Encountering the Past

In a chapter of Cynthia Freedland’s book, Portraits & Persons, the philosopher proposes that portraits are images of persons that fulfil one or more of the following features: Likenesses Psychological characterisations Proofs of presence or ‘contact’ Manifestations of a person’s ‘essence’ or ‘air’ Such criteria may seem obvious but, in practice, they are particularly difficult…

Mapplethorpe in Paris

For the first time in the history of France, a major retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe has landed in the Grand Palais in Paris. The show features 250 works by the American photographer ranging from his highly sculptural nudes to his controversial images of sexuality and eroticism, BDSM and sadomasochism. Robert Mapplethorpe, Sonia Resika, 1988.

2 Weeks in Paris – Day 4: Crea-tea-vity

The history of art has always been littered with controversy. Perhaps the most famous set of all are those related to representations of female nudes in which Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) and Manet’s Olympia (1863) take centre-stage. But art, in many cases, seems to have progressed because of these controversies – Picasso’s Les Demoiselles…

Modern portraiture – the Old and the New Viennese

Vienna, also known as the City of Music, was an area where many great composers found their place in musical history, icons such as Mozart, Brahms and Mahler. Theatres and opera houses filled the city with world-class music, attracting tourists and immigrants from across the Empire. During the years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918), Vienna…

Federico Barocci – where Renaissance meets Baroque

This Wednesday just happened to be the day of Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s funeral service, of which I took the opportunity to witness first-hand. I arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral shortly after 10am and struggled to find a nice spot that didn’t have at least 10-12 people in front of it already. Also I was rather…

Man Ray Portraits

A few weeks ago I headed to the National Portrait Gallery for their exhibition on Man Ray’s portrait photographs before taking the train back to Canterbury. I had managed to receive a free National Art Pass prior to the visit, courtesy of my university. As I stepped into the first section of the exhibition, no…