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Worth Watching
  • Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
  • Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
    Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)

    “Sister Wendy Beckett has transformed public appreciation of art through her astonishing knowledge, insight and passion for painting and painters.” This set includes Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Sister Wendy's Odyssey, and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour. Simultaneously delightful and scholarly--this is a must have for anyone interested in art history.

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    When British stencil artist Banksy traveled to Los Angeles to work, he came across obscure French filmmaker Thierry Guetta and his badly organized collection of videotapes involving the activities of graffiti artists. Inspired, Banksy assembled them with new footage to create this talked-about documentary, and the result is a mind-boggling and odd film (so strange as to be thought a hoax by some) about outsider artists and the definition of art itself.
  • The Impressionists
    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
  • The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.
Sunday
Sep282014

We Are Relocating...

While we make our move from one coast to the other, we will be taking a break from posting until November of this year. Please check our Facebook page for more updates!

Friday
Sep262014

Löwenmensch (Lion Man) - The World’s Oldest Sculpture

Löwenmensch (Lion Man) c. 40,000 BCE - 29.6 cm (11.7 inches) in height, 5.6 cm wide, and 5.9 cm thick - Ulmer Museum - Ulm, GermanyThis sculpture—Löwenmensch (Lion Person)—was found in Germany in 1939—broken into over 200 pieces. It’s a work carved out of ivory from a mammoth, worked with a flint stone knife. It’s both the oldest known sculpture in the world (created c. 40,000 BCE), and the oldest known uncontested example of figurative art yet discovered—with hybrid zoomorphic and anthropomorphic features. The “Venus of Willendorf” no longer holds that honor, people. She’s only 27,000 years old! Arts culture is always learning more.

The pieces from this work were stored until the late 1960s, when a reconstruction was attempted but remained incomplete. Further excavations led to the discovery of more pieces. In 1988—a complete reconstruction was finally possible, and this is the result. The age of the figurine was determined by carbon dating material from the same layer where the sculpture’s pieces were found. Through study, we now know that it’s associated with the archaeological Aurignacian culture (35,000 to 45,000 years ago) located in both Europe and Asia. There are seven parallel, transverse, carved gouges on the left arm—and archeologists and art historians are still working on determining their significance. The reconstruction and understanding of a work of art can often take a very long time. Arts culture can only do what its knowledge and resources allow, at any given time.

Wednesday
Sep242014

Quote of the Day

"The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery." - Francis Bacon

Monday
Sep222014

“La Bella Principessa” (“The Beautiful Princess): A Leonardo Controversy Solved

Leonardo da Vinci - La Bella Principessa” - (1480 - 1490) - 3 mines technique on vellum, Black Chalk, Red Chalk,Chalk white. Dim: 23,87 X 33,27 cm - 9,39 x 13,09 inches. Strengthened with oak panel backing. (click photo for larger image)In 2009, a lawsuit against Christie’s in New York was filed, by one Jeanne Marchig, when a drawing that the auction house sold for her (in 1998) turned out to be a work by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Marchig (who runs a U.K. animal welfare foundation) was "devastated" when she learned that the drawing, which sold as a nineteenth century German work, turned out to be a depiction of Bianca Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan, created by the great master himself. The origin of the “La Bella Principessa” has been formally identified in its provenance, thus confirming its authenticity.

The attribution to Leonardo  da Vinci is based on  the multispectral scanning of the Research Laboratory Lumiere-Technology. It was confirmed in 2009 by six art historians, Nicholas Turner, Carlo Pedretti, Alessandro Vezzosi, Mina Gregori, Cristina Geddo and Martin Kemp (who has written a book on this whole matter). Christie’s sold the work for £11,400 (a little over $19,500 today). Its value exceeds £100m ($150 million).

Marchig sued Christie's for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of warranty, negligence and negligent misrepresentation. But the lawsuit was dismissed because the statute of limitations requires that no more than three years lapse from the time the alleged infraction occurs. Marchig's attorney's argued that the statute of limitations should apply to the date when they learned the true authorship and value of the work. But the judge disagreed and ruled in Christie's favor. Ouch!

There is still much debate today over whether or not the attribution to Leonardo is correct—but as of now it definitely stands. There are some claims that the forensics even revealed Leonardo’s fingerprint on the drawing! But other art historians still argue that this could be a copy of a Leonardo work. One thing, however, is clear. The drawing definitely is of Leonardo’s era—and not from the nineteenth century. Christie’s should have know that. The problem is that thousands and thousands of paintings go through auction houses every year—and they simply don’t have the time or resources to perform “due diligence.” But…in this case…Christie’s was not held accountable for its failure to do so. 

Friday
Sep192014

The World’s Oldest Art

Ostrich eggshell fragments - 62,000 years old - Western Cape of South Africa (click photo for larger image)These ostrich eggshell fragments, with patterns etched into their sides, are among the very earliest examples of decorative art—or what was once known as “minor” arts. From the Western cape of South Africa, wares such as this one were created 62,000 years ago, and are far older than the earliest writing or any other art forms that still exist. The symbols engraved on them are regular lines and hatches, and are so many in number that archaeologists think they may well be communicative, or at least symbolic. Since 1999, these fragments have been researched and protected in a collaboration between the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town and the Institute of Prehistory and Quaternary Geology at the University of Bordeaux. 270 fragments have been found. It’s estimated that fragments exist for 25 complete containers. Imagine that! It’s been determined that the tradition of engraving found on the eggshell vessels lasted for several thousand years. It is only through the work of many, many dedicated professionals that these treasures— and an understanding of them—have come to light.