Art

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The science behind Jackson Pollock’s art

<div> <div class="copy"> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Whatever you think of Jackson Pollock’s abstract art, it seems there’s a bit of science to it. In fact, a Google Scholar search unearths nearly 19,000 papers on the subject.</span></p> <p>The latest research by Roberto Zenit, from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, and colleagues adds a detailed technical analysis from a fluid dynamics perspective.</p> <p>Their key discovery, <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0223706" target="_blank">published</a> in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals that Pollock’s technique is carefully executed to avoid what is known as coiling instability.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“When a jet, or filament, oozes down into itself, it may coil,” Zenit explains. “The best example is honey dripping onto toast – the filament forms coils when it lands.</span></p> <p>“Coiling happens when the fluid is too viscous,” he adds. “Gravity pushes down, but the liquid doesn’t want to flow… so it coils to find a balance.”</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.jackson-pollock.org" target="_blank">Pollock</a>, who died in 1956, is considered one of America’s most influential artists of the Twentieth Century, with his radical works captivating art buffs, historians and scientists alike.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Films of him in action lend themselves to scientific analysis of his technique, which involved rhythmically pouring a continuous stream of paint onto a horizontal canvas, using a device such as a stick, knife or brush to regulate the flow.</span></p> <p>It eventually came to be known as <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780444509444500128" target="_blank">fractal expressionism</a> – a representation of nature’s patterns, inspiring scientists to make comparisons with nature’s systems and to explore how he managed to achieve this.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Zenit, who was intrigued by the technicalities of the fluid method, saw the historical videos as an opportunity to gain insights into how Pollock painted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">He and his team carefully observed the speed and height of the artist’s unique painting action, then recreated it so they could zone in on what he was doing. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“We can vary one thing at a time so we can decipher the key elements of the technique,” he says. “For example, we could vary the height from which the paint is poured and keep the speed constant to see how that changes things.”</span></p> <p>Thus, the researchers made a connection between his technique and classical hydrodynamic instability (coiling instability), contradicting previous suggestions that the curved lines resulted from this instability.</p> <p>“What we found is that he moved his hand at a sufficiently high speed and a sufficiently short height such that this coiling would not occur,” says Zenit.</p> <p>They also showed that the paint filaments did not fragment into droplets – suggesting that descriptions of his painting style as a “dripping” technique are not accurate: dripping implies that a fluid breaks up into discrete droplets whereas Pollock’s fluid filaments tended to be continuous rather than fragmented.</p> <p>That analysis showed that another hydrodynamic instability was avoided, Zenit explains.</p> <p>It gets more technical. Like many painters, Pollock used solvents to alter the fluid properties of his paints, creating varying thicknesses. The researchers found that with more viscous paint he would reduce the height and increase the speed of his movements, and vice versa with thinner paint – in all instances carefully avoiding coiling instability.</p> <p>The results of this research could help authenticate the artist’s coveted paintings.</p> <p>“If you see a painting with filaments with too many coils or droplets, it is unlikely that Pollock painted it,” says Zenit.</p> <p>The study is also part of a new line of research aiming to understand painting from a fluid mechanics perspective, which the authors suggest could have practical applications for instances where coiling is undesirable, like inkjet printing or fabricating optic fibres.</p> <p>“Painters are experts in manipulating fluids, so are fluid mechanicians,” says Zenit. “This gives us an opportunity to learn from each other.”</p> <p>How – and how not – to do it</p> <p>In the first video below, paint is deposited on a moving canvas from distance low enough and at a speed high enough to avoid coiling.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">In the second, something is out, and the result is clear to see.</span></p> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"><iframe style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;" src="https://players.brightcove.net/5483960636001/HJH3i8Guf_default/index.html?videoId=6098936274001" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> </div> <div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;"> <div style="padding-top: 56.25%;"><iframe style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;" src="https://players.brightcove.net/5483960636001/HJH3i8Guf_default/index.html?videoId=6098938078001" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> </div> <p><span style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 9.6px; text-transform: uppercase;">CREDIT: rOBERT zENIT</span></p> <em>Image credits: Shutterstock                         <!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=27088&amp;title=The+science+behind+Jackson+Pollock%E2%80%99s+art" alt="" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication -->          </em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/physics/the-science-behind-jackson-pollocks-art/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Natalie Parletta. </em></p> </div> </div>

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Science’s war on art fraud

<div class="copy"> <p>In 2016 a team of scientists led by David Thurrowgood of the National Gallery of Victoria took a painting by French impressionist Edgar Degas to the Australian Synchrotron in order to solve a long-standing mystery.</p> <p>Art experts had previously noted that the artwork, Portrait de Femme (1876-1880) had been painted directly over a previous composition. Faint traces of the earlier work were visible but the piece was otherwise completely obscured – probably as the artist intended.</p> <p>Thurrowgood and the team at the Synchrotron, in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, used high-definition X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to penetrate the surface of the painting to reveal (upside down, as it were) the face of an entirely different sitter. </p> <p>With false colour added to provide at least figurative flesh to the hidden portrait, the result was extraordinary – and a powerful demonstration of how cutting edge science and technology have an increasingly valuable role to play in revealing the secrets of art.   </p> <p>Nowhere is this more the case than in the murky but highly profitable area of forgery. The global art market turns over something north of US$60 billion a year, and some experts estimate that as much as 50% of the works traded are forged.</p> <p>Now, however, new techniques are being developed in laboratories around the world that look set to make the forgers’ lives much more difficult.</p> <p>In 2010, German painter Wolfgang Beltracchi was unmasked as one of the most successful art forgers of </p> <p>the modern era, reaping millions of euros through creating near-perfect artworks, mainly in the styles of 20th century masters.</p> <p>His output included works ostensibly by the great Cubist painter Georges Braque (1882-1963). Should anyone today attempt to repeat that dishonest little trick – and someone, inevitably, will – he or she will find attempts to pass off a moody Braque very, very much more difficult.</p> <p>In 2016, Clara Granzotto and Kenneth Sutherland from the Art Institute of Chicago developed a new imaging technique to investigate the media used by the French artist in creating a painting titled Ajax (1949-54). The work was owned by the institute and catalogued as “oil on paper” but the researchers had a hunch the description was inaccurate.</p> <p>The pair developed a method of analysing minute particles taken from the edges of the work. Called matrix assisted laser desorption ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), the technique uses lasers to ionise large molecules, such as carbohydrates.</p> <p>When the results were in, Granzotto and Sutherland found the paint mixture contained two separate types of acacia gum. Known in art circles as gum arabic, the substance was a common addition to watercolour paints during the period. This indicated that Braque had used watercolour as well as oil paints to make the piece.</p> <p>MALDI spectrometry is today used mainly to provide detailed information for conservators and restorers. Should a previously unknown Braque from the same period suddenly come onto the market, however, it’s London to a brick any decent dealer will be giving the gumshoe detectives a call.</p> <h2>Looks deceive no more</h2> <p>Many methods used to determine the authenticity of paintings – scanning electron microscopy, for instance – necessarily destroy part of the artwork itself.</p> <p>Perhaps the best known non-destructive investigative method is optical coherence tomography, a medical imaging system that uses near-infrared light and is employed often by ophthamologists to get three-dimensional, highly detailed images of the retina.</p> <p>In the art world it is extremely useful for providing in-depth data on elements such as the composition and layering of paint. Its main drawback, however, is that it images only very small areas, so using it to map a large canvas is both time-consuming and expensive.</p> <p>Recognising this problem, a team of computer scientists and art historians from the Pusan National University in South Korea set about designing an alternative. Led by Seonhee Hwang, the group developed a method that combined fibre optics reflectance spectroscopy with a laser-based topographic analysis. The system is able to scan an entire artwork, measuring the colour characteristics of the whole piece. At the same time, a laser-based map of the thousands minuscule ridges created by the artist’s brushstrokes and fingerprints is also produced.</p> <p>To test the accuracy of their new technique, Hwang and colleagues commissioned expert painters to create forgeries of paintings by well-known Korean artists. The system was then used on the originals and the fakes. Writing in <a rel="noopener" href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0171354" target="_blank">PLOS ONE</a><a rel="noopener" href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0171354" target="_blank"> in February this year</a>, the researchers reported that the reflectance spectroscopy identified the forgery in 76% of cases, while the laser topography was successful every time.</p> <h2>It’s in the DNA</h2> <p>Once upon a time an artist’s signature – down there, in the corner of the painting – was just about all the verification anyone needed to be sure an artwork was genuine. If you had the provenance as well – the documented history of the work’s sales and owners – no more proof was needed.</p> <p>Such innocent days are long gone. Signatures and records of sale can both be forged; and even the experts, from time to time, are fooled. {%recommended 3792%}</p> <p>Is there, then, a foolproof way to establish that a work is genuine? For new paintings, the answer is yes, and it involves synthetic DNA. A technique developed at the Global Centre for Innovation at the State University of New York involves inserting a tiny amount of specially created genetic code into still-wet paint – establishing a permanent, updatable record a little like a microchip inside a pet cat.</p> <p>The system was developed at the behest of a company called the ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, which specialises in insuring fine art. Although still in its infancy, the company intends to log the DNA – each piece unique and created to order – into a database, which will also contain provenance information. To verify the authenticity of a tagged work, all any dealer will have to do is run a proprietary scanner over the canvas. </p> <p>The DNA bonds with the media used to make the artwork, so it is impossible to remove it, let alone copy the work. The system – dubbed the i2M Standard – is now being trialled, with a full-scale rollout expected soon.</p> <h2>Doing your block</h2> <p>If master forgers often get away with creating fake oil paintings, imagine what they can get away with digitally made art, a medium that can be copied any number of times without the slightest change occurring.</p> <p>Everyone knows digital art is endlessly reproducible, but over the past few years artists who work specifically in digital media have started to attract big prices for their creations. Since then, two questions have become urgent: how do the artists protect their originals; and how can buyers be sure they are getting the genuine article?</p> <p>The answer is a blockchain – the same type of recording technology now commonplace in the world of online currencies such as Bitcoin. </p> <p>A blockchain is a growing database of individual transaction records (known as blocks). Each transaction produces a timestamp and a link to the previous one – creating a verifiable and (theoretically, at least) forger-proof provenance.</p> <p>Several companies in the art world are already offering blockchain verification services to artists keen to maintain control over their creations.</p> <p>In the world of digital art this is quickly emerging as a critical course. In a field where 10 people can display artworks that to all intents and purposes are exactly the same, there has to be some way to verify who has the “real” – and hence really valuable – one.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/sciences-war-on-art-fraud/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Andrew Masterson. </em></p> </div>

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White male artists dominate US galleries

<p>The walls of art galleries in the US are hung, almost to the exclusion of all else, with the works of white men.</p> <p>That’s the conclusion of a team of statisticians and art historians, <a rel="noopener" href="https://doi.org/%2010.1371/journal.pone.0212852" target="_blank">published</a> in the journal PLOS One.</p> <p><span>The researchers, led by Chad Topaz from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Williams College in Massachusetts, US, examined the public online catalogues of 18 major US museums and extracted records for 9000 named artists.</span></p> <p>These were then given over to a crowdsourcing platform, and with the help of the many people thereon the majority of the artists were successfully identified and biographies built.</p> <p>“Overall,” the authors report, “we find that 85% of artists are white and 87% are men.”</p> <p>Topaz and colleagues position their work in the context of previous studies that have examined diversity in museum and gallery staff, as well as visitor profiles.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://mellon.org/programs/arts-and-cultural-heritage/art-history-conservation-museums/demographic-survey/" target="_blank">One study</a>, for instance, found that 72% of members of the US Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) identified as white. The same study found that while 60% of museum staff are female, women occupy only 43% of senior positions.</p> <p><span>Other studies have looked at visitors, and identified communities to target through outreach programs in attempts to increase diversity.</span></p> <p>The present work, though, is the first to study diversity among the artists represented.</p> <p>“If museums find knowledge of staff and visitor demographics important for programming decisions,” the authors write, “one might ask if demographics of the artists are important for collection decisions.”</p> <p>They cite “anecdotal evidence” that in the field of contemporary American art some collections are being actively augmented to rectify diversity imbalance, with the welcome effect that “it is now not unusual for these museums to compete with each other for major works of African American art”.</p> <p>However, the big picture – no pun intended – remains overwhelmingly coloured by men who are white.</p> <p>“With respect to gender, our overall pool of individual, identifiable artists across all museums consists of 12.6% women,” the authors report.</p> <p>“With respect to ethnicity, the pool is 85.4% white, 9.0% Asian, 2.8% Hispanic/Latinx, 1.2% Black/African American, and 1.5% other ethnicities.”</p> <p>Introducing greater diversity, however, is perhaps not as difficult as some might imagine.</p> <p>“We find that the relationship between museum collection mission and artist diversity is weak, suggesting that a museum wishing to increase diversity might do so without changing its emphases on specific time periods and regions,” the researchers conclude.</p> <p>They also admit that their analysis is constrained by a couple of limitations. First, a small proportion of artists identified could not be satisfactorily identified by gender or ethnicity. Second, artworks made by more than one artist were not included, and, third, many works of art – those from the Graeco-Roman period, for instance – are not assigned to identifiable individuals.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/white-male-artists-dominate-us-gallery-collections/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Andrew Masterson. </em></p>

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Muhammad Ali’s artworks turn a huge profit at auction

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Muhammad Ali’s artworks have sold for almost $1 million at an exclusive auction in New York. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The boxer’s little-known passion for art saw him create a collection of works that were sold by Bonhams Auction House recently. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The collection included 26 drawings and paintings that Ali created throughout the 1970s, and sold for a collective $945,000. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His biggest work, titled Sting Like A Bee, set a record for the athlete’s art as it was sold to a British collector for $425,000. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artwork depicts one of Ali’s boxing ring victories, and was made while he was filming </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">the 1979 movie </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Freedom Road</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in Mississippi.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844805/ali-art.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b103d95a1de7494e89c6e99c83a7704e" /></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Bonhams Auction House</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The selling price was 10 times higher than the low estimated price of $40,000, showing the works to be in higher demand than previously thought. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Also in the sale was a 1979 painting on canvas reading “I Love You America” that sold for $150,000, and a 1967 pen sketch that alludes to Ali’s faith, which sold for $24,000.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The works originally came from a private collection belonging to Ali’s confidante Rodney Hilton Brown. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brown was the publisher of a series of editions by Ali based on serigraphs commissioned by the World Federation of United Nations Associations.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As part of the World Federation series, Ali created a politically-charged drawing titled </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let My People Go</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which depicted an enchained African-American man being whipped. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artwork was subsequently censored by the government agency for its graphic depiction of racial violence. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The controversial artwork sold for $72,800 at Bonhams, after being estimated at just $40,000. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images / Bonhams Auction House</span></em></p>

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Artificial intelligence recreates destroyed paintings

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A new interactive hub founded by </span><a href="https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/gustav-klimt/m03869?hl=en"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Google Arts &amp; Culture</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is showcasing an exclusive Gustav Klimt exhibition that offers insight into Klimt’s </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">biography, artistic inspiration and legacy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As part of the initiative, Google has digitally recreated three iconic Klimt works that were previously lost to a fire in 1899. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">By utilising artificial intelligence, technology has colourised the black and white photographs of the artworks. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The three paintings, titled </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Medicine</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Philosophy</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jurisprudence</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, collectively form the “Faculty Paintings,” which were commissioned by the University of Vienna. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Officials at the university originally deemed the works “pornographic” and “perverse” upon their unveiling, before ultimately being sold to a private buyer. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The paintings were lost in a fire during the final days of World War II in 1945, and only survived in a series of photographs. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">AI researchers and Klimt scholars were supported by those at Google to bring colour to these enigmatic paintings and give them a second opportunity in the spotlight. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After much back and forth to make the recreation as accurate as possible, the AI-coloured images provide what might be the closest we will ever get to seeing a complete image of those lost paintings. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a statement from Franz Smola, curator at the Belvedere museum, he said “The result for me was surprising because we were able to colour it even in the places where we had no knowledge, with machine learning we have good assumptions that Klimt used certain colours.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The use of this revolutionary technology shows hope for the future of famous painting recreations that would have otherwise been lost forever.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Google Arts &amp; Culture</span></em></p>

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Artist turns in blank canvases after hefty payday

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A daring art heist has been carried out in the most audacious way in a Danish museum. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The </span><a href="https://kunsten.dk/en"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kunsten Museum of Modern Art</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the Danish city of Aalborg offered artist Jens Haaning to recreate two of his most famous works titled </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">An Average Danish Annual Income</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><em>An Average Austrian Annual Income</em>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The politically charged artworks used actual banknotes to reflect the average working wage for citizens of Denmark and Austria. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The remakes were set to appear in a current exhibition titled Work it Out, which delves into the role of artists in the labour market. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The institution lent Jens Haaning $117,000AUD to complete the recreations, and offered an extra $9,700 if needed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As per the contract the artist signed, the money would have to be returned to the museum at the end of the exhibition on January 16th 2022. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Upon receiving a suspicious email from the artist, the museum curators suspected something was not quite right. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The email told the museum that the title of the artwork had been changed, and was now called </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take the Money and Run</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844667/jens-haaning.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1d04863eb9c145c0a60a0ab854c8d506" /></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As the museum staff opened the box containing Mr Haaning’s ‘artworks’, they discovered two blank canvases while the cash had completely disappeared. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The money had not been put into the work,” museum director Lasse Andersson told </span><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jens-haaning-take-the-money-and-run-blank-canvases-kunsten-museum-modern-art-denmark/?intcid=CNM-00-10abd1h"><span style="font-weight: 400;">CBS</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the controversy, Mr Haaning defended his bold decision. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The work is that I have taken their money,” the artist </span><a href="https://www.dr.dk/lyd/p1/p1-morgen/p1-morgen-2021-09-25"><span style="font-weight: 400;">told Danish radio program P1 Morgen</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of the performance piece and mega-minimalist work.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jens Haaning said he thought of the idea as a protest against the small sum he was offered to be included in the exclusive exhibition, as well as making a bold political statement on the status of artists in society. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The artwork is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement saying that we also have the responsibility of questioning the structures that we are part of.” </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we must break with them.”</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p>

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Da Vinci’s artistic talent was due to a bung eye

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic genius might in part have been the result of an eye disorder, according to a leading British ophthalmologist.</p> <p>After studying six paintings, drawings and sculptures believed to be of the man who painted the Mona Lisa, Christopher Tyler from the University of London, UK, concludes he suffered from strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes. </p> <p>Some forms of eye misalignment <a rel="noopener" href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797610397958?journalCode=pssa" target="_blank">are thought</a> to assist artistic work by suppressing the deviating eye, which provides two-dimensional monocular vision advantageous to painting and drawing. </p> <p>Tyler believes da Vinci had intermittent exotropia – a tendency for one of his eyes to turn outwards.</p> <p>This would result in the ability to switch to monocular vision, which may help explain his exceptional talent for capturing space on a flat canvas.{%recommended 3705%}</p> <p>If he’s right, the fifteenth century master joins an impressive club. Rembrandt, Degas and Picasso are among other artists identified as having strabismus on the basis of the eye alignment evident from self- portraits.</p> <p>Another Italian painter, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, was even known as Il Guercino, or “the squinter”.</p> <p>Tyler’s task was made more difficult because there are few validated portraits of da Vinci from life.</p> <p>“No work has an unimpeachable attribution as his likeness, so attributions are necessarily probabilistic,” he writes <a rel="noopener" href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.3833" target="_blank">in a paper</a> published in JAMA Ophthalmology.</p> <p>He was encouraged, however, by the painter’s own belief that artists’ work is likely to reflect their own appearance, and was thus confident that any of his portraits “may be considered to reflect his own appearance to some extent”.</p> <p>Examination of half a dozen likely portraits and self-portraits in which the direction of gaze of each eye is identifiable shows that most paintings exhibit a consistent exotropic strabismus angle of minus-10.3 degrees.</p> <p>This is supported by a similar angle in the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.scmp.com/business/money/wealth/article/2144271/meet-man-who-found-da-vinci-sold-record-us450-million" target="_blank">recently identified</a> da Vinci painting Salvator Mundi, which last year sold for a record US$450 million.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.leonardodavinci.net" target="_blank">The most influential figure</a> of the Italian Renaissance, da Vinci was an architect, musician, engineer scientist and inventor, as well as a painter.</p> <p>His other masterpieces include The Last Supper, The Baptism of Christ and The Vitruvian Man. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/da-vincis-artistic-talent-was-due-to-a-bung-eye/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Nick Carne.</em></p> </div> </div>

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How a great-grandmother is creating a new generation of warrior women

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meenakshi Amma has become a driving force in the world of traditional Indian martial arts, as she has fought to revive the art of Kalarippayattu.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kalarippayattu, also known as Kalari, is the oldest form of martial arts in India, and Amma has been working to encourage women and girls of all ages to take up the ancient practice. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I started Kalari when I was seven. I am still practising, learning and teaching,” said the matriarch of the Kadathanad Kalari Sangham school, founded by her late husband in 1949.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844633/meenakshi-amma-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/10c160409f9746e3b1c483857038d60e" /></p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty Images</em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When you open the newspapers, you only see news of violence against women.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“When women learn this martial art, they feel physically and mentally strong and it makes them confident to work and travel alone.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kalari can involve the use of weapons such as staffs, swords and shields, and contains elements of yoga and dance. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reputedly 3,000 years old and often mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures, the art remains infused with religion in the present day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">British colonial rulers in India banned the sacred practice in 1804, but it survived underground before a revival in the early 20th century and after independence in 1947.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kalari is now recognised as a sport and is practiced by many all over India. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844634/meenakshi-amma-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/975d75a4a292444d993c21274e2810d1" /></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Getty Images</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Inside Meenakshi’s Kalari hall, her son Sanjeev Kumar puts barefoot pupils, boys and girls alike, through their paces on the ochre-red earth floor as he takes up his mother’s legacy. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s a form of poetry,” said civil engineer Alaka S Kumar, 29, daughter of Sanjeev. “I am going to teach Kalari, with my brother. We have to take over. Otherwise, it is gone.”</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p>

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AI declares National Gallery’s Samson and Delilah almost certainly a fake

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A painting previously attributed to Peter Paul Rubens, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Samson and Delilah</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, has long been suspected of not actually being an authentic work by the Baroque artist, and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/national-gallery-london-rubens-samson-and-delilah-ai-authentication-1234604957/" target="_blank">new research</a> has provided more proof for the claim.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The work, which currently hangs in London’s National Gallery, was recently authenticated using artificial intelligence (AI) by Swiss-based tech company Art Recognition.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The company concluded that the painting has a 91 percent probability of being fake, according to a report in the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Guardian</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Rubens did paint a scene of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Samson and Delilah</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, depicting the moment when Delilah cut Samson’s hair, it disappeared after his death in 1640.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The suspicious painting re-emerged in 1929, when it was attributed to Rubens by Ludwig Bruchard, an expert on the artist.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, following Bruchard’s death it was revealed that he provided certificates of authenticity for money, with 60 works authenticated by him since being identified as fakes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the London gallery purchased the work for a then-record of £2.5 million in 1980, several critics have questioned its authenticity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Euphrosyne Doxiadis is one of said sceptics, who has claimed in several papers that the National Gallery’s painting differed from studies that Ruben made for the work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most recent findings using AI technology adds further doubt to the painting’s authenticity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Art Recognition used a database of fake and authentic Ruben paintings to teach an AI bot to identify minute details found in authentic Rubens works.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then, the bot analysed the National Gallery’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Samson and Delilah</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by dividing the canvas into a grid and examining it square by square.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We repeated the experiments to be really sure that we were not making a mistake and the result was always the same,” Carina Popovici, the leading scientist behind the analysis, told the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Guardian</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Every patch, every single square, came out as fake, with more than 90 percent probability.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, it is unclear whether the bot takes into account varieties in style that might result from the help of studio assistants.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: National Gallery of London</span></em></p>

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Priceless find in Egyptian temple

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a historical set of artifacts at the Temple of Pharaohs of great cultural significance. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The temple, an ancient structure </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">about 95 kilometres east of Alexandria, was used to perform religious ceremonies approximately 2,700 years ago. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artifacts found were reportedly used in such ceremonies, and will help give researchers more insight into the complicated history of the temple. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The find was announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and was hailed as an “important discovery”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, shared a statement about the discovery and how it will be important for the whole country. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among the objects found were pieces of ivory carved to resemble women carrying objects; statues of Taweret, the goddess of motherhood known as the “Great One”; incense burners crafted from faience, a kind of glazed ceramic; a piece of gold sculpted to resemble the eye of Wadjet, the goddess of Lower Egypt; and a maternity chair. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Researchers believe the artifacts were involved in ceremonies honouring Hathor, the goddess of fertility. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts have been led to believe that the objects may have been stashed away beneath a stack of heavy stone blocks as the Persian Empire began its conquest of Egypt. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This conquest ultimately led to the collapse of the 26th Dynasty, the last native Egyptian dynasty to rule.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some objects are inscribed with the name of Psamtik I, who ruled as king of Egypt from 664 B.C.E. to 610 B.C.E, during the 26th Dynasty, as well as those of the kings Wahibre Ibiau, who ruled ca. 1670 B.C.E., during the 13th Dynasty, and Ahmose II, who died in 526 B.C.E. and is considered the last great king of the 26th Dynasty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As well as the fertility artifacts, archeologists found a well that once contained holy water and was considered a sacred site. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities </span></em></p>

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How art museums are helping to heal their audiences

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The COVID-19 pandemic saw a worldwide increase in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a response to the global mental health problems, art galleries and museums are responding to the collective trauma with specialised art installations and programmes. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The last 18 months has seen a drastic increase of museum-based healing initiatives, that are available online and in person. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Queens Museum in New York has launched La Ventanita/The Little Window, an online art therapy program for recent immigrants and students at local elementary schools. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Florida, the Tampa Museum of Art is expanding both in-person and virtual offerings in connections, a community art engagement program geared toward people with depression, memory loss, and PTSD.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the country of Doha, a medical research centre has teamed up with the National Museum of Qatar to design an art therapy program to help alleviate depression and anxiety in children. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another New York museum has developed an online “care package” with an option to meditate amid chanting monks in a virtual version of its shrine room.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The programmes are not the first time art has been used to heal individuals of traumatic experiences. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some have previously been influenced by social change, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, to help those in mourning and those dealing with mental turmoil. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Art has long been used to help people heal from trauma, as a means to discuss the relationship between art and health. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2017, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hired a full-time art therapist and permitted physicians to formally “prescribe” free access to their galleries, which drew in a lot of global attention. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Art therapy originally arose in the 1940s and ’50s, as specialised exhibitions helped researchers in the mental health field study the brain’s response to art. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Shutterstock</span></em></p>

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Picasso’s daughter exchanges famous artworks for a tax bill settlement

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The French Government has negotiated a unique deal with Pablo Picasso’s daughter, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maya Ruiz-Picasso, to settle an inheritance tax bill. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">France is set to receive six paintings, two sculptures and a sketchbook by the world-famous artist, as French finance minister Bruno Le Maire announced during a press conference at the PIcasso Museum. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It is an honour for our country to welcome these new artworks by Picasso. They will enrich and deepen our cultural heritage,” Le Maire wrote on Twitter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Le Maire presented one of the artworks at the press conference: the 1938 painting called </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Child with a Lollipop Sitting Under a Chair</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Picasso’s grandson Olivier Widmaier-Picasso, the painting depicts his mother Maya as a child. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">French citizens have been permitted to settle debts similar to Maya’s with a payment of profitable art, books, and collectibles of national importance since 1968. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The collective total of the nine objects given by Picasso's daughter was not publicly disclosed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to France’s culture minister Roselyne Bachelot, the artworks will enter the national collections at Paris’s Musée Picasso in 2022, and will be exhibited as a whole to the public in the spring of 2022.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It is with deep emotion that I come to celebrate the entry into the national collections of the works,” said Bachelot, who called the donation an “exceptional event.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: French Ministry of Culture</span></em></p>

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Art meets science

<div class="copy"> <p>Science and art have always had a close relationship – both seek to observe and explain the world.</p> <p>Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings, for instance, did much to unravel the anatomy of the human body, while his imagination and draughtsmanship took us to new technological realms.</p> <p>But in the 20th and 21st centuries, the nexus between art and science has been strained, and sometimes lost.</p> <p>C.P. Snow’s 1959 lecture, <em>The Two Cultures</em>, bemoaned the way Western intellectual life had been split into the two camps – the sciences and the humanities.</p> <p>This, he said, was holding us back from solving some of the world’s most intractable problems.</p> <p>But it was not always this way, as this selection of images celebrating how art has aided science and vice versa – taken from an exhibition at London’s Science Museum – shows.</p> <p><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_visit/exhibitions/revelations.aspx" target="_self"><em>Revelations: Experiments in Photography</em></a> investigates the influence of early scientific photography on modern and contemporary art and includes some of the rarest images from the pioneers of photography.</p> <p>“From the 1840s, scientists were using photography as a device to record and measure phenomena which lay beyond human vision,” the catalogue tells us.</p> <p>“The aesthetic beauty of this early photography and the revolutionary techniques developed for scientific study shaped the history of photography and heavily influenced modern and contemporary art photographers.”</p> <p>The exhibition gathers some of the earliest photographic images by figures such as William Henry Fox Talbot and Eadweard Muybridge alongside works by modern and contemporary artists including Harold Edgerton and Hiroshi Sugimoto.</p> <p>It includes the earliest recorded images of the Moon and 19th century photographs capturing electrical discharges.</p> <p>The art of photography to help scientists understand the world around them is far from dead, as we showed in <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/physical-sciences/making-waves" target="_self">our recent gallery <em>Making Waves</em></a>.</p> <p>In that, high-speed photography specialist Phred Petersen at RMIT University shows the beautiful patterns waves make as they pass through gases.</p> <p>Petersen’s work helps aerospace engineers understand the airflow around their designs.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/art-meets-science-experiments-in-photography/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> by Bill Condie</em></p> </div>

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Never-before-seen Van Gogh drawing goes on display

<p>A newly discovered Vincent Van Gogh drawing has made its debut in in Amsterdam.</p> <p>The Van Gogh Museum revealed that the never-before-seen piece was drawn in 1882, marking the early days of the famous artist's extraordinary career.</p> <p>The artwork had been sitting in a Dutch family's private collection for over 100 years, and was loaned to the Amsterdam Museum for viewing for the first time.</p> <p>The unique piece will be visible to the public until January 2nd 2022, before returning to the private collection.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">🎉We have discovered a new work by Vincent van Gogh! Study for ‘Worn Out’ from 1882 is added to Van Gogh's oeuvre. What do you think of this study? On display in the museum from tomorrow on. Find out more: <a href="https://t.co/LyjgpLkRtv">https://t.co/LyjgpLkRtv</a> <a href="https://t.co/86fu9XRbeY">pic.twitter.com/86fu9XRbeY</a></p> — Van Gogh Museum (@vangoghmuseum) <a href="https://twitter.com/vangoghmuseum/status/1438498921169391623?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 16, 2021</a></blockquote> <p>The drawing depicts an exhausted old man and has been titled <em>Study for Worn Out</em>.</p> <p>Signed <em>“</em><em>Vincent”</em>, the drawing shows an elderly labourer dressed in boots, trousers and a waistcoat bending over with his head in his hands.</p> <p>Teio Meedendorp, a senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum, told the BBC that it was "absolutely impossible" to predict how much the piece was worth.</p> <p>The artwork seems to be an earlier version of a more well-known Van Gogh piece titled <em>Worn Out</em>, which has been on display at the museum for many years.</p> <p>This first draft of an artwork gives researchers an exclusive insight into Van Gogh's working process as an early artist.</p> <p>As expected, the team at The Van Gogh Museum, were “delighted with this discovery” and felt like they had contributed to their specialty.</p> <p>The owner of the artwork, who wishes to remain anonymous, was conversing with the museum about the likelihood of the piece being attributed to Vincent Van Gogh.</p> <p>Teio Meedendorp stated, "In stylistic terms, it fits perfectly with the many figures we know from Van Goghs time in the Hague and the connect with <em>Worn Out</em> is obvious”.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty Images</em></p>

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7 Mysteries of the Mona Lisa

<p>As the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa draws more than six million admirers to the Louvre each year. Just what is her peculiar power?</p> <p><strong>Monda Lisa mystery #1: Who was Mona Lisa?</strong></p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/96ac8753d46042ba935d8ca973208772" />Over the past century, it has been proposed that Mona Lisa was a noblewoman – Isabella d’Este, Marquise of Mantua, or Costanza d’Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla. Others have stared at that unsettling visage and seen the face of a man – Leonardo da Vinci himself, or the man who was for 20 years his assistant (and perhaps his lover), Gian Giacomo Caprotti. There is even a theory that the picture may have started out as a portrait from life but, over the years that Leonardo worked on it, evolved into an abstract vision of the feminine ideal.</p> <p>These days, most experts agree that the Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, wife of a Florentine silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo (hence the name by which she is known in Italy and France, La Gioconda, or La Joconde). When she sat for Leonardo da Vinci, in around 1503, she was about 24 years old. Her <em>contrapposto</em> pose – with the body angled away from the viewer, head turned forward – was widely admired and copied by Leonardo’s contemporaries. And his<em> sfumato</em> technique, where sharp edges are blurred to create an uncannily lifelike effect, was seen as a brilliant technical innovation, very unlike the slightly frozen human figures of earlier, lesser painters.</p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa mystery #2: The hidden initials</strong></p> <p>In 2010, Silvano Vinceti, chairman of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, claimed to have discerned letters minutely painted on Mona Lisa’s eyes: L and V (Leonardo da Vinci’s initials) in the right eye, and perhaps C, E or B in the left. The Louvre responded that Vinceti’s letters were simply microscopic cracks in the paint.</p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa mystery #3: The broken backdrop</strong></p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d24b5d5c75c44f5aa5f5219632097fab" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.5442561205273px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844236/mona-lisa-backdrop-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d24b5d5c75c44f5aa5f5219632097fab" /></p> <p>The distant, dreamlike vista behind Mona Lisa’s head seems to be higher on the right-hand side than on the left. It is hard to see how the landscape would join up. This is subliminally unsettling: Mona Lisa appears taller, more erect, when one’s gaze drifts to the left than when it is on the right.</p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa mystery #4: The bewitching smile</strong></p> <p>In 2000, scientists at Harvard University suggested a neurological explanation for Mona Lisa’s elusive smile. When a viewer looks at her eyes, the mouth is in peripheral vision, which sees in black and white. This accentuates the shadows at the corners of her mouth, making the smile seem broader. But the smile diminishes when you look straight at it. It is the variability of her smile, the fact that it changes when you look away from it, that makes her seem so alive, so mysterious.</p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa mystery #5: The unknown bridge</strong></p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/nothing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/2138f0c4b92d42fd8502466377e2c2b8" /><img style="width: 500px; height: 280.97982708933716px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7844234/mona-lisa-3-bridge-um.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/2138f0c4b92d42fd8502466377e2c2b8" /></p> <p>The Mona Lisa’s background landscape seems unreal, but the bridge might be one that Leonardo knew. It is usually said to be Ponte Buriano in Tuscany, but in 2011, a researcher claimed it depicts the Bobbio Bridge over the Trebbia, which was washed away in a flood in 1472.</p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa mystery #6: Da Vinci’s obsession</strong></p> <p>Leonardo da Vinci worked on the painting for four years, and possibly at intervals after that. He always took it with him when he travelled, and he never signed or dated it. The picture went with him when, towards the end of his life, he moved to France.</p> <p>It was sold to his last patron, King François I, and remained out of sight in the royal collection for almost 200 years. In 1799 Napoleon came across the painting and commandeered it for his bedroom. Only in 1804 did the Mona Lisa go on public display – in the newly founded Louvre Museum.</p> <p>At that time, it was not seen as particularly interesting, but in the middle of the 19th century Leonardo’s stock as an artist slowly rose. He came to be seen as the equal of the two acknowledged Renaissance greats, Michelangelo and Raphael. This new interest in Leonardo as a painter drew attention to his few known works.</p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa mystery #7: Was Mona Lisa unwell?</strong></p> <p>Mona Lisa has often been scrutinised by medical experts. In 2010, an Italian doctor looked at the swelling around her eyes and diagnosed excess cholesterol in her diet. Other conditions ascribed to her include facial paralysis, deafness, even syphilis.</p> <p>More happily, it has been suggested that the look of contentment on her face indicates she is pregnant. Dentists have also posited bruxism, compulsive grinding of the teeth; or that the line of her top lip suggests that her front teeth are missing – which, along with the faintest hint of a scar on her lip, raises the possibility that she was a victim of domestic violence.</p> <p>Jungians have seen her as an accomplished representation of the anima, the female archetype that resides in each one of us. It seems that almost any condition can be read into that puzzling face.</p> <p><em><sub>From Great Secrets of History © 2012. The Reader’s Digest Association, inc.</sub></em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/entertainment/mysterious-mona-lisa">Reader’s Digest</a></em></p> <p><em>Images: Reader’s Digest</em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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“It broke my heart”: Native Americans outbid to buy back their own sacred site

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Over 290 prehistoric Native American </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">glyphs that depict people, animals, and mythological figures adorn the walls of Picture Cave in eastern Missouri. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The cave has been deemed an “ultimate sacred site” by the Osage Nation, who were pushed out of the land as a consequence of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the 1950s, the land has been owned by the extremely wealthy Busch family, who mostly used it as a hunting ground. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When the Busch family announced last year that they would be selling the cave, and the 43 acres of land surrounding it, the Osage Nation began a campaign to procure their land back. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They teamed up with the Conservation Fund, as well as Fish and Wildlife Services, on the account of endangered bats living in the cave. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite their mammoth efforts, the Osage Nation could not gather enough money to buy their sacred land back. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“[Picture Cave] is our ultimate sacred site,” says Andrea Hunter, a member of the Osage Nation and director of its Historic Preservation Office.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It was our land to begin with and we then had to resort to trying to buy it back. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And we’ve got landowners who don’t understand the history of the place they live in and whose significance doesn’t amount to more than monetary value [for them].”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Busch family sold the land to an anonymous buyer for $2,200,000USD, just $200,000 more than the Osage Nation offered. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Watching it get to $2 million stopped my heart,” said Hunter. “It broke my heart.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hunter and her team are currently trying to contact the anonymous bidder from Nashville to explain the historical and cultural significance of the land. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So far, they have not been successful in their communications. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Youtube - Selkirk Auctioneers &amp; Appraisers</span></em></p>

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Art inspires the magic Rubik’s cube

<div> <div class="copy"> <p>The joy puzzle lovers derive from solving a good puzzle is matched only by the frustration felt by those of us who are not good solvers.</p> <p>2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the patenting of perhaps the greatest – and most difficult – puzzle of the 20th century, the Rubik’s Cube.</p> <p>In 1974, Ernő Rubik was living in Budapest and teaching design courses at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts.</p> <p>The cube’s beginnings are unclear, but some reports state a project given to his students inspired Rubik’s prototype which was then refined over about six weeks.</p> <p>He created a plastic cube with six different colours, one for each face, with each face divided into a 3×3 grid.</p> <p>The beauty of it was that each face could turn independently thanks to an internal mechanism of 21 parts moving on curved tracks.</p> <p>He had considered the cube to be primarily a work of art, until he scrambled the colours.</p> <p>Realising how difficult it was to restore each face to a single colour, Rubik discovered he’d created a puzzle.</p> <p>It took him more than a month to work out how to solve it.</p> <p>Initially, Rubik wasn’t even sure a solution was possible.</p> <p>Eventually he hit upon the idea all modern solutions are based upon – certain moves exist that will exchange pairs or triplets of edge or corner pieces without disturbing the remainder of the cube.</p> <p>This convinced him to go ahead with his marketing plans. In 1977 production began within Hungary.</p> <p>Puzzle crazes have periodically captivated the world since the early 1800s. The “Chinese Tangram” puzzle was wildly popular from about 1815 until the 1820s, with plastic sets still available.</p> <p>In 1880 the “15 Puzzle” was all the rage in Boston and eventually spread to Europe before fizzling out after about six months.</p> <p>Rubik played with the 15 puzzle as a child and says he was possibly inspired by it.</p> <p>More recently, Sudoku went from an obscure game to a multi-million dollar industry.</p> <p>But none of these puzzles captured the world’s attention like the Rubik’s Cube.</p> <p>Rubik’s original cube is at once elegant and fiendish.</p> <p>Rubik called it the “Magic Cube”.</p> <p>The first run of 5000 sold out in a few months.</p> <p>In 1978 the cube was a hit at the International Congress of Mathematicians and over the next several years won awards at European toy fairs.</p> <p>By 1980, the Ideal Toy company in the US was marketing the puzzle as “Rubik’s Cube”.</p> <p>It sold about 4.5 million by the year’s end.</p> <p>In 1981 numbers were approaching 80 million units worldwide.</p> <p>By the mid-1980s the craze had passed.</p> <p>The cube inspired follow-up puzzles such as the 4×4 “Rubik’s Revenge” and the 5×5 “Professor’s Cube”.</p> <p>These days, models of 6×6, 7×7 and even higher-order cubes can be found in puzzle stores.</p> <p>Computer simulations of cubes up to 100×100 are available online.</p> <p>Rubik’s original cube is at once elegant and fiendish.</p> <p>Puzzle expert Jerry Slocum says rotational cube puzzles are among the most difficult of all manipulative puzzles.</p> <p>On the standard 3×3 cube there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible arrangements.</p> <p>In 1978, while the cube was still an underground success, physicist Roger Penrose and mathematician John Conway were demonstrating solutions.</p> <p>Conway was said to be able to solve the cube in around four minutes without consulting notes.</p> <p>In 1979 David Singmaster offered a guide to the perplexed with his <em>Notes on the Magic Cube</em>.</p> <p>It led to a popular standardised notation for solving the cube which survives today.</p> <p>Up, Down, Front, Back, Left and Right faces are represented by U, D, F, B, L and R.</p> <p>A sequence to manoeuvre a corner piece into position might be written out as: R U R`.</p> <p>This corresponds to a clockwise twist of the right face, followed by a clockwise twist of the up face, and finally a counter-clockwise twist of the right face.</p> <p>The accent mark denotes a counter-clockwise twist.</p> <p>Although these solutions appear daunting, with a cube and instructions in hand most readers will be able to solve the puzzle in half an hour or so.</p> <p>Practice will soon get your times down to five to 10 minutes.</p> <p>Using such algorithms, competitors have reduced the solution time to under a minute.</p> <p>The world record is 5.55 seconds held by Mats Valk of the Netherlands.</p> <p>There are also blindfold and one-hand categories.</p> <p>Blindfold solving has the competitor examine the cube and memorise the solution before putting on the blindfold.</p> <p>The final time includes the examination period and the hands-on time.</p> <p>If you’re feeling like a challenge, the record is just over 23 seconds.</p> <p>Good luck.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a rel="noopener" href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/mathematics/art-inspires-the-magic-rubiks-cube/" target="_blank">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Jason England. </em></p> </div> </div>

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Man strikes gold 1500 years old

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One lucky man in the town of Vindelev, Denmark, has stumbled upon a once in a lifetime discovery. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Using a metal detector, the man discovered a cache of 1,500-year-old gold objects, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">according to the Vejlemuseerne, the museum consortium in Vejle, Denmark.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The treasure trove was found in a small town 240km from the capital of Copenhagen, and offered up more than two pounds of gold. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It includes coins from the Roman Empire as well as medallions known as bracteates, which would have been sewn onto clothing and worn as ornamentation</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These newly discovered objects are expected to go on view at the Vejlemuseerne in February 2022.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Among the bracteates discovered in one inscribed with unique text that translates to “the High”, which may be a reference to a ruler at the time, or to the Norse god Odin. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That medallion, along with all the other objects found, dates back to the 6th century C.E.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s suspected that these pre-Viking objects may have been buried amid the ongoing threat of ecological devastation. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the year 536, a volcano erupted in Denmark, creating a giant ash cloud and a subsequent famine in the country. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Experts believe that, amid the chaos, the inhabitants of modern-day Denmark rejected their rulers and parted ways with gold objects bearing these leaders’ images, either as a way of hiding the medallions from enemies or as a means of placating angry gods.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Archaeologists at the Vejlemuseerne are calculating the possibility that the town of Vindelev was the epicentre of a powerful empire during the Iron Age. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Before the discovery of the artifacts, “there was nothing that could make us predict that an unprecedented warlord or great man lived here, long before the kingdom of Denmark arose in the following centuries,” said Mads Ravn, a research director at the Vejlemuseerne, in a statement.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Vejlemuseerne</span></em></p>

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Iconic shredded Banksy artwork returns to auction

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2018, Banksy’s iconic </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Girl With a Balloon</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> artwork was sold for just over $1million at an auction in London. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Immediately after the auctioneer's hammer dropped and the sale went through, a shredder built into the frame destroyed half of the image. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, three years later, the damaged artwork is returning to auction with an estimated cost of roughly $6million with a new title of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Love is in the Bin</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The artwork has been certified by Banksy’s authentication committee called Pest Control, and confirmed that the inflated price is due to the viral moment at the auction three years prior. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The elusive street artist has long denied any claims that the auction house in London was behind the stunt, as the winning bid for the work in 2018 decided to keep the shredded artwork in its new form. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since winning the image, the image has gone on view at two museums in Germany, both boasting massive crowds coming to view the artwork. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a press release, Sotheby’s auction house likened the daring stunt to Robert Rauschenberg’s famed 1953 work, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Erased de Kooning</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, as part of a tradition of destroying artworks as an artistic statement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and chairman of modern and contemporary art, said, “Today this piece is considered heir to a venerated legacy of anti-establishment art that began with Dada and Marcel Duchamp more than a century ago.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Banksy shared an image of the artwork getting destroyed at the auction with the cheeky caption reading, “Going, going, gone…”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The destruction of the artwork in such a public setting made global headlines, with many art critics saying it was a social statement to the ownership of art. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Love is in the Bin</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> will go on public display at the same auction house where it was once destroyed, before travelling around the world and returning to London for sale. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Fake Banksy print sold on the artist’s website for over $450,000

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A hacker has been forced to return over $450,000AUD to a British art collector after he tricked him into purchasing a fake Banksy print. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The NFT (non-fungible token) print was posted on Banksy’s official website, fooling many fans of the elusive street artist. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The auction of the print ended early after the art collector offered 90% of rival bidders. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Banksy’s team spoke to the </span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58399338"><span style="font-weight: 400;">BBC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and assured art fans that, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">"any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">NFT’s are a relatively new phenomenon in the art world, which show artworks that can be “tokenised” to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought and sold. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They often don’t give the buyer the actual artwork of copyright, but are seen as more of an investment. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The man who got duped by the site believed he was buying Banksy’s first ever NFT. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The man, who wished to remain anonymous, explained over Twitter that he suspected Banksy’s official site was hacked and that he was the victim of an elaborate scam. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The hacker returned all the money, with the exception of $9,000AUD transaction fee once he was caught out. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The prominent NFT collector used the online name Pranksy, and said the whole experience was bizarre but that the hacker may have got scared.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The refund was totally unexpected, I think the press coverage of the hack plus the fact that I had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter may have pushed him into a refund. “</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I feel very lucky when a lot of others in a similar situation with less reach would not have had the same outcome," he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The NFT was called Great Distribution of the Climate Change Disaster, and is not linked to the famous street artist.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Banksy</span></em></p>

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