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Art Documentaries and Movies You Can Stream On Amazon.com Today – Part 1

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Enhance your knowledge of artists and art history with these art documentaries and movies you can stream today. I have compiled a list of art documentaries and films I  enjoyed, and that you can stream on Amazon.com. Some of these do not show up in a typical keyword search on Amazon.com, so I thought it would be helpful to compile a list. It is not all encompassing as there are still many I have yet to discover. Therefore, I am adding a “part 1” suffix to the title. I have provided the title, date it was released, quoted the summary description from Amazon.com, and added brief comments on the some of them. I have also stated whether it is free to stream with Amazon’s Prime Video, or for purchase.

 

Dan Cytron: One Artist's POVDan Cytron: One Artist’s POV – Amazon Purchase 2011 – An intimate and genuine art documentary all collectors and artists should watch. From Amazon –  “Why do some paintings sell for millions of dollars? Following a lifetime dedicated to art, DAN CYTRON, a talented Los Angeles artist (abstract painter) and Sam Francis’ assistant and paint maker, candidly gives his point of view on the art business, critics, gallery owners, and collectors. This documentary questions commercialization and celebrity and examines value, creativity, and survival.”

 

 

Brice MardenBrice Marden – Circ. 1970’s – Amazon Purchase – An honest and personal art documentary of an artist in his prime – From Amazon –  “After a few seconds of footage from 1968 of the artist working, this film moves into 1976, providing an intimate look at the enigmatic abstract painter, Brice Marden. Shot in 16mm shortly after Marden’s 1975 exhibition at the Guggenheim, it reveals, through interviews with Marden and numerous shots of his preparations and working process, the depth of intellectual creativity behind his works.”

 

 

Robert Williams Mr BitchinRobert Williams Mr Bitchin’ – Free with Amazon Prime – 2013 –  An art documentary on an incredibly talented artist who broke the fine-art mold. From Amazon –  “Robert Williams Mr Bitchin’ Explores the remarkable art and life of painter extraordinaire Robert Williams an American underground legend, examining the territory between pop culture and fine art, and measuring the multiple meanings of “success” – financial, artistic, popular and critical.”

 

 

Raven AwakensRaven Awakens – Free With Amazon Prime – 2017 – An art documentary of a passionate man and his difficult medium. From Amazon –  “Raven Awakens follows Sonoma bronze sculptor, Jim Callahan, through the whole process of creating a large bronze sculpture from inspiration to final result. Along the way we get an expanded look at what makes up an artistic life.”

 

 

FritzFritz – 2015 – Free With Prime – Art documentary of a somewhat eccentric man and his art. From Amazon –  “Two young filmmakers discover a 70-year-old, hard-of-hearing artist named Fritz and they turn his world upside down. Fritz faces his past and rediscovers happiness as the group stumbles upon just how to “make it,” in the art world.”

 

 

Peggy Guggenheim: Art AddictPeggy Guggenheim: Art Addict – 2015 – Purchase on Prime – From Amazon –  “A collector or art and artists, Peggy Guggenheim fought through personal tragedy to build one of the world’s most important collections of modern art, now enshrined in her famous Venetian palazzo. The film is a compendium of famous 20th-century painting and sculpture mixed with the wild and iconoclastic life of one of the most powerful women in the history of the art world.”

 

 

The American Artist - The Life & Times of George Caleb BinghamThe American Artist – The Life & Times of George Caleb Bingham – Free With Amazon Prime – 2016 – From Amazon –  “The American Artist” is a biographical docu-drama about George Caleb Bingham. He was a successful artist, politician, and family man… but it all fell apart. His home, family, career, and life’s work were all but lost as the American Civil War split his world in two. A century after his death, George Caleb Bingham’s work was not only rediscovered, it is celebrated as a National Treasure.”

 

The painting life of Rembrandt van RijnThe painting life of Rembrandt van Rijn – Free With Amazon Prime – 2008 – “A unique documentary of the life and the works of Rembrandt van Rijn. We are traveling with Van Rijn in a geographical reconstruction of his life. It shows beautiful pictures of which Van Rijn has drawn his inspiration for his works. A lof the buildings still exist. Through modern digital techniques, the current image changes into the painting that was made by Van Rijn for over 400 years ago.”

 

Renaissance UnchainedRenaissance Unchained – Free With Amazon Prime2015 Some hate him; I love watching his art documentaries. This series by Waldemar Januszczak makes learning about art fun. From Amazon –  “Famed British art critic and TV presenter Waldemar Januszczak challenges the traditional notion that the Renaissance had fixed origins in Italy. He explores the ingenuity in both technique and ideas throughout Europe in great artists such as Van Eyck, Memling, Van der Weyden, Cranach, Riemenschneider and Durer. This series shines as it delves into the intersection of art and history and politics.”

 

The ImpressionistsThe Impressionists – Free With Amazon Prime – 2015 – Another excellent art documentary by Waldemar Januszczak – It’s more entertaining but equally educational to Tim Marlows 1999 with a similar title. From Amazon –  “Famed British art critic Waldemar Januszczak explores the revolutionary achievements of The Impressionists. Journey from the West Indies, to Paris, to the suburbs of South London, where artists of the 19th century drew their inspiration. Waldemar describes, as only he can, the technical influences of the age that helped spark the artistic innovations and points of view of Impressionist painting.”

 

Exhibition on Screen: History's Greatest ArtistsExhibition on Screen: History’s Greatest Artists – Free With Amazon Prime – 2013-16 A more recent production covering some of the most famous artists. From Amazon –  “Every year more people visit art galleries than football stadiums. Rare collections result in queues longer than working days and museums keep their doors open into the wee, small hours to accommodate throngs of visitors. This monumental series takes you into the world’s biggest art exhibitions and on location to enjoy, marvel and delight at the stories and works of history’s greatest artists.”

 

Understanding Art: Hidden Lives of Works of ArtUnderstanding Art: Hidden Lives of Works of Art – Amazon Purchase2011 From Amazon –  “This exceptional series documents the Louvre’s study days, in which works by five major artists–Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Watteau, and Poussin–were collected together, removed from their frames, and set on easels, replicating the feel of an artist’s studio. Curators, historians, restorers, and scientists from around the world came to examine and discuss them in total freedom.”

 

Brushstrokes: Every Picture Tells a StoryBrushstrokes: Every Picture Tells a Story – Free With Amazon Prime – 2013 – From Amazon –  “Acclaimed British art critic and television presenter Waldemar Januszczak investigates the stories behind four internationally famous works of art from Gaugin, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Dobson. Each episode focuses on one painting. Waldemar takes us deep into the world of the artist who created it, including popular influences, events in the artist’s life, and any hidden meanings within the works.”

 

William Dobson: The Lost Genius of BaroqueWilliam Dobson: The Lost Genius of Baroque – Free With Amazon Prime – 2012 – From Amazon – “Hosted by Waldemar Januszczak this film investigates the few known facts about William Dobson and seeks out the personal stories he left behind as it follows him through his tragically short career. Among the Dobson fans interviewed in the film is Earl Spencer, brother of Princess Diana, who agrees wholeheartedly that William Dobson was the first great British painter.”

 

Colored FramesColored Frames – 2007 – Free with Amazon Prime – I’m a huge fan of finding undiscovered 20th-century artists. This film brings many to light. From Amazon.com “A look back at the last fifty years in African American art, Colored Frames is an unflinching exploration of influences, inspirations and experiences of black artists. Beginning at the height of the Civil Rights Era and leading up to the present, it is a naked and truthful look at often ignored artists and their progenies.”

 

The Rape of EuropaThe Rape of Europa – 2007 – Free with Amazon Prime – From Amazon.com “The Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich and WW II.”

 

 

 

Understanding Art: Baroque & RococoUnderstanding Art: Baroque & Rococo – Acorn TV Subscription – 2014 – From Amazon – “In Baroque! From St. Peter’s to St. Paul’s, Januszczak follows the trajectory of baroque from its beginnings as a Vatican-sanctioned religious art style to its ascendance as the first global art movement. In Rococo before Bedtime, he pulls back the gilded façade of rococo to reveal the deep imprint it left on politics, culture, religion, and even America’s Declaration of Independence.”

 

How to Look at a PaintingHow to Look at a Painting – Acorn TV Subscription – 2011 – Twelve, 24-minute, episodes with the casual Justin Paton. From Amazon –  “Justin Paton is on a mission: to show the rest of us why looking at a painting is worthwhile and to help us figure out how to do it. In this thought-provoking series, Paton demystifies art and answers the questions we might be too embarrassed to ask. Along the way, the New Zealand author, curator, and art reviewer takes us on a dazzling journey across the painted world.”

 

Manet and the Birth of ImpressionismManet and the Birth of Impressionism – Free With Amazon Prime – 2009 – From Amazon –  “Manet is often cited as the father of Impressionism, and yet he stubbornly refused to show with them and was careful to maintain an aesthetic distance from Monet, Renoir and others. He looked down on them, preferring his own departure from the traditional art forms. British host Waldemar Januszczak tells the story of a complex and difficult man who started a revolution that continues to today.”

 

The Hudson River School: Artistic PioneersThe Hudson River School: Artistic Pioneers – 2016 – Free with Amazon Prime – From Amazon –  “In the vicinity of New York’s Hudson River Valley, the Adirondack Mountains, Catskill Mountains, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a group of American painters led by British born artist Thomas Cole forged an artistic vision of the American wilderness.”

 

 

Understanding Art: ImpressionismUnderstanding Art: Impressionism – Amazon Purchase2012 –  Once again Waldemar takes you on a fun educational journey. From Amazon –  “In this four-part documentary, art critic Waldemar Januszczak reveals that in their time, the impressionists were artistic rebels. As Januszczak visits the locations that inspired them, he sheds light on a group that forever expanded the boundaries of art”

 

Masterworks - 1988-89Masterworks – 1988-89 – Free With Amazon Prime – Twenty Two seasons of bite-sized sized art documentaries. I love downloading these and watching them during a flight. From Amazon –  “Masterworks from the Great Museums of the World is one of the most successful series about art. The original, with improved image quality, takes us on a fascinating journey through the history of art. Comprehensively illustrated and compellingly presented, the 10min short art surveys provide a deeper insight into the masterpieces of painting.”

 

Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century – Amazon Purchase – Living ArtistsArt21: Art in the Twenty-First Century Nine seasons and counting! A plethora of art documentaries featuring many contemporary artists. Each episode usually features three or four artists segments. Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video by PBS.

From Amazon –  “Art21 produces features focusing exclusively on contemporary visual art and artists throughout the world, including the Peabody Award-winning biennial series “Art in the Twenty-First Century.” Intimate footage allows the viewer to observe the artists at work and watch their process as they transform inspiration into art.”

 

Art of the Western World Season 1Art of the Western World Season 1 –  Amazon Purchase – 1989 – Although it’s dated, your mind quickly adjusts to the pan and scan format and 80’s sound quality, as you get drawn into excellent summaries of many great works and movements. From Amazon –  “Beginning in ancient Greece and Rome, historian Michael Wood leads this eye-opening tour through 2,500 years of Western art. Four years in the making and filmed at over 140 locations in 10 countries, this nine-part documentary travels the globe.”

 

Masters of Modern Sculpture Part I, II and III – Amazon Purchase – You can stream parts I and III on Amazon video (via purchase) and part II on Vimeo.  These documentaries feature minimal narration but a plethora of important sculptures.

Masters of Modern Sculpture Part IPart I features; Rodin, Degas, Rosso, Bourdelle, Maillol, Lehmbruck, Matisse, Picasso, Lipchitz, Laurens, Epstein, Boccioni, Duchamp-Villon, Gonzales, Brancusi.

 

 

 

Masters of Modern Sculpture Part IIPart II features; Tatlin, Gabo, Pevsner, Duchamp; Dada artists, Man Ray, Miro, Arp, Ernst, Calder, Giacometti, Moore, Hepworth, Richier, Cesar, Uecker, Mack, Beuys, Arman, Yves Klein, Spoerri, Tinguely, Caro, Gilbert & George.

 

 

 

Masters of Modern Sculpture Part III

Part II features; David Smith, Nevelson, David Hare, Lassaw, Roszak, Ferber, Bourgeois, Chamberlain, Di Suvero, Noguchi, Rickey, Barnett Newman, Tony Smith, Segal, Judd, Oldenburg, Morris, Serra, Andre, Kienholz, Christo, Heizer, Robert Smithson

 

 

 

Great Artists with Tim MarlowGreat Artists with Tim Marlow – Free With Amazon Prime – 2001 From Amazon –  “Tim Marlow takes a fresh look at the most important artworks of some of the greatest artists in history. Shot on location in over 50 galleries, museums, churches and palaces throughout Europe and the United States, this series is a comprehensive survey of the history of Western art.”

 

The Impressionists with Tim MarlowThe Impressionists with Tim Marlow – Free With Amazon Prime – 1999 – From Amazon –  “The Impressionists and their circle have become the international superstars of Western painting. But whilst their popularity is greater than ever, it is easy to forget the revolutionary nature of the Impressionists’ art. In this series, Tim Marlow takes us on a journey through the great art movement of the late nineteenth-century and explores some of the most beautiful paintings ever created.”

 

Dali's Greatest SecretDali’s Greatest Secret – Free With Amazon Prime – 2017 – From Amazon –  “As the great artist Salvador Dali aged, he found himself trapped between the atheistic beliefs of his father and the Catholic faith of his late mother. All changed when he got hired to paint The Vision of Hell, as seen by one child seer in Portugal. NYT Bestseller Paul Perry investigates what lies behind Dali’s greatest secret that was hidden for over 30 years.”

 

 

William Dobson: The Lost Genius of BaroqueWilliam Dobson: The Lost Genius of Baroque – 2012 – Free with Amazon Prime – From Amazon.com “Hosted by Waldemar Januszczak this film investigates the few known facts about William Dobson and seeks out the personal stories he left behind as it follows him through his tragically short career. Among the Dobson fans interviewed in the film is Earl Spencer, brother of Princess Diana, who agrees wholeheartedly that William Dobson was the first great British painter.”

 

How the Devil Got His HornsHow the Devil Got His Horns – 2012 – Free with Amazon Prime – A fun story that reveals art portraying the devil as we know it today. From Amazon.com “Where did we get the popular image of Satan, with his goat horns and fiery red skin? In this captivating historical documentary, art historian Alastair Sooke investigates the Devil’s remarkable transformation – from fallen angel to terrifying demon – in medieval art”

 

 

Gauguin: The Full StoryGauguin: The Full Story – Free With Amazon Prime – 2003 – From Amazon –  “Gauguin is best known for his gorgeous paintings of Tahiti in which beautiful native girls disport themselves enticingly on perfect South Pacific beaches. But have these celebrated portrayals of an earthly paradise been misunderstood? And has the fame of Gauguin’s Tahiti pictures blinded us to the bigger truth about his achievements?”

 

 

The Caravaggio AffairThe Caravaggio Affair – Free With Amazon Prime – 2015 – An entertaining and unique art documentary on a very talented, yet lesser known artist from history. From Amazon –  “By the time Caravaggio died he had changed the face of the art world forever. But the paintings that now fetch millions and adorn the walls of the most prestigious galleries were painted by a murderer with a bounty on his head. In this captivating doc, archaeologists work tirelessly to track down Caravaggio’s long-lost remains, and finally establish the cause of the troubled young genius’ demise.”

 

Rubens: An Extra Large StoryRubens: An Extra Large Story – Free With Amazon Prime – 2015 – From Amazon –  “These days, nobody takes Rubens seriously. His vast and grandiose canvases, stuffed with wobbly mounds of female flesh, have little appeal for the modern gym-subscriber. Everything is too big: the epic dramas, the fantastical celestial scenery, the immense canvases. In the eyes of British host Waldemar Januszczak, Rubens has been tragically reduced by modern tastes and completely misunderstood.”

 

Frida – Amazon PurchaseFrida – 2005 – Salma Hayek, who from my understanding is a huge fan of Frida and art history, puts on a great performance. From Amazon –  “Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Salma Hayek for Best Actress, Frida is a triumphant motion picture about an exceptional woman who lived an unforgettable life. A product of humble beginnings, Frida Kahlo(Hayek) earns fame as a talented artist with a unique vision. And from her enduring relationship with her mentor and husband, Diego Rivera(Alfred Molina).”

 

The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Silent) – Amazon Purchase – 1920 Shockingly creative set design for all-time. From Amazon –  “One brilliant movie jolted the postwar masses and catapulted the movement known as German Expressionism into film history. That movie was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a plunge into the mind of insanity that severs all ties with the rational world.”

 

 

 

James McNeill Whistler and the Case for BeautyJames McNeill Whistler and the Case for Beauty – Amazon Purchase – 2014 – From PBS – Best known for the groundbreaking portrait of his mother, James McNeill Whistler was the original art star. But beneath the high gloss, the struggle of this genius to find his own voice resulted in a breakaway style that moved painting towards abstraction and would revolutionize the art world in his time-and beyond.

 

 

 

Gerhard Richter PaintingGerhard Richter Painting (English Subtitled) – Amazon Purchase or Rental – 2012– From Amazon –  Legendary German painter Gerhard Richter granted filmmaker Corinna Belz access to his studio in the spring and summer of 2009, where he was working on a series of large abstract paintings. In quiet, highly concentrated images, this documentary provides a fly-on-the-wall perspective of Richter’s extremely personal, tension-filled process of artistic creation.

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BLASINGAME ART RESEARCH PROJECT

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BLASINGAME art RESEARCH PROJECT

 

Marguerite Louis Blasingame

Marguerite Louis Blasingame

Frank Marvin Blasingame

Frank Marvin Blasingame

The Blasingame Art Research Project is an independent research project initiated by myself in early 2017. The project is a comprehensive dive into the art and history of Marguerite Blasingame (1906-1947) and Frank Blasingame  (1903-1967). The ultimate intent is to publish a final body of work that includes biographies, attributions, and retrospectives.

Who were the Blasingame’s?

Prior to this project, there was virtually no compiled history on Marguerite or her first husband, Frank Blasingame. Marguerite and Frank have an intriguing history, and most importantly, have created some fantastic art. They socialized in the most elite circles, and their works of art were lauded with positive critique by top critics of their time.

Talent, Mystery, and Intrigue

Although there is still much research to be done to get to the truth, my research has flushed out many stories and rumors.  Underlying all of this is also a story of immense passion for creative expression. Sadly, Marguerite’s life was cut far too short when she died in Mexico. Divorced prior to Marguerite’s death, Frank lived to work another 20 years.

Lovers, Co-workers, Definitive Attributions

It was also during my research that I began to realize I could not prove definitive attribution of my painting to Marguerite due to the lack of available evidence to indicate who painted it. Marguerite and Frank Blasingame worked very closely together and were a team during their early careers.

I can say without a doubt that both Marguerite and Frank collaborated on sculptures and carvings, and both had separate and distinct painting styles. I will eventually show a definitive separation between the two.

Tell me your story

I have been very fortunate to receive help from many top professionals with knowledge of the era and the Blasingame’s art. The more I research, the more people are coming out of the cracks and offering assistance and providing much-needed stories, documentation, and information.

If you have any information on these two artists, possess one of their works, or even have a bit of gossip, I would love to hear from you. If you have any specific questions on these two, I’d be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge.

You may contact me here, from the link at the bottom of my blog or email at blasingameart (at) gmail (dot) com

This post was originally published at www.brianloudenslager.com

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Richard Mann – A Little Known Artist From Harlem

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Richard Mann (1979)

This Richard Mann not that Richard Mann

I recently discovered an artist who signed his work “R Mann”. Richard Mann 1940(?) to 1990(?) a “Playwright, Poet and Visual artist” according to a biography written about him on AskArt.com. I don’t want to confuse this “R Mann” with “Richard, Rich and/or R Mann” hailing from Southern California. I have questioned his birth and death dates as I’m yet to find an obituary, however, this is what is stated on AskArt.com.

Be unique

This is a good lesson for any artist; ensure your name is unique. To be fair, these two “Richard Mann” were born around the same time and likely never knew the other existed until the invention of the internet, of which our Richard Mann likely never experienced at all. But if I were a Richard Mann today, I would use and sign my name with my middle initial and/or in a highly unique manner to help prevent confusion.

Influenced by surrealism, abstract expressionism and calligraphy

Richard Mann at some point became a Reverend, worked out of, and lived, in Harlem, New York. An unusual choice given it seems he lived there through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He is said to have been born and raised in Australia and again, according to AskArt.com, “At the height of America’s counter-culture revolution, Mann moved to New York City where he lived and worked in Harlem.” It’s said he was influenced by surrealism, abstract expressionism and calligraphy and was inspired by the social and economic environment of Harlem.

Very little published information on mann

I’ve found zero published articles about his art, and I’m usually quite good at quickly finding something. Granted I haven’t put a lot of time into researching him, at all. I bet, however, this Richard Mann would have a fascinating story to tell.

There are a few mentions of him involved with plays, “The Warwick Play of Everyman”, Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, New York) · Sun, Jun 25, 1972 · Page 15C, and curating an exhibit for Anna Walinska at the Museum of Religious Art of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New Jersey. See: The Journal News (White Plains, New York) · Sun, Oct 28, 1979 · Page 97

Black Panther Supporter

Mann is also quoted in the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) · Wed, Apr 29, 1970 · Page 2 as a supporter of the Black Panthers. Intriguing, right?

The marchers came from an orderly outdoor rally on Newitt Quadrangle that had an almost picnic atmosphere. Public-address speakers were mounted on a large pop-art sculpture resembling an over-sized lipstick as they exhorted students to protest the Black Panther murder trial. Richard Mann, “People have seen that it is happening here- the Panthers cannot be convicted. We’re going to be out there and organized.”

Interesting, powerful, limited, art

I recommend buying his work as a possible investment. His work is a powerful expression of emotion, talented in its unique execution, and there’s likely a very limited amount of works available. I have provided a detailed example below, as well as additional Pinterest links.

FYI, I have no affiliation with this artist or anyone selling his work. I’ll let the graphics speak to the depth of his talent.

Example painting in detail

Here’s a few images and close ups from a Richard Mann painting entitled “Faces of Christ” from 1987. Not a subject matter I’d usually buy, and, given the title says “faces”, I’m assuming there was a series of these. I’ve only seen this one, and I think it is quite a powerful and symbolic work of art.

The right eye is perhaps the tunnel of light people speak of witnessing during a near death experience. Where-as the left eye is dark, sad, and crying with an obvious, yet abstract, depiction of Christs’ crucifixion, perhaps crying for non-believers.

Mann’s strokes are loaded with texture and deep, rich, mixtures of color. This piece is extremely vibrant and powerful, regardless of your beliefs. Looking at it carefully you begin to see much more than initially meets the eye. From what I have seen available, most of his pieces were quite large, this is on the small size at about 28 x 30 inches.
Richard Mann Faces Of Christ 1987

Richard Mann Faces Of Christ 1987 Close Up

Richard Mann Faces Of Christ 1987

Richard Mann Faces Of Christ 1987

Addtitionally here’s a few i borrowed from the internet

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Richard Mann Collage

 

Richard Mann Collage

 

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Joe Doyles’s Star Chart Inspired by Polynesian ‘Stick Charts’

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Had a conversation with Joe Doyle today, always a pleasure talking with and hearing about what inspired some of his work. I’ve been fortune enough to acquire a few of his Abstract Illusionism pieces with plans to continue.

During the conversation we spoke about some of his earliest work, one being “Star Chart” featured in galleries and a number of publications in the late 70’s. Though never specifically written about in any publication I can find, the real inspiration for the piece came from Polynesian navigation charts sometimes referred to as “stick charts”.

Joe Doyle’s “Star Chart” 1975

Star Chart (1975) acrylic on canvas 72”x 72”

Star Chart (1975) acrylic on canvas 72”x 72”

According to Tegan Mortimer

“These are deceptively simple grids made from small sticks and coconut fronds, which represent the major ocean swells in the South Pacific, with small shells showing the location of islands. The charts showed how the swells interacted with the island shores, the undersea slopes, and currents coming from different directions. While the stick maps were easy to construct, it took many years of study to be able to accurately interpret the real ocean dynamics which they represented.”

Here’s an example stick chart.

Polynesian navigation device showing directions of winds, waves and islands.jpg
By S. Percy Smithhttp://www.nzetc.org, Public Domain, Link

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Aham – The Abstract Expression of Modern Guitar

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corrado-aham-new-albumSome of my thoughts on Corrado Rustici’s new record,  Aham. I’ve had the record for a month now and it has taken me more time than most to absorb due to the originality and complexity. If you don’t read long posts, just skip to the last paragraph and maybe you’ll come back up for the rest.

Musically, people don’t come any more talented than Corrado. I’m no musician, I like every genre of music and I never critique publicly, but for the first time this one made me want to. I will say though, I don’t think I will fully appreciate what has been done here until I can sit down with Corrado and he explains how he accomplished what he did.

Thank you letter from Corrado Rustici

Letter from Corrado.

Aham is an extraordinary forward thinking, artistic musical venture into the experimental realm of modern guitar. It creates a vision of true art, imagine your favorite abstract piece.. For those that don’t know, the entire record was created with guitars, nothing else except a couple tracks with vocals, which of course are human voices. Corrado did not use synthesizers, samplers or electronic instruments anywhere on the album! As someone who is often listening to the timbre of specific instruments this album challenges the aural senses beyond my comprehension. Why beyond? Because I have no idea the specifics of how they were created, yes I hear snare, a hi-hat, cymbals, kick, keys, strings, keyboards etc. etc. etc., but the reality and challenge to your senses is that they are not there, those are guitars, ALL GUITARS!

The opening track, As Dark Bleeds Light, is conservative and safe, a bit of an outlier in my opinion relative to the rest of the record, great timbre and a smooth track and it gives us just a hint of what’s to come as it progresses.

Upon entering track 2, Ananda’s First Steps, you begin to get drawn into Corrado’s story, the strings sway beautifully, wait, shoot, I forgot, those aren’t strings… and you hear some classic “Corrado Rustici” guitar riffs, the track fades beautifully.

The Duke and The Hare, track 3, Corrado begins to almost literally speak to you with the lead guitar, rounding out the track are what you would think are keys, and a mellow 80’s drum kit, but of course we know there’s none of that. I love how the guitar talks and the timbre of the guitar is just at the point of distorting.

Now track 4, The Guilty Thread, we enter Corrado’s foreign land, we get to hear Corrado’s softly aged voice and the fine details from his throat and chest, it’s nice. The guitar leads come and go with lightning like strikes at times, and we again get to hear classic Rustici whisking solo’s. The track is rounded out with more percussion which of course are guitar magic. The track ends like an intense dramatic movie with a long sustained guitar fade, wonderful.

Corrado Rustici

Corrado Rustici

Track 5, Roots of Progression, appropriately named, enters with a brief reminiscence of Corrado’s Nova years. We are whisked away on a jazzy journey of percussion and guitar madness with interludes of sleek solo’s and breaks into a 70’s classic rock riff mixed with 70’s progressiveness, there’s even a couple snare riffs that remind me of 90’s speed metal and we end with an ultimate crescendo of sheer awesomeness.

Track 6, Alcove of Stars, also an outlier, with guest lead vocalist Andrew Strong, we enter what I would call a very commercial tune that will no doubt end up on the sync market and carrying a movie or TV drama. It’s a beautiful and catchy tune that reminds me of a better than 80’s ballad with an insane amount of talent. Andrew’s voice is excellent especially when he pushes it.

Moving into Track 7, The Last Light Spoken, we begin entering the last and final dimension of Aham, good speakers required, I like my Focal Solo 6’s, my old Dyna Audio BM5A’s at home didn’t do it justice as there are subtle details and tricks in the track that they didn’t express well if at all. If you don’t have good monitors get some decent headphones like the Focal Spirit Pro’s. I have no idea how Corrado created the kick drum with a guitar in this track, but its freaking cool, it’s like a classic kick mic being pushed just passed the overload point, but there was no kickdrum, remember?…

And finally we enter the Aham Suite, too soon in my opinion, because when tracks 8 and 9 are complete I was left wanting more, much more! Track 8 and Part 1, The Enquiry, sounds exactly like its title, I feel like I’m in some type of purgatory awaiting judgement, it’s scary with a timbre of insanity in its subtle intensity, it ends just before you feel like you’ll break. It’s musical art at its finest. Then the weight of our enquiry is lifted and we immediately enter Part 2 Aham. Corrado, you’re not singing? Perhaps not, but wow oh wow that guitar vocal is amazing, totally engrossing and absolute wizardry. Whether you believe in some type of after life or not, this track will take you there for 5 minutes and 47 seconds. Corrado’s soloing is perfect, he’s not bragging, but rather carrying you through a wonderland dimension of finality. Sadly you begin to feel the end is near as you hit the crescendo and the guitar passionately weeps as it gently sets you back down to reality. Damn that track is amazing. I’ve held back from over listening to it as I want to savoir its beauty.
That’s Aham for me.

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Dating Nails – Does this nail tell me how old this painting is?

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In the past couple years I’ve been delving deeper into collecting art. As with anything new you learn more and more as you go and hopefully not make too many expensive mistakes. Start low and slow, right? With my previous collecting venture, vintage bicycles, I tried to finance the hobby by flipping a few things here and there, I actually did quite well and probably came pretty close to even, not including a couple unforeseen issues, like 40 year metal breaking, making a bike nearly worthless. Anyway…

1800-canvas-back

Bottom back corner of one of the paintings.

I recently picked up a couple, I was hoping, old oil paintings. The seller did not list the artist, the photos were sub-par, but I could very faintly make out a signature in one of the photos. This is where my Photoshop skills come in handy, image manipulation can really bring out a signature. After a few late night hours of research I thought I had the artist figured out, so I took a risk and bought them.

My hope was, they were by an artist born in the mid 1700’s. After researching how to date paintings etc. I became fairly confident they were at least 1800’s, but could they be as far back as 1700’s? This I wasn’t sure about.

First, it looks like they may have been restretched on the later wood, or some of the nails had been replaced. Some nails, brads really, seem newer than others. But, the oldest nails, in the corners mostly, seem pretty old. I carefully removed one nail where there were three on a back corner. Once I pulled it out I got a little excited, it certainly doesn’t look modern…

Excerpt from Nail Chronology by Lee H Nelson

Excerpt from Nail Chronology by Lee H Nelson

Image from University of VermontImage from University of Vermont

A quick search on Google revealed a plethora of sites on nail history. And from what I can tell, they look like what are called Early Machine Cut Nails with Handmade Heads, also called Lath Nails circ. 1790 to 1810. If they are in fact that old, this could date my paintings back to 1700’s early 1800’s and could in fact be the artist I’m hoping. Time will tell, as I will flip these paintings.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

Nail or Brad pulled from canvas.

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