“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
Pope Julius II, in the early 1500’s, commissioned Raphael to paint his private apartments. Raphael painted the frescoes of four Rooms. All rooms are accessible to visitors today, they make part of the Musei Vaticani complex, which are known as the Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms).
One of these four Rooms is known as ‘The Stanza della Segnatura’, which is the very room that housed the Pope’s private library. For this Room, Raphael decided to make four frescoes (one on each wall) that depict the Renaissance newly (re)discovered Classical ideals in relation to the values of the Christian tradition. This choice of themes was meant to reflect the contents of the Pope’s library, the categories of which were : theology, philosophy, jurisprudence and poetry.
Of course the most famous fresco in this Room is none other than the ‘School of Athens‘….
There is an interesting discussion on BBC Radio 4 about this painting, its relation to the other frescoes in the room and the concepts, ideas and discussions that were contemporary to the painting. I felt that this podcast gave me a bit more information on the choices made by Raphael (and Pope Julius II). The discussion is an episode of the ‘In Our Time’ program with Melvyn Bragg on BBC 4, available as a podcast for free. I am a fan of Melvyn’s podcasts… Here is the link to the ‘School of Athens’ episode:
“Great art is always a way of concentrating, reinventing what is called fact, what we know of our existence – a reconcentration… tearing away the veils that fact acquires through time.”
Francis Bacon was born like today, 28th October, in 1909 and died in 1992. He is probably the only ‘shock’ artist I like. Here is a link to an 1985 documentary about him, his work and his views. I think in this just short of an hour film you can see the man, who claims to be “an optimist for nothing” and to have no thoughts on the meaning of his individual works.
The Scream by Edvard Munch became two days ago the most expensive painting to be bought. It was sold at a Sotheby’s auction to a private, unknown to the public, collector for $119.5 million. This painting, which makes a part of our collective art heritage and pop culture is officially out of sight for all of us (as an original) for now and out of reach for any public institution to obtain for its collection, if not for ever, definitely for a very very long time…
There is a market side to art, there has always been one. Auction Houses these days seem to be doing pretty well even in these shaky times. I guess this means that art is still considered a safe investment. It is said that the world of Auctions is a business that may ‘make’ artists but it kills the artwork, because they generate superstars, while they deprive artworks from their ‘reflective dimension’.
Following this, here are two interesting articles that have a different standing point when it comes to the Auction House’s performance:
Alice Gregory was a ‘Sotheby’s girl’ and as an insider she sheds some light into the psychology and strategy behind the operations of this world famed Auction House. It is especially interesting as to how the House locates and introduces its auction items to possible collectors and vice versa. The article was published on n+1 magazine
Quotes from the article:
‘Property often comes to auction under conditions that the specialists list with alliterative delight: death, divorce, debt. But in the end, the process by which any work of art changes hands is singular—there are as many reasons for selling a piece as there are for buying one…. Collectors are people, with insecurities and egos of varying size. It’s the specialist’s job to psychologize his clients and devise ad hoc strategies that ultimately earn him a commission.’
‘Meanwhile, the specialists have been looking for clients, listing potential bidders in an “interest list” prepared for each individual lot of the sale…. The length and seriousness of the interest list is the private metric specialists use to guess how well a lot will perform, rather than the more empirically determined estimate.’
Jerry Saltz is the senior art critic for the New York magazine. In this article he comments on the selling of the Scream at the recent auction and gives us an insight on the staging of a sale. Article found at www.vulture.com
Quote from the article:
‘Auction houses inherently equate capital with value. The price of a work of art has nothing to do with what the work of art is, can do, or is worth on an existential, alchemical level.’
“Time may change me
But I can’t trace time”
David Bowie, ‘Changes’
I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste
was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test
(Turn and face the stranger)
Don’t want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the stranger)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I am startled by the power, creativity and freedom that imagination gives us access to. Startled not so much because through imagination we can escape reality, but mainly because it functions differently on all individuals but it gives us all the possibility to experience events and emotions, or to explore territories that are normally impossible (or just hard) to reach in our ‘real’ life.
“In the struggle for expression of the self, many selves can be expressed.”
I first heard of Ernesto Sabato on Gavdos island. I went to that earthly paradise for a ten day break some years ago and I left on a brilliant day almost two months later. There, in the community of free-campistas I dwelt in silence and in beautiful conversations that kept the same gentle rhythm of rising and passing away, as the sea, the days and the season’s imprints on nature at that dear beach that was our home. While there, we used to call that place the Epicurean Garden.
Just yesterday I found this interview Sabato gave at the ‘Unesco Courier‘ journal for the August 1990 issue. I have highlighted so many phrases in my personal copy, so I thought of sharing some here as quotes but to also include the entire interview at the bottom:
“Is Don Quixote “unreal”? If reality bears any relationship to durability, then this character born of Cervantes’ imagination is much more real than the objects that surround us, for he is immortal.”
“Art can no more progress than a dream can, and for the same reasons.”
“I must be a reactionary because I still believe in dull, mediocre democracy, the only regime which, after all, allows me to think freely and to prepare the way for a better reality.”