A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Great Art Explained: Sandro Botticelli

Credit: Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (c. 1484–1486). tempera on canvas; via Wikipedia

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

One of the most popular and revolutionary paintings in the Western world. It aroused many debates and commentaries on what exactly is the meaning of it. Of course, on the surface, it is easy to discern the personages from the Greek Mythology – Zephyr, Aphrodite (Venus), Chloe (Flora), and the Horae of spring (or summer). Yet, what are their function here; what is the meaning of their gathering on the canvas of Botticelli; is there something more? The picture is not exactly a representation of an exact moment drawn from the imagination of ancient Greek mythology. It is rather second-level mythology (in Roland Bart's sense), created by Botticelli himself. Botticelli was deeply influenced by both Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, the Florentine champions of the Humanism, Gnostic and Neo-platonic philosophies, which thrived in the Medici's court. In that regard, his pieces were an Early form of Renaissance art and many symbols and philosophical concepts were embedded in them.

Below you can enjoy a video with one of the possible explanations of that mesmerizing and mystic painting.

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Great Art Explained

Credit: Portrait of Dalí by Allan Warren, 1972; via Wikipedia

Salvador Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory'

It is certainly not necessary to be an art historian to know the name of Salvador Dali. Arguably, the most popular painter of 20th-century side by side with Picasso, though it was to a large extent because of his constant self-promoting. However, by no doubt, Dali was a meticulous master of the brush and an artist with unique and alluring imagination. The topics of his pictures were always as provocative – death, sex, decay, excrement, dreams, irrationality – as was his personality. He was often and is still criticized for his self-centered, ego-maniacal obsessions, and parading. Dali was all the time surrounded by deliberate scandals, he loved giving shocking interviews, quibbling, and arguing about what was considered piquant topics at the moment. For example, he would say that is fascinated by the personality of Adolf Hitler or that he (Dali) is a monarchist. He was often speaking about himself in the third person, a habit usually associated with Roman emperors, or maybe he was pretending to be so special that he is a stranger even to himself. Maybe, in a way, he was. We cannot be sure what was true and what was just part of his farce.

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What is Romanticism?

Image credit: Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819; Wikipedia

A short introduction to Romanticism

We have all heard the words romantic, romance, Romanticism and we have all used them. But what actually they mean, and where do they come from? Do they necessarily refer to some mawkish and sentimental story, or there is something more? If you try to search on the web for information about it, you could spend hours reading tons of it and if you are really keen to know about it go for it. However, it isn't such a bad idea to get a bit more familiar with the subject matter before you invest your time in vast research. What you will find here is a brief but useful explanation of the 19th-century movement with a touch of subjectivity. Just like a romantic author would do. The rest is up to you!

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On this day, 449 years ago…

portrait: Ottavio Leioni (1621 ) via  wikipedia.org

29 September 1571. Or How Did Modern Painting Actually Begin!

On this day, 449 years ago, the great Italian painter, Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio, was born (d. 1610). His work had an enormous influence on art, changing it forever! And actually marking the beginning of modern painting almost 300 years before its "official start" in 1863 with the exhibition of Edouard Manet's Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) in 1863 in Paris!!

Caravaggio loved playing with the excessive contrast between dark and light (later called tenebrism), thus adding compelling, almost obsessive drama to his paintings. But more important - Caravaggio loved playing with the bare, often shocking realms of realism, offering a completely new point of view towards art and its function.

He sought for art techniques stripping off life, not covering it. And that was an actual art revolution. Caravaggio's influence of Baroque style was immense and can be found (directly or indirectly) into the work of artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rembrandt... Actually, André Berne-Joffroy, the renown 20th century art historian, says: "What begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite simply, modern painting". 

Ask questions, find answers, and share your thoughts on the history of art by taking part in the one of a kind international scientific conference on arts and humanities "The Magic of the Renaissance" that will take place in Florence, Italy, on 26-28 October, 2020. For more information: www.sgemflorence.org

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