This blog needs to be started up again.
I’m trying to get on it.
I mean, the endless options for the painting above!!!!11
Stay real, art history fans. I’m on it.
We need to start this again
St. Veronica with the Holy Shroud by El Greco (c. 1580)
It’s one of their bestsellers this week.
In all seriousness, here we have a totally fascinating depiction of St. Veronica with the well known Veil of Veronica, or “Holy Shroud.” There are a ton of names. You know, religion. Anyway, what this legend says is that this veil or shroud or poster or whatever had the likeness of Jesus imprinted on it WITHOUT THE WORK OF A HUMAN HAND. Insane. This probably means it did not come from allposters.com Also, many of the stories don’t even mention a chick named Veronica. Rather, her name is probably Veronica because it is derived from the Latin word “vera” meaning truth. So what they really want to be saying with “Veil of Veronica” is “THIS SHIT WAS FO REAL.”
This painting by El Greco is absolutely cool though. El Greco was totally a bad-ass when it came to being progressive in representation. His paintings are often bizarre and freaky. Notice little things like the odd placement of her hands and head - it’s almost as if they don’t match up to the same body. Also, where is the body? Everything seems to be lost in space. That’s really just El Greco for you, though. Total bamf in representing figures in pictorial space. He did not give a shit if it was realistic or not.
The Little Deer by Frida Kahlo (1946)
Okay, but in all respect to Frida and her awesomeness, this painting is some pretty serious and deep shit; gurl was intense! You would be too if you were in a life jarring bus accident and had a freaking sexist and annoying husband who constantly thought his art was better than yours.
In any case, this particular painting cuts right to the core of what Frida believed in. It is a commentary on her failing health of the time, the rapid decline of her relationship with Diego, and her difficulty in dealing with these things. Kahlo also hides hidden messages in this work. At the bottom of the painting, she painted the word carma, a reference to reincarnation, while the arrows allude to Christian images of St Sebastian. Multiple religions in one painting! SKILLZ. On top of all this, in Aztec culture, the deer symbolizes the right foot, the exact limb that she herself had injured in the accident. It crippled her for life. No doubt the deer was her sort of like daemon or spirit animal or ANIMAGUS.
Totally deep, totally intense; never expect anything less from Frida.
It’s hard to have a good time playing flip cup when your best teammate is a 5-year-old ghost-boy. -LD
The Drinkers by Vincent Van Gogh (1890)
They are obviously way too god damn old to be playing such an invasive drinking game. This is quite the same attitude one may have towards van Gogh’s life: the guy lived fast and furiously: there are tons of rumors surrounding his life (like that he cut off his ear for a prostitute) and the stories of his escapades are vast and legendary. But what isn’t widely known is that he was constantly suffering from mental illness. And clearly through this painting it is easy to see that van Gogh took pleasure in the smaller things in life; many of his paintings depict every day scenes, his home, nature, HIMSELF…you know, life, plain and simple.
"It’s just a fucking flower, you pervert." - Georgia O’Keeffe
Black Iris by Georgia O’Keeffe (1926)
True story: O’Keeffe denied that her paintings had Freudian tendencies. To her, they were flowers, and that was that. “This is exactly what an iris looks like, idiots!” she’d probably say if she was here. Unfortunately, the erotic nature of her flower paintings (which are quite giant and imposing to boot) has caused for her art to be interpreted in this way more often than not. Too bad. But I mean, come on: look at it! Clearly she had some vajayjay on the mind. Later, she moved to new Mexico and painted a lot of cow skulls in the hopes that no one would interpret those as vaginas.
Someone woke up on the wrong side of the Empire this morning… -LD
Destruction, the fourth of Thomas Cole’s series of five paintings called The Course of Empire, 1833-36.
Like said above, this is the fourth painting in a series by the total bamf Thomas Cole called The Course of Empire, painted during the Romantic era. This is the last scene, when the empire is undergoing mass destruction (looks pretty shitty for them). This is just how Cole saw stuff happening; he thought things happened in patterns, and the natural course of an empire was for it to, some day, fall. Pretty freaking dismal, yes? When Cole painted this, the world was changing, people were questioning authority A LOT, and the idea of “empire” was shifting: is it good ? Is it bad? WE MAY NOT EVEN KNOW TODAY.
what would you recommend future art-history students to do beside read your blog?
Haha well first off, don’t quote our blog in your papers. Unless your professor has a really good sense of humor.
LD and IK give these pointers to aspiring art history students:
1. Go to museums. Frequently. Seeing art in person and supporting art is super important!
2. Read blogs/articles devoted to art and history (LD and IK really like Arts & Letters Daily)
3. If you can take an art history class with lots of different types of art history experts (curator, art historian, artist, critic) do it! It’s important to gain many different perspectives.
4. Don’t be worried about acting all composed and dignified all the time; the art world is definitely classy but it is ALSO REALLY FUN. Not everyone you meet is going to be snotty and uppity and wearing suits. Enjoy yourself, because it’s what you love.
It was hard enough, as a distinguished business man, to be asked to model for a painting, but to have an apple thrown at his face at the last minute? That was totally over the line.
The Son of Man by René Magritte in 1964.
Magritte was a surrealist. Simple as that. His paintings were intended to elicit a “DA FUCK?” reaction, and usually nothing else. AS a surrealist, he messed with reality all the time and wasn’t so interested in the hidden meaning a painting could provide. What fascinated him more was the strange shit he could throw in, like an apple over a guy’s face or something. His thought process might have gone something like this: “I will paint a portrait. What would make it weird? If the face was covered, because isn’t that the point of a portrait? Now what to cover the face with…A FISH. YEAH. No. No wait. AN APPLE. YES. YEEEEES.”
In a time when art was really pushing it’s limits, Magritte returned to painting and turned it into something totally radical.
You’d think they could have waited for daycare to clear out before they started the naked-fight. -LD
The Intervention of the Sabine Women by Jacques-Louis David in 1799
Okay, but seriously: this painting is quite bizarre. Some art historians aren’t sure what David was thinking. This is a painting of the Romantic era, a time when people were getting super reflective and shit and they weren’t sure if God was real. This caused for a lot of looking back on the past, and painters like David (and his other homeboys) depicted a lot of historical scenes BUT meant to be interpreted in a MODERN DAY CONTEXT. Witty right? Lots of metaphors and allegories and stuff. This painting became a call for order, a restoration of peace in a time of turmoil. David also gets to shows off his skills for baby portraits. - IK