T H E A R T S P O R T A L
The arts are a very wide range of human practices of creative expression, storytelling and cultural participation. They encompass multiple diverse and plural modes of thinking, doing and being, in an extremely broad range of media. Both highly dynamic and a characteristically constant feature of human life, they have developed into innovative, stylized and sometimes intricate forms. This is often achieved through sustained and deliberate study, training and/or theorizing within a particular tradition, across generations and even between civilizations. The arts are a vehicle through which human beings cultivate distinct social, cultural and individual identities, while transmitting values, impressions, judgments, ideas, visions, spiritual meanings, patterns of life and experiences across time and space.
Prominent examples of the arts include:
- visual arts (including architecture, ceramics, drawing, filmmaking, painting, photography, and sculpting)
- literary arts (including fiction, drama, poetry, and prose)
- performing arts (including dance, music, and theatre)
They can employ skill and imagination to produce objects, performances, convey insights and experiences, and construct new environments and spaces.
The arts can refer to common, popular or everyday practices as well as more sophisticated and systematic, or institutionalized ones. They can be discrete and self-contained, or combine and interweave with other art forms, such as the combination of artwork with the written word in comics. They can also develop or contribute to some particular aspect of a more complex art form, as in cinematography. By definition, the arts themselves are open to being continually re-defined. The practice of modern art, for example, is a testament to the shifting boundaries, improvisation and experimentation, reflexive nature, and self-criticism or questioning that art and its conditions of production, reception, and possibility can undergo.
As both a means of developing capacities of attention and sensitivity, and as ends in themselves, the arts can simultaneously be a form of response to the world, and a way that our responses, and what we deem worthwhile goals or pursuits, are transformed. From prehistoric cave paintings, to ancient and contemporary forms of ritual, to modern-day films, art has served to register, embody and preserve our ever shifting relationships to each other and to the world. (Full article...)
Featured articles -
Leah LaBelle Vladowski (September 8, 1986 – January 31, 2018) was an American singer. She rose to prominence in 2004 as a contestant on the third season of American Idol, placing twelfth in the season finals. In 2007, LaBelle began recording covers of R&B and soul music for her YouTube channel. These videos led to work as a backing vocalist starting in 2008 and a record deal in 2011 with Epic in partnership with I Am Other and So So Def Recordings. LaBelle released a sampler, three singles, and a posthumous extended play (EP).
Born in Toronto, Ontario, and raised in Seattle, Washington, LaBelle began pursuing music ambition as a career in her teens. As a child, she performed in the Total Experience Gospel Choir and the musical Black Nativity. In 2005, LaBelle attended the Berklee College of Music for a year before dropping out and relocating to Los Angeles. While in college, she collaborated with Andreao Heard on a demo. Following the advice of an industry contact, LaBelle released her music through her YouTube channel. Keri Hilson hired LaBelle as a backing vocalist after hearing her rendition of "Energy", which led to her working for other artists on their tours. (Full article...)
The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery in London, England, was the first stage of a three-part project initiated in November 1786 by engraver and publisher John Boydell in an effort to foster a school of British history painting. In addition to the establishment of the gallery, Boydell planned to produce an illustrated edition of William Shakespeare's plays and a folio of prints based upon a series of paintings by different contemporary painters. During the 1790s the London gallery that showed the original paintings emerged as the project's most popular element.
The works of William Shakespeare enjoyed a renewed popularity in 18th-century Britain. Several new editions of his works were published, his plays were revived in the theatre and numerous works of art were created illustrating the plays and specific productions of them. Capitalising on this interest, Boydell decided to publish a grand illustrated edition of Shakespeare's plays that would showcase the talents of British painters and engravers. He chose the noted scholar and Shakespeare editor George Steevens to oversee the edition, which was released between 1791 and 1803. (Full article...)
The Nativity is a devotional mid-1450s oil-on-wood panel painting by the Early Netherlandish painter Petrus Christus. It shows a nativity scene with grisaille archways and trompe-l'œil sculptured reliefs. Christus was influenced by the first generation of Netherlandish artists, especially Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, and the panel is characteristic of the simplicity and naturalism of art of that period. Placing archways as a framing device is a typical van der Weyden device, and here likely borrowed from that artist's Altar of Saint John and Miraflores Altarpiece. Yet Christus adapts these painterly motifs to a uniquely mid-15th century sensibility, and the unusually large panel – perhaps painted as a central altarpiece panel for a triptych – is nuanced and visually complex. It shows his usual harmonious composition and employment of one-point-perspective, especially evident in the geometric forms of the shed's roof, and his bold use of color. It is one of Christus's most important works. Max Friedländer definitely attributed the panel to Christus in 1930, concluding that "in scope and importance, [it] is superior to all other known creations of this master."
The overall atmosphere is one of simplicity, serenity and understated sophistication. It is reflective of the 14th-century Devotio Moderna movement, and contains complex Christian symbolism, subtly juxtaposing Old and New Testament iconography. The sculpted figures in the archway depict biblical scenes of sin and punishment, signaling the advent of Christ's sacrifice, with an over-reaching message of the "Fall and Redemption of humankind". Inside the archway, surrounded by four angels, is the Holy Family; beyond, a landscape extends into the far background. (Full article...)
"O Captain! My Captain!" is an extended metaphor poem written by Walt Whitman in 1865 about the death of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. Well received upon publication, the poem was Whitman's first to be anthologized and the most popular during his lifetime. Together with "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", "Hush'd Be the Camps To-day", and "This Dust was Once the Man", it is one of four poems written by Whitman about the death of Lincoln.
During the American Civil War, Whitman moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the government and volunteered at hospitals. Although he never met Lincoln, Whitman felt a connection to him and was greatly moved by Lincoln's assassination. "My Captain" was first published in The Saturday Press on November 4, 1865, and appeared in Sequel to Drum-Taps later that year. He later included it in the collection Leaves of Grass and recited the poem at several lectures on Lincoln's death. (Full article...)
- "The Post-Modern Prometheus" is the fifth episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files and originally aired on the Fox network on November 30, 1997. Written and directed by series creator Chris Carter, "The Post-Modern Prometheus" is a "Monster-of-the-Week" episode, a stand-alone plot which is unconnected to the overarching mythology of The X-Files. "The Post-Modern Prometheus" earned a Nielsen household rating of 11.5, being watched by 18.68 million viewers upon its initial broadcast. The episode was nominated for seven awards at the 1998 Emmys and won one. The entry generally received positive reviews; some reviewers called it a classic, with others calling it the most striking stand-alone episode of the show's fifth season.
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, while the skeptical Scully was initially assigned to debunk his work. In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate reports of a mysterious creature that has impregnated a middle-aged woman. They find that the "monster", nicknamed The Great Mutato, is the genetic creation of a Frankenstein-like doctor. The Great Mutato is at first ostracized, but later accepted, by his community. (Full article...)
- American actor Billy Porter wore a black velvet tuxedo dress designed by Christian Siriano on the red carpet of the 91st Academy Awards on February 24, 2019. At the time, Porter had recently come into public view for his breakout role in the FX television series Pose and had been receiving attention for his boundary-pushing red carpet attire during the 2018–19 film awards season. Following his appearance at the 76th Golden Globe Awards in a custom silver suit with fuchsia-lined cape, he was invited to host red carpet interviews at the upcoming Oscars pre-show. Porter approached Siriano and together they conceived the tuxedo gown.
The gown was well received by fashion journalists, who highlighted its elegant design. It cemented Porter's status as a celebrity and as a fashion icon. Critics have described it as a favorite Oscars dress and one of Porter's most fashionable red carpet looks. Porter considers the outfit a piece of political art intended to drive a conversation about men's fashion and masculinity, for which it has received praise from fashion writers, academics, and the general public, as well as criticism from conservative commentators. (Full article...)
- Manhunter is a 1986 American neo-noir psychological horror crime thriller film directed and written by Michael Mann. Based on the 1981 novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, it stars William Petersen as FBI profiler Will Graham. Also featured are Tom Noonan as serial killer Francis Dollarhyde, Dennis Farina as Graham's FBI superior Jack Crawford, and Brian Cox as incarcerated killer Hannibal Lecktor. The film focuses on Graham coming out of retirement to lend his talents to an investigation on Dollarhyde, a killer known as the Tooth Fairy. In doing so, he must confront the demons of his past and meet with Lecktor, who nearly killed Graham.
Manhunter focuses on the forensic work carried out by the FBI to track down killers and shows the long-term effects that cases like this have on profilers such as Graham, highlighting the similarities between him and his quarry. The film features heavily stylized use of color to convey this sense of duality, and the nature of the characters' similarity has been explored in academic readings of the film. It was the first film adaptation of Harris' Hannibal Lecter novels, as well as the first adaptation of Red Dragon, which later became the basis for a film of the same name in 2002. (Full article...)
Murasaki Shikibu (紫式部, English: "Lady Murasaki"; c. 973 – c. 1014 or 1025) was a Japanese novelist, poet and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court in the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, widely considered to be one of the world's first novels, written in Japanese between about 1000 and 1012. Murasaki Shikibu is a descriptive name; her personal name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara no Kaoriko (藤原香子), who was mentioned in a 1007 court diary as an imperial lady-in-waiting.
Heian women were traditionally excluded from learning Chinese, the written language of government, but Murasaki, raised in her erudite father's household, showed a precocious aptitude for the Chinese classics and managed to acquire fluency. She married in her mid-to late twenties and gave birth to a daughter before her husband died, two years after they were married. It is uncertain when she began to write The Tale of Genji, but it was probably while she was married or shortly after she was widowed. In about 1005, she was invited to serve as a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shōshi at the Imperial court by Fujiwara no Michinaga, probably because of her reputation as a writer. She continued to write during her service, adding scenes from court life to her work. After five or six years, she left court and retired with Shōshi to the Lake Biwa region. Scholars differ on the year of her death; although most agree on 1014, others have suggested she was alive in 1025. (Full article...)
Catherine de' Medici's building projects included the Valois chapel at Saint-Denis, the Tuileries Palace, and the Hôtel de la Reine in Paris, and extensions to the château of Chenonceau, near Blois. Born in 1519 in Florence to an Italian father and a French mother, Catherine de' Medici was a daughter of both the Italian and the French Renaissance. She grew up in Florence and Rome under the wing of the Medici popes, Leo X and Clement VII. In 1533, at the age of fourteen, she left Italy and married Henry, the second son of Francis I and Queen Claude of France. On doing so, she entered the greatest Renaissance court in northern Europe.
King Francis set his daughter-in-law an example of kingship and artistic patronage that she never forgot. She witnessed his huge architectural schemes at Chambord and Fontainebleau. She saw Italian and French craftsmen at work together, forging the style that became known as the first School of Fontainebleau. Francis died in 1547, and Catherine became queen consort of France. But it wasn't until her husband King Henry's death in 1559, when she found herself at forty the effective ruler of France, that Catherine came into her own as a patron of architecture. Over the next three decades, she launched a series of costly building projects aimed at enhancing the grandeur of the monarchy. During the same period, however, religious civil war gripped the country and brought the prestige of the monarchy to a dangerously low ebb. (Full article...)
- When Megan Went Away is a 1979 children's picture book written by Jane Severance and illustrated by Tea Schook. It is the first picture book to include any LGBT characters, and specifically the first to feature lesbian characters, a distinction sometimes erroneously bestowed upon Lesléa Newman's Heather Has Two Mommies (1989). The book, published by the independent press Lollipop Power, depicts a child named Shannon dealing with the separation of her mother and her mother's partner, Megan.
As a lesbian working in a feminist bookstore in Denver in her early twenties, Severance sought to rectify the lack of picture book content for children with lesbian parents. When Megan Went Away was not widely distributed upon publication although the text of the story was republished by the magazine Ms. in 1986 under the pen name R. Minta Day. The work proved divisive among critics, some praising the story for being an anti-sexist example of lesbian life and others finding its depiction of same-sex separation poorly timed, arriving at a moment when lesbian motherhood was on the rise. Copies of When Megan Went Away were primarily accessible in archives and library special collections as of the 2010s. (Full article...)
- Madman's Drum is a wordless novel by American artist Lynd Ward (1905–1985), published in 1930. It is the second of Ward's six wordless novels. The 118 wood-engraved images of Madman's Drum tell the story of a slave trader who steals a demon-faced drum from an African he murders, and the consequences for him and his family.
Ward's first wordless novel was Gods' Man of 1929. Ward was more ambitious with his second work in the medium: the characters are more nuanced, the plot more developed and complicated, and the outrage at social injustice more explicit. Ward used a wider variety of carving tools to achieve a finer degree of detail in the artwork, and was expressive in his use of symbolism and exaggerated emotional facial expressions. (Full article...)
- God Hates Us All is the ninth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on September 11, 2001 by American Recordings. It was recorded over three months at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, and includes the Grammy Award-nominated song "Disciple". Guitarist Kerry King wrote the majority of its lyrics, taking a different approach from earlier recordings by exploring topics such as religion, murder, revenge, and self-control. Stylistically, the album continues Slayer's experimentation with nu metal started on Diabolus in Musica.
The album's release was delayed due to its explicit cover artwork, which led to alternative slip covers in some retail outlets, difficulties during mixing, and a change of distributor for the band's label. Despite this, God Hates Us All received positive reviews from critics and peaked at number 28 on the Billboard 200. By 2009, it had sold over 319,000 copies in the United States. (Full article...)
Richard Red Skelton (July 18, 1913 – September 17, 1997) was an American entertainer best known for his national radio and television shows between 1937 and 1971, especially as host of the television program The Red Skelton Show. He has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio and television, and also appeared in burlesque, vaudeville, films, nightclubs, and casinos, all while he pursued an entirely separate career as an artist.
Skelton began developing his comedic and pantomime skills from the age of 10, when he became part of a traveling medicine show. He then spent time on a showboat, worked the burlesque circuit, and then entered into vaudeville in 1934. The "Doughnut Dunkers" pantomime sketch, which he wrote together with his wife, launched a career for him in vaudeville, radio, and films. His radio career began in 1937 with a guest appearance on The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour, which led to his becoming the host of Avalon Time in 1938. He became the host of The Raleigh Cigarette Program in 1941, on which many of his comedy characters were created, and he had a regularly scheduled radio program until 1957. Skelton made his film debut in 1938 alongside Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in Alfred Santell's Having Wonderful Time, and would appear in numerous musical and comedy films throughout the 1940s and 1950s, with starring roles in 19 films, including Ship Ahoy (1941), I Dood It (1943), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), and The Clown (1953). (Full article...)
The pyramid of Neferirkare (Egyptian: Bꜣ Nfr-ỉr-kꜣ-rꜥ "the Ba of Neferirkare") was built for the Fifth Dynasty pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai in the 25th century BC. It was the tallest structure on the highest site at the necropolis of Abusir, found between Giza and Saqqara, and still towers over the necropolis. The pyramid is also significant because its excavation led to the discovery of the Abusir Papyri.
The Fifth Dynasty marked the end of the great pyramid constructions during the Old Kingdom. Pyramids of the era were smaller and becoming more standardized, though intricate relief decoration also proliferated. Neferirkare's pyramid deviated from convention as it was originally built as a step pyramid: a design that had been antiquated after the Third Dynasty (26th or 27th century BC). This was then encased in a second step pyramid with alterations intended to convert it into a true pyramid; However, the pharaoh's death left the work to be completed by his successors. The remaining works were completed in haste, using cheaper building material. (Full article...)
David Lovering (born December 6, 1961) is an American musician and magician. He is best known as the drummer for the alternative rock band Pixies, which he joined in 1986. After the band's breakup in 1993, Lovering drummed with several other acts, including The Martinis, Cracker, Nitzer Ebb and Tanya Donelly. He also pursued a magic career as the Scientific Phenomenalist, performing scientific and physics-based experiments on stage. When the Pixies reunited in 2004, Lovering returned as the band's drummer.
As a drummer Lovering was inspired by bands from a variety of genres, including Rush and Steely Dan. (Full article...)
Did you know...
- ... that The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (pictured) was the first painting to demonstrate, based on systematic photographic analysis, how horses move?
- ... that Cheyenne artist Bently Spang satirized anthropologists' depictions of Native Americans as a "lost culture" with a museum exhibit showcasing ordinary objects?
- ... that Bagyi Aung Soe, now recognized as one of Burma's most important modern artists, lived in poverty and was considered by some to be mad?
In this month
- 11 March 1970 – American novelist Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of the Perry Mason detective stories, dies in Temecula, California
- 12 March 1945 – The Vienna State Opera is set on fire by wartime bombardment.
- 20 March 1828 – Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, often called the "father of modern drama", is born in Skien, Norway
- 24 March 1905 – Frank Van der Stucken conducts the United States premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 5
- 30 March 1746 – Spanish painter Francisco Goya, known for his painting The Naked Maja (pictured), is born in Fuendetodos, Aragon
- August 5: DaBaby Levitating remix losing US radio audiences after the rapper's comments on HIV/AIDS
- June 11: Taylor Swift's Evermore records biggest sales week of the year as it returns to No 1 on album chart
- May 27: Olivia Rodrigo's song good 4 u debuts at No 1 on US Billboard Hot 100 chart
- May 25: 'Rock and roll never dies': Italy wins Eurovision after 30 years
- February 10: Disney to shut down Blue Sky Studios, animation studio behind 'Ice Age'
El Lissitzky was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, teacher, typographer, and architect. He was one of the most important figures of the Russian avant-garde, helping develop suprematism with his friend and mentor, Kazimir Malevich, and designed numerous exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus, Constructivist, and De Stijl movements and experimented with production techniques and stylistic devices that would go on to dominate 20th century graphic design. Lissitzky's entire career was laced with the belief that the artist could be an agent for change, later summarised with his edict, "das zielbewußte Schaffen" (The task-oriented creation). In 1941 he produced one of his last known works — a Soviet propaganda poster rallying the people to construct more tanks for the fight against Nazi Germany. (Full article...)
|“||Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or daylabourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people, of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country? How much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world? What a variety of labour, too, is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brickmaker, the bricklayer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the millwright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them.||”|
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