Category Archives: Art


Pablo Picasso. Woman with a Crow. 1904. Charcoal, pastel and water-color on paper. Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, USA.

Marc Chagall. Lovers over Sant-Paul. 1970-71. Oil on canvas. 145 x 130. Private collection

“Ravished! How ravished one could be without ever being touched. Ravished by dead words become obscene, and dead ideas become obsessions.”

“The life within life, the sheer warm, potent loveliness….. What a mystery!”

— D.H. Lawrence

fading in

Odilon Redon, 1865

Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The Lunch. c. 1879. Oil on canvas. Barnes Foundation, USA

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923), Menina

דְּמָמָה וָקוֹל אֶשְׁמָע

Joseph Decamp, The Cellist, 1908, Oil on canvas (71.12 × 58.57 cm)

Joseph Decamp, The Cellist, 1908, Oil on canvas (71.12 × 58.57 cm)

I have tried to do what is true and not ideal.” — Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Alone, 1896; Oil on board, 31 x 40 cm; Musée D'Orsay, Paris

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born on Nov. 24, 1864, in Albi, France. He was an aristocrat, the son and heir of Comte Alphonse-Charles de Toulouse and last in line of a family that dated back a thousand years. Henri’s father was rich, handsome, and eccentric. His mother was overly devoted to her only living child. The Comte and Comtesse themselves were first cousins and Henri suffered from a number of congenital health conditions attributed to this tradition of inbreeding.

Unknown at the time, Henri suffered from a genetic condition that prevented his bones from healing properly. Fatefully, at age twelve, he broke his left leg. And at age fourteen, he broke his right leg. His legs ceased to grow, so that as an adult he was only 1.52 m (5 ft) tall, having developed an adult-sized torso, while retaining his child-sized legs, which were 0.70 m (27.5 in) long. He is also reported to have had hypertrophied genitals. Physically unable to participate in most of the activities typically enjoyed by men of his age, Toulouse-Lautrec immersed himself in his art.

In his late teens, Lautrec was honored to become a student of the artist Fernand Cormon, whose studio was located on the hill above Paris, Montmartre. When he graduated from Cormon’s studio, Lautrec gave himself up fully to the bohemian life, spending much of his time drinking and carousing — and constantly sketching — in cabarets, racetracks, and brothels.

Lautrec was often mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, and this led him to drown his sorrows in alcohol. At first this was just beer and wine, but his tastes quickly expanded. 1893 saw Lautrec’s alcoholism begin to take its toll, and as those around him began to realize the seriousness of his condition there were rumors of a syphilis infection. Finally, in 1899, his mother and a group of concerned friends had him briefly institutionalized. He had even gone to the length of having a cane that he could hide alcohol in so he could have a drink on him at all times. 

An alcoholic for most of his adult life, Toulouse-Lautrec was placed in a sanatorium shortly before his death. As he lay dying, his mother and a few friends sat at his side. When his father, the rarely-seen Count Alphonse showed up, everyone was astonished — except Henri. He said, “Good Papa. I knew you wouldn’t miss the kill.”  Toulouse-Lautrec’s last words reportedly were: “Le vieux con!” (“The old fool!”). This was his goodbye to his father. He died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis at the family estate in Malromé at the age of 36.

Throughout his career, which spanned less than 20 years, Toulouse-Lautrec created 737 canvases, 275 watercolours, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings, some ceramic and stained glass work, and an unknown number of lost works. Toulouse-Lautrec is known along with Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period.

(Sources: All over.)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


While living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II, Picasso suffered harassment from the Gestapo. One officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in his apartment, “Did you do that?” Picasso responded, “No, you did.”

“there is nothing less spontaneous than my art” – Degas

Edgar Degas, La classe de danse (The Dancing class) c. 1873-75 (140 Kb); Oil on canvas, 85 x 75 cm (33 1/2 x 29 1/2 in); Musee d'Orsay, Paris

“Degas was a banker’s son who scorned the rabble and loved tradition so much that he said of Louis XIV’s court: ‘They were dirty perhaps, but distinguished; we are clean but we are common.’ He was a fanatic anti-Dreyfusard and separated himself from his dearest Jewish friends for many years; he would even question a model about her race and dismiss her if she were Jewish.

“Edmond Duranty described Degas as ‘an artist of rare intelligence, preoccupied with ideas which seemed strange to the majority of his fellows… his brain was always active and boiling over; they called him the inventor of ‘social chiaroscuro.’

“Degas was by no means a bohemian, and for years he loved parties, but he was far less conformist than Manet, and when the latter advised him to accept a medal he exploded: ‘This is not the first time I have realized what a bourgeois you are, Manet.'”

Excerpted from Impressionism, by Phoebe Pool

na daoine dúinn grá Gortaítear linn an chuid is mó

Henri Rousseau. Promenade in the Forest. c. 1886. Oil on canvas. 70 x 60.5 cm. Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland.

“we, however, are not prisoners.”

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. At Montrouge (Rosa La Rouge). 1886-87. Oil on canvas. 72.3 x 49 cm. Barnes Foundation, Lincoln University, Merion, PA, USA.

Fear of the Inexplicable

But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence. For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe’s stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter”

Mikhail Nesterov. Portrait of a Girl. Study for "Youth of St. Sergiy Radonezhsky". 1890-91. Oil on panel. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

*title is exerpt from “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.

today, I conquered

Norman Rockwell, Skating Lesson

pain of deep regret

Edvard Munch. Girl on the Beach. 1896. Aquatint with scraper and drypoint on zinc. 28.2 x 21.7 cm. Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway.

Edvard Munch. Girl on the Beach. 1896. Aquatint with scraper and drypoint on zinc. 28.2 x 21.7 cm. Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway.

excerpts on love.

Marc Chagall. The Birthday. 1915. The MOMA, New York

Becoming a person entails self-organization; no matter how rich and multiplicitous it is, no matter how “true” or authentic, self-structure forecloses and truncates many dimensions of experience. Density and complexity are inevitable sacrificed in favor of simplicity and dependability. In the very distinction between self and not-self, a grid is superimposed upon the complex interpenetrability between between self and other. Loss of richness, immersion, and density is an inevitable feature of development, of becoming a person.

Is romantic love something we can will to develop and intend to maintain? When we are tired of it or distressed by it, can we will or intend romantic love to diminish or to cease altogether? Or if romantic love is outside our conscious, willful control, is it initiated, run, and terminated by some sort of hidden agent, a subconsciousness within us? Are there multiple intentions, dispersed motives, that converge to determine our romantic feelings? Or alternatively, might we regard powerful emotional experiences like romantic love as generated out of some combination of conscious agency and unconscious motives? If “I” give my love to you, what exactly am I giving and who is the “I” making the offering, and who, by the way, are you?

We want and need many different things at once: dependability and surprise, having and longing, knowing and imagining. And in our passionate relationships we feel many things in rapid succession: desire, vulnerability, adoration, betrayal, hatred, pathos, guilt, and possibly renewal. But it is no simple matter to determine whether the firm stability we long for is reality, illusion, or delusion, and whether castle-building draws one away from life or generates a domain within which a more vibrant, meaningful life can be created.

The cultivation of romance in relationships requires two people who are fascinated by the ways in which, individually and together, they generate forms of life they hope they can count on. It entails a tolerance of the fragility of those hopes, woven together from realities and fantasies, and an appreciation of the ways in which, in the rich density of contemporary life, realities often become fantasy and fantasies often become reality.

— Stephen A. Mitchell, Can Love Last?

the powerful play goes on

Kiki Smith - Lilith (1994), Metropolitan Museum

O Me! O life! by Walt Whitman

O Me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who  more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.


Picasso - Harlequin Family (1905), Rose Period

Picasso - Harlequin Family (1905), Rose Period

Future of Art?

Henri Matisse. Madame Matisse: madras rouge. 1907.

Henri Matisse. Madame Matisse: madras rouge. 1907.

My art history professor mentioned months ago that the era of massive art exhibitions is coming to an end, and what a tragedy it is. New York has been the center of the art world, and the recession will temper that. This article begs the same discussion, but takes a different approach.

The Lens and Mirror

Lens and Mirror

William Anastasi (American, b. 1933) Nine Polaroid Photographs of a Mirror, 1967 Black-and-white instant print; 14 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (36.8 x 28.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

I see this as an interesting way of showing dimensionality of persona, the fathomless layers inside us.