris. Upon his arrival home, he was diagnosed with an unsound mind and went with his family to the countryside to recover. His diagnosis was proved all too true when he decided his father was the Devil in disguise and stabbed him to death. Then he fled to France and, en route to Paris, tried to kill another tourist with a razor. Which is when they put him in the criminal ward of the Bethlem psychiatric hospital - it was probably time. After 20 years there, he was moved to the Broadmoor asylum where he later died.

The piece depicts a tense scene between the forest folk, with the Fairy Feller (woodcutter) raising his axe to split a tree in honor of serving the forest folk queen. The Patriarch, who Dadd identified as himself, is raising his hand in a gesture for the woodcutter to bow to his new queen. Dadd was incredibly fond of Shakespeare's fairy descriptions, even putting Oberon and Titania in the midst of all of this chaos all too reminiscent of his own life.

  • 7:00 AM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Yard with Lunatics

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth

Francisco Goya, Yard with Lunatics, 1794

Goya himself said that this piece, part of a series of 11 pieces painted on tin, was to be "devoid of fantasy or fiction." Marking a significant change in his art, these pieces do not show daydreams and bright colors, instead they give us a peek into Goya's deteriorating mental state. He abandoned all of his past lightness in favor of using his talents to deal with the demons in his mind. This piece he described as “…a yard with lunatics, and two of them fighting completely naked while their warder beats them, and others in sacks—a scene I witnessed…”
Here, Goya doesn't take the usual approach, using chiaroscuro to lighten and exaggerate the scene. Instead, he allows it to be as dark as it is in his mind, shadows playing their own games and wrapping the scene in claustrophobic darkness. Art historian Arthur Danto spoke of the piece, saying Goya went from painting "a world in which there were no shadows to a world in which there was no light". Each lunatic is in their own world, part of the moment but so very much in their own. One sits on the ground, facing the viewer instead of the conflict happening right behind him. Goya artfully creates multiple focal points here, instead of making the two fighting in the middle the only thing to look at.


In his later life, Goya started to paint more and more political pieces with hidden messages abounding. Instead of painting members of Spanish court as before, he began to paint his own life and criticize culture with his work. During this period, asylums were more like holes to throw the psychotic into and keep them away from normal citizens instead of to treat their illnesses. Goya's inner torment and fear of mental illness seeps through the piece, making the viewer painfully aware of his grief. His own experiences during this time are exposed, with his own mental illness developing - the voices in his head getting louder, his hearing deteriorating. Makes me wonder which one of these lunatics Goya views as himself.
  • 7:00 PM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Death of the Virgin

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth

Caravaggio, Death of the Virgin, 1606

Caravaggio is such a bad-ass. I have to say that right now before I write anything else. He was commissioned to do this painting by a Vatican official for his family chapel in a public church. His piece was deemed unworthy of the site. Probably wise.

Though the technique is, as always, spot-on, the piece itself is brutal. The vivid reds don't inspire thoughts of calm, especially not in such a rough scene. Mary's entire form is completely lit, no one else getting the kind of focus she is. Her lolling head, hanging arm, and swollen, spread feet are disturbing at best, the emotions of the apostles around her just exacerbating the discomfort of the viewer. He's just too good.

I myself, looking at the piece, feel upset, then just plain awful as I see the extreme grief splashed across the apostles' faces. Caravaggio totally abandons religious iconography here, leaving nothing of the respectful representations in religious devotionals and virtually bereft of all holiness. She is human here.

  • 7:00 AM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Mystic Nativity

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth


Botticelli, Mystic Nativity, 1500

Spurred by Girolamo Savonarola, Botticelli's art style evolved completely, twisting into something far different from anything he had done before. The colors were darker and the subject matter even more so.

Here, Botticelli depicts his own Nativity scene, but it looks more apocalyptic. Botticelli's transformation from Birth of Venus to this piece required not just his own mental transformation, but also inspiration from one already farther gone than him. Savonarola was a fanatic religious reformer, and one who targeted Botticelli's prime benefactor: Lorenzo Medici. Lorenzo fell victim to harsh criticism from Savonarola, who preached of fire and brimstone for the immoral and for aristocrats. He also railed against the general corruption of the Catholic Church.These sermons, witnessed by Botticelli, had profound effects on both his work and his social standings. Savonarola took Botticelli from the brightest fame to the darkest anonymity, this piece being one of his final works after Savonarola's death. Caught up in the fervor and fear that zealotry wrought upon the public, Botticelli's art metamorphosed from his light, detailed religious pieces to brooding, apocalyptic scenes that brilliantly reflected the fear in his heart of divine judgement all too well.

  • 7:00 AM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Awakening Slave

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth

Michelangelo, Awakening Slave, 1525-30

It's so unfinished. He can't escape the medium he's been brought out of, even his posture seems tense; like he's stretching to break free from the stone. But Michelangelo didn't get to free him and his five counterparts for Pope Julius's tomb, leaving him entombed in his own medium.

Honestly, the piece conveys an incredible amount of emotion and meaning just as much unfinished as I think it possibly could finished - perhaps even more. The strenuous creation of Julius's tomb, continually being downgraded, further matches the unfinished creations meant for it, its planned grandeur never quite achieved.

Michelangelo's talent for what he did has been analyzed by many, given far too many diagnoses - some ludicrous and others justifiable, ranging from depression to high-functioning mental disorders of all sorts - but this talent created some of the most living sculptures existing.

He seems alive, like he's actually rising from the stone. But that's the thing about Michelangelo that's so fantastic. The figures in this series don't need to be out of the stone. They, by remaining inside it, tell their own story and express their own feeling - something that would completely change if they were removed from themselves.

It's like taking them out of their skin.
  • 7:00 AM

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Garden of Earthly Delights

Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth

Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights, 1504

Insane root. Bosch's piece, when I first saw it, confused me. As it should, but the chaotic nature of the subject matter made my eyes unable to focus on one part of the scene. This triptych shows the actions of humans on Earth and their inevitable doom inside an egg-man.

Bosch's work has been analyzed for years and years. People wonder if he was mentally ill, on some types of 14th century drugs, or actually just like this. Here's the thing: Bosch lived a strictly monastic lifestyle, and during that period there wasn't much belief in forgiveness for transgressions. It's more of a one-and-done kind of thing. Which would lead someone completely immersed in that type of mind-space, always terrified of divine judgement, to be a little wacky. Bosch seems to work through this fear here, in a chaotic way that many people blame on less complex causes.

I could talk about lead poisoning, exhaustion, malnutrition, even ergot poisoning in hopes of explaining Bosch's incredible, inexplicable talent. But that would do no good. It's there, chaotic and dystopian, and inspired so many works later. I don't know how many paintings I've used the word Bosch-esque to describe. This piece is special because it's completely unlike any painting of the period, using the same triptych technique and using the three canvases to make something truly dynamic.

  • 7:00 AM

Haut Boys: Luncheon of the Boating Party

The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu


Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881

Clearly a much different style of clothing and portrayal of characters, Luncheon with the Boating Party brings about a vastly different style of art. The New Impressionist Movement brings a mixture of realism with a hint of artistic qualities.

Instead of focusing on one man, we’re instead looking at the three prominent men at the foreground of the painting. All three men are well proportioned and well built – sun’s out, guns out! The bushy beard on the left is an asset to be applauded for. Maintaining the hair is a difficult task, as I hear. We also have the debonair man on the right, leaning in to talk to the woman in blue. Clearly he’s a suave man, able to handle the ladies – or lady in this case. That’s a bonus. The ginger man on the bottom right however, seems a little lacking. He can’t even properly sit in his chair correctly, not to mention that he’s staring in an unamused manner towards something.

Renoir does a fantastic job painting layers in his art, giving each masterpiece a sense of reality and space. This one in particular, the people and the food perfectly set on the table continuously layer further and further, the background full of people, but without the messy and chaotic feel. 

Overall, though each man has his positives, they’re just slightly too mediocre. Nothing about them particularly stand out, though the painting itself, as a whole does. So with heavy hearts, we vote to reject all candidates in this painting.

So in all, if one must take something out of this influx of "Haut Boys," it's that we appreciate fine art and fine boys. 

  • 7:00 AM

Haut Boys: Waterseller of Seville

The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu

Velazquez, Waterseller of Seville, 1618 

Those wrinkles are deeper than the Grand Canyon. (Burn Notice!) Thank Da Vinci it’s not the elder man nor the ghost dude in the back nominated as hotties. It’s the waterseller boy. His face is cute and angular, and he’s got a lovely non-chalant expression to him. The boy seems humble enough. Perhaps Durer can learn from him.

But if the judge does not know, a majority of watersellers are famously depicted in Spanish stories as a gratifying soul in the large city, especially on a hot summer day. They bring relief to those in dire need of a cup of water. Despite the focus of cute boys, the beautiful portrayal of water in this painting by Valázquez is absolutely phenomenal. Each droplet that rolls carelessly down the water jug seems almost magically ephemeral – translucent and perfect. Valázquez’s technique for his portrayal of the liquid is absolutely gorgeous and very much noteworthy – almost as perfect as the boy.

The light source from the left also shines perfectly to highlight and contour the faces of the characters within the painting. But the location of the painting, Seville, also plays a large part into the attire of the characters. Though Seville was considered one of the richest cities in Spain, just akin to any other city, modern or ancient, there was the poor that lived in the outskirts. Some consider this waterseller to be around the outside of the beautiful city, for the dull surroundings of the painting does not match to imagined luxury of the wealthy. 

Who doesn’t love a rags to riches story? Waterseller Boy is hired!

  • 7:00 AM

Haut Boys: Self Portrait

The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu

Durer, Self Portrait, 1498


Look at that mane of glory. His hair automatically makes him a winner. Merely glancing at his careful posture, elegant clothing, and slightly haughty side glance, this self portrait of Durer introduces himself as the perfect Renaissance man. He also seems to illustrate his high status with the attitude and the fact that he’s taller than the rolling mountains and hills in the background. So he’s elevated himself, literally and metaphorically. What a modest man.

Finally, the realism kicks in here, with almost normal body proportions. His hands aren’t overly sized, nor is his arms extraordinarily bulky. Not to mention, he’s got a great fashion sense – his hat matches perfectly with his other attire. In fact, he really likes to emphasize his aristocratic style with that engraving in the back that translates to “gentleman.” Clearly, not the most modest candidates for the audition, but nonetheless, Durer seems like a relatively plausible member for the band.

We’d like to proudly announce that the personality that screams diva will be accepted into the band.
  • 7:00 PM

Haut Boys: Man in Armor

The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu

Piombo, Man in Armor, 1512

More like Haut Man, with his Ketchell-esque facial hair style, like the Boy with a Greyhound, whether it’s his gleaming armor or his critical gaze, this unknown man has an odd, tempting side. His side gaze definitely has a hint of malice, which doesn’t seem too appealing. But we really can’t blame him. This seems to be the “manly” style of the time, and clearly, he’s a follower, not a leader. Moving on.

His militaristic style gives him a sense of superiority and menacing power. His posture, definitely as a man of power with his strong left shoulder, and holding a perhaps makeshift weapon of some sort gives a chilling, bloodthirsty look. Especially his stink eye look, it won’t entice the public were he to debut. The sharp eyebrows and bright light that bounces off his shiny silver armor just doesn’t do the man justice in terms of being in a boy band. Perhaps he’s a kind, caring person, but there’s no trace of that within this painting. 

I’m sorry, but we decline to admit him into the Haut Boys band. Haut Men, maybe.

Editor's Note: We at MKCPT vehemently disagree with Ms. Xu on this one. We believe Man in Armor to be absolutely smoldering, and his addition to Haut Boys would bring the important adult female demographic (and their pocketbooks) to the band.
 
  • 7:00 AM

Haut Boys: Boy with a Greyhound


The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu


Veronese, Boy with a Greyhound, 1570 

Admittedly not the most attractive at first glance, fangirls and fanboys may wonder why we scouted him into the Haut Boy band. But do not doubt the keen eyes of the scouts. Check out his well-defined side profile and his cherry red lips. This is untouched by our makeup artists. Not to mention, just take a closer peek at his self perm–well done for a self-attempt. And though we must admit, his pants and leggings are slightly offsetting and his shoes are just too dull, he is needed within the band.

We kind of need him for his aesthetic visual, but mostly we require his family’s donations. After all, he is from Colleoni family of Bergamo. The handsome chap has a family chapel to call his own, so we’re in desperate need of his family investments, considering we have none.

Though there’s no immediately outstanding section of the the painting, and the green attire is almost too green to be aesthetically pleasing, the aura of the boy and his lean greyhound give viewers a sense of powerlessness, perhaps just from his gaze.

His flaming charisma shall be an intense addition to the Haut Boys. Congrats, Greyhound Boy. You’ve passed the auditions.
  • 7:00 AM

Haut Boys: Three Philosophers

The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu


Giorgione, Three Philosophers, 1508

Once again not the main figure, but rather the man in the back, has caught the eye of the Haut Boy scouter. The artsy man with the with the sharp jaw bone that muses into the forest seems to be as smart as he is attractive – which can be a great contribution to the Haut Boys band.

With an aura of mystery and almost weightlessness surrounding the painting, Giorgione portrays the three men of clearly different ethnicities with an alluring style. All contemplating something fascinating, their relationship to each other, besides the mutual job title, seems obscure. And yet, each man compliments the others in terms of placing and color. There’s a lovely balance of light colors on the outside and the tomato red in the middle.

Not to mention the youngest one in white is delicious. Haut Boys? Check.

  • 7:00 AM

Haut Boys: Joachim Takes Refuge in the Wilderness

The Haut Boys
The Audition for the Newest Art History Boy Band – The Haut Boys
Curated by Susie Xu

Giotto, Joachim Takes Refuge in the Wilderness, 1303-06

Introducing the Haut Boys Auditions for the world’s first (and hopefully final) Art History boy band. Derived from a lack of talent in the real world cute boys in paintings, the following is a compilation of potential members for the world phenomenon. Take a seat and enjoy.   

The first painting hottie appears in early 1303 in Giotto’s Joachim Takes Refuge in the Wilderness. Fear not, the eye candy mentioned is not Joachim (the old man with a plate on his head), but the Shepherd on the left. Though rather crude in drawing, he clearly has the potential to be someone drool worthy. With his piercing gaze, Nick Jonas hair, plus his natural eyeliner this shepherd boy just needs a friendly smile to be a winner. 

Though his first photoshoot seems a bit lacking, with the flatness, cabbage trees, dog-like sheep, and that one exiled old man asking for help, overall Shepherd Boy #1 doesn’t seem to appreciate the surroundings, or the fact that his friend may or may not be flipping him the bird. 

The camera lights also don’t seem to be functioning correctly for there’s no light source. Clearly photographer Giotto needs to take a break–permanently.  

Either way, Little Johnny, as we’ve come to name him, makes the cut for Haut Boys.

  • 7:00 AM

Leading Ladies: Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes

Leading Ladies
Strong Women in Art
Curated by Katie Sloan

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, 1625

Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the most renowned painters of her time after Caravaggio. And she was a woman. Female painters weren't usually accepted by the art community during this time period. However, Gentileschi became part of the Accedemia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. She was the firt female painter to be invited to the Accedemia. Gentilechi's subjects in her paintings are usually strong and suffering women. She sought to tell their stories since she was also a strong woman, striving to make her name in art while being held back because of her gender. Gentileschi's skills as a painter are unquestionable. Her subjects are life-like and the detail is amazing. Especially in the drapery, one can see in this painting in the subject's clothes and the curtain above their heads. 

The story of Judith is exactly something that Gentileschi would like to paint. Holofernes went to Judith's house and told her they were to be married. When she refused the not-so-proposing proposal, he proceeded to rape her. Judith took the case to court and Holofernes was found guilty but with no consequences for his actions. Judith took justice into her own hands and snuck into Holofernes' tent with her maidservant, where they beheaded him. Judith makes herself a vigilante, seeking her own justice for a crime committed against her. The darkness of the painting contrasts the figures bright colors  of the skin and clothes, making their action central to their action. 

Gentileschi and Judith both take initiative in their lives to make them leading ladies in art. Not only is the artist Gentileschi a leading lady by becoming the first female painter to have tremendous success as an artist, but the content within her paintings like this one clearly demonstrate women with strong ambitions ready to take the lead and shine in art. 

  • 7:00 PM

Leading Ladies: Self Portrait

Leading Ladies
Strong Women in Art
Curated by Katie Sloan

Caterina Van Hemessen, Self Portrait, 1548
Caterina Van Hemessen was one of the first Flemish female painters. Her work is known for her small-scale female portraits. She was also the first painter of both genders to paint a self-portrait shown seated at an easel. Female painters at this time period were rare. In order to become an artist, one had to dissect cadavers, study a nude male, and apprentice a teacher starting at the ages 9-15. All of these were obstacles for female painters. Hemessen was fortunate enough to be trained by her father which made it possible for her to become an artist.  

While fortunate to be a painter, Hemessen lacked proper training to acquire further skills. While her paintings are detailed and dimensional, they aren't the best paintings out there by any means. The face of her self portrait and body is a little disproportional, and her face seems flat. While there are folds in the clothing, they are not done well and the black om her chest also seems flat and lacking in shape. The composition of the painting is interesting. Knowing that she is the first painter to attempt to paint the self portrait as an easel, though, makes the painting a fresh idea of its time. 

While maybe not the most skilled artist, Caterina Van Hemessen used the teachings from her father to make headway for female artists. Since Hemessen was the first to paint the self portrait at an easel, she truly is an inspiration to art. Several of these paintings have been done after this original one. Being the first to paint this painting she is another leading lady of art. 

  • 7:00 AM

Leading Ladies: The Bar at the Folies-Bergeres

Leading Ladies
Strong Women in Art
Curated by Katie Sloan

Edouard Manet, The Bar at the Folies-Bergeres, 1881-82

Edouard Manet was on of the leaders in the transition from realism to impressionism. His style was new and fresh during his time and marked him as a talented artist. Manet was know for painting Parisian life. The Bar at the Folies-Bergeres was Manet's last major work, and was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882. Before Manet painted The Bar at the Folies-Bergeres, he had made several sketches of the scene, which have been saved and can be viewed today. These sketches he had made while in the bar, but the final painting was finished in his studio where he set up a bar scene and had a model stand behind it. 

The bar called the Folies-Bergere and was a nightclub in Paris. The bar was known for men being able to call on prostitutes. However, the bar also doubled for concerts and circus acts. It was an entertaining way for the people of Paris to spend their nights. In the painting the viewer can see the many people in the reflection of the mirror, watching some kind of circus performance, as an acrobat's feet can be seen in the top left corner. The barmaid featured in the painting is Suzon. Although the painting is filled with people Suzon seems distant and alone, placed behind a bar, distant from everything going on. Her face seems melancholy, and she seems like she does not want to be there. A locket around her neck suggests that she has a love somewhere else, that maybe she wishes to be with instead of being at the bar. In the reflection, the viewer can see that a man is talking to Suzon. There is no suggestion as to who this man might be, other than a customer at the bar. Suzon's reflection is off to the right, which in reality would not be this way, but directly behind her. 

Suzon, was in real life a woman who in fact worked at the bar. Manet asked her to model for the painting in his studio. He set up a fake bar and had her stand behind it. He set up glass bottles and other objects in order to make the scene similar to the bar. However the painting is not meant to be realistic, but impressionistic which explains why her reflection is not in the right place. 

Without Suzon, the inspiration for the painting would not have been there. Her face become a memorable one in art. This is a well known Manet painting, which makes Suzon another leading lady in art, not only in her real life but in the painting itself, being the main focus in the painting.

  • 7:00 PM

Leading Ladies: Glaucus and Scylla

Leading Ladies
Strong Women in Art
Curated by Katie Sloan

Jacopo da Empoli, Glaucus and Scylla, 1603

"Maiden, I am no monster, nor a sea-animal, but a god; and neither Proteus nor Triton ranks higher than I. Once I was a mortal, and followed the sea for a living; but now I belong wholly to it. But
what avails all this if it fails to move your heart?" (Glaucus on his seeing of Scylla).

Jacopo da Empoli was born in Florence and during his life he developed a style most like those during his time. In later years his naturalism became less evident. The figures in his painting, including this one, had porcelain like skin. This accentuated his classical style which was not as well known in the baroque period. In this painting Scylla's complexion is clear and porcelain. She is very curvaceous like most women painted during the period. 

Glaucus, before becoming a god, was a fisherman. One day, he had caught several fish, and he laid them out on the grass to sort them. They were at first dead, but they then revived and flopped on the ground toward the water and swam away. Glaucus, bewildered by this event, wondered what herb in the grasses could have caused this. He then knelt to taste the plant, and once reaching his palate, he felt the desirable urge to be in the water. When he couldn't control his urge any longer he bid the earth farewell and lived in the water. The gods of the sea welcomed him, and made him an immortal god. A hundred rivers were poured all over him, and he forgot all of his former life. When he awoke his hair was sea green, and trailed behind him. Where he once had legs, was a fishtail. One day Glaucus came across the beautiful maiden, Scylla. Scylla was one of the favored water nymphs. Glaucus found her bathing near the water ,and he spoke to her and tried to win her heart. Frightened, Scylla fled to a cliff to look and see if the man was a god or sea creature. She returned and he tried to win her heart but she fled away again from him all the same. 

Scylla has become another woman in mythology to control a man through his heart. After her refusal,  Glaucus was still obsessed with her and never ceased to love her. The way she is featured in the painting she is the center of attention and her beauty stands on its on. The desperate look on Glaucus' face shows her control over his emotions. She however refuses his love and remains independent. She is another leading lady. 

  • 7:00 AM

Leading Ladies: Death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni

Leading Ladies
Strong Women in Art
Curated by Katie Sloan


Lorenzo Bernini, Death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, 1671-74

In Bernini's last full figure sculpture, everything he is famous for comes to life. This sculpture of Ludovica Albertoni, placed in the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, embodies the idealization of death. The emotion on her face, an expression seen in other sculptures carved by Bernini, captures her feelings during her death. The way she clutches her chest shows her pain and the way her head is tilted back shows her taking her last breaths. 

Ludovica Albertoni was known as a Mother Teresa of her time. Raised in Roman nobility and wealth,  she wanted to lead a religious life. Ludovica wanted to dedicate her life to God and remain a virgin. However, her parents arranged for her to get married to Giacomo de Citara, a nobleman. She obeyed, and they were married and Ludovica gave birth to three daughters. Her husband unexpectedly passed away when Ludovica was only 33 years old. After this she joined Franciscan convent, where she devoted her life to prayer. Ludovica sacrificed her health in order to help the poor. She provided them with food and cared for them. She became known as a miracle worker and was also known for her religious ecstasies (she once levitated). She was in her sixties when she died from a painful fever. However, she had received the eucharist the day before, and her death was one of pain and joy. 

Bernini sought to capture all of these qualities in Ludovica's sculpture. He captures the pain of her death from fever with her hand clutching at her chest. He also captures her religious ecstasy in her face, a similar expression seen in his other works like Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, demonstrating the same sensual feeling of religious ecstasy. The folds in the marble are done with the skill and precision Bernini was famous for. The natural way the fabric flows is beautiful. There is no mistaking Bernini's talent as a sculptor. 

Ludovica's life shows her as a woman who had taken charge of herself and made herself.  She is truly a leading lady in art. Her importance in history gives her a place in the art world, her story ready to be told and listened to. Ludovica was a selfless woman whose independence would gain her a place in heaven and in art. 

  • 7:00 AM