Does it ever feel as though you’re operating on autopilot?

Why not craft an automaton to pilot your course?

Here’s a terrific one for those of you who suffer from writer’s block. Completed by 1772, ‘The Writer’ was the most perfect and complex automaton built by swiss clockmaker Jacquet-Droz. His astonishing mechanism was presented in every court in Europe and fascinated the world’s most important people: the kings and emperors of China, India and Japan. This automaton could scrawl any sentence on a piece of paper and had a chilling repertory of human-like movements.

Automaton

What a beautiful head of hair!

Read about this creation here.

Dancing Couple

Waltzing Couple

Magician

Magician

To see more automata, click here.

In Memorium EJ Hughes 1913 – 2007

Hughes, Williams Lake 1964

Hughes, West of Williams Lake 1964

During the course of a career that spanned seven decades, E.J. Hughes became one of British Columbia’s best-known painters.

“The loss of E. J. Hughes is a tremendous one for the province,” said Ian Thom, curator of Hughes’s last show in 2003 at Vancouver Art Gallery and author of E.J. Hughes….

Hughges, Comox Valley 1953

Hughes, Comox Valley 1953

“Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, are fortunate that this gentle, self-effacing man has left us a wonderfully rich visual legacy which celebrates the beauty of the natural world and our relationship to it.”

Hughes, Departure Bay 1969

Hughes, Departure Bay 1969

To read full article, click here.

Stadium of the Statues, Rome

Realist art as propaganda.

Statue

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries repressive political regimes often sponsored social realist art to propagate their own political agendas, demonising as deviant any work that did not fit into the realist genre.

 Stadio dei Marmi

These sculptures are exemplary examples of fascist propaganda, commissioned by the Italian dictator Mussolini to celebrate his reactionary political ideology. Carrying the celebration of heroic masculinity pioneered by the Greeks to an extreme, Enrico Del Debbio’s 25 foot fascist athletes extoll the glories of war, violence and military power in images that are hyper-real.

Stadio dei Marmi

photo George Grabarczyk

To see more, click here.

Lucifer

St Michael Fighting Lucifer by Gerard David c 1500

St Michael fighting Lucifer by Gerard David c 1500

St Michael by the Master of St Ursula

St Michael Fighting Demons by the Master of St Ursula c 1500

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.

Milton, Paradise Lost

“How art thou fallen from heaven
O day-star, son of the morning! (Helel ben Shahar)
How art thou cast down to the ground,
That didst cast lots over the nations!
And thou saidst in thy heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
Above the stars of God (El)
Will I exalt my throne;
And I will sit upon the mount of meeting,
In the uttermost parts of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High (Elyon).’
Yet thou shalt be brought dow to the nether-world,
To the uttermost parts of the pit.”

Isaiah 14:12-15

Seven Deadly Sins

Michael Hussar art

Untitled painting by Michael Hussar

Which of the seven deadly sins might this encapsulate?

Surrealism is alive and well in 2006.

For more of Michael Hussar’s work, click here.

“Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604) described Seven Deadly Sins in his Moralia in Job.

1. Superbia Pride
2. Invidia Envy
3. Ira Anger
4. Avaritia Avarice
5. Tristia Sadness
6. Gula Gluttony
7. Luxuria Lust

(Moralia in Job, XXXI cap. xlv).

The sin ‘Tristia’ was later replaced by ‘Accidia’, or Sloth (Wenzel (1967), 38). This sin was taken from earlier catalogues of vice, in particular, the eight evil thoughts listed by Evaagrius (346-99), and the eight principal vices proposed by the mid fourth-century writer Cassian (Wenzel (1967), 14-21). Some of the iconography of the Sins was derived from the descriptions of the Battles between the Virtues and Vices in the Psychomachia by the fourth-century poet Prudentius”.

(http://www.le.ac.uk/arthistory/seedcorn/faq-sds.html)

Seven Deadly Sins by Bosch

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things by Hieronymous Bosch

Size: 120 x 150 cm
Type of painting: oil on panel
Date of the painting: 1480-1500

A Painting, An Artist

“The composition of the panel is structured around five circles. The central one is divided into three concentric rings and symbolically represents the eye of God. In the centre is the image of Christ on the holy sepulchre showing his wounds. In the next area is an inscription warning that God is watching: “Cave, Cave Dominus Videt” (Take care, take care, God is watching). The centre is separated by another circle with gilded rays which provides the composition with a neutral space in order to highlight the outer ring in which Bosch has painted representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, each one identified by Latin inscriptions: Anger, Pride, Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Avarice and Envy.

The four corners of the panel are occupied by four smaller circles in which Bosch has painted the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Hell and Glory.

At the top and bottom of the composition are two scrolls in which appear Latin texts reproducing Chapter 32 of Deuteronomy, warning of the dangers of sin. The one above reads: ” For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them./ O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end”. The inscription below reads: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be”.

The artist has represented the Seven Deadly Sins as small scenes based on his observation of daily life in the Netherlands but one which contains a critique of the vices of his own age. Each of these views can be compared to a small work of genre painting. This wheel of sins is united by the shared sky and by views of the Dutch countryside. The interior scenes are filled with details of everyday objects.

The Four Last Things are conventional images: the most complex is that of Hell in which we again find the Seven Deadly Sins with their accompanying punishments.

The origins of this panel are unknown. It was probably produced as a commission from a monastic order. In 1574 it belonged to Philip II who kept it in the monastery of El Escorial. In the inventories of the king’s possessions it is described as a table-top rather than a panel for hanging on the wall. During the Spanish Civil War it was brought to the Museo del Prado on deposit from Patrimonio Nacional”. (http://museoprado.mcu.es/icuadro_mayo_2003.html)

Seven Deadly Sins sculpture by Jennifer Strange

Bosch wall

Bosch paintings in Den Bosch on a construction barrier in front of the cathedral of Sint Jan in Bsoch, Netherlands. From left to right, scenes from “The Ship of Fools,” “The Pedlar,” “Christ Carrying the Cross,” “The Conjurer,” the right panel of “St. Anthony Borne Aloft by Demons.”

Photo by Anja Zeidler