Going to Work

Jean Francois Millet, Going to Work, 1851-1853

Mid-way through his career Jean-François Millet deemed himself painter of the peasants. Growing up in a rural community in Normandy, France, with a peasant farmer as a father,
Millet knew first hand how labor intensive the work of lower class could be. He himself had worked the fields until he was eighteen and left home to study in Paris, France. He understood both the mental and physical strain such intensive work had on the people of his community. 

Millet uses lighting and shadows in a unique way. He places a shadow over most of his subjects faces, hiding them. By doing so he generalizes the people and succeeds in representing not just an individual, but a community. Millet thought of his family and the rest of the working class to be true heros, and that they deserved to be portrayed as so. 

In all of Millet’s rural paintings he uses the same color palette of neutral tones, rarely including vibrant colors. The most vibrant color, in this case the blue of the man’s shirt, I would only consider so compared to the rest of the colors. His paintings have a dusty finish to them, showing the audience how dirty the work of his people can be. He includes some religious ties in his paintings as well. It’s often debated  whether this was because he was raised in a religious home or if it was a tactic to make his work more profitable. Either way he subtly hints at a readjustment in society.
  • 7:00 AM

The Meeting

Gustave Courbet, The Meeting, 1854

Ah, nothing rejuvenates creativity quite like a scenic journey through nature. Our artist decided join us in this painting. The bearded man on the far right is Gustave Courbet. To his near left, is his patron Alfred Bruyas. His fine green coat marks his status as a wealthy individual. Being the son of a Banker and also being a part time painter, it can be assumed that the carriage in the distance if probably his. Next to Bruyas is his servant named Calas, as well as his dog. 

Courbet almost entirely based this composition off of a popular print showing "The Bourgeois of the Town Speaking to the Wandering Jew." The "Wandering Jew" was a legendary folk figure who was an outcast and was cursed to eternally roam the Earth. The man mocked Jesus on the way to his execution, which brought the curse upon him. Courbet easily cast himself in the "Wandering Jew" role for him being the victim of persecution. He also used the "Wandering Jew" theme in a painting before. In this painting Courbet wanted to display the tradition of the traveling artisan.

Bruyas seems to hold a deep respect for Courbet, as his glove is off, presumably to shake his hand. Courbet hasn't returned the gesture possibly because patron and artisan are on different levels, as Bruyas is in Courbet's territory as an artist. Calas' head is bowed deeply, displaying upmost respect for Courbet, and the dog stands at Bruyas' side symbolizing loyalty.

This painting was exhibited in Paris at the 1855 Exhibition Universelle, where some critics ridiculed the painting, giving it the name "Bonjour Monsieur Courbet". Bruyas did not exhibit The Meeting until he donated it to the Musee Fabre in Montpellier in 1868.

  • 7:00 AM

Sleeping Savoyard Boy

Wilhelm Leibl, Sleeping Savoyard Boy, 1869

Wilhelm Leibl, a German artist, was known for his paintings of portraits in connection with German naturalism and realism. Over the course of his work, Leibl made an important contribution to German realism, but went against the ways of Romantic naturalism which was not the norm. Leibl had a love for the subject matter of painting nature, human figures, human encounters or situations, and objects. Towards the beginning of his years as an artist, his work was defined and he paid attention to detail. His lines were more harsh and prominent than later in life when he began to draw and paint softer lines - almost as if it looked blurred. He used a good amount of natural and subtle colors to make his paintings appear very simple and delicate. What made Leibl unique was that he tried to stay away from the norm and made his artwork his own. 

In Sleeping Savoyard Boy, Leibl creates a peaceful portrait of a boy sleeping after a long day of harsh labor. Leibl was always surrounded by poor laborers and would imagine them in an everyday setting without emotion. Through this painting, viewers are able to discern the normal perception of life in Savoy where one works hard for their livelihood, but at the end of the day is overcome by the rigors of life. He used the technique of oil on canvas to create a soft yet powerful painting of the representation of some people’s daily life. He did not draw this painting out, but rather directly used paint on canvas to create his work. On the background and foreground, he used short strokes with multiple colors of paint to create visible texture which contributed to his excellent way of establishing light and shadow. 

Overall, Leibl is an exquisite German painter who took visuals and experiences in his everyday life and put them on canvas. Even if he saw a complete stranger that captured his attention, he would paint them, which in my opinion, is inspirational.
  • 7:00 AM

Wild Boars in the Snow

Rosa Bonheur, Wild Boars in the Snow, 1870


Rosa Bonheur was the most famous female realist artist. Her fame started in France where she grew up, but as her work changed, so did her popularity. The French female became more popular in Britain and America as her works lost their French touch. She was criticized for her English style and was pronounced a deserter. The Goncourt brothers insulted her by calling her “that Jewess,” showing the rise in Anti-Semitism in Europe. The original title of the painting is Sangliers dans la Neige, but I chose to stick with the English version Wild Boars in the Snow to show her shift from French popularity to English and American fame. Bonheur persevered and continued to paint with her muse. She painted all types of animals. She mostly focused on horses, cows, sheep, and other farm animals. Eventually, she expanded to exotic creatures like lions and wild boars. She studied the anatomy of the animals because accuracy was extremely important to her. Bonheur often went to butcher shops or zoos to watch and sketch animals before she started her final works. Due to her sometime-messy workspace, she started dressing like a man. She had to get a special permit to do so. Bonheur said her preferred clothing choice “was necessitated by her going to paint in the rough all-male atmosphere of the Paris slaughterhouses as Gericault had done.” Bonheur made sacrifices so she could paint as a passion and not as a job.

Out of all of her works, Wild Boars in the Snow caught my eye. It surprised me that the painting is about the size of the average piece of paper, and yet it contains many intricate details. I liked the color scheme and the warm glow given by the sunset, even though the snow would generally give a cold feeling. The warm colors seem to have an ombré effect that divides the painting in three parts horizontally: the snow, the forest and the sky. The pathways also seems to divide the painting vertically. The foremost boar seems to be the focal point and leader of the pack even though he is off-center. I think he is the focal point because the other boars blend in with the trees. He is also the first boar on the pathway, so he appears to lead the way. I do not feel that the painting has a religious, social or philosophical agenda. I think Bonheur just enjoyed painting animals, since they appear in most of her works. 

  • 7:00 AM

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Honore Daumier, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,  1866

"Y salen los dos, en una aventura legendaria. Sancho Panza, el mejor compañero, y Don Quijote. Los dos encuentro un gigante poderoso." - Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza has always had a special place in my heart... or at least since last year when I based an entire Spanish movie plot off of a portion of the book. However, this is not about me or my wacky adventure playing Don Quixote's confused companion, Sancho Panza. This is about how Honore Daumier perfectly captures the obsessive, stern composure of the "great knight" Don Quixote, and the quizzical confusion of his chubby buddy on the donkey, Sancho Panza.

Throughout the original novel, Don Quixote is some whack-job who fantasizes about being a hero. He creates numerous situations and, with the help of Sancho, fights away the monsters or terror he thinks up. However, Sancho is never able to see the monsters. He blindly follows Don Quixote no matter where he goes. Whether the monsters are prisoners in a jail they broke into, or a wind-mill believed to be a giant, Sancho believes Don and fights alongside him in order to defend the people of the town.
In this painting, Daumier draws the mountains in such a way, that it cuts Sancho on his donkey, Dapple, away from the proud Don who rides into the distance. The mountains act as a line of sanity. On one side is Don who has lost all sense and fights these mythical beasts which do not in reality exist, while the other side has Sancho Panza, who questions Don's sanity, but blindly follows him into whatever challenge he and his ego get into.

  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: The Ugly Duchess

Quentin Matsys, The Ugly Duchess, 1513

Some say grotesque… but I say TOTALLY HOT!

Oh how I have yearned to see a woman conforming, not to society’s beauty standards, but to a beauty of her own. This Duchess lived life under the burden of Paget’s disease, a rare bone disease that deforms new tissue. Alas this keen Renaissance face triggered numerous inspirations. Many believed that Matsys’ painting was derived from the caricature work of Leonardo Da Vinci. BUT NO NO. This hot Duchess inspired the oh-so-great Da Vinci to draw. Only sheer beauty could inspire an Old Master like him so must be quite the spectacle! But it doesn’t stop there! She also influenced Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland…She’s basically super famous.

Her withered boobage busts out from the aristocratic headdress of her youth. Damnnnnnnnnn… Bold move Duchess! This serves as a big kiss-off to all those porcelain-faced haters who put her down. Who needs to play coquette and obsess over beauty when you can inspire everyone to show off your inner hotness? 

So. The Ugly Duchess might not be your cup of tea, but she sure is steamy like a fresh pour. Just look at that extraordinary face - there’s nothing like it. Literally.
  • 9:00 AM

Art History Hotties: The Floor Scrapers

Gustave Caillebotte, The Floor Scrapers, 1875

"What image am I trying to capture? Uh, you know. The toils of labor."

I like to imagine what sort of things Gustave Caillebotte must have said to his models. "Yes, your shirts have to be off for this." "Just bend over and pretend to scrape the floor." "It's not weird guys, it's art!"

With confidence, Caillebotte submited The Floor Scrapers, or Les raboteurs de parquet, to France's Salon with high hopes. He replicated the gloomy morning light as it shone onto the floorboard. Lean, characterless men hunched over, scraping away dutifully. Just a simple piece of workers in the early hours of the day. Seems innocent enough, right? Surely the Salon would approve.

The response: a solid rejection. Immediately, Caillebotte received his entry back thanks to its "vulgar subject material." It seemed that the Salon saw something different, something less earnest. Perhaps they were right to think that, but either way, Caillebotte took great offense. At the time, male nudity in art yielded to the female nude, which dominated interest. One critic remarked on the precision of the scene, claiming that the painting was optically accurate, but was limited because of it. Amusingly, another claimed that the models simply weren't attractive enough. If Caillebotte wanted to paint nudes, why not go all the way?

Perhaps unbeknownst to them, Caillebotte had indeed painted handsome male nudes, and would continue to do so. Notable works such as Homme au bain, and Man Drying his Leg popped up only a few years later, evidence of Caillebotte's refusal to deny himself the subject matter.

Never give up on what you love. Caillebotte loved painting naked dudes, and nobody, not even the Salon, could stop him.

  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: The Dying Slave

 Michelangelo, Dying Slave,1513-1515

Oh my! How dominating, how erotic. One would never guess this was a Dying Slave. The only thing dying about this slave is them abs if you know what I mean. Could you believe that this work was unfinished? I didn't either until I looked down, which didn’t happen until about an hour of exposure, no pun intended. 

However, I can tell you, I was not looking at the legs. Yeah, you know what I was looking at. It was his beautiful face, bleeding with passion for Christ. The original work was to be placed around Christ's tomb. It was only ever rejected because it was too big to fit.  It was originally with its pair, the rebellious slave, but they say the two contrasted each other, but in my opinion, the other one got jealous. 

In contrast to the active struggle featured in the Rebellious Slave, the Dying Slave shows a more passive struggle, as he looks like he’s fallen victim to some kind of intoxicant, the intoxicant being the mirror he looked into this morning. Some would ask where his clothes are. However, the truth is, you don’t need clothes when you are that comfortable and that beautiful in the nude. 

The Dying Slave is a true artistic masterpiece. It insights the most voluptuous of emotions, but at the same time, demands respect. I would love to see the dying slave, even if it was unsuccessful in guarding the tomb of Christ. The seven-foot wonder, I think anybody would fall victim to its charm, male or female.

  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Young Woman Going to Bed

Jacob van Loo, Young Woman Going to Bed, 1650

To quote Vogue, “we’re officially in the era of the big booty”. Public icons all over media have started to accentuate their derrière in any way possible, and women’s sexual appeal now seems to be determined by the size of their butt. What people once tried to keep to a minimal they are now working to enhance, so I guess this Young Woman Going to Bed was way ahead of her time.

The young woman shoots us with an over the shoulder smile, you can tell she’s confident in her body and actions. The expression on her face draws us in, perhaps she wants us to accompany her to bed. The context is unclear about whether she invites or only tempts the viewer. Although the painting is revealing, a sense of mystery persists for that reason.

I found myself wondering why the young woman has kept her bonnet on after completely ridding herself of clothing. At first I thought perhaps she wasn’t finished undressing, but her positioning contradicts this theory. Recently, having been sick, my next thought was perhaps her hair is still wet from bathing and she doesn’t want to catch a cold, but I find that theory even harder to believe. After spending a good fifteen minutes trying to come up with a reason why Loo found it to be a necessary addition to the painting, I realized I truly did not know my chapeau and would’ve greatly benefited from  a visit to the archive of My Kid Could Paint That. I then made the realization that the bonnet was most likely solely for sleeping. Despite the real reason behind it, the bonnet adds a comical aspect to the painting because she looks a little ridiculous.

Rich jewel tones surround the young woman. Her skin is almost as light as the white fabric draped across the side table and bed, although with peachy undertones. She pulls the covers down as she gets ready to immerse herself in the plush covers of her bed. But don’t be alarmed; she hasn’t forgotten her nightly routine! What was it, a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty squats? Who knows, but either way she’s definitely committed herself and is sure to go down in the books of art history hotties.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Lodovico Capponi

Agnolo Bronzino, Lodovico Capponi, 1555 

This young 16th century aristocrat, no doubt, makes the list of "art history hotties". With his strangely elongated torso and fingers, disproportional, small head, and his messy right-out-of-bed styled red hair, Lodovico Capponi captures the eye of every female. Capponi's eyes pierce through the canvas, pulling the attention from any young maiden, and they'll immediately adore him for his wealth. Bronzino portrays Capponi in his family's colors, black and white, and paints every last detail of his ensemble from the silver lining on his shirt to every button and crease in his vest. Capponi also holds a sword, a symbol of power.

The New Yorker claims that this painting "exude[s] aristocratic hauteur and erotic glamour...with the lad's unforgettably protruding glad-to-see-you codpeice". Bronzino, a poet as well as an artist, often uses play on words in his poetry, such as the word panello meaning either "paintbrush" or "penis". With his dirty mind, Bronzino obviously means no coincidence by the similarity between Capponi's sword and a phallus. Contrary to Capponi's face, his body would suggest he is quite happy. Although composed in the 16th century, Bronzino's subtle, dirty humor replicates that of the 21st century.

Bronzino created this painting during the Mannerism period. Mannerism can be characterized by elongated limbs, small heads, formal facial features, and seemingly uncomfortable poses, all of which easily recognizable in the portrait of Capponi. Mannerists take an anti-classicism approach, in attempt to stray from the previous Renaissance Era. Their works break away from a realistic appearance and become more artificial. The gaudy iridescent tarp acting as a background and the dark spots placed unsystematically throughout the painting show those features of mannerism.

  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Saint Sebastian

Orazio Borgianni, Saint Sebastian, 1618
Orazio Borgianni, an Italian painter, was known for his deep and passionate religious artistry. He was greatly inspired by Caravaggio and focused on eerie realism with the incorporation of light, shade, and detail. He enjoyed painting works of art for churches that allowed him to stay within his form of expertise. Although he is not one of the most recognized painters out there, his work is quite fascinating. But, the most important thing of all, in my opinion, is that he knows how to paint one attractive Saint.

Saint Sebastian (1615), is a beautifully painful painting of Saint Sebastian himself, a martyr during the persecution of Christians done by Diocletian, the Roman emperor. He went to Rome to join the army and worked under Diocletian. Truth be told, he was a Christian who was succeeding at converting many soldiers to Christianity. When Diocletian found out about this “sinful act” he ordered his archers to kill Saint Sebastian by arrows. This painting done by Borgianni is an image captured of Saint Sebastian dying and in pain with an arrow pierced into the left side of his chest. The dark shading in the background and the shadowing of his body creates such power to the painting, along with the highlights of light appearing throughout his upper body. Although this illustration of him is depressing, he looks quite beautiful. I never in a million years would hear myself say that Saint Sebastian could be such a hottie.

When I look at him, I see pure beauty. Beauty that not only comes from the outside, but also from within. He not only has perfectly chiseled features, but also a toned body, which is a win, win. Although you can see that he is in pain, “beauty is pain”. The fact that he was strong through everything he went through, makes him even more pleasing and captivating to look at. I could stare at him all day. I know if I were to see him in public I would most definitely take a picture of him and send it to my friends. Surprisingly, Saint Sebastian is bae material.

  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Fisherman With a Net

Frederic Bazille, Fisherman With a Net, 1868

Oh my god, Becky, look at his butt. His chiseled back and leg muscles, the proud and unashamed stance, it all just screams "art history hottie." Jean Frederic Bazille undoubtedly created this masterpiece with that in mind and does so by placing the man in the manliest of settings: a lush plot of prairie grass.

The man peers cheekily behind his shoulder, beckoning the viewer to gaze upon his bootyful presence. His confident posture contradicts the physical vulnerability the man bears, given his astonishing lack of clothing which seems to be in a mound off to the side of the painting. Maybe he's a bum and needs to hunt for food in order to survive? The fish net wrapped around his wrist and draped off to his left side certainly suggests this theory. Then again, it was considered normal in Europe to fish in the nude in 1868, the year these beautiful buns were born.

While he seems to be doing all the heavy lifting, in the rear of the painting, his friend sits on his laurels taking off his own clothes, perhaps adding to the clothing pile. In addition, his right arm seems to be peculiarly more muscular than the other one… it must be a real bummer living as a naked prairie man. The homosexual undertone in this painting must be in response to the opposition and repression of homosexuality present during the time in which this painting was created. Bazille never married either, and his intimate relationships with men suggest that he might have been gay himself, though it is never a good idea to make assumptions. Seeing that Bazille is now deceased, I guess we will never get to the bottom of this issue. I suppose we can only guess based on his artwork.

One thing's for sure, he was all about that bass.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Rokeby Venus

Diego Velázquez, Rokeby Venus, 1651

Venus, the G-ddess of Love, was thought of the perfect image of a woman. Here, we can only see her backside, because we are not worthy enough for her full beauty. Though she lies before a mirror and she sees and knows her true beauty. In a way, she is saying that she is the only one worthy of her beauty. This can be looked at in a feminist sense, so that she doesn’t need a man to tell her she is beautiful, because she knows it. Her son, Cupid, is the only male allowed to see her beauty, as he came from inside her beauty. In that way, she created another beautiful thing, Cupid, the G-d of Love. Another important aspect of the painting is that we can she her face in the reflection of the mirror. We see her beautiful face, but not her beautiful body. Here we can think of her saying look up and see my beauty. Velázquez doesn’t want her lower half to be the focus. Also, the mirror allows her to see herself and the viewer. This is important because Velázquez includes the viewer in the scene. The viewer feels Venus’ confidence. She loves herself and is comfortable in her own skin, which is an important takeaway as a viewer in today’s day and age.

One reason the painting is intriguing, is because this is the only surviving example of a female nude by Velázquez. The subject was rare in Spain because it met with the disapproval of the Church. Velázquez is known for his portraits and for his works commissioned by the Spanish Royal family. King Philip IV is remembered for his support of artists such as Velázquez. Religion was important to King Philip, so it is interesting that Velázquez would paint a bold painting that would offend his best client and members of the Spanish Inquisition. Trips to Italy and studying Italian artists acted as the influence for Robeky Venus.

Velázquez uses curves and drapery to add texture to the painting. The curves of the sheets match the curves of her body and help accentuate her form. Veláquez uses a light color on the bottom and a rich red for the curtain in the upper left quadrant, but breaks the colors up with a dark grey hue. The left side of the picture is busier than the right side of the painting.

I enjoy this painting because it suggests beauty without revealing it. Velázquez doesn’t reveal the true beauty of the Goddess of Love. In some ways that is better because it is up to the viewer to find or imagine her beauty. I imagine Venus as a sassy character in this scene along with her sidekick, Cupid, which I believe is a humorous aspect of the work.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: The Laöcoon Group

Hagesandros, Athanodoros, and Polydoros, The Laöcoon Group, approx. 79 A.D.

There's nothing sexier than a really ripped dude fighting serpents, except for maybe a really ripped naked dude fighting serpents. The guide at the Vatican described this sculpture as "an image of the ideal man" and she wasn't kidding, especially in a modern era where we worship the fit and toned workout gods and top-level athletes. Although Laöcoon was far from an athlete, this statue proved the beauty of muscles and tension in the human form.

Laöcoon's story is a bit steamy itself. As a seer and priest of Apollo, he'd taken a vow of celibacy, but broke it during the Trojan war. Whether it was "the mood" that distracted him or just plain pride, Laöcoon broke his oath to Apollo and had sex with his wife in the god's sacred sanctuary. He also played a part in godly politics by tipping off the Trojans about the wooden horse. The pro-Greek gods would not stand for this insolence. Suffice to say, their wrath came like a wave, literally. It was decided that the best punishment would be to let Poseidon deal with Laöcoon and his sons, thus, two giant serpents rose from the sea and crushed them.

The statue itself was discovered in 1506 and recognized as the statue described by Pliny the Elder. Michelangelo, being an incredibly prevalent artist at this time, was involved in the excitement, as well as the challenge of restoring Laöcoon and his sons' missing arms. The muscular tension in this painting considerably inspired Michelangelo as he incorporated it into his painting of the Sistine Chapel. Many of the figures on the famed ceiling obviously share this same Greek-style musculature.

Between the defined abs, busting pecs, and tough-as-nails biceps, its not hard to see why many find this to be a perfect version of the masculine form. The beard and size also signify manhood and virility. This glorious marble testament to man is a perfect example of the beauty in tension and sexual maturity, and as long as there are art lovers (and straight girls with eyes), I'm sure this statue will continue to be admired for years to come.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Leda and the Swan

Peter Paul Rubens, Leda and the Swan, 1600

Leave it to Rubens to paint an avian erotic scene of Leda and Zeus. Zeus allegedly rapes Leda but I’m sure he would give a different account of the story given the opportunity. She becomes pregnant with his children but also of her husband’s, Tyndareus, children. She gives birth to two sets of twins, Helen and Pollux, and then Castor and Clytemnestra. Some say that they were born of an egg that Leda laid but I don’t want to know how she anatomically managed to lay an egg that contained two babies.

Normally artists of the Renaissance were hesitant to paint scenes of explicit sex, but Rubens brings in a whole other element found taboo and bestial. I know how the public felt about public scenes of sex, but I can’t imagine how they felt about a woman ravaged by a swan. Most likely they skipped Sunday afternoon walks in the park for a while. Rubens actually created this painting after Michelangelo originally painted it, but Rubens added passion and excitement to the background that Michelangelo decidedly left out. He utilizes various shades of grey in the storm clouds to display the turmoil Leda feels at the moment.

Peter Paul Rubens constructs this scene, one normally of emotion and violence, into one of passion. Leda appears accepting of the swan, allowing him access to her, as her left arm casually lays to her side, demonstrating little to no resistance to Zeus’s form.

  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Setting the World on Fire

Setting the World on Fire, Michael McClard, 1981


WARNING: This work of "art" is a lie.

You probably think that the pupil-less man in all his awkward glory started the fire. I mean, he's holding a lighted match. He's got that perfect pyromaniac glare, and I fully sympathize with his struggle. After all, if I had no neck, I'd set the planet ablaze out of sheer spite. But he didn't start the fire, obviously, because it's been always burning since the world's been turning. He struck that match, took a gander around, and said, "Drat. They beat me to it." In any case-- just look at those luscious flames. They seem three-dimensional on the frame, kinda sorta, like a sculpture or something. Guau. That's some rad perspective work. And by that I mean better than in the painting itself, which is undeniably bad. Nevertheless, I can't help but quasi-admire this piece for its bold terribleness and weirdness. It's charming, like little kids who sing even though they can't, or the clumsy protagonist in your favorite novel who magically falls up the stairs only we don't care cuz she's hot. This painting, too, is H-A-W-T hot. In fact, as a wise man (Bruno Mars) once said (in 2014), it is "too hot, HOT DAMN. Call the police and the fireman."

...No, seriously. Pick up the phone. There's something wrong here. This is what Hitler would've created if he'd gone to art school.

This painting is a wreck, but that's not why it caught my attention. It gave me that two a.m. feeling, that twinge of what-the-hell-am-I-ness that sets in when you realize all your friends are asleep. Or when you realize you don't have friends. You gaze dramatically up at the ceiling, which you can't actually see because it's nighttime, and wonder at the value of your pathetic human life. The fire on the frame--not the (meh) execution, but the concept-- brought up a topic I usually avoid at all costs, which is whether or not art has a significant, long-term impact. Whether or not it matters. I mean, it matters, but does it matter matter? Mr. McClard suggests that the world within a piece can directly affect the world without. This is what we, as pretentious perpetrators of mediocrity, strive for; not to change people, exactly, but to make them notice those little sprinkles of truth that live always in the mind.

At least, that's what we usually want. Except one time I went to Dean & Deluca to waste my parents' life savings on a sandwich, and the kid constructing said sandwich noticed my shirt, which featured A Clockwork Orange. (By "kid" I mean "twenty-something." I'm practicing for when I get old.) The following exchange occurred:

KID: Nice shirt.
ME: It's a good book.
KID: Real horrorshow.
ME: Ha. *thinks: Guau. Connecting with strangers through literature! Art is a catalyst for positive social change!*
KID: That book was my childhood, man. You should've seen what I did in high school. Those were the days.
ME: What?
KID: *hands me sandwich* That'll be two thousand dollars.

I love A Clockwork Orange because it provides insight into our natural evils and the mutability of morality. I also love it because there ain't nothing more titillating than Ludwig Van Beetgarden's music (if you remember That Scene you'll know exactly what I'm talking about). But after conversing with the sandwich dude, my own passion for the book repulsed me. I felt like those people who argue that Marya Hornbacker's Wasted promotes screwing with your body, even though she wrote it-- in part-- to warn the morbidly interested that screwing with your body is stupid. Art is dangerous. It thrives primarily on negative emotion; even the joy we write and paint is tragic, because it is temporary. In a utopia there would be no art, or at least no word for it. In a utopia there would be no self. Sometimes it seems as though everything we create is a mere echo of that great problem of self-awareness we've been screaming about for centuries. We present the problems, but no solutions; we keep returning to our egos, to our writing and our painting and our human-ing.

And it's awesome.

Whether or not it helps or hurts, we are all born with some drive within us, that innate flame of creation. After all, we didn't start the fire.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Broken Oar

Frank Schoonover, Broken Oar, 1910 

Ah, the Ivy league rowing teams, from May to March going up and down the Quinnipiac. Undoubtedly they have caused thousands of accidents, as onlookers ogle the lithe college men performing their sport. Even though this young gentleman is partly obscured in shadow, anyone who lives near a college with a half decent track team know the musculature of any young athlete, whether they choose to admit it of not.

No matter your preference, young male athletes have a gravity about them, they pull the eyes of all those around to gaze solely at them. Willingly or not every person has stared for a moment too long at an athlete preforming their craft. S reminisce about their own glory days, others about what could have been. For some of us we are just about to embark on that wondrous voyage that is college, amd ievitably mistakes will be made. However, there will always be spring sports and athletes to comfort us.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Self-Portrait Emile Friant

Émile Friant, Self-Portrait, 1878

As Ryan Gosling once said, “Hey girl.” That’s what I envision Émile Friant saying to me in his self- portrait painted in 1878. That bone structure, those eyes, that perfectly combed hair. If this was in the 21st century, this painting would definitely be hanging on way too many locker doors or bedroom walls. He channels a unique mix of Ryan Gosling’s face, Dave Franco’s bone structure and a runway model’s attitude. Even Zac Efron would fan girl if he was lucky enough for Friant to grace him with his presence. Not only does his face fit the part, but his suit also screams classy and confident.

Just the title Self-Portrait greatly improves the painting. Either Émile Friant was a 19th-century Vogue model, or he had an unrealistic opinion of his image. Not only does this painting win the award for the best “Art History Hottie,” Friant wins for the best artist hottie. I would spend millions on one of his paintings just to get a chance to meet him and see this beautiful face in the flesh. Forget Justin Timberlake meet and greets, I want to travel back to the 19th century simply to have the opportunity to maybe, possibly, someday pass him on the street.

Friant shows me that he knows how to capture a room, but he also that he can paint, which in my opinion means husband material. His shadows catch the light with just the right depth and delicacy. The soft browns and yellows create a texture that makes me feel as though I am touching his hair. The gray and black tones of his suit immediately highlight his face - the clear moneymaker of this painting. Overall, this painting makes me question whether it is more fitting for an advertisement in the latest issue of “Sports Illustrated” rather than hanging in a museum. Thank you to Friant for showing me that art history does not only have to study scenes of battles or landscapes and sometimes, we must appreciate the finer things in life.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Nino

Paul Hoecker, Nino, 1904


Before I divulge into the details of our handsome friend Nino I think I should take you back to my first encounter with him. Flashback to me sitting in class and struggling to find a hottie, and then out of the blue - or more accurately the setting sun - I found Nino. If you are like me you might be wondering where this young fellow sprung up from and I’d like to tell you he arose like any other heartthrob - in the streets of Rome at the ripe old age of 14. According to Baron Jacques de Adelsward Fersen, Antonio (Nino) Cesarini, “immediately stole his heart.” Now Fersen was not your typical admirer but a man plagued by scandal and jail time after a few promiscuous outings involving other young men in Parison. So stricken with Nino’s beauty Fersen opted to bring him home to his sanctuary, Villa Lysis, in Capri. While there Nino attracted the attention of many, and became the subject of multiple works.

Paul Hoecker displayed his version of the famous model in 1904. Within his work he focuses on the outstanding profile of Nino. His perfectly chiseled abs, accompanied by a jawline of steel, and arms that invite you in. The position of hand mimics a tween girl yet if you look beyond you see the mesmerizing landscape behind you. By framing the painting with the landscape and the arch Hoecker makes the painting personal. I feel connected with Nino. He looks away at something in the distant but we stare. Stare at all of him. All the beauty that he is. Examine the exquisite curves of his delicate form. Nino represents an ageless grace.

Fersen bought Villa Lysis as a place where he could live without persecution. He welcomed to the estate other men who felt slighted by society. How unfortunate for society that while they accused and harassed that Fersen lived a luxurious life with the divine Nino. Hoecker’s painting serves as a reminder to the people who doubted Fersen that he quite frankly couldn’t give a damn about them. I mean let’s see... conform to society or spend your days basking the in sun with your boy toy. I’ll let you decide.

If you don't choose Nino shame on you. 
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Louis XIV

Hyacinthe Rigaud, Louis XIV, 1701

Look at those calves, accented by leggings that would defy any dress code. The luxurious, richly-colored fabric around the monarch does not hurt the work’s ambiance, either. The king stands so that no one misses his shoes, enticingly red and at the peaks of fashion. He wears them to conceal his modest height of 5’4”, but with full knowledge that heels accentuate those calf muscles.

Louis XIV, an avid dancer, showed off his legs when Hyacinthe Rigaud painted him. Other kings hid their untoned calves in robes, but Louis XIV knew his assets. After all, that untamable mane alone would not get you too far in eighteenth-century France. The monarch also showed off his oversized sword and cane in the portrait to assert his authority. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Pose fabulously, and carry a big stick,” or something like that.

Just a painting of such magnificence elicited respect and awe. In Art through the Ages, Gardner writes, “When the king was not present, Rigaud’s portrait, which hung over the throne, served in his place, and courtiers knew never to turn their backs on the painting.” In his absence, King Louis XIV used Rigaud’s work to flaunt his grace and remind his subjects why they so admired their king: for his exquisite calves.

Rigaud makes it obvious that King Louis XIV, certified hottie of eighteenth-century France, deserves the opulence that surrounds him, but, for his policy? No. For his lineage? Probably not. For his extravagance? Absolutely.
  • 7:00 AM

Art History Hotties: Jean Cocteau

Amedeo Modigliani, Jean Cocteau, 1916

Some of you of a certain middle-age may remember when Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett back in 1993. Conventional wisdom wondered what a beauty like Roberts could possibly be doing with a beast like Lovett; ever the contrarian, I wondered what woman was remotely cool enough to be with the wryest songwriter on the planet. Lovett was a personal musical hero, a man whose lyrics mined the sardonic and ironic as much as the Byronic. For all the tracks such as "I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You," he'd have a heartfelt ballad like"Nobody Loves Me Like My Baby" perfect for that staple of 1990s romance - the mix-tape.

When the students said they wanted to write about Art History Hotties, I balked. Too many innuendos, too much room for run-away puns, the pictures would be too risque. The students, though, were relentless, and in the end my inner mischief trumped whatever sense of public decorum I supposedly still possess. As I read through their responses, I found myself repeatedly snickering and being reminded that Modigiani's portrait of Cocteau looked a smidge like Lyle. And then I recalled my favorite Lovett lines. In "Here I Am," old Lyle speaks the following:

"Given that true intellectual and emotional compatibility
Are at the very least difficult
If not impossible to come by
We could always opt for the more temporal gratification
Of sheer physical attraction.
That wouldn't make you a shallow person
Would it?"

For our purposes - no, it does not make us shallow at all. It simply makes us appreciate the beauty of the human form. Right? Right. Right...it makes us appreciate the hot human form. 
  • 7:00 AM

Poppy Field

Guy Rose, Poppy Field, 1910 

Sonnets to Orpheus, #9
By Ranier Maria Rilke

Only he who has also raised 
his lyre among shadows 
may find his way back 
to infinite praise. 

Only he who has eaten with the dead 
from their stores of poppy 
will never again lose 
the softest chord. 

And though the pool's reflection 
often blurs before us: 
Know the image. 

Only in the double realm 
do the voices become 
eternal and mild.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM