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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.
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    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.

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    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.
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    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
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Entries in Ancient Art (7)


The Dabous Giraffes

Dabous Giraffes - Petroglyph - 9000-5000 BC - 20 feet high - Niger, AfricaDabous Giraffes Replica (click photo for larger image)“Dabous Giraffes”—a neolithic petroglyph of a male and female giraffe— created by an unknown artist. Completed between 9000 and 5000 BC, the carving is 20 feet (around 6 metres) in height and highly detailed. These giraffes (plus 828 other small petroglyphs of animals and human figures) were carved into rock near the Air mountains of Niger. Designs engraved along with the giraffe images suggest a shamanistic significance. The giraffe carvings were first documented by one David Depuy in 1987, while he was on a photographic excursion. A field site expedition took place ten years later, organized by the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA), for the purposes of determining how to to preserve the petroglyph. People had become aware of the site’s existence—attempts were being made to steal pieces from it—the surface was getting worn from being walked on—and it was being covered with graffiti. In 1998, the Bradshaw Foundation proposed the idea of creating a reproduction of the petroglyph that would do the original no harm. But moulding petroglyphs is often looked down upon because past mouldings were made by people who didn’t entirely master the necessary techniques. They degraded the originals, leaving horrible-looking latex, resin, or plaster remains in the hollows and around the petroglyphs which permanently defaced them. Another criticism was that moulding changes the chemistry of the surface rock and prevents any future varnish study. So, with a project of this nature, scale, and delicacy, permission was needed from both UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the government of Niger. The team assembled made a preliminary expedition to the site to determine the viability of a moulding process. In January 1999, the Bradshaw Foundation, in association with the Trust for African Rock Art, the National Geographic Society, UNESCO and the Niger government, accepted responsibility for the task. The company of Ateliers Pierre Merindol in Avignon, France was hired to execute the work—and did so with great precision and success. Local people continued to be used to guard the site and ongoing work being done—a process which took about two years. Silicone was used to create the mould. The first aluminum cast of the giraffes was gifted to the nearby town of Agadez, at the International Airport Terminal, and subsequent casts have appeared in exhibits around the world. It was a long, arduous, and costly journey—and once again the arts culture surrounding it was multi-layered. But we now have a way to successfully reproduce such works at these—without damage to the original. Petroglyphs are very vulnerable to the elements, so having them reproduced is essential.


The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Clay Tablet - 18th century BC (click photo for larger image)The original text of The Epic of Gilgamesh (a legendary ruler of Uruk, and his search for immortality) is the world’s first truly great work of literature. It was written in cuneiform on clay tablets. The first surviving version of the combined epic, known as the "Old Babylonian", dates to the 18th century BC, but there are many versions of it. Apart from being a literary masterpiece—it’s an extraordinary piece of visual art. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five Sumerian poems about 'Bilgamesh' (Sumerian for 'Gilgamesh'), king of Uruk. These independent stories were used as source material for a combined epic. The “Old Babylonian” is titled after its incipit, “Shūtur eli sharrī("Surpassing All Other Kings"). 


Ancient Chinese Landscape Painting

Scholar by a Waterfall, Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), late 12th–early 13th century - Ma Yuan (Chinese, active ca. 1190–1225) - Album leaf: ink and color on silk; 9 7/8 x 10 1/4 in. (25.1 x 26 cm) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkOne of the directions art culture takes involves upholding traditions—as they have been practiced for centuries. Ancient Chinese Landscape painting is one of the oldest and continuous traditions in the world—still generally regarded as the highest form of Chinese painting—and still practiced today. Ma Yuan () (Chinese, active ca. 1190–1225) is an influential Chinese landscape painter of the Song Dynasty whose work, together with that of Xia Gui, formed the basis of the Ma-Xia school of painting. Ma Yuan came from a prominent painting family. His grandfather, father, uncles, and son all served in the imperial Painting Academy. Ma occasionally painted flowers, but his genius lay in landscape painting. His technique, like that of many contemporaries, was at first inspired by Li Tang. Eventually Ma developed a personal style, with marked decorative elements such as the pine. A characteristic feature of many paintings is the so-called "one-corner" composition, in which the actual subjects of the painting are pushed to a corner or a side, leaving the other part of the painting more or less empty. Ma Yuan’s lyrical and romantic interpretation became the model for many later painters.


Herod Blockbuster Puts Control of West Bank Site Into Spotlight

Handle of a footed marble basin decorated with Silenoi heads. The basin was probably given to Herod as a gift from Emperor Augustus or his second in command, Marcus Agrippa, first century BC. On loan from SOAJS. Photo: ©Israel Museum, Jerusalem/by Meidad Suchowolski (click photo for larger image)

“King Herod of Judea, who was notorious for his violence and whose appetite for building resulted in the Second Temple in Jerusalem and other monuments, is getting his first museum tribute, 2,000 years after his death.”



Ice Age Lion Man Is World’s Earliest Figurative Sculpture

40,000 years old: Lion Man sculpture. Photo: Thomas Stephan, © Ulmer Museum

“New pieces of Ulm’s Lion Man sculpture have been discovered and it has been found to be much older than originally thought, at around 40,000 years. This makes it the world’s earliest figurative sculpture.”