Monthly Archives: November 2013

Nothing lasts forever

The Descent from the Cross (c. 1435), by Rogier van der Weyden. The majority of his work was probably destroyed; we can only guess at its extent. I recently wroteabout the destruction of Egyptian antiquities during their recent political revolutions. This is by no means the only targeting of antiquities in the current Muslim insurgency. The […]


He was a Friend of Mine, Jack Owen, watercolor on paper. A demon cat for all you cat fanciers on the internet. Happy Thanksgiving! I don’t feel like working any more than you do, but if you’re bored, here are some turkeys from the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). I’m proud (and relieved) to tell you […]

The high price of being female

We call this Paleolithic relief The Venus of Laussel but we really have no idea what it is. Perhaps it’s the world’s first self-portrait by an artist. In the art world, it’s no big secret that there’s a high price to be paid for being a woman. The chart below was assembled before the recent $142.4 […]

Freedom from want

Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell, 1943 This Thanksgiving Day the average American will consume more than 4500 calories, accordingto the Calorie Control Council. I’m all for eating right, but I think the capacity of our nation to throw an annual bash is an unequivocally good thing. Thanksgiving is the most universal of American holidays—celebrated by […]

Catacombs of Priscilla

The orans posture (hands up, pleading) is a common trope in religious art, but the audience implies a preacher. From the newly restored Catacombs of Priscilla. (All images from the Catacombes de Priscilla website.) Newly restored frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla have ignited a firestorm of speculation about whether the early church allowed women […]

Beauty and the human brain

Polka Dot Shirt, mixed media on canvas, by Erich H. (Autism Services of WNY) A recent report suggests* a link between autism and synesthesia,  a neurological condition in which stimulating one sensory or cognitive pathway triggers involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. The report is rudimentary in the extreme, being based on an online […]

The trials of a young art-school graduate

Meeting of Fronts, from Jeff Swartout’s senior show went to New York and was sold. Heady success for a young kid. One of the groups affected disproportionally by the 2008-13 economic malaise has been recent college graduates. About half of them scrape by either unemployed or marginally employed. It’s always taken time for kids to find […]

Working under duress

Annunciation to Joseph, c. 2000, by little ol’ me. Who likes hearing upsetting news? I was recently diagnosed with cancer. It’s kept me from doing much of anything these past few weeks, as I’m in a sort of paralysis of awe and anxiety. This is why I’ve been writing about art theory and history and […]

Feminist design, for real.

An outdoor toilet block in an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. No lights, no doors and a pit toilet. (Photo courtesy of Douglas J. Perot) My friends have gotten a mighty good laugh at Bic’s totally pointless For Her ballpoint pens. But if you think all work of interior and industrial designers is trivial, then consider […]


An Everyman moment for the modern world, from Amy Stein’s Stranded. Every once in a while an artist comes up with an idea that’s so universal I wish I’d thought of it. Amy Stein photographs people stuck at the side of the road. Stein’s artist statement demonstrates the disconnect between what we say we’re investigating […]