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Tour Sagrada da Familia Here

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The End of Summer Tour

This is the last in our 2014 summer series on virtual visits to some of the well-know architectural and artistic treasures throughout the world. This week we visit two locations in Barcelona, the Sagrada da Familia, and the Park Güell,  creations of the architect and artist Antoni Gaudi.

Sagrada da Familia


“The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is a work on a grand scale which was begun on 19 March 1882 from a project by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar (1828-1901). At the end of 1883 Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea.

The building is in the centre of Barcelona, and over the years it has become one of the most universal signs of identity of the city and the country. It is visited by millions of people every year and many more study its architectural and religious content.

It has always been an expiatory church, which means that since the outset, 132 years ago now, it has been built from donations. Gaudí himself said: “The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is made by the people and is mirrored in them. It is a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people.” The building is still going on and could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century. “

Source: http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/docs_instit/historia.php

Park Guell

Tour Park Güell Here 


Park Güell

Park Güell is an urban park to the north of the Barcelona district of Gràcia designed by Antoni Gaudí, who planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 for Eusebi Güell as a luxury villa, where 60 houses for the richest families of the Barcelona bourgeoisie would be built.

The sale of the houses was not as successful as expected and, a few years later, it became a public park. It is considered one of Gaudí’s most colorful and playful works even though it was never fully completed.

The park extends beyond the structures covering the hill with stepped pedestrian paths and gardens amid the lush foliage. Near the base stands the house Gaudí had built for his own use in the park, the work of his disciple Francesc Berenguer (1905). The house has since been converted into the Casa-Museu Gaudí and houses furnishings designed by Gaudí as well as personal memorabilia. UNESCO declared Güell Park a World Heritage site in 198

Antoni Gaudi

 Antoni Gaudi 1878.jpg
Gaudí in 1878, by Pau Audouard. Born(1852-06-25)25 June 1852 Reus, Catalonia, Spain[]Died10 June 1926(1926-06-10) (aged 73) Barcelona, Catalonia, SpainNationalitySpanish

“Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (Catalan pronunciation: [ənˈtɔni ɣəwˈði]; 25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works reflect an individualized and distinctive style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.

Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís which used waste ceramic pieces.

Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms. Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he conceived them.

Gaudí’s work enjoys global popularity and continuing admiration and study by architects. His masterpiece, the still-uncompleted Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Source: Wikipedia

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Royal 3

New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday at 8:30pm ET                                                             Click here for The 360 Tour of the Royal Theater in Copenhagen


This is another in our summer holiday 360 virtual tours – this time of the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, Denmark  courtesy of Arounder, headquartered in Switzerland.


Sometimes lost amongst the other Copenhagen visitor attractions like the nearby Kastellet or Amalienborg Palace, the Royal Theatre House is an opulent building in its own right, featuring a lavish circular auditorium that has long been the city’s defacto center for culture. Sometimes called the Copenhagen Opera House, it was first constructed in the 18th century, its sole intention to become Denmark’s national stage – and though dramas are routinely put on here, it is the ballet and opera that have found the Royal Theatre world renown.

The stage itself is a historic landmark, having first seen the bright lights in 1874, and for years it has been host to thousands of performances by The Royal Danish Theatre, Royal Danish Opera and Royal Danish Ballet. Though many of these productions have subsequently moved to the new Royal Opera House on Holmen, the Royal Theatre stands as a testament to the art of the past. There are still plenty of shows here per year, from the famed ballets to plays, many of them performed in Danish. They go on for 11 months of the year, skipping the month of July, which finds Copenhagen using the main stage as its feature venue during its annual jazz festival.

As a Copenhagen visitor attraction, however, its architecture is what makes the Royal Theatre stand out – based primarily on the Opera house in Paris, it seems slightly out of place in regards to the more understated Danish buildings, but its intrinsic flair for the dramatic is almost too perfect for the Copenhagen Opera House. The proceedings are dutifully overseen by two bronze statues depicting famous Danish dramatists, Adam Oehlenschlager and Ludvig Holberg.

An annex was added to Copenhagen Opera House, colloquially known as “The Nesting Box,” in 1931, and it was the last addition to the Royal Theatre that was actually finished. The construction of the Royal Opera House on Holmen has stood in the way of recent renovations, giving the interior of the Theatre an oddly unfinished feel.

Though it is unlikely that it will fall from the list of Copenhagen visitor attractions due to its historical importance, the prominence that the Royal Theatre once enjoyed has all but vanished. Its renaissance design is still celebrated, however, and its location is still right in the midst of most walking tours of Copenhagen, so if you have a spare moment or two, a cursory look over the Royal Theatre Square is heartily suggested. Guided tours are offered throughout the year, showcasing the history behind the theater and surrounding square, including both the construction of the theater and its place in Denmark”s cultural heritage.



Click here for a virtual tour of the Royal Theatre Square.

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New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday at 8:30pm ET


We have written a number of posts on how museums are in the forefront of using New Media technology, and comparing this to the dismal failure of the book publishing industry to use New Media technology to add value to an “electronic” copy of a book. One of those posts is , “E MUSEUMS LEAVE E BOOKS IN THE DUST: A VIEW FROM TWO DIFFERENT CENTURIES,” and another is,” E BOOKS vs. E MUSEUMS: THE LAG OF THE BOOK,”

On the Purpose page of this blog, we noted the comment by  Alice Rawsthorn in the New York Times of November 28, 2010 that:

“These devices offer thrilling possibilities for us to do much more than read words on a screen, and it is deeply disappointing that so few designers and publishers are embracing them.”

In the Post, “E-MUSEUMS and ENHANCED E-BOOKS – MUSEE d’ORSAY WHOLLY DIGITAL BOOK FOR IMPRESSIONIST EXHIBITION, about the Musée d’Orsay and Artepublishing’s  e-book, Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings,

we wrote,

This book is an outstanding example of what can be done in the enhanced e-book format, and an excellent example to print publishers by the Museum and Artepublishing of the tremendous power of enhanced e-books in the New Media. The book is beautifully designed, and couples art and scholarship in a way not possible in the static print and e-book methods of publication.

Artepublishing’s final product fulfills our objectives for fine art in the new media as outlined in our purpose page through its interactivity, in-depth content, and overall scholarly execution. The enhanced e-book contains reproductions of nearly 200 paintings by 26 artists, over three hours of original audio information about the artists and their paintings, and more than 500 hyperlinks to related content.


Now, MoMA has produced an  online-only on Pablo Picasso and Cubism,” Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912-1914, (Edited by Anne Umland and Blair Hartzell, with Scott Gerson. With essays by Elizabeth Cowling, Jeremy Melius, and Jeffrey Weiss). As described on the museum’s website, “MoMA I Digital Books,”

“Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912-1914 delves into a watershed moment in the history of twentieth-century art and in Pablo Picasso’s career through in-depth studies of fifteen objects made by the artist between 1912 and 1914. Catalyzed by MoMA’s 2011 exhibition Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914, this interactive digital publication reveals for the first time the many insights gained by curators, scholars, and conservators through first-hand examination of the works in the Museum’s galleries and in the conservation lab.”

“Each chapter is devoted to a single object from this period, featuring an overview essay by a distinguished scholar and a comprehensive portfolio of high-resolution images, ranging from X-rays and 360-degree views to enlarged details and photographs taken during the conservation process. A wealth of secondary resources, including video clips of curators and conservators talking about the objects, detailed conservation notes, illustrated provenances and exhibition histories, and lists of published references for each work further enrich the publication, presenting fresh interpretations of canonical works of art in unprecedented and dynamic ways.”


According to Art Daily,

“The publication delves into the artist’s complex, cross-medium studio practice in the years between 1912 and 1914 by examining Picasso’s cardboard and sheet metal Guitar constructions alongside the drawings, papiers collés, mixed-medium paintings, photographs, and assemblages made during this period.

Each chapter features an illuminating essay by one of the scholars and is complemented by a wealth of documentation. High-resolution images range from interactive 360° views of constructed sculptures to X-rays and ultraviolet, infrared, and raking-light images taken in the conservation lab. Detailed conservation notes offer key insights into the artist’s materials and processes.



Photo: Picasso holding Guitar, posing with William Rubin,
director of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at
The Museum of Modern Art, at Notre-Dame-de-Vie,
Mougins, France, February 8, 1971.
Photograph by Jacqueline Picasso (French, 1927–1986).
MoMA Archives. Department of Public Information Records.
Art Daily continues,

“Archival documentation includes newly discovered and previously unpublished photographs of Picasso in his studio, as well as an illustrated provenance, exhibition history, and published references for each object. Rare primary-source images show the works in the homes of early collectors, in historical gallery installations, and in early publications, augmenting the physical history of the object with details of its ownership, display, and reception.

Video clips of curators and conservators speaking about the objects, including a 1971 interview with William Rubin, then director of MoMA’s Department of Painting and Sculpture, speaking on the occasion of the Museum’s acquisition of the sheet metal Guitar, further enhance the rich interactive study of these objects.”




The publication is $24.99. It is available as an iPad app from the App Store and as an interactive and enhanced PDF to be read on laptop or desktop computers using Adobe Reader through MoMAstore.org. MoMA says,

“This e-book is instantly downloadable as an interactive PDF file and can be read on your computer using Adobe Reader or Adobe Pro. Once you complete your purchase, you will receive an e-mail with a link to download your order.”

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The Tour Starts Here: Palazzo Ducale

New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday at 8:30 pm ET


For those on vacation, and those who are not, the company Arounder,  has made a stunning 360 tour available on the web. No lines, and no crowds.

From ItalyGuides.it:

Doge’s Palace

“If you imagine landing in Venice from the sea, as did those who came inland by ship, the first thing you see rising out of the water is the unmistakable shape of the Doge’s Palace – the city’s most famous building.

The Palace is the most representative symbol of Venice’s culture, which, together with the Basilica of San Marco at the back and the Piazzetta in the forefront, forms of the most famous sceneries in the world.

For centuries the Doge’s Palace had three fundamental roles: as the Doge residence, the seat of government and as the palace of justice. This was where some of the most important decisions for Venice’s, and even Europe’s destiny were taken.

Initially, when it was built in the IX century A.D. it was more like a castle than a palace with four sighting towers and high defensive walls. In fact, it was in a strategic position controlling the city, near to its sea access. Later, due to a series of fires and subsequent rebuilding, it became what we can see today – a splendid example of Venetian gothic architecture.

This imposing building has the one feature typical of Venetian architecture: lightness. Despite its considerable size, the multi-coloured façade decorations and the splendid perforation of the Gothic loggias, like stone lace, give us an elegant structure that isn’t heavy in appearance.

There is also a real architectural “find“: compared to most medieval palaces all over Italy, the Doge’s Palace was built in the opposite way with the loggias down below and full walls above, whereas buildings like this normally had a huge base to make them easier to defend.

In Venice the state Palace had to be an expression of the Republic’s special relationship with its citizens: one of trust and absolute fidelity. Venetians considered their government as legitimate not by imposition or divine right, like in other Italian medieval cities, but as an expression of the Venetians’ will.

The portico is already a special place, a masterpiece within an even bigger masterpiece: the thirty-six stone capitals on their arches are a marvellous example of medieval sculpture and give us a rich repertoire of symbolic figures: vice and virtue, saints, martyrs, knights, trades, birds and signs of the zodiac.

From these arches the Doge watched public executions in the square and under the ninth arch, the one that stands out for the red of its marble, death sentences were announced.”


You can see more of the Doge’s Palace on its Museum site, and even take what the Museum calls the “Secret Itineraries Tour,” including the Prisons, and the Armory.

ItalyGuides.it has another 360 tour on its site.

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Watch World War I Unfold in a 6 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1914 to 1918

Re-blogged from Open Culture: (Be sure to Click on the Links):

Watch World War I Unfold in a 6 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1914 to 1918

“World War I began 100 years ago, on 28 July 1914. The initial trigger, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, produced something of a “domino effect,” where European powers, bound by pre-existing international alliances, chose sides and fell rather obviously into a catastrophic war. It started as a European war, pitting Allied powers against Central powers. But, soon enough, it became international, involving a long list of countries from Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Australasia.

The trench warfare that became such an important part of World War I ensured that the battle lines moved ever so slowly, at least until the final stages of the war. That grinding quality gets captured remarkably well by EmperorTigerstar’s latest YouTube video, “World War I: Every Day,”[ above] which shows “the changing front lines of World War I every day from Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war to the armistice of November 11, 1918.”

It also includes the changing front lines in Africa and the Pacific. (A legend, below, will help you sort out the various different players.) When you’re done watching “World War I: Every Day” (above), you’ll perhaps want to spend time with EmperorTigerstar’s previous video, “World War II in Europe: Every Day,” which documents an even bloodier war unfolding at a dramatic pace.”


          Maroon = Central Powers and annexed lands.

          Burgundy = Areas militarily occupied by the Central Powers.

          Red = Central Power puppet or client states.

          Brown = Central Powers in an armistice.

          Pink = Central Power gains for that day.

                                Dark blue = Allied powers.

                                Blue = Central Powered lands militarily occupied by the Allies.

                               Blue-grey = Allied powers in an armistice.

                               Light blue = Allied gains for that day.”

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While many are on their summer holiday, many at the beach, few would choose to take alone James Joyce’s Ulysses, or Finnegan’s
Wake as light summer reading. You may not chose them to take along even on your e-reader. However, would you take along James Joyce himself?

Thanks to, Open Culture, one of the best sites on the internet, you can: James Joyce Reads From Ulysses and Finnegans Wake In His Only Two Recordings (1924/1929)

To quote from the Open Culture post by Josh Jones,**

As much as it is about every part of Dublin that ever passed by James Joyce’s once-young eyes, Ulysses is also a book about books, and about writing and speech—as mythic invocation, as seduction, chatter, and rhetoric, fulsome and empty. Words—two-faced, like open books—carry with them at least two senses, the meaning of their present utterance, and the verso shades of history.

This is at least partly the import of Joyce’s mythical method, as it is that of all expositors of ancient texts, from preachers and theologians to literary critics. It seems particularly significant, then, that the passage Joyce chose for the one and only recording of a reading from Ulysses comes from the “Aoelus” episode, which parodies Odysseus and his companions’ encounter with the god of wind.

Joyce sets the scene in the newspaper offices of the Freeman’s Journal, epitome of writing in the present tense, where reporters and editors give puffed-up speeches punctuated by reductive, pithy headlines. Amidst this business, erudite professor MacHugh and Stephen Dedalus wax literary and historical, making connections. MacHugh recites “the finest display of oratory” he ever heard—a defense of the revival of the Irish language that compares the Irish people to Moses and the ancient Hebrews spurning the seductions of an oppressive empire in the person of an Egyptian highpriest: Vagrants and daylabourers are you called: the world trembles at our name.

Joyce recorded the passage in 1924 at the urging of Shakespeare and Company founder Sylvia Beach, who persuaded the HMV gramophone studio in Paris to make the record, under the provision that she would finance it and that the studio’s name would appear nowhere on the product. Ulysses, recall, was in many places under a ban for obscenity (not lifted in the U.S. until 1933 by Judge John Woolsey).

Five years later, Joyce read from Finnegans Wake. As Open Culture writes,

Joyce chose to read from the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” section of the experimental text—a passage “overflowing,” writes Mental Floss, with “allusions to the world’s rivers.” He reads in the voice of an old washerwoman, and begins with a most succinct statement of the temporal dimensions of language: “I told you every telling has a tailing.” Where Ulysses foregrounds literary history, Finnegans Wake dives deep into geologic time, and privileges the oral over the written.

These are the only two recordings Joyce ever made, and they surely mark what were for him central locations in both books, though he also chose them for their ease of reading aloud (and, perhaps, memorizing).


James Joyce’s Ulysses: Download the Free Audio Book

Hear All of Finnegans Wake Read Aloud: A 35 Hour Reading

* H/T Laura Dziamba

*Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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According to the Acropolis Museum website,

The area around the Erechtheion was considered the most sacred of the Acropolis. The Erechtheion was a complex marble building in the Ionic order, an exceptional artwork. The eastern part of the Temple was dedicated to Athena, whilst the western part was dedicated to local hero Boutes, Hephaistos and other gods and heroes. Thus, the Erechtheion was a temple with multiple functions, housing older and newer cults, and the site of the ‘Sacred Tokens’, the marks made by Poseidon’s trident and the olive tree, the gift of Athena to the city of Athens.


From Ancient Greece.org, a Greek Tragedy,

Erechtheion “While the Parthenon was the most impressive temple on the Acropolis, another building, the Erechtheion was built to accommodate the religious rituals that the old temple housed. Construction of the Erechtheion began in 420 while the Peloponnesian war was interrupted by the Peace of Nikias and continued through some of the most difficult times for the Athenians at war. During this time the Athenians suffered a devastating defeat at Syracuse, saw their empire unravel through consecutive revolts, had their cherished democracy replaced by a brief oligarchy, and endured major defeat. The Erechtheion construction was concluded in 406 BCE, and soon thereafter, in 403 BCE Athens fell to the Spartans.”

None of the dramatic events that marked the fall of Athens are present in the elegant Ionic lines of the Erechtheion. It seems that the cultural maturity of Athens as expressed through art was reaching a new apogee, just as the forces and institutions that made it possible were unraveling.

An article, “Acropolis Maidens Glow Anew,” by Liz Alderman, in the July 7, 2014 issue of The New York Times reported that,

 For 2,500 years, the six sisters stood unflinching atop the Acropolis, as the fires of war blazed around them, bullets nicked their robes, and bombs scarred their curvaceous bodies. When one of them was kidnapped in the 19th century, legend had it that the other five could be heard weeping in the night.

For three and a half years, conservators at the Acropolis Museum have been cleaning the maidens, Ionic columns in female form believed to have been sculpted by Alkamenes, a student of ancient Greece’s greatest artist, Phidias. Their initial function was to prop up a part of the Erechtheion, the sacred temple near the Parthenon that paid homage to the first kings of Athens and the Greek gods Athena and Poseidon.


The Times article continues,

“Knots of people were glued to a video screen showing footage of the cleaning project, which was set up on the floor of the museum. Conservators wearing dark goggles wielded a dual-wavelength laser developed by the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas in Crete, a system that was also employed to restore the Parthenon’s west frieze and the high-relief metopes that adorned the east entrance. Beams of infrared and ultraviolet radiation pulsed across the hem of one Caryatid’s robes, burning soot millimeter by millimeter to reveal the apricot-tinted patina of the original marble.

Starting in 2011, a team of six Greek conservators focused on one Caryatid at a time, setting up fabric rooms around each statue and mapping its surface before attacking an ebony mantle of pollution that had thickened when Athens became a modern metropolis filled with car exhaust, factory fumes and acid rain. Along the way, the conservators found traces of an enormous fire set in the first century B.C. by the Roman general Sulla, and chunks of marble from clumsy repair jobs attempted centuries ago.


 It took six to eight months to transform each statue from night into day, with the crews rotating shifts to avoid fatigue. The in-house restoration costs were minimal and funded with income from ticket and museum shop sales, said Costas Vassiliadis, a conservator who heads the restoration team.”


 The Times,

 “To coincide with the museum’s fifth anniversary, the women — minus one — went on full display in June, gleaming from their modern makeover. The missing Caryatid is installed at the British Museum in London, which acquired it nearly a century ago after Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, had it sawed off the Erechtheion’s porch, along with shiploads of adornments from the Parthenon to decorate his mansion in Scotland before selling the pieces to pay debts.

 Greek and British authorities have long fought over the return of these so-called Elgin marbles, a dispute that heated up again recently when the actors George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray came out in support of the sculptures’ being returned home during an appearance in London for the movie ‘The Monuments Men.’”


Visit The Acropolis Museum in the Google Art Project, for a truly breathtaking tour of the Museum and its treasures.







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