The Bride of Death

Thomas Barker, The Bride of Death, 1769-1847

The woman is perfected.
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty,
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 
  • 7:00 AM


Image result for edward hopper nighthawks
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942
"Bar Time" 

In keeping with universal saloon practice,
the clock here is set fifteen minutes ahead
of all the clocks in the outside world.

This makes us a rather advanced group,
doing our drinking in the unknown future,
immune from the cares of the present,
safely harbored a quarter of an hour
beyond the woes of the contemporary scene.

No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derives
from tending the small fire of a cigarette,
from observing this glass of whiskey and ice,
and cold rust I am sipping,

or from having an eye on the street outside,
when Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat,
rain running off the brim of his hat,
the late edition like a flag in his pocket.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 

  • 7:00 AM

Henry G. Marquand

John Singer Sargent, Henry G. Marquand, 1897


Out of the night that covers me,
     Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
     For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
     I have not wined nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
     My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
     Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
     Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
     How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
     I am the captain of my soul.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 

  • 7:00 AM

Apotheosis of Washington

John James Barralet,  Apotheosis of Washington, 1810 

"Because I Could Not Stop For Death"

Because I could not stop for Death – 
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality. 

We slowly drove – He knew no haste 
And I had put away 
My labor and my leisure too, 
For His Civility – 

We passed the School, where Children strove 
At Recess – in the Ring – 
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – 
We passed the Setting Sun – 

Or rather – He passed Us – 
The Dews drew quivering and Chill – 
For only Gossamer, my Gown – 
My Tippet – only Tulle – 

We paused before a House that seemed 
A Swelling of the Ground – 
The Roof was scarcely visible – 
The Cornice – in the Ground – 

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet 
Feels shorter than the Day 
I first surmised the Horses' Heads 
Were toward Eternity

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 

  • 7:00 AM

Quail in Grass

Shibata Zeshin, Quail in Grass, 1847
"Ode on Solitude"

Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please
With mediation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 

  • 7:00 AM

Two Old Men Eating Soup

Francisco Goya, Two Old Men Eating Soup, 1819-1823

"Beautiful Soup"

BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beauti--FUL SOUP!

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 
  • 7:00 AM

The Kiss

Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, 1859

"Since the Majority of Me"  

Since the majority of me 
Rejects the majority of you, 
Debating ends forthwith, and we
Divide. And sure of what to do 

We disinfect new blocks of days 
For our majorities to rent 
With unshared friends and unwalked ways. 
But silence too is eloquent: 

A silence of minorities 
That, unopposed at least, return 
Each night with cancelled promises 
They want renewed. They never learn.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a painting with a poem with no explanation of the connection between the two. 
  • 7:00 AM

The Kiss

Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, 1859
"Idea: Sonnet 61"

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part. 
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart 
That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, 
And when we meet at any time again, 
Be it not seen in either of our brows 
That we one jot of former love retain. 
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath, 
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies, 
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, 
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
          Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over, 
          From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 
  • 7:00 AM


Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1960

"A Supermarket in Caligfornia"  
     What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I
walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache 
self-conscious looking at the full moon. 
     In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into
the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the 
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, GarcĂ­a Lorca, 
what were you doing down by the watermelons? 

     I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, 
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the 
grocery boys. 
     I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork
chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel? 
     I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following 
you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective. 
     We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier. 

     Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour. 
Which way does your beard point tonight? 
     (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the 
supermarket and feel absurd.) 
     Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add 
shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely. 
     Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue 
automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage? 
     Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what 
America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and 
you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat 
disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 

  • 7:00 AM

The Horse Fair

Rosa Bonheur, The Horse Fair, 1855
"The Horse" 

The horse moves
without reference
to his load

He has eyes
like a woman and
turns them
about, throws

back his ears
and is generally 
conscious of
the world. Yet

he pulls when 
he must and
pulls well, blowing 
fog from

his nostrils
like fumes from
the twin
exhausts of a car. 

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 
  • 7:00 AM

Lamentation of Christ

Andrea Mantegna, Lamentation of Christ, c.1480
"The Death-Bed"

He drowsed and was aware of silence heaped
Round him, unshaken as the steadfast walls;
Aqueous like floating rays of amber light,
Soaring and quivering in the wings of sleep.
Silence and safety; and his mortal shore
Lipped by the inward, moonless waves of death.

Someone was holding water to his mouth.
He swallowed, unresisting; moaned and dropped
Through crimson gloom to darkness; and forgot
The opiate throb and ache that was his wound.
Water—calm, sliding green above the weir;
Water—a sky-lit alley for his boat,
Bird-voiced, and bordered with reflected flowers
And shaken hues of summer: drifting down,
He dipped contented oars, and sighed, and slept.

Night, with a gust of wind, was in the ward,
Blowing the curtain to a gummering curve.
Night. He was blind; he could not see the stars
Glinting among the wraiths of wandering cloud;
Queer blots of colour, purple, scarlet, green,
Flickered and faded in his drowning eyes.

Rain—he could hear it rustling through the dark;
Fragrance and passionless music woven as one;
Warm rain on drooping roses; pattering showers
That soak the woods; not the harsh rain that sweeps
Behind the thunder, but a trickling peace,
Gently and slowly washing life away.

He stirred, shifting his body; then the pain
Leaped like a prowling beast, and gripped and tore
His groping dreams with grinding claws and fangs.
But someone was beside him; soon he lay
Shuddering because that evil thing had passed.
And death, who'd stepped toward him, paused and stared.

Light many lamps and gather round his bed.
Lend him your eyes, warm blood, and will to live.
Speak to him; rouse him; you may save him yet.
He's young; he hated war; how should he die
When cruel old campaigners win safe through?

But death replied: “I choose him.” So he went,
And there was silence in the summer night;
Silence and safety; and the veils of sleep.
Then, far away, the thudding of the guns.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to pair a poem and painting with no explanation of the connection. 
  • 7:00 AM

The Broken Column

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

Dear Charnise,

I dedicate this painting to you, my beloved sister. In this letter I shall show how I interpret this painting and how it pertains to you. First, I will begin with the background of this painting. The background is the most tranquil and content part of this painting. It represents a future of hope and optimism for better times. Next, the foreground that leads up to the sky depicts how beautiful life could be with nature and so forth, but the simple fact that it's not, in the moment it is very desolate and somewhat cynical, and that no matter what, it takes lots of persistence and distress with a touch of agony to reach the beautiful sky. Now, we move on to the main subject matter. You, my friend are the head.

Here in this painting the head is the only part of the painting that is not split in half like the rest of the body. You are the head because ironically you a very levelheaded, you keep me from being immoral, and for the most part from spasming out all the time. A head is made up of multiple components such as a brain, eyes, a nose, eyebrows, hair, ears, and others.

I would say you are the eyes, you see the things I don't. The head along with wrapping around the body represent adhesiveness. No matter how much I hate you, inevitably something makes me like you again. The metal we see is broken - I think that represents all the idiots that thought they could come into our lives and help our circumstances without first listening and understanding. It could also represent mom, but I'll leave that up to you to interpret why. The metal is trying to help, but it can't because it too is broken, though it does still serve a purpose. The nude subject is opposite of me and you though, so far we've just kept things inside. Maybe Frida is trying to tell us to open up and rid ourselves of the burdens. Oh well who knows. The nails throughout the body represent not only the things we go through separately, but also together. Our struggles within life including our arguments. 

Charnai Anderson

P.S. Peace out homie  - you da real MVP

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 
  • 7:00 AM


Mordechai Ardon, Tammuz, 1962

Dear Yossi,

I saw this painting and I was immediately brought back to one of my favorite memories, looking at the stars at night in the Negev Desert. I shouldn’t be surprised that the painting reminds me of Israel, considering that Mordechai Ardon is Israeli. I originally searched through Reuven Rubin’s works, since you taught me about him, but something about Ardon’s paintings drew me in. However, after reading about Ardon, I was convinced this is the painting for you.

At first glance I thought of the stars. Stars can be viewed in many different ways. People say, “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” and various other quotes. Personally, I would gladly land among the stars. I’ve been infatuated with the big dipper since my days at sleep away camp in the North woods of Wisconsin. When I get the opportunity to see a clear sky full of stars, my eyes search for that constellation, and when they find it I feel at home. While the mass amount of stars that appear in this painting and in the sky can be overwhelming, I encourage you to find your constellation.

When I first saw this painting, I thought it looked similar to Picasso, especially during his blue period. At that time, Picasso painted his feelings on the canvas, depression evident in his hues. This painting, all different shades of blue, has a rather opposite effect on me. I may be biased because blue is my favorite color, but I see life in this painting. Could it be that my understanding of the color choices of the Israeli artist and connection to Israel, a state developed around the colors blue and white, has changed my perception of this color? While everyone has their own interpretations of art, I hope you choose to see the life in this painting.

Ardon based many of his paintings on teachings from the Kabbalah. After two visits to to Avraham in Tzfat I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in Kabbalah art, but I am intrigued by it. While, my knowledge of Jewish mysticism is limited, you taught me enough to feel the magic in this painting.

Beyond the teachings of the Kabbalah, I just want to thank you for this past summer. I learned more about Israel and Judaism than I could have ever imagined, and I also made a life-long friend. Your passion and devotion to the State of Israel and to your teaching inspires me. I hope that one day I can have a job that brings me the joy you display when you teach.

You are a one of a kind, Yossi. I see it, just as Michael Levin saw it. Please don’t ever feel lonely, because you have thousands of friends in every student you’ve taught. You are the moon and we are the stars.

You are a true hero of Israel, just like Yoni Netanyahu and Eli Cohen. I hope you see this painting as a symbol of Israeli pride and hope, as well as representation of all of the lives you have touched.

Forever Your Student and Friend,


Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

  • 7:00 AM


El Anatsui, Ghanaian, 1944

We've probably walked past this piece a hundred times without ever realizing it. It's never been one we've ever stopped to admire or talk about, but it's been there for as long as we've been going to the museum together.

El Anatsui assembles large scale sculptors out of a variety of recycled materials, specifically the cans and bottle caps of locally produced alcohol. The Nelson purchased it at the Venice Biennale, which we have always talked about going to. I thought this made it even more fitting for our story and as a gift to you.

It's complex, it's colorful, it's intriguing- it is the essence of you.

The piece is adaptable. Anatsui encourages owners to let the piece take a different form every time it is displayed. It acclimates to change in a way so elegantly you'd never assume it had been anything different. For this reason, it reminds me of you.

I gift you this piece as a ray of sunshine in your rainy Seattle.

With love,

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 
  • 7:00 AM

The Death of Socrates

Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates, 1787

Dear dummy who wishes to be refered to as the artist who wishes to be refered to as Doctor,

Welcome to the wonderful, if slightly pretentious, world of Art History. This seems like one of those things you would vehemently deny enjoying sheerly because of your own preconceived notions, however I suggest you give it a chance. If you are still unwilling to give Art History a try, at least open yourself to this painting. I have a feeling you'll enjoy it.

Ian, meet Jaques-Louis David, a French Neoclassicist painter who did work in a time of near global revolution. Here we see Socrates, front and center, choosing to drink hemlock to end his life rather than to stop speaking the truths he believed in. He was convicted, technically, of corrupting youth, and yet in this painting he wears white, symbolizing purity. I take it as the purity and clarity that comes with knowledge and pursuit of truth. In his dark, gray cell, a spotlight seems to come from nowhere and illuminate his form. On all sides of him, his followers are openly weeping, and yet with his last breaths, the great philosopher is still speaking with conviction, as evidenced by that definitive skyward gesture as he reaches for the cup of hemlock. While those closest to this great man are reduced to their worst in this time of trial, Socrates is stronger than ever and positively resolute.

I picked The Death of Socrates because this is how I see you. Living with a life of philosophical pursuits, principle, and conviction, without compromise. You ask all the right questions at the right times. You are ridiculously strong. You have more mental, emotional, and physical endurance than any other human being I know. You say what needs to be said, not what is most appropriate or acceptable. You are painfully stubborn. You are a devil's advocate. You think too much (but then again so do I). You have the temperament of a grumpy old man. In all of these ways, you are like this unyielding and seriously ripped Socrates here. However, the most apt comparison between the two of you is that, of all the people I am close to, you are the one who would be most willing to lay down his life for the things he cares about. This Socrates is a reflection of the values I see in you, and a reflection of your role in my life.

You're strong, loyal, trustworthy, exceptionally intelligent, snarky, and sincere. Thank you for everything. Thank you for our long talks throughout the years. Thank you for always being up for a trip to Penn Station and a car ride. Thank you for the endless showings of our favorite movies. Thank you for being so protective of me. Thank you for the philosophy over brunch. Thank you for helping me to be fearless. Thank you for showing up when I need you and staying at my house later than you should just because you care. I hope you know that it never goes unnoticed. The sheer number of times you've changed my point of view, given me the clarity I needed, and talked me down from a freak out is positively astounding. Your grip of the human mind and logic are phenomenal and the effect of your various advices has been invaluable through the years.

We're crazy people, I get that. But no mater what, I know you're a solid base to come back to, and I appreciate that to no end. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on, my greatest confidant, my home away from home, my take-out food companion, the Sargent Nicholas Angel to my Danny Butterman, my own real-life Rick Ford, and my brother. Thank you so much for that.

Wherever we go next year, I'm not worried. Let's be real here. We've been through a lot together these past seven-ish years. Too much to lay down here. It's been a veritable roller coaster ride of a friendship, but no matter what, I know you'll always be there for me. You are my family and you, arguably, know me better than anyone else in the world and I'd like to think I know you pretty well too. Through all the good and the bad of it, befriending you and Sam has been one of the better choices I made in my life. I don't know how I got so lucky.

Happy Holidays,

  • 7:00 AM

La Grande Odalisque

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Grande Odalisque, 1814

Dear Mom,

This year I'm gifting you with La Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. I'll never forget seeing the work in the Louvre with you and how you proclaimed it your favorite. At the time, I thought the painting was good, unremarkable, but good. It just couldn't compare to the rest of the magnificent pieces of featuring Napoleon that lined the gallery, bright reds, wild horses, and bold detailing.

Looking back on it now, I can see why you would have liked it. Her demure gaze remarks upon your entrance into her room while also dismissing you in a single glance, daring you to criticize her nudity. She is a proud woman with her hair swept off of her slim neck, the sumptuous furs, feather fan, and thick curtains that shine, even as she shows her weaknesses: the soft curve of her back as she uses her elbow to get up and the delicate touch and shadows of her feet. She is the ultimate dichotomy of a woman, both powerful and gentle at the same time.

And finally, just so you know, an odalisque is the word for a concubine in French. I've chosen to give you this painting to put up in the living room so that whenever relatives come over, we have something to talk about that's not politics or my college search.

Your loving daughter, 

  • 7:00 AM

Paisagem com Dunas

Jose Pancetti, Paisagem com Dunas, 1947
Jose Pancetti’s Paisagem com Dunas painted in 1947, reminds me of us. My family.

We grew up in the dunes, the four of us building drip sandcastles, splashing around in our baby pool (because of Matt’s fear of stingrays), and running up and down the pathway seeking out a tortoise to come out and play.

On the ride home, the fabled stop at our favorite ice cream shop. Back then I did not like peanut butter (the favorite flavor of my brothers) too much so I stuck with cookie dough.

With Mom and Dad doing adult things we were left to our own devices, building Harry Potter castles from legos, serving up dinner at the poolside water shack (disclaimer - no real food was involved), and on one occasion standing dead still in the garage as a large black snake slithered by.

When the lights dimmed on our bunkbed room, Matt always got the top bunk, opposite the room I occupied the middle bunk, while Trevor slept on the trundle bed on the floor. As for Tommy he jumped from top, middle to bottom with the ease of the Curious George monkey he dragged everywhere. We all crowded around the microscopic television as we listened in on the adventures of Phil of the Future and Even Stevens.

Growing up, the five minute drive to the dunes of Naples, Florida meant at least for a little while, no more doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, or unpredictable weather of Kansas. Just the sun shining down on a family of six as they walked along the coastline.

Today, almost eleven years later, the dunes show a little wear and tearn- a little erosion here and there, but I guess we do too.

So Rick, Kirsten, Matt, Trevor and Tommy - I give this to you.

To remind us of the beauty of yesterday but the promise of today. Although older we still walk the dunes of Bonita Beach, a family of five now. For without the dunes and without you I would not be able to navigate the uneven sand that falls beneath my feet.

The moment I first saw Paisagem com Dunas , I felt our little oasis rushing back to me like the ocean currents that come in off the gulf. Pancetti, unknown to me until this painting, captures something so ordinary that many might overlook it. 

By no means is my family extraordinary, much like the works Pancetti, yet to us the dunes mean so much than a combination of tectonic plate movement and wind. For in the dunes we could be just be a family. Not an architect or ski instructor or a disabled little boy or whatever else. Just Rick, Kirsten, Matt, Trevor, Megan, and Tommy. The Gannon Family.

Missing: Mom-behind the camera, Tommy- asleep in his stroller 
Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

  • 7:00 AM


Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Vertumnus, 1590
Beloved Brother Grant,

I thought I saw you staring back at me when I first saw Vertumnus by Giuseppe Arcimboldi. You and this guy share so many similarities. Obviously, you both are obsessed with healthy eating. I know that when you stare in the mirror you wish you saw Vertumnus in the reflection. You two both love vegetables, and since both of you are comprised of a large percentage of fruits, grains, and vegetables, I knew I wanted you to have this paintings.

His cheeks are even as pink and rosy as yours! I was even more surprised when I saw the date of the work: 1590. In over four centuries, health culture hasn’t changed a bit. Vertumnus was as much of a gym rat and health nut as you! That just proves that guys don’t change. Maybe you two could’ve been bros and hit the gym together and swapped muscle milk recipes. I know things have been rough with Katie gone; I think having a bro like Vertumnus around would make you feel better. You don’t need a girl to be happy. Right now I think you need a friend with the same ideals as you. Every morning you can wake up and look at Vertumnus from your bed and be reminded that you’re not alone and that treating your body healthily will make you feel better than any girl.

There have been guys like you for centuries and they lived happy lives and reproduced. Don’t worry, Vertumnus made it and so can you, and you’re definitely ahead of him in terms of appearances. I hope this painting can give you hope. But please don’t break it like you did with the last piece of art I gave you. This paintings is worth a whole lot more than that mosaic I made for you. If you don’t want it, I would rather you sell it, and I know you need the money to pay for your fifth year of college. Live happy and healthy and everything else will work out, brother. 

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 
  • 7:00 AM

Les Danseuses Roses, Avant Le Ballet

Edgar Degas, Les Danseuses Roses, Avant Le Ballet, 1884

Mon Cheri,
I know you are not going to appreciate this as much as I do. But I would like for you to have this painting and hear me out because when I was thinking of the millions of paintings that I could have given you, this is the one that I could not stop thinking about. Edgar Degas, a French Impressionist had interests in painting ballet dancers, or just dancers in general, much like the pink dancers in this painting. He painted with vibrant colors and many brushstrokes. Having a painting displayed in a Salon was the highest honor to an artist during this movement.

Although I am not sure if this particular work made it to a Salon, many of Degas' works did. He is and was considered a founder of the Impressionist movement, and by far my most favorite Impressionist painter. You may look up his other works and ask me why I chose this one out of all of his other great paintings. And to tell you the truth, I really do not know why. Is it because it reminds me of you? Maybe. But mostly, I think it's because this is my most favorite painting that I've practically ever found. The pinks, reds, and yellows compliment each other, even though they are not considered complimentary colors. This painting is random, yes and I'm not completely sure why I picked this painting, but I do know this one is the one I want to give to you.

The innocence and youth in this painting is familiar to me. The danseuses, restless for their upcoming performance reminds me of how I feel around you - overly excited and happy. I hope those feelings never fade. I am thankful for you.

Bisous, Natalie <3

P.S. - I challenge you to find your favorite painting.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

  • 7:00 AM

School of Athens

Raphael, School of Athens, 1509-1511

To Libby, Ellie, Megan, Reid, Emma, and the newbies,

I am sure we all shared similar sentiments when first entering class. The knowledgable veterans struck fear into our barren minds. There was so much to learn, so much to absorb, and we were behind. Now as veterans, we have successfully applied last year's acquired fundamentals to become even better art historians this year. Though we clearly have much to discover, walking into Art History as a second year sparked opposite emotions. We came in as knowledgable leaders, participators, and most importantly, confident students unafraid of being wrong.

We rolled into class like Aristotle and his colleagues in Raphael's School of Athens, eager for another adventure. So why am I saying all this? Well, I wanted to appreciate those who started their journey with me last year. We have come a long way intellectually and personally in regard to Art History. Thanks for continuing this adventure with me again, and all you challenge me to dig deeper and see things with new perspective each day. To the first year historians, its going to be okay. Blog posts will become routine. And with experience instinctively seeing symbols, patterns. will come easy to you, and one day you will return to class like the immortalized philosophers above. Also, thanks Mr. Luce for being our Plato, teaching us and dealing with my disgraceful Rothko jokes and religious holiday puns. To Art History 2016-2017, you are all greatly appreciated.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

  • 7:00 AM

Far Away Thoughts

John William Godward, Far Away Thoughts, 1892

I would like to dedicate this portrait to my mother.

After a week of being away, I was overjoyed to see her on my birthday. To celebrate, we made a trip to the New Orleans Museum of Art, just the two of us. As we walked through the sculpture garden that summer afternoon, I thought about what bliss I was experiencing - free of stress, drama, and any worries in my life. I could not help but acknowledge the peace that her and I felt.

Then it started to rain. And it was and utter downpour. The violent sound of the rain on the marble and windows soothed us even further and the cool breeze traveled through the galleries from the open doors. We then took our time meandering through every room: still-life, seventeenth century portraiture, impressionism, post-impressionism. Then we reached neoclassicism and pre-raphaelite, genres my mother and I have quite an affinity for. At home, our decor consists almost entirely of prints from John Collier, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and J.W. Waterhouse, so seeing this room was quite a treat.

Upon first glance, I was immediately drawn to this painting. I loved the simplicity and beauty that this painting embodied. The composition and humble dimensions were so pleasing to the eye that I was dumb-struck. The cool colors offset by the porcelain white skin and red hair fits so well together and gives off so many complementary vibes. The woman's gaze also intrigued me. I thought to myself how amazing it is that this artist could translate such thought into a practically emotionless figure onto a two-dimensional canvas. Then I looked at the title: "Far Away Thoughts." How fitting.

I rushed to find my mom across the room and had to drag her by the arm to see this because I knew she would love it. We sat for two minutes without saying anything- just appreciating this painting in every sense that we knew how. "You know, she reminds me a lot of you," I said, breaking the silence.

For the first time, I felt like I discovered a perfect painting. One that conveyed so much with so little, was a piece from our favorite movement, contained our favorite colors, and even had a figure with red hair... just like us.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 
  • 7:00 AM

Ballet Dance

Grace Evelyn Brown, Ballet Dancer, 1883

To my talented friend Danielle,

I gift this painting to you to kick start this joyous holiday season. This dancer reminds me so much of you - so poised, pensive, graceful, and so driven when it comes to her craft. I respect your numerous hours spent in the studio, even though it often impedes with social gatherings. The determination you have to make your dream a reality is remarkable and over all inspiring to everyone you encounter.

The vibrant blues almost recklessly smeared onto the background draws our attention to the conflicted ballerina. The ballerina faces the wall surrounded by hues of blue as she contemplates an important decision. She seems to be stuck between the lighter white-blues and then the heavy depressing dark blues. This ballerina masterfully illustrated in variations of the classic “ballerina” pink cast in the shadows portrays what audiences do not see on stage. We see seemingly easy elegant art.

Though I cannot begin to understand the mental and physical toll it takes to develop talent in ballet, I can appreciate it. As we end the calendar year with looming final examinations and your appearance in the Nutcracker, my wish for you is to not succumb to the stress accompanied by being a performer.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and break a leg in your performance.

Missy Rosenthal

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

  • 7:00 AM

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh, Almond Blossoms, 1890
By Nayoung Kwon


I would always be brought down by rainfall, drenched in heavy rain, but you've always held my hand so that I don't fall behind. You are always careful and protective of my already damaged petals. If I hadn't met you I would have been lost, confused, and even become non-existent. Each season we spend, we create new memories that cannot be replaced. Our friendship grows each year like this tree... Almond Blossom, representing the beginning of spring and the new life ahead of us.

I am scared and worried...when winter comes, you will no longer be beside me. You will be going on an adventure that will determine your future, and I will stay here, the where we met and wish for spring to come. Until then... I will wait, wait until spring comes then we can once again create wonderful memories like we always did.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 
  • 7:00 AM

Wheatfield with Crows

Image result for Wheatfield with Crows
Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

To Sarah Stack,

I am gifting you this painting because you are my friend and someone I can share my weirdness with. You keep me laughing even in a sleep deprived state.  I remember this painting was in the Doctor Who episode when The Doctor visited Van Gogh.  That episode was one of our favorites.  In the episode, Van Gogh sees an invisible monster in the grass, which scares the birds.  The episode reveals that Van Gogh is the only one who can see this monster because of his unique perspective as an artist.

I've always loved Van Gogh's loose style of painting.  He puts so much movement into the ground and sky, things that we usually see as stationary.  His disregard for straight lines and hasty dabs of color remind me that art can be beautiful without perfection.  Sarah, you are not perfect, but like dabs of color, which I would prefer to flawlessness any day.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

  • 7:00 AM

Apparition of the Virgin to St. Anthony and St. George

Pisanello, Apparition of the Virgin to St. Anthony and St. George, 1455


Antonio di Puccio Pisanello's Apparition of the Virgin to St. Anthony and St. George strayed away from uniform religious paintings of the 15th century. He incorporated seemingly modern elements to St. George's (right) sterling armor, making him seem more vibrant and unique in comparison to the somberly hued St. Anthony (left). St. George is shown with the slain dragon at his feet, a reoccurring symbol when depicting him in religious works. St. Anthony wields his common items of the bell and hog. The heavy contrast the two saints staged in front a dark forest and positioned beneath the radiating sun bearing the Virgin and Child makes this work powerful yet not overwhelming.

The representation of these two figures in the forefront of the paintings provides more insight based on their colors. Michael Baxandall states colors in paintings follow a system in which they symbolize various aspects. Brown and black mean humility, which works well with St. Anthony who devoted his life to putting those less fortune ahead of him, assisting the sick and poor. His inner cloths are red, which is charity according to the color code. St. George is dressed in the white/silver, meaning purity, and highlighted in yellow-gold representing dignity. And above, as expected, the Virgin cloaked in white shows her purity, with baby Jesus wrapped in yellow.

The major component that makes this work special is in the positioning of the figures. According to Baxandall, Pisano hailed from northern Italy, where the style of art slightly differed. The layout of the figures were suppose to create a spiral. Pisano does this by slightly offsetting St. Anthony and showing more of St. George's back. The way the two face each other creates a circular movement. Spectators during this period were accustomed to seeing a composition incorporating such technique, but in comparison to religious art stemming from Byzantine, this was ground breaking development.

  • 7:00 AM

Circular Forms

Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms, 1930. Oil on canvas, 50 3/4 x 76 3/4 inches (128.9 x 194.9 cm)
Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms, 1930

To Steve, 

Orphism, or Orphic Cubism, developed from the rising intellectual cubism of the period. It focuses on musical elements within color and lyrical abstractions. Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term while observing Frantisek Kupka's painting, noting that it was "the art of painting new totalities with elements that the artist does not take from visual reality, but creates entirely by himself." Robert Delaunay and his wife were of the main contributors to the movement, along with Leger, Kandinsky, and Picabia. 

Robert Delaunay sought to depict how something felt. He prefered the term "simultaneism" to describe his work, wanting his paintings to show the movement of modern life. He based his separation of colors into distinct shapes off of divisionism - an application of pure colors, instead of mixing, which enables the viewer to interact optically with the painting. Delaunay painted the distortion of color through stain glass windows to emphasize these patches of color. He painted Circular Forms off the windows in Saint Severin, a Parisian Gothic church. He thought the use of windows created a metaphor for the transition between internal and external states. 

I chose to gift you this painting as recognition for your courage and strength. I have admired yousince I was little. The painting attempts to display the continuous movement of life and humanity, just like you have continued to move forward since your accident. I thought you would enjoy how Orphism ties music together with art, because of your dedication to Judaism and also the musical and visual arts. I know you believe that art should be displayed in a museum, rather than owned by an individual collector, which is why I will donate this piece to a museum of your choice, in your name. You and Joan are two of my biggest supporters, and I cannot thank you enough for all that you have taught me.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 
  • 7:00 AM


Filippo Lippi, Annuciation, 1435
I feel like painting involves a lot of trust. That every time you look at a piece of art you take a leap of faith, most times this jump is strictly metaphorically, but on that rare occasion a painting will touch on a such a level that your physical body will react. Whether through a single tear shed or a look of jaw-dropping awe.

Unfortunately, Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation painted in 1435 is not that painting. Though I argue that Renaissance art takes a bit more faith than modern. I believe this stems not only from the context, but the viewer herself. To truly comprehend a Renaissance painting one needs more than rudimentary knowledge of color and composition. We need something more to understand.

I feel that’s why Renaissance art often seems so tedious. You can’t look at a piece of art from the 15th century and automatically assume that Mary’s hand placement indicates that she feels conturbatio or disquiet. Let alone how do you know the woman in blue is the mother of Christ, the virgin?

I am not a person of the 15th century, so how do I see a painting like one? And what does it mean when I shift my own perspective to fit someone else's? As I step in my Quattrocento shoes I understand that due to strict contracts set up by patrons of the Church and prominent families like the Medicis in Florence that automatically the artist must play be someone else’s rules.

Despite contracts assigning what percentage of Ultramarine blue must be used on Mary’s gown or the general composition of the painting itself, artists still held some control. Lippi when painting his Annunciation knew that in some way or another he had to tell the story of the angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary that the son of God lived within her. Now from here according to Michael Baxandall in his book, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy, Lippi had five choices in choosing how to display Mary: "Conturbatio-disquiet, cogitatio-reflection, interrogatio-inquiry, humiliatio-submission, or meritatio-merit" (Baxandall 51).

For his painting, Lippi ultimately chooses conturbatio or disquiet, the viewer can determine this by either eliminating all others or evaluating Mary’s posture in addition to her facial expressions. She bows her hand, clutching her abdomen in awe, twisting her hands around her garments knowing that she is now responsible for bringing the son of God into the world. Her face, with her half-opened eyelids peering down hints at the curiosity, excitement and fear that her pregnancy brings.

Although Lippi attributes Mary with human emotion, he must include a reference to flowers, white lilies, and paint the angel Gabriel with wings and kneeling towards Mary in order for his painting to qualify as an Annunciation. The indicators of the Gabriel’s kneeling, his wings, Mary in blue, the white lilies all allow the general public of the 15th century to identify with the painting.

With his requirements out of the way, Lippi may now paint freely. He separates Mary and the angel Gabriel with a column, giving the impression that Gabriel exists only as an apparition in Mary’s mind. She receives his words from the songbird that spouts the latin from it’s beak. Mary exists on slightly higher ground than Gabriel, demonstrating that although it appears they occupy the same space in reality they do not. Gabriel's side of the room, allows the light to flow freely with airy blues tones covering the walls and window drapery. As for Mary’s side, the only light exists in a circle around her body indicating the divine connection that exists within her moment with Gabriel. The rest of her room falls dark with earthy tones occupying the space around her. Within her room, red acts as the only other color, a representation of charity, it seems fighting that it stems from garments around her heart.

Lippi creates a sense of depth through his open spaces in the background of the painting. The book and rose on the bookshelf behind Mary hint at her beauty-the rose and her devotion- the bible. Although not particularly ornate, I adore Lippi’s Annunciation for the comfort I feel when I look at the connection between Gabriel and Mary. At the scariest moment of her life, Lippi reminds me that she is in the light and she will be okay.

Baxandall through his book helps one to understand that "something more" that Renaissance art requires. I used to grow frustrated by attempting to remember the significance of triangles and circles around paintings, the meaning of colors and hand gestures; but now I understand that although I might not initially get it. I don’t need to. That sometimes the most profound paintings are not only the beautiful ones, but the ones that force you to open up a book and understand that Mary is never as simple as you believed she was.

So I urge you to jump off that ledge and land in the world of 15th-century Italy, because I promise you will not be disappointed.
  • 6:33 PM

San Giobbe Altarpiece

Giovanni Bellini, San Giobbe Altarpiece, 1487

Bellini wanted to create a compound experience for those who entered the San Giobbe cathedral and viewed the San Giobbe Alterpiece. His painting had to convey the intimacy of the scene within the painting and resonate throughout the church and invoke feelings of reverence, comfort, and belonging, while also showing his talent as an artist with the perspective, composition, and faithfully telling the story of the painting.

Hand gestures are a critical part of the San Giobbe Alterpiece as a way of welcoming visitors into the cathedral. Mary gazes off into the distance in an almost divine, detached way while her torso faces the viewer with her upraised hand, palm facing forward, inviting them into the church. St. Francis' outstretched hand welcomes the beholder into the scene itself to view the baby Jesus and complete the circle of saints around enthroned Mary. Mary is the protector of the painting, meant to invoke comfort and strength, while St. Francis grounds the painting, inviting the viewer into the painting and calling forth a feeling of religious belonging and simple faith.

The two levels of devotion that Bellini uses are dulia and hyperdulia to invoke the religious meaning to those viewing it. Dulia, in Roman Catholic theology, is the reverence accorded to saints and angels. He shows dulia with the half crescent of saints, from left to right: St. Francis, John the Baptist, Job, St. Dominic, St. Sebastian, and Louis of Toulouse, as well as with the angels seated at the throne of Mary. Hyperdulia is reverence reserved for the Virgin alone. By having Mary in majesty with the angels at her feet and saints facing her in reverence, Bellini shows hyperdulia. Bellini uses dulia and hyperdulia, as the San Giobbe Altarpiece is the first to be seen when entering the cathedral, and he needs to include these themes when welcoming church-goers so they enter a religiously faithful and pious state of mind.

Bellini uses the theological code for his color choices as a way of differing his saints and giving significance to the painting. The theological code, as argued by St. Antoninus, is that black represents humility, white represents purity, red represents charity, and yellow-gold represents dignity. He uses black and brown for St. Dominic and St. Francis respectively to show the faith and humbleness of the saints. He places them on opposite sides of Mary to maintain the symmetrical composition. Bellini uses the same technique for Job and St. Sebastian. Both are clothed in white, Job shown with a white beard, and St. Sebastian, clean-shaven and youthful, to keep the balance while their differences in age and body position give variety to the painting. By using yellow-gold to accent different parts of the building behind and above the throne, Bellini adds a grandeur to the painting.

Perspective within the San Giobbe Altarpiece gives an importance to the figures in the painting while also showing the depth of area within the painting. Bellini uses perspective on the painting when placing Mary on the throne in comparison to the room around her, giving her a place of importance with the light falling on her face. However, the saints in the foreground are too large next to the throne and in comparison to the pillars framing the painting. Bellini could have done this on purpose to emphasize the importance of the saints and make them more life-size next to the people viewing the painting. Through shadowing and placement of Mary, Bellini adds expanse and depth by using the pillars to hold the saints in place and provide a comparison to the shadows and space behind the throne. 
  • 7:00 AM