From musing

The Artifice of a Still Life

The current exhibition at York Art Gallery, Making a Masterpiece: Bouts & Beyond, showcases artworks from the ‘Golden Age’ of Dutch and Flemish art. The still lifes raise interesting questions about reality and artifice.

Here’s Looking at You, Kid

By Isabella George   The Passing Winter is a strange beast. Standing at around two metres in height, its scale should make it something of an imposing presence in a gallery space. But its four sides of glass mirror condemn the piece to a reflective, somewhat half present state. It only exists when it reflects the person that looks at it, that is, you. Step towards the glassy monolith and you will notice a variety of holes punched into the smooth and glassy exterior. These polka dots are something of a signature for Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist behind the…

Ligne Claire: Reading and Pictorial Promise

Back in June I shared an article on Facebook about Ilya Milstein’s illustrations. I hadn’t known Milstein’s work before, but many would find it as familiar as I did then. The illustrator based in NY has drawn repeatedly for magazines like the New Yorker and brands such as Spotify and Red Bull, all in a memorably colourful, flat and cartoony style. Figures are rendered simplistically characterful, whilst backgrounds are rich in detail and everything is coloured harmoniously within palettes of pastel pinks and autumnal ochres.

Living on in Death: The Scientific Art of Honoré Fragonard.

    ‘By Max Campbell’   I am drawn to experiences that blur the beautiful with the grotesque, and so when I happened upon a small, aged anatomical museum in Paris I shrugged apathetically and felt that I wouldn’t be seeing anything out of the normal. Well, I found these. These theatrical “sculptures” are in-fact  anatomical models, called écorchés, which essentially translates to “flayed figures” from French. Traditionally,  Écorchés were models of bodies with the skin removed, exposing muscles, blood vessels and skeletons. They were constructed from a variety of different materials, such as bronze, ivory, plaster, wax, and wood. But not Honoré Fragonard, non. Monsieur…

The transmutative power of painting, as observed by Velazquez

At the centre of The Rokeby Venus (Velazquez, 1651, 122.5 x 177 cm) is a mirror, held by cupid, tilted up to grant the viewer with a blurred image of Venus’ face. Venus herself if turned away from the viewer, and we can only glimpse her profile: rosy cheeks and chestnut brown hair swept into a loose bun. Her reflection, however, is cast in a darker light, revealing a softer jawline, darker hair and heavyset eyes hidden in shadow. The angle is slightly off: we should be seeing a reflection of Venus looking back at herself, yet what we get is a shadowed face at the centre of the painting looking directly back at the viewer.

Spin It Round: The Moody Blues’ “Days of Future Passed” Cover Art

The Moody Blues released their second album, Days of Future Passed, in 1967, at the height of psychedelia. The title suggests a never-ending cycle of days, as travelling forward into a future that is already gone is an ungraspable play on delineations of time. The song titles chart the progression of a day, and some have subtitles taken from the lyrics, giving a more specific mood to the songs, and a narrative quality to the titles.