Posts Tagged ‘art.’



[Sketch of Jane Morris by Rossetti]Jane Morris is probably the most anonymous famous model ever.

She was born Jane Burden, but married William Morris and flirted and modelled her way into art history as Jane Morris.  Her “relationships” with the Pre-Raphaelites means that her face graces so many of the worlds art galleries, arty coffee table books, art course work plates, posters, carrier bags and more besides.

[Sketch of Jane Morris by Dante Rossetti]The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were into photographic quality detail and likeness and so Jane Morris is recognisable irrespective of which artist painted her.

For me, she is the face of the Tractarians and the Oxford movement, the face of Pre-Raphalites, the face of the catholic movement in Anglicanism, of High Church, of High Victorian Britishness.

I had posters of her before I knew it was her.  I can see the charm she held over Rossetti — and I can appreciate the resemblance with Elizabeth Siddal and Sarah Cox (Fanny Cornforth)

She certainly has very sculptured features, particularly the “Roman Nose”! She was apparently the epitome of beauty according to the brotherhood.

Personally, I don’t see it quite like that; I see her as a perfect depiction of allegory — the type of artists’ model who would be perfect for representing an ideal, such as “Generosity” or “Chastity” and just about anything else, even “War”.  There is something about Jane and Elizabeth Siddal that makes them seem beautiful in the aesthetic sense, rather than the erotic sense.

For me, and I suspect for most men, Morris is an idealisation, not something to be desired.  More of an archetype really, and that is fascinating!

A mate of mine years ago suggested that Jane Morris was a bit like those strange manly females painted by Michelangelo, the classical nose, the strong limbs, the polished marble complexion. I disagreed because Siddal and Fanny had the amazing red hair, and both, but Jane especially, had the listlessness, the boredom and aloofness of the idealised female, not a bastardised man!

The really fun thing when studying these people and this movement is that there are letters and even photographs available.

[Photograph of Jane Morris] [Photograph of Jane Morris]

This blew me away. Obviously you can compare the paintings with the photographs, but the photographs are of an actual — real — wife and mother, not the painted allegorical or historical figure.

  • If you want to compare paintings and sketches with real photographs of Jane Morris, check out the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood website — it’s a great place to start looking into this fascinating movement and era.

Rossetti married Siddal and when she died, Fanny moved in as housekeeper/lover despite everyone’s view of her as a common lass.  They both grew tremendously fat together.  Through both relationships, Rossetti had a long-term “relationship” with Jane Morris, but it was a secretive affair because Morris was Rossetti’s social equal and colleague in the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.

If that little paragraph doesn’t whet your appetite for further research and enquiry, then I don’t know what would do the trick!

The whole thing is fascinating, fascinating ideas in fascinating times.  The high church artistic values of spires and stained glass, against the frugality of the stricter protestant faiths.  The strictness of Victorian moral values with the affairs of the people involved in painting them.

All of this is fabulous, dramatic and well documented.  There are many characters, many perpetrators, many artists, but in the end the face that stands out, the face that represents it all is Jane Morris’s. 

Women may not have been equal in terms of votes and inheritance (etc), but it is absolutely clear from Queen Victoria’s time, that women played a massive part in the various artistic, religious, moral and political movements of the time.




[Picture of Keith Haring's Radiant Baby]Having done an article on Basquiat, I had to follow up with a Keith Haring tribute!

He became famous for his graffiti, especially his “Radiant Baby” symbol. It was not paint, just chalk drawings on the New York underground system — but it was just amazing!

Keith was a trained and studying artist, and he grew very successful indeed in the early 1980s. He had become a friend of Andy Warhol and Basquiat and was always in the news for getting up to all sorts.  He looked kinda geeky and nerdy too — which helped a great deal, as this was a sought-after look in those days.

He seemed always to be in some country or other doing a mural. He painted weird pop star Grace Jones as I recall.

OK, all that aside, I LOVED his work. It was doodles, almost stick men, but somehow it was just brilliant.  I couldn’t get enough of it. It always cheered me up.

[Picture of a wedding invitation by Haring] [Picture of Keith Haring's dancing people] [Picture of parent and baby by Keith Haring]

They are simply a joy!  He used cartoon lines to suggest movement, but I love it when he does a very old Beano trick of lines representing wonder, beeling, astonishment, embarrassment, amazement, and even love.  How else does one transfer that in art? It reminds me of Oor Wullie more than Lowry. It is personal and personable yet anonymous — you cannot even tell the gender of the adult with the baby – parent? possibly, probably, but more importantly is the love for the baby. (I have had people tell me that it is a mother [pink] with a son [blue], but I am not convinced, and I think it is meant to be open to interpretation — I certainly identify with it as a father.

Haring rode on the street art bandwagon of the early 1980s, but he was very commercial, and marketed well.  However, today he and his work is more firmly identified with AIDS — which I feel is a shame. He was such a great pop artist, and had he lived his art and products would have built him an empire and massive brand identity.

Haring is one of those whose work is immediately identifiable — as such his influence tends to be more in avoiding producing any art that could be mistaken for Haring’s!  I like that he is so much a part of it — yet my kids can copy his work (anyone can).

For me there is a slight irony in that his work began as chalk line men in the subway, and that usually means a crime scene, an homicide, a dead person… yet Haring made the chalk man come to life.  When I see a chalk line today, I more think of happy Haring than of Weegee’s Hell’s Kitchen’s homicides.




[Patrick Woodroffe's book cover for his book Mythopoeikin]The end of the 1970s was an amazingly creative time.  A lot of genres were mixing together, and mixing with new technology too.  County music went electric and gave birth to Country Rock, Jazz fused with world music and synthesisers — and so boundaries were challenged and blurred.  Music and art became one in the album cover, and there was a great new interest in graphic design, logos, typefaces and fonts.  Yes had Roger Dean, Hypgnosis had Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead had Mouse and Rick Griffin.

Punk used strong imagery too — ransom note styles and punk fashion thanks to Malcolm McLaren. Comic book covers were getting sophisticated with fantasy art images by the likes of Boris Vallejo.

In those few short years at the end of the 1970s, the creative arts exploded.

And in 1978 I bought Mythopoeikon by Patrick Woodroffe, and my mates and I tried to copy the fantasy styles of Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Roger Dean and Patrick Woodroffe as we experimented with air brushing art onto vans and hairy bikers’ leather jackets.

Fantasy was a brand new genre at the time, and offered an escape from the bleak economic climate, nuclear cold war and doomsayer inevitabilities. Woodroffe was a Big Star at the time.

The Big Image for me at the time was a book cover for The Billion Year Spree by Brian Aldiss as it was photo-realistic art — but it was nevertheless eyes on lighted candles. The wax drip runs resembled tears, and somehow it was an image that endured in the mind. Of course it made no actual sense, nor was it making any philosophic point. But still.

I found that, on his website, Patrick has this image as an album cover by the Strawbs:

[Art of eyes as candles by Patrick Woodroffe]

We LOVED Woodroffe’s  Budgie and Judas Priest covers — and of course, his famous Greenslade ones.  You know, we actually bought records because of the artwork! This is something lost when the music business switched to CD — and now that this is broken, people can just download MP3 files.  maybe they should bring back the art?

But the link to fantasy is the strongest with Woodroffe for me.  I read a lot of fantasy at the time, including The Lord of The Rings, but also the newer stuff — one that stands out in my memory is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (by Stephen R Donaldson). The first of the trilogy came out in the late 70s, and we had to wait until the next one was written and published, and again.

This period was like that; we were always waiting for the next release or publication — magazines, comics, books, albums, books, movies — you name it , things were in a series and fans were “locked in”.

You were always on the look-out for sub-cultural references, and cross-pollination, so there was a great delight to discover that  Jaco Pastorius played for Weather Report — but also played on Joni Mitchell albums, or that a browse around a second-hand book shop would unearth a book with a cover by Woodroffe — such as I did with The Seedbearers by Peter Valentine Timlett:

[Woodroffe book cover The Seedbearers]

I loved Mythopoeikon — and still have it.  It was my very first “coffee table book”, my first “art book”, and I have travelled with it as a very important part of my youth when I have sold or given away an enormous amount over the years.




[Picture of St Christopher]Albrecht Dürer blew me away when I was studying art history. OK, you look through his works (and there are a lot out there), and you see great skill, and possibly natural artistic talent — all the usual. What knocked me out about his was that he was born in 1471 and died in 1528.  That’s a long time ago, yet his style is far more modern to my mind.

I’d say he was ahead of his times.  He lived a long time for those days, although young by our standards, so I reckon he lived well. At least he managed to miss getting the plague.

[Durer's mary Praying oil painting]I laughed when I saw his St Christopher from 1521. It was the one in the flyleaf to my Missal as a boy. It was the medal on my mother’s car key ring.  This was a universally known image.  I wondered how many people knew the image, but not the artist.

I saw the St. Jerome in London, but missed out on “The Adoration of The Magi” when I was last at the Uffizi.

What was superb about Durer, from an art history standpoint was that he brings everything together — the trips to Italy that brought together southern and northern styles, the Roman Catholic and the Reformation, the developments in printing and reproduction methods and science and crafts behind making art, the architecture, and the change in patronage from the Church to secular and state.

I loved his books on proportion (something I hold very dear) and on measurement. He was a clever guy.

I also like the fact that his self-publicity was admired by aspiring young chaps like Titian and even Raphael.  He was a real celebrity. Look at his self-portraits, he was a good-looking man. 

Durer was the Johnny Depp of his day.

He was a good and astute businessman, keeping excellent accounts, which has proved to have been of tremendous value to the historian.  If you are looking to study the Renaissance or art, Durer is a fabulous starting point. I really do not “get” why he is not better known today — he’d make an excellent subject for a movie.




[Painting by Miltenburg]Lately I have been reviewing my old graphic works, and trying to figure out where they “fit in” in my life. I don’t suppose I will find that answer, but the question led me to looking at the cross-over between what-I-do-for-a-living and what-else-I-do.

This in turn led me to an artist called Bente Miltenburg. His work resembled what I was doing some year ago.  Obviously, though, he’s a proper artist and his stuff is better.  No question. I make the remark in a spirit of understanding and camaraderie; we must have similarities!

My idea at the time was to try — somehow to get architecture into art, in the sense of beautiful things to enjoy that have no pragmatism.  I am able to admire the beauty of good draughtsmanship in a technical drawing, as much as architectural renderings.  Many an architect whose work I dislike has been rescued in my estimation by their watercolours or other artistic traits (for example, CR Mackintosh).

Bente Miltenberg’s vignettes are of that ilk — views of people-less domestic scenes, rooms in isometric perspective that can (somehow) easily be read as abstract art or as architectural rendering.  A bit like some practical 3D CAD software images — equally and ambivalently true and false, for people but without presence.

I enjoy Bente’s work and would recommend it to all —




I was mesmerised by the pattern of light on an old brick building on Finnieston Street.  As the sun set, it reflected off the highly mirrored finish of the tall Sky Park building.

[davedevine's fone snap of Building on Finnieston Street]

I saw a similar effect on Gordon Street, with the Ca’D’oro building, along with rainbows and a nice reflection:

[davedevine's fone snap of Ca'D'oro building]

And again with the old Dental Hospital entrance up near the Art School.

[davedevine's dental hospital reflection]

As a result, I began to notice more and more the reflections on buildings’ surfaces. I noticed the Gaelic School reflected the RSNO building nicely.

[davedevines's picture of the RSNO reflection]

Churches make good subjects, so I took two pictures with my mobile phone one lunchtime on Bath Street.  The subject is Renfield St Stephen’s church restored spire.  There are two office blocks across the road, the first picture is 225 Bath Street’s entrance, which is clear glass.

[davedevine's fone snap of Renfield St Stephen reflected on 225 Bath St] [davedevine's fone snap of Renfield St Stephen reflected on office Block on Bath St]

The second picture shows the church reflected in the highly mirrored building directly across from the church.  I took another picture of this building from a different angle and disregarding the church’s reflection:

[davedevine's fone snap of office block on Bath St]

I realised that there are quite a lot of buildings that attempt to be invisible by being mirrored to reflect the Victorian surroundings.  In some cases the building is almost invisible when reflecting the sky:

[davedevine's fone snap of the Crowne Plaza]

Invisibility can make a building light and feint, and nonemoreso than the new Springburn College — known as North Glasgow College, which is formed in plan by two squashed boxes separated by a sharp or acute triangular portion. The pointed bit really is pointed, and vanishes into the sky, being mirrored on both sides.

[davedevine's photo of NGC point]

[davedevine's picture of North Glasgow College] [davedevine's picture of North Glasgow College] [davedevine's picture of North Glasgow College]

Sometimes a building will be shiny and silvery, but not really act like a mirror.  There is a very strange building in the IFSD:

[davedevine's picture of foil-wrapped building]

It is like a foil-wrapped building, and it still can reflect the sky to become almost invisible.  However, this picture was taken from a narrow lane at the rear of the building, so it mainly serves to reflect light into a dark area.

I like reflections of their own sake — buildings that were not designed to reflect can sometimes do so by virtue of their glazing — a=to great effect if what is reflected is noteworthy.  I spotted this window in the Park Circus area:

[davedevine's fonie snap of park circus reflection]

Another picture from the next street has a massive mirror to lend light and a feeling of spaciousness to a moat area:

[davedevine's fone snap of mirror at park circus]

The above point of the North Glasgow College, reminded me of a picture I took with an old Nokia phone of the Science Tower:

[davedevine's Nokia phone picture of Science Tower]

I like looking up at tall buildings; it certainly beats looking down!

[davdevine's mobile fone snap of office block] [davedevine's phone camera shot of flats on Broomielw] [davedevine's cameraphone snap of the Eagle Building]

[davedevine's fone snap of Beresford on sauchiehall st]

No article on pictures of Glasgow could miss out The Stobcross Crane or the Armadillo landmarks, and of course, the Clyde itself — perfect for reflections. These three cameraphone snaps were taken from the Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc).

[davedevnie's sunrise over the clyde taken by phone camera]

[davedevine's Clyde Arena camera phone snap] [davedevine's fone snap of crane and clyde]

Hope you enjoyed seeing around my home city of Glasgow through my eyes and the lens of my old trusty Sony Ericsson phone. There are beautiful things all around us all the time — if you choose to look for them.




For some unknown reason, The Portinari Altarpiece keeps popping into my head.  Quite why this should be so is beyond me; I really can’t explain it. I studied this work years ago, and probably the last time I even thought of it was over a decade ago.

[Picture of The Portinari]

My my, how the mind works.

I remember that Tom Portinari worked as a banker for the Medici family in Bruges for many years before commissioning this work from Hugo Van der Goes for a church in Florence. Maybe the Bruges connection is the clue; we saw the movie “In Bruges” not long ago, and Ruth and I have visited the place a couple of times. Would that be enough?

In any case, this work is pretty important to me.  It was the first time for a lot of things — my first tryptich, the first work that I encountered where I had to determine characters depicted by their “attributes”, the first artwork that I had studied that showed events using a weird 3D language (events in the past were depicted smaller and in the distance), the first time I had come across sponsors in the work and loads more firsts (these are the main ones I can recall).

It was finished in the late 1470s, and is about the “Adoration of The Shepherds“.  Mary has just given birth to the baby Jesus — she did so standing up and leaning against a pillar.  This is something altogether forgotten about today.

The scene is supposed to be based on a vivid dream of St Bridget, who saw the baby lying bare on the ground (as opposed to being in a manger).

It was usual for sponsors to be included in paintings — even though they were never at the events shown. As main sponsor, the Portinari family males were painted on the left-hand panel (father and two sons), and the right-hand side (the lesser side), is the mother and her daughter.

The patron saints are there with their attributes — the spear gives away St Thomas, the book and dragon has to be St Margaret, the bell is St Anthony, and as ever, Mary Magdalene, has her wee jar of ointment or oils.

  • I went to the Uffizi a few years back with Mike, Franco and Jenny (before I was married) — but I was hurried through the Palazzo Vecchio and the big square room mainly filled with Botticellis (including The Birth of Venus) and so did not get as long as I would have liked to meet and greet this great work of art.

I always intended visiting it again, but time has gone by and I have not as yet done so — to my deep regret.  Oh, how could I have been rushed? But then, it would have taken at least a full morning after all, it’s about 6 metres long by about two and a half metres high — it’s a full wall for heaven’s sakes!  A great painting in all respects.

One of the most charming things about this work is that it was always intended to be an altarpiece (the church of Sant’Egidio), and so in the foreground is painted flowers in vases that would have seemed like real flowers on the actual altar!  I remember that the orange lilies are supposed represent “The Passion”, while the wonderfully painted white irises represent Mary’s “Purity”.

It is choc-full of such symbols, hidden codes and meanings, representations, and Christian religious art language, and yet it is painted in a Dutch, Flemish, style for Italians.

Anyone interested in art history, religious effects on culture, semiotics, language and more, would have to study this immense work of art.

If you can get to see it, take it.  I know I will!




[Picture of the artist Louise Bourgeois]Louise Bourgoise is nearly 100. Wow.

What an artist, what a sculptor.  She’s French, but really  — now — American; she lives in New York. She represented the United States at the Venice Biennale back in 1933.

Everyone will no doubt think of her as the spider sculptor, especially as she did the inaugural exhibit of the Tate Modern in London (Bankside Power Station’s Turbine Hall) in 2000.  That was something! Called Maman, it is just breathtaking.

Maman spider sculpture Tate Gallery Bankside 1999

It is stainless steel with marble eggs, and I once considered planning a road trip to visit the bronze copies dotted around the world from the Guggenheim in Bilbao to the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.  There’s even one in Havan Cuba, and another in Tokyo!  What an excuse for foreign travel — collect the set!

It was on loan for eight years before being bought for 3.2 million quid in 2008.  Louise promptly bought a Townhouse mansion in Manhattan for 4.75 million dollars, I mean, come on — she’s 98 and then she hits the Big Time — there’s inspiration. After her husband’s death, her career took off — from the 197os on, building and building… and I find her fascinating as a result.

It is NEVER too late, and you are NEVER too old!

I adore her piece entitled “The Arch of Hysteria” (Tate, 1993):

[Picture of The Arch of Hysteria by Louise Bourgeois]

I guess it helps if you know the original meaning of hysteria. This is one of those examples of best work done well beyond youth, and as I get older, I find that a comfort and an inspiration.  Go girl!




[Nagel Picture]It is marvellous when you can confidently spot a style in art, when you can say something is impressionist, mannerist, cubist, Dada and so forth.

It is even more splendid when you can confidently spot the work of an artist, the signature style, that which makes whatever this artist has produced so tied to the artist’s name.

Patrick Nagel is such an artist; you can spot a Nagel from miles away!

Nagel Picture]He is so specific, so Nagel. Like so many others before him, Nagel seemed to me to be influenced by Japanese prints created by woodblock carvings.  But what defined his personal style was, I think, blending this with an Art Deco feel to create something unique and new.

[Picture of a geisha face]The result is a very stylistic image, usually of a young woman, a bit like an over-exposed or bleached out photograph, in an Art Deco graphic setting, with the result somehow a modern Japanese white-painted geisha.

[Picture of Duran Duran's Rio by Nagel]I came to Nagel, like so many others, through his work for Playboy Magazine in the early 1980s.  I remember being so excited when I first saw someone carrying a copy of the Rio LP by Duran Duran because the cover art was clearly done by Patrick Nagel. There was no mistaking the stray black hairs, the graphic lines, that limited and strange set of colours that launched a million 1980’s bedspreads.

[Nagel Picture]At that time, just before his death in 1984, Nagel was everywhere — his style was relentlessly copied for beauty salon posters, manicurist and hair dresser sales material, so he certainly would have been a great influence on the art and culture of the New Romantics and other post-punk, 1980s social groups. I know a lot of guys who had to produce stuff like this for a living.  Nagel was the primary artist of that period; he summed up that sassy Lady Di and leotard era.

His heavily stylised female forms were somehow very feminine, perhaps because they were vague and idealised.  I admire Nagel for having his own instantly recognisable style, but — at the same time — this means that something can be too Nagelish, and therefore his style can actually be something to avoid. In this respect he is similar to Jimi Hendrix or Charles Rennie Macintosh.

[Nagel Picture for grunewald art school] [Nagel Picture]

Anyway, whenever I see one of Nagel’s girls, I am immediately transported back to those fertile and creative years, oh, so long ago now…

[Nagel Picture]




Picture of painting by Paschke - Jackie-o]I like to paint on a canvas.  Why not? It’s fun. That is until the critics arrive (and everyone’s a critic)!

I guess the good thing about giving painting a go is that it provides an insight into what “proper” full-time fine artists have to put up with from the general public, art critics, and the press.

“What’s that supposed to be?”

“It’s a boat”

“It doesn’t look much like a boat to me!”


“What is it?”

“It’s an abstract boat”

“Ah, well I bet a 4-year old could do better!”


I admire painters for putting up with this, and I appreciate it must be hard from within as well; the artist is his own strictest critic.

From comparison with peers, to trying to reach for the original, the special, the personal unique signature style… the artist is ever striving, constantly in flux.

[Picture of painting by Paschke - Gestapo]It is perhaps only once there is a lifetime body of work to appraise as a whole, that an artist can be truly seen as a major personality.

This is what I think of the great Ed Paschke. Sure, each piece is of itself, and stands alone as such, but (I think), and this seems to me to be especially true of Paschke, looking at a number of these big oil paintings in the same room, gallery, website or whatever, teases out something else; en masse, the works assault the senses.  Just look at those colours!

Picture of painting by Paschke - Espiritule]This guy is an absolute genius, and a massive influence on the art world.  His work is immediately striking as individual and different, and that is an achievement by itself. There is a slight hint of Warhol in the coloured photograph or screen-print effect, but this is more, much more, this is a style.  This is a darker side, the bondage, gimp art.  It is Batman’s Joker, it is Marilyn Manson, it looks computer generated somehow.  There’s white noise, TV-like bands and lines, neon, and day-glo — so it is work firmly of this modern time and place, yet so other-worldly!  Cheerful in colour terms, but creepy.  With Ed it’s one juxtaposition after another.

I would have loved to have been around to hear the criticisms, boy would they have been off-the-wall.

embedded video:

Anyway, I LOVE Ed Paschke because he gives me nightmares, he scares me.  I would fret and be unable to sleep in a room (or a house) that has one of his paintings on show. Brilliant!

Do yourself a favour, check out a Google Image Search: