What Late-19th Century Parisian Art Scene Type Are You?

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

CLICK HERE to take the quiz! 

CLICK HERE to take the quiz! 

The Art Gallery of Alberta has created one of the smartest buzzfeed quizzes that I have taken (not that I take a lot of them...) in a LONG time. Based on their current exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1910 — an incredible collection of paintings, posters, and illustrated programs for circuses, cabarets, and cafe-concerts — it helps you discover where you would fit in the avant-garde art scene of 19th century Paris! 

I took the quiz today and got Muse: 

"A beacon of inspiration for creatives — a role as old as human civilization. Toulouse-Lautrec's scene looked to everyday life for muses and represented them in more natural environments than ever before, rather than putting them in Classical drag or on literal or virtual pedestals. You're a muse because 19th Century artists sought out your potential to connect with and enchant someone who's willing to see beauty and dignity in you, no matter your original station in life; you are the sublime in the mundane. We can transcend ourselves through the gaze of others. Later on, this will happen in film, in fashion, and in other scenes, in factories the world over. Examples: Dancer Jane Avril, Comtesse Greffulhe, Louise Claire Chardon."

Take the quiz here, and let me know what you get!  

The Elgin Marbles

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

The remaining part of a sculpture from the west pediment of the Parthenon 

Around 490 BCE, on the peak of the Acropolis, Athenians began building a temple to Athena Parthenos. It was unfinished when the Persians sacked Athens soon after, and then in 438 BCE was completed by Pericles as a temple to the goddess Athena. No expense was spared — even the roof was covered in the finest white marble rather than the usual terra cotta tiles. 

At the beginning of the 19th century, Thomas Bruce, the British Earl of Elgin and ambassador to Constantinople, acquired most of the surviving sculpture from the Parthenon which was being used as a military base at the time. In 1801, he shipped it back to decorate a lavish mason for him and his wife, but his wife had left him by the time he got home and the marbles were part of a financial dispute. He ended up selling them at an incredibly low price.

The room that holds the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum 

The remaining sculpture that was not lost or too damaged is now in the British Museum in a room created specifically to display the marbles that portray scenes from the life of the goddess. 

A close up of one of the sculptures from the west pediment

The west pediment illustrated the contest that Athena won over Poseidon for rule over the Athenians, and the other pediment shows the birth of Athena, fully grown, from the brow of her father, Zeus. 

The remaining sculptures from the east pediment. The gap in the middle represents a missing sculpture.

The female form is expertly rendered in the marble under the folds of fabric. It's hard to believe that it is cold marble and not actual clothing that covers the headless figures. 

Like many countries around the world who were the subjects of British colonialism, and the loss of their historic objects to Western museums, the Greek government continues to try, unsuccessfully, to have the marbles returned. 

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In most of the bookstores I walk into, the art history section is pretty lean. There are a lot of large-scale photo books with the standard stats on famous works of art, but not much that is critical, new or honest... more


The Watch List: Tim's Vermeer

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

Believe it or not, I am not usually a fan of documentaries. I tend to read non-fiction and watch fiction, so when I do sit on the couch in front of the TV, it's usually for a drama, rom com, or hilarious sitcom. But, recently, I have jumped on the documentary train, and have discovered some pretty fascinating stuff.

Tim's Vermeer is a film created by Penn and Teller (yes, the Penn and Teller), that follows the journey of multi-millionaire entrepreneur and inventor Tim Jenison as he spends five years figuring out how the 17th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer created photo-realistic paintings before photography was invented.


The fact is, Vermeer captured colours and light in his paintings that are unseeable by the human eye. They are only elements that we can see once they have been captured in a photograph. 

There have been books written by scholars suggesting that Vermeer used lenses or a camera obscura to create his paintings, but there has been very little practical testing of this theory. So, Tim decided to try it out. What he discovered, however, is that you can project an image on a wall or canvas using a camera obscura, but you can't match colour to the projected image. So, how did Vermeer manage to paint with such perfect colours? 

The documentary goes on to show how with a combination of a mirror and lenses, and a whole lot of patience, even the most untrained painter can create a Vermeer. It is incredible what Tim achieves from his research and hard work, and a willingness to believe that art and science are not mutually exclusive, but can be combined (as the great masters used to) to create something truly extraordinary. Check out the preview below:

Modern Masterpieces At The Tate In London

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

Bust of A Woman, 1944     Pablo Picasso

Located on the south bank of The River Thames in London, the Tate Modern is the world's most popular contemporary art gallery (more than five million visitors stroll through its doors every year!), and one of the top sights in London.

The building, that houses the more than 60,000 works on constant rotation, was once a power station that was transformed by award-winnning Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. It is now a contemporary, light filled space that boasts incredible views of the river and St. Paul's Cathedral. (For some great photo ops — and great coffee — head to the coffee bar on the 4th floor). 

From Line, 1978      Lee Ufan

One of the best parts about visiting galleries and museums in the UK is that admission is FREE! Yup, you read that right. There are often special exhibits that require a fee, but you will see more than you can possibly absorb with all the free art on display, so don't fret about having to shell out extra cash if you don't want to! 

If you have visited my website before, you know how much I LOVE taking photos of art when I am in Europe, and as you can imagine, I have hundreds of photos from my most recent visit to the Tate. Here is a taste of what I shot. Stay tuned for more!  

Otaiti, 1930 (detail)      Francis Picabia 

Large Split Relief No. 34/4/74, 1964-5      Sergio Camargo

Fascism–The Most Evil Enemy of Women. Everyone To The Struggle Against Fascism!, 1941      Nina Vatolina

Autumn, 1948      Henri Laurens

I aspire to ripeness of form. I should like to succeed in making it so full, so juicy that nothing could be added.
— Henri Laurens

Figure (Woman), 1956-7      Magda Cordell

Yarn Bomb! Artists and Knitting Fanatics Are Taking Over The Streets

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Yarn Bomb: Street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk
— from Wikipedia

When Photoshop Goes Too Far

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Two stories have been floating around on social media this week that showcase how extreme and unrealistic our expectations of what female beauty looks like are. Check out the links below and let me know what you think! 

  • What If Famous Paintings Were Photoshopped To Look Like Fashion Models? This fantastic post by Lauren Wilde, Senior Photo Editor for takepart.com, shows the incredibly unrealistic expectations that we place on women in fashion. She has photoshopped today's measurements on the beautiful female forms painted by masters like Degas, Raphael and Titian. The results are shocking. 
  • Before & After Esther Honig sent a photo of herself to 40 photo editors in over 25 countries and asked them to make her beautiful. The results showcase how elusive the concept of beauty is, especially when looked at through the filter of different cultural norms and expectations. The slide show of images she has received back next to her original image definitely speaks to the idea that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".  

90 Years Of Art In Alberta, Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Numerous, 2013      Faye HeavyShield

The Art Gallery of Alberta is one of the oldest art galleries in Canada, and is celebrating its 90th birthday with the exhibit 90x90 featuring 90 pieces by 90 different Albertan artists created between 1924-2014. 

I was lucky enough to preview the exhibit this afternoon and was completely blown away by the work on display. The show is an eclectic mix of sculpture, installation pieces, painting, portraiture, and everything in between — an incredibly diverse showing of the fantastic creative talent that lives in Canada.

Here are a few shots of some of the pieces. If you are in the area, the exhibit runs until September 14, 2014. (If you've missed it, enjoy these photos!)

Errol and Alice, 1983      John Brocke

Lubicon, 1988      Alex Janvier, R.C.A., C.M.

John Will, 1992-2009      John Will

Quilt, 1997      Shelly Ouellet

Large Pink Head #2, 1991      Chris Cran

Studies of Nature I, 1994/2014      Laura Vickerson

Camouflage Painting 1, 2002      Arlene Stamp, R.C.A.