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.

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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.

The Art Of Passover

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan, April 10–18, 2017 (Hebrew year 5777).
Happy Passover to those who celebrate. !חג פסח שמח
For Jews around the world, the Pesach Seder is an excellent occasion to gather at a large table, eat, drink and recall the exodus from Egypt.

For the great painters of the Renaissance, the ritual served as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Here is how Leonardo da Vinci painted the Seder of 13 Nisan 3793 on the wall of the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The painting dates from 1495-1498:
Below is the engraving of Albrecht Dürer, created in 1523, from collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum. St John is easily recognized here not only by the absence of a beard, but also by his place at the festive table. It is unclear, though, where the Jesus’s favorite pupil hid his legs. Judas is conspicuously absent, perhaps not to spoil the festive mood.Still below, is the amusing painting of Paolo Veronese “The Feast in the House of Levi”. Originally it was also called “The Last Supper”, but it had to be renamed after the intervention of the Inquisition, accusing the artist of an unfaithful depiction of the event. Veronese’s Last Supper is different from the canonical description by the evangelists. The Seder begins after the stars come out, however Veronese’s Seder feast takes place in the light of the day. The main objection, though, was the “composition” of the participants  — too many people that shouldn’t have been in the presence of Jesus at His Last Supper. The problem went away when the feast has been moved to the “house of Levi”. The canvas of epic proportions (one and a half times larger than Leonardo’s fresco) occupies the entire wall of the Venetian Academy:
The famous canvas of Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), created in Venice almost 100 years after the masterpiece of Leonardo. The painting is exhibited in the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore on the island of the same name. In the best baroque traditions, it depicts Jesus and his disciples at the festive table in the 16th century Venetian trattoria. Curiously, the mighty Inquisition had no problem with Tintoretto who placed a number of extraneous persons onto the canvas. Perhaps, it was because the supper takes place with the stars out?
“The Last Supper” by the Russian artist Nikolai Ge below was presented to the public in the fall of 1863 in the Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg. Church censorship tried to ban it and demanded its removal from the exhibition. The day was saved by Tsar Alexander II intervention. The royal mecenat bought the painting from the artist. Grudgingly, the clerics had to forget about their claims for a while (although the synodal ban on the publication of reproductions in Russia persisted until the February Revolution of 1917).It should be noted that of the five masterpieces above, only Nikolai Ge’s correctly reflected the ritual of the Last Supper: Passover, the exodus of Jews from Egyptian bondage should be celebrated reclining (מסובין) rather than sitting on the chairs around the table. Accordingly, Jesus’s beloved disciple shouldn’t be depicted sitting on the Teacher’s lap as portrayed by Durer, but rather reclined beside Him.

Many other great masters painted the Last Supper, among them Daniele Crespi, Hans Holbein (Hans the Younger), Juan de Juanes, Ugolino da Siena, Duccio di Buoninsegna

Meet The Artist: Pedro Roldán Molina

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molina 98molina 2An unusual technique, sunny colors, a fantastic country…

Molina_hudozhnikPedro Roldán Molina is an internationally recognized and well-known Spanish artist. He was born in the province of Cordoba in Rute, Spain, in 1954. He studied art in Barcelona. His work can be seen in major museums around the world.

Currently, Pedro Roldán Molina lives and works in Granada, Spain.

molina 7 molina 4An aura of a perfect dream…molina 8What you see and hear, to some extent, depends on what you are. I believe that each canvas, still life, landscape, in essence, is a self-portrait of the soul. (From a blog featuring  works of Pedro Roldán Molina.)molina 95molina 6molina 91molina 93molina 94

Meet The Artist: Steven Spazuk

It would seem that, in this age of modern technology even gives in to work progress – there are new kinds of hobbies, new musical instruments and new technologies in architecture. And the experienced viewer is already difficult to surprise. However, the human imagination is limitless and always able to present something new.

Canadian artist Steven Spazuk began his career using quite ordinary techniques. First, there were pencil drawings, then oil paintings and watercolors. This was followed by passion for airbrushing. Soon, it has become Stephen’s favorite method due to its soft, smooth shape, a certain lightness and ease.It would seem that, in this day and age, modern technology touches everything, art including. There are new kind of hobbies, new musical instruments and new technologies in architecture. It’s difficult to surprise an experiences art-lover. However, the human imagination is limitless and always able to present something new.

In 2001, Steven Spazuk began working with the burner, discovering a new dimension of creativity.“[This technique] changed my life, it gives me a great deal, it is unique. The spontaneity of the process — that’s the most interesting. Approaching the canvas, I do not know what will happen, what to follow and what’ll come out,” the artist says.

“I don’t control anything, I merely let the candle and its flame to do their job. And then look what happened. Usually what happens is these abstract shapes of soot in which I can see the picture. Looking at these shapes, I suddenly can see an elbow, knee, chest or leg –and then so be it,” says Steven.

Stephen’s unique set of tools includes brushes with metal bristles, needles, feathers.  This is a rather difficult technique, very time-consuming, so the author spends lots of time in his studio.

The idea of “playing with fire” came to the artist in his sleep. In his dream, Steven visited the gallery, where every picture was created using this technique. Incredible but true, in the dream he already knew how create such paintings. Many years since passed, the technique underwent many changes, became more varied and sophisticated.  That’s how it’s done:

Using a burner or a candle the artist gets soot on the sheet. Then, using the “traditional” tools, outlines a drawing adding contours.
And then remains a delicate job of of putting finishing touches with emphasis on smallest details.

Steven is a versatile artist:

Meet The Artist: Tomek Setowsky

Image result for setowskyTomek Setowski (his web page is in Polish with lots of images) is a Polish artist born, by his own admission, “a very long time ego” in Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. He revealed his artistic talents at the tender age of three.His learning lasted for a long time…BiografiaThe young dreamer honed his painting skills over the years, displaying his works first at local galleries and then moving to the best showrooms of the world.For many years Setowski has been put under the wide notion of surrealism. Only recently it was decided that artists having a similar style fall under “magical realism” or “fantastic realism” and the artists themselves (what is often stressed by Setowski) are closer to Bosch than Salvador Dali. There are not many representatives of this trend in the world, for creating such works deserves a faultless, almost masterly technique and immense imagination. (From an article on Setowski here.)

Meet The Artist: Victor Nizovtsev

Виктор Низовцев 1965 | Russian Fantasy painterVictor Nizovtsev is a Russian painter, a master of whimsical and narrative art.

His favorite subjects include fantasy landscapes, russian folklore, theatre and mermaids. Fashion designer, decorative painter, fine artist – these are the occupations of one person whom we are going to talk about in the following post. Victor Nizovtsev  exhibits his wonderful artworks all over the world. For today he lives in the United States where he continues his successful career. This talented Russian-American artist is known for his unique and imaginative paintings that are highly symbolic and leave the lasting impression on the viewers.

Виктор Низовцев 1965 | Russian Fantasy painter

Виктор Низовцев 1965 | Russian Fantasy painter

Виктор Низовцев 1965 | Russian Fantasy painter

Виктор Низовцев 1965 | Russian Fantasy painter
His works impress with the fantastic magic tone, vibrant colors, the amazing glaze and ever wonderful characters. One can talk for a long time about his art, but it’s better to see it one time and you are welcome to do it.

Виктор Низовцев 1965 | Russian Fantasy painter

Meet The Artist: Valentin Gubarev

Валентин Губарев.gifIn today’s world, obsessed with money and “capitalization” of everything including art, the artist Valentin Gubarev stands alone.

The Clear Advantage Of The Circular Point Of View

The Clear Advantage Of The Circular Point Of View

Gubarev doesn’t chase fame. He simply does what he loves to do, and he does it well.


Indian Summer

The artist lives and works in Minsk, Belarus. His work is incredibly popular abroad, but almost unknown to his compatriots.

And I'm worth it!

And I’m Worth It!

In the mid-90s, the French fell in love with Gubarev’s primitive-styled paintings. Consequently, the artist signed the 16 year contract with the French gallery.



The paintings, which seemingly should be understood and appreciated only by those who is familiar with the Russian life of the Soviet and early post-Soviet period, has been widely exhibited in Switzerland, Germany, the UK and other countries.

Waiting For The Sunrise

Waiting For The Sunrise

The artist perceives the world around his in a very sincere and direct way. Valentin Gubarev doesn’t dream up the subjects for his paintings. Why, if the inspiration is everywhere?

Little Bird

Little Bird

Destroying all the laws of composition and perspective, the artist creates a game of sorts — come with me, walk the walk, be a neighbor, play dominoes, watch your neighbors, chase stray dogs…



In one of his interviews Valentin Gubarev said that his paintings have no bad guys — no negative personages whatsoever.

Re-reading Schopenhauer

Re-reading Schopenhauer. (Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation.)

“For example, in Slow Dance, a man with a woman are dancing at home. There are champagne and chocolates on the table.”

Slow Dance

Slow Dance

“I am often asked why a man is dancing in his socks? Isn’t it so in real life, too?  Our [Russian] man comes to visit a lady. He wants to please and impress with his manners. Of course, he takes off his shoes. A “man in socks” is no longer a macho — at once he becomes “domesticated,” easy to handle.  A man in socks in woman’s house is a gift of god.”gubarev4

“I love them all and I treat them with compassion,” says Gubarev. “The people on my canvasses are neither heroic nor particularly attractive. They are often not well off and not always carefree and happy.



Night Dreams

Night Dreams




Meet The Artist: Claude Verlinde


Claude Verlinde is a French painter who works in the vein of “fantastic realism”, sometimes called “magic realism”, and his work shows the lineage of fantastical art from Bruegel and Bosch to the Surrealists and contemporary magic realists. He was born June 24, 1927 in Paris, his lineage is Flemish.  claude verlinde 15
Early on, the school art teacher pointed out young Claude’s artistic talent to his parents and persuaded  them to enroll their son in an art school.ver1

He entered the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. His studies, however, were interrupted by the German occupation.
While the Verlinde family escaped the occupied Paris, the family home was destroyed. ver3

Returning to Paris, Claude resumes his artistic pursuits at the  School of Fine Arts in Paris.
He also attended workshop of anatomical drawing of the Grande Chaumiere.

The turning point of his life as a young artist came on the day he declined an unexpected and lucrative offer of a position of a lead designer of public projects in a large company, to paint freely.Claude Verlinde  (14).jpg

His often darkly themed works employ the dark earth tones of the early Renaissance, as well as some of the visual staging and precise rendering characteristic of that period. He sometimes uses a brighter palette, but his work always has a feeling of referencing another time, if not another world.

There is a trove of larger versions on the Russian Blog Beyond time, beyond space. There are also galleries on beinArt Surreal Art Collective and Ten Dreams.

Golden Adele

klimt.jpgGustav Klimt kept no diary. In a rare writing called Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait, he modestly admits,

 “I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women…There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night…Whoever wants to know something about me… ought to look carefully at my pictures.”

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) is one of the most notable works of Klimt’s “Golden Phase.” It has a tumultuous biography, this portrait. Both the portrait and the woman on it, to be sure. Love, lust, jealousy, death, bequest, reversal of fortunes, war, occupation, expropriation, immigration, international courts of law… The story of this picture’s travails is truly amazing. Since 2006, the portrait is exhibited at the Neue Galerie, New York.

All of the above is just to feature this GIF image. Klimt would’ve been pleased… or, perhaps, horrified?Klimt Gif.gif