Rembrandt (1606-1669) He lived in the golden age of Dutch art and before he was thirty he became the most popular painter in Amsterdam. His speciality was portraits into which he invested spiritual quality by chiaroscuro that was as unique as the Dutch landscape art where the light and water gave painting an ethereal quality. Where his contemporaries specialized into still life, intimate domestic scenes street scene or animals Rembrandt achieved unusual felicity in giving whichever the subject matter he chose, his genius. In order to commemorate his engagement in 1633 to Saskia he drew her portrait in silverpoint, a Renaissance technique in which his state of mind can be seen in the loving care of his lines. Rembrandt was a prolific draughtsman excelling in etching and most of his drawing were spontaneous and quick studies done with consummate skill. Between his self-portrait with Saskia of 1635 and self-portrait of 1669 reveal the arc of his personal fortunes from high to low. His self-portraits to us seem like a diary of a man who had seen success and disappointments and as he stares at us we are given a feeling that he had seen and have come to accept the ravages of age and penury with equanimity. One great loss was the death of his mother in 1640 and Saskia in 1642. By the 40s Rembrandt had given up portraiture which brought him great reputation and his interest turned to religious paintings that did not bring him income as he was used to. Saskia who was never robust and after many miscarriages died soon after the birth of Titus. In 1647 he lived with Hendrijke Stoffels, a servant 20 years younger to him, who had entered into his household as a servant in 1642. Due to a clause in the will of Saskia remarriage forfeited his share of the estate. In 1656 he was declared a pauper. Having moved to modest quarters in a poorer district he worked with renewed energy in 1861 he painted more dated paintings than in any year since the early 1630s. His late masterpieces take their place among the greatest works of art ever created. Despite his success there were many personal tragedies stalking him. His beloved Hendrickje died in 1663 and his son Titus in 1668. His grand daughter was born in March 1669 and Rembrandt had not much time left. He died that October. He was 63.
Posts Tagged ‘genius’
Posted in personalities, tagged art, Benny Thomas, chiaroscuro, genius, Hendrickje Stoffels, pen portraits, Saskia, The Anatomy lesson of Dr.Tulp(1632), The Night Watch(1642), Titus on October 14, 2012| Leave a Comment »
“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings”(Lewis Carroll)
I hope I shall not stray from the point I want to make here. Suppose one has made an inventory of Picasso’s entire output and accounted for every day and circumstances in which he lived it would give us an insight into his life, the man his art. Would it not? Even so the real Pablo Ruiz Picasso shall remain less than the True. The point is that the physical man is only one aspect. His genius of course is drawn from the synergy that is incident on the natural Man. Even so it is not all there is to the man.
Synergy of the Golden Pagoda touched Picasso and the stuttering English Mathematics Don,- Lewis Carroll differently. Their works are even now followed as though they are alive. Lewis Carroll shall be remembered through his Alice series even after some 150 years.
Man has a physical and an abstract side the latter you may say a spiritual side or a thinking side according to your persuasion.
Essence of a man is not in either but somewhere between and betwixt. It is his true signature, the mass that gives him his place in Cosmos.
This is defined as soul.
It is like the very private rainbow of the previous post, It is not the white light or synergy within the Golden Pagoda but how it is dispersed according to the position you hold within the Pagoda.
Genius of Picasso and Carroll holds different shades of meaning and significance to us. The latter wrote some abstruse books on Mathematics apart from children’s classics. Alice is read by both old and the young alike. So a man cannot be mechanically constructed as a painting by numbers. The golden Pagoda is the free masonry of all life forms where Soul gives man a certain level of knowledge as in the case of Free Masonry.
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) English
A poet is a mythmaker who finds inspiration like the Delphic pythia from vapors surrounding him and he may not be aware of the full import of what he utters. The life of Dylan Thomas combines Orphic myth with cautionary tale. By the time he left school at 16 he knew he was a poet and he would escape ‘the smug darkness of a provincial town’- and he meant his native town Swansea, Wales. In another letter he also revealed his dictum’ There is no necessity for the artist to do anything… he is a law unto himself.’ In that tragic short life-he lived 13 days past his 39th birthday, he set out to live according to his artistic principle. This entailed shameless exploitation from which no intimates, acquaintances or strangers were excluded. But he was disarmingly charming, and was famous that funded his steady foray into alcoholic binges. He had promised his wife before marriage ‘You’ll never, I’ll never let you grow wise, and I’ll never and you shall never let me grow wise, and we will always be young and unwise together.” He got at least half his wish. ‘Sadder and older’ he , like Peter Pan, remained untouched by the demands of the world or unwilling to change. After WWII his fortunes improved but the more he earned the more he seemed to owe. No one possibly could have lived as he did utterly given to a life of indulgence and of irresponsibility but his life ever on a downward spiral had something a line from Shelley, ’I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!’ This impractical dreamer may have lost out in the harsh realities of life and proved wrong in many things but no one is left in doubt of his poems that shall endure as with of Keats or of Shelley. One of his finest poems ‘And death shall have no dominion’ could well be his epitaph.
Thomas’s father, a school teacher gave the poet an early awareness of the native Welsh traditions, as well as the classics of English literature.
Thomas began writing poetry when he was eleven years old his earliest recorded piece is a humorous poem. He was soon very much into it and he would in later years return to them, reworking many of them for inclusion in later publications.
Thomas’s first book of poems was published in 1934 when Thomas was twenty years old. Thomas went on to publish three more books of poetry, as well as a final collection of his poems near the end of his life. He wrote poetry which often used traditional forms of rhythm, rhyme, and meter. He was also one of the modern writers who helped return English poetry to its roots in its own language. (cf.Chaucer) Rather than choosing long words derived from foreign languages, he preferred strong, short words from native English. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is one poem that has stood the test of time.
Trivia: Thomas’ father gave him the name “Dylan” after the name of a sea god in Celtic mythology, and the name was not as popular as it is today. Bob Dylan is another who has adorned the name with credit.
Michelangelo Buonarroti(1475 – 1564) Italian
Sculptor, painter, architect, poet.
A giant in an age of giants ‘the man with four souls’ who has crowned a lifetime of work with achievements of highest rank in architecture, sculpture, painting and poetry, was born at Caprese on March 6, 1475.
The Buonarroti were a Florentine family of ancient burgher nobility brought to straitened circumstances. With his father’s death the boy was put out to nurse with a stonecutter’s wife. “I drew the chisel and the mallet with which I carve statues in together with my nurse’s milk”. Later he was taught to read and write his native Italian, but art became his dominant passion.
In 1488 he was apprenticed to two leading artists of the day: He turned to nature and his works soon outshined those of his masters.
Next he turned to sculpture in the school formed under the patronage of the Great Lorenzo de Medici. Soon he came under the eye of the Great Lorenzo himself. Forthwith the boy was taken into his household where he remained until Lorenzo’s death in 1492.
(bronze bust by Volterra. done in charcoal, 1978)
A style was being developed on the classical Greek lines; Paganism gave way to Christian piety as he came under the spell of that fierce prophet Savanarola.
In poetry and philosophy Dante provided the inspiration; in his own realm of art, he was very familiar with the styles of Ghirlandais, his early tutors, Ghiberti, Grotto and Donatello.
In one of the scuffles with a fellow student, he got a blow on his nose which marked him for rest of his life. His deeper emotions – for he was in and out of love – he found expression in a series of exquisite sonnets, bulk of which was addressed to V.C…..
After his patron’s death he travelled about Venice, Bologna, Florence and Athens to Rome. The year 1499 marks his first real work of Christian sculpture ‘Pieta’. From then onwards he was prolific. In 1504 he carved out ‘David’ from a spoilt block of Carrara marble, nine cubits in height. In eighteen months he had carved out the masterpiece, a statue of amazing beauty.
Next year he was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II who set him to work on the construction of his own tomb. This task dragged on for years, causing trouble and bitterness between the sculptor and the pope’s executers: It was never completed, but the famous ‘Moses and the Group of Slaves’ were part of the scheme.
Three years later Michelangelo accepted the commission to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A work of more power and loftier conception is hard to find. His agony and the ecstasy is the quientessence of the artist in the throes of creation.
The next decade saw Michelangelo busy on the work for Julius’ tomb and on the colossal figures for the Medici Chapel. After a brief entry in Florentine politics, in 1534, he left Florence for Rome.
In his sixtieth year he was appointed as the chief architect, sculptor and painter to the Vatican by the order of Pope Paul IV.
In the same year he began his fresco in the Sistine chapel, ‘The last Judgement’ which took him seven years to complete. In 1547 he was made architect of St. Peters, whose cupola is his great contribution to architecture. The same year saw the passing of one oasis in his troubled life – the widowed poetess Vittorio Colonna, who was the only woman in his ascetic life and whose love was cerebral as well as spiritual. The bulk of his sonnets – statues in words, roughhewn and beautiful in their rugged vitality – are addressed to her.
Another seventeen years had to pass before he could join her. He had lived long years alone, wedded to his art, “a wife who was too much for him”. A generous man to others and a mean one to himself, he lived frugally. He was irritable, quick tempered and arrogant, but the creative fire in him made him lead an ascetic life only for art! He has enriched the world with what he could carve out of his tormented soul.
I have a son who is a genius. The day Chuck was born I knew it for a fact. Didn’t he say, simplex munditis at 10 months? The first phrase he ever spoke was not in mother tongue as though he sensed he was making history of sorts.
The occasion was simple though. He lay in his crib and between drinking his constitutional and wetting the bed he had freed himself from his blankets. When his mother picked him up and wanted to tuck him back he just backed off to say, ‘elegant in simplicity’. His dimpled smile was right and his baby fat made him a dumpling. Later it seemed to me he didn’t have the patience to say the old blankets chafed him and in his birthday suit he felt great and like a brick of gold. Naturally he had to express his joy at being comfortable with a quote from Horace. Horace, no less!
At the age of four Juvenal and Goethe were jockeying for a spot in his intellectual firmament. Before he hit the five he knew Nietzsche was speaking his own lingo.
While his mother and I went from speculation to handouts.
Chuck was getting ahead till he had a title that was impressive. His bonus was phenomenal that spoke volumes than speaking 10 languages like a native.
One comfort we had in the cash strapped times was that dialects of the world were not in the immediate danger of extinction. From South America to Fiji our son Chuck had collected them all just in case.
One week end he dropped in to see us. He said he liked what he saw about us. Next thing he wanted to move in with us.
Before I could ask what was the idea he hinted the company was downsizing so he was on transition.
I was incredulous. I asked, ‘Son what with all your education?’
He was over educated he said and it was working against him. He shrugged and said, ‘Never mind Pop, I will find a way to brand my over-achievement into edutainment space.’
After fixing himself a sandwich he added: ‘meanwhile garbage is piling up on my elbow’. ( Later it struck me garbage was his pile of resumes returned unread.)
He was somewhat moody that he had not the bandwidth besides his language skills.
He said, ’Employers don’t want to wrap around their heads but park their behinds on shmucks who do not know their onions.
It was then I realized Chuck was a genius to his own hurt. I ought to have known: since the time he quoted from Horace by a spark of inspiration he was heading for disaster.
I gently patted him on his back and said ‘ Courage, son. You opened your life with such a stirring phrase far remarkable than Longfellow’s Excelsior. You quoted simplex munditis, unaided. I am certain Horace was at your bedside.’
My son’s eyes sparkled and faded. With downcast eyes he muttered, ’semel insanivimus omnes’*( We all have played fool once.)
Yes Chuck was right. He had played the fool to rely on his superior intelligence; just as his mother and I had warmed in our knowledge his genius was of a superior mode. The trouble was that the world only needed one with just enough skills to prove he wasn’t a moron.
DAVID (WARK) GRIFFITH (American) (1875 – 1948)
A stage actor and aspiring playwright who entered the cinema in 1908, Griffith is generally acknowledged as the father of the cinema, the man who invented everything from cross cutting to the close-up. Though rival claims may be pressed – for Louis Feuillade and Benjamin Christenan, among others – the fact remains that Griffith, with his unbounded ambition and taste for grandeur, did more than any one else to make the cinema realise its own potential. His two more famous films ‘Intolerance’ (1916) and ‘Birth of a Nation’ (1915), still stun with their epic scale, fantastic set pieces and almost biblically lofty sentiments. It is a pity that the inspirational claims of these masterworks have tended to overshadow the more endearing merits of the small, unassuming sagas of rural America such as ‘True Heart Susie’. Here, inimitable Griffith preserved an age of lost innocence, a world of white fenced houses and sunlit orchards where ragged youths and demure maidens with rose bud lips dreamed their dreams of pure romance.
Théophile Gautier himself no mean writer has left this account of Balzac’s attempt to write a play. Hard pressed for cash the celebrated author Honoré de Balzac got the advance for a play, which was to be on Vautrin, a character from Père Goriot. Hartel, the manager of Porte-St.Martin Theatre, as luck would have it was in need of a play. Père Goriot was already a success and M. Hartel agreed. Frédérick Lemaitre(who figures in the film Les Enfants du Paradis-1945) was to play the title role. Gautier and a few others were roped in to hear the reading of the play.
At last they assembled on the premises of the tailor Buisson, in the rue de Richelieu where a room was furnished for the purpose.
‘So here is Théo at last!’ Balzac cried,’Lazy and late as ever. You should have been here an hour ago…I’ve got to read Hartel a five act play tomorrow.’
‘And you want our opinion?’ we asked setting ourselves in our armchairs with the air of men preparing for a long session.
Perceiving from our attitude Balzac said with perfect simplicity: ‘It isn’t written.’
‘For Heaven’s sake!’I exclaimed, ‘In that case you’ll have to postpone the reading for six weeks.’
‘Not a bit of it. We’re going to knock off this dramorama and raise the wind. Just now my arrears are pretty heavy.’
‘But we can’t do it between now and tomorrow. There won’t be time to copy it.’
‘This is how I arranged it. You’ll do one act, Ourliac another, Laurent- Jan the third, de Belloy the fourth and I’ll do the fifth-and I’ll read it by midday tomorrow as agreed. One act of play is only four or five hundred lines and anyone can write five hundred lines of dialogue in a day and night.’
‘Well, if you’ll tell me the subject and give me the scenario and let me know something about the characters, I’ll get to work,’ I said not a little alarmed.
‘Oh Lord,’ he cried, with a look of superb astonishment and magnificent scorn, ‘if I’ve got to tell you what it is all about we shall never get it done!’
Needless to say it was not done in time.
Compiler: benny( Prometheus: the life of Balzac by André Maurois)