Chilly Paintings

 Posted by on 15 January 2014 at 2:00 pm  Art
Jan 152014

For those of you feeling chilly lately, you might be able to relate — perhaps more than you’d like — to these paintings of winter. Here’s my favorite (click to enlarge):

That’s A Late Afternoon In Winter by Louis Apol (1850-1936). I love it precisely because it’s so desolate: it’s just one man (and his horses) against pitiless nature. Oh, how warm and safe the seat by the hearth will feel after such an outing!

Maternal Affection by Hugues Merle

 Posted by on 12 May 2013 at 10:00 am  Art, Children, Painting, Parenting
May 122013

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hugues Merle (French painter) 1823 – 1881
Maternal Affection, 1867
oil on canvas
39 3/4 x 32 in. (100.9 x 81.2 cm.)
signed Hugues Merle and dated 1867 (upper right)
private collection

Catalogue Note

After studying with Léon Cogniet, Hugues Merle became a regular contributor to the Salon between 1847 and 1880, up until the last year of his life, receiving medals for his entries in 1861 and 1863. His themes of maternal love found a ready audience with newly affluent art patrons in America. In fact, by 1878-9, in his Art Treasures of America, Edward Strahan could cite as many as 52 works by Merle in American collections. His reputation was equally great at home in France, where he enjoyed the patronage of the Duc de Morny and also enjoyed the support of Adolphe Goupil, the most prestigious art dealer in Paris whose other leading artists included William Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gèrôme.

Merle was most often associated with his friend and rival, Bouguereau, not only because they depicted similar subjects but also employed a high finish and naturalistic technique. Merle was just two years older than Bouguereau, and their thematic and artistic similarities begged comparison from critics and collectors alike.

On Modern Art

 Posted by on 28 January 2013 at 2:00 pm  Art
Jan 282013

I’ve never seen a better commentary on modern art than this painting. The expression on her face says … everything!

The photo was posted here, with the following comment: “Another Spanish artist I like a lot, Cayetano de Arquer Buigas. Not on Facebook, but you can find more of his work online.”

More of his work can be found here. It looks to be mostly pastels, and many are well worth a look!

Norman Rockwell and Marital Abuse

 Posted by on 4 January 2013 at 10:00 am  Art, Ethics, Marriage, Rights
Jan 042013

This series of Norman Rockwell paintings, compared with photographs used to created them, is pretty interesting. Wow though, I had a huge emotional reaction to this photo and painting:

I abhor that painting, particularly in comparison to the photo.

In the photo, the man is clearly obstinate and angry for unknown reasons, and the woman is concerned, appealing, and uncertain. We don’t know the story of their marriage, but it’s a stark image of marital strife.

In the painting, however, the man has a very black eye, but he looks more aloof than angry. The woman is looking at him in a sly and smug way. The painting seems to be winking at serious physical abuse.

If you think that it’s cute or funny, would you say the same if the sexes were reversed? I think not. The fact is that physical abuse in a marriage is abhorrent, whether perpetrated by a woman or a man. Nothing justifies it. Nothing.

Awesome Snow Horses

 Posted by on 3 January 2013 at 12:00 pm  Animals, Art, Cool, Horses
Jan 032013

Here’s what I found about it: “Workers shape a snow sculpture prior to the annual Vasaloppet China Ski Festival at Jingyuetan Park in Changchun, Jilin province, on December 25. According to local media, the festival will kick off on January 2, 2013.”

Happy New Year!

Japanese Ode to Joy

 Posted by on 17 October 2012 at 2:00 pm  Art, Business, Culture, Music
Oct 172012

This 2011 Japanese performance of my absolute favorite segment of music — Beethoven’s Ode to Joy — was dedicated to the survivors of the tsunami. I don’t think that the ginormous crowd of singers works well musically — at least not in this recording — yet I still appreciate the power of the performance.

Initially, to see Japanese singers performing in German was a bit strange, but then I realized that such is the fruit of the globalization of culture. Japanese singers and musicians can recognize the beauty and power of a German symphony written in 1824, then perform it spectacularly. Then, I, wholly American, can enjoy it from the comfort of my home in Colorado.

So many people decry the globalization of culture, thinking that it means nothing more than McDonalds and Starbucks on every corner. In fact, that’s good too, for the same reason as this performance. Globalization enables each individual person to pick and choose what he values most from around the world, rather than being limited to the cultural and economic products of his own culture. We might not always agree with other people’s choices, but we’re free to make our own.

Alexei Ravskis Painting: Sheer Intensity

 Posted by on 23 July 2012 at 11:00 am  Art
Jul 232012

I love the intensity of this painting:

It’s by Alexei Ravskis. It’s actually just a portion of a larger painting, but I like the close-up much better. (Alas, I can’t link to it directly, but it’s image 4 of 59 in his gallery.) And I don’t like much else of his work. But wow, that image really grabs me.

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

 Posted by on 17 May 2012 at 9:00 am  Art, Painting
May 172012

Via Facebook, I found this post on some portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. The paintings were mostly unremarkable, but this one blew me away:

It’s a 1955 portrait by Pietro Annigoni. She’s not just beautiful: she’s perfectly regal, with just the right touch of distance and gentleness.



In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the depth of Ayn Rand’s fictional characters. The question was:

Are the characters in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged flat due to philosophic consistency? I’m reading the novel currently, and rather enjoying it. However, I’ve heard many people claim her characters are flat, one-dimensional, etc. I usually respond to this by saying that Ayn Rand’s characters are the incarnation of her ideas, the physical embodiment of her ideas: an individual is consumed with this philosophy, so much so that they are entirely logically consistent (or at least as much as humanly possible, they are human, and do make mistakes, e.g. Rearden’s marriage), thus, because of their abnormally extensive logical consistency within their philosophy, these characters merely appear to be ‘one-dimensional’. Is this an accurate understanding of Rand’s characters?

My answer, in brief:

The criticism that Ayn Rand’s characters are flat is dead wrong, as is the response that they embody ideas.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Feb 012012

The 1/30/2012 blog for The Objective Standard has published my short post, “The Grey: A Great Reminder of Crucial Truths“.

Here is the opening:

Could you survive deep in the Alaskan wilderness and make your way out with only the resources from a crashed airplane?

That’s the stark challenge faced by the seven protagonists of the movie The Grey, starring Liam Neeson. An airplane carrying Alaskan oil field workers crashes during a storm, and they must battle harsh winter conditions and a pack of aggressive wolves while attempting to find their way back to civilization. In addition to spectacular cinematography and spellbinding action scenes, the movie demonstrates surprising philosophical depth in delivering its theme: “What does it really mean to fight for one’s life?”

The movie also dramatizes three related principles that are easy to forget during everyday life but that are made vividly clear in the context of the movie…

(Read the full text of “The Grey: A Great Reminder of Crucial Truths“.)

Many thanks to Craig Biddle and Ari Armstrong for their help editing the piece. And don’t forget to check out the other fine commentary at the TOS blog!

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