July 31st, 2010

By Cathy Thorne

Okay guys, let us all reconnect.

Tell me where you all are and how to contact you all. You don’t have a make a post, just comment or something.

photographs and notes from Notre Dame de Paris

July 30th, 2010

In the summer of 2006, I visited Paris with my family. After a dramatic episode where our family/friends group was split into three groups (two groups, twice) because the metro train doors closed too fast, we finally managed to find ourselves at the Notre Dame de Paris. Studying Gothic cathedrals reminded me about the photographs we snapped of the cathedral on that cloudy day; unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly from what part of the cathedral most of these pictures are from. However looking back, it can be said that we were all suitably awestruck by the massive structure and its essentially class walls–enough so to snap photographs of each overwhelmingly detailed window we came across.

Unlike Grace Cathedral, which is mostly plain gray and beige brick surface on the inside, the interior of Notre Dame de Paris is richly decorated and colored, not only with bright colors but also with bold patterns. The windows also use bright colors, but the pieces are arranged in a much more geometrical pattern. They lack the freestyle quality of the Grace Cathedral windows, but the scenes they depict are easy to perceive, whereas even the written words in the Grace Cathedral windows require much deciphering to even locate.

To view the image in full size, click the thumbnail in the gallery below, then click the distorted thumbnail that comes up as a result.

Written by Alina Zhu

Qilin: The Chinese Unicorn

July 30th, 2010

A Ming Dynasty Ki-lin or Qilin in the dragon-fish style (double horns, dragon head oxen hoves and fish skin hide). Photo by Leonard G

I remember mentioning something before in class about an old myth that said a writing unicorn came out of the Yellow River and gave a scroll to Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, and the Chinese writing system originated from that scroll. Actually, I got it wrong; the “unicorn” of China, known as the qilin, is said to have appeared 5000 years ago to the Emperor Fu Hsi along the banks of the yellow river. Another story says that around 2800 BC, the Emperor of China saw markings on the qilin’s coat and perceived them as a written language, which is debatable because many descriptions of the qilin say that it has scales like a dragon, not a coat. Anyway, here’s the gist of it:

The Story

A qilin from the Qing dynasty at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Photo by Leonard G.

Emperor Fu Hsi was a benevolent leader who taught his people important skills like cooking. One day near sunset, he was walking alone along the Yellow River when suddenly a creature unexpectedly rose climbed from beneath the water’s surface, walking so lightly that it seemed to walk on the surface of the river and left no footprints in the mud. The creature, the qilin, was seemingly and miraculously composed of many familiar animals–the qilin he saw had the legs and body of a wild deer, the tail of an ox, the head of a wolf, and a long horn, similarly colored to the fur and made of flesh. The hairs on its back had many colors: red, yellow, blue, white, and black, as well as yellow fur on its belly. Its gaze was intelligent, and to Fu Hsi, it radiated dignity and strength.

A large scroll was tied to the qilin’s back, and it approached Fu Shi and knelt on the ground, indicating the heavy scroll with its horn. Fu Shi relieved the qilin of its burden and unrolled it on a dry section of the bank; the paper was seemingly untouched by the water, as was the ink. He saw and studied what was apparently a map of his empire, with hair-thin lines showing rivers and settlements, each accompanied by strange groups of markings. The Emperor noticed that no two of these groups were alike–he looked up, hoping to ask the qilin for an explanation, but it had vanished.

So it was said that the qilin of China gave to Emperor Fu Hsi the Chinese written language.

The Chinese Qilin (versus the western unicorn)

A 17th-18th century Qilin-shaped incense burner on display at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, California. Photo by Brokensphere

The description of the qilin (another popular spelling is “ki-lin”) in the story is just one of many; some say the head is shaped like a dragon or a horse’s and the body has scales. However, the greatest difference between the Chinese qilin and the popular western image of the unicorn is the horn. Unlike the ivory horns popular with modern unicorns, the qilin’s horn was made of flesh. In one description influenced by the Buddhist value of life, the horn was tipped with soft flesh so that it could never be used to harm another creature. Almost all the characteristics of the horn vary with different versions of the qilin–long, short, fleshy, flesh-tipped, etc. Male qilin were said to have horns, while females did not. The pictures on this page also depict the qilin with two horns; however, the qilin in the story had a single horn protruding from its forehead, and in this aspect, the fantastical western and fantastical eastern so-called “unicorns” overlapped.

The qilin was one of China’s four legendary creatures. It was the “most worthy of all haired animals” and represented the earth element. The qilin’s fur contained all of the sacred Chinese colors. The other superior creatures were:

  • the dragon, symbol of strength and goodness, leader of scaly animals, representative of the air element
  • the phoenix, a mythical bird said to burn itself to death and rise again from the ashes, leader of all feathered creatures, symbol of the fire element
  • and the tortoise, the most important shelled animal, the only non-mythical superior creature, and symbol of water.

Qilin were very solitary animals who lived in deep forests and high up in the mountains, and rarely appeared except for special purposes. Whenever a qilin showed itself to an emperor, it was believed that ruler would enjoy a long and peaceful reign. Their appearances also foretold the births of great men. A story with many different versions tells how Confucius’s pregnant mother saw a qilin who foretold her son’s greatness. Many hopeful mothers-to-be pasted pictures of qilin on their walls in the hopes that they too would give birth to great men. Gods overseeing the delivery of babies were portrayed riding on the backs of qilin.

After the influence from the spread of Buddhist virtues, the qilin was said to refuse to step on even an ant or a blade of green grass. It also refused to eat any living thing and lived for nearly 1000 years. The appearance of the qilin to Emperor Fu Hsi is probably the oldest story with a unicorn’s appearance in the world, after that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden which occurred at the beginning of time.

Written by Alina Zhu.


James, Giblin Cross. The Truth About Unicorns. New York: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 1991.

Dada and Surrealism

July 26th, 2010


Hans (Jean) Arp
Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged
according to the Laws of Chance)
Torn-and-pasted paper and colored
paper on colored paper
19 1/8″ x 13 5/8″
Museum of Modern Art, New York

“Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts.
While the guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might. We were seeking an art based on fundamentals, to cure the madness of the age, and a new order of things that would restore the balance between heaven and hell.” – Jean (Hans) Arp

Sophie Tauber Arp

Sophie Tauber-Arp with a Dada Head, 1920







Sophie Tauber-Arp and her sister, 1916, dressed in costumes that Tauber-Arp designed for an interpretive dance to a poem by Hugo Ball.

Marcel Janco
Mask: Portrait of Tristan Tzara, 1916

Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch,
Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany, 1919
collage of pasted papers, 90 x 144

Marcel Duchamp

Kurt Schwitters

George Grosz

Otto Dix


Salvador Dali The Persistence of Memory 1931
Oil on canvas 9 1/2 x 13″ (24.1 x 33 cm)
Museum of Modern Art, New York

Salvador Dali The Sacrament of the Last Supper 1955
Oil On Canvas 66″x 105″; 167 x 268 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

de Chirico

Remedios Varo Exploracion de los Fuentes del Rio Orinoco 1959
oil on canvas 18 x 15¾ in. (45.7 x 40 cm.)
Private Collection

Leonora Carrington The Labyrinth 1991
Oil on Canvas 77.00 X 91.00 cm
Galería de Arte Mexicano

19th-century Realism

July 26th, 2010


Honoré Daumier Rue Transnonain, April 15, 1834 1834
lithograph Sheet: 14 15/16 x 21 11/16 in. (36.4 x 55.1 cm);
image: 11 1/4 x 17 3/8 in. (28.6 x 44.1 cm)

Jean-François Millet The Gleaners 1857
Oil on Canvas 85 x 111 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Gustav Courbet The Stone Breakers 1849
Oil on Canvas 165 x 257 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden (destroyed)

Gustav Courbet
A Burial at Ornans 1849-50
Oil on Canvas 315 x 668 cm
Musée D’Orsay, Paris

Rosa Bonheur Labourage nivernais, dit aussi Le sombrage (English title: Plowing in the Nivernais) 1849
Oil on Canvas H. 1.34 m ; L. 2.6 m
Musée D’Orsay, Paris

Gustave Caillebotte Les raboteurs (The floor scrapers) 1876
Oil on Canvas 102 – 146.5 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay


Thomas Eakins
The Biglin Brothers Racing 1873
Oil on Canvas 61.2 x 91.6 cm
National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Henry Osawa Tanner
The Banjo Lesson 1893
Oil on canvas 49 x 35 1/2 in.
Hampton University Museum, Virginia

Some modern artists and the artwork they responded to

July 26th, 2010


In the early 1900s, Picasso was influenced by statues from Pre-Roman Iberia (the Spanish and Portuguese peninsula), which went on display in an exhibit at the Louvre Museum.

Iberian sculptures were influenced, in turn, by the Greek and Phoenician cultures.

Photo by zaqarbal (cc)

Ngil ceremony mask

Fang culture, Gabon

19th century


Public domain image

Dan Mask

Photo by Charles Sheeler (American, 1883–1965),

Photo by peterjr1961

Picasso encounters African masks at an anthropological museum in Paris:

“A smell of mould and neglect caught me by the throat. I was so depressed that I would have chosen to leave immediately. But I forced myself to stay, to examine these masks, all these objects that people had created with a sacred, magical purpose, to serve as intermediaries between them and the unknown, hostile forces surrounding them, attempting in that way to overcome their fears by giving them colour and form. And then I understood what painting really meant. It’s not an aesthetic process; it’s a form of magic that interposes itself between us and the hostile universe, a means of seizing power by imposing a form on our terrors as well as on our desires. The day I understood that, I had found my path.”-Picasso, quoted in an article in the Guardian


Picasso’s Las Meninas Series

Paul Cezanne

Bibemus Quarry

c. 1895

Oil on canvas, 65.1 x 81 cm

Museum Folkwang, Essen

Maisons sur la colline (Horta de Ebro) 1909

Oil on canvas 65 x 81 cm

Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Picasso paints Manet

Dejeuner sure L’herbe


In 1903, Klimt visited Ravenna, where he had the opportunity to see lavish Byzantine mosaics from the reign of Justinian (5th-6th century CE).

Peacock Mosaic
Church of St. Vitale, Ravenna

Gustav Klimt
Tree of Life
Marble, gold, ceramic, enamel, semiprecious stones
Dimensions of entire Stoclet Frieze: 6′ x 50′
Palais Stoclet, Brussels, Belgium

Entering the dining room, dominated by Klimt’s frieze – which depicts the tree of life, an exotic dancer and a pair of entwined lovers – Aude [Stoclet] explains that the work truly comes to life only at night, when it glows in the lamplight and candlelight, to magical effect. To create the frieze, Klimt made 15 full-scale cartoons before transferring them on to white marble plaques. Viennese craftsmen then inlaid the marble with the mosaics according to Klimt’s design before shipping the work to Palais Stoclet, where the artist himself supervised the installation while staying as a family guest.”–Louise Baring, Glimpse into Klimt’s hidden dream world,

Mosaic of women from the court of Justinian and Theodora
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna

Photo by Nick in Exsilio (cc-at-nc-sa)

Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907
Gold and Oil on Canvas, 138 cm × 138 cm
Neue Gallery, New York

Floor Mosaic
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, 5th-6th century CE

Photo by clickykbd

Klimt spent a lot of time looking at Japanese painting books. He was particularly influenced by the Rimpa school of decorative painting.

Ogata Korin
White Plum Blossoms
one of a pair of 2-fold screens (along with Red Plum Blossoms)
color, gold and silver leaf on paper
each panel 156 x 172 cm.

Margaret MacDonald
The White Rose and the Red Rose, 1902
painted gesso over hessian, with glass beads
38½ in. x 39½ in. (97.8 cm. x 100.3 cm.)

This panel decorated the “Rose Boudoir,” a display of Scottish design that MacDonald and her husband, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, put together for the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin, Italy.

“The roses and female forms in the panels are depicted in a lyrical and symbolist manner, conveying at once a sense of the sacred and the profane. Here are subtle evocations of maternal and sensual love, imagery vibrant in its contrasts of innocence and of sexual awakening. In handling such themes Margaret aligned herself with the sensibilities of European high Symbolist art and literature, whilst in her treatment still retaining a strong connection to the Glasgow avant-garde.”–Christies Lot 21 Sale 7578

Margaret MacDonald
Embroidered Panel, 1902
linen with silk appliqué and bead decoration, 177cm x 41cm

Gustav Klimt
The Dancer, 1916-1918
Private Collection

Gustav Klimt
The Kiss
Oil and gold leaf on canvas
180 cm × 180 cm (70.9 in × 70.9 in)
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria

Notice the little traily things made up of triangles spilling over the woman’s leg. Don’t they remind you of the floor pattern from San Vitale, above?


We know that Klimt was intensely interested in textiles and that Vienna was full of elegant prints.

Textiles of Klimt’s Vienna

We also know that, like Klee and Matisse, Klimt collected African textiles. Below are two of the best-known types of African textiles–I don’t know that Klimt saw these particular types, but it’s possible.

Kente Cloth
Ghana, 20th or 21st century

Photo by okrahoma (cc-at-nc)

Prestige Panel, Cut-pile Velvet (also known as Kaasai)
Kuba People, Democratic Republic of Congo, 20th or 21st century

Photo by Woody Collins

German Expressionism

July 24th, 2010

Paula Modersohn-Becker
Self-Portrait (Semi-Nude with Amber Necklace and Flowers II)
62.2 × 48.2 cm Oil on Canvas
Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen, Germany

Die Brücke

A group of architecture students, inspired by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, who rejected conventional standards of painting.

Publicity Poster by Ernest Heckel

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Self-Portrait with Model 1910/1926
Oil on canvas 150.4 x 100 cm
Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Self-portrait as a Soldier, 1915.
Oil on Canvas., 69.2 x 61 cm.
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.

Erich Heckel

Pechstein Asleep 1910
Oil on canvas, 110-74 cm
Buchheim Museum, Germany
Erich Heckel (1883-1970), Two Wounded Men, 1914, German. Woodcut on laid paper. 67.3 x 47.9 cm; image 41.9 x 27.8 cm. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada (, Ottawa, Ontario.

Emil Nolde

The Prophet
Woodcut, 1912

Masken II, 1920
Oil on canvas, 29 x 35 in.
Private collection

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Stained Glass, 1912

Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider)

Franz Marc
The Tower of the Blue Horses 1913
Lost since 1945

Wassily Kandinsky
Cossacks 1910-1911
Oil on Canvas 95 x 130 cm
Tate Gallery, London


July 23rd, 2010

Paul Cézanne
Still Life with Basket of Apples 1890-1894
Oil on Canvas 24 3/8 x 31 in
The Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Cézanne
Mount Sainte-Victoire seen from Bellevue c. 1885
Oil on Canvas 73 x 92 cm
Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

George Seurat
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande

Oil on Canvas 207.5 x 308 cm
Art Institute of Chicago

Movement: Pointillism

Paul Gauguin Two Tahitian Women 1899
Oil on canvas 37 x 28 1/2 in. (94 x 72.4 cm)
Metropolitan Museum, New York

Vincent Van Gogh
The artist’s room in Arles 1889
Oil on Canvas 57.5 x 74 cm
Musée D’Orsay, Paris, France

Édouard Vuillard Interior, the Artist’s Mother and Sister 1893
Oil on canvas 18 1/4 x 22 1/4″ (46.3 x 56.5 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Movement: Nabis

Henri Rousseau The Sleeping Gypsy 1897
Oil on Canvas 51″ x 6’7″ (129.5 x 200.7 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Henri Rousseau The Dream 1910
Oil on Canvas 6′ 8 1/2″ x 9′ 9 1/2″
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

French Impressionism

July 23rd, 2010

Camille Pisarro Boulevard Montmartre 1897
Oil on Canvas 74×92.8 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Édouard Manet Olympia 1863
Pre-Impressionism, Realism
Oil on Canvas 51 3/8 x 74 3/4 in. (130.5 x 190 cm)
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Édouard Manet The Balcony 1868-9
Pre-Impressionism, Realism
Oil on Canvas 169 x 125 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Edgar Degas Place de la Concorde 1875
Oil on Canvas 78.4 x 117.5 cm
Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Edgar Degas The Dance Lesson c. 1879
Oil on Canvas 38 x 88 cm (14 15/16 x 34 5/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Auguste Rodin The Sculptor Jules Dalou 1883
Bronze 52.07 x 41.91 x 20.32 cm (20 1/2 x 16 1/2 x 8 in.)
Altes Museum, Berlin

Public domain image

Auguste Rodin The Burghers of Calais c. 1884
Bronze h: 200 cm
In situ, Victoria Tower Gardens, London

Photo by natamagat (cc-at-sa)

Claude Monet The Studio Boat 1876
Oil on Canvas 80x100cm
Private Collection

Claude Monet Le Gare Saint Lazare (Saint Lazare Station) 1877
Oil on Canvas 75-100 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Claude Monet The Portal of Rouen Cathedral (soleil), harmony
in blue and gold
Oil on Canvas 101 – 65 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay

Claude Monet Green Reflections 1920-1926
Oil on Canvas 200 x 850 cm (two panels 200 x 425 cm)
Musée de l Orangerie, Paris

Berthe Morisot The Cradle (Le Berceau) 1879
Oil on Canvas H. 0.56 ; L. 0.46
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Berthe Morisot The Butterfly Hunt 1879
Oil on Canvas H. 0.46 ; L. 0.56
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Pierre Auguste Renoir The Boating Party Lunch 1881
Oil on Canvas 129.5 x 172.7 cm (51 x 68 in.)
The Phillips Collection, Washington

Mary Cassatt The Bath (aka the Child’s bath) 1893
Oil on Canvas 100.3 cm × 66.1 cm (39.5 in × 26 in)
Art Institute of Chicago

Mary Cassatt Little Girl in a Blue Armchair 1878
Oil on Canvas h: 35.24, w: 51.10
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Mary Cassatt Baby Reaching for an Apple 1893
Oil on Canvas 100.3 x 65.4 cm
Museum of Fine Arts at Richmond, Virginia

Cassatt conceived of this image as an allegory–a female child reaching for the fruits of scientific knowledge.

Mary Cassatt Boating Party 1893–94
Oil on Canvas 35 1/2 x 46 in
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Eva Gonzalès Morning Awakening 1876
Oil on Canvas 81.3 × 100 cm
Kunsthalle Bremen

Eva Gonzalès Box at the Italian Opera 1874
Oil on Canvas 98 x 130 cm
Musée D’Orsay, Paris

Flashcards Galore

July 23rd, 2010

So, I made a Quizlet group for us.

It’s called “The Flying Ninja Turtles”. The name is courtesy of Tina, so the password to join the group is naturally “Tina”. It is here:

Quizlet is an online flashcard maker. You can also test your vocabulary/knowledge of terminology in various other scintilating ways. Feel free to add your own sets of the vocab. I’ve uploaded a set of most B-List images, so you can just remix that particular set.

Edit: I have finished uploading all the B-List art pieces with names. I’ll get a sets of flashcards with artist names and period names later.

Oh and join the group. (You can easily make a quizlet account just by using your facebook. Nifty.)

Love from Linda.