Leave a comment

Is There a Connection Between Science and Art?

December 13, 2017, by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

ucla-2The painting above is from the National Gallery’s collection.  It depicts an Egyptian noblewoman and is a Fayum portrait, a type of painting that was attached to mummies of that time and believed to depict the image of a real person.

Science and Art – Fine Art in the New Media

There is an intriguing connection between science and art, which seem to be in contradiction with each other. In one instance the two subjects are seen to be radically different, with a firm line drawn between the two.  Science and art are often seen as in opposite, with no connection between the two. Oftentimes, the connection may not be readily apparent. This post describes a newly developed scientific technique used to great advantage in identifying the elements of the ancient painting depicted above.

“Scientists from UCLA and the National Gallery of Art have used a combination of three advanced imaging techniques to produce a highly detailed analysis of a second century Egyptian painting.”

The Process

“The approach, which is described in a paper published in Scientific Reports, integrates three existing techniques — hyperspectral diffuse reflectance, luminescence and X-ray fluorescence — to examine the painting.”

“By combining data from the three modalities, the researchers were able to map the signatures of molecules and elements across the surface of the painting for each pixel of the image. The findings revealed important details on the painting’s composition and structure.”

The Project

Ioanna Kakoulli, professor of materials science and engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science describes the project,

“’Without even taking a minute sample from the painting, we mapped out detailed information that tells us exactly what materials were used, and how they were prepared,’” she said. “We were also able to link their production technology to other ancient ‘industries’ and practices, such as mining, metallurgy, pottery, dyeing, pharmacopeia and alchemy.”’

The Findings

“By combining data from the three modalities, the researchers were able to map the signatures of molecules and elements across the surface of the painting for each pixel of the image. The findings revealed important details on the painting’s composition and structure.”

“The analysis revealed the molecular and elemental composition of the paint and the medium used to bind the paint: The scientists discovered that the painting was made using encaustic — a technique that uses a mixture of pigment and melted beeswax that is “burned in” on a wooden base. The research also offers insights into fashions and artistic methods popular at the time.”

The Connection Between Science and Art

‘“The decoration of [the subject’s] garment is an excellent example of craftsmanship in real life being reflected within the painting,” said Roxanne Radpour, a UCLA graduate student and a co-author of the study. “Madder dye extracted from roots was often used to color textiles and leather in ancient Egypt, and we see from the chemical mapping of the portrait that the artist chose to paint the noblewoman’s dress with madder lake pigment, thus imitating contemporary practices.”’

The Future

“The results, when interpreted by experts of artist material from this time period, show a complete picture of how the object fabricated emerges. We hope such multimodal imaging methods become the basis for futures studies of such early polychrome objects.”

The scientists said “the new approach could potentially be used in other disciplines such as environmental, geological, biological and forensic sciences.” (All quotes, Art Daily).

Prior Post:

Leave a comment

Gender Equality in the Art World. When?

“Men have always Dominated the Western Art World.”

“In 1989, the Guerilla Girls counted the number of women represented in The Met’s modern art sections,” notes Artists for Gender Equality. “Less than 5 percent of the artists were women and 85 percent of the nudes were female.” If you think Hollywood’s the only creative industry suffering gender discrimination and bias, check out the new short film series on the art world. (Mashable)

“Although women artists have seen greater exposure in recent years, the reality is that they continue to lag behind men across every metric—including the prices their works command at auctions, their representation in gallery rosters, and their presence in museum collections.”

The Film Series

   On November 29, 2017, Artsy published the third installment in its film series titled “Artists for Gender Equality in Art.” The series is in three parts, ” I. Past,”  “II. Present,”  and “III. Future.” This post will concentrate on Part III.  “The Future”

The “Change” in the Art World Today

“As artist and Gucci muse Petra Collins observes, the change we see in the art world today often amounts to mere tokenism—the inclusion of just a handful of women or people of color in a group show to give the appearance of diversity, for instance.” (Artsy)

“Ghettoizing” vs. Equality
“As performance artist Narcissister notes, is the “ghettoizing” practice of dividing artists into groups based on their race or gender. What would true gender equality in the art world look like?” (Artsy)
III. Future
“In the final chapter of the series, Collins, Narcissister, artist Genevieve Gaignard, and curator and gallerist Anthony Spinello look toward a world where all artists have equal opportunity—one in which there are truly inclusive museums and galleries that embrace multiple narratives, and where women and men are ready to address the biases that run deep within the art world. Featuring (in order of appearance) Genevieve Gaignard, Narcissister, Anthony Spinello, Petra Collins, Joan Semmel, Marilyn Minter, and Faith Ringgold.” (Artsy)

Listen to These Artists’ Words in the Video Above.
 Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 8.15.10 AM

Click Here


Leave a comment

Francis Bacon, Titian, and Influence on the ‘Screaming Popes’

November 15, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up  Weekly Every Wednesday.

Fine Art in the New Media

One of the tremendous benefits of fine art in the new media is the ability to see works of art close up, closer than you can see them in real life, and look at them for as long as you want. Another major benefit is the ability to make side by side comparisons, possibly shedding new light on the works. As an example, we have done so here with the works of Francis Bacon, Velázquez ,and Titian. Our  view is that “Art” and its “meaning” is up to you – what you see, and what you can imagine.

Bacon and Velázquez

It is axiomatic that the inspiration for Francis Bacon‘s “Screaming Pope,” above was Diego Velázquez’s “Pope Innocent X,”.  For instance,  The Truth Behind Francis Bacon’s Screaming Popes , an article by the noted art publisher, Phaidon, states,

“Bacon worked on his pope paintings, variations on Velázquez’s magnificent portrait of Pope Innocent X, for over twenty years. He was already exploring the idea while in the South of France in late 1946. The first surviving version (Head VI) dates from late 1949, and he finally stopped in the mid-1960s …* He acquired endless reproductions of the Velázquez painting from books, but famously did not see the original when he visited Rome in late 1954.”

The Phaidon article also states that,

“The art of Francis Bacon (1909–1992) epitomizes the angst at the heart of the modern human condition. His dramatic images of screaming figures and distorted anatomies are painted with a richly gestural technique, alluding to such Old Masters as Titian, Velázquez and Rembrandt. Displaying repressed and raw emotion, his body of work includes portraits of Lucian Freud and John Deakin.”

The “Meaning” of the ‘Screaming Heads’

The Phaidon article states further that,

“[Bacon’s] insertion [of the screaming head] subverts the encapsulation of power and self-assurance projected by Velázquez. The screaming mouth, isolated from other facial features and divorced from any narrative context, suggests existential agony. The pathos of human vulnerability and loss of faith or conviction are accentuated by the precisely rendered space frames in many Bacon images of popes, which make the figures register as ‘enclosed in the wretched glass capsule of the human individual’, to cite the evocative phrase used by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy (1872), one of Bacon’s favourite books.”

No matter what, Bacon’s screaming figures will go on screaming until the paint, and the pain disappear.

Titian Portrait_of_Cardinal_Filippo_Archinto_c1555

Bacon and Titian

The painting above titled, “Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto” is by Titian. What is interesting is that the label for the painting above at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it is presently in an exhibition of Old Masters, and which permanently houses the painting, states,

“The unusual portrayal of this man can be explained by facts known about his life. Archinto was appointed archbishop of Milan in 1556, but political troubles prevented his taking possession of the post. The veil obscuring him from view stands for these difficulties. The episcopal ring, which the artist carefully reveals just outside the veil, symbolizes Archinto’s legal right to office.”

Is it possible to imagine that when the curtain is fully drawn across the Archbishop that he, himself, will start to scream?

Now, take a closer look at the Archbishop’s left hand isolated below. Is it possible to imagine the hand as a skull dripping blood? If so, will it make you scream?

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 1.05.10 PM


Whether you regard the similarity of Bacon’s ‘Screaming Popes’ the Velázquez portrait of Pope Innocent X, and Titian’s “Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto” as influences on Bacon’s ‘Screaming Popes’, ultimately depends on what you see. No matter what, Bacon’s screaming figures will go on screaming until the paint, and the pain disappear.






Leave a comment

See this 17th Century Portrait Restored to its Original Brilliant Colors on Twitter!

November 8, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday

Varnish and Old Paintings

Oil paintings are usually coated with varnish to provide a protective coating, but as the varnish inevitably ages, the it turns yellow and obscures the brilliant colors of the orignal, often making the painting look dark and muddy.

Fine Art in the New Media, via Twitter!

Art dealer Phillip Mould on twitter gave a glimpse into what’s like to remove old varnish after a painting turns yellow and becomes an eyesore. “@philipmould: A remarkable Jacobean re-emergence after 200 years of yellowing varnish.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 7.17.21 PM

Mould told the Telegraph “A mixture of gel and solvent was created, specifically just to remove the varnish and not to damage the underlying paint.” Certainly the portrait’s subject would approve of her appearance’s return to its former splendor, though little information remains as to the identity of the lady herself: “We don’t know the identity yet but certain iconographic clues are starting to emerge,” said Mould. “All we know is she is 36 and it was painted in 1617.”

“Woman in Red”- Before

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 6.30.15 PM

“At first glance, the painting might not look that much worse for wear than anything else from the Jacobean era, but even the first few minutes of work reveal the true brilliance of the colors hidden underneath what turn out to be layers of brown and yellow. They’ve actually built up in the name of preservation: over about 200 years, a few (or more than a few) coats of varnish had been applied to the canvas in order to protect it, but that varnish turns color over time.” (OpenCulture.)



The Women of the Blues

November 1, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

billy Holiday 2

Everybody Gets The Blues

Blues is a music genre and musical form originated by African Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century. The genre developed from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and African American folk music. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.” (wikipedia)

Open Culture, one of the best websites for culture, has put together a post  “The Women of the Blues: A Playlist of Great Blues Singers, from Bessie Smith & Etta James, to Billie Holiday & Janis Joplin.”  Below are some excerpts from that post.

“Everybody gets the blues but not everybody gets the blues the same. Women get some serious blues. Black women get some very serious blues. Bessie Smith maybe had the most deep and soulful blues anyone ever had: “Crazy Blues,” “Down Hearted Blues,” “Careless Love Blues,” “Empty Bed Blues,” “Black Water Blues,” “Gulf Coast Blues,” and “St. Louis Blues,” which also happens to be the title of her only known film appearance, as well as one of the earliest talkies in cinema history. (See a transporting acapella performance from the film above.)”

Listen to Etta James (above) “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “Many incredible, women of the blues appear in the Spotify playlist (a sample of which is at the end of this post) in the company of more famous names like Bessie and Mamie Smith, Holiday, Joplin, Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey, Etta James, and Dinah Washington.”  Janis Joplin’s – “Ball and Chain” in the video below is guaranteed to give you the chills. You can go to Spotify to hear the whole playlist.

Leave a comment

Clyfford Still – Hidden No More: New Discovery Tools Now Online

October 25, 2017, by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday
Clyfford Still 2Clyfford Still, PH-1105, 1950. Oil on canvas, 104 3/8 x 111 1/8 inches (264.5 x 297.5 cm). Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO.

Fine Art in the New Media – Hidden No More: New Discovery Tools Now Online

Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum, has “launched two new online discovery tools today. More than 2,200 works of art—approximately 470 paintings and 1,750 works on paper by Still—are now available in high-resolution reproductions at collection.clyffordstillmuseum.org. More than 1,900 objects from the Clyfford Still Archives are also now public for the first time in the Museum’s new research database at clyffordstillmuseum.org/database.” (All quotes: Clyfford Still Museum.)

Online Collection

“Through full-screen, deep-zoom capabilities, the Online Collection offers close examination of Still’s art at a scale that reveals detailed surfaces and clear evidence of his painterly gestures.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 7.19.42 PM

Slow-Looking Tool

“It is also the first online art museum collection to include a slow-looking tool  with every object, presenting a more intimate viewing experience than standard digital surrogates for in-person appreciation.”


“You can sort items by more than 30 subject fields as well as criteria including object type, materials, creation date, and creation location. Images can be viewed online and also downloaded for personal use and study.”

New Media Technology

The online collection has been developed in partnership with Cogapp, a UK/NYC digital publishing systems provider.


“Among many other items from the Clyfford Still Archives, the Research Database includes installation photography and ephemera from exhibitions throughout the artist’s career; personal photographs of Still’s homes, studios, and travels; portraits of the artist and his family; and more than 170 historical journal articles, news items, and other publications related to Clyfford Still with searchable full text.

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 7.49.09 PM   Title: View of Clyfford Still’s Jaguar at the Stephans’ house in Greenwich, Connecticut

Clyfford Still 3

Clyfford Still, PH-651, 1934. Oil on window shade, 6 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches (17.3 x 24.9 cm). Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO.














Leave a comment

Now, You Can Virtually Page Through Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks

October 11, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 8.29.46 PM


Digital and other New Media tools have made a great amount of books available. Many are free. It is interesting to note who the developers are.  The British Library has scanned  centuries old books including the Codex Arundel, the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Story of Leonardo’s Notebooks

From Open Culture,

“For hundreds of years, the huge, secretive collection of manuscripts remained mostly unseen by all but the most rarified of collectors. After Leonardo’s death in France, writes the British Library, his student Francesco Melzi “brought many of his manuscripts and drawings back to Italy. Melzi’s heirs, who had no idea of the importance of the manuscripts, gradually disposed of them.” Nonetheless, over 5,000 pages of notes “still exist in Leonardo’s ‘mirror writing’, from right to left.” *

Leonardo 1

The Notebooks Digitized

“The digitized notebooks debuted in 2007 as a joint project of the British Library and Microsoft called “Turning the Pages 2.0,” an interactive feature that allows viewers to “turn” the pages of the notebooks with animations. Onscreen glosses explain the content of the cryptic notes surrounding the many technical drawings, diagrams, and schematics (see a selection of the notebooks in this animated format here). For an overwhelming amount of Leonardo, you can look through 570 digitized pages of [the] Codex Arundel here.” (OpenCulture).

The Technology Turning the Pages™ 

As this site is devoted to the uses of New Media tools to make fine art and literature accessible to everyone, everywhere, we want to write about the technology behind the Leonardo Notebooks and a great number of  other books and manuscripts. Below is a short description and a video of the technology  called “Turning Pages.”

As explained at Turning the Pages™ , it “was originally conceived in 1996 and Armadillo Systems have been developing the software since 2001, helping libraries, museums and galleries around the world provide access to their collections. The earliest books were at the British Library.”

“[The Goal was] to produce the most compelling solution for providing access and interpretation for rare books, manuscripts and single sheet items (such as maps or charters).”

“In 2006 [Armadillo Systems] worked with Microsoft to develop TTP 2.0 which produced incredibly realistic three-dimensional books, including the ability of gilding to catch the light as the pages turn and to mimic both paper and vellum books.I n 2013 [the company] launched TTP 3.0, a complete re-code for the online version, taking advantage of HTML5 to provide access to books on all browsers and devices.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.30.10 PM

Image Credit: British Library





%d bloggers like this: