Art-e-Facts: 5 Random Art Facts – XXI

1. Considered a pioneer in modernism, Romanian artist Constantin Brâncuşi‘s sculpture “Bird in Space” was the cause of a court battle in 1926-27 when US customs officials refused to believe that bronze piece was art. They imposed the tariff for manufactured metal objects, 40% of the sale price or about $230 dollars.  Marcel Duchamp (who brought the sculptures from Europe), American photographer Edward Steichen (who was to take possession of Bird in Space), and Brâncuşi were furious. Under pressure from the press and artists, U.S. customs agreed to rethink their classification of the items, but until then released the sculptures on bond under “Kitchen Utensils and Hospital Supplies.” (Wikipedia)

2. In the movie Inception, The “Penrose Stairs” (with a woman perpetually picking up papers) is a reference to a lithograph print by the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. First printed in 1960, the drawing is usually called “Ascending and Descending” or “The Infinite Staircase”.  Escher is well-known for his drawings exploring optical illusions and real architectural, mathematical, and philosophical principles rendered in fantastical ways. (IMDB)

3. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci may contain hidden code. Art historians are investigating a real life “Da Vinci Code” style mystery after discovering tiny numbers and letters painted into the eyes of the Mona Lisa. Members of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage have revealed that by magnifying high resolution images of the Mona Lisa’s eyes letters and numbers can be seen. Silvano Vinceti, president of the Committee said, “You have to remember the ­picture is almost 500 years old so it is not as sharp and clear as when first painted….From the preliminary investigations we have carried out we are confident they are not a mistake and were put there by the artist.” (Daily Mail UK)

4. The well known saying “15 Minutes of Fame” was coined by Andy Warhol. The expression is a paraphrase of a line in Warhol’s exhibition catalog for an exhibit at the Moderna Museet, in Stockholm from 1968. The catalog read, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” In 1979 Warhol stated his claim, “…my prediction from the sixties finally came true: In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Becoming bored with constantly being asked about this particular statement, Warhol attempted to confuse interviewers by changing the statement variously to “In the future 15 people will be famous” and “In 15 minutes everybody will be famous.” As it turns out, with the rise of celebrity culture, reality TV, YouTube, and the internet, Warhol’s statement has been quite prophetic. (Wikipedia)

5. Paul Cézanne rarely considered his paintings finished. His friend and dealer Ambroise Vollard observed that “when Cézanne laid a canvas aside, it was almost always with the intention of taking it up again, in the hope of bringing it to perfection.” One consequence of this was that Cézanne rarely signed his or dated his works making it difficult to determine the chronology of his works. (Princeton)

paintings: art paintings, portrait paintings and oil painting

Art-e-Facts: 5 Random Art Facts – XX

1. When the Mona Lisa was stolen in August 1911, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be “burnt down,” came under suspicion; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated. The real thief – Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia was discovered 2 years later and only served six months in jail for the crime. (Wikipedia)

2. Salvador Dali had a peculiar way of napping.  Daily after his lunch, he would sit down with his arms extending beyond the chair’s arms. In one hand he would grasp a key between thumb and forefinger. After he fell asleep, his fingers would relax, the key would fall to the floor, the clatter would wake him up, and he would harvest the wild associations common to the first few minutes of sleep. (Washington Post)

3. The art market experiences similar bubbles to the stock market. For example, the art market soared in 1985 to 1990, when the compound annual return of the art market was 30%. It subsequently tanked in 1991-1995, losing 65% of its value. Art experienced another bubble in 2003 through 2007, during which the art index had at CAR of 20%. This bubble too burst with the collapse of the stock market 23.5%. For the past 10 and five year periods however, the Moses Mei All Art Index outperformed the stock market, returning a CAR of 5.5% and 3.3% respectively, compared with stock returns of -1.3% and -0.1%. (Pamela J. Black – On Wall Street)

4. Natural Ultramarine which is found in nature as a component of the semi precious stone lapis lazuli, is the most difficult pigment to grind by hand, and for all except the highest quality of mineral sheer grinding and washing produces only a pale grayish blue powder. The oldest use of lapis lazuli as a pigment can be seen in the 6th- and 7th-century AD cave paintings in Afghanistani, Zoroastrian and Buddhist temples, near the source of the mineral. The pigment was most extensively used during the 14th through 15th centuries, as its brilliance complemented the vermilion and gold of illuminated manuscripts and Italian panel paintings. Synthetic versions of ultramarine have been around since 1928 though it is not as vivid or permanent. (Wikipedia)

5. Tachisme, derived from the French word tache–stain,  is a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s. It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism. It was part of a larger postwar movement known as Art Informel which abandoned geometric abstraction in favour of a more intuitive form of expression, similar to action painting. (Wikipedia)

paintings: art paintings, portrait paintings and oil painting