1. Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) art movement lasting from 1911 to 1914, fundamental to Expressionism, along with Die Brücke. The group was founded by a number of Russian emigrants, including Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and native German artists, such as Franz Marc, August Macke and Gabriele Münter. The name Blaue Reiter (“blue rider”) refers to a key motif in Kandinsky’s work: the horse and rider, which was for him a symbol for moving beyond realistic representation. The horse was also a prominent subject in Marc’s work, which centered on animals as symbols of rebirth. An extensive collection of paintings by Der Blaue Reiter is exhibited in the Städtische Galerie in the Lenbachhaus in Munich. Der Blaue Reiter dissolved with the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. Kandinsky, a Russian citizen, was forced to return to his homeland, and Marc and another Blaue Reiter artist, August Macke, were killed in action. (Moma)
2. The Hockney–Falco thesis is a theory of art history, advanced by artist David Hockney and physicist Charles M. Falco. Both claimed that advances in realism and accuracy in the history of Western art since the Renaissance were primarily the result of optical instruments such as the camera obscura, camera lucida, and curved mirrors, rather than solely due to the development of artistic technique and skill. Nineteenth-century artists’ use of photography had been well documented. In a 2001 book, Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, Hockney analyzed the work of the Old Masters and argued that the level of accuracy represented in their work is impossible to create by “eyeballing it”. Since then, Hockney and Falco have produced a number of publications on positive evidence of the use of optical aids, and the historical plausibility of such methods. The hypothesis led to a variety of conferences and heated discussions.
The hypothesis that technology was used in the production of Renaissance Art was not much in dispute in early studies and literature. The 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica contained an extensive article on the camera obscura and cited Leon Battista Alberti as the first documented user of the device as early as 1437. Art historians and others have criticized the argument on the grounds that the use of optical aids, though well-established in individual cases, has little value for explaining the overall development of Western art, and that historical records and paintings and photographs of art studios (without optical devices), as well as present-day realist artists, demonstrate that high levels of realism are possible without optical aids. (Wikipedia)
3. The Ugly Duchess (also known as A Grotesque Old Woman) is a satirical portrait painted by the Flemish artist Quentin Matsys around 1513. The painting is in oil on an oak panel, and measures 62.4 by 45.5 cm. It shows a grotesque old woman with wrinkled skin and withered breasts wearing the aristocratic horned headdress of her youth, out of fashion by the time of the painting. She holds in her right hand a red flower, then a symbol of engagement, indicating that she is trying to attract a suitor. The work is Matsys’ best-known painting.
The painting was long thought to have been derived from a putative lost work by Leonardo da Vinci, on the basis of its striking resemblance to two caricature drawings of heads commonly attributed to the Italian artist. However the caricatures are now thought to be based on the work of Matsys, who is known to have exchanged drawings with Leonardo. (Wikipedia, National Gallery)
4. Tyrian Purple:In ancient Rome, purple was the color of royalty, a designator of status. And while purple is flashy and pretty, it was more important at the time that purple was expensive. Purple was expensive, because purple dye came from snails. The pigment got its name from the best of the marine shellfish used to make the pigment being found off the shore of Phoenicia’s Tyre. The snail-made purple remained in use until chemists learned to make synthetic dyes. Perkin’s purple, otherwise known as aniline purple, or mauveine, was the first synthetic dye and was created by accident by an eighteen year old chemist named William Perkin in 1856. (Smithsonian)
5. Andy Warhol Time Capsules: During his lifetime, Andy Warhol consigned 300,000 of his everyday possessions to 610 sealed cardboard boxes or “Time Capsules”. The boxes contain everything from gallery flyers, junk-mail, fan-letters, gallery-invitation cards, unopened letters, solicitations for work, freebie LPs, a lump of concrete, eccentric pornographic assemblages, used postage stamps, packets of sweets and unopened Campbell’s soup tins. In some capsules, toenail clippings, dead ants, a mummified foot and used condoms were found.
Warhol began the project when he was moving the Factory, as his studio was called. But “the artist didn’t hire a moving company”, says Warhol Museum’s chief archivist, Matt Wrbican. Warhol asked his staff to clean up the mess, and one of his assistants suggested that they start putting everything in these boxes, and they could call them ‘time capsules’. Warhol intended for the Time Capsules to eventually be sold as art, but they never went on the market. (NPR, BBC)