Entries by tja

A Recent Look at Las Meninas

A Spanish documentary interviews several local experts about the myths behind the masterpiece.  Worth watching for all you “V-philes”; my Italian helped me follow most  of it.

“Getting Started”

Going through some emails today I came across this gem sent from my Dad: The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking the overwhelming complex task into small manageable tasks. Then, start with the very first one. Mark Twain American Humorist, Writer, & Lecturer (1835-1910)

“The Mona Lisa Curse”

This was just passed along to me from a friend in London: “The Mona Lisa Curse” by Robert Hughes Worth watching, but I can’t help asking: “Mr. Hughes, were you not one of those who tinkered with the levee?”

Notes on “The Ghosts of Cannae”

P8 – “Verisimilitude is not truth, just the appearance of truth.” P12 – “Mark Twain seemed to have gotten it about right when he concluded that although history doesn’t repeat itself, it does sometimes rhyme.”  Twain may have said that… but Twain also has the “Periodic Law of Repetition.  See Letters from the Earth. P42 […]

“Having a Life and Not a Career”

Most bizarre: I was re-watching the recent clip of Christopher Hitchens speaking with Andersen Cooper and I thought, good interview, then thought, speaking of good interviews, what’s Charlie Rose doing these days?… and there Charlie was with Christopher! A must watch: Charlie Rose interviews Christopher Hitchens about his new memoir and his battle with cancer.

“No Explanation, Nor Apology”

Anyone can learn to paint and to analyze physical truths as facts, but few have the power of self-analysis.  The artist must first be a dreamer, and then a sane analyzer of those dreams.  Again, “There can be no expression without previous impression.” Learn to discern the exact boundary between synthetic re-creation, suggestion, and mere […]

“By Going Wrong, I Began to Work Out How to Go Right”

Today on the train ride back to Rome from Puglia I caught up on some podcast listening, including a Fresh Air episode featuring the writer, David Mitchell.  The title of the post is the quote from Mr. Mitchell early in the interview that quickly spun me into a time-traveling* train-ride rapture.  How divine when discussion […]

pLog Pith VI

It is this deep sincerity, this deep appreciation of the significance of things that makes one picture great among a thousand lesser ones, and causes us to feel, when we behold it, that we have thought and felt that way all our lives. – John F. Carlson, from Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting, circa 1929.

“A Superior Order of Beings” – Public Taste & the Arts

The present generation appears to be composed of a new, and, at least with respect to the arts, a superior order of beings.  Generally speaking, their thoughts, their feelings, and language on these subjects, differ entirely from what they were sixty years ago.  No just opinions were at that time entertained on the merits of […]

Everybody Wants Some

News in Italy today that there is a newly discovered Caravaggio. I’ve seen an image… and that most definitely is not a Caravaggio.

The Calling of Someone at the Table

A painter’s analysis of Caravaggio’s Calling of Saint Matthew by Timothy Joseph Allen. Written as a response to my late great colleague Professor Terry Kirk in December, 2006.  Published on pLog July, 2010. Terry, your analysis and interpretation of this painting is intriguing.  I especially like your idea about pinpointing the exact moment in time […]

Caravaggio Techniques and the Camera Obscura

Today I had a lively in-studio conversation with friend, colleague and restorer Eowyn Kerr on Caravaggio, his technique (did he glaze?) and why a painter should never underestimate the potential of a good table cloth.  She was even kind enough to make for me a lovely sketch on how to understand the cross-section of a […]

pLog Pith V

If you want Warhol walk the aisle of a supermarket If you want Koons watch VHS porn If you want Hirst visit the morgue But If you want Caravaggio build a bonfire in a cave If you want Velazquez plan a trip to the moon with a sliderule If you want da Vinci hike the […]

A Story About Jan

Here is what happened: I just listened to the story on NPR about Plato, which mentions Pythagoras, which makes me think “Art = Math”, which makes me think Velazquez, then Las Meninas, then I remembered mentioning that in a short story I wrote while rafting through the Grand Canyon in 2008. Here is that story: […]

pLog Pith IV

Da Vinci tells us to take a 2 dimensional surface and make it 3 dimensional. Modernism took a 2 dimensional surface and made it 1 dimensional. – TJA

More V for Vermilion & the “Beads on a Duck’s Back”

I just spoke with the Michael Harding himself.  First impression: a  most affable and generous gentleman.  Here’s what I asked… and what I’ve learned.  Note: I’m paraphrasing our conversation.  I would hate to try and quote him only to have someone call him and say “but I read some where that you said the following blah, blah, […]

V for Vermilion

Much to my delight, it arrived yesterday: Michael Harding’s “Genuine Chinese Vermilion”.  I never knew a 40 ml tube could be so heavy. First Question: just how poisonous is Mercuric Sulphide? More reports to follow…

pLog Pith III

Socrates said you are only educated when you’ve understood how ignorant you are.  You can only find that out by questioning and doubting all the time. – Christopher Hitchens, in a recent debate with Rabi David Wolpe.

pLog Pith II

You can play bloodhound for months on end and always discover something new. – Christoph Waltz during an interview with Charlie Rose, talking about his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds Name a painting that has the same effect.