Friday, April 29, 2011

MANHOOD OF HUMANITY



PART I

At the bottom of every human activity, historical fact or trend of civilization, there lays some doctrine or conception of so-called “truth.” Apples had fallen from trees for ages, but without any important results in the economy of humanity. The fact that a fallen apple hit Newton, led to the discovery of the theory of gravitation; this changed our whole world conception, our sciences and our activities; it powerfully stimulated the development of all the branches of natural and technological knowledge.
Because we are human beings we are all of us interested in what we call progress—progress in law, in government, in jurisprudence, in ethics, in philosophy, in the natural sciences, in economics, in the fine arts, in the practical arts, in the production and distribution of wealth, in all the affairs affecting the welfare of mankind. At present the future of mankind is dark. “Stop, look, and listen”—the prudent caution at railroad crossings—must be amended to read “stop, look, listen, and THINK”; not for the saving of a few lives in railroad accidents, but for the preservation of the life of humanity.
Our life problems have always been “solved” by verbalists and rhetorical metaphysicians who cleverly played with vague words and who always ignored the supremely important matter of dimensions because they were ignorant of it. There was no possible way to arrive at an agreement on the significance of words, or even the understanding of them. Let us take, for instance, such words as “good” or “bad” or “truth;” volumes upon volumes have been written about them; no one has reached any result universally acceptable; the effect has been to multiply warring schools of philosophy—sectarians and partisans. In the meantime something corresponding to each of the terms “good,” “bad,” “truth” exists as matter of fact.
Humans can be literally poisoned by false ideas and false teachings. Many people have a just horror at the thought of putting poison into tea or coffee, but seem unable to realize that, when they teach false ideas and false doctrines, they are poisoning the time-binding capacity of their fellow men and women. One has to stop and think!
Man started with no capital—on knowledge—with nothing but his physical strength and the natural stirring within of the capacity for binding time; and so he had to grope. It is not strange that he was puzzled by himself. It is not strange that he thought himself an animal; for he has animal propensities as a cube has surfaces, and his animal propensities were so obtrusive, so very evident to physical sense—he was born, grew, had legs and hair, ate, ran, slept, died—all just like animals—while his distinctive mark, his time-binding capacity, was subtle; it was spiritual; it was not a visible organ but an invisible function; it was the energy called intellect or mind, which the physical senses do not perceive; and so it is not strange—it is indeed very sad and very pathetic—but it is not to be wondered at that human beings have falsely believed themselves to be animals.
It has been proved that a man can be so hypnotized that in a certain time which has been suggested to him, he will murder or commit arson or theft; that, under hypnotic influence, the personal morale of the individual has only a small influence upon his conduct; the subject obeys the hypnotic suggestions, no matter how immoral they are. The conception of man as a mixture of animal and supernatural has for ages kept human beings under the deadly spell of the suggestion that, animal selfishness and animal greediness are their essential character, and the spell has operated to suppress their REAL HUMAN NATURE and to prevent it from expressing itself naturally and freely.
Personal greed and selfishness are brazenly owned as principles of conduct. We shrug our shoulders in acquiescence and proclaim greed and selfishness to be the very core of human nature, take it all for granted, and let it pass at that. We have gone so far in our degradation that the prophet of capitalistic principles, Adam Smith, in his famous Wealth of Nations, arrives at the laws of wealth, not from the phenomena of wealth nor from statistical statements, but from the phenomena of selfishness—a fact which shows how far-reaching in its dire influence upon all humanity is the theory that human beings are “animals.” Of course the effect is very disastrous. Human nature, this time-binding power, not only has the peculiar capacity for perpetual progress, but it has, over and above all animal propensities, certain qualities constituting it a distinctive dimension or type of life. Not only our whole collective life proves a love for higher ideals, but even our dead give us the rich heritage, material and spiritual, of all their toils. There is nothing mystical about it; to call SUCH a class a naturally selfish class is not only nonsensical but monstrous.
On the other hand, when human beings are educated to a lively realization that they are by nature time-binding creatures, then they will spontaneously live in accordance with their time-binding nature, which is the source and support of the highest ideals. What is achieved in blaming a man for being selfish and greedy if he acts under the influence of a social environment and education which teach him that he is an animal and that selfishness and greediness are of the essence of his nature?
Man, therefore, by the very intrinsic character of his being, MUST ACT FIRST, IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO LIVE (through the action of parents—or society) which is not the case with animals. The misunderstanding of this simple truth is largely accountable for the evil of our ethical and economic systems or lack of systems. As a matter of fact, if humanity were to live in complete accord with the animal conception of man, artificial production—time-binding production—would cease and ninety per cent of mankind would perish by starvation. It is just because human beings are not animals but are time-binders—not mere finders but creators of food and shelter—that they are able to live in such vast numbers.
Human beings have always had some sense of values—some perception or cognition of values. In order to express or measure values, it was necessary to introduce units of measure, or units of exchange. People began to measure values by means of agricultural and other products, such as cattle, for example. The Latin word for cattle was pecus, and the word pecunia, which came to signify money, accounts for the meaning of our familiar word pecuniary. The earliest units for measuring became unsuited to the increasing needs of growing trade, “business,” or traffic. Finally a unit called money was adopted in which the base was the value of some weight of gold. Thus we see that money came to mean simply the accepted unit for measuring, representing and expressing values of and in wealth.
We are living in a world of wealth, a world enriched by many generations of dead men's toil; between the lust of the one to keep and the lust of others to get, there is little to choose; such contentions of lust against lust are sub-human—animalistic; such ethics is zoological ethics—the righteousness of tooth and claw; below the human dimensions of life, utterly unworthy of the creative energy—the time-binding capacity—of humanity. Against one old-fashioned, speculative argument, there is always a speculative answer. They both speak about the truth, but their methods cannot find the truth nor does their language express it. They speak of “justice,” “right” and so forth, not knowing that their conceptions of those terms are based on a wrong understanding of values.
Wealth is produced by those who work with hand or brain and by no others. The great mass of the wealth of the world has been thus produced by generations that have gone. The modern vast accumulation of wealth for private purposes, justifies itself by using the argument of the “survival of the fittest.” Very well, where there is a “survival,” there must be victims; where there are victims, there has been fighting. Is this what the users of this argument mean? Like the Kaiser, they talk peace and make war. This method of doing things is not in any way new. The world has been accustomed to it for a very long while.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Manhood of Humanity. by Alfred Korzybski)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE PARIS OF THE PARISIANS




Between 1852, when Napoleon III came into power, until 1914, when Europe fell under the horror and desolation of World War I, Paris experienced a time of opulence which has become known as Belle Epoque, "The Age of Beauty". Under the direction of architect, Hausmann, and landscapist, Alphand, the boulevards, buildings and parks of Paris were refurbished. Citizens experienced greater wealth with the economic boom and had the money to spend on art and luxuries that reflected their newly designed city. Along with such great artists as Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir, Manet, Beraud, Cortes and Galien-Laloue, Francois-Joseph Luigi Loir, (1845-1916) specialized in depicting the bustling Paris street scenes.
(classicartgallery.com)
Luigi’s parents were of French origins, but his family lived in Austria as employees of the French royal family, the Bourbons – his father was a valet while his mother was a governess. The earliest years of Luigi’s life, then, were spent in the Gorritz castle, but shortly after his birth, the Loir family relocated to the Duchy of Parma, around 1847. In 1860, Luigi’s family, including his sister, returned to France. Luigi remained in Parma and began studying painting at the Academy of Arts. Three years later, his father fell sick and he moved to Paris to be with his ailing father and the rest of his family. It was his first experience in the city that would inspire his scenes for the rest of his career.
(artnet.com)


Paysaye a Villiers-sur-seine
Oil on canvas
From artnet.com


Upon finishing his studies in 1865, Loir had his debut in the Salon of Paris with " Paysage a Villiers-sur Seine", above, for which he received the highest acclaim. Loir then enrolled into studies under Jean Amable Amedee Pastelot (1810-1870) to become a mural painter. He became a very popular ceiling and mural painter. One of Loir's first commissions was to paint the murals and ceilings at the Chateaux du Diable in 1866.
(cosmopolitanart.com)


Paris at Night
Oil on board
From the-athenaeum.org


Evening Promenade, Le Havre
Watercolor
From the-athenaeum.org


La Place de la Republique, Paris
Oil on canvas
Private collection
Fom ARC at artrenewal.org


L'Avenue du Boid de Bologne
Oil on panel
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


The Night Café
Painting - oil on cardboard
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


His interest in the urban cityscape is perhaps more complex than a simple depiction of Paris and its inhabitants. Loir’s sincere reflections on the changing effects of both the different times of day and the weather show the aesthetic reflection put into his paintings. Loir’s often impressionistically-executed works exhibit qualities of a dedicated study of the changing light effects on the environment, from the early afternoon to dusk, allowing him to focus his audience’s attention on a source of light punctuating the otherwise cool colors of the canvas. His use of the most recognizable icons of the city nevertheless created a sense of nostalgia for these urban monuments.
(artnet.com)


A Parisian Street Scene with Sacre Coeur in the distance
Gouache
Private collection
Fom ARC at artrenewal.org


Le Louvre
From anna-warvick.livejournal.com


The interest in the Parisian street scene was influenced, however, by another transformation that had entirely reshaped the Parisian landscape and how Parisians spent their leisure time. The street itself became the center of activity – from the bohemian center of Montmartre to the upper class promenades of the leisure class; it was on the streets of Paris that one found the heart of activity. Loir took to the streets in search of his inspiration, studying it and its inhabitants.
(artnet.com)


Paris sous la neige
Gouache
From commons.wikimedia.org


The Porte Maillot, Snow Effect, Sunset
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


With a gift for creating intimate and authentic depictions of the characters in working class quarters, as well as the boulevards, cafes and restaurants of fashionable society, Loir became a renowned artist, appreciated by the critics, and able to live comfortably from his art. He showed a fascination for the atmosphere in winter. It's mists, dark skies, rain and snow, and the bustle and theatrical lighting of the boulevards in the twilight, and at night.
Although Luigi Loir had a preference for a brisk and spontaneous manner, which leant his work an impressionistic quality, he was capable of precise detail and touches of color. It was this combination which distinguished him from his contemporaries, and created the characteristic atmosphere of Loirs's pictures.
(classicartgallery.com)


Les Preparatifs de la Fete Foraine
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


Many of Loir’s works, which include oils, watercolors, and lithographs, were acquired by the city of Paris and by French museums. During the Salon des Sciences at the Hotel de Ville, Loir exhibited "Les Preparatifs de la Fete Foraine", above. The painting overwhelmed the museums. Loir had finally received the recognition he was due. Their response would also influence the Municipal Council of Paris to purchase to "Le Marche a la Ferraille", the city of Paris would acquire "La Rue de la Pitie, vue du Val de Grace" and The Empress of Russia to purchase the watercolor entitled "The Celebration of the Throne".
In 1870, he was commissioned into the military to record the battles of Bouret. Loir concentrated exclusively on painting views of Paris. In these works, Loir caught and expressed the many faces of Paris, at all hours of the day. Though some thought him excessively methodical, he was undeniably endowed with exceptional powers of observation and craftsmanship. It was because of his work during this campaign of 1870, that Loir was elected to be the official painter of the Boulevards of Paris. This boosted his career and reputation. In 1879 in was awarded the Bronze medal from the Exposant Fidele des Artistes Francais.
(cosmopolitanart.com)


The Boathouse
Oil on canvas, c 1885
From artic.edu


View of the beach and Casino at Dieppe
Oil on canvas, c 1886
From richard-green.com


Luigi Loir also produced advertising materials for the confectioner Léfevre-Utile and for the burgeoning railway networks which took the inhabitants of Paris to fashionable seaside resorts. Loir’s private patrons were as eager for his sparkling views of holiday places as they were for his views of Paris. He thus explored many of the picturesque coastal towns of Normandy and Brittany, painting Boulogne, Dinan, Tréport and Etretat, among others.
This charming view of Dieppe, above, was probably inspired by the opening of the new Moorish-style Casino in 1886. Loir excelled in working upon a comparatively small scale, as in this work. The Casino is painted with miniaturist delicacy, while the figures are brilliantly characterized in a few deft strokes, giving the sense of the bustle of the beach. The eye is swept across the foreground by alternating touches of pink and blue in the costumes; two little girls in blue dresses and white pinafores hold the centre of the composition. Contrasting with the man-made pleasures of the resort are the imposing cliffs and a sky full of clouds evoked in subtle hues.
Dieppe became fashionable in 1824 when the Duchesse de Berry, daughter-in-law of Charles X, summered there. In the later nineteenth century it attracted many artists and writers, including Jacques-Emile Blanche, Proust, Guy de Maupassant, Swinburne and Oscar Wilde. The Moorish Casino, owned by Isidore Bloch, was the third to be built on the site. Apart from gaming rooms, the complex had a concert hall, baths, restaurant, shops, gardens and space for children’s entertainments. It was replaced by an Art Deco Casino in 1926.
(richard-green.com)


Boulevard Henri IV, Sunset
Painting - watercolor
Gouache, c 1899
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


Les Grands Boulevards
Oil on canvas
From commons.weikimedia.org


Luigi Loir gained innumerable distinctions and medals, for instance the Gold Medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1900, and was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1898 by the French government.
Loir (who after his very early work always signed in capitals Loir Luigi) obtained a wonderful atmosphere in his watercolors, combining enough detail with a genuine wash watercolor feel to please purists. He excelled in scenes at sunset, in snow, and particularly under grey skies which suited his love for soft atmospheric effects. He usually employed a low horizon which intensified the lines of perspective - his low viewpoint brings us into the scene, as if we the viewer are on the street. His paintings are represented in a number of major museums, including the Palais de Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Musée de Petit-Palais in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Prague Museum, the Tretiakoff Museum in Moscow and the Galerie Moderne in Vienna. His oils have fetched high prices at auction, notably £98,300 for one depicting Les grands boulevards, Paris, above.
(waterhousedodd.com)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LIFE OF CHARLES DICKENS





Charles Dickens, 1852
Source Library Company of Philadelphia
Author Antoine Francois Jean Claudet
From en.wikipedia.org


Education is a kind of lottery in which there are good and evil chances, and some men draw blanks and other men draw prizes. Education means the whole set of circumstances which go to mould a man's character during the apprentice years of his life and a prize when those circumstances have been such as to develop the man's powers to the utmost, and to fit him to do best that of which he is best capable. Charles Dickens' education, however untoward and unpromising it may often have seemed while in the process, must really be pronounced a prize of value quite inestimable.
Perhaps no novelist ever had a keener feeling of the pathos of childhood than Dickens, or understood more fully how real and overwhelming are its sorrows. No one, too, has entered more sympathetically into its ways. And of the child and boy that he himself had once been, he was wont to think very tenderly and very often. Again and again in his writings he reverts to the scenes and incidents and emotions of his earlier days. Sometimes he goes back to his young life directly, speaking as of himself. More often he goes back to it indirectly, placing imaginary children and boys in the position he had once occupied.
Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was but two years old when his father left Portsea for London, and but four when a second migration took the family to Chatham. Here we catch our first glimpse of him, in his own word-painting, as a "very queer small boy," a small boy who was sickly and delicate, and could take but little part in the rougher sports of his school companions, but read much, as sickly boys will—read the novels of the older novelists in a "blessed little room," a kind of palace of enchantment, where "'Roderick Random,' 'Peregrine Pickle,' 'Humphrey Clinker,' 'Tom Jones,' 'The Vicar of Wakefield,' 'Don Quixote, 'Gil Blas,' and 'Robinson Crusoe,' came out, a glorious host, to keep him company."
There is one of Dickens' works which was his own special favorite, the most cherished, as he tells us, among the offspring of his brain. That work is ‘David Copperfield.’ Nor can there be much difficulty in discovering why it occupied such an exceptional position in "his heart of hearts;" for in its pages he had enshrined the deepest memories of his own childhood and youth. Like David Copperfield, he had known what it was to be a poor, neglected lad, set to rough, uncongenial work, with no more than a mechanic's surroundings and outlook, and having to fend for himself in the miry ways of the great city. Like David Copperfield, he had formed a very early acquaintance with debts and duns, and been initiated into the mysteries and sad expedients of shabby poverty. Like David Copperfield, he had been made free of the interior of a debtor's prison. Poor lad, he was not much more than ten or eleven years old when he left Chatham.
So little Charles, aged from eleven to twelve, first blacked boots, and minded the younger children, and ran messages, and effected the family purchases—which can have been no pleasant task in the then state of the family credit,—and made very close acquaintance with the inside of the pawnbrokers' shops, and with the purchasers of second-hand books, disposing, among other things, of the little store of books he loved so well; and then, when his father was imprisoned, ran more messages hither and thither, and shed many childish tears in his father's company—the father doubtless regarding the tears as a tribute to his eloquence, though, heaven knows, there were other things to cry over besides his sonorous periods.
‘David Copperfield’ was published between May, 1849, and the autumn of 1850, and marks the culminating point in Dickens' career as a writer. All the scenes of little David's childhood in the Norfolk home—the Blunderstone rookery, where there were no rooks—are among the most beautiful pictures of childhood in existence. In what sunshine of love does the lad bask with his mother and Peggotty, till Mrs. Copperfield contracts her disastrous second marriage with Mr. Murdstone! There come harshness and cruelty; banishment to Mr. Creakle's villainous school; the poor mother's death; the worse banishment to London, and descent into warehouse drudgery; the strange shabby-genteel, happy-go-lucky life with the Micawbers; the flight from intolerable ills in the forlorn hope that David's aunt will take pity on him. Here the scene changes again. Miss Betsy Trotwood, a fine old gnarled piece of womanhood, places the boy at school at Canterbury, where he makes acquaintance with Agnes, the woman whom he marries far, far on in the story; and with her father, Mr. Wickham, a somewhat port wine-loving lawyer; and with Uriah Heep, the fawning villain of the piece. How David is first articled to a proctor in Doctors' Commons, and then becomes a reporter, and then a successful author; and how he marries his first wife, the childish Dora, who dies; and how, meanwhile, Uriah is effecting the general ruin, and aspiring to the hand of Agnes, till his villanies are detected and his machinations defeated by Micawber—how all this comes about, would be a long story to tell.
Now to this story, as Dickens tells it, French criticism objects that he dwells exclusively on the sin and sorrow, and sets aside that in which the French novelist would delight, viz., the mad force and irresistible sway of passion. To which English criticism may reply, that the "pity of it," the wide-working desolation, are as essentially part of such an event as the passion; and, therefore, even from an exclusively artistic point of view, just as fit subjects for the novelist.
The mere desire to see and hear Dickens, the great Dickens, the novelist who was more than popular, who was the object of real personal affection on the part of the English-speaking race,—this would have drawn a crowd at any time. But Dickens was not the man to rely upon such sources of attraction, any more than an actress who is really an actress will consent to rely exclusively on her good looks. "Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well," such as we have seen was one of the governing principles of his life; and he read very well. Of nervousness there was no trace in his composition. To someone who asked him whether he ever felt any shyness as a speaker, he answered, "Not in the least; the first time I took the chair (at a public dinner) I felt as much confidence as if I had done the thing a hundred times." This of course helped him much as a reader, and gave him full command over all his gifts. But the gifts were also assiduously cultivated. He labored, one might almost say, agonized, to make himself a master of the art. Mr. Dolby, who acted as his "manager," during the tours undertaken from 1866 to 1870, tells us that before producing "Dr. Marigold," he not only gave a kind of semi-public rehearsal, but had rehearsed it to himself considerably over two hundred times. Writing to Forster, Dickens says: "You have no idea how I have worked at them (the readings).... I have tested all the serious passion in them by everything I know, made the humorous points much more humorous; corrected my utterance of certain words; ... I learnt 'Dombey' like the rest, and did it to myself often twice a day, with exactly the same pains as at night, over, and over, and over again."
The results justified the care and effort bestowed. There are, speaking generally, two schools of readers: those who dramatize what they read, and those who read simply, audibly, with every attention to emphasis and point, but with no effort to do more than slightly indicate differences of personage or character. To the latter school Thackeray belonged. He read so as to be perfectly heard, and perfectly understood, and so that the innate beauty of his literary style might have full effect. Dickens read quite differently. He read not as a writer to whom style is everything, but as an actor throwing himself into the world he wished to bring before his hearers. He was so careless indeed of pure literature, in this particular matter, that he altered his books for the readings, eliminating much of the narrative, and emphasizing the dialogue. He was pre-eminently the dramatic reader.
(Adapted from 'The Project Gutenberg eBook, Life of Charles Dickens, by Frank Marzials')


Dickens dream
Dickens's study in his home at Gad's Hill Place
An unfinished painting by R.W.Buss, 1875
Donated by the artist's grandson - 1931
Source Dickens museum
From en.wikipedia.org


Dickens loved the style of 18th century Gothic romance, although it had already become a target for parody. One "character" vividly drawn throughout his novels is London itself. From the coaching inns on the outskirts of the city to the lower reaches of the Thames, all aspects of the capital are described over the course of his body of work.
His writing style is florid and poetic, with a strong comic touch. His satires of British aristocratic snobbery—he calls one character the "Noble Refrigerator"—is often popular. Comparing orphans to stocks and shares, people to tug boats, or dinner-party guests to furniture are just some of Dickens's acclaimed flights of fancy. Many of his characters' names provide the reader with a hint as to the roles played in advancing the storyline, such as Mr. Murdstone in the novel ‘David Copperfield’, which is clearly a combination of "murder" and stony coldness. His literary style is also a mixture of fantasy and realism.
Dickens is famed for his depiction of the hardships of the working class, his intricate plots, and his sense of humor. But he is perhaps most famed for the characters he created. His novels were heralded early in his career for their ability to capture the everyday man and thus create characters to which readers could relate. Beginning with ‘The Pickwick Papers’ in 1836, Dickens wrote numerous novels, each uniquely filled with believable personalities and vivid physical descriptions. John Forster, said that Dickens made "characters real existences, not by describing them but by letting them describe themselves."
Another important impact of Dickens's episodic writing style resulted from his exposure to the opinions of his readers. Since Dickens did not write the chapters very far ahead of their publication, he was allowed to witness the public reaction and alter the story depending on those public reactions. A fine example of this process can be seen in his weekly serial ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, which is a chase story. In this novel, Nell and her grandfather are fleeing the villain Quilp. The progress of the novel follows the gradual success of that pursuit. As Dickens wrote and published the weekly installments, John Forster pointed out: "You know you're going to have to kill her, don't you?" Why this end was necessary can be explained by a brief analysis of the difference between the structures of a comedy versus a tragedy. In a comedy, the action covers a sequence "You think they're going to lose, you think they're going to lose, they win". In tragedy, it is: "You think they're going to win, you think they're going to win, they lose". The dramatic conclusion of the story is implicit throughout the novel. So, as Dickens wrote the novel in the form of a tragedy, the sad outcome of the novel was a foregone conclusion. If he had not caused his heroine to lose, he would not have completed his dramatic structure. Dickens admitted that his friend Forster was right and, in the end, Nell died.
Dickens's novels were, among other things, works of social commentary. He was a fierce critic of the poverty and social stratification of Victorian society. Dickens's second novel, ‘Oliver Twist’ (1839), shocked readers with its images of poverty and crime and was responsible for the clearing of the actual London slum, Jacob's Island, that was the basis of the story. In addition, with the character of the tragic prostitute, Nancy, Dickens "humanized" such women for the reading public; women who were regarded as "unfortunates", inherently immoral casualties of the Victorian class/economic system. ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Little Dorrit' elaborated expansive critiques of the Victorian institutional apparatus: the interminable lawsuits of the Court of Chancery that destroyed people's lives in ‘Bleak House’ and a dual attack in ‘Little Dorrit’ on inefficient, corrupt patent offices and unregulated market speculation.
In ‘Oliver Twist’ Dickens provides readers with an idealised portrait of a boy so inherently and unrealistically 'good' that his values are never subverted by either brutal orphanages or coerced involvement in a gang of young pickpockets. While later novels also centre on idealized characters (Esther Summerson in ‘Bleak House’ and Amy Dorrit in ‘Little Dorrit’), this idealism serves only to highlight Dickens's goal of poignant social commentary. Many of his novels are concerned with social realism, focusing on mechanisms of social control that direct people's lives (for instance, factory networks in Hard Times and hypocritical exclusionary class codes in ‘Our Mutual Friend’).


Charles Dickens, Circa 1867
Author Jeremiah Gurney
From en.wikipedia.org


Dickens continues to be one of the best known and most read of English authors, and his works have never gone out of print. At least 180 motion pictures and TV adaptations based on Dickens's works help confirm his success.
Through his journalism he campaigned on specific issues—such as sanitation and the workhouse—but his fiction probably demonstrated its greatest prowess in changing public opinion in regard to class inequalities. He often depicted the exploitation and repression of the poor and condemned the public officials and institutions that not only allowed such abuses to exist, but flourished as a result. His most strident indictment of this condition is in ‘Hard Times’ (1854), Dickens's only novel-length treatment of the industrial working class. In this work, he uses both vitriol and satire to illustrate how this marginalized social stratum was termed "Hands" by the factory owners; that is, not really "people" but rather only appendages of the machines that they operated.
His writings inspired others, in particular journalists and political figures, to address such problems of class oppression. For example, the prison scenes in ‘The Pickwick Papers’ are claimed to have been influential in having the Fleet Prison shut down. As Karl Marx said, Dickens, and the other novelists of Victorian England, "...issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together...". The exceptional popularity of his novels, even those with socially oppositional themes (‘Bleak House’, 1853; ‘Little Dorrit’, 1857; ‘Our Mutual Friend’, 1865) underscored not only his almost preternatural ability to create compelling storylines and unforgettable characters, but also ensured that the Victorian public confronted issues of social justice that had commonly been ignored.
(Adapted from 'Charles Dickens' at en.wikipedia.org)



Saturday, April 23, 2011

POETIC APPROACH TO STREET PHOTOGRAPHY




Robert Doisneau
From fyms.de


Robert Doisneau (left) and André Kertész, 1975
Author Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Wien
From Wikipedia


Robert Doisneau (April 14, 1912, Gentilly, Val-de-Marne – April 1, 1994) was a French photographer. In the 1930s he used a Leica on the streets of Paris; together with Henri Cartier-Bresson he was a pioneer of photojournalism. He is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photo of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris.
(Wikipedia)
As a young man Doisneau attended the École Estienne in Paris to learn the crafts involved in the book trade, but he always claimed that the streets of the working class neighbourhood of Gentilly provided his most important schooling. In 1929, in an effort to improve his draftsmanship, he began photographing, just as Modernist ideas were beginning to promote photography as the prime medium for advertising and reportage. Doisneau first worked for the advertising photographer André Vigneau, in whose studio he met artists and writers with avant-garde ideas, and then during the Depression years of the 1930s he worked as an industrial photographer for the Renault car company. During the same period, Doisneau also photographed in the streets and neighbourhoods of Paris, hoping to sell work to the picture magazines, which were expanding their use of photographs as illustration.
With his career interrupted by World War II and German occupation, Doisneau became a member of the resistance, using his métier to provide forged documents for the underground. In 1945 he recommenced his advertising and magazine work, including fashion photography and reportage for Vogue magazine from 1948 to 1952. His first book of his photographs, La Banlieue de Paris (1949; “The Suburbs of Paris”) was followed by many volumes of photographs of Paris and Parisians.
(Encyclopaedia Britannica at britannica.com)


Sailor kissing girl in Times Square,
New York 1945
From jacanaent.com


Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville
Kiss by the Hotel de Ville
A Parisian Street, 1950
From lvxphotography.net


The picture, Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, sold for 155,000 euros (£105,000) - more than 10 times what it was expected to fetch. Francoise Bornet and her then boyfriend agreed to pose for the seemingly spontaneous photo in 1950. The photo went on to become a poster icon around the world. An unidentified Swiss collector was the buyer, Paris auctioneers Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur were quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency. Frenchman Doisneau was working on a photo spread about Paris lovers for Life magazine when he spotted Mrs Bornet and boyfriend Jacques Carteaud near the school where they were studying theatre. Romantics like to believe the young lovers were captured in a spontaneous moment of bliss, but the pose was staged. In an interview in 1992, Doisneau said: "I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate." The image stayed in the archives of the photo agency where Doisneau worked for more than 30 years before it was snapped up by a poster company.
(BBC News report on the auction of Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville at news.bbc.co.uk)


Baisé Valsé, 1950
From claude-bernard.com


Bouquet of Jonquils, 1950
From gr8photos.ic.cz


Be-bop en cave Saint-Germain des-pres
Paris, 1951
From fyms.de


Doisneau became France's most popular photographer. His portrayals of loving couples against Parisian backdrops suggested a carefree, joyful character. One critic, writing in Le Monde, caricatured him as a "cheerful chappie" who sauntered around the capital snapping lovers or whatever else crossed his path. Nobody ever dared to speak so dismissively of that other great French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Now, 11 years after his death, his daughters, Annette and Francine, have sought to shatter that caricature with a 560-photograph book entitled Robert Doisneau: Paris. The man revealed is more like the lonely street children he portrayed.
For 60 years Doisneau chronicled Paris's post-war rebirth: the dreamers in the bistros, the balloon sellers in the Tuileries gardens, the children playing in the streets, the chic Parisiennes and the prostitutes. Later he caught the city's transformation, the coldness of the new blocks of flats sprouting in the suburbs.
(It started with the kiss, John Follain reports in The Sunday Times November 6, 2005)


L’Aéroplane de Papa
From melisaki.tumblr.com


Marchande des Halles, 1953
From GALLERIE CLAUDE BERNARD at claude-bernard.com


Stampa in Sali d'argento 1956
From artwallpapers.net


For rest of his career Doisneau would rally between commercial work and documenting the streets and society of his native Paris. The unadorned "Frenchness" of his images continues to resonate the truest state of one of the world's most romanticized cities, from its petite bourgeoisie to its proverbial underbelly.
(Josefsberg Studio at skjstudio.com)
Robert Doisneau’s great gift was to bring about an awareness of the phenomenal to our ordinary rational sense through his photographer’s eye. In his intent to go beyond his “ordinary surroundings, (he) happened to glimpse some fragments of time where the everyday world appeared freed from its heaviness.” Those moments are embedded in these images, images that break the boundaries of banality and become signposts of our time.
(artscenecal.com)


Pablo Picasso
From syncstaff.es


A humanist photographer, Robert Doisneau joined the Groupe des XV during the 1950’s. Alongside Willy Ronis and other artists, he tried to promote photography as art. He began to make a reputation for himself and won a number of prizes, including the Kodak Prize in 1947, the Niepce Prize in 1956 and, later, the “Grand Prix de la Photographie” in 1983 and the Balzac Prize in 1986. He continued to photograph anonymous passers-by and also a few personalities such as Picasso, Braque and Giacometti.
Alongside this work, to earn an income, Robert Doisneau completed a considerable number of industrial and advertising commissions. But it was his personal work that brought him huge international success during the last ten years of his life. His black and white photos were shown at a large number of exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art in 1992. This was to be his last: he died in Montrouge on 1st April 1994, appreciated and recognised by the public and the critics worldwide. Robert Doisneau’s photographs may be found in the collections of the world’s greatest museums. His first exhibition at the MOMA in New York took place in 1951. In 2007, over 400,000 people visited the Robert Doisneau Paris en liberté exhibition at the Paris Town Hall.
(Biography, Robert Doisneau, the budding photographer at nouvellesimages.com)


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THE MAN WHO GAVE CHE TO THE WORLD



For a period of twelve years Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, who adopted the surname "Korda" early in his career after the Hungarian filmmakers Zoltan and Alexander Korda, stood with his camera at the very center of Cuba's political crossroads. When he and a partner opened their first commercial studio in 1956 in order to take up advertising and fashion photography, Batista was still running the country. Castro's predecessor, it is often forgotten, operated a corrupt and oppressive regime. The influence of American money and culture played a major role in Havana, and the ambitious young photographer looked to claim his piece of the pie by catering to its appetites.
(ALBERTO KORDA by Bill Lasarow at artscenecal.com)

Alberto Korda with his masterpiece
From Frontline at hinduonnet.com
Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, better known as Alberto Korda or simply Korda (September 14, 1928 in Havana, Cuba – May 25, 2001 in Paris, France) was a Cuban photographer, remembered for his famous image Guerrillero Heroico of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.
The relationship between Fidel Castro and Korda could not be defined by one label or title. For Castro, Korda was more than an official photographer, a friend or personal photographer. They never discussed the salary or the title, their relationship wasn't boss and worker. Thus, Korda was very relaxed, and interested in everything and everyone. Every photo he took was a symbol of the revolution, instead of a documentary of the events of the revolution. The Cuban Revolution was the turning point in Korda's career. His career plans were completely changed with the success of the revolutionaries. In 1959 the newly established newspaper offered the largest space for photographers to display their photographs, and Korda became part of the revolutionary cause. Korda Says, “Nearing 30, I was heading toward a frivolous life when an exceptional event transformed my life: The Cuban Revolution. It was at this time that I took this photo of a little girl, who was clutching a piece of wood for a doll. I came to understand that it was worth dedicating my work to a revolution which aimed to remove these inequalities.” He got caught up in the ideals of the revolution and began photographing its leaders.
(en.wikipedia.org)


El Quijote de la farola
The Don Quixote of the Lamppost, 1959
From arthistoryarchive.com


Entrada de Fidel a La Habana
From arthistoryarchive.com


The revolution turned Alberto Korda’s career in a completely different direction. Korda said he "fell in love with the Revolution and its heroes". He photographed Fidel Castro's entrance into Havana in January 1959, with Camillo Cienfuegos, another notable Cuban revolutionary, by his side. Although Korda was not a photojournalist then, he took this picture to 'Revolucion', the newspaper of the Cuban revolutionaries, which published it. Four months later, 'Revolucion' asked Korda to accompany Fidel on his first trip abroad after the revolution, to Venezuela. Commenting on his relationship with Fidel, Korda said it was "distant at first, but I was very happy to photograph what I loved — and still love — the Revolution and Fidel".
(Seeing with the heart, V. SRIDHAR, Frontline at hinduonnet.com)


Fidel Castro
From cubadebate.cu


Nikita Krushchev & Family, 1963
From bbc.co.uk


As Revolution photographer Korda always worked at his own photographic tempo. He wasn't pushed by the press or by any other requests. Where ever the revolution took Castro Korda followed. One of Korda’s most recognizable images was of Castro's visit to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in April 1959. Castro’s travels took Korda all around Cuba, overseas, and the Soviet Union. In 1963, photos of Fidel and Nikita Khrushchev, taken by Korda, illustrated the differences in both men that were evident in their respective politics.
(en.wikipedia.org)
In 1969 Fidel went back to the Sierra Maestra, the remote mountain region, where the revolutionary army began its attacks on the army of the Fulgencio Batista regime. Korda’s style was to move to the front of whatever group Fidel was leading in order to get the shots he wanted. When Korda comes back to his home, his daughter couldn’t recognize him. His hair and beard were long and hadn’t showered for months. Korda took many pictures for the newspaper and called the series “Fidel Returns to the Sierra.” Fidel always liked Korda’s photos and never stopped him when he attempted to take his picture. He worked freely without thinking about political consequences, in order to get what he wanted in his photos.
(en.wikipedia.org)


Guerrillero Heroico - Che Guevara
Uncropped version
From platypus1917.org


Guerrillero Heroico
Popularized cropped version of Che Guevara
Che Guevara at the La Coubre memorial service
Photo taken on 4 March 1960
Published within Cuba 1961 & internationally 1967
Source Museo Che Guevara, Havana Cuba
From en.wikipedia.org


Guerrillero Heroico - Che Guevara
“the most complete human being of our age” (Sartre)
From cubadebate.cu


Che Guevara stepped onto the podium
diasdehistoria.com.ar


Che Guevara stepped onto the podium and scanned the crowd. Korda snapped two quick shots, including the legendary one of the revolutionary with his beret, gazing like a prophet into the distance.
Korda recognised its greatness and kept the photo tacked to his wall for seven years, until an Italian journalist saw it.
(news.bbc.co.uk)
It is this photograph that adorns student bedsits across the world. The famed black and white portrait of Ernesto "Che" Guevara perfectly captured his intense stare and brooding good looks, helping establish his myth.
The fact that the photograph, taken with a Leica camera on 4 March 1960 at a political rally in Havana attended by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, came to international prominence owes as much to luck as Korda's skill. "It was not planned, it was intuitive," said Korda, who worked for the 'Revolucion' newspaper. He told one interviewer that Guevara had shown such an intense gaze that he had been briefly taken aback and only managed to fire off two quick shots, one vertical, one horizontal.
It was at the same rally that Cuban leader Fidel Castro delivered his famous "Homeland or Death" slogan in front of thousands of people. But the photograph of Guevara, which Korda later called "Heroic Guerrilla", did not make the next day's paper and only emerged after Guevara's death in Bolivia seven years later.
(Row rages over iconic image of Che Guevara, Jamie Doward, The Observer, Sunday 7 March 2010 at guardian.co.uk)


Alberto Korda
From cubadebate.cu


No other image — apart from the one of Marilyn Monroe standing at a subway grid — has been reproduced as many times in history. That photograph of Che, with his long hair flowing from underneath his beret with a star affixed to it, his eyes gazing into the distance, can be found on posters, subway walls and countless consumer articles such as T-shirts, mugs, key chains, wallets and cigarette lighters all over the world. It also adorns walls across Cuba where Che is loved for the part he played in the cause of the revolution. However, the man who took that photograph, Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, known to the world as Alberto Korda, never made anything for himself from the image he gave the world.
Wherever Korda went, at photographic exhibitions or while talking to youth about photography, he would invariably be asked about that famous image of Che and how he created it. This is how he described it to Pacifica: "This photograph is not the product of knowledge or technique. It was really coincidence, pure luck." Korda was one among the 20 to 30 photographers below the grandstand that day and Che made a brief appearance at the front of the stage, for barely a minute. Korda managed to take just two shots of Che - one horizontal and one vertical. He rejected the vertical shot because a head covered Che's shoulder; he cropped the horizontal shot and gave it to 'Revolucion'. French writers Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were among those present at the memorial service for 136 people killed in an explosion that destroyed a vessel loaded with weapons for the Cuban government. Ironically, 'Revolucion' did not use Korda's pictures of Che; it carried his other pictures, of Castro and Sartre and Beauvoir. The Che pictures remained forgotten until after his death in Bolivia.
(Seeing with the heart, V. SRIDHAR, Frontline at hinduonnet.com)


Alberto Korda
From gallery.photo.net


The picture was still hanging on the wall in 1967, by now tobacco-tinted though, when a man knocked on the door. The person did not present himself, but handed over a letter of introduction from a high-ranking member of the Cuban administration. The letter asked Korda to help this person in his search for a good Che picture. Korda pointed at the wall saying: "This is my best Che picture". The visitor agreed and asked for 2 copies of the print. Korda told him to return the next day, which he did. When asked the price of the prints, Korda replied, that since the visitor was a friend of the revolution, he didn't have to pay.
What Korda didn't know, was that the visitor was the famous Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Well known in Europe for smuggling the "Dr. Zivago" manuscript out of The Soviet Union. Feltrinelli came to Cuba directly from Bolivia, where he had been negotiating the release of Regis Debray. Having learnt from Debray, that Che Guevara was the guerrilla-leader in Bolivia and that the end might be near, Feltrinelli saw a business opportunity in the possible assassination of Che.
(Michael Harder Photography 2001 at pix.dk)


Che’s picture printed on posters and T-shirts
From thegraph.com


The corpse of Che Guevara was hardly cold in Bolivia, before you could buy big posters, all around the world, with the Korda-image of Che. Copyright Feltrinelli it said, down in the corner. In half a year, Feltrinelli sold 2,000,000 posters. Later on the image has been transformed, transplanted, transmitted and transfigured all over the world.
Korda never received a penny. For one reason only - Cuba had not signed the Berne Convention. Fidel Castro described the protection of intellectual property as imperialistic "bullshit".
(Michael Harder Photography 2001 at pix.dk)


The Way of Che
From storage.people.com


Zaeli Miranda
From storage.people.com


By 1969 Korda had quit covering politics, turning instead to underwater photography. Now semiretired, he supports himself with freelance advertising jobs and by selling photos of Castro and Che for $500 apiece.
When not at work, the four-time divorce and father of five nurtures his other great passion: women. He and his 21-year-old companion, Zaeli Miranda, share a modest two-bedroom apartment with her sister and a friend in Havana's Miramar district. "He's friendly and loving," Miranda says of Korda. "I'll ask him to take out the garbage, and he does it happily."
Korda, took the photo when Che was 31, yet never tried to protect his copyright. That is, until Smirnoff appropriated the image for a 1998-99 U.K. vodka ad campaign. "Hundreds of companies used my photo, but none have been as offensive," says Korda, 72. "Che wasn't a drinking man. He was a revolutionary killed defending his ideals." Outraged, the Havana-based photographer slapped a lawsuit on a London advertising firm and a photo agency for trivializing Che's image. A hearing wass set. The ad agency, Lowe Lintas, denies "infringement of any copyright or moral rights."
Korda says no matter how his lawsuit turns out, his lifestyle won't change, and any proceeds will buy medicine for Cuban children. "I don't care about money. I like being a poor man," he says. "I went after Smirnoff because of their degenerate ad. It's the principle of the thing."
(The Way of Che By Joanne Fowler, September 25, 2000 at storage.people.com)


Alberto Korda
From cubadebate.cu


Sunday, April 17, 2011

UNDERSTANDING PSYCHOLOGY



Adapted from TIME REPORTS: UNDERSTANDING PSYCHOLOGY at time.com:

When we think of brilliance we see Einstein, deep-eyed, woolly haired, a thinking machine with skin and mismatched socks. High achievers, we imagine, were wired for greatness from birth. But then you have to wonder why, over time, natural talent seems to ignite in some people and dim in others. This is where the marshmallows come in.
It turns out that a scientist can see the future by watching four-year-olds interact with a marshmallow. The researcher invites the children, one by one, into a plain room and begins the gentle torment. You can have this marshmallow right now, he says. But if you wait while I run an errand, you can have two marshmallows when I get back. And then he leaves.
Some children grab for the treat the minute he's out the door. Some last a few minutes before they give in. But others are determined to wait. They cover their eyes; they put their heads down; they sing to themselves; they try to play games or even fall asleep. When the researcher returns, he gives these children their hard-earned marshmallows. And then, science waits for them to grow up.
By the time the children reach high school, something remarkable has happened. A survey of the children's parents and teachers found that those who as four-year-olds had the fortitude to hold out for the second marshmallow generally grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident and dependable teenagers. The children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated and stubborn. They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges. And when some of the students in the two groups took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the kids who had held out longer scored an average of 210 points higher.
(The EQ Factor BY NANCY GIBBS at time.com)
To all outward appearances, Elliot is a perfectly normal middle-aged businessman. Despite an operation a decade ago for removal of a benign brain tumor the size of a small orange, he remains intelligent and seemingly rational, with a wry sense of humor. Yet his behavior makes it clear that there is something very wrong. After years of rock-solid competence, Elliot now has trouble keeping appointments and making decisions. He has squandered much of his life savings on a series of bad investments. And, strangest of all, the very fact that his behavior is self-destructive doesn't seem to bother him-and he keeps on making the same mistakes.
Patient "X" is much more clearly ill. She has suffered a major stroke; her entire left side is paralyzed. It's obvious to everyone that she's severely impaired -- everyone, that is, except her. Ask her how she feels, and she responds, "Just fine." Point out her lifeless left arm, and she seems baffled. She can be convinced, through persistent effort that the arm doesn't work. But a few minutes later, she has forgotten all about it.
Bill Noonan hasn't suffered any obvious physical damage to his brain. Yet for more than two decades after his return from Vietnam, he has re-experienced the most terrifying event of his life several times a week as a waking dream. "It was a night ambush," he remembers. "The first seven guys to my right were machine-gunned down. My gas mask was shot right off my hip. That was my first fire fight." Bill knew his flashbacks weren't real-but they seemed so real that it made no difference. "I didn't know what was happening," he says. "The biggest fear I had was that I was crazy."
Nothing is more morbidly intriguing, more chillingly compelling than an account of a malfunctioning mind, as medical writers have learned to their great profit. The victims of mental disease or brain damage are fascinating, not simply as exhibits in a neurological sideshow but also as stark demonstrations of how fragile reality can be. Most people agree, within limits, on the objective character of the world around them. Yet while the victims of mental disorders are certainly conscious and aware, their worlds are profoundly different from those of most of us. What can it possibly feel like, we wonder, to live without emotion, to be crippled without realizing it, to re-experience an event from the distant past complete with the fears that originally surrounded it?
(Glimpses of the Mind BY MICHAEL D. LEMONICK at time.com)
“What?", That was Nicole Davis’s standard reply, when she was six, to even the simplest question. Although seemingly bright, she lagged far behind her peers in speaking and reading and had a hard time making friends. Two years of private speech therapy had failed to bring her up to speed. So her mother Donna enrolled her in "Fast For Word," a powerful video-game program developed by Scientific Learning Corp. of Berkeley, Calif., to aid children like her who cannot process the sounds of language fast enough to comprehend normal speech. Nicole spent six weeks of intense game playing at a speech clinic in New Jersey, emerging "like a different child," Donna Davis says. Today the ebullient second-grader chatters away with classmates, gets good grades and has stellar reading skills. As Nicole puts it, "I like to write stories and poems, read books and play with my friends."
The software that allowed Nicole to shine represents a promising application of recent and remarkable discoveries about the power of the brain to learn new tricks. Scientists are finding that the brain is "massively plastic"--not rigidly fixed like a computer chip--and can rewire itself throughout life with the help of rigorous training.
(Retraining Your Brain BY JOHN GREENWALD at time.com)
At birth a baby's brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way. Also in place are a trillion glial cells, named after the Greek word for glue, which form a kind of honeycomb that protects and nourishes the neurons. But while the brain contains virtually all the nerve cells it will ever have, the pattern of wiring between them has yet to stabilize. Up to this point says neurobiologist Carla Shatz of the University of California, Berkeley, "what the brain has done is lay out circuits that are its best guess about what's required for vision, for language, for whatever." And now it is up to neural activity--no longer spontaneous, but driven by a flood of sensory experiences--to take this rough blueprint and progressively refine it.
During the first years of life, the brain undergoes a series of extraordinary changes. Starting shortly after birth, a baby's brain, in a display of biological exuberance, produces trillions more connections between neurons than it can possibly use. Then, through a process that resembles Darwinian competition, the brain eliminates connections, or synapses, that are seldom or never used. The excess synapses in a child's brain undergo a draconian pruning, starting around the age of 10 or earlier, leaving behind a mind whose patterns of emotion and thought are, for better or worse, unique.
In an age when mothers and fathers are increasingly pressed for time--and may already be feeling guilty about how many hours they spend away from their children are likely to increase concerns about leaving very young children in the care of others. For the data underscore the importance of hands-on parenting, of finding the time to cuddle a baby, talk with a toddler and provide infants with stimulating experiences.
Scientists have found that the brain during the first years of life is so malleable that very young children who suffer strokes or injuries that wipe out an entire hemisphere can still mature into highly functional adults. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that well-designed preschool programs can help many children overcome glaring deficits in their home environment. With appropriate therapy, say researchers, even serious disorders like dyslexia may be treatable. While inherited problems may place certain children at greater risk than others, says Dr. Harry Chugani, a pediatric neurologist at Wayne State University in Detroit, that is no excuse for ignoring the environment's power to remodel the brain. "We may not do much to change what happens before birth, but we can change what happens after a baby is born," he observes.
Each time a baby tries to touch a tantalizing object or gazes intently at a face or listens to a lullaby, tiny bursts of electricity shoot through the brain, knitting neurons into circuits as well defined as those etched onto silicon chips. The results are those behavioral mileposts that never cease to delight and awe parents. Around the age of two months, for example, the motor-control centers of the brain develop to the point that infants can suddenly reach out and grab a nearby object. Around the age of four months, the cortex begins to refine the connections needed for depth perception and binocular vision. And around the age of 12 months, the speech centers of the brain are poised to produce what is perhaps the most magical moment of childhood: the first word that marks the flowering of language.
Parents are the brain's first and most important teachers. Among other things, they appear to help babies learn by adopting the rhythmic, high-pitched speaking style known as Parentese. When speaking to babies, Stanford University psychologist Anne Fernald has found, mothers and fathers from many cultures change their speech patterns in the same peculiar ways. "They put their faces very close to the child," she reports. "They use shorter utterances, and they speak in an unusually melodious fashion." The heart rate of infants increases while listening to Parentese, even Parentese delivered in a foreign language. Moreover, Fernald says, Parentese appears to hasten the process of connecting words to the objects they denote. Twelve-month-olds, directed to "look at the ball" in Parentese, direct their eyes to the correct picture more frequently than when the instruction is delivered in normal English.
(Fertile Minds BY J. MADELEINE NASH at time.com)
It doesn't take an Einstein to recognize that Albert Einstein's brain was very different from yours and mine. The gray matter housed inside that shaggy head managed to revolutionize our concepts of time, space, motion--the very foundations of physical reality--not just once but several times during his astonishing career. Yet while there clearly had to be something remarkable about Einstein's brain, the pathologist who removed it from the great physicist's skull after his death reported that the organ was, to all appearances, well within the normal range--no bigger or heavier than anyone else's.
(Was Einstein's Brain Built for Brilliance? BY MICHAEL D. LEMONICK at time.com)


Friday, April 15, 2011

“PAINT WHAT YOU FEEL. PAINT WHAT YOU SEE. PAINT WHAT IS REAL FOR YOU”






Portrait of Henri with hand in pocket
photography si.ed
From en wikipedia.org


As he roamed among the drawing boards, stopping to comment on a picture, or stood and expounded before a spellbound group, the charismatic Robert Henri offered not just technical advice but a philosophy of life in which writers shared center stage with great artists of the past and present. His ideas on the making of art were formed in part during his years in France, where he had studied with the academic painter William Adolphe Bouguereau while preparing to enter the École des Beaux-Arts. Although Henri eventually rebelled against the elaborate allegorical figure paintings rendered in a highly finished technique that formed the mainstay of academic training, he absorbed other aspects of the French system. From Bouguereau he learned the importance of designing the canvas as a whole in order to achieve a unified composition. He also adopted the academic technique of making rapid oil sketches, or pochades, either as preparatory studies for larger works or as informal outdoor studies.
(From Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York at artchive.com)



Robert Henry
From nga.gov


Originally Robert Henry Cozad, Robert Earl Henri was born on June 25, 1865, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, John Jackson Cozad, was a former gambler turned real estate developer, and his mother, Theresa Gatewood Cozad, was a housewife. In 1873, he and his family moved west to the great plains of Nebraska, where his father founded the town of Cozad. The town was inhabited primarily by farmers and, because their farms occupied choice grazing land, Henri's father had difficulties with the established cattle ranchers who had been there for many years. One evening, in 1882, one of the cattle ranchers attacked Henri's father with a knife. In self-defense, he mortally shot him with a pistol, and then fled. Although he was later cleared of any wrong doing, he never returned. Instead, he settled in Denver, Colorado, where his family later reunited with him. In order to disassociate themselves from the scandal, each of the family members changed their names, and Robert Henry Cozad became Robert Earl Henri (pronounced Hen-rye).
(tfaoi.com)
Henri argued that art must inform the living of life, just as "life" must inform the making of art. To achieve the direct transmission of self into art, he advised painters to work quickly on the entire canvas rather than labor over individual parts. He urged them to work the way news artists already did as a matter of course: "Do it all in one sitting if you can. In one minute if you can." Most important, art, like news, must be of its own time, based on subjects drawn from the contemporary world of the artist's own experience and that experience should be as wide ranging as possible. Henri cited realist and naturalist fiction to demonstrate the interest that the "real world" held for great artists, but even more he quoted Wait Whitman. In the 1890s Whitman was still regarded as a local hero to Philadelphians (including Eakins) who had made the pilgrimage across the bridge to Camden, New Jersey, to pay their respects to the aging poet. Philadelphia's free spirits paid collective tribute following Whitman's death in 1892. That year Sloan and Henri became friends when Sloan lent the older artist the recent "deathbed edition" of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Both artists admired Whitman's close observation and ecstatic celebration of the daily lives of all Americans
(Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York at artchive.com)
Henri visited Italy prior to being admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1891. He returned to Philadelphia late that year, and in 1892 resumed studying at the academy. He also began his long and influential career as an art teacher at the School of Design for Women, where he taught until 1895. During this period he met the young newspaper illustrators who would later achieve fame as members of The Eight. He made regular trips to Paris where he was particularly influenced by Edouard Manet, Frans Hals, and Diego Velázquez. In 1899, one year after his marriage to Linda Craige, one of his paintings was purchased for the Musée National du Luxembourg.
(National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC at nga.gov)



Robert Henry
From encyclopedia.com


Henri, along with John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, James Preston, Edward Davis, and Charles Redfield, held academic and officially sanctioned art in contempt. They complained that it was cloistered, effete, monotonous, and "fenced in with tasseled ropes and weighed down with … bronze plates." These young artistic rebels believed that American art should be public in the broadest sense of the word and have relevance to the people, not just to art experts. According to Henri, American artists had too long been under the sway of the standards and subject matter of European high art. Henri and The Eight challenged the enshrining of European aesthetics. Following in the foot-steps of novelists such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, and the essayist Henry David Thoreau, who celebrated what they called "an American spirit," Henri turned his artistic vision to native themes. By doing so, he insisted that the unique qualities of America should shape its artists and its art.
(encyclopedia.com0



Spanish Dancing Girl
Oil on canvas, 1904
Private collection
From artchive.com



Indian Girl
From ownapainting.com



Gregorita with the Santa Clara Bowl
From bestpriceart.com



Maria y Consuelo (Gitana)
Oil on canvas
Private Collection
From museuma.com



Willie Gee
From camillereads.com



Spanish Girl
From photobucket.com


Although Henri painted some city views of the sort that his Ashcan School colleagues produced, he more often turned his attention to portraits. Henri's portrait exemplifies his directness in representing his models. Nothing but the figure engages him; the background offers no distractions; and the legacy of Diego Velázquez's naturalistic portraits is palpable.
(Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art at metmuseum.org)
Henri had a profound impact on American art. A popular teacher and advocate of adventurous styles of painting, he shaped The Eight and the Ashcan School. His dynamic presence as an artist and educator and his enthusiasm for the details of life brought a new confidence to American artists. With Henri as the unofficial leader, the innovative group of artists known as "The Eight" was formed in 1907. Influenced by the newspaper illustrators among them, they were determined to realistically portray city life. At the time, America was torn between economic extremes; industrialists accumulated great fortunes while massive immigration led to urban poverty. The accuracy of their paintings of New York slums led to the nickname "Ashcan School." Although The Eight held only one exhibition as a group in 1908, several members were instrumental in organizing the famous 1913 New York Armory Show that revolutionized American modern art.
(tfaoi.com)



Cumulus Clouds, East River
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From artchive.com



Snow in New York
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art
Digital photograph by User:Postdlf
From en.wikipedia.org


In 1909 Henri established his own art school on upper Broadway in New York City, and many of his students followed him there from the New York School of Art, including George Bellows and Edward Hopper. There Henri inspired another generation of modern painters, including Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Stuart Davis. Henri continued to train his students in his philosophy of freedom of expression. He read out loud from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Henri and his students took to wandering in the streets looking for subjects and turned their sights on the city's new immigrants. They filled their canvases with scenes of Coney Island, Union Square, and the Bowery. Henri painted the rivers in and around New York City and painted them in bleakest winter. For Henri, the New York skyline, with its looming buildings and steel bridges, symbolized the energy of the city. Others labeled the creators of these works the "Ash Can School" for their gritty imagery.
(encyclopedia.com)



Robert Henri Class
Robert Henri is the mustached man (front row)
New York School of Art
From ckchatterton.com


"The Chase School was like no other. It was more than the sum of its parts: the smoke-filled studios; the exceptional instructors; the little bakery shop where, for ten cents, we got milk and buns - or the "real" restaurant down the street where, if we were flush, we got a dinner of Beef a la Mode (usually slightly tainted) for twenty-five cents; the Saturday night operas (standing room in the top gallery for fifty cents); the theatre - Maude Adams, James O'Neill, William Faversham, Weber and Fields, Lillian Russell, Sothern and Marlowe. It was a way of life. But, perhaps in the final analysis the group living that life was the most remarkable thing about the school. I doubt that there has ever been so much talent and individuality studying under one roof at the same time." - Chatterton's recollection at ckchatterton.com



Jessica Penn in Black with White Plumes
From oceansbridge.com


“Henri's talks were always stimulating, often philosophical, and ranged widely beyond the craft of painting. He liked Walt Whitman enormously. Of the painters, Manet was a great favorite - especially the Woman with Parrot in the Met, and the Boy with Sword. He also talked at length about Glackens and Sloan, his great friends. (This was the birthplace of the Ashcan School.) We all thought "The Eight" were absolutely tops and rushed to see everything they painted.
We also rushed to see Henri's work. I remember admiring particularly a portrait, Young Woman in Black, exhibited at the National Academy. We all thought it a great painting and went to see it many times. It is a very sensitively painted head and one of his best, something like Whistler.” - Chatterton's recollection at ckchatterton.com
Henri's influence began to wane after the ascent of European modernism, although he continued to win numerous awards. He taught at the Art Students League from 1915 until 1927.
Although Henri was an important portraitist and figure painter, he is best remembered as a progressive and influential teacher. His ideas on art were collected by former pupil Margery Ryerson and published as The Art Spirit (Philadelphia, 1923). He died in 1929 at the age of sixty-four.
(National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC at nga.gov)