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  • 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.

French Scientists Crack Secrets of Mona Lisa

AP – This recent undated photo provided Friday July 23, 2010, by the CNRS (National Center of Scientific Research)By ANGELA DOLAND, Associated Press Writer

PARIS – The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked a few secrets of the "Mona Lisa."

French researchers studied seven of the Louvre Museum's Leonardo da Vinci paintings, including the "Mona Lisa," to analyze the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze — a technique that gave his works their dreamy quality.

Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety...

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Restored Leonardo Masterpiece Goes Back on Display at the National Gallery in London

The Virgin Mary is seen from the artwork "The Virgin on the Rocks" by Leonardo da Vinci (1491-1508), at the National Gallery in London July 14, 2010. An 18-month project to restore Leonardo da Vinci's "Virgin of the Rocks" revealed the Renaissance artist likely painted the entire work himself rather than, as previously thought, with the help of his assistants. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett.

LONDON.-  Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks is to go back on display in the National Gallery (afternoon of 14th July) after an 18-month restoration project which started in November 2008.

The decision to restore the painting came after several years of intensive study of Leonardo’s work and that of his Milanese associates and assistants – the so-called leonardeschi – from within the Gallery’s collection. The experience gained from examining these pictures reinforced the view that 'The Virgin of the Rocks' could not be appreciated as originally intended. The cleaning process began because some varnish that was applied in 1948–9 was particularly unstable and prone to yellowing. Fine cracking in that varnish, and atmospheric dirt which had become absorbed in its waxy surface, meant that the ability of the varnish to fully saturate the picture had become seriously compromised. As a result the subtlety of shading and the sense of space were markedly reduced, and the impact of this great work significantly lessened.

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The Magic of Miró

Joan Miró - Spanish, 1893 - 1983 - Shooting Star - 1938 - oil on canvas - Overall: 65.2 x 54.4 cm (25 11/16 x 21 7/16 in.) framed: 87 x 77.4 x 5.7 cm (34 1/4 x 30 1/2 x 2 1/4 in.) Gift of Joseph H. Hazen - National Gallery of Art - Washington, D.C.

Joan Miró was a Catalan painter who combined abstract art with Surrealist fantasy. His mature style evolved from the tension between his fanciful, poetic impulse and his vision of the harshness of modern life. He worked extensively in lithography and produced numerous murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces.
"He was never closely aligned with any movement and was too retiring in his manner to be the object of a personality cult, like his compatriot Picasso, but the formal and technical innovations that he sustained over a very long career guaranteed his influence on 20th-century art. A pre-eminent figure in the history of abstraction and an important example to several generations of artists around the world, he remained profoundly attached to the specific circumstances and environment that shaped his art in his early years. An acute balance of sophistication and innocence and a deeply rooted conviction about the relationship between art and nature lie behind all his work and account in good measure for the wide appeal that his art has continued to exercise across many of the usual barriers of style." (SOURCE: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS)

Celebrating an American Artist - Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper - House by the Railroad - 1925 - Oil on canvas - 24 x 29 in. (60.9 x 73.6 cm.)

Edward Hopper, the best-known American realist of the inter-war period, once said: 'The man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing.' This offers a clue to interpreting the work of an artist who was not only intensely private, but who made solitude and introspection important themes in his painting. Among the subjects he painted were hotels, motels, trains and highways. He also liked to paint the public and semi-public places where people gathered: restaurants, theatres, cinemas and offices. But even in these paintings he stressed the theme of loneliness - his theatres are often semideserted, with a few patrons waiting for the curtain to go up or the performers isolated in the fierce light of the stage. Hopper was a frequent movie-goer, and there is often a cinematic quality in his work. He transformed the concrete 'public real' into something far more personal and emotional.

"Hopper frequently used a straight. horizontal motif, usually a road or railroad track. to construct the space within the picture and to emphasize the division between the picture space and the viewer's world. Indeed, the more the viewer tries to penetrate the depths of a Hopper painting, the more impenetrable it becomes. What holds the viewer is that the artist's vision seems under control and yet, on closer inspection, the viewer realizes that the visible surface is a tissue of improbabilities and unreadable shifts in space. Hopper's view that nature and the contemporary world were incoherent contributed to his artistic vision." - From "Techniques of the Great Masters of Art"

Manet Sets $33.1 Million Record

View of French Impressionist Edouard Manet's Self Portrait, 1878-1879, which sold at auction at Sotheby's in London, for $33.1 Million Tuesday June 22, 2010. AP Photo/Max Nash.

From - 23 June 2010

LONDON (REUTERS).- Sotheby's sold an Edouard Manet self-portrait for 22.4 million pounds ($33.1 million) on Tuesday, a record for the artist but toward the lower end of pre-sale expectations of 20-30 million pounds. The painting, one of only two self-portraits by the artist and the only one in private hands, was the centerpiece of the auctioneer's main impressionist and modern art sale in London this summer.

Edouard Manet broke new ground by defying traditional techniques of representation and by choosing subjects from the events and circumstances of his own time. His Déjeuner sur l’herbe (“Luncheon on the Grass”), exhibited in 1863 at the Salon des Refusés, aroused the hostility of critics and the enthusiasm of the young painters who later formed the nucleus of the Impressionist group. Manet’s debut as a painter met with a critical resistance that did not abate until near the end of his career. Although the success of his memorial exhibition and the eventual critical acceptance of the Impressionists—with whom he was loosely affiliated—raised his profile by the end of the 19th century, it was not until the 20th century that his reputation was secured by art historians and critics. Manet’s disregard for traditional modeling and perspective made a critical break with academic painting’s historical emphasis on illusionism. This flaunting of tradition and the official art establishment paved the way for the revolutionary work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Manet also influenced the path of much 19th- and 20th-century art through his choice of subject matter. His focus on modern, urban subjects—which he presented in a straightforward, almost detached manner—distinguished him still more from the standards of the Salon, which generally favored narrative and avoided the gritty realities of everyday life. Manet’s daring, unflinching approach to his painting and to the art world assured both him and his work a pivotal place in the history of modern art. Even the recognition he has finally received does not do him justice. He was a remarkable painter.