El Greco (1541-1614)

El Greco & Modern Painting

Doménikos Theotokópoulos was born in Crete, where he trained as an icon painter in the Byzantine tradition. He moved to Italy, and assimilated the Renaissance accomplishments of Venice and Rome. He ended up in Spain, where he got his nickname, The Greek, and turned into one of the strangest painters in the Western tradition. Today, he is revered as a primitive, eccentric, obscure genius, unlike anyone else, who ignored the appearances of the physical world to stretch, twist and simplify bodies and space in ways that are blatantly subjective and fiercely emotional. It is as a rawly expressive misfit that he has been recognised as a forerunner of modern art.

View of Toledo was centuries ahead of its time, and probably can best be compared to Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, 1889, which contains many of the same compositional elements (a swirling sky, overwhelming nature, a skyline dominated by a church).  But whereas van Gogh evokes the calm of a little sleeping town, El Greco’s painting captures the violence of the exterior world against an interior one. The painting displays a passionate engagement with the city where he settled, but also a distance and a foreboding; it’s as if the place is the last city on earth and stands on an apocalyptic precipice.

In the 19th century, El Greco was rediscovered by the Romantics, who valued his expressive style.  Delacroix acquired an El Greco painting, and the poet Théophile Gautier penned superlative commentaries on his work.  El Greco was equally admired by symbolists, like Baudelaire.  He was also taken up by a number of painters who were challenging the photographic realism that dominated academic painting in the mid-century: Millet, Manet, and John Singer-Seargent, among others.  One of his admirers was Cezanne, whose Bathers can be compared to the nudes in the Opening of the Fifth Seal.

The Holy Family, 1585

Christ Carrying the Cross, 1587

Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest, 1585

View of Toledo, 1599

Opening of the Fifth Seal, 1614

The Agony in the Garden, 1600

Laocoön, 1614

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Publicado en CULTURA | Etiquetado | 3 comentarios

Crazy (1961)

LeAnn Rimes

Resultat d'imatges de icono musical piano

Crazy, I’m crazy for feeling so lonely
I’m crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
I know you’d love me as long as you wanted
And then someday, you would leave me for somebody new

Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wondering, what in the world did I do?

I’m crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I’m crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I’m crazy for loving you

Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I’m crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I’m crazy for loving you

Publicado en MÚSICA | Etiquetado | 14 comentarios

Edward Weston (1886-1958)

 Modernist Photography

Born in 1886 in a suburb of Chicago, Edward Weston moved to Southern California at the age of twenty. After opening his own photography studio in Glendale in 1911, he began associating with a cosmopolitan group of people who were arriving in the Los Angeles area from all parts of the globe. Although Weston was neither well-traveled nor formally educated, his new friends — many of them artists, dancers,actors, and writers hoping to find work in the nascent movie industry — shared with him their more worldly experiences and attitudes, and in this way Weston became conversant with the latest artistic and literary movements in Europe and Asia.

In July 1923, he abandoned his first wife, Flora, along with his Pictorialist sensibilities and went to Mexico. There he spent the next few years with his lover, the writer and photographer Tina Modotti. As one historian put it, Mexico was “Weston’s Paris.” There he honed his modernist style, working toward greater simplification and abstraction through heroic portrait heads and nudes, as well as more mundane objects such as toys, toilets, and tree trunks.

Back in California late in 1926, Weston embarked on an extraordinary breadth of work that would occupy him for over two decades and place him at the center of American modernism. While Weston had been away, the number of galleries, promoters, and patrons of Modernist works in California had grown. Through the late 1920s and early 1930s, spurred by his earlier contact with the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Rivera, and Brancusi, and later with West Coast artists Henrietta Shore and Imogen Cunningham, Weston continued the exploration of abstraction which culminated in his classic, high modernist images of sculptural shells,

In 1939, he married his assistant, Charis Wilson, with whom he had lived since 1934. They divorced in 1945. During this time he received exclusive commissions and published several books, some with Wilson, including an edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass illustrated with his photographs.

Nautilus, 1927

Pepper Nº 30, 1930

Charis Wilson, 1936

Shell, 1927

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Nude, 1927

Diego Rivera, 1924

Tina Modotti, 1924

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The Deer Hunter (1978)

Camaraderie & Russian Roulette

Three Pennsylvania steelworkers, Mikey (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage), obey Uncle Sam’s call to fight in Vietnam, leaving behind wives and sweethearts, including shopworker Linda (Meryl Streep) who may be in love with more than one of them. Before they leave, they attend Steven’s wedding: a ceremony in which, without realising it, they are saying goodbye to their old lives. These guys like nothing more than a laugh, a drink and hunting deer in the mountains.

The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino‘s second movie following the pleasingly throwaway Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, can, and should, be read as an epic treatise on endurance, and, in particular, the indomitable spirit of the American male. The near three-hour narrative tracing the classic human parabola from wedding bliss to funeral blues.

John Cazale, who was 42 at the time of filming, had appeared in only four previous pictures. But what a quartet! The Godfather (1972), The Conversation, The Godfather Part II (both 1974) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Visibly losing his battle to cancer, director Michael Cimino agreed to film all of Cazale’s scenes in The Deer Hunter first. When the studio said they wanted Cazale off the movie because of his health, Cimino and Cazale’s then girlfriend, Meryl Streep threatened to walk away. The studio relented, but said they wouldn’t cover his insurance, so Robert De Niro fronted the bill.

This film received nine Academy Award nominations (including Best Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Cinematography (by Vilmos Zsigmond – who had just filmed Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)), and Best Original Screenplay), and won five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken), Best Director, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing.

Publicado en I MÉS COSES | Etiquetado | 15 comentarios

James K. Polk (1795-1849)

Resultat d'imatges de James K. Polk

11th President Pixel American Flag by LovelySilversky 1845-49

“Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between  church and state.” -JKP

When Democrats gathered in Baltimore, Maryland, in May 1844, none could have foreseen the eventual outcome. Former President Martin Van Buren came to Baltimore with a clear majority of delegates pledged to him on the first ballot, but many Democrats opposed the New Yorker for a variety of reasons. Some simply thought Van Buren was a losing candidate given his unpopularity in 1840, when he had lost decisively to the Whig candidate, William Henry Harrison. Also, many “Young Democrats” judged Van Buren as a member of the “old dynasty” associated with “old politics.” Others were southern men enraged that Van Buren had recently come out in opposition to Texas annexation.

When Van Buren announced his opposition to annexing Texas, he committed political suicide. The desire to annex Texas was especially strong among Southern Democrats who viewed Texas as a new bastion for slavery.  The Southern Democrats blocked Van Buren’s nomination through eight ballots, and on the ninth vote they nominated a fellow southerner from Tennessee, James Knox Polk.

Challenging the well-known Whig candidate Henry Clay in the 1844 Presidential election, Polk promised to actively encourage America’s westward expansion. He favored Texas statehood and the acquisition of the Oregon Territory. Although critics expressed concern that aggressive expansionism might lead to a war with Great Britain or Mexico and might destroy the tenuous balance between free states and slave states, a majority of Americans accepted Polk’s vision of a continental nation.

With political forcefulness and savvy, President Polk tirelessly pursued his ambitious goals. Texas joined the country as the 28th state during his first year in office. Tense negotiations with Great Britain concluded with American annexation of the Oregon Territory south of the 49th Parallel. Following a controversial two-year war, Mexico ceded New Mexico and California to the United States. The Polk Administration also achieved its major economic objectives by lowering tariffs and establishing an independent Federal Treasury.

True to his campaign pledge to serve only one term as President, James K. Polk left office and returned to Tennessee in March 1849. The nation’s expansionist aims had been realized. When he died of cholera three months later, thousands of Americans were rushing west in search of California gold.

Resultat d'imatges de rushing west in search of California gold

California Gold Rush

John Sutter was a Swiss emigrant who arrived in California in 1839. He became a Mexican citizen and received a land grant of 50,000 acres in Sacramento Valley. He built Sutter’s Fort at the site of present day Sacramento. At Sutter’s Fort he developed farming and other businesses. Sutter’s Fort became a rest station for travelers and immigrants to California. In 1847 John Sutter hired James Marshall to build a sawmill at a site named Coloma.

On January 4, 1848, James Marshall picked up a piece of metal at the mill that looked like gold. He took the metal to Sutter. They tested it and confirmed that it was gold.

News of James Marshall’s discovery traveled to the East Coast. But communication was slow in the middle of the 19th century. People in the big eastern cities of New York and Boston heard only rumors about gold in California. It was not until December 1848, almost a year after Mr. Marshall’s discovery, that President James Polk told Congress the rumors were true. During the next weeks and months, thousands of young men from the Northeast left their homes and families to seek great riches in California.

The Gold Rush really put California on the map. It made it desirable. It made the East Coast really want California to become part of the U.S.

Resultat d'imatges de California Gold Rush Pulls Americans West

Sutter’s Mill in 1850

 

Publicado en HISTÒRIA, POLÍTICA | Etiquetado | 4 comentarios