Leonardo da Vinci

(by Walter Isaacson) (2017) We picked up this heavy tome in Washington DC and carried it all the way home. It’s well put-together, beautifully illustrated, and fairly well organised. Whilst Leonardo the Man remains opaque, this book manages to avoid drowning in the sea of speculation, as a disastrous recent work on Beethoven does not. Leonardo da Vinci lived and died 500 years ago, and left behind a tantalising body of mostly incomplete work, in particular, some startlingly radical and luminous paintings, fanatically detailed drawings, and thousands of pages from inspired commonplace books.  Although his siege engines and tanks and…

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Haute Porn – Aubrey Beardsley

August 21, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART |

Beardsley (born 21 August 1872) was unique with his precise, mannered etchings of romantic historical pastiches, decadent and languorous, reminiscent of Japanese wood-cuts and a not too distant cousin of work by the likes of Gustav Dore. Able to work without working, the sad trade-off for that good fortune was his martyrdom to TB, Beardsley dying aged only 25.  A pity, for the great marriage of his imagination with his precision could have helped stave off the artistic morass in which we find ourselves, a century or so later.

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21 August 1911: To Steal the Mona Lisa

August 21, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

On this day early last century, Vincenzo Perugia entered the Louvre in a worker’s smock and spirited the Mona Lisa away. Nowadays, you can hardly see her, imprisoned behind a wall of thick glass…

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Tove Jansson

August 10, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

August 9, 1914: On behalf of everyone who loves Moomintroll, Little My, Snufkin, Mymble, Muskrat, et al…to everyone who appreciates Tove’s statement that “what I liked best was being beastly to Hitler and Stalin,” TVC says Happy Birthday Tove! Of all the Moomintroll books, L likes Comet in Moominland the best.

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Impressionism – the Wrong Turn

July 27, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART |

Selections from the Museé d’Orsay, Art Gallery of SA, Adelaide, July 2018 It’s worth a visit to the famous hoard of impressionist works in Paris just for the building: As for the paintings, well… A selection of 60 or so was gazed upon by The Varnished Culture recently.  Featured heavily were (sigh!), Monet, Sissley, Pissarro, Renoir, and Manet, with occasional dashes of the often-more-interesting Caillebotte, Seurat, Gauguin, Courbet, and Cézanne, and a sprinkling of lesser players. On loan, largely from the Museé d’Orsay’s basement, the exhibition has been very popular, and no wonder.  Impressionism has always been popular, except in…

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