Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hi-res images on Rijksmuseum website

Hi res images in Rijksmuseum: Vermeer, Rembrandt, Floris van Dijk, Peter de Hooch, Van Gogh, Monet
One thing I can never seem to get enough of is high resolution images of great art, and it seems like more and more are cropping up each day — one of the little gifts bestowed upon us by the globe spanning lattice of zooming bits we affectionately call the web.

Peacay, author of the amazing blog, BibliOdyssey (see my posts here and here), was kind enough to point out recently that the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, one of the world’s great museums, is now posting high resolution images of almost all of the works featured in their online collections. This practice extends right down to the posters and prints in their shop.

While not as stunningly high-resolution as the images on the Google Art Project (my post here), these can be viewed whole more easily and they go way beyond the selection offered there.

You can search the collections, or, as I prefer to do, browse through their lists of artists alphabetically; find someone you’re interested in, say, Vermeer (grin), and see a selection of the works available for viewing online.

Click on a thumbnail image to access the detail page for a given work, for example, The Little Street, and click on the plus sign or link for “Extra large view of the image” below the preview image to see the larger version (images above, top, with detail crop below it).

Some enlargements are higher in resolution and have more detail than others, but all I’ve encountered have been large enough to be worthwhile.

The collection includes artists who are quite famous, like Rembrandt (images above, 3rd and 4th down), a little less famous, like Pieter de Hooch (above, 7th and 8th down), and lesser known but wonderful artists like still life painter Floris van Dijck (above, 5th and 6th down).

The museum’s online collection also contains gems you might not expect, like one of Van Gogh’s beautifully textural ink drawings, or a stunning Monet.

It’s also worth coming back through the front of the site and exploring that way, though I find the artist listings the most rewarding in terms of high resolution images. You could spend a lot of rewarding time here just checking out artists with whom you’re not familiar.

If your taste for great northern European art (and others) is anything like mine, I’ll issue my standard Major Time Sink Warning.

[Thanks also to Valentino Radman and Lok Jansen for mentions of high res images at the Rijksmuseum.]

Shy the Sun (update)

Shy the Sun
Back in 2006 I noticed the delightfully idiosyncratic work of a South African artist and illustrator named Ree Treweek (images above, top).

In the time since, I have followed with fascination as Treweek and her partners Jannes Hendrikz and Marcus Smit, collectively known as The Blackheart Gang, produced a strikingly original and truly strange animation titled The Tale of How (above, 2nd down), which brought them to international attention, and leveraged that notice into a successful production company for animated commercial spots called Shy the Sun.

Shy the Sun produced a stunningly bizarre commercial called Sea Orchestra (above, 3rd down) for United Airlines (which was experimenting with exceptionally creative ad spots, like Jamie Caliri’s Dragon).

After that, I found a commercial not shown here in the U.S. that put their eccentric talents in service of selling Bakers Precious Biscuits (above, 4th down).

It was in the latter ad that I think they added to their techniques of combining hand drawings with computer coloring and compositing an additional animation style incorporating miniature models and sets. This approach has been very successful for them and they have utilized both approaches, as well as traditional CGI, in a series of terrific spots and promotions, some well known, others more obscure.

If you’ve ever wondered, as I did initially, who created the psychedelic cat food commercial, Friskies Adventureland (above, 5th down), it was Shy the Sun.

They applied their miniature set skills to ads for the South African subscription TV service Mnet in Ladybug and Firefly (above, 3rd from bottom). More traditional CGI seems to have been the choice for the darker ads for Electronic Arts’ game Alice: Madness Returns.

Treweek has been art director on most of the projects and co-director on some. She also contributed character design to the bizarre creatures seen at the end of Pete Candeland and Passion Pictures’ wild promo for Harmonix “The Beatles Rock Band” (above, 2nd from bottom).

My slightly blurry screen captures don’t begin to tell you what these animations look like in motion, particularly The Tale of How and Sea Orchestra.

There are now also videos available on The Making of The Tale of How, The Making of Sea Orchestra (above, bottom) and The Making of Bakers.

I’m looking forward to whatever projects they take on, as their work continues to be imaginative and original.

Now, if only someone would give them a big pile of money to do a feature length animation…

David Gray

David Gray
David Gray paints elegant, refined still life paintings and beautifully realized portraits in the classical realist tradition.

In both his portraits and still life paintings, he evokes a feeling of stillness and contemplation, though in the portraits that feeling is often pierced by the quiet but intense aliveness projected by his subjects.

Similarly, Gray works with muted, limited palettes that are often punctuated by a single intense color. That kind of duality, in color, in emotional tone, in light and dark, and in the compositional contrasts of form and negative space that define his compositions, seems to pervade his work.

Many of his portraits are part of a series in which he explores a fascination with head wraps, and the contrasts of folded cloth against smooth skin. Though I was immediately drawn to a portrait of his daughter that seems very Vermeer-like, echoing the pose and colors from Girl With a Pearl Earring (images above, second down), Gray states that Vermeer was not in his mind when he composed and painted the piece; and that he takes his inspiration for figure and portrait painting most prominently from Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres.

Gray was a finalist in the Figurative Category in the ARC 2009-2010 Salon (larger image here), and was an invited artist in the 2010 American Art Invitational.

David Gray is the subject of a featured article in the March 2011 issue of Southwest Art magazine. The online version of the article, which also includes a gallery of Gray’s work, can be read here.

Manabu Ikeda


Though I doubt they were intended to be so, the striking works of Japanese artist Manabu Ikeda, seen at this juncture, can seem chillingly prophetic.

The structures, shapes and waves of objects in his work are portrayed as enormous in scale, as revealed by the astonishingly complex textural elements of countless smaller items of which they are composed.

His works are large and created in pen ink and acrylic on paper mounted on board. The level of detail is striking, even though it is just hinted at in the images available on the web.

Ikeda was born in Saga and is now based in Tokyo. He studied at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

He is represented by the Mizuma Art Gallery, which has a selection of his work online. He doesn’t seem to have a dedicated web presence of his own (or else I don’t know how to find it as a Japanese language website).

The largest images I’ve been able to find are on Art Inconnu (click for larger versions). I’ve listed some articles and other resources below.

Ikeda is represented in the group exhibition now at the Japan Society in New York, Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art, which runs until June 12, 2011.

[Via Art Daily]

Duane Keiser’s Peel

Duane Keiser's Peel
I just love this.

Back in December of 2004, Virginia based painter and teacher Duane Keiser originated the phenomenon that has come to be known as “painting a day“, in which painter/bloggers paint a small work and post it to a blog each day.

He painted a small painting everyday for about two years, and has since then painted his small works on a varied schedule, but has maintained a strong painting practice.

Keiser has a wonderful recent post on his blog, a short time-lapse video called Peel, in which he paints a tangerine, peels it partway, repaints it on the same panel, peels it some more, repaints it again, sections it, paints it again, reduces it to a single section and paints it again. Wonderful!

You can view the video on Keiser’s site, or on YouTube somewhat larger.

You can see the finished painting here. As of this writing, the painting is up for bid on eBay.

To me, this is not just a fun and novel painting demo, it’s also a vivid demonstration of the real rewards of a dedicated painting regimen.

The accumulated years of frequent practice grant him the skill with eye, hand and materials to not only repaint his subject multiple times on the same canvas, passing up multiple opportunities to say “finished”, but to consider an experiment like this in the first place, in which painting is the point, rather than a painting.

[Via MetaFilter]

Mucha’s The Slav Epic

The Slav Epic, Alphonse Mucha (Alfons Mucha)
Most people who are familiar in passing with Art Nouveau artist Alphonse (Alfons) Mucha (see my recent post on Alphonse Mucha on Gallica Digital Library) are not aware of his body of work that is in a very different style.

The most important and striking examples of this are a series of 20 very large canvasses called The Slav Epic, which Mucha considered the most important work of his lifetime and the culmination of his artistic career.

The paintings tell the history of Slavic people, and are housed in a castle in the small town of Moravský. There is long standing controversy about plans to bring them to Prague.

The paintings are little known outside of the Czech Republic and images of them are not readily available. There are few, if any, in most books on Mucha, though Mucha by Sarah Mucha is listed as containing some information and images on the Slav Epic paintings, even if incomplete. I haven’t seen the book myself.

There are a few scattered examples on the web, notably on the Mucha Foundation, Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons and a complete set with commentary on the site of John Price, and an even better, larger set on the blog, A Journey Through Slavic Culture.

There is also a post on the Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog that features alternate states and preliminary photographs of some of the works.

[Golden Age Comic Book Stories link via @francisvallejo]