Meet The Artist: Andrea Kowch

ак1.pngThe works of this young woman were described by professionals as a powerful voice of sensitive consciousness speaking in the language of folk symbolism. The artist from Michigan, Andrea Kowch, through the unusual images, shows deep, archetypal stories, relevant at all times.

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Andrea paints in a realistic style, using rural landscapes as metaphors for the inner states of her characters, mostly women. And, as in Hitchcock’s films, the scenes of her paintings are not what they seem: mysterious stories where their prequels seem to hide beneath the surface. Fictional world of the artist are intimate and wild at the same time: rabbits nest on the women’s laps, quails perched in their palms, moths land on blouses…ак20

Enchanting, truly. Wonderment to the imagination. Candy to the eye.

Many-a-women… Many, if not most of them, having essentially the same facial features. Is it the face of the artist herself? If this is, then there is worth saying that there is nothing wrong with Ms. Kowch’s wanting to paint her own features again and again, beautiful lady as she is. Her characters aren’t self-portraits floating against the realistically sur  backgrounds. Rather, it seems the artist resolved to inhabit her realistically sur-fictional world herself, all on her own (or, at most, share it with her twins) and rarely does she let anyone (or someone with different face) to enter and settle in it. And to a marvelous result at that. Envious?


20% Leonardo?

Emirates Salvator MundiThis is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, Savior of the World. Blue-robed Jesus is holding a crystal orb and gazing directly at the viewer. Thus far, this happens to be the world’s most expensive painting.  It was acquired on behalf of the United Arab Emirates government after an intense bidding war at Christie’s in New York in November for £350 million.
Emirates Salvator Mundi

But now Matthew Landrus, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Wolfson College, has said it was actually painted by assistant Bernardino Luini.  Luini have worked with Leonardo and, according to recollections of his contemporaries, he has taken “as much from Leonardo as his native roots enabled him to comprehend”. It sure seems Luini’s native roots comprehended enough to paint with such mastery that to be mistaken for Leonardo many times in Leonardo’s life and even more so thereafter.

Matthew Landrus says: ‘This is a Luini painting. By looking at the various versions of Leonardo’s students’ works, one can see that Luini paints just like that work you see in the Salvator Mundi.’

 ‘I can prove that Luini painted most of that painting. A comparison of Luini’s paintings with the Salvator Mundi will be sufficient evidence.’

Mr Landrus attributes only five to twenty percent of the painting to Leonardo’s hand and argues that Luini, not Leonardo, was the ‘primary painter.’

Acquired for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, the painingwill be unveiled in September at the Louvre Abu Dhabi before its inclusion in a Leonardo exhibition at the Louvre in Paris next year.

Some of the world’s foremost experts confirmed the Leonardo attribution in 2011, when Luke Syson, the then National Gallery curator, included the painting ina Leonardo retrospective at the London gallery that year.

But other leading experts have their doubts. Frank Zöllner, a German art historian at the University of Leipzig, believes the Salvator Mundi could be a “high-quality product of Leonardo’s workshop” or even a later follower, and Charles Hope, the Italian Renaissance specialist, has argued that accepted Leonardo paintings look “quite different”.

Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, criticized the painting for its lack of Leonardo’s “greater naturalism and complexity of posture”, and said Landrus’s theory was “very interesting”.

One of the noteworthy vox populi comments to this news:

Most people […] would not call Matthew Landrus an Oxford Scholar. He is an author, likely seeking publicity on the back of the Salvator Mundi sale. He appears to be a part time lecturer for the Open University who recently studied DPhil at a very new Oxford college for post grads. No evidence he is credible, except to make money as a conspiracy theory author?

Go and figure.

Main source: The article in the The Guardian


Guido Cagnacci, «il genio bizzaro»


Guido Cagnacci. The Rape of Lucretia.

Eccentric, not trustworthy person of dubious morals, keen to spend time in the company of models dressed in clothes of the opposite sex — these are the opinions about Guido Cagnacci (1601 – 1663) from the unkind mouths of his contemporaries.

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Guido Cagnacci. Allegory of painting.

Several significant episodes of Cagnacci’s life describe the artist as quite an uncomfortable personality. Glorified by women, ruined by a woman. In 1628, Guido cast his wandering eye on a young widow, Theodora Stivivi, of aristocratic family. In doing so Guido “had offended the honor of the major families of Rimini”. Theodora’s relatives did not consent to marriage. A mess of legal quarrels led to a trial. Guido, a restless and quarrelsome temperament, kidnapped the woman from the convent in which she had been sheltered and tried to escape with her. The papal cops found the hiding lovers.  Guido’s own father condemned him. As a result, the troublesome painter was banned from the city of Rimini.

Guido Cagnacci2

The Repentant Magdalene is an oil painting of the early 1660s. It shows Mary Magdalene, beside her remonstrating sister Martha, at the moment she repents, echoed by an allegorical pairing of Virtue, an angel, chasing out Vice, a devil.

This is not the usual idea of ​​Mary Magdalene, who became a follower of Christ, and then a saint. Mary Magdalene lies almost naked on the ground. Virtue, a fair-haired angel, pursues the devil, who bites his hand in anger when he casts a last glance at Magdalene.  The picture is a celebration of the triumph of virtue over vice, but the master with obvious pleasure describes worldly temptations  — an expensive suit, beautiful shoes and ornaments scattered on the floor. Amazing naturalism and eroticism of his paintings…

This image of Mary and Martha is absolutely original, and Cagnacci knew it only so well. No wonder he boastfully signed his work “GVIDVS CAGNACCIVS INVENTOR”, not the usual “pinxit” (painted) or “fecit” (done).

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 Guido Cagnacci. Penitent Mary Magdalene.

In 1650, Guido traveled to Venice, and in 1658 appeared in Vienna. Emperor Leopold I became his patron. It is in free Venice that Cagnacchi creates his chamber paintings, mostly female nudes — carnal and sensual.

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Guido Cagnacci. Susanna and the Elders

Among his favorite subjects was glorious Cleopatra. Guido CagnacciHe painted quite a number of Cleopatras, so many that collected in one gallery it might be named “the cemetery of the dying Cleopatra.”  Guido Cagnacci1

cagnacci. The Death of Cleopatra

Anton Pieck, “The Greatest Dutchman”

Anton Franciscus Pieck (19 April 1895 – 24 November 1987) was a Dutch painter, artist and graphic artist.

Anton Pieck was extraordinarily popular during his lifetime. From 1938 on he started designing Christmas cards for the children’s benefit organization Voor Het Kind, which were not only a success in his home country but also huge best-sellers in the United States. This lead to a huge industry which reduplicated his paintings as imagery on greeting cards, calendars and puzzles.pieck_arabiannights

His illustrations of Grimm’s fairy tales directly led to Pieck’s most famous contribution to Dutch popular culture: theme park De Efteling. In the early 1950s he was asked to make designs for a fairy tale forest set in Kaatsheuvel. At first he wasn’t interested, since he assumed it would merely be a couple of cardboard sets. When the organizers convinced him they would build actual houses based on his designs, the artist eventually opened up to the idea. On 31 May 1952 the theme park Efteling opened for visitors. Pieck designed all the houses, buildings and animatronic inhabitants of the fairy tale forest, including Little Red Riding Hood at her grandma’s house, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Frau Holle’s well and Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house. Lesser known tales like ‘The Six Servants’ were also included.мммАнтон Пэк10

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General audiences still love Pieck’s cosy and nostalgic drawings and buy this merchandising by the score. Surprisingly enough, many are too young to have ever experienced the time periods themselves. The majority even live in modern cities, far removed from these old-fashioned buildings next to nature. Yet many can relate to the simpler times in the “good old days”, as romanticized as they are. And thanks to De Efteling and the Autotron they can even visit it in real life, which might explain their success. These attractions function as some kind of time portal, much like the illustrations themselves. Pieck is so beloved with audiences that in 2004 he was voted to the 81th place during the election of “The Greatest Dutchman”.

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Despite never having been accepted by highbrow art fans Anton Pieck’s popularity has endured, even after his death. De Efteling still attracts thousands of visitors to this day. Pieck’s books and paintings keep being reprinted much for the delight of his many admirers in his native country and abroad.pieck_vierseizoenenMore about the artist here.

Venus On Diet

What if

Sandro Boticelli. The Birth of Venus. 1486

Throughout history, the canons of female beauty have been constantly changing. Nowadays, the ideal bodies are these of slender models 90-60-90. The artists of the past centuries, from Rubens to Gauguin, found beauty in the bodies of women who did not fit into any definite framework, let alone the standards of today’s fashion magazines.  But what if these masterpieces were painted using contemporary models? Lauren Wade, using simple Photoshop tricks, puts painted ladies on a strict diet…

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Titian. Danae. 1544

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Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Grande Odalisque. 1814

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The Toilette, 1886 by Edgar Degas.

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Raphael. The Three Graces. 1504–1505

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La maja desnuda, Francisco Goya, c. 1797–1800

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 Amedeo Modigliani. Nude Sitting on a Divan (The Beautiful Roman Woman). 1917


Ivan the Terrible Looks Terrible Right Now

Ivan the Terrible

Iliya Repin. Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581. (1885)

The press service of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia, reported on Saturday, May 26, of the vandal attack on Friday evening that damaged the painting of Ilya Repin (1844 – 1930) “Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581”. 

The famous painting was completed by Russian artist and naturalist Ilya Yefimovich Repin in 1885

Ilya Repin


“As a result of the blows, the thick glass that protected the work from fluctuations in the temperature-humidity regime was broken,”  the gallery’s officials said in a statement.

“The painting is badly damaged, the canvas is ripped in three places in the central part…. The falling glass also damaged the frame. […] Luckily, the most valuable images, those of the faces and hands of the tsar and prince were not damaged”.

Ivan Fragment37-year-old man from the town of Voronezh was arrested by police shortly after the incident. The suspect declared that he had acted the way he did because of the falsehood of the depiction of historical facts on the canvas — his words in my translation.

Russia Painting Vandalized

Tretyakov Gallery

By preliminary estimation, the restoration of the painting might take a few years.


In 1885, upon its completion, the painting made a furor both in St. Petersburg and in Moscow.  Everyone whose opinion counted, admitted to having an utterly depressing impression both during and after observing the painting. The ladies fainted and had hysterics. Children cried inconsolably.  Repin’s masterpiece was deemed harmful and by the order of the sovereign was banned from being exhibited.

Pavel Tretyakov, businessman, patron of art, collector and philanthropist (who gave his name to the Tretyakov Gallery) acquired the painting. It took awhile but the wrath was changed to mercy and  the permission to exhibit the canvas in the gallery was granted.

The recent assassination of the famous painting was not the first one.  On January 16, 1913,  “Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581”, a rather well known icon painter, crying out “Enough blood!” lunged on the painting with a knife and in three strokes pierced the faces of Ivan and his son. The madman was restrained and confined to the mental institution. After learning about the incident, the curator of the Tretyakov Gallery, the kindest and beloved by all  Yegor Khruslov, committed suicide by trowing himself under the speeding train.Repin Damage to IvanThis is a newspaper article where the incident was first reported. Titled Damage to the painting by I. Repin carries the photographs of the damaged part of the painting, of the artist and the small inset is the photo of Abram Balashov, the vandal.

Interesting that the public opinion of the time was firmly on the side of the madman! Crazy Balashov was declared a victim of Repin’s “bloody, disturbing, violent” masterpiece.  Such is the power of art.

Mysteriously and, well, terribly, Ivan the Terrible affected the fate of Repin’s models who selflessly set for his Ivan the Terrible.  Repin was very particular and obsessively picky in choosing his models. Miasoedov and BlambergArtist Grigory Myasoyedov and composer Pavel Blaramberg were asked to pose as Ivan the Terrible.  Grigory Myasoedov  once in anger nearly killed his little son, also named Ivan.
GarshinOne of models for the head of the Prince was writer Vsevolod Garshin with his permanently teary eyes. A fragile and vulnerable person, the author of many wonderful fairy tales, he fell into a severe depression and during one of the anxiety attacks jumped from the fourth floor into the stairwell. He died in agony after five days, only 33 years old. Repin said about his choice of Garshin as his model, “I was struck by an utter doom written on Garshin’s face: he had the face of a man fated to perish before his time, which was excatly what I need for my prince.


Soon thereafter, the terrible ailment struck the artist himself. Incongruously, his right arm withered away. Until the end of his life Repin had to paint and write with his left hand. The artist’s contemporaries recall that Repin could not even cross himself properly.

And, in conclusion, while hoping sincerely that Ivan the Terrible will be restored to its bloody, violent, mystical glory, here is the poster where Repin’s Ivan the Terrible behaves terribly toward the Russian Venus by Boris Kustodiyev. 

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Hole In His Skull

Magnificent digital creations such as Digital Grotesque featured in my previous post, is impressive, indeed. Breathtaking. Here is a recent story of advancement in 3D printing on a much smaller scale. Smaller, yes, however, by no means less impressive:

Israel. Jerusalem. Shaare Zedek Medical CenterThe patient is a young man, 21. Diagnosis: severe form of meningitis, an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain. The disease caused a life-threatening increase of intracranial pressure.

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DrJohn Winestone

Senior Neurosurgeon  DrJohn Winestone examined the patient and confirmed that the young man suffers from a rare form of infection. The chance of survival is extremely low. Medications did not help, the patient’s condition sharply  worsened, he lost consciousness, gradually plunged into a coma and was hooked up to a Life Support System. Emergency surgery resulted in removing of a skull bone 15 centimeters (5.90551 inches) in diameter to stop further elevation of intracranial pressure. It ultimately saved the patient’s life. But what about his skull?

When the patient’s condition stabilized, experts decided to turn to volumetric printing to create a prosthetic skull bone. The unique surgery — an implantation of a 3D-printed part of the skull to replace a lost bone — was a success. At present, the patient’s condition is quite satisfactory.

It was for the first time in the history of medicine that the volumetric printing was used to create a skull bone. It should be noted that previously, 3D-printing was used primarily in oral and maxillofacial surgery.


Digital Grotesque II

Digital Grotesque II . Printing Architecture – Full Version from Digital Grotesque on Vimeo.

Digital Grotesque consists of two full-scale 3D printed grottos. Grotto II, featured in this post, is commissioned by Centre Pompidou, and premiered at the Imprimer le monde exhibition in March 2017. Grotto I is a commission by FRAC Centre, Orléans, for its permanent collection.column-slices-1The grotto is entirely designed by algorithms, and optimized to present highly differentiated geometries that forge a rich and stimulating spatial experience for the observer. A subdivision algorithm exploits the 3D printer’s full potential by creating porous, multi-layered structures with spatial depth.astana-columns-2A single volume spawns millions of branches, growing and folding into a complex topological structure. Hundreds of square meters of surface are compressed into a 3.5 meter high block that forms an organic landscape between the man-made and the natural.astana-columns-4Standing in front of the grotto, one is struck by a hitherto unseen richness of detail that is at times overwhelming. Digital Grotesque is a testament to and celebration of a new kind of architecture that leaves behind traditional paradigms of rationalization and standardization and instead emphasizes the viewer’s perception, evoking marvel, curiosity and bewilderment.imprimer-le-monde-xl5

Link to the Digital Grotesque home page

Grave Matters

relicSince the early Middle Ages, relics of the saints,  preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial, considered extremely valuable. After all, they work miracles, protect local communities and — not a  small matter — they attract pilgrims. In one way or another, these tremendous benefits turn into money, prosperity and profit in  BuddhismChristianityIslamHinduismShamanism, and many other religions.

St_MartinBishop of Tours, enthusiastically ordering the destruction of pagan temples, altars and sculptures, and later known as Martin of Tours , was a rather decrepit man. Still, he found strength to wander between the two cities. Residents of these towns have long been monitoring his moves, waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for his demise in order to acquire his remains. At times, the patience on both sides run so low that the “good Christians” of both places were ready to kill the bishop. Martin died in the village between these cities. The villagers, on whom such luck had unexpectedly fallen, managed to deceive both cities, hiding the body and inventing a convincing alibi. St Martin’s shrine in France became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.Elizabeth of Hungary.jpgElizabeth of Thuringia, a Hungarian princess, was so virtuous that no one doubted her posthumous transfer to the rank of saints. When she died in 1231 at the age of 24, good people of faith simply tore her body into pieces, only to put their hands on their very own chunk of saintly flesh. Speak about “tangible”!

Saint_RomualdRomuald was revered as a saint in his lifetime.  In his old age, in a small monastery Val di Castro, he mentioned of his wish to move away and settle in another city. The prospect of losing Romuald, particularly his soon-to-be remains, in favor of some unworthy neighbors, did not sit well with his comrades. Overcome with not so saintly worries, they conferred and decided that murder was their only option to keep Romuald for themselves. Unholy brothers promptly proceeded to exercise this very option. Thus Romuald was murdered… God only knows how mercifully.

Of this and more in Barley, N. (2006). : Encounters with Death Around the World. New York : Henry Holt & Company.

Encounters with Death Around the World

Within the multitude of attitudes toward grieving, Grave Matters reveals that after death the body may be preserved or obliterated, transformed into furniture, or eaten. In this cross-cultural study of how people lend meaning to death, Nigel Barley uses autobiographical vignettes and a careful blend of ethnography and comparative theories to reflect on today’s mortuary practices and issues.

Silent Reading

ReadingIn his autobiography Confessions, written at the end of the 4th century AD, St Augustine of Hippo writes how utterly stunned he was when he observed Bishop Ambrose of Milan reading a book. Ambrose’s mouth was closed, his lips didn’t move. It was a miracle!

In those days readers habitually moved their fingers, slowly, along the lines, pronouncing aloud every word. It took humankind another 500 years to develop silent reading ability to the level that it became a norm.