Archive for the ‘Image-essays’ Category

Thirteen Ways of Looking at NYC

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
Front steps of the Met. Wonky group portrait with selfie-stick.

Front steps of the Met. Wonky group portrait with selfie-stick.

In early October, a colleague and I were lucky enough to take a group of thirteen students to New York City. We had a fantastic time: it was definitely a case of lucky number thirteen.

We required each student to create a blog relating to the field trip. What follows, then, are thirteen images–one per student–each showing an aspect of our trip. Click on a photo to access the blog created by the photographer.


Getting ready to go. Mix tapes (CDs!) and luggage ready.

Getting ready to go. Mix tapes (CDs!) and luggage ready.


At the Met, some professors discuss John Singer Sargent's portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson.

At the Met, some professors discuss John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson.


The Mad Hatter and company in Central Park

The Mad Hatter and company in Central Park


The Guggenheim...

The Guggenheim…


We had a guided tour of Bushwick's graffiti and street art

We had a guided tour of Bushwick’s graffiti and street art


A morning walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

A morning walk across the Brooklyn Bridge


liberty, MR

The Statue of Liberty, as seen from our boat during an around Manhattan architectural cruise


Liberty, Bushwick graffiti style

Liberty, Bushwick graffiti style


Time Square. Just try to avoid it!

Time Square. Favorite student destination!


Greeting Manhattan from the High Line

Greeting Manhattan from the High Line


chelsea gallery CF

Touring the Chelsea galleries. Will Ryman’s The Classroom at the Paul Kasmin Gallery


9/11 Memorial


NYC loft hostel

Home base for four nights


As usual, send your comments and questions here.


Kimbell Colour

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I spent Spring Break in Texas and enjoyed my second visit to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. This is fast becoming a favourite. It’s a small but wonderful museum, featuring Louis Kahn’s stunning architecture and, inside, extremely high quality work. On this visit, I was lucky enough to see their beautifully curated Bernini: Sculpting in Clay exhibition, which provided insights into the Baroque sculptor’s working methods and studio practice.

Photography wasn’t permitted in the Bernini show, but the Kimbell does allow it in their permanent collection. This is a particular enlightened policy given that the light in the gallery spaces is incredible–thanks again to Louis Kahn. I spent a lot of time just appreciating the vivid colours in the paintings. Even a hack photographer wielding an old iPhone can’t totally destroy these colours.

Here, then, are a few photos I took of the Kimbell’s paintings. Click on any image for a closer look.

Duccio, Raising of Lazarus (from the Maesta Altarpiece)

Chardin, Young Student Drawing

Cezanne, Maison Maria with a view of the Chateau Noir

Cezanne, Maison Maria with a view of Chateau Noir (detail)

Cezanne, Man in a Blue Smock (detail)

Miro, Portrait of Heriberto Casany (detail)

Art History Bacon

Friday, March 9th, 2012
From Vampires to Vincent Van Gogh, eternal life to still-life. People and/or cultural objects form the connections.













The vampire (1) enjoys eternal life and eternal popularity—thanks most recently to the Twilight series of novels and films (2). Robert Pattinson, one of the stars of the films, now appears in Bel Ami (3), an adaptation of the 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant (4). Vincent van Gogh (5), an enthusiastic reader of Maupassant, included Bel Ami in his Still-Life with Plaster Statuette (1887), which was painted a decade before Bram Stoke published Dracula (1).

1. “Castle Dracula,” illustration from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)
2. Twilight publicity poster (1998)
3. Bel Ami publicity poster (2012)
4. Photograph of Guy de Maupassant (Undated, New York Public Libraries)
5. Self-Portrait, Vincent Van Gogh (1889, Musée d’Orsay)
6. Still-Life with Plaster Statuette, Rose, and Two Novels, Van Gogh (1887, Kröller-Müller Museum)




A Quick Trip to the Coast

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

It’s not even Christmas and I’ve already made my first (and perhaps only) New Year’s resolution: I hereby resolve to spend more time exploring the Gulf Coast.

It’s taken me a while to affirm something that should have always been entirely obvious. Over the years, I’ve been to the Gulf coasts of Alabama, Florida and Texas. But I’d never before visited the Mississippi coastline, despite having lived in the state since 2003. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m embarrassed.) This changed on Tuesday, when I went down to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, accompanied and chauffeured by Brent Funderburk, my friend and colleague.

Brent’s an amazing artist, a dedicated teacher, and a passionate advocate of the artist and Ocean Springs resident, Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965). He is also a long-term friend of Anderson’s four children, who all still live in the Ocean Springs area and continue to run Shearwater Pottery, the family business. Walter Anderson divided his time between working for the business and pursuing his own art. As is well known, this often involved venturing south to the barrier islands, which are now part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Here are some of the photos I took during two days spent in Ocean Springs. Click on any photo to enlarge it and to access the entire slideshow.

Ocean Springs Community Center
We started off by visiting the Ocean Springs Community Center, which connects to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.


Ocean Springs Community Center (left); Walter Anderson Museum of Art (right)


There’s lots to see in the museum, but I only broke out my camera once we’d entered the community center. The buildings communicate for a good reason: in the early 1950s, Anderson painted a large mural in the community center’s main space.


Community Center (looking towards main doors)


The murals cover the four walls of the space but, as you can seen, still have to compete with the day-to-day activities of a vibrant community center. It’s difficult to give a sense of the larger scheme of the murals in photographs, and so I concentrated on taking pictures of the work’s many charming details. Bringing the outside inside, Anderson demonstrated his love of the area’s wildlife.


Community Center Mural, bird motif


Community Center Mural, fox and turtles


Community Center Mural, owl and flying squirrel


Community Center Mural, cat


Community Center Mural, Biloxi Indian and turtle


Community Center Mural, French settlers and self-portrait


Among this abundance of flora and fauna, there is also humanity and history. On one side of the room, Biloxi Indians and Europeans face, or confront, each other. Notionally, the scene is set in 1699, when the French arrived in the area, but this doesn’t stop Anderson from including his own likeness among the Europeans. The figure at the bottom right of the above photograph has the artist’s distinctive long nose and sports his trademark hat.


Shearwater Birds--in the community center mural & on the sign for the Shearwater Pottery Showroom


The next morning, we met up with John Anderson, the youngest of Walter’s four children, and he generously treated us to a tour of the Shearwater compound, which consists of studio spaces and houses belonging to the family. Only six years ago, Hurricane Katrina turned the compound upside down but, to the naive eye, that’s not at all evident today. After looking around the showroom, we ducked into the ceramics workshop to see where Shearwater products are made.


Master Potter, Jim Anderson at work


Jim Anderson's Hands


Shearwater Pottery Workshop, with photo of Peter Anderson


There’s an amazing sense of time and tradition at Shearwater. Founded in 1928, the operation has had just two master potters over eight decades: Peter Anderson (Walter’s older brother) and Jim Anderson, Peter’s youngest son. When you watch Jim at work you are impressed firstly by his incredible skill and then by a profound sense of historical continuity. At the back of the studio, just behind where he was working at the wheel and beside some recently thrown vessels, I noticed a framed photo of Jim’s father, standing among his own objects.

Walter Anderson’s Cottage


Walter Anderson Cottage, rear


We also explored Walter Anderson’s cottage, a small mid nineteenth-century building with only a few rooms, but generous and pleasing proportions. Katrina swept it off its foundations in 2005, but now it’s been beautifully restored.


Walter Anderson Cottage, main living space


Walter Anderson Cottage, fireplace in main living space


Walter Anderson’s presence and touch is still palpable in his cottage. He made the sliding doors, the built-in cupboards, and the benches; and he built the solid and appealing fireplace with its decorative hummingbird motif, which rises phoenix-like above the fire. The most famous murals in the cottage have been moved to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, but some painted walls remain in the kitchen and bathroom.


Walter Anderson Cottage, shelves, objects, mural


Walter Anderson Cottage, shelves and objects


Walter Anderson Cottage, shelves and objects


Walter Anderson Cottage, shelves, objects, and a photo of Sissy, Anderson's wife

Although tasteful order has now replaced the clutter that Anderson lived in during his later years, I assume that many of the objects remain the same. They speak of a life devoted to the coast, to the study nature, and to art. They speak of the kind of life that made the community center murals possible.

Next time I return to the Mississippi coast, I’ll walk the beaches and find some objects to bring home and put on a shelf of my own. It’ll happen sometime during 2012, I trust.

New Ways of Seeing

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Stubbs, "Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath"


Stubbs, "William Anderson with Two Saddle-horses"


Muybridge and Stubbs Horses


Muybridge, "The Horse in Motion"


Marey, "Horse in Motion"


Portrait of Marey (bronze relief)


Degas, "Sulking"


Degas, "At the Races in the Country"


John Berger, "Ways of Seeing" (p.123)


John Berger, "Ways of Seeing" (detail of p.123)


Magritte, detail from "The Interpretation of Dreams"


John Berger, "Ways of Seeing"


Magritte, detail from "Les mots et les images"


Chris Ware, detail from "Jimmy Corrigan"