Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

16 JUNE, 2011

A Rare Look at Michelangelo’s Private Papers


The secret life of marginalia, or what private poetry has to do with humanity’s greatest public art.

Besides being one of humanity’s most beloved artists, Michelangelo is also a paragon of the kind of cross-disciplinary curiosity and creativity I try to foster with Brain Pickings. But the origin and process of his creative genius turns out to be much more layered and faceted than previously thought. In Michelangelo: A Life on Paper, Princeton scholar Leonard Barkan exposes a lesser-known side of Michelangelo, looking beyond the great artistic achievements like the Sistine ceiling, the David, the Piet, and the dome of St. Peter’s to reveal, with as much intimacy as history’s most coveted artifacts will allow, a rare glimpse of Michelangelo’s unconscious.

Both a journey into the serendipity and randomness of the great artist’s curiosity and a record of his practical creative process, the lavish tome features over 200 museum-quality reproductions of Michelangelo’s most private papers and sketches. The drawings and doodles are sprinkled with bits of poetry, personal budgets, contracts, memos to self and other ephemera of the life of the mind, presenting the first study of the remarkable interplay between words and images in Michelangelo’s work.

The book is really about [Michelangelo's] interior life. It’s an archive of the things that he put together when his mind was wandering and his hand was wandering and words popped into his head or drawings seeped out of his pen.” ~ Leonard Barkan

As a lover of language, I see as one of Barkan’s greatest feats the thoughtfulness with which he illuminates the role of the written word in Michelangelo’s creative process and the importance of marginalia in his — and anyone’s, really — artistic exploration.

Desire engenders desire and then leaves pain.” ~ Michelangelo

What makes Michelangelo: A Life on Paper all the more intriguing is that, by extending an invitation into Michelangelo’s private world of words written for his eyes alone, it raises the question of whom we create for — ourselves, as tender beings with a fundamental need for self-expression, or an audience, as social creatures with a fundamental desire to be liked, understood and acclaimed.

via @DesignObserver

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15 JUNE, 2011

Dripped: French Animated Homage to Jackson Pollock


Channeling the maddening hunger for art, or what 2010 Paris has to do with 1950s New York.

Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, his distinctive art, his volatile personality and and his unusual creative process the subject of much curiosity and debate. Dripped is a wonderful and beautifully animated French short film by director Léo Verrier, paying homage to the great artist. Set in 1950s New York, the film follows Pollock’s ecstatic, passionate quest for truth, beauty and art as he finds the creative voice that catapulted him to the top of the art world — a mid-week treat of the finest kind. Enjoy:

via MeFi

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14 JUNE, 2011

Obsessive Consumption: Life in a Material World, Illustrated


How a visual record of consumerism is paving the way for mindful consumption.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Kate Bingaman-Burt‘s Obsessive Consumption project — a wonderfully illustrated visual record of personal consumption running since February 5, 2006. So I was delighted when last year Princeton Architectural Press (of The Map as Art fame) added the project to this running list of blog-turned-book success stories and published Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today? — a charming illustrated chronicle of Bingham-Burt’s adventures in a material world, spanning 200 pages and three years’ worth of selected ink drawings from the project.

The project is particularly interesting examined in parallel and contrast to Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff, which also uses black-and-white line illustration but explores the flipside of personal consumption by exposing the dark underbelly of the seemingly innocuous products we buy.

Images courtesy of Kate Bingham-Burt

And while Obsessive Consumption may at first seem in stark contrast with my advocacy of collaborative consumption and having more by owning less, its underlying message is one of introspection and insight, of paying closer attention to how we make sense of the world and our place in it through “stuff” and, in the process, becoming more mindful consumers.

You can snag an original drawing by Kate over on Etsy.

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