Klimt: Philosophy mural at University of Vienna

31 Oct

In 1894 Gustav Klimt was commissioned to do three paintings for the University of Vienna entitled PhilosophyMedicine and Jurisprudence.

This is the picture he presented for Philosophy:





“…Philosophy was, if anything, more disturbing than Medicine (check last post). Near the center an amorphous face emerged from the ether..was it God? Wisdom? To the side a column of naked, sinewy figures embraced and clutched their heads in despair or agony. And below them, nearly cut off at the bottom of the canvas, a clear-eyed, sinister woman stared directly at the viewer. Who was she? What did she represent?

The University professors were horrified. There was a meeting. Eighty-seven of them had signed a petition demanding that Philosophy not be hung in the Great Hall. They considered it an affront to reason and learning. The papers all carried accounts of the scandal, with various interpretations depending on their political slant. All of the critics weighed in, some very cruelly.

“I knew this would happen”, Klimt said. “The academics. They think art is like science, or should be. They want a nice equation, x plus y equals z. But its impossible. And even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be art.”

“Kraus said my paintings showed that I was ignorant of philosophy and that stupid people shouldn’t be allowed access to brushes and paint.”

excerpts from A Painted Kiss, by Elizabeth Hickey


A Painted Kiss…Klimt’s art continues

31 Oct

“…I found a woman with red hair leaning against a slick dark tree trunk. It elicited a lecture on CONTRAST.

“…I saw the work of Klimt..the cartoons…They were only long rolls of paper fixed to the wall, but they were filled with light, like crystal chandeliers. I stepped very close to look at the brushstrokes. The paint slid across the paper in rivers and trickled down in rivulets.”

The artists studio “…had taped things to the walls: a color wheel, newspaper clippings about an actress named Limova from Moscow who had toured the European capital, engravings of buildings in Rome that had obviously been ripped from books, postcards, sketches of cubes and cylinders with measurements penciled in beside them.

Porträt der Eugenia (Mäda) Primavesi (1912)

“I gazed across the room at a pile of chairs in the corner next to the window. They were upside down and on their sides and stacked one on top of the other, the ones near the top dangling precariously. In the gray light they cast no shadow. It was like a pile of bones from the slaughterhouse. I tried to memorize the parallel lines and right angles and triangles and various tones of dark and light. Slowly the shapes sharpened into distinct pieces. I began to see each individual chair. It was a haphazard collection, begged and borrowed from friends and relatives: a stool painted white, a warped rocking chair, a tattered sofa….”



Moving on… to the fabulous mural Medicine designed by Gustav Klimt for the Great Hall of Vienna University. It was destroyed by fire in the Immendorf Palace in 1945, so only copies are now left. It was originally criticised for being a “lewd” representation of the Goddess, who is an allegory for Medicine.


Medicine, University Hall

… Alone on the left side was a nude woman, arms outstretched, who floated in space, held aloft by a watery substance, like amniotic fluid. Here was the obscene girl. Her pelvis was tilted forward in a suggestive way. All of the figures seemed to be suspended in the same viscous liquid. They were clumped on the left side of the painting like a pile of corpses. Some were in fact skeletons, shrouded in the long hair of hers. Pregnant woman, old men; all of humanity was included, suffering, tormented, dying.

It was nightmarish painting….it’s a philosophical work.




In the center her name is…HYGEIA, the goddess of health.

….” In Gustav’s allegory of medicine, Hygeia was in the foreground, looking like an avenging angel, dark, mysterious. I could not help but thing she was an Adele Bloch-Bauer type. Had he been thinking of her? Hygeia was hardly compassionate-looking type, holding her snake and cup. You could not be sure whether she was coming to heal you or kill you.


Portrait of Adele Block Bauer

This is Adele…


Excerpts from “A Painted Kiss”…on how to draw

30 Oct


Reclining nude 1888


Emilie’s first Art Lessons with Gustav Klimt:

…”Draw the brick. What is a brick?”

…clay that’s baked in an oven…

“Stoneware is clay baked in an oven too, but you wouldn’t confuse a pitcher with this brick now, would you?”

Klimt’ s first lessons in art school at 11 years old was to draw a brick.

“What’s a brick?”

A brick is a rectangular piece of clay that is fired in an oven and used as a building material

“Excellent, and draw what you see.”

“An artist can always learn by looking no matter how mundane the object.”

How do you make an object three dimensional, to show more texture?

Klimt drew upside down. It looked like a wedge of moldy cheese yet there was no doubt that it was a brick, and there was not doubt it was the brick on the table in front of us. It was more detailed than a fingerprint.

“If you keep looking you will able to do that.”

Emilie then progressed to:

“….spheres drawn with the flat of the charcoal, for volume. I drew with my eyes closed. I drew without looking at the paper. I drew in loops and squiggles, in one unbroken line, in sharp crosshatchings. I drew things i would never have thought to draw: a book lying open on the table, a dead pigeon.

“…I held the charcoal wrong, he said. It wasn’t a fistful of money, it was a skein of silk to be unwound. Held too tightly it wold catch or snare. I said that if I held it too loosely I would drop it. He said held too tightly I would break it, that I was supposed to trust it. How can I trust it, I thought, when it gives me these horrible, ugly drawings? I drew better when I was a baby and I was allowed to scribble on the back of used wrapping paper.”

All you have to do is LOOK.

Emphasizing Visual Thinking through Art in the Classroom

5 Aug

Visual arts are one way of enhancing visual thinking, the use of thinking by pictorial or visual images in your mind, as one can utilize the image to express oneself. This provides a natural and easy way of understanding and extending ideas, since the pictorial image becomes the extension of your thinking process.

Albert Einstein once said, “The words or the language as they are written and spoken do not seem to play any role in the mechanism of thought.”

Have you ever tried to solve a molecular or electrical problem by words alone? This is because we generally think visually and then convert to verbal forms later. The diagrams help form the idea in your mind first, then it becomes verbally reinforced. That is why visual thinking is the foundation of our thought.

There are three different kinds of imagery – seeing, drawing and imagining. These three work together in various ways to promote the thinking process. Seeing facilitates drawing and drawing invigorates seeing. Drawing stimulates and expresses the imagination and imagination heightens the material for drawing. Imagination directs and filters seeing, while seeing provides the material for imagination.

Drawing works in a similar way as imagination. Drawing is more than a recording of an event and more than an expression of one’s ideas. Drawing is a form of thinking, understanding and communicating. Drawing is seeing, seeing is an observational tool and when one draws something, it understands the object better.
Drawing helps you understand people’s feelings, since you begin to see people’s expressions, which show signs of the emotional state of the person. It brings vague inner images into focus and acts as the reflection of the visual mind.

When making a work of art, usually you draw it out and this process of drawing and thinking are frequently simultaneous that the drawn image appears almost as an extension of the mental process. Almost everybody can learn to see more fully, to imagine more productively and to express their visual ideas by drawing.

One of the primary ways that visual thinking is used in the classroom is in art class. Art is where visual thinking can thrive and actually does in the primary years, but once students get older, art loses is appeal for many. So its important to stress Art in the long term.
We’ll see why in the next step. Part 2.

Education through Art

3 Aug

Haliburton School of Arts

Truly edcuated men and women know that art is an essential part of education. Since modern men and women spend most of their time in a self-made enviornment, they are being educated through in and about art whether or not they realize it.
This is where the responsible educators will see to the provision of effective art programs that prepare students not only for their self-made environment, but also for the fullest enjoyment of that enviornment which is nature’s work.
The basic purposes of art education for my students is:
1. The development and coordination of the senses
2. The enrichment of the imagination
3. The development of the power to communicate
4. The acquisition of the means of transforming experience and being creative
5. The giving of order to the relationship between the emotional and intellectual parts of their nature
6. The preparation of students to be thoughtful and productive members of society, capable of making a contribution to the well being of their neighbour through the right uses of their talents.

More things like this (Chronicle Books)

21 Jul

This book by Dave Egger looks great. A must to buy, with all these great artists. Don’t know what its about though!!!

check out the Artists in this book:
Amy Jean Porter

All the species, all the time, of lamb 2008


Tucker Nichols http://www.tuckernichols.com
Royal Art Lodge

Postermaking, Royal Art Lodge

or better yet, check out the article in Marie Claire

Artist_Barnaby Barford_Porcelain with wings

21 Jul


For sure, fantasy doesn’t lack in Barnaby Barford’s work. The London artist famous for having stretched the canons of porcelain statues, has created ironic, subversive little sculptures, revolutionizing the classical subjects of a ceramic artist, reinterpreting them in a punk manner.
Check out the series Private Lives with the 1800’s family eating lunch at McDonald’s.

oh please can we keep it mummy?!’

‘shit! now I’m going to be really late!’
© barnaby barford, 2006
porcelain, miliput, enamel paint, painted wooden base

So much for traditional statues on your nice chest of drawers,

Darn I had a Big Mac and got eaten by a Pig who fought a Kung Fu monster who hit Mickey Mouse who was shot by the young shotgunner in a beautiful dress ready to be the Strongest Man in the World.

Got it!!!?? Get it!