Tag Archives: art history

Fun Art Facts

In light of “The Scream” selling for a record $120 million last week, WPG Director Annie Newman shares some of her favorite arts-related factoids, below.  Store them away for your next cocktail party and impress your friends with your fun knowledge!

“For the Love of God,” is one of (if not the most?) expensive-to-fabricate pieces of recent art.  If you haven’t heard of it, do a quick google search–a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with thousands of diamonds, with the original teeth.  It is rumored that artist Damien Hirst could not find a buyer for his asking price of close to $100 million, so now he, along with a private consortium, are the owners of the artwork.

Both linseed oil, the “oil” in oil paint, and gum arabic, the binder in watercolor pigments, are also used as food additives and are totally edible.  Also, many of the same pigments you see on paint tubes, such as titanium dioxide, are also in cosmetics.  Don’t smear on some red watercolor if you’re out of lipstick, though–other pigments, particularly any cadmium color, are dangerous.

Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel laying down, as is commonly believed.  He actually painted it standing up, craning his neck back into an awkward position and reaching overhead for four years.  This did horrible things to his spine and nerves, causing him headaches, muscle cramping, and even possibly damaging to his optical nerves.

Lastly, my favorite tid-bit from art history class:  Many sculptures from antiquity are damaged-missing arms, legs, and even noses.  While the arms and legs may have just been a victim of time, the noses are almost all deliberately knocked off.  Invaders, rioters, contemporary teenagers, or anyone else opposing whatever culture or group that made the statue would chip noses off the statues of that culture or group’s gods and venerated people.  Funny thing–advanced syphilis causes the nose to cave in.  So, in knocking off Aphrodite’s nose you make her look like an old whore. Quite an affront to a god!

Next Week: “Birth of the American Artist Printmaker”

"Flying Fish Fossil" by Stephen Fredericks

Next Saturday we are excited to welcome back Stephen Fredericks, founding member of the New York Society of Etchers for a 1:30 talk.  Stephen has developed an audio-visual presentation called “Birth of the American Artist Printmaker,” which grew out of his book on the New York Etching Club (published 2009 by Rice University Press, details at the link).

Stephen’s talk covers a period of American artist activity – primarily etching – that accompanied a broader graphic arts movement during the last quarter of the 19th Century, and the underlying significance of this era defined by a national graphic arts, and etching boom – which gave birth to American artist printmaking as we know it today.  The slideshow Stephen compiled includes early ‘artist etchings’ made by members of the New York Etching Club, their applications in fine press books, early portfolios, and in exhibitions – followed by images of more commercially refined decorative art books, auction catalogues and limited editions by important publishers of the day.

Again, this lecture/discussion begins at 1:30 pm on Saturday, January 28th (next Saturday).  A closing reception for the show immediately follows Stephen’s talk.  We hope you will be able to join us!