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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.

Salvador Dali: The Paranoia-Critical Method

Salvador Dali - Swans Reflecting Elephants -1937 - Oils on canvas - 51 cm × 77 cm (20.08 in × 30.31 in) - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)The painting featured here is from what is known as Salvador Dali’s (1904-1989) “paranoiac-critical period”. It contains one of Dali's famous double images. Dali's "paranoia-critical method" was discussed in his 1935 essay entitled "The Conquest of the Irrational." He explained the process as a "spontaneous method of irrational understanding based upon the interpretative critical association of delirious phenomena." Dali used this method to represent the hallucinatory forms, double images and visual illusions that filled his paintings during the 1930s. 

Swans Reflecting Elephants uses the reflection in a lake to create the double image seen in the painting. “The three swans in front of bleak, leafless trees are reflected in the lake so that the swans' heads become the elephants' heads and the trees become the bodies of the elephants. In the background of the painting is a Catalonian landscape depicted in fiery fall colors, the brushwork creating swirls in the cliffs that surround the lake, to contrast with the stillness of the water.”


Did You Know?

Pierre Auguste Renoir’s first experience with painting happened in 1854 when he took his first job working in a porcelain factory. There he painted designs on fine china. His talent for painting would have made sure he always had a job as a porcelain painter, but the company went out of business four years later. While he was doing this job, he used to love visiting the Louvre and seeing the works of all the French art masters.


Claude Monet: The Last Years

Claude Monet - The Japanese Bridge - c. 1918-24 - Oil on canvas - 89 x 116 cm (35 x 45 3/4 in.) - The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (click photo for larger image)“Monet's paintings of his water-garden and water-lilies at Giverny occupied him for many years in the latter part of his life and were his last great works.” For many years they were not fully understood—nor were they recognized for their modernist tendencies. Indeed, Monet’s work as a whole wasn’t truly recognized for its genius until the 1950s.

By the end of 1890, Monet (1840-1926) began making improvements to the garden, which included the formation of a pond. He had a bridge `in Japanese taste' built over it, which is featured in a number of his late works. He truly loved the garden at Giverny—and he shaped it like a work of art. It was an ongoing, never-ending project. He would meditate on it for thirty years.


Simone Martini: A Love of Harmony and Pure Color

Simone Martini - Maestà (Madonna with Angels and Saints) - 1315 - Fresco, 763 x 970 cm - Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, Italy (click photo for larger image)Italian Gothic Era painter Simone Martine (ca. 1285-1344) was an important exponent of Gothic painting, who did more than any other artist to spread the influence of Sienese painting. Simone was very possibly a pupil of Duccio di Buoninsegna, from whom he probably inherited his love of harmonious, pure colors and most of his early figure types. To these he added a gracefulness of line and delicacy of interpretation that were inspired by French Gothic works that the young artist studied in Italy. He carried to perfection the decorative line of the Gothic style and subordinated volume to the rhythm of this line.

Simone’s earliest documented painting is the large fresco of the Maestà in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. Simone painted it as the ideal of the good and just government. This is the oldest painting that can be safely attributed to the artist. The end wall of the Sala del Mappamondo (formerly known as Sala del Consiglio) is entirely covered by this fresco. Surrounded by a frame decorated with twenty medallions depicting the Blessing Christ, the Prophets and the Evangelists and with smaller shields containing the coat-of-arms of Siena, the fresco shows a host of angels, Saints and Apostles, with the Madonna and Child in the center. The whole scene, set against a deep blue background, is surmounted by an imposing canopy of red silk.

The most obvious innovations present in Simone's style are his ideas of three-dimensional space. The supporting poles of the canopy are placed in perspective, thus giving a sense of depth to the composition. Under the canopy there is a crowd of thirty people: no more processions of people in parallel rows, but concrete spacial rhythms and animated gestures.


Quote of the Day

“Art is a fruit that grows in a man like a fruit on a plant or a child in its mother’s womb.” - Jean Arp