Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

While for most people the words “wooden type” might not cause immediate excitement, once you step into the Hamilton Wood Type museum in Two-Rivers Wisconsin, that quickly changes.

The history of wooden type has seen it fall in and out of favor many times over the years. Movable wooden type was first developed in China around 1040 AD, though was rejected in favor of clay type, due to the presence of wood grain in the print, and the warping of the wood blocks due to the ink.

Wooden type returned to in China in the 1200s when a cheaper and more efficient method of producing it (including typesetting with bamboo strips to hold the blocks in place) was developed, making wood type a worthwhile alternative to clay. In 1834, William Leavenworth brought the use of wooden type back to America for much the same reasons, it was cheaper then lead, and now, it could be carved by machine, making it much more uniform.

Then in 1868, a young man named Edward J. Hamilton was asked by a rushed printer, with no time to order a special type set from Chicago, to carve a set of wooden type. Hamilton did so on a foot-powered scroll saw on his mothers back porch, and the type was a hit. By 1900 Hamilton was the largest wooden type provider in the United States. Many of America’s most famous printed materials were done in Hamiltons’s wooden types including the infamous “Wanted” posters so often seen in westerns.

Over time, wooden type, and then physical type altogether fell out of common usage. Today the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum “dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type.” The museum is run by volunteers from the Two Rivers Historical Society, has over “1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns.”

The museums most impressive display is the 145-foot wall of type, the world’s largest wall of wood type and the 1,000s of different styles of wooden type in drawer after drawer. The museum also has “a fully functional workshop and educational venue” ‘illustrating antique printing technologies including the production of hot metal type, hand operated printing presses, tools of the craft and rare type specimen catalogs.”

As letterpress and other, once largely forgotten forms and crafts of typography come back into style, it seems wooden type, and the Hamilton museum which has kept the tradition alive, is once again ready for the spotlight.

Via: AtlasObscura.com


American Gothic Models

American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood’s inspiration came from a cottage designed in the Gothic Revival style with a distinctive upper window and a decision to paint the house along with ‘the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.’

The painting shows a farmer standing beside his spinster daughter (not his wife, as so many parodies and references assume). The figures were modeled by the artist’s dentist and his sister.

Via: The PreSurfer

Exploring the Mysterious Portolan Maps

Section of the amazingly accurate 1559 map by Mateo Prunes.

One of the most mysterious topics in world history concerns a handful of maps depicting the world’s geography with a precision that far exceeded the tools and abilities of the day’s mapmakers. The Library of Congress convened a conference, “Re-Examining the Portolan Chart: History, Navigation and Science” to discuss maps originating about 1275.

According to today’s Washington Post: It is a rare representative of one of the world’s greatest and most enduring mysteries: Where and how did medieval mapmakers, apparently armed with no more than a compass, an hourglass and sets of sailing directions, develop stunningly accurate maps of southern Europe, the Black Sea and North African coastlines, as if they were looking down from a satellite, when no one had been higher than a treetop?

The earliest known portolan (PORT-oh-lawn) chart, the Carta Pisana, just appears in about 1275 — with no known predecessors. It is perhaps the first modern scientific map and contrasted sharply to the “mappamundi” of the era, the colorful maps with unrecognizable geography and fantastic creatures and legends. It bears no resemblance to the methods of the mathematician Ptolemy and does not use measurements of longitude and latitude.

And yet, despite it’s stunning accuracy, the map “seems to have emerged full-blown from the seas it describes,” one reference journal notes. No one today knows who made the first maps, or how they calculated distance so accurately, or even how all the information came to be compiled.

While maps such as the Carta Pisana are indeed worthy of in-depth research, I’m also drawn to even more mysterious examples, such as the Piri Reis map from 1513, which has been the topic of a couple of books, the most fun ~ even if perhaps not the most accurate ~ being Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, first published by Charles Hapgood in 1966.

History Of The Color Wheel

A color wheel is a circular diagram in which primary and usually intermediate colors are arranged sequentially so that related colors are next to each other and complementary colors are opposite.

The first color wheel has been attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, who, in 1706, arranged red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet into a natural progression on a rotating disk. As the disk spins, the colors blur together so rapidly that the human eye sees white. From there the organization of color has taken many forms, from tables and charts, to triangles and wheels.

Check out this excellent post on ColourLovers Blog that tells all about the many different types of color wheels.

Via: ThePresurfer

American Pop-star, Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, startled the art world in 1962 by exhibiting paintings based on comic book cartoons. From his studio in New York City, Roy Lichtenstein did cartoon inspired paintings that helped launch the Pop Art movement. He was unique in that he developed a new visual language in an avant-garde style that was disruptive to viewers and yet was accessible and popular with them. He also did innovative art work that incorporated many late 20th-century movements and addressed a number of social issues.

His thirty-five year career of public recognition was celebrated in 1993-94 by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York with a large scale retrospective of his work.

Born in Manhattan Roy went to high school there. By age 14, he was taking art classes at the Parsons School of Design and also studied briefly with Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League in 1939. He then attended Ohio State University where his major influence was Hoyt Sherman, whose figure-ground relationships inspired Lichtenstein’s treatment of cliche subjects.

In 1943, he was drafted into the Army and served in Europe and then returned to Ohio State, completing his BFA and MFA and then teaching at that campus. From Cleveland, Ohio, he made frequent trips to New York and started to exhibit there in 1949. In the 1950s, he used various techniques of Abstract Expressionism, did figurative work, and like many of his generation, began employing pop art images. But he was searching for a style.

In 1957, he left Cleveland to teach at New York University in Oswego, New York, and in 1961, he began teaching at Rudgers University, where one of his colleagues, Allan Kaprow, used cartoon figures. Through Kaprow, he met many renegade New York artists including Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.

In 1962, he had a landmark exhibition at the Castelli Gallery that showed enlarged depictions of advertisements and comic strip images. In fact, it was gallery owner Leo Castelli who, as a major promoter of the contemporary art scene, was a key person in launching Roy’s career.

Although Lichtenstein’s pop paintings had widespread popular acceptance, he began in 1965 to do Abstract Expressionism, but in contrast to others in that style, he did work that was hard and static. In the 1990s, he did large-scale abstract interiors, and he also worked in ceramics and enamelled steel.

Throughout his career, he appeared in many documentary films and did posters for entertainments including Bill Clinton’s United States presidential campaign. Lichtenstein’s murals are in Dusseldorf, Germany; Tel Aviv, Israel; and New York City. He died unexpectedly on September 29, 1997, from viral pneumonia, having worked until the time of his death.

Via: jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Signage & Polaroid Negatives

Check out this excellent work by Craig Crutchfield.

Crutchfield is a designer at McGarrah Jesse who documents old signage, afraid that soon they will all be gone. To do so, he uses the negatives from Polaroid films, the part that is usually thrown away. Good concept. Nice results.

These are (for the most part) polaroid type 667 negatives or Fuji FP-3000B negatives that He’s scanned in color mode on his scanner. This setting gives the images a nice sepia tone. The junk on the outside of the photos is the paper and crust that comes natural to a 667 or FP-3000B negative.

Follow this link to check out the complete Flickr photo set!

2012 Doomsday: The End of the World According to the Mayan Calendar

Via: Environmental Graffiti Written by Gregory Johansson

MZPhoto: theilr

Keeping track of the future isn’t something that everyone does. We all go about our lives and are lucky to keep track of what we need to do next week. There have been many predictions of the world ending, whether from psychics, doomsayers, the quatrains of Nostradamus or the Bible, and now we are being told that the world will end in 2012. And not just any day in 2012; they even have it down to the month and day. Dec 21, 2012. Mark your calendar.

Does this put people into a panic? No one may be panicking yet, but it could be in the back of many minds these days. Natural disasters seem to be happening all over the world at a faster rate than we are used too, and movies portraying such events only serve to remind us more.

mayan jadePhoto: John Hill

The Mayan Calendar comes from what is called the ‘Long Count Calendar’. There are definitely enough books about it as well as information being passed around the internet. The calendar starts over every 5000 years, and exactly this event is coming up in our time on December 21, 2012.

mayan ruinsPhoto: chensiyuan

So people believe the world will end or at least have this huge apocalypse on or around that date. Scientists get in on this act, saying that the sun will be closer to the earth and the gravitational pull could bring larger sun spots. Some say the world will tip over and the North Pole will be the South Pole. Thanks for keeping us calm, scientists.

mayan statuePhoto: Peter Andersen

Of course, one might question the predictive powers of a people who couldn’t see the fall of their own empire coming. the Aztecs, for comparison, predicted the return of the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl on a certain date, which Cortez showed up on, bringing the cataclysm the priest had predicted.

Interesting, but I’m not holding my breath.

Guernica – Picasso’s Masterpiece in Animated Form

This is a wonderful piece of work in itself but tells the story of Guernica – considered by many to be Picasso’s masterpiece. Guernica demonstrates graphically the tragedy of war and the suffering that it brings to ordinary individuals, particularly innocent civilians.

The work gained monumental status and is a perpetual reminder of the consequences of war, an anti-war symbol, and also an embodiment of peace. On its completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour and became famous and widely acclaimed. The tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention as the incident at the village of Guernica was one of the most unwarranted episodes in Spanish history.

This fantastic video was made by Evgeny Popov and the sound production and the marvelous Spanish guitar is by Maxim Alechin. Popov is a graduate of the Saint Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences. He works as a multimedia director, editor and CG artist – as well as being handy with a camera too.

The Sacred Grove of Bomarzo

Via: A&A by art historian John-Paul Stonard

Like many other Italian Renaissance gardens, Vicino’s Sacro Bosco was anything but ornamental. Constructed rather with images and ideas, the garden and its statues can be read by the enlightened visitor like a book, providing a philosophical journey through themes such as love, death, memory and truth. Vicino’s garden-book is, however, obscure and ambiguous, and requires a knowledge of poets such as Dante, Petrarch and Ariosto to unravel; every reading produces a different set of ideas that reflect the complex personality of Vicino himself.

The visitor is nevertheless spared carrying around a library of Italian medieval and renaissance poetry by the many inscribed quotations that Vicino placed around his garden. On the pedestal of one of a pair of sphinges found in the garden is a typically gnomic sentence: CHI CON CIGLIA INARCATE / ET LABBRA STRETTE / NON VA PER QUESTO LOCO / MANCO AMMIRA / LE FAMOSE DEL MONDO / MOLI SETTE (He who does not visit this place with raised eyebrows and tight lips will fail to admire the seven wonders of the world.)

Vicino is boasting of his garden, but also paraphrasing Ariosto’s poem Orlando Furioso, suggesting that the theme of the poem, unrequited love and loss, is one of the keys to his philosophical garden. Further clues to the meanings of the sacro bosco may be revealed by looking at a few of its many statues and monuments.

The Wrestling Colossi

Though the meanings of the statues in Vicino’s garden were consciously determined, their placement was not; they were carved directly from large stones as they were found in the landscape. The two massive stone figures near the original entrance of the grove must have been carved from an enormous lump of stone, and their titanic struggle certainly reflects the task of their unknown sculptor. The significance of the figures was lost for centuries – there are no records hinting at the meaning of the two colossal figures struggling, one apparently ripping the other in two. An inscription on a wall nearby however provides a clue that they may have been derived from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso: SE RODI ALTIER GIA FV SVO COLOSSO / PVR DI QUESTO IL MIO BOSCO ANCHO SI GLORIA / E PER PIV NON POTER FO QVANT IO POSSO (If Rhodes previously took pride from its Collossus so by this one my wood is glorified and further I can do no more than I have done)

In his poem Ariosto had compared a garden – in his case a garden of love – with the wonders of the ancient world. The standing Collosus has further been identified with the hero of the poem Orlando, who, during a particularly frenzied stage of his adventures, as he is wandering through a forest, driven mad at the loss of his beloved Angelica to another man, comes across two woodsman, one of whom he slaughters by exactly the method depicted by Vicino’s giants – he catches him by the legs and tears him in two.

The combination of these two references suggests a garden dedicated not only to divine love, but also to the violence of passion and the madness of loss, reflecting, perhaps, the state of Vicino’s mind at the loss of his wife Giulia.

The War Elephant

Elephants carrying castles were popular symbols in Mediaeval and Renaissance art. They stood for both strength and restraint, and often referred to ancient history, in particular Hannibal’s famous use of Elephants to invade the Italian peninsular. The Bomarzo elephant is a curious instance of this tradition, especially so since it holds a presumably wounded or dead Roman soldier in its trunk, who in turn holds an unidentified object loosely in his right hand. According to Lang (1957), this elephant and castle refers to a biblical story, that of Eleazar in The Book of Maccabees. Eleazar slays the elephant of King Antiochus V Eupator, but is killed in turn under the weight of the collapsing beast. Although this is possible, the Bomarzo soldier is being lifted by the elephant rather than crushed. The biblical elephant would, as Bury (1985) points out, certainly have been an Indian elephant, whereas the Bomarzo is African.

The Dragon Fighting a Pair of Lions

In Medieval iconography, the lion is the noblest of animals, and likened to Christ. The dragon is likened to Satan and represents evil. Darnall and Weil’s  interpretation of the Bomarzo Dragon and Lions, based on this confrontation of virtue and vice, and suggestion of the sacrifice of divine love, has been challenged by another view that reverses the relation, seeing the Dragon as representing prudence, the lions, strength. J.B.Bury bases this interpretation on the precedent of a Leonardo drawing of the same subject, in which the Dragon and Lion are labeled with their respective virtues. That the Dragon is not overpowered by the lions, and holds a lion cub without harming it in his tail, symbolizes, according to this interpretation, prudence overcoming force. Bury suggests that the Dragon is therefore an emblem for Giulia, to whom the garden is dedicated.

The Mouth of Hell

The crumbling inscription around the lips of this extraordinary infernal vision; OGNI PENSIERO VO(LA) (all reason departs) can be completed by Giovanni Guerra’s drawing in which he noted the inscription as LASCIATE OGNI PENSIERO VOI CH’ENTRATE (abandon all reason, you who here enter). The reference to Dante’s inscription above the mouth of hell is clear, although Dante’s damned are told to abandon hope – speranza – rather than reason. Inside Vicino’s hell there is a picnic table, formed by hell’s tongue, and seating space for a small party.

The Covered Bench

There are a number of shaded and hidden seats in the garden, notably in the Nymphaeum, inviting lovers to linger. This covered bench has a well preserved inscription that dwells on the type of worldly visitor that the garden required, for all its nuanced meanings to unfold: VOI CHE PEL MONDO GITE ERRANDO / VAGHI DI VEDER MARAVIGLIE ALTE ET / STUPENDE, VENITE QVA, DOVE SON / FACCIE HORRENDE, ELEFANTI, LEONI, / ORSI, ORCHI ET DRAGHI (You who have travelled the world wishing to see great and stupendous marvels, come here, where there are horrendous faces, elephants, lions, bears, orcs and dragons)

The Harpies and Mermaids

Many of the features of Vicino’s garden were based, through archaelogical and literary investigation, on ancient Roman models. This was certainly the case with the Hippodrome garden – a large, race-track shaped garden that Vicino based on those common in Roman villas. Those entering the garden, if sufficiently iconographically trained, are warned of a potential threat by the presence of large pinecones and acorns decorating the perimeter. Acorns emblematise the Golden Age, pinecones death, making the Hippodrome a false paradise for unprepared visitors. Such a threat becomes more pressing in the form of three female figures who roam the Hippodrome; one with bifurcated fish-tails, one with a dragon’s tail, claws and wings, the other surmounting a bench on which only the most foolhardy would sit. These Harpies, according to Darnall and Weil, make another connection with Orlando Furioso, the episode where the King of Ethiopa, Prester John, is rescued from harpies by the hero Astolfo, who drives the harpies into the mouth of hell using magic. Bury contests the identification of the fish-tailed figure as a Harpy, pointing out, rather sensibly, that she is more likely to be a Mermaid.

Also in the Hippodrome can be found part (the socle) of a copy of the Meta Sudans, an ancient fountain that once stood in Rome between the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. The inscripition carried on this base reinforces the idea that the Hippodrome represents a terrestrial paradise: CEDAN ET MEMPHI ET OGNI ALTRA MARAVIGLIA / CH HEBBE GIA IL MONDO AL PREGIO AL SACRO BOSCO / CHE SOL SE STESSO E NVLL ALTRO SOMIGLIA (Memphis and every other marvel that the world has held in praise yield to the Sacro Bosco that resembles itself and nothing else)

Mask of Madness / Fortified Sphere

This highly curious combination of grotesque mask, given a distinctly Aztec appearance, and sphere topped by a castle has no clearer explanation than many of the other features of the Sacro Bosco. The combination may refer again to Vicino’s distraught, disturbed state at the loss of Giulia; the sphere (sfero), as Lang suggests, can traditionally, via a pun, represent hope (spero), particularly hope for love.

The Tempietto

The philosophical journey through the sacred grove ends at a strangely constructed temple. This was built by Vicino as the culmination of his memorials to Giulia, and as a symbol of her constancy. We know this latter detail from a book published in 1556, Le Imagine del tempio della signaro Giovanna Aragona, by Giuseppe Betussi, in which Giulia Farnese Orsini is referred to as amongst the most virtuous ladies of Italy, on account of her constancy, having remained faithful to Vicino during the long periods when he was absent at war. Drawings by Giovanni Guerra show that the temple, now quite bare, was once adorned with a number of symbols including the zodiacal signs, crucifixion and resurrection scenes, and a sun that looked out from the east overlooking the Sacro Bosco. Solar light symbolizes the revelation at the end of the philosophical journey through Vicino’s Sacro Bosco, the visitor emerging out of the wood, with its fantastical and cautionary bestiary, to the idea of divine love, emanating from the purity of Giulia, and embodied in the architecture of the Tempietto.

The Labyrinth at Knossos

According to ancient greek myths, the great greek King Aegeus was forced to pay tribute to King Minos of the Minoans, whose kingdom was on the island we now call Crete. Every year the tribute included seven young men and seven young maidens. Underground far below King Minos’ palace at the city of Knossos lay a huge maze built for him by the inventor and master architect Daedalus. Inside the maze Minos kept a monster called the Minotaur. The Minotaur was a hideous creature that was half man and half bull. The fourteen young people from Greece would be let loose into the maze, the labyrinth, where they would become hopelessly lost and eventually be eaten by the Minotaur.

According to the legend, King Aegeus’ son, Thesesus, decided to volunteer as one of the sacrificial victims, so that he could attempt to kill the Minotaur. Thesesus was successful. He slew the Minotaur, then used a trail of twine he’d started laying down at the entrance of the labyrinth to find his way out of the maze.

So how much of this incredible tale is based on reality? Ancient writers from Roman times argued that the Labyrinth was a set of winding caves they knew were located on the south side of Crete at Gortyna. In the early 19th century C.R. Cockerell visited these caves and wrote in his journal that he and his party entered the cavern through an inconspicuous hole in the hillside of Mount Ida and unwound a length of twine to keep from getting lost. “The windings,” wrote Cockerell, “bewildered us at once, and, my compass being broken, I was quite ignorant as to where I was. The clearly intentional intricacy and apparently endless number of galleries impressed me with a sense of horror and fascination I cannot describe. At every ten steps one was arrested, and had to turn to right or left, sometimes to choose one of three or four roads. What if one should lose the clue!”

The caves at Gortyna, as much as they might seem to fit the legend are in the wrong place as the Labyrinth was supposedly located at Knossos. Some writers have speculated that another similar set of caves, now lost, near Knossos served as the Labyrinth, but modern archaeologists have come to another conclusion.

Archaeologists have found no evidence that a horrible half-man, half-bull-like creature existed at Knossos. However, they have found what looks like a labyrinth. The labyrinth wasn’t built in a cave below the palace, though. It was the palace.

The Minoans are a mysterious people. We do not know where they came from, but they seemed to have arrived in Crete about 7000 BC. By all indications the Greeks feared the Minoans, but the Minoans did not seem like a warlike people (their cities had few fortifications). Little is known about the Minoan’s religion or their form of government. We cannot read the writing they left behind. In fact, researchers have been unable to figure out even by what name the Minoans called themselves. The term Minoan comes from the legend of King Minos and was coined by archaeologists because they needed a term to describe their discoveries at Knossos.

If the Minoans had power it must have come from trade, not war. They exchanged goods with peoples from all around the eastern Mediterranean. Ostrich plumes came from northern Africa, alabaster from Egypt, gold and silver from the Aegean Islands and ivory from Syria. All of these goods passed through Minoan hands, making Mionan profits, on their way to distant destinations.

The wealth from the trade financed a number of palaces on Crete, the largest of which was the palace at Knossos. Archaeologists are not exactly sure who lived in the Knossos palace. However, they have uncovered a quantity of ceremonial and religious imagery there. This leads some to believe that the chief occupant of the building was a ‘priest-king’ who had the dual function of leading the state and the religion. Other scholars see the palace as a only a temple. Others as a center for trade.

Whatever the palace’s function, the building itself was enormous. It contained hundreds of rooms at many levels grouped around a central courtyard. The palace had storerooms, bathrooms, private apartments, public rooms, workshops and even what appears to be a throne room. Some of the storerooms contained dozens of huge jars, called pithoi, which were used to contain olive oil. According to some estimates 60,000 gallons of olive oil could be put in these, which is a testament to the Minoan’s wealth.

While there is no archaeological evidence of a labyrinth, the palace itself to a visitor must have seemed like an intimidating maze of corridors, staircases and rooms. This is probably where the legend of the labyrinth began. An early version of the palace was started around 1900 BC, but was demolished for a grander one in 1700 BC. Unlike the Greeks, the Minoans did not consider symmetry an important attribute of architecture. Rooms and halls seem to be added almost at random, though they were undoubtedly placed with a practical purpose in mind. The lack of symmetry does not mean the palace was ugly. Each room had its own beauty and many were decorated with frescoes. The palace reflected the Minoans practicality. Much of the structure and columns were made of wood, which was more likely to survive an earthquake than stone. The palace had a sanitary drainage system to take wastewater away from the apartments. The drainage channel was even designed with zigzags and basins to slow down the water to prevent overflows. Many of the rooms are partly underground to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Colonnaded porches allow cool breezes in, but kept out the hot sun.

If the palace is the origin of the labyrinth myth, where did the legend of the Minotaur come from? We know that the Minoans had a fascination for bulls. Their most mysterious art shows human figures, some of them girls, grabbing the horns of a bull and leaping over it. Archaeologists have wondered if this strange and dangerous activity really did take place. If it did, was it merely a sport, or did it have some religious significance? Recent archaeological excavations have shown an arena-like structure outside one of the Minoan palaces that might have been the site of these mysterious activities. Whatever the significance of the bull-leaping, it was probably the genesis of the Minotaur myth.

Why bulls? Crete is subject to earthquakes. Perhaps the violent and unpredictable movements of the earth seemed to them like the temperamental acts of a creature such as a bull. The Greek god Poseidon was known as the ‘earth-shaker’ and was connected to bulls, so perhaps the Minoans were worshiping an earlier form of this god in their ceremonies.

Archaeologists think that the end of the Minoan culture came about 1450 BC. Seventy miles away, a volcano exploded on the island of Thera. This caused a huge tidal wave to hit Crete which destroyed many major buildings and probably their fleet of ships. The wave ended the Minoan’s ability to conduct trade, causing them to quickly lose power in the eastern Mediterranean.

Some scholars suggest that the end of the Minoan culture may have inspired stories about the continent of Atlantis. The story of the destruction of a powerful and sophisticated culture by water in one night seems extremely similar, though the dates and location must have been exaggerated over time.

High Noon

71_7Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967) American Realist
HIGH NOON, 1949, Oil on canvas
Height 27 1/2 inches Width 39 1/2 inches
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Haswell, 1971.7

This painting first caught my eye in my freshman art class back in 1985, when my high school art teacher, Jane Gildow introduced us to art history. I was immediately struck by the realism style as well as, the solitude and shadows that Hopper illustrated. Hopper once said “I just want to paint sunlight on the side of a building”. Years later on a trip to my hometown art museum, The Dayton Art Institute, I found that what I’ve come to regard as my favorite painting has been permanently housed here in Dayton since right after my birth in 1971.

It’s not the same but even though I have a framed print at home on the wall of my living room I still visit, my Hopper—as I’ve come to regard it, on limited and rare occasions. The most recent was my birthday last week. It was as awe-inspiring as ever. I’m always oddly fulfilled with an overwhelming loneliness that for some reason provides a strange happiness to me. Please enjoy the following information about Edward Hopper, High Noon and the American Realism style.

Information and copy via: The Dayton Art Institute and Marianne Richter
Edward Hopper is best known for his poignant yet curiously detached paintings of modern life, such as High Noon. The painting is characteristic of Hopper’s mature style of simplified planes, broad blocks of color, isolated figures, and detached viewpoint. The strongly geometrical quality of his paintings is augmented here by the interplay of lines made by junctions of sunlight and shadow and the interest in architectural features. While a seemingly realistic depiction of the scene, in reality the composition is highly ordered, and many details, such as vegetation and a pathway to the door, have been left out.Hopper depicted American subjects, believing that artists should respond to their own surroundings and heritage. Having studied with Robert Henri, he was familiar with the work of The Eight, the exhibiting circle with whom Henri was associated. Like The Eight’s core group of urban realists, who focused on paintings of ordinary city life, Hopper found inspiration in prosaic subjects such as gas stations, hotel rooms, train compartments, and offices: images familiar and yet overlooked in everyday existence. Hopper’s works differ from the earlier works, however, in their more ordered compositions, lighter tonality, and omission of detail. His scenes are peopled by anonymous human beings, usually physically or psychologically isolated from their environment. All activity is suspended; indeed, the absence of movement is the event.

Hopper’s fascination with solitude and specific times of day is apparent in High Noon. The woman stands alone at her doorway, seemingly removed from civilization. Although his isolated, generic figures sometimes reflect the alienation present in modern society, Hopper enjoyed being alone. In High Noon, solitude is a positive state, for the woman’s air of expectancy and hope seems to be generated by the sunlight and adds a quality of sexual tension to the painting.

This outdoor scene shows a solitary house and its occupant situated in an open prairie. The house nearly fills the canvas, and is the only object visible to the horizon. The scene is awash in sunlight, brightly illuminating the white siding of the house. At ground level, a red strip of foundation is visible beneath the white walls. The left section of the house projects forward slightly under a peaked roof, and this extension casts a diagonal shadow downward and to the right. The left section of the house has a tall window, through which a table, chair and picture are visible inside the house. At the center of the house are two white steps that lead up to a door. A woman with long blond hair stands in the doorway, looking out and slightly upward, with her left forearm raised across her body. She is wearing a sleeveless blue robe that extends to her ankles, but it is open in the middle to partially reveal her breasts and abdomen. To the right of the door is another window with white curtains drawn closed. The house has a gray shingled roof with a narrow red chimney. Protruding forward from the roof are two dormer windows, each with white curtains and shades that are partly drawn. The grass around the house is golden, but it becomes green in the distance where the ground meets the horizon. Above the scene is a blue sky with a few hazy white clouds.

Via: Alexander Lee Nyerges
High Noon is classic Hopper. Hopper was quoted as saying that he couldn’t get the shadows right in High Noon so he built a little cardboard model and then looked at it out in the sunlight at 11:50 in the morning, and because of it he was able to get the shadows and that striking line which covers the roofline down to her very feet on the steps of the house just exactly right. You look at this picture, which is hauntingly vacant, and you find a stillness of time which is so classically Hopper. The isolation, this eternal act of waiting, yet you also find the promise and hope of sunlight. Interestingly enough, Hopper who painted this on Cape Cod, later referred to this setting, which is somewhat nebulous, as “Hopper-Land”. He was clearly in a very different place and time from those people who were painting in an abstracted fashion. American realism, the essence of Hopper’s work is quintessentially American. You can place yourself in this picture because it’s, essentially an American painting by virtue of its commonality.

Circa71 previous Hopper related post: No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.

Image Dump: 102808

Coach Jules Winnfield Via: You Tube

Fly in the eye Via: You Tube

Dickins Cider Advertisment Via: You Tube

Best salute to the LHC Via: My Confined Space

Ice bullets Via: Neatorama

Road Kill Carpet Via: Neatorama

Fuck the rain Via: Art Lebedev Studio

Gadgets and technology

The 3M Mpro 110 Micro Projector Via: larryfire
At only 11cm long, 5cm wide and 2cm high, the Mpro 110 can easily fit into a pocket, handbag or computer case. Images can be projected up to 50 inches and is great for business and home use. It can be connected to a laptop using a VGA cable and also iPods, digital cameras and multimedia mobile phones using a video cable.  The MPro 110 is expected to retail for $359 and will be available on September 30th

EyeClops Night Vision Goggles Via: Uncrate
Needle-free injections Via: National Geographic

A little art never hurts

Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom. Ilya Yefimovich Repin 1876
Oil on canvas. 323 × 230 cm. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.
Via: My Confined Space

17th century Central Tibeten thanka of Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra
Via: My Confined Space


The Shield Via: The Last Apple

Lost Season 5 teaser Via: DoCarzt

Random Blog links
Where is Bob? Tales of an absentee manager
Steve Willings Blog
Glowing Monkeys