The Stuff of Art Forum


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Welcome and let's go!
Name: dr.b.
Date: 2004-01-25 11:40:04
Link to this Comment: 7735

Welcome to the course forum for The Stuff of Art. This is a space for all of us to share our thoughts, ideas and questions about the interplay of art and chemistry throughout the semester. I think it can be a valuable space for several reasons. We are such a diverse group whose backgrounds and interests range from classics to physics, fine arts to history of art, chemistry to sociology. And that list doesn't even cover all the areas! That seems like a fertile composition for generating lots of discussion originating from different points of view and experiences. Here is a place where those discussions can meander on leisurely and casually, especially if our class time is rather limited.

So, let me ask a question to get some conversation going. Post here your thoughts about what you have read, what you have done in studiolab, or something about what you learned thus far. What, for example, surprised you? Or, what intrigues you or made you smile (or frown, for that matter)?


Welcome and let's go!
Name: dr.b.
Date: 2004-01-27 21:51:11
Link to this Comment: 7793

Welcome to the forum for The Stuff of Art, a virtual discussion space for you and me. There are several reasons why this space may be valuable to all of us. We are a very diverse group from a variety of backgrounds, from physics to classics, from fine arts to history of art, from chemistry to sociology. That means each of you has your own unique perspective—and expertise—on what is a very broad area of overlap between art and science. I know I certainly want to learn from you and hear what you think about the relationship between the two, as well as hear about your experience in the course.

So, let's begin a conversation here. What has surprised or most struck you in what you have read or done in studiolab or heard about in lecture?


Girl with a Pearl Earring
Name: Claire Rey
Date: 2004-02-08 23:16:58
Link to this Comment: 8051

Last night I went to see Girl with a Pearl Earring, the new movie out with scarlett johannson based on the book written by Tracy Chevalier in which she creates a fictional story surrounding a painting by the 17th century Dutch master Vermeer-the painting is titled "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Anyways--in the movie, Vermeer (played by Colin Firth) teaches his maid (Greet ie Scarlett J) how to mix pigments. He shows her malachite, linseed oil (I think he was using it to make some kind of yellow) vermillion, verdigris, etc. There is this one scene where he sends Greet to buy lapis from the alchemist (they show her in the alchemist' lab). He doesn't want her to tell his wife because they are going through money troubles and the lapis is really expensive (just like we learned in class). Anyways he uses the lapis to paint the cloth on her head. Also, there was this one scene where vermeer's patron makes a joke about the material in the yellow pigment of another of Vermeer's paintings, i think it was "Girl with a Wine Glass," and he says that Vermeer used "cow piss" to paint his wife. I wonder what this was that he was referring to. Hmm...


Monet
Name: Laurel
Date: 2004-02-10 11:46:01
Link to this Comment: 8095

Although the 'What is Painting' book is fascinating, I can't help but grow more skeptical of James Elkins as I progress through the book. It began with the section on Monet, when he began to talk more about the 'painter.' I think that Elkins has an altogether too idealized view of painters, and that he puts too much faith in their ability to 'know' the paints. I have a good friend who is a painter, and has been for many years. I showed her the book, and she agreed with me. Although the points brought up in the book are interesting, we don't feel like they pertain to the greater Painter. Painters don't think in monads and dyads, they think in terms of a stroke, a collection of strokes, and don't even think much about it. He is divorcing the idea of the painting and the paint. His point is that painters know the paint intimately, and I believe this is true, but they know it in the context of a painting and what it can do for their painting, not in the context of the tube, the substance. But maybe now I am doing the exact same thing and generalizing too broadly. Its something to think about though.


The Alchemist
Name: Damon Cory
Date: 2004-02-10 12:47:06
Link to this Comment: 8098

I am reading this book called The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. It is a sweet little story about a boy who travels from Andalusia to Egypt to find out who he really is. He is guided by a few people along the way, one of whom is an alchemist. The focus of the book is not on the actual science of the alchemist, but rather that the alchemist acts as a spiritual guide for the boy. In class we touched on this idea about the link between the sceince and the cosmos, and the fact that the alchemists were study metals not only to find out about the actual metals, but to find out about themselves. The alchemist in the book is clearly revered as a very enlightened being who is in tune with waht Coelho calls the Soul of the World. Though this can seem very cheezy and maybe to transcendental of a notion, I do think that looking at science from this perspective has some very pertinent implications for the present.
If you look at modern medicine for example, it has been in the past 200 years that medicine has developed exponentially and science has taken on a new role as something that is completely seperated from philosophy and religion or really anything that would point to what it means to be a human being. This would seem to put us on a path that is in the opposite direction of finding who we really are (being in touch with the Soul of the World, or whatever you want to call it). To separate science from humanity and base it solely on empiricism seems like only a part of what science really could be about.
Someone just told me today that the NIH (National Institute of Health) has been putting a lot of money and research into alternative forms of medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine, for example, does not so readily see a separation between humans and nature, and thus there is not such a separation between humans and the cosmos (being that the cosmos are directly realted to nature). If we continue on the path of separating science from what it means to be human, then close of this whole paradigm of thought in medicine and science that has been working for Chinese traditioanl medicine for over 3000 years.


class
Name: Zahra Reyn
Date: 2004-02-10 19:14:33
Link to this Comment: 8106

This class is very interesting in its subject, but also in its format. It feels very divided, which I know is difficult to avoid. There is the one side where we study the history, the alchemists, the theory, the emotion. This is brought into the lab as well when I feel as if we are creating in a process that can be very personal. This is in stark contrast to coming back to the classroom and studying the chemistry beyond our work. That time seems a complete opposite, and my mind has to shift into a different gear. The classroom is filled with math and symbols and calculations that seem so distant from the colors we create. I understand the necessity of learning the chemistry, but I just think it is an interesting classroom dynamic, and perhaps others don't agree with me.


on cow piss and alchemy
Name: dr.b.
Date: 2004-02-11 10:16:27
Link to this Comment: 8116

I thought I'd answer Claire's question about the reference to Vermeer painting with cow piss. Well, he probably was. The pigment is Indian yellow. In Victoria Findlay's book "Color", you can find a wonderful account of her travels to find the source of indian yellow in her chapter "Yellow". There she writes: "For years in both England and in parts of India the ingredients of indian yellow were a mystery. Throughout the 19th century littel parcels arrived irregularly at the London docks from Calcutta, sealed no doubt with plenty of string and sealing wax, and addressed to colormen like George Field and Messrs Winsor & Newton."...."Then one day a letter arrived at the Society of Arts in London, from a Mr. T. N. Mukharji of Calcutta.... Mr. Mukharji said he had recenty visited the only place in India where it came from—and had actually seen it being made. ...he told them indian yellow was made from the urine of cows fed with mango leaves, and urinating—on demand—into buckets. And, he warned, the cows looked unhealthy and were said to die very early." !!!

Regarding Laurel's discussion about Elkins: I'd certainly like to hear others' thoughts on this, especially the painters among you. Does what Elkins writes resonate at all?

Coincidentally, I encountered last night a reference that implied alchemical thoughts may pervade our unconscious, affirming that it certainly had an impact on more contemporary artists. In "Carr, O'Kieffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own", in the chapter on spiritual aspects of their painting, the author Sharyn Rohlfsen writes about Kahlo's study of alchemy and cites evidence of where its influence appears in her paintings. She said other female painters of the time also had affinities for alchemy, mainly its symbolism rather than for any scientific reasons. Further, she writes that psychologist Carl Jung also studied and wrote about alchemy. He felt that there was alchemical symbolism, largely ignored by Christianity, that still pervades our unconscious wit archetypal symbols and ways of thinking. Intriguing, isn't it?


random quote
Name: Devon
Date: 2004-02-17 19:30:22
Link to this Comment: 8257

Just to let you all know I'm on alot of codine right now but I found this quote online and thought ti was pertinent to this class, that or it might me the drugs. :)

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813 - 1887),


PMA
Name: Zahra Reyn
Date: 2004-02-18 16:22:48
Link to this Comment: 8271

I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this past weekend, and I found myself looking closer at the paintings. I got as close as I could to the paintings to look at the pigments. It was interesting to note the differences in quality of paints. There were many paintings where the colors seemed tainted and changed from their original hues. Then there were those where the pigments seemed as bright and vibrant as I imagine they were hundreds of years ago. This class certainly gives you a different perspective when looking at art.


soul sharing
Name: dr.b.
Date: 2004-02-18 23:21:16
Link to this Comment: 8279

When I read the quote in Devon's posting above, it made me think about the response of many people to one particular watercolor I have done. This painting,far more than any other, evokes very positive responses from folks; they seem drawn to it. Is it because my soul was more present during its creation?
(or is it the ultramarine?)


LA BUTTE MONTMARTRE PARIS FRENCH
Name: la butte m
Date: 2004-02-21 15:36:06
Link to this Comment: 8338

Pages from Art History of art journal THE SECRETS OF PERFECTION In Remembrance of portrait artist José Galvan (1910-2001). Paris Montmartre. Magic Art Impressionism BIOGRAPHY of GALVAN José - painter with MONTMARTRE Workshop:31, street Gabrielle - PARIS 18th GALVAN José - ASPE (Province of ALICANTE - Spain) July 30, 1910 - BENIDORM (Spain) August 25, 2001. To the 19 years age, it went to live with ALCOY (Spain) and works in an industrial school where it draws copies. There, its Professors notice his work and direct it in the section "drawing according to nature". After the civil war, it follows courses of the evening to BARCELONA (school REAL CIRCULO ARTISTICO).Il paints alive models then. It exposes the naked ones, portraits and landscapes in BARCELONA, PERPIGNAN (1959-1960) and in MONTPELLIER. GALVAN settles in BUTTE MONTMARTRE in PARIS in 1962 and exposes to the Living room of free Art. With the Large Palate, it is present at the exposure of the Spanish painters of PARIS, organized by the Ministries for the Culture of France and Spain. With MONTMARTRE, it takes part in the manifestations of the Town hall of XVIIIe and shows its works in the church hall of theSaint-Pierre church. The biography of the Spanish painter José GALVAN appears in the DICTIONARY OF PAINTERS A MONTMARTRE (1999) - Editions Andre ROUSSARD - 13, street of the Mount Cenis 75018 PARIS FRANCE. ************************************************************************** Spanish artist José Galvan settled in Paris in 1962 and from this time his life became connected with Montmartre for ever. In last two centuries shrine of art Montmartre lodged a lot of artists from different countries, those who flew their own countries and sought safety or those who sought romance and colleagues leading world's artists. From the nineteen century Paris dictated not only fashion, but also movements of art. Origin of modernism also can not be disembodied from France. But modern art did not touch the most sensitive soul of artist José Galvan. Art impressionism cast a glamour the artist, and he chose this mean of artistic expression. As like Masaccio was born with temperament of Giotto in next century as artist José Galvan was born with temperament of Renoir. Looking at his pictures we feel how strong were his feelings to his native country Spain, its harbors, its songs, dancers and showgirls, to Paris and Parisians. Only being in Montmartre, walking on the ground that was stepped by his favorite artists was for him supreme happiness. This happiness made him got dizzy, because this happiness was too large for a human being. This happiness was a reason of his long enough life. It seems inspiration never leaves him. In some aspects creative work of José Galvan can be related with sentimentalism of Spanish artist Murillo and with tenderness of young Goya. Yes, art of José Galvan is sweet, sweet to inconceivable degree, but this sweetness is so true, poetic, sublime and excused that the author can not be objurgated in any case. We can compare Galvan's copy of Renoir LES JEUNES FILLES AU PIANO with original for the seeing their differences that are the differences between French impressionism and its variation by Galvan. Galvan is more monumental, broad brushed. If Renoir concerns more about details, Galvan about the whole of picture. José Galvan paints mixing paints on palette. Galvan's contrasts of values are less, lights warmer and softer, motions of figures also softer and more natural, lines play greater role. Galvan is a master of wavy vibrating line. Especially it is seen in drawing below TROIS ETUDES DE NUS. Galvan more spiritual. He converts prose of Renoir into poetry. Thus we may conclude that painting of José Galvan is particular mixture of French impressionism and Spanish classical art. If Renoir went toword modernity, José Galvan tried to seek eternal valuables. Jurate Macnoriute TO CLICK ON The WEB Of the ARTIST http://josegalvan.1stOK.com http://quebec.to/f/galvan http://josegalvan.fluo.net


Words
Name: Laurel
Date: 2004-02-22 12:08:44
Link to this Comment: 8349

I was doing something completely unrelated online and I came upon a word ladder program that promised that it could 'literally' change lead into gold. So I tried it and this is what it gave me:
LEAD
LOAD
GOAD
GOLD
So there you go, how to change lead into gold. The progam is named Alchemy.


More Alchemy
Name: Catherine
Date: 2004-02-26 00:19:20
Link to this Comment: 8514

Well, so it isn't really quite alchemy, but it sort of/kind of/almost is, and it's really pretty (and late:) ). (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/) This is a really cool website, and the picture for today (Feb 26) promised to be alchemical. And it is. _And_ it's really pretty. So.





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