Art

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New artwork appears over existing Banksy art

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A mysterious artwork has appeared on the wall of a house in Bristol that once showcased an original Banksy work before it was vandalised. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The original artwork, which shows a girl firing a slingshot of flowers, appeared on Valentine’s Day in 2020 and was subsequently vandalised. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The destruction of the piece prompted the owners of the house to cover up the ruined work, and encase the untouched flower explosion in a glass case to prevent any further damage. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, a new tag has appeared on the wall that shows a man in a balaclava attempting to pry away the covering with a crowbar.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7846891/banksy-bristol.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/78080f293fda4bbfa32b94145cb127e7" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The original artwork appeared on Valentine’s Day 2020. Image credits: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the new work being in Banksy’s signature street art style, the work featured a tag of the word “Pouchy”, leaving locals to wonder if the new work is Banksy’s at all, or the work of a copycat artist.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Banksy has yet to claim the piece online. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After the piece was originally vandalised and covered up, Banksy </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">himself released a statement in which he said he was “kind of glad” the artwork was vandalised as he released a series of “better” sketches of it. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram @damianjvcunningham</span></em></p>

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How an unusual art installation from 2016 went viral

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An art installation created in 2016 by two Chinese artists has been given a new life online, with users on TikTok connecting to the piece. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artwork, titled </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Can’t Help Myself</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, showcases a machine inside a glass cube with a robotic arm that is illuminated by fluorescent lighting. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The robot arm has one task: to sweep up an oozing dark red liquid, made to resemble blood, that slowly spills out in a perfect circle. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The machine works endlessly on a task that is never finished, to showcase the tiring feeling of endless labour. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every now and then, the task is interrupted when the robotic arm breaks into a series of dance moves, giving the machine scarily human characteristics. </span></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jRjrI42WsH4" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Created by artists </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sun Yuan and Peng Yu for New York’s </span><a href="https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/34812"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Guggenheim Museum</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the piece uses “visual-recognition sensors and software systems to examine our increasingly automated global reality, one in which territories are controlled mechanically and the relationship between people and machines is rapidly changing.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As the exhibit was first installed in 2016, footage of the machine slowing down has gone viral on TikTok, with many younger audiences finding their own devastating meaning in the piece. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It looks frustrated with itself, like it really wants to be finally done,” one comment with over 350,000 likes reads. “It looks so tired and unmotivated,” another said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another emotional user commented, “This is what trauma feels like. You can sweep it away but it’s always there no matter what you do.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One Twitter user analysed the work, claiming the piece was about “the hydraulic fluid in relation to how we kill ourselves both mentally and physically for money just in an attempt to sustain life, how the system is set up for us to fail on purpose to essentially enslave us and to steal the best years of our lives.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With all art, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Can’t Help Myself</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is open to interpretation by an objective audience, with the artists welcoming people’s thoughts on its greater meaning.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Regardless of how it influences each person, the hypnotising installation has cemented itself in the creative zeitgeist, with audiences finding similarities between their own struggles and a programmed bionic machine. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Twitter</span></em></p>

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The crisis of a career in culture: why sustaining a livelihood in the arts is so hard

<p>In the arts in Australia, <a href="https://cultureunbound.ep.liu.se/article/view/2199">precarious employment</a>, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1360780419895291">unpaid work</a> and <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/41064887?seq=2#metadata_info_tab_contents">short-lived careers</a> are the norm.</p> <p>Many artists and arts workers have “<a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0950017004045551">portfolio careers</a>”, piecing together a mixture of jobs while competing for limited funding and career opportunities in the arts.</p> <p>COVID-19 shone a glaring spotlight on <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09548963.2020.1770577">this precarity</a>, exposing the <a href="https://apo.org.au/node/313299">lack of permanent jobs</a> in the sector. Some 81% of artists work as <a href="https://australiacouncil.gov.au/advocacy-and-research/making-art-work/">freelancers or on a self-employed basis</a>, without access to sick leave or other entitlements many Australians take for granted.</p> <p>But the unsustainability of creative careers was already well known to <a href="https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/is-it-too-hard-to-have-a-career-in-the-arts">artists</a>, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1035304613500601">academics</a> and <a href="https://australiacouncil.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/do_you_really_expect_to_get_pa-54325a3748d81.pdf">governments</a>.</p> <h2>Career sustainability</h2> <p>In 2019, I set out to understand what “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304422X21000644?dgcid=author">sustainability</a>” means to Australia’s arts and culture sector. I analysed 564 annual reports published between 2010 and 2018 and over 2,700 submissions in the 2014 and 2015 <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Arts_Funding">Senate Inquiry</a> into arts funding. I also interviewed 33 artists and arts managers representing all parts of the performing arts sector.</p> <p>One interviewee defined a “sustainable career” as, "one in which you’re employed in your practice to the extent that you can live. For a lot of artists that’s just about a roof over their head and feeding themselves. […] I think we should be able to have mortgages and raise kids […] I look at some of the singers that I work with and that’s really hard for them to do."</p> <p>Even artists who are successful in multiple facets of their career – including some of our most celebrated theatre directors – can feel like these careers are not sustainable.</p> <p>One contributor to the Senate Inquiry observed, "Artists can have successful exhibitions, be collected by national and international institutions, and still not make a sustainable living."</p> <p>Interestingly, I observed significant differences in how different arts companies wrote about sustainability in their annual reports. Career sustainability was mentioned more often by theatre companies than other art forms. Opera and circus tied in second place. While comparable data is not available for Australia, findings from the UK suggest a <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/theatre/freelancers-make-theatre-work-interview-coronavirus-shutdown-a4476396.html">high percentage of freelancers working in theatre</a>might explain this difference.</p> <h2>Inherent demands</h2> <p>Working in the performing arts involves both physical demands and mental strain. Artists described to me how they have to maintain “the body of an elite athlete” and how the “obsessive requirement to be excellent all the time” leads to “consistent performance-related anxiety.”</p> <p>The inevitable long hours and extensive travel also make this a family-unfriendly career. Artists explained the expectation they work outside of ordinary business hours, the need to “travel where the work is” and feeling like they needed to leave the arts if they wanted to raise a family.</p> <p>These pressures arise from both the limited opportunities and <a href="https://theconversation.com/cut-throat-competition-corporate-speak-and-dark-ironies-two-new-five-year-arts-plans-122943">intense competition</a> within the arts and culture sector, which make many people feel they have to accept any opportunity – and work under any conditions – <a href="https://www.artshub.com.au/news/career-advice/why-we-are-burning-out-in-the-arts-249582-2350136/">in order not to be left behind</a>.</p> <p>In my research, I found all of these issues became compounded when measures of diversity were considered.</p> <p>Gender inequity presents one barrier to career sustainability. Interviewees also told me First Nations artists, deaf and disabled artists, regional and remote artists, and artists from lower socio-economic backgrounds face even greater challenges. <a href="https://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Towards-Equity-Report.pdf">Recent research by the Australia Council for the Arts</a> reveals the same is true for culturally and linguistically diverse artists.</p> <h2>Financial constraints</h2> <p>In the interviews taken as part of my research, I repeatedly found financial constraints underpin three problems causing career unsustainability in the arts.</p> <p><strong>1. Low incomes:</strong></p> <p>"being brutal about it […] I have as good a freelance load as anyone probably going around Australia […] and my wife needs to be working full-time for us to be financially sustainable."</p> <p><strong>2. Unpaid work:</strong></p> <p>"you really only get paid if you’re performing and if you’re lucky enough, you might get paid for the rehearsals beforehand."</p> <p><strong>3. Excessive workloads:</strong></p> <p>"the level of burnout in this industry is pretty shocking […] we’re all overworked and constantly tired."</p> <p>The obvious solution is more abundant and ongoing <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-problem-with-arts-funding-in-australia-goes-right-back-to-its-inception-138834">public</a> and <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/culture/art-and-design/the-donor-dilemma-philanthropy-and-the-arts-20191204-p53gnt.html">philanthropic</a>support. As one interviewee explained, "Increased government funding for the arts is […] the first and most important step in the career sustainability of artists because it flows through everything else."</p> <p>But other creative solutions are also needed to make artistic careers more sustainable. These include: increasing <a href="http://diversityarts.org.au/app/uploads/Shifting-the-Balance-DARTS-small.pdf">diversity within arts sector leadership</a>; teaching student artists to develop an “<a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1474022212465725">adaptive entrepreneurial identity</a>”; and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0730888413505229">fostering community and collective support</a> among artists and arts managers.</p> <h2>Moving towards ‘decent work’ for all</h2> <p>The <a href="https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal8">United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8</a> calls for “full and productive employment and decent work for all.”</p> <p>In 2019, the <a href="https://www.ilo.org/sector/Resources/publications/WCMS_661953/lang--en/index.htm">International Labour Organization</a> began exploring what “decent work” means for arts and culture. Australian politicians, policymakers, and sector leaders need to do the same.</p> <p>These three steps will help.</p> <p><strong>1. Recognise <a href="https://www.artshub.com.au/news/news/labor-articulates-its-guiding-arts-principles-2513356/">artists are workers</a>.</strong></p> <p>This would mean <a href="https://autonomy.work/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/artists-as-workers-final2.pdf">paying serious attention to the conditions of contemporary artistic labour</a>, which would pave the way to addressing both precarity and structural inequalities within the arts and culture sector.</p> <p><strong>2. Accept <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244016649580">decent work is a human right</a>.</strong></p> <p>This would mean acknowledging artists and arts managers (like all people) are entitled to gain a living from their work, then developing policies to prioritise <a href="https://www.ilo.org/newyork/speeches-and-statements/WCMS_229015/lang--en/index.htm">the creation of good jobs</a> within the arts and culture sector.</p> <p><strong>3. Implement <a href="https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/decent-work/lang--en/index.htm">decent work</a> for artists.</strong></p> <p>For artists, this means rejecting any expectation creatives might “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jul/09/creative-careers-is-it-ever-worth-working-for-exposure">work for exposure</a>.” For arts companies, it means <a href="https://www.artshub.com.au/news/news/artkeeper-program-puts-artists-on-payroll-2515622/">putting artists on payroll</a>, embedding <a href="https://australiainstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Creativity_in_Crisis-_Rebooting_Australias_Arts___Entertainment_Sector_-_FINAL_-_26_July.pdf">fair pay and conditions</a> within all arts organisations, and supporting <a href="https://www.artshub.com.au/news/opinions-analysis/why-the-arts-sector-must-commit-to-real-cultural-change-257376-2362321/">cultural change across the sector</a>.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/the-crisis-of-a-career-in-culture-why-sustaining-a-livelihood-in-the-arts-is-so-hard-171732" target="_blank">The Conversation</a> and was written by Katherine Power.</em></p>

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Prince Charles holds largest exhibit of his watercolours to date

<p dir="ltr">The largest ever exhibition of artworks created by Prince Charles has opened at the Garrison Chapel in Chelsea Barracks, a recently restored chapel in a converted army barracks in London’s Belgravia district.</p> <p dir="ltr">A painting enthusiast, Prince Charles has extolled the benefits of art, saying it “transports me to another dimension”, that painting is "one of the most relaxing and therapeutic exercises I know," and that it "refreshes parts of the soul which other activities can't reach."</p> <p dir="ltr">The exhibition contains 79 of the prince’s paintings of landscapes of the French countryside, the Scottish Highlands, and Tanzania, which is one of Charles’ favourite places to paint. He regularly paints the family’s estates, including Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, and has also produced works depicting Turkey, Nepal, and the Swiss Alps.</p> <p dir="ltr">As for why he started painting, Charles said, "I took up painting entirely because I found photography less than satisfying. Quite simply, I experienced an overwhelming urge to express what I saw through the medium of watercolor and to convey that almost 'inner' sense of texture which is impossible to achieve via photography."</p> <p dir="ltr">Like Queen Victoria before him, Charles is a “keen watercolourist” who “paints whenever his schedule allows”. Of his early works, he said, "I am under no illusion that my sketches represent great art or a burgeoning talent! They represent, more than anything else, my particular form of 'photograph album' and, as such, mean a great deal to me."</p> <p dir="ltr">While the prince does not sell his paintings, lithographs of his works are used to raise money for his charity; in 2016, it was reported that he had sold approximately £2 million worth from a shop at his Highgrove House residence. The National Gallery of Australia exhibited several paintings of his in 2018 to mark his 70th birthday.</p> <p dir="ltr">The curator of the exhibition, Rosie Alderton, said that Charles "likes to sit in the actual environment and paint 'en plein air.” She added, “His passion for creating beautiful art is conveyed strongly in this exhibition."</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to the watercolours, there is a tapestry based on his painting "Abandoned Cottage on the Isle of Stroma” that took weaver Ben Hymers eight months to finish.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images</em></p>

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The mother and daughter duo healing each other with art

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gumbaynggirr woman Melissa Greenwood and her mum, Lauren Jarrett, know a thing or two about going through difficult times. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They both hail from the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti and Bundjalung tribes of the east coast of New South Wales, where Lauren is a survivor of the Stolen Generations. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 1966, she was stolen from her family at Bowraville on the NSW mid-north coast and placed in the Cowper Orphanage, near Grafton. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lauren was just nine years old at the time. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was like the end of the world. You have no idea what's going on, you're not really told anything. It's devastating," she told the </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-06/melissa-greenwood-and-mum-heals-stolen-generation-hurt-with-art/100718998"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ABC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"You're just taken away from your loved ones, put in a car with strangers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"In those days they had nuns with those long habits and big crosses, and headpieces; and I had no idea where I was or who they were. I had never seen a nun before.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was overwhelming … anything to do with your culture was banned."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When she was 18, Lauren was released from the orphanage and went looking for her family, who were thrilled with her long-awaited return. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now 63, Lauren went on to have two daughters and a son and raised them all as a single mother. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lauren’s daughter Melissa said, "We grew up below the poverty line and struggling with her trauma, and then inter-generational trauma that was passed down. It was really difficult."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Together, their struggles as Indigenous women pushed them to strive for more. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2020, the pair started an art business which they called </span><a href="https://miimiandjiinda.com/collections/prints"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Miimi &amp; Jiinda</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, meaning mother and sister. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After just a few short months, their business is thriving and has completely turned their lives around.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It's really a beautiful thing," Melissa says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It's just stemmed from me really wanting to see my mum happy and to give her a bit of confidence and get her out in the world and see her beauty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We just started to paint and weave together and create together and then it just really took off."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For both women, creating art together has helped them heal from past inter-generational trauma, and provided an outlet for them to share their connection to their culture. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Melissa says she “paints from the heart” and uses her creations to help tell their stories as strong Aboriginal women. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Mum raised us to be very culturally strong and culturally proud," she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"A lot of the artworks I do are inspired by my connection to my ancestors, to my culture and to my people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It's just that loving heart energy, that Gumbaynggirr energy."</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Instagram @barefootwandering.photography</span></em></p>

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Can new lighting save the Mona Lisa?

<div class="copy"> <p>Next time you’re in a museum or art gallery, observe each painting a little more closely. You may notice cracks on the surface of the canvas, especially if the painting is very old.</p> <p>The damage you see is caused by radiant energy striking the painting’s surface – and light (visible radiation) causes irreversible damage to artwork.</p> <p>However, all is not lost. <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1080/15502724.2018.1533852" target="_blank">Our new research</a> shows that optimised smart lighting systems can reduce damage to paintings while preserving their colour appearance.</p> <h2>The dilemma</h2> <p>Damage to artwork by infrared, ultraviolet and visible radiation is <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.cie.co.at/publications/control-damage-museum-objects-optical-radiation" target="_blank">well documented</a>. When a photon (an elementary light particle) is absorbed by a pigment in paint, the pigment molecule elevates to a higher energy state. In this excited state, the molecule’s chemical composition changes. This is called a photochemical action.</p> <p>Viewed from the human perspective, the photochemical action manifests itself as cracks, discolouration, or surface hardening.</p> Not surprisingly, daylight, which includes infrared and ultraviolet radiation, is highly damaging to paintings. In museums, it is common practice to use incandescent, and more recently, light emitting diodes (LEDs), to reduce damage. <p>However, a group of researchers <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.vangogh.ua.ac.be/" target="_blank">showed</a> that light can cause colour degradation regardless of the lighting technology. Bright yellow colours in Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers are turning dark brown due to absorption of blue and green light from LEDs. Research on the conservation of artwork makes it look like this is a losing battle.</p> <p>Of course, you will be right in thinking that the best conservation method would be the complete absence of light. But we need light for visibility and to appreciate the beauty of a painting.</p> <p>This leaves us with a dilemma of two conflicting parameters: visibility and damage.</p> <h2>Light optimisation</h2> <p>Lighting technology in itself may not be enough to tackle this dilemma. However, the way we use technology can make a difference.</p> <p>Our approach to address this problem is based on three key facts:  </p> <ol> <li>light triggers photochemical actions only when it is absorbed by a pigment</li> <li>the reflectance factor of a pigment (its effectiveness in reflecting light) determines the amount of light absorption</li> <li>light output (composition of the light spectrum, and the intensity of the light) of lighting devices, such as LEDs, can be fine-tuned.</li> </ol> <p>It is possible to measure the reflectance factor of a painting and optimise lighting to reduce absorption. Previous research <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.osapublishing.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-23-11-A456" target="_blank">shows</a> that optimising light to lessen absorption can reduce energy consumption significantly, and with <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.osapublishing.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-25-11-12839" target="_blank">no loss</a> in visual experience. Objects look equally natural and attractive under optimised light sources compared to regular white light sources.{%recommended 8046%}</p> <p>In this new study, we optimised LEDs for five paintings to reduce light absorption. Using a <a rel="noopener" href="https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/996017" target="_blank">genetic algorithm</a> (an artificial intelligence technique), we reduced light absorption between 19% and 47%. Besides the benefits for the painting, this method almost halved the energy consumed by lighting.</p> <p>In addition to increased sustainability and art conservation, the colour quality of the paintings was another parameter in our optimisation process. Colour appearance and brightness of paintings were held constant not to lower the appreciation of the artwork.</p> <p>This is possible due to a quirk in our visual system. Photoreceptor cone cells, the cells in our retinas which enable human colour vision, are not equally sensitive to the whole visible spectrum.</p> <p>Different combinations of wavelength and intensity can result in identical signals in our brain. <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1331666/?page=1" target="_blank">This understanding</a> gives us the flexibility of using different light sources to facilitate identical colour appearances.</p> <p>This smart lighting system requires scanning of the artwork to obtain colour information. Then, a <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2281482" target="_blank">precise projection system</a> emits optimised lighting to the painting.</p> <p>This method offers a solution to extend the lifetime of works of art, such as the world-famous Mona Lisa, without leaving them in the dark.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> </div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/can-new-lighting-save-the-mona-lisa/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by The Conversation. </em></p> </div>

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Vandals of the UK’s Edward Colston statue learn their fate in court

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, that were sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a US police officer, protestors all around the world took it upon themselves to remove commemorative statues of slave traders. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the UK city of Bristol, four people removed a monument of Edward Colston from a town square, before pushing the statue into the nearby harbour. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many protestors joined the four in spray-painting and destroying the statue, with many onlookers filming the destruction on their phones. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Edward Colston was a member of the Royal African Company, and was responsible for transporting thousands of slaves from Africa during the mid 17th century. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The four protestors - </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rhian Graham, Jake Skuse, Sage Willoughby, and Milo Ponsford - were all charged with criminal damage when they removed the statue without permission. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jan/05/four-cleared-of-toppling-edward-colston-statute"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Guardian</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the protestors did not deny that they had toppled the monument, but maintained their innocence over the charges. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite admitting their involvement, the four protestors were found not guilty and set free. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The graffitied monument of Colston has since gone back on view in view in Bristol in a museum, with historian David Olusoga saying that it is “the most important artifact you could select in Britain if you wanted to tell the story of Britain’s tortuous relationship with its role in the Atlantic slave trade.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images </span></em></p>

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10 almost-extinct words you should start using right away

<p><strong>Embrangle</strong> </p> <p>Definition: To embroil, confuse, or entangle.</p> <p>Usage: Mother’s plants dangled, I got embrangled, and now I have two sprained ankles.</p> <p><strong>Snollygoster</strong></p> <p>Definition: A shrewd, selfish person, especially a politician.</p> <p>Usage: Next January, the local council voters might elect a snollygoster as a Mayor.</p> <p><strong>Fubsy</strong></p> <p>Definition: Chubby or squat.</p> <p>Usage: Despite my new year’s health resolutions, holiday leftovers kept me fubsy well into March.</p> <p><strong>Recrement</strong></p> <p>Definition: waste matter; scum.</p> <p>Usage: Sanitation workers were understandably cross when my medieval role-play group started dumping their recrement directly into the street.</p> <p><strong>Skirr</strong></p> <p>Definition: A whirring sound, as of the wings of birds in flight.</p> <p>Usage: We heard a mighty skirr overhead when the pigeons left their roost, followed by a plop, followed by an expletive.</p> <p><strong>Frutescent</strong></p> <p>Definition: Resembling or assuming the form of a shrub.</p> <p>Usage: A few weeks without a haircut and my poodle looks positively frutescent.</p> <p><strong>Muliebrity</strong></p> <p>Definition: The condition of being a woman; femininity.</p> <p>Usage: Frank was banned from the sorority due to his remarkable lack of muliebrity.</p> <p><strong>Agrestic</strong></p> <p>Definition: Rural; rustic.</p> <p>Usage: My grandfather had a very agrestic upbringing; his schoolteacher was a horse.</p> <p><strong>Exuviate</strong> </p> <p>Definition: To shed; cast off.</p> <p>Usage: It becomes harder to exuviate a bad reputation after you’ve exuviated your pants in public.</p> <p><strong>Skedaddle</strong></p> <p>Definition: To leave a place suddenly.</p> <p>Usage: “Paris is so over,” the hipster bemoaned. “Let’s skedaddle to Amsterdam.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/10-almost-extinct-words-you-should-start-using-right-away" target="_blank">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Arabic calligraphy recognised by UNESCO

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">UNESCO has added Arabic calligraphy to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, after receiving a proposal from 16 Arabic speaking countries. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The proposal was led by Saudi Arabia, which declared 2020 and 2021 as the “Year of Arabic Calligraphy”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a statement published by the government of Saudi Arabia, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the country’s Minister of Culture, said, “We welcome the inscription of Arabic calligraphy, which is the result of the Kingdom championing this treasured aspect of authentic Arabic culture.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A statement from UNESCO describes the art of Arabic calligraphy as “the artistic practice of handwriting Arabic script in a fluid manner to convey harmony, grace and beauty.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Calligraphy was originally invented to improve the legibility of Arabic script, and later became a more expressive way for artists to create unique motifs. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The form has continued to evolve as artists have used different media to create the calligraphy, including honey, black soot, saffron, and even spray paint.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As opposed to physical sites that are granted UNESCO World Heritage status, intangible cultural heritage applied to precious cultural practices. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other heritage practices such as games, hunting practices, dances, culinary treasures and dialects have also been recognised by UNESCO in the past.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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On the elegance and wry observations of Jeffrey Smart, one of Australia’s favourite painters

<p><em>Review: Jeffrey Smart, National Gallery of Australia</em></p> <p>Although I never met him, Jeffrey Smart (1921-2013) was my first art teacher. As “Phideas” on the ABC Radio’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argonauts_Club">Argonauts</a> program he told stories of art and artists, explaining ways of seeing to children across Australia.</p> <p>Two things I remember from my childhood listening. The first was the marvel of the <a href="https://news.artnet.com/art-world/golden-ratio-in-art-328435">Golden Mean</a>, the magical geometric ratio that governs the western tradition of art. The second was a story of <a href="https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rmbt/hd_rmbt.htm">Rembrandt</a> who took his own path as an artist, even though that led to criticism by his peers.</p> <p>After I discovered Phidias’s identity I could see the Golden Mean writ large in his carefully constructed paintings. But Rembrandt? Jeffrey Smart’s painting surfaces meticulously honour the Italian Renaissance and his composition at times has echoes of the metaphysical works of <a href="https://www.artnews.com/feature/giorgio-de-chirico-why-is-he-famous-1202687371/">Giorgio de Chirico</a>. They have nothing in common with Rembrandt’s painterly approach.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437390/original/file-20211214-23-17pb3qm.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437390/original/file-20211214-23-17pb3qm.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart, Waiting for the train, 1969-70.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1969, gift of Alcoa World Alumina Australia 2005, © The Estate of Jeffrey Smart.</span></span></p> <p>But that wasn’t the point of the story. Smart was speaking in Sydney in about 1960, a time and place when artists were expected to be hard drinking heterosexual men performing painterly abstraction. Smart was not a part of that culture. He had a lifelong allegiance to the classical forms of the Italian <a href="https://www.britannica.com/event/Quattrocento">quattrocento</a>, especially the exquisite formal geometry of <a href="https://artuk.org/discover/artists/piero-della-francesca-c-14151492">Piero della Francesca</a>. His love of structure, smooth surface, fine detail and his sexuality put him at odds with Australia.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437393/original/file-20211214-13-13ub98q.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437393/original/file-20211214-13-13ub98q.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart, Morning at Savona, 1976, University Art Collection, Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney, Donated through the Alan Richard Renshaw Bequest 1976.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart.</span></span></p> <p>It was only later, years after he retreated to Italy, that his home country came to fully appreciate the elegance of his wry observations. In his old age, this artist once out of tune with his peers, became one of Australia’s most favoured sons.</p> <p>Now, on the centenary of his birth, the National Gallery’s Deborah Hart and Rebecca Edwards have curated a thoughtful and generous reassessment linking Smart to the places and people who nourished him.</p> <h2>Shape, line and colour</h2> <p>It begins in his home town of Adelaide: a city with a well planned urban centre and (back then) a culture of Protestant conformity.</p> <p>The young Smart painted buildings and industrial waste; the way light and shade makes patterns on surfaces; the contrast between clear constructed shapes and fluid humanity.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437392/original/file-20211214-15-19oh8wn.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437392/original/file-20211214-15-19oh8wn.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart, Corrugated Gioconda, 1976.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1976, © The Estate of Jeffrey Smart.</span></span></p> <p>Local cinemas introduced him to Alfred Hitchcock, whose films use visual clues to imply tension. Hitchcock was famous for inserting himself as an incidental figure into his narratives. I have always wondered if that solitary of a watching man in so many of Smart’s paintings is in part a tribute to the original master of visual suspense.</p> <p>Smart would only ever discuss his work in terms of their formal relationship between shape, line and colour. This insistence on formalism goes back to his early studies in Adelaide and the influence of the modernist painter <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorrit_Black">Dorrit Black</a> (1891-1951), who had returned to Adelaide after some years in France. The curators have included her <a href="https://searchthecollection.nga.gov.au/object?uniqueId=29974">House-roofs and flowers</a> which hangs beside Smart’s early structured <a href="https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/436.2001/">Seated Nude</a>. It is easy to see the connection.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437428/original/file-20211214-17-1eqwvss.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437428/original/file-20211214-17-1eqwvss.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart, Keswick siding, 1945. Tarntanya/Adelaide. Oil on canvas. 62 x 72.1 cm.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Gift of Charles B Moses 1982 193.1982</span></span></p> <p>There is a sense of wanting to escape in some paintings of his Adelaide period, such as Keswick Siding. This is less so after he moved to Sydney where he found, despite his unfashionable devotion to precision and classical form, his art was accepted as being a part of the <a href="https://www.portrait.gov.au/portraits/2008.24/the-merioola-group">Charm School</a>, which it was not. Living and working in Sydney, he also became greatly admired as a teacher at the National Art School and a broadcaster.</p> <h2>Humour and friends</h2> <p>Even the most structured works of Smart’s maturity include visual jokes and a human touch. In Holiday, 1971, a relentless pattern of balconies and windows is disrupted by the small figure of a woman, lazing in the sun. He always claimed he introduced people in his paintings of buildings to give a sense of scale, an old artist’s trick. I am not sure how that works in the Portrait of Clive James, unless it was to remind the subject of his significance in the scheme of things.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437429/original/file-20211214-21-16vusye.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437429/original/file-20211214-21-16vusye.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart. Portrait of Clive James. 1991–92 Tuscany, Italy. Oil on canvas. 109 x 90.4 cm.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1992 © The Estate of Jeffrey Smart Photo: AGNSW 276.1992</span></span></p> <p>Smart’s relocation to Italy in 1963 saw a lightening of his palette, and a joyous celebration of light with the contrasting geometry of the blocky shapes of the modern world and the human scale of the old. There is a running theme of visual wit, but only for those who notice. Waiting for the train (1969-70) has echoes of compositions by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piero_della_Francesca">Piero della Francesca</a>, albeit in gloomy tones.</p> <p>His portrait of Germaine Greer places her against an impastoed wall, a surprising rough painterly texture which could either be a comment on the subject’s character or a riposte to those who considered he was lacking in technical skill as a painter.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437430/original/file-20211214-19-ptwv8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437430/original/file-20211214-19-ptwv8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart. Portrait of Germaine Greer. 1984 Tuscany, Italy. Oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 96 x 120 cm.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Private collection</span></span></p> <p>Some of the most satisfying works are Smart’s portraits of friends, and here his humour comes into play. The scholarly writer David Malouf is depicted as a workman in overalls, holding a twisting orange pipe. Margaret Olley is at the Louvre, a place she loved, but placed in front of a row of anonymous wooden screens.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437431/original/file-20211214-23-at8gxc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437431/original/file-20211214-23-at8gxc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart. Portrait of David Malouf. 1980 Tuscany, Italy. Oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 100 x 100 cm.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. Purchased 1983 © The Estate of Jeffrey Smart 1983/0P13</span></span></p> <p>Most fascinating of all is The listeners, 1965 where a young man lies in a field of grass, overseen by a surveilling radar. The head is a portrait of Smart’s friend, the art critic Paul Haefliger who had retreated from Australia to Majorca.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437432/original/file-20211214-21-nj1p6.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437432/original/file-20211214-21-nj1p6.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart. The listeners. 1965 Rome, Italy. Oil on canvas. 91.5 x 71 cm.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat. The William, Rene and Blair Ritchie Collection. Bequest of Blair Ritchie 1998 © The Estate of Jeffrey Smart 1998.23</span></span></p> <p>It shows visual contrasts between modern technology and nature, between the golden grass, red radar and dark sky and (for those in the know) between the young body of the model and the head of the ageing Haefliger.</p> <p>Smart’s portraits rarely focus on their subject. The one exception is The two-up game (Portrait of Ermes), 2008, who became Smart’s life partner in 1975. His calm face is backgrounded by the solid geometry of containers on one side and the fluidity of people playing a game of chance, on the other.</p> <p>In formal terms, his image in the foreground balances the composition. This also seems to be the meaning, the reason for it all.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437433/original/file-20211214-15-1hmeyhq.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437433/original/file-20211214-15-1hmeyhq.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Jeffrey Smart. The two-up game (Portrait of Ermes). 2006 Tuscany, Italy. Oil on canvas. 86.8 x 158.4 cm.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville. Purchased 2006 2006.011</span></span></p> <p><em>Jeffrey Smart is at the National Gallery of Australia until May 15 2022</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/171109/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joanna-mendelssohn-8133">Joanna Mendelssohn</a>, Principal Fellow (Hon), Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/on-the-elegance-and-wry-observations-of-jeffrey-smart-one-of-australias-favourite-painters-171109">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Jeffrey Smart, Margaret Olley in the Louvre Museum. 1994–95 Tuscany, Italy. Oil on canvas 67 x 110 cm <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. </span></span></em></p>

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Museum calls on Dutch government for a $270 million helping hand

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Dutch government is backing an expensive venture by Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to purchase a $270 million Rembrandt self-portrait. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The painting, known as </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Standard Bearer (1636)</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, is one of the last masterpieces by the Dutch artist still in the hands of a private collector. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artwork is going up for sale by the Rothschild family, who have had the painting in their possession since 1844, after it belonged to the King of England. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Financial pledges have come from </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Rembrandt Association, the Rijksmuseum Fund, the Dutch state and the museum’s acquisition fund in order to afford the artwork’s hefty price tag. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits, the organisation has been trying to procure the painting for almost five years. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a statement, the museum said that the 22 works by Rembrandt in the Hague’s collection provide an “overview of the artist’s life,” and that the present work, being “one of the first paintings that Rembrandt made after he established himself as an independent artist in Amsterdam … has so far been the missing link in this overview.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While the sale has yet to be closed, Dutch officials are already celebrating the new addition to the world-famous collection.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Dutch minister of education, culture, and science, said in a statement, “After a journey of centuries, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Standard Bearer</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is now returning home for good.” </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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13 strangest unsolved mysteries of the art world

<p><strong>Did Leonardo da Vinci really paint Salvator Mundi?</strong></p> <p><span>The painting, Salvator Mundi, sold at Christie’s in 2017 for an eye-popping $450 million, in large part because it was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. But some art experts, including Oxford art historian Matthew Landrus, believe that only 20 percent of the painting was completed by Leonardo himself. </span></p> <p><span>Citing artistic details and painting techniques evident in the brushwork, Landrus suspects the rest of the painting was done by Leonardo’s assistant, Bernardino Luini. Bernardino’s work has never fetched more than $654,545. </span></p> <p><span>Adding fuel to the fire, it’s thought that da Vinci completed a mere 15 paintings in his lifetime.</span></p> <p><strong>Are these watercolours really by Adolf Hitler?</strong></p> <p><span>Even though Adolf Hitler was rejected from art school, he did quite a bit of painting in his youth. And there are people in the world who’d pay good money (anywhere from $150 to $51,000) to acquire the artistic efforts of der Führer, art being subjective after all. </span></p> <p><span>But recently, German prosecutors confiscated 63 paintings signed “A. Hitler” on suspicion of forgery. The jury is out (figuratively) on their authenticity, and verification is apparently extremely challenging.</span></p> <p><strong>The scandalous death of Joseph Boehm</strong></p> <p><span>Sir Joseph Boehm was a prolific Victorian-age sculptor credited with, among other things, creating the British Victoria-head coin. In 1890, at the age of 56, Boehm died suddenly of a stroke in his studio, but he wasn’t alone when he died. </span></p> <p><span>He was with Queen Victoria’s sixth daughter, Princess Louise, a sculptor herself. Many believe his death occurred in the midst of a sexual encounter with Louise. Historians, including Lucinda Hawksley, author of <em>Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise</em>, believe Louise and Joseph had been engaged in a long-time affair.</span></p> <p><strong>The shooting death of Vincent Van Gogh</strong></p> <p><span>Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh died at age 37 as a result of a gunshot wound at close range, and although it’s long been assumed the emotionally unstable artist committed suicide, there’s always been debate as to whether he was actually shot by a 16-year-old schoolboy. </span></p> <p><span>The movie <em>At Eternity’s Gate</em>, starring Willem Dafoe as the tortured artist, argues that it was not suicide, but it also wasn’t murder, but rather an unfortunate accident, a view put forth by others, including forensic expert, Dr Vincent Di Maio.</span></p> <p><strong>What's the David sculpture holding in his right hand?</strong></p> <p><span>Michelangelo Buonarroti sculpted the magnificent David with a sling in his left hand, leading to the presumption Michelangelo envisioned the biblical figure as a lefty. </span></p> <p><span>But some experts believe David’s right hand tells the more important story: it is disproportionately oversized, which some speculate is a nod to David’s having been “strong of hand.” </span></p> <p><span>And some point to the bulging veins in the hand and surmise David is gripping something tightly, which may or may not be another weapon.</span></p> <p><strong>Why did Caravaggio kill?</strong></p> <p><span>The artist, Caravaggio, was known as a troublemaker. For starters, in 1596, he killed another man during a brawl in Rome. </span></p> <p><span>No one knows what led to the brawl, although possibilities include money, sports, and romantic jealousy, but what’s even more mysterious is whether Caravaggio spent the rest of his life expressing his guilt through his paintings, some of which art historians believe contain thinly veiled confessions. </span></p> <p><span>These include his painting of the murder of St. John the Baptist and his depiction of a despondent Goliath as Caravaggio himself.</span></p> <p><strong>Was Caravaggio the victim of lead poisoning?</strong></p> <p><span>But maybe his violent tendencies weren’t Caravaggio’s fault exactly; maybe, just maybe, he was a victim of lead poisoning, which is known to cause changes to the nervous system. </span></p> <p><span>This position is supported by scientists who analysed his bones and determined with 85 percent certainty that Caravaggio had enough lead in his system to make him behave erratically and to ultimately cause his death. </span></p> <p><span>If this is true, the lead most likely came from the paints Caravaggio was using, especially since he was notoriously messy with them.</span></p> <p><strong>Did Rembrandt reveal a murder plot in one of his paintings?</strong></p> <p><span>Rembrandt’s painting, <em>The Night Watch</em>, depicts a civilian militia rousing to action in the middle of the night. But some, including the director and artist, Peter Greenaway, believe the painting is “really an exposé of a murder – of one officer by another.” </span></p> <p><span>It’s a theory he supports with 20 points – all visual and based on the painting – in his films, <em>Night Watching</em> and <em>Rembrandt J’Accuse</em>.</span></p> <p><strong>Who is the man hidden under Picasso's <em>The Blue Room</em>?</strong></p> <p>In 2014, scientists announced they found, hidden beneath the surface of Pablo Picasso’s The Blue Room, a portrait of a man wearing a bow tie, his chin resting on his hand.</p> <p>It’s not all that unusual for an artist to reuse a canvas, but what’s mysterious is the identity of the man. Some speculate he might be the art dealer who hosted Picasso’s first show in 1901 (Ambroise Vollard). What’s known for sure is that it is not a self-portrait.</p> <p><strong>Is there another woman hidden beneath the Mona Lisa?</strong></p> <p><span>In 2017, French scientist Pascal Cotte revealed he’d discovered the hidden image of a woman beneath the surface of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. </span></p> <p><span>It had taken him more than a decade of examination and analysis and has led to speculation about who the woman might be. Cotte has said it’s another woman from Florence, Pacifica Brandano. But not only is the jury out on that, not all experts even agree there’s actually a different woman depicted. </span></p> <p><span>Some believe what Cotte discovered is nothing more than a painter’s “first draft” of the finished product.</span></p> <p><strong>Who pulled off the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist?</strong></p> <p><span>In 1990, 13 works of art worth approximately $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in a robbery perpetrated by two men posing as law enforcement officers. </span></p> <p><span>“Despite some promising leads in the past, the… theft…remains unsolved,” the Museum states on its website. In fact, the Museum is offering a $10 million reward for information leading directly to the recovery of the art, plus a separate reward of $100,000 for the return of one specific piece.</span></p> <p><strong>Where is the missing art from the Rotterdam heist?</strong></p> <p><span>In 2012, thieves broke into the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam and made off with seven paintings, including works by Picasso, Monet and Gauguin. </span></p> <p><span>Four Romanian men were arrested and convicted of the theft in 2013, but no one knows what happened to the stolen artworks. The mother of one of the thieves confessed to burning the paintings but then retracted her confession. </span></p> <p><span>In 2018, someone planted a very realistic looking Picasso-esque painting beneath a rock in a forest in Romania, but it was discovered to be fake. The paintings remain missing.</span></p> <p><strong>Who is Banksy?</strong></p> <p><span>The artist, Banksy, has been around since the early 1990s, creating striking and highly recognisable street art in public places. </span></p> <p><span>Y</span><span>et their identity remains a mystery. Who is Banksy? “Over the years several different people have attempted to ‘unmask’ Banksy,” writes Artnet, in its 2016 analysis of ten popular theories, to which street artist Carlo McCormick, contributed his own opinions (could he be Banksy?).</span></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/uncategorized/13-strangest-unsolved-mysteries-of-the-art-world?pages=1" target="_blank">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Barbados announces new museum of slavery

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just days after cutting ties with the British monarchy, Barbados has announced plans to build a major new heritage site dedicated to the history of the transatlantic slave trade.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The museum is set to house the largest </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">collection of British slave records outside of the United Kingdom, as well as a research cebtrew and a memorial adjacent to a burial ground where the remains of 570 enslaves West African men, woman and children were discovered. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Barbados is authentically enshrining our history and preserving the past as we reimagine our world and continue to contribute to global humanity. It is a moral imperative but equally an economic necessity,” Barbados’s Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said in a statement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Construction of the museum is set to begin on November 30th 2022, on the first anniversary of Barbados becoming a parliamentary republic. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The site will be located outside of the country’s capital city, next to the Newton Enslaved Burial Ground Memorial, a former sugar plantation and the site of the island’s largest and earliest slave burial ground.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Upon its completion, the district will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean, as it will combine research and extensive documentation from the existing Barbados Archives. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The new archive will “enable Barbados to authoritatively map its history in lasting, healing and powerful ways,” Mottley said. “It will unearth the as-yet-untold heritage embedded in centuries-old artifacts, revealing both Barbados’ history and trajectory into the future.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a statement from David Adjaye, the site’s architect, the design for the district “draws upon the technique and philosophy of traditional African tombs, prayer sites and pyramids.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In order to commemorate the victims of the slave trade, the grounds above the grave will feature 570 individual timber beams, capped with brass plates and angled towards the sun. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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21 Christmas crafts for kids to get them in the holiday spirit

<p><span>There’s nothing quite like crafting for getting into the holiday spirit – it’s a fun Christmas tradition, especially when you get your kids involved! </span></p> <p><span>Christmas crafts for kids ensure hours of family fun, laughter, and creativity – and, not to mention, some pretty awesome DIY Christmas decorations to hang around your house. Remember to always supervise younger children with scissors, paint and glue.</span></p> <p><strong>Paper plate angel </strong></p> <p>Hark, the paper plate angels sing! For this Christmas decoration idea, paint a paper plate blue and cut it into three pieces to form the dress and wings.</p> <p>Attach yellow construction paper to the plastic spoon as hair and glue together. It’s just about the easiest Christmas craft for kids you can find.</p> <p><strong>Christmas cards</strong></p> <p><span>There’s no Christmas craft for kids quite as special as a handmade holiday card. Help your kids spruce up their card-making game this year by using construction paper and buttons to create fun paper card cut-outs in the shapes of Christmas trees, reindeer, wreaths, ornaments and more. </span></p> <p><span>Not sure your crew is up to the task? Try one of these free printable cards instead.</span></p> <p><strong>Orange peel garland</strong></p> <p>After peeling (and eating) an orange, lay out the skin and use Christmas-themed cookie cutters to cut out shapes.</p> <p>From there, thread a string or twine to form the garland. Oranges aren’t the only fruit fit for Christmas – did you know that it’s a Chinese tradition to eat an apple on Christmas?</p> <p><strong>Pasta Christmas trees</strong></p> <p><span>Help your kids spray paint uncooked pasta shapes in green and silver and hot glue the pasta together to form tree shapes. </span></p> <p><span>Don’t forget the bowtie noodle on top!</span></p> <p><strong>Pinecone Christmas trees</strong></p> <p><span>A Christmas craft for kids that’s both eco-friendly and adorable? Sign us up! Have your kids scavenge pinecones in the backyard. </span></p> <p><span>Then, use hot glue to attach the pinecones to corks to act as the stump. Dip in green paint to complete.</span></p> <p><strong>Pasta wreath</strong></p> <p><span>Kids will love this fun twist on the classic Christmas wreath idea. Use craft glue to adhere bowtie pasta to a foam wreath form or paper plate. </span></p> <p><span>Spray paint to apply colour and for an extra special holiday surprise, attach red bows and roses.</span></p> <p><strong>Chimney Santa Claus</strong></p> <p><span>This Christmas craft for kids transforms recycled toilet paper rolls into chimneys with red construction paper and a black marker. Use the same tools to create Santa’s hat and feet.</span></p> <p><strong>Swirly paper snowman</strong></p> <p><span>Help your child cut white paper into a spiral to form the snowman’s swirly body. From there, draw eyes, a mouth, and a carrot nose at the top. </span></p> <p><span>Don’t forget to cut out a construction paper hat to complete the craft.</span></p> <p><strong>Circle snowmen</strong></p> <p><span>What’s round, white, and absolutely adorable? This Christmas craft for kids! All your kid will need is coloured construction paper, scissors and glue, making it absolutely kid-friendly. </span></p> <p><span>And talk about creative – your child can craft and decorate these little bundles of snowy joy as they see fit.</span></p> <p><strong>Paper snowflakes</strong></p> <p><span>We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the most classic of all Christmas crafts for kids – the paper snowflake. </span></p> <p><span>No matter how simple this craft is, the magic of unfurling the paper to see the incredible patterns created will always be a Christmas miracle.</span></p> <p><strong>Tissue paper Christmas tree</strong></p> <p><span>Cut green pieces of tissue paper into squares and have your child crumple and glue them together to form the shape of a Christmas tree. </span></p> <p><span>For an extra special touch, cut up a white cotton pad and use it as snow.</span></p> <p><strong>Toilet paper toys</strong></p> <p><span>What do Frosty, Santa, and a Christmas tree all have in common? They’re made out of toilet paper rolls!</span></p> <p><span> For this craft, all your child will need is glue, construction paper, and paint.</span></p> <p><strong>Snowmen greeting cards</strong></p> <p><span>All your child will need for this Christmas craft are white buttons, blue cardstock, a white pen, and some creativity. </span></p> <p><span>Have your child glue three buttons in a row to create the shape of the snowman. Draw stick arms, hair, snow and more using the white pen.</span></p> <p><strong>Christmas tree snow globes</strong></p> <p><span>What’s the only thing better than a holiday-themed snow globe? A DIY holiday-themed snow globe, of course! To create the Christmas tree, paint a pine cone green and decorate it with sequins and glitter and attach to the bottom of a Mason jar lid. </span></p> <p><span>Then, fill the Mason jar with glitter and add glycerine (that secret snow globe ingredient!). Screw on the lid, flip over, and watch the holiday magic commence.</span></p> <p><strong>Toilet paper roll Christmas tree calendar</strong><span></span></p> <p><span>To make this fun, upcycled Christmas craft, first, tape recycled toilet paper rolls in a pyramid shape. Then, cover in green construction paper. </span></p> <p><span>Finally, decorate each of the rolls with numbers 1 to 25 to finish the advent calendar.</span></p> <p><strong>Santa puppets</strong></p> <p><span>First, cut out a triangle using red construction paper and glue to a Popsicle stick. </span></p> <p><span>Then glue half a cupcake wrapper to make Santa’s beard, a white circle to form his head, and add a small white circle on top to complete his hat.</span></p> <p><strong>Going green wrapping paper</strong></p> <p><span>To take your child’s Christmas crafting to a whole new level…have them custom DIY wrapping paper! </span></p> <p><span>Cut a Christmas tree stamp out of a sponge then stamp green paint onto a repurposed brown bag to create a pattern.</span></p> <p><strong>Wooden stick holiday characters</strong></p> <p><span>To make the paddlepop stick snowman, glue together six wooden sticks with one lying diagonally. </span></p> <p><span>Paint the top half and diagonal stick black for the hat, and the bottom half white. Draw on eyes, a carrot nose, and a smile.</span></p> <p><strong>Santa Claus lollipop package</strong></p> <p><span>This is an adorable way for kids to give their friends treats on Christmas. First, fold red cardstock into a freestanding triangle shape. Decorate one side with Santa’s face, made out of construction paper and pieces of a doily. </span></p> <p><span>Slide a lollipop face down into the triangle and staple on either side to secure. Bonus: have your child add in one of these funny Christmas quotes to complete the present.</span></p> <p><strong>Angel garland</strong></p> <p><span>Use patterned paper for a fun twist on this classic kids’ Christmas craft.</span></p> <p><strong>Christmas masks</strong></p> <p><span>Decorate your masks this year for the ultimate holiday cheer. Glue on pom-poms and cotton fluff for a bona fide Santa’s beard.</span></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/21-christmas-crafts-for-kids-to-get-them-in-the-holiday-spirit?pages=1" target="_blank">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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Banksy offers to turn unused prison into an arts centre

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Banksy has offered to raise over $18 million in order to buy a prison in the UK which was adorned with an artwork created by the street artist earlier this year. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Developers had originally planned to turn the HMP Reading into apartments, but the plans for the heritage-listed site fell through.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now back on the market for the hefty price, Banksy has offered to raise the funds by selling the stencil he used to paint a mural on the wall in March 2021. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The stencil has an estimated value of between $18 million and $28 million, and will be sold privately, as opposed to being sold at auction. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Banksy’s generous offer is contingent on the site being used as an arts complex, in line with a $4.8 million bid made by Reading Borough Council last year which was rejected by the Ministry of Justice.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speaking to the</span> <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/banksy-sketches-out-10m-plan-to-free-oscar-wildes-prison-from-developers-2s70c86p9"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sunday Times</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Banksy said, “I had very little interest in Reading until I was on a rail replacement bus service that went past the jail.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It's rare to find an uninterrupted 500m-long paintable surface slap bang in the middle of a town; I literally clambered over the passenger next to me to get a closer look.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I promised myself I'd paint the wall even before I knew what it was. I'm passionate about it now, though.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He said, “Oscar Wilde is the patron saint of smashing two contrasting ideas together to create magic. Converting the place that destroyed him into a refuge for art feels so perfect we have to do it.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Banksy has only sold one of his stencils before, making it his rarest art form. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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A scientific guide to Western art

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>A unique collaboration between physicists, data scientists and art historians has provided a fresh look at 500 years of art history.</p> <p>The international team statistically analysed nearly 15,000 Western landscape paintings in an attempt to quantify their design principles. This revealed not only that composition patterns have evolved through history, but also that they characterise individual artists and artistic styles.</p> <p>“Understanding how artistic expressions and design principles have changed over time is a central question in art history, aesthetics, and cultural evolution,” the researchers explain in a <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2011927117" target="_blank">paper</a> in <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em>.</p> <p>Art has long functioned as a significant channel for human creativity and communication. Throughout history, it has evolved in a complex interplay with the social, technological and scientific environments of the time.</p> <p>Studying art history, according to lead researcher Byunghwee Lee from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, therefore represents “an effort to understand the creative process of humans as one of the essential natures of human beings, which needs to be understood to understand ourselves”.</p> <p>Traditionally, the vast majority of art history research has employed qualitative methods, which tend to be interpretive and exploratory. The field has only recently been approached using numeric methods – made possible by the development of large-scale digital databases.</p> <p>This new study analysed digital scans of 14,912 paintings, covering the Western renaissance to contemporary art, using an image dissection methodology, informed by information theory, to divide paintings into vertical and horizontal segments from the most to least prominent compositional features.</p> <p>Horizontal segments included elements such as the sky, earth and atmospheric colour changes, while vertical segments included trees, plants, cliffs and buildings.</p> <p>Interestingly, the study found that the positioning of these segments evolved.</p> <p>Horizons, for example, have migrated upwards over the last few centuries. The skies in 17th century Baroque art frequently dominated the landscape, but during the Rococo and Romantic periods, the horizon moved up to around the midline of paintings. By the time the Realism and Impression periods rolled around, the horizon was positioned primarily in the upper third of the canvas.</p> <p>Dissecting paintings in this quantitative way, the researchers explain, can “capture the unique compositional characteristics and systematic evolution of individual artist bodies of work, creation date time spans, and conventional style periods”.</p> <p>But there is still plenty of scope to build on the study.</p> <p>“Although the dataset used in this study includes some Japanese and Chinese landscape paintings, our dataset mainly focuses on paintings by European artists,” the authors acknowledge – creating a bias both in terms of gender and geography.</p> <p>Their methods can act as a starting point to investigate the principles of artistic composition over a broader range of cultures and regions.</p> <p>This approach could also be applied to other art forms – such as photography, film, typography and architecture – to reveal patterns not readily discernible to the individual eye.</p> <p>Applying scientific knowledge to art or aesthetics may be viewed by many as reductionist – though scientists <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.nature.com/articles/srep07370" target="_blank">have argued</a> that such studies are “efforts to understand the beauty of painting art in their own languages”.</p> <p>According to Eleanor Gates-Stuart, artist and Professor of Creative Industries at Australia’s Charles Sturt University, there are also many aspects of the painting process – including emotive, gestural-driven actions by the artist – that cannot be extracted by scientific methods.</p> <p>But she says this new algorithmic analysis “reveals a knowledge structure and methodology that is indeed a valuable systematic model”.</p> <p>“Using statistical methods is certainly very useful expansion of integrating cross-disciplinary research, as shown here in this paper, especially in such a myriad of art history and aesthetics,” she adds.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> </div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/a-scientific-guide-to-western-art/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Lauren Fuge. </em></p> </div> </div>

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Is this the world’s oldest drawing?

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>A faint, red, cross-hatched design discovered in a cave in South Africa just might be the oldest known drawing in history, researchers say.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0514-3" target="_blank">In a paper</a> published in the journal Nature, a team led by Christopher Henshilwood from the University of Bergen in Norway reveals the discovery of a decorated piece of stone – of a type known as silcrete – excavated at an archaeological site called Blombos Cave, 300 kilometres east of Cape Town.</p> <p>The stone flake features a cross-hatched pattern, which the researchers say microscopic and chemical analysis confirms was applied deliberately with an ochre “crayon” fashioned into a tip between one and three millimetres wide.</p> <p>The design – which has been dubbed the world’s first hashtag – might originally have been part of a larger, more complex piece.</p> <p>The sediment layer in which the decorated stone was recovered has been reliably dated as 73,000 years old. The find is highly significant, because it pre-dates the earliest known abstract and figurative drawings discovered in Africa, Europe and southeast Asia by at least 30,000 years.</p> <p>Henshilwood and his colleagues note that the same sediment layer in the Blombos Cave has previously yielded other artefacts, including shell beads.</p> <p>The latest find, they write, “demonstrates the ability of early Homo sapiens in southern Africa to produce graphic designs on various media using different techniques”.</p> <em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/history/archaeology/is-this-the-worlds-oldest-drawing/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Andrew Masterson. </em></p> </div> </div>

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Three questions not to ask about art – and four to ask instead

<p>Art raises a lot of questions. That’s what it does. If an art work in a gallery or a news story has made you ask “what the …?”, it has already started to do its job.</p> <p>But for many who are not familiar with art, some of the most often asked questions of art just lead to a dead end. So, is art just a global conspiracy of Emperor’s Robe-makers? Or are there some questions that will finally yield some answers?</p> <p>A couple of years ago, I visited the Tate Modern in London. Standing near <a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/carl-andre-648">a work</a>that consisted of two layers of bricks arranged in a rectangle on the floor, I overheard an irritated visitor asking his friend, “Why is that art?” Hands on hips, he was clearly annoyed by what must have seemed an assault on his intelligence. So, why is that art?</p> <p><strong>1. Why is that art?</strong></p> <p><span>Art isn’t a single type of thing, just as “movies” and “music” don’t just refer to Hollywood movies or pop songs. A movie can be a silent film, a home video, a documentary or a 3D Hollywood blockbuster. </span></p> <p><span>Music can be classical, pop, rap – the possibilities are almost endless. Art is the same.</span></p> <p>Some art belongs to <a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/437124">longer traditions</a>, which are concerned with how things look, and so is easier to understand, such as a Claude Monet painting of Rouen Cathedral. Some more recent art is about other things.</p> <p>Expressionist art is about visualising internal psychological and emotional states in colours and gestures. Abstract art is about creating arrangements of colour that are deliberately not drawn from real objects in the world. Conceptual art is mostly about the idea and the art object isn’t that important. Minimalist art (of the kind that annoyed the Tate visitor) is mostly about the material itself.</p> <p>However, unlike mainstream movies and music, art often doesn’t provide much of its own context. What do I mean by this?</p> <p>Well, to understand anything, you need to know its context. If you watch any Hollywood movie, most of what you require to understand the plot line is contained within the movie, in recognisable characters, scenarios and plot devices. That’s great if you just want to eat popcorn and chill out; but also the meanings are very prescriptive and don’t allow much room for alternative interpretations.</p> <p>But think of a more “arty” movie, like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0166924/">Mulholland Drive</a> by David Lynch, and you’re given less context. The meaning is not so obvious. You have to do more of the interpretive work yourself with the fewer clues you can find.</p> <p>Art is similar in that you need context to understand it, but it also makes you do much more interpretive work. It doesn’t mean that you just make up your own meaning and everyone is right, regardless of how wacky their interpretation. It means that you have to think of what was happening in the world in which the work came about, and to the artist’s life, to find the clues.</p> <p>Yes, it makes you do a lot of work, in the same way a crossword or Sudoku only gives you clues that you have to work with. That’s really when it gets interesting.</p> <p><strong>2. What is it meant to be?</strong></p> <p>Just over 100 years ago, during the early years of the 20th century, the most experimental artists (those we think of as the avant-garde, the leading edge) were fascinated with the idea of creating a new type of visual language. The visual language that had dominated since the Renaissance was “representation” – that is, a painting was of something, like a landscape, or a vase of flowers, or a person. Good art was that which most realistically looked like the thing it represented.</p> <p>But after photography was invented in 1839, there seemed less point in spending hours trying to just copy what we see, especially when a camera could do it quicker and better.</p> <p>At that point, many avant-garde artists became preoccupied with depicting what couldn’t be seen: emotional and psychological states.</p> <p>In a painting like The Scream (1893), Edvard Munch is attempting to portray the horror of a panic attack through his stabbing brushstrokes, red sky and the vulnerable screaming figure. Other avant-garde artists, like Pablo Picasso or Wassily Kandinsky, also moved away from representation and towards abstraction.</p> <p>Abstract artists saw creating painting or sculpture as similar to creating music. Music doesn’t represent anything – its “forms” are all completely abstract. This was what abstract art was also trying to do, but with colour and line.</p> <p>Abstraction rose to dominate art by the middle of the 20th century and then fell by the wayside after the 1970s. But representational art didn’t just come back as though nothing had happened. Art remained more about ideas than just looking like something else.</p> <p>The sculpture that provoked the ire of my fellow visitor to the Tate Modern, <a href="http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/andre-equivalent-viii-t01534">Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII, 1966</a>, is 120 bricks arranged in a rectangle on the floor. It’s not meant to be something else. It’s about the raw materiality of the bricks themselves. That’s what Andre was proposing by presenting those bricks in the context of a gallery.</p> <p><strong>3. A four-year-old could do that, couldn't they?</strong></p> <p><span>Picasso is often quoted as having said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” He’s saying that the conventions of painting that dominated art since the time of the Renaissance are, in a way, quite an easy tried and tested formula – think here of the </span><a href="http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/mona-lisa-%E2%80%93-portrait-lisa-gherardini-wife-francesco-del-giocondo">Mona Lisa</a><span>, painted between 1503-06.</span></p> <p>Using perspective, shading and other Renaissance rules and techniques, most artists are going to end up with similar results.</p> <p>400 years after the Renaissance, those rules and techniques got a bit stale and, about a century ago, avant-garde artists grew bored of just copying the world. But if you throw out those old tried and tested Renaissance rules, what do you replace them with?</p> <p>Picasso went digging in a variety of other sources, such as tribal marks from Africa (which often appear in his work). Other artists, such as Jean Dubuffet, searched for alternative techniques in images made by the mentally ill. And Paul Klee was fascinated with the rawness of children’s drawings. If a modern masterpiece looks like it was drawn by a four-year-old, that’s probably what the artist was aiming to do.</p> <p>Sure, there’s a particular kind of skill in drawing a dog that looks exactly like the furry thing that barks; but then, what other ways are there of depicting a dog, new and interesting ways that haven’t been done before? Now there’s a challenge, and one that takes a very different kind of creative imagination than the manual skill of drawing.</p> <p>Russian artist Oleg Kulik’s take on this in 1997 was to spend <a href="http://www.deitch.com/projects/sub.php?projId=79">two weeks in a New York gallery</a>, stripped naked, living in a dog house and being led around on a leash, barking and occasionally biting people.</p> <p>Okay, that seems a bit extreme, but it captures much more of what a dog is than a flat and still arrangement of graphite on a piece of paper.</p> <p><strong>Four (better) ways of looking at art</strong></p> <p>So, what are better questions to ask when confronted with a work of art that seems to make no sense? A few years ago, the Australian art academic Terry Smith suggested what he called “<a href="http://www.terryesmith.net/web/?p=18">Four Ways of Looking at Art</a>”. Smith’s four simple questions ask of art the “what”, “how”, “when” and “why”:</p> <blockquote> <ol> <li>What can I see just by looking at this art work?</li> <li>How was this art work actually made?</li> <li>When was it made, and what was happening in art and broader history at that time?</li> <li>Why did the artist create this work and what is its meaning to them, and to us now?</li> </ol> </blockquote> <p>Each of these questions will reveal something more of the context, which will provide much of the meaning of the art work.</p> <p>So, next time you’re confronted by a neat arrangement of bricks on the gallery floor, a messed-up bed in a gallery, a painting that looks like it was done by a four-year-old, start by asking these four questions. You’ll prise open a can full of even more questions, and the meaning might well begin to unfurl from the Emperor’s Robes.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/three-questions-not-to-ask-about-art-and-four-to-ask-instead-29830" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Studying wasp nests to put an age on art

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>Scientists believe well-known pre-historic rock paintings in Western Australia are younger than previously thought after dating the remnants of mud wasp nests found over and beneath them.</p> <p>The study, which is described in a <a rel="noopener" href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/6/eaay3922" target="_blank">paper</a> in the journal Science Advances, is one of few in recent decades, they say, to successfully use the novel and challenging <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/how-mud-wasp-nests-help-delve-our-countrys-past" target="_blank">approach</a>.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.kimberleyfoundation.org.au/kimberley-rock-art/rock-art-sequence/gwionbradshaw-period/" target="_blank">Gwion</a> paintings of the Kimberley region have been notoriously hard to date, but evidence has suggested they were painted as far back as 17,000 years ago and over the span of several thousand years, pointing to a remarkably long-lived artistic tradition. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Now a team led by Damien Finch from the University of Melbourne, with input from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, has presented its findings suggesting they were more likely painted during a narrow timeframe, about 12,400 years ago. </span></p> <p>To do this, they used radiocarbon dating, which can determine how long ago living material died.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Working with the traditional owners of the Aboriginal sites, they analysed the nests of wasps that build mud nests on rock walls, sometimes incorporating charcoal from regular local brushfires. </span></p> <p>By dating the charcoal in the nests, they estimated when the nests were built. By dating nests that had been painted over, they determined the maximum age of the artwork. By dating nests on top of paintings, they found minimum ages.</p> <p>The possible age ranges of 19 of the 21 paintings studied overlap during a brief period between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago.</p> <p>Two samples fall outside of that range. One, which was found under a painting but dated at only 6,900 years old, is thought to be unreliable and possibly contaminated.</p> <p>However, the second was found over a painting and more reliably estimated to be 16,600 years old, complicating the findings. Finch and colleagues suggest more nest samples need to be identified and dated to get a clearer picture.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the results “confirm that rock art was being produced in the Kimberley during the terminal Pleistocene”, they write in their paper.</p> <p>“Notably, as the Gwion paintings are not the oldest in the relative stylistic sequence for this area, earlier styles must have an even greater antiquity.”</p> <p>Originally referred to as Bradshaw paintings, the Gwions are feature finely painted human figures in elaborate ceremonial dress, including long headdresses, and accompanied by material culture including boomerangs and spears.</p> <em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/history/studying-wasp-nests-to-put-an-age-on-art/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Nick Carne. </em></p> </div> </div>

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