Posts Tagged ‘art / paintings’

As a former Classics minor and regular museum attendee of minor prestige, I have off-and-on read bits and pieces about how ancient sculpture was anything but monochromatic. If you go to museums these days you start to notice casts of color on ancient objects more than ever before, either because of the buzz about the topic and/or because these pieces are now being showcased.

It’s one of those times of year I wish I was visiting NYC. I spent a lovely summer there long ago and used to visit now and then when I knew people who lived there. Add to that an out-of-the-blue recent conversation I had on a cool New York Public Library exhibition of their collection’s treasures. And then there’s this article from yesterday’s New York Times on the Met’s “Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color” show, which features “colorized” versions of ancient sculptures, a public culmination of the studies of the Brinkmanns, a scholarly couple who have been at this for decades. Well, it makes me wish I could hop on planes and trains like I used to, or at least makes me think about studying something interesting like this in depth.

The article covers a lot of ground on ancient polychromy, including a new angle I’d not encountered, namely that by seeing only monochromatic (usually white/whitish marble) human figures in ancient art, our aesthetic and racial views of the world are significantly affected. Check this out for more on that.

Well, that’s plenty of links for you to peruse. But what really intrigued me about the Times article was this:

“However, some historians worry that the Met Museum has elevated the increasingly ubiquitous Brinkmann replicas to an iconic status that is becoming the default representation of ancient polychromy, when the couple’s research is just one among dozens of competing theories. The debate now encompasses more than a disagreement about pigments and scientific method; some academics see the reconstructions as a larger discussion on who gets to define the past.”

As much as I’d like to see the Chroma exhibit in person—and there’s a lot to it, including a fascinating glossary that includes ancient pigments—what I’d really love to see is an exhibit covering these dozens of competing theories, including replicas, succinct write-ups, lectures, evidence, etc. Maybe Chroma will feature some of this—I have not consulted its calendar. I can always resort to books and journals, but what a wonder such an exhibit would be. For that I would hop on the next plane and figure out somewhere and some way to stay in New York for a spell.

Ancient statue of a woman with blue and gilt garment, fan and sun hat, from Tanagra, Greece, 325–300 B.C. Exhibited in Berlin’s Altes Museum. Source: Wikipedia.

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My reading calendar has been consciously in place longer than my music one, which is still driven only by feeling until maybe my last post, where I codified my feelings, for better or for worse.

I’m not sure how it started, but it must have been feelings like my music ones, and then a decade or so ago I looked at all the books on my shelf and decided to enjoy the carousel that was my mind, for once. Some of these monthly selections arose very naturally, long before I was conscious of anything, some came when I saw I had a mess of worthy books that were not being read. 

You might wonder where the nature books are; well they have been declared an ongoing concern, with readings in that vein taken up throughout the seasons. 


Russian, or Continental, fiction. This clearly arose from my working world days, taking the train to work in bitter weather and enjoying soaking up every phantasmagoric page of bedraggled, disgruntled, gauche civil servant fiction.


Brit hist, Vicky, Boney, Scots, &c. This started in an era of a lot of reading of the eras and lives of Napoleon and Queen Victoria, branching into general British history, including and especially the more alienated nations, plus the rest of Europe. The 19th century doesn’t loom as large as it once did, although it is still immense.


Presidential bios/U.S. history. Having collected two sets of presidential biographies, this seemed requisite. One president a year in at least one short book, and history related to his era.


International history (non-U.S., non-European). Adventures in my smattering of history books set in Asia, Africa, South America, Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East, the Pacific, the Arctic, Siberia &c.


Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. In order written, as series should be read. We’ll see if I live long enough. I have a couple of translations of some of the books and have enjoyed comparing them to the originals when selecting.


Children’s fiction, Very Short Introductions. Summer away from school, why not read the old favorites? I have pairs of Oxford’s “Very Short Introductions” books and this an opportune time for summer study fun!


Thick novel. Sometimes not so thick. Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.


Music, art. A small group of classical music books (scores, lives), plus a lot of books about 19th-centure painters, mostly. 


Greek, Classical World, ancient, Louis MacNeice. A return to my heady first year of college where I delightedly delved into Classics. Greek Epics, plays, and poems, maybe history and art, what have you. Other ancients have been added to the mix. I began reading my collected Louis MacNeice (born on a date near mine) poems whose publication dates matched my age. I abandoned this habit several years ago, but am rectifying that this catch-up year.


Poetry, ghost stories, Irving-Chew. More loving return to schooldays, and what other month could be most poetic of the year, Keats’ birth month? On his birthday I read Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” annually for a decade or so. This gave way to Ruth Chew books about witches and magic. I also read a biography of A. C. Swinburne this month a while back. I never liked his poetry, but dug his life, and decided he’d make the ideal Hallowe’en persona if I ever put a lot of effort into ever wearing a costume again. 


Philosophy, religion. November weather must make me think, or want to. Paving the way for celebration and change?


Mystery, comics, roleplaying game rules/worlds. This started with reading a volume of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books per December along with Wodehouse or something akin. Now I have some comic book collections and roleplaying game guides lying around, so might add those. We’ll see.  

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My last post celebrated Paul Signac’s glorious Blessing of the Tuna Fleet at Groix, a puzzle of which I completed not long ago, however long ago it feels.

One thing that made this experience special were the pieces, jigsawed into many shapes and betraying the minute detail that Signac lavished on his work. You can see details in my last post, and here are a few isolated shots that give a small feeling of what it was like as I worked on the puzzle (click to enlarge):

Click the image on the left and take a close look. Which piece do you find the most fascinating? The one that heightens your respect for Signac’s skill? Vote now!

Yes, this post was named after this song by Peter & Gordon. It has one of my favorite openings ever, and apparently was banned for a time after 9/11. We’re not the only decade that knows strange times.


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A friend of mine was questing for a puzzle the other day, turning up none after combing of her locale. I sent her an eBay link for the one I just completed, Paul Signac’s “Blessing of the Tuna Fleet at Groix,” brought to us by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and publisher Museum & Wildlife Collections. I very much took my time, snapping a photo from time to time.

It all started in mid-November, building the border, and yes that’s Orange Caramel of “Lipstick” fame, a poster underneath a sheet of plastic. It was hard not to buy a CD when visiting Seoul without having posters and other ephemera thrust upon one. Cute.



My parents love puzzles these days, board games having been usurped, and my late uncle did them for many years, getting hooked on them during a hospital stayhe had a special affinity for 1,000 piece ones, which I find rather amazing.

Work progressed bit by bit, and a month later:



On two card tables in the second bedroom, I worked to music and a lot of singing resulted. It was a great way to enjoy my whole music collection. And I even fit some pieces together.



In mid-March, a certain album revealed itself to me in a depth I’d never noticed as rapid progress was made.


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Until all was complete:



How satisfying! It’s hard to imagine wanting to do a different puzzle. This one is perfect, with insight into classic art in an Impressionist, semi-Pointillist style where each piece sheds light on the artist’s loving detail, plus the pieces are cut in a huge variety, so it’s exciting to track them down and piece them together. I’ll probably take some board games for a spin next, but I am tempted to just take the puzzle apart and then start all over again!

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