--Dan Cummins (Board President)

Art + Science = Fascinating!

Come find out what happens when you merge art and science together!  Jason Snell is a nationally recognized multidisciplinary artist with expertise in music, computer programming, artificial intelligence, motion design, and generative art systems. For over 20 years, he’s fused these talents into multimedia projects, most recently using an EEG biosensor to compose music directly with his thoughts.  Jason’s development and design work has included projects for global media departments such as HBO, MTV, and Condé Nast. His work has earned ADC, IAB, Webby, and Glaad Media awards, and has been featured at Sundance, SXSW, the Berlin Independent, SF Independent, Slamdance DIG, and Eufonia festivals.

Join us on April 18 at 1PM for Art in the Afternoon on Zoom.

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Please Tell Us Your Views
--Beppie Weiss

Hello Art Friends

What a beautiful time of year! I have spent quite a few hours in the garden planting peas, radishes and greens. Hundreds of tiny plants are growing under lights in my basement. And flowers! So many kinds of daffodils. But sadly, with all the rebirth there can be loss. On April 5th the Iowa City art community lost a true friend. Phil Dorothy died of brain cancer. Phil was an ardent art supporter and artist. He housed our Thursday night drawing group for many years, most recently in his barn out on the road to the reservoir. I talked to him about keeping the group going in a different location and he squeezed my hand. I talked to his daughter who loved the idea. She and her sisters want to keep their dad’s memory alive, and will donate to The ArtiFactory a lot of things needed to build an art studio. It will eventually be the “The Phil Dorothy Studio”. There will be a memorial for Phil on Sunday, June 13, from 2- 6 at the Palmer House Stable in Solon. His many friends are invited.

That same weekend will be the Plein Aire event in Washington. It is being hosted by the gallery Art Domestique. Check their web page for details and plan to go and have a good time.

On the international art scene there are two items that may interest you. The Louvre has been digitizing its collections, both what is in storage and what is being displayed. This monumental task, over 482,000 works, also describes the history of each piece. It is now available to visit for free from your easy chair. Read more at NPR.
Early Van Gogh
The second item is that the police in Amsterdam have arrested the man they believe stole the early Van Gogh painting earlier this year. They also think he stole a Frans Hals painting from another museum earlier. Unfortunately the paintings have not been recovered yet.
Frans Hals
And in case you're going to Pittsburgh, you should visit the Andy Warhol Museum where on the fourth floor you can see “Warhol and Basquiat in Focus”. This is an exhibit of collaborative work, photos, and other items these two artists made during their intense friendship of the early 80’s.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Dentures/Keep Frozen, 1985, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat
So this is all from me this month.
Please send any news you would like to share to me by clicking here. Keep a sketch book with you and fill it. You never know when it will come in handy.

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--John McGlinn
Mondrian: the long(ish) version by the Art History School

This video gives a very comprehensive view of a key 20th century artist who is widely acclaimed, but often under appreciated. His growth from skilled representational work to cubist variations to pure abstractions to paintings only Mondrian could paint is a journey we all can envy.

Since we know knowledge is acquired, not gene-based, understanding his contribution therefore is fundamental to comprehending the seismic shift to abstract art in the 20th century. Same Brit commentator as last month, same fun.
­Mondrian: the Art History School

A second, short, sweet 5.5 minute look is also excellent for getting a feeling for his evolution as an artist with much the same content as above, but abbreviated… for those on the run! 

Mondrian: speed overview

This video’s narrator has more patience for folks who just don’t relate to Mondrian but are trying to figure out why. So important, so valuable, so verified by one hundred years of inspiring abstract art work.
The Louvre’s 800-year Evolution Pictured

Terrific graphical evolution of The Louvre, an art museum like no other. A bird’s eye/drone’s view simulation of the palace’s architectural growth over 800 years in animation. Very short and very interesting.

Louvre growth simulation
Recently Discovered Chinese Paintings at Edge of Gobi Desert
Introduction to a fascinating exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London 2013 on Chinese cave paintings along with ancient scroll paintings found in the early 1900s after 500 years in hiding. Beginning in 700 CE and full of superlatives, the friendly and knowledgeable tour guide covers what is important to us from afar.
  • One viewer’s opinion:
    • Beautiful documentary.
    • Just long enough.
  • My opinion:
    • Not to be missed.
    • Fifteen minutes long and ends abruptly.
Ancient Chinese Paintings at edge of Gobi Desert
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--Phil Beck

Da Vinci, Turner, Glass and Muybridge

The Life of Leonardo Da VinciPerhaps one name looms larger than any other in the history of Western art: Leonardo da Vinci (born April 14 or 15, 1452), painter, sculptor, draughtsman, inventor, writer, all-around genius. Undoubtedly, they were thinking of him when they coined the term “Renaissance Man.” He’s truly a towering figure. So where’s the Hollywood epic about his life starring Paul Muni or Charles Laughton? Perhaps he presented too daunting or erudite a subject for the movie moguls of their day.

But of late, Leonardo has been getting his due on film. The Life of Leonardo da Vinci, a 1971 miniseries produced for Italian TV, won a Golden Globe and aired in America on CBS. It’s not much remembered today, but in 2019 two significant films commemorated the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death in 1519. Being Leonardo da Vinci is an arresting Italian “pseudo-documentary” in which da Vinci (writer-director-star Massimiliano Finazzer Flory) is interviewed by two modern journalists. Leonardo: The Works, a more standard documentary, provides audiences with an up-close look and explication by experts of all the artist’s paintings (surprisingly, only twenty works attributed to him survive).

The most ambitious attempt to capture Leonardo’s life and art on film is yet to come, however--a projected eight-part miniseries, tentatively titled Leonardo, that was filmed in 2019-2020 and is set to be released on European TV early this year. An Italian-French-British coproduction, it stars Aiden Turner of Poldark fame as the Mona Lisa’s creator. At this moment it’s unknown when it will be available for American viewers. But this could be it—the epic treatment da Vinci has long deserved. It remains to be seen if it proves worthy of its brilliant subject.

Mr. TurnerFrom Aiden we turn to another Mr.Turner, J.M.W. or William as he was known in his lifetime (born April 23, 1775), the great 19th century British Romantic painter renowned for his misty, impressionistic landscapes and maritime scenes (“Rain, Steam, and Speed,” “Fishermen at Sea”). He’s the subject of an excellent British biographical drama from 2014 by accomplished filmmaker Mike Leigh (Life Is Sweet, Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy). Titled simply Mr. Turner, it covers the last 25 years of the painter’s life as he retreats to the seaside village of Chelsea after his father’s death in search of peace as well as the kinds of subjects he favors. In time he forms a romantic attachment with his sympathetic landlady, a relationship that, though never formalized in marriage, sustains him until the end of his life. Leigh, who wrote the screenplay as well as directed, was drawn to Turner because he considers him a revolutionary artist and one of Britain’s greatest. Critically acclaimed, especially for Timothy Spall’s deeply felt performance, the film received several nominations for American and British Academy Awards.

Phillip Glass - The PhotographierDeparting from film into the world of musical theater, I’ll refer you to an interesting experiment by composer Philip Glass. His 1982 mixed-media performance piece The Photographer presents incidents from the life of Eadward Muybridge (born April 9, 1830), the photographer who first used sequential photographs to study motion. Most famously, he placed twelve cameras at close intervals on a racetrack to capture the stages of a horse’s gallop. He did this at the behest of Leland Stanford, former governor of California, who was curious if a horse ever has all four feet in the air at the same time. Spoiler alert: it does. Muybridge went on to photograph many other moving subjects in similar manner, including athletes and ballet dancers. His work paved the way for motion pictures.

Despite its title, The Photographer touches only slightly on Muybridge’s darkroom activities. It deals mainly with the other famous event in his life when he shot and killed his wife’s lover. He was acquitted on the grounds of “justifiable homicide.” A hero to film scholars and cuckolded husbands, Muybridge is likewise important to enthusiasts of Philip Glass’s music. I saw a performance of The Photographer at Hancher many years ago and found it hypnotic. The music is not to everyone’s taste, maybe, but if you like Glass’s style and you haven’t heard a recording of The Photographer, I recommend you do so posthaste (I mean it--you can click on the link below).
Seen any of these films?  Tell us what you think of them, or suggest others not covered in the newsletter. Click here to contact Phil Beck with your movie comments or suggestions.

Da Vinci on Film:

Turner on Film: Muybridge on Stage and Sound Recording: Muybridge’s Photos:
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Art in the Afternoon on YouTube

Recordings of the the recent Art in the Afternoon programs on Zoom are now available on the ArtiFactory YouTube channel.

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