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Thank you James Turrell, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Robert Motherwell, Pablo Picasso, Tom Burrows, Yves Klein, and back to James T.
All for you, blue.
If you want the music too here it is.
Shopping, like a lot of things, can produce a smile and a sweet memory or it can make you grumble for days and hate yourself. A lot of the difference lies in the attitude of you and me, the shopper. But much depends as well on the shop itself, and the face it presents to the street. Above is a shopper’s street of dreams, Rue Manzoni in Milan.
Still in Milan, where commerce takes place in settings suitable for an opera or the overthrow of the government. The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele is centre stage, a shopping mall where you and everyone else is part of a performance–comedy, drama, money changing hands, loyalties tested.
Italy is more than Milan of course, and if you find yourself in Naples, for example, at the other end of the country, you won’t lack for chances to exercise your shopping muscles and the offerings may be quite different than Milanese high fashion.
Above is a windowful of Neapolitan wood carved figures, a product of this ancient city that can be found all over the world (e.g on the giant Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum in New York). Nicely photographed by this perceptive shopper.
But its not just Italy that has a history and a culture of shops and shopping. England too is what it is because of trade and traders, goods and wares, purveyors and shoppes. our life as a shopper isn’t complete until you’ve treated yourself to London. This is Regent Street, a shop front done up by architects in 2013.
This looks to us very English too, but it is in New York, via Copenhagen, albeit on “Prince” street. Nice job by Han Kjobenhavn, is a “playful” Copenhagen-based eyewear brand. Fits right in and stands out all at the same time. Found here.
Awwwwwww. Cute as a box full of budgies. How much for those red lips, Mr Pucci? This store is up on Madison Avenue in NY where they’ve been setting up shops to feed your eyeballs since way before there was QR code or a #.
Still on Madison Ave, this fellow and his fluffy companion have, I guess, seen it all before, but those gals in the window seem to be looking at him with intent. Nice photo.
If you want to join the show on Madison, you better have your act together, and this is just about perfect, we think. Nicely done Ms Marni.
We’ll give the last spot to Paris, not the fashion houses or perfume shops, but this little stationary shop between the Marais and the river. Mmmmmm. Wish it was just around the corner.
With shopping, as with dining, the best moment is often before you take the first bite. Give yourself an eyeful next time you go shopping. It won’t show up on the credit card statement and it won’t wear out.
Painters, photographers, and law enforcement officers have shown a lot of interest in capturing just one side of us, a side of us we don’t usually see.
Italian artists working 500 years ago and more gave us some of the most arresting one-sided portraits we will ever see. Up top, that’s Federico da Montefeltro giving his wife Battista Sforza the eye, courtesy of Piero della Francesca. And that beautiful face in the round frame belongs to an unnamed Florentina painted by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475). More here
Here’s a lady caught at the window by Fra Filippo Lippi (c 1406–1469). Her eyes don’t quite meet his, and maybe that’s the story here. From this nicely gathered collection of side portraits.
Moving up the road to France and a bit closer to our time, we found this lovely drawing by Jean-Joseph Bernard, 1785, at Vanderbilt University. Just pen and ink with watercolor on paper.
Staying in France for a moment, here is a carved profile of an homme who from this angle seems both aristocratic and capable of beating somebody up. Image found here
This group called Portraits of Lawgivers lives in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building. Each of the men depicted is a person who, some say, contributed to the laws that now underlie the US justice system. We think that’s Hammurabi up there.
Madame X, as she came to be called, was an American in Paris in the 1880’s who did well in marriage, generated much gossip, and attracted the attention of painter John Singer Sargent who asked if he could paint her. She said yes and the resulting portrait of her, with her gaze averted stage left, was judged just s bit too, you know. Despite the averted gaze and the “X” everyone recognized the woman in black as “that woman”. See her here now, at your leisure.
Jumping ahead to modern scandalous celebrity, getting your “mug” shot shortly after an arrest, profile on one side and full face on the other, is almost a rite of passage for film stars and musicians of the last 70 years or so. Mr Hendrix got out of the Toronto jail soon after and went on to play another day.
20th century artists like Man Ray rediscovered the power of the sidelong view even when no crime had preceded the shot. This is Lee Miller in his Paris studio. Some of course thought it a crime that a woman this beautiful could also be a talented, brave, and prolific photographer.
Isn’t she lovely, actress Billie Dove. We don’t care what she’s done.
Audrey Hepburn photographed by Yousaf Karsh and, bless her, she turned just a little toward us. From Boston.com
The silhouette was not just a fad, it was an obsession at a certain point. If you hadn’t been caught from the side on black paper with scissors well you just hadn’t arrived. This nice example from England found here
Many got the whole damned family scissored and pasted. This is the Sturge Family, ca. 1820 presented in the collection of the Library of the Society of Friends (The Quakers)
Some silhouettists snipped black images of everyone they met, apparently. Here’s a book of hundreds of them at the Smithsonian Institute
Back to where we started, in Italy, this must be counted among the most beautiful portraits ever produced, and it is amazing how much it conveys while only showing us one side of this woman’s story. Her name is Giovanna Tornabuoni, and she died in childbirth. Painted posthumously by Domenico Ghirlandaio about 1490. She now lives in a museum in Madrid and was recently the star of an exhibition there reported here.
Much as we love the profile portaits we found, we are very very glad that Jan Vermeer (go here) coaxed this lady to turn toward his canvas and to us. Perhaps the gift of her gaze is all the more powerful because we have been deprived of it. Maybe that’s the power of the profile–to increase the appetite for more of her face.
Living by the sea can be a swell thing. Where we live, the breezes are mostly mild and scented with salt, sea shells, and mermaids.
People, lots of people, choose to live in coastal cities, and they always have. And those who don’t or can’t, come for holidays. Many of the benefits are obvious. Lovely pic of a coastal guy on his lunch break from here. Experts from all over (e.g.) say that just breathing sea air allows us to sleep better, and that can have real benefits to how happy and healthy we are.
But of course we can’t be blind to the other side of living with the sea as your neighbour. Our salty benefactor that serves up so much pleasure and good health can also serve up destruction and death. The truth is, sometimes, the bountiful sea doesn’t stay put. Sometimes, it comes calling.
Venice is the most famous and photogenic example. And though Venetians are justly famous for just carrying on and wading about their business, the government is spending a fortune (even by Venetian standards) to try and keep the Mediterranean out of the piazzas and palazzos. One story here
New Yorkers got a taste of life with the Atlantic ocean too close for comfort during and after Hurricane Sandy Oct 2012. Since then, the city has been re-thinking the way Manhattan works in order to prevent similar damage from future, inevitable storms. Here is one of many reports on the plans.
It is not just New York’s problem. This is something all great and small coastal cities should have on their agenda. Because there is more water in all the seas than there once was, and the only place it has to go is up, where we are, by the sea. Why?
The ice at the top and bottom of our planet is melting fast enough to cause measurable changes in sea level around the world. Whether you think the reason is man-made climate change (we do), natural cycles, socialists, or alien misbehavior, the melting of arctic and antarctic ice is real. It is not a theory or a political platform. It happens daily, sometimes in dramatic fashion.
This berg is about to shed a wedge of ice the size of warehouse. Beautifully photographed in Alaska by Betty Sederquist. More here.
At the other end of the earth, this is a giant iceberg in Antarctica about to leave the mother ship. It was deemed separated in April of this year and weighed in at “the size of Chicago” or “as big as Singapore”, depending on your source. Lots of video coverage via this site
What this event means for those of us who live by the sea now is not much, in terms of our day at the beach. Even if it drifts into warm waters and melts completely, even when Chicago melts, you’d need more than an eagle eye to spot the rise in sea level. But there are lots more city size ice cubes breaking away and melting. This is a recent summary report from the NY Times
This beautiful object (wonderful photo by Camille Seaman) may not be much of a threat to modern ships or tomorrow’s day at the beach, but it and its kin are slowly raising the tideline around the world. Choice property will be lost–some quickly in murderous storms, some slowly over generations.
We can’t stop it, but we can do what we do when we are at our best: we can start thinking differently about how we respond to this force of nature. We in coastal cities can start planning–as New York is doing–for dealing with higher water when it comes, taking preventative action, reducing the destruction. Instead of pure admiration or pure fear of the ocean, we need to get more realistic and show more respect for the ocean we love. As sailors always have.
It’s time to move the carousel. Pic from Brooklyn Oct 2012.
This is a pivot irrigation system near a suburb south of Yuma Arizona. Nice composition and colour.
When people build things to do a job, fill a need, make some money, their last thought is ever ending up in an art show. But the truth is, like it or not, the visual effect of human intervention on the landscape is often stunningly beautiful.
These are greenhouses in the Almira Peninsula in Spain 2010. Muy Bonito–tight but dynamic structure, plus subtle colour and texture variation.
Of course the beauty of these interventions comes at a price, and sometimes that price is very high: a lasting stain on the canvas we all inhabit, or worse, a fatal infection of some irreplaceable part of what keeps us alive.
Above is Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station, Baja Mexico, 2012. As an image, it has a hyper-electric, saturated intensity. As a piece of evidence, it is deeply disturbing.
Stelco Steel Mill Nanticoke Ontario. When a gifted, technically super photographer takes on the job of showing us who we are and what we are doing, the results can’t help but be both beautiful and alarming. That’s after all what we are.
Residual Bitumen, Suncor South, Alberta, Canada. How do we reconcile that this image of a careless (?) industrial after-effect has some of the same aesthetic qualities as the muscular/spiritual abstract paintings we flock to see in modern art museums?
Above aerial photographs by Mr Louis Helbig, based in Ottawa, but flying all over the country. Look here
Back to Spain, this time above a Borox field with photographer David Maisel. These fields, like “a grey sea in a desert” says Mr Maisel, are in a mining and agricultural region of La Mancha.
Up next, open pit mines in Nevada on the Carlin Trend, a highly productive gold mining district. The downside is mines from this region are the source of mercury emissions released when ore is heated during refinement. Also shot by David Maisel.
This is one of the edges of Utah’s Great Salt Lake where zones of mineral evaporation ponds lie. Industrial pollution creates haunting other-worldly effects than only the artistic imagination can match. More David Maisel here
This glowing mound is a portion of the Imperial Sand Dunes in the Colorado Desert Region of Southern California, at night, crawling with recreational vehicles, some of the 1.28 million visitors who visit the area annually. We know this is not good, but holy crow it looks like an a electric volcano. Source
Photographers keep flying over the land and recording the remarkable things we do when we think no one is watching–and the findings are so often both stunning and rattling. Alex S. MacLean captured this: Motorcycle Racing on Black Ice, as well as the three images that follow.
Here he records snowmobile tracks on ice near industrial sites in Western Canada.
Looks like calligraphy. But it’s tomato fields North Central OH, 1990
And this beautiful image is a shot of something probably very very wrong.
Above Edward Burtynsky, Nickel mine tailings, Sudbury Ontario 1996, found here
There is a show at the Vancouver Art Gallery just now (May 2014) featuring a fine selection of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs. We may not be doing him full justice, but we believe he sees and n fact seeks the beauty in the interventions that we the people make on the earth one way or another every day. His VAG show is called A Terrible Beauty.
Should we feel guilty about finding something poisonous beautiful? Should we feel guilty in failing to acknowledge the beauty of something clearly dangerous to the earth? To hold contradictory ideas in the mind was once thought a virtue. For now, all we can say is: it’s the truth