Tag Archives: beauty

Some Poetry, Some Art, Some Borges

Maria sleeping

The Art of Poetry

To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember that Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness, such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there’s a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

Jorge Luis Borges

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Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ and the Religious themes at the Stanza della Segnatura, a reflection on Pope Julius II library

Stanza Rafael, Musei Vaticani

Stiched panorama of the four walls in the Stanza della Segnatura, painted by Raphael

The philosophical and religious discourse that took off in Renaissance Italy is beautifully depicted by Raphael in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican (Musei Vaticani).

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‘….

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:

'The School of Athens' episode

‘The School of Athens’ episode

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To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Quote

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Thinking of beauty, thinking of Florentine Art

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    Lorenzo Ghilberti, Creation of Adam and Eve, ca. 1435, panel part of the ‘Gates of Paradise’, East Doors, Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence

“The great Florentine art, from Giotto through the quattrocento, has the faculty of amazing with its unexpected and absolute truthfulness. This faculty was once called beauty.”

Mary McCarthy, the Stones of Florence

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Leda and the Swan

The story of ‘Leda and the Swan’ is a Greek myth which is told in many variations.

According to one of them, Leda – a mortal queen, wife of the king of Sparta Tyndareus – was in the forest when Zeus spotted her and wanted to make love to her (or rape her). He transformed himself into a swan and landed next to her. They started playing and he seduced her. On the same night she also lay with her husband.

As a result, Leda ‘hatched’ two eggs, from one egg she bore the twins Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces), the fomer being the son of Tyndareus and mortal, and the other being the son of Zeus and therefore immortal. They are known as the Gemini (‘Twins’), the famous constellation, star sign. Through their love for each other, they both eventually became the immortal-mortals.
From the other egg she bore Clytemnestra, famous for becoming the wife of king Agamemnon, and Helen of Troy. No more is needed to say about the importance of these two women in the narrative of the dawn of the western civilization.

All these mythological- archetypical figures and life circumstances have fuelled the human imagination in the millenia and given such great material for the arts…. Here, I think, are two beautiful examples of this:


‘Leda with the Swan’ by Bartolomeo Ammaneti
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

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Leda and the Swan
by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

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“The poet’s mind toils between substance and the void.
Every detail in high and low relief he seeks to perfect, so
that the form, although it may transcend the dictates of
compasses and ruler, shall be the paragon of resemblance to all
shapes and features imitated.”

Lu Chi’s Wen Fu
The Art of Writing

Quote from The Art of Writing

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Beauty in the sky

Every summer I cannot decide if I prefer full moon nights or the dark starry ones. The truth is I care not choose, I love both. In this sense I love August, a month with magical full moon(s) and star-dotted night skies.

This is an iphone (hipstamatic) pic I took of the full moon rising a couple of nights ago on the beach (almost) in front of my house in Kolymbithres, Paros.

And here is a video – guide for spotting celestial objects in the summer night sky (english with Greek subtitles.) Thank you Silina for sending me this video!

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The Rock is out of its temple

In an earlier post back in April, titled ‘Talking about Art and Devotion’, I was talking about a photograph I was working on, the Rock. At the time of that post I wasn’t happy with my test print. It took me a couple more months of working on it, leaving it aside, looking back at it, making test prints, using different printing methods, etc, to get it to where I felt I liked it. So here it is:

This image was taken using my iphone 4S (!) on a early spring afternoon at the Paros Park in Paros. I processed it in CS5 and my final print was made on a Sommerset Velvet Fine Art A4 paper in Piezo, using a carbon selenium split toning.

I have to say that if you compare the two variations of the same image on a computer screen, I mean the one I have uploaded on the April post and this one here, you might not see much of a difference. The adjustments I made are subtle so the illuminated highly contrasty computer screen might not reveal them, but there is a huge difference in the tonal values between these two versions and, therefore, in the overall feeling of the image on the print(s). I wish I could show you that too.

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Sunset at Parikia, Paros in June

It’s been quite a while since I posted something… well summer is here, a busy and beautiful season… Let me share its beauty with you…

 

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