Friday, 29 May 2020

Not the first time

...for the case of George Floyd. There have been plenty of identically similar ones in the past. That of 22 year-old Oscar Grant has been turned into a biographical drama film in 2013. It was the feature directorial debut of Ryan Coogler and it won many awards – two of them in Sundance Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film) and one in Cannes (Best First Film). 

Art awakens, they say. It does, indeed – the film  got praises, opened up discussions and caused controversies about the limits of dramatisation and the accuracy of the real event, was among the top ten lists for the best films of that year. This is the furthest the awakening got.  It did not change any attitudes, regulations or laws, nor did it bring this tragic and painful history to a halt as not to repeat itself. 

Oh well? 

This needs to be the last one. 

Note: You can read about the case od Oscar Grant here. // The New York Times follows the case of George Floyd closely. The latest update says that the former Minneapolis police officer seen on video using his knee to pin down George Floyd has been taken into custody and charged with third-degree murder while the investigation of three other officers at the scene of the incident is ongoing. You can watch the Live Updates here

Monday, 18 May 2020

 Today one of those memo days. It was established in 1977 when the International Council of Museums (ICOM) designated the 18th May as the International Museum Day aimining thus to highlight the role of museums in modern society and encourage us to visit them more often.

"Museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions." says artist and art critic Hans Haacke. You can see it for yourself with a visit, although one is never enough, I assure you. Beware: from the 15th June onwards, though, when the last restrictive measures will be lifted, according to the schedule of the Greek Ministry of Culture, and following all the necessary requirements for personal hygiene and safety - do not let yourselves be carried away.

Notes: The cartoon is by the acclaimed French Jean-Jacques Sempé, the co-creator (along with René Goscinny) of  Le petit Nicolas (here is an extensive list of the book series in Greek). // Due to the special COVID-19 restrictions, many Greek museums have organised and are conducting several online activities you can participate. More information here

Saturday, 18 April 2020



Happy Easter!

Note: The artwork is the "Blue and Yellow Butterfly" by Alexander Calder

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Seeing things differently

"Most Holy Father, there are many who, on bringing their feeble judgment to bear on what is written concerning the great achievements of the Romans —the feats of arms, the city of Rome and the wondrous skill shown in the opulence, ornamentation and grandeur of their buildings— have come to the conclusion that these achievements are more likely to be fables than facts. I, however, have always seen —and still do see— things differently." Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael, wrote in his letter to pope Leo X

His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.  He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking.  

The exquisite depiction of the Virgin and Child above is drawn in silverpoint – a technique which uses small rods of pure silver to make marks with an iridescent sheen. It’s one of a series made by the artist after he moved to Rome in 1508 to complete a fresco in the Pope’s private library in the Vatican – he was only 25 at the time. 

Notes: The drawing and the relevant information is taken from The British Museum. //  The National Gallery of Art in Washington, to honour his 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, has launched  a 360 virtual tour of the exhibition "Raphael and His Circle" which allows you to read wall texts, listen to the audio tour, watch related video clips and learn more about the artist's drawings and the influence he had in his lifetime, and after his death. You can exlpore the full tour here

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The Child

The Turks have been here. All is bleak, in ruin.
Chios, isle of wines, is now a darkened reef.

      Chios, cradled by green branches,
Chios, where curling waves mirror soft hills,
forests, palaces, and, on certain nights,

      dancing choirs of young girls,

All is desert. But no, near a blackened wall
sits a Greek child, a blue-eyed boy,

      alone and bending his head in shame.
For safety, for support, he has but a
single wrecked hawthorn bush, forgotten like him in

      this forgotten, wasted corner.

Oh poor child, barefoot on these sharp-edged rocks!
Oh to stop the crying of your blue eyes,

      blue like the sky and like the sea,
so that in their shine the light of laughter
and joy might evaporate this storm of tears;

      young boy, to lift up your blond head,

what would you wish for, oh beautiful boy,
what will it take to smile, to gather up

      in curls resting on your pale shoulder
this mop of hair never touched or shorn, which
seems to weep about your beautiful face

      like the leaves of the willow?

What will make your cloudy cares disappear?
Perhaps to have this lily from the fields

      of Iran, bright blue like your eyes?
Or some fruit from the magic Tuba-tree,
that tree so great that galloping horses

      run a century in its shadow?

Would you smile for a handsome forest bird
that sings more sweetly than flutes or oboes

      and more brilliantly than cymbals?
What would you like? Flowers, fruits, marvelous birds?
Friend, replies the Greek child with the clear blue eyes,

      I want some bullets and a gun.



Les Turcs ont passé là. Tout est ruine et deuil.
Chio, l’île des vins, n’est plus qu’un sombre écueil,

      Chio, qu’ombrageaient les charmilles,
Chio, qui dans les flots reflétait ses grands bois,
Ses coteaux, ses palais, et le soir quelquefois

      Un chœur dansant de jeunes filles.

Tout est désert. Mais non ; seul près des murs noircis,
Un enfant aux yeux bleus, un enfant grec, assis,

      Courbait sa tête humiliée ;
Il avait pour asile, il avait pour appui
Une blanche aubépine, une fleur, comme lui

      Dans le grand ravage oubliée.

Ah ! pauvre enfant, pieds nus sur les rocs anguleux !
Hélas ! pour essuyer les pleurs de tes yeux bleus

      Comme le ciel et comme l’onde,
Pour que dans leur azur, de larmes orageux,
Passe le vif éclair de la joie et des jeux,

      Pour relever ta tête blonde,

Que veux-tu ? Bel enfant, que te faut-il donner
Pour rattacher gaîment et gaîment ramener

      En boucles sur ta blanche épaule
Ces cheveux, qui du fer n’ont pas subi l’affront,
Et qui pleurent épars autour de ton beau front,

      Comme les feuilles sur le saule ?

Qui pourrait dissiper tes chagrins nébuleux ?
Est-ce d’avoir ce lys, bleu comme tes yeux bleus,

      Qui d’Iran borde le puits sombre ?
Ou le fruit du tuba, de cet arbre si grand,
Qu’un cheval au galop met, toujours en courant,

      Cent ans à sortir de son ombre ?

Veux-tu, pour me sourire, un bel oiseau des bois,
Qui chante avec un chant plus doux que le hautbois,

      Plus éclatant que les cymbales ?
Que veux-tu ? fleur, beau fruit, ou l’oiseau merveilleux ?
– Ami, dit l’enfant grec, dit l’enfant aux yeux bleus,

      Je veux de la poudre et des balles.

Notes: The poem above is by Victor Hugo  translated in English by Gilles-Claude ThériaultThe detail is from the oil painting "The Greek boy" (1829/30 – Benaki Museum) by Alexandre Marie Colin who was inspired, for this painting, by Hugo's poem.  

Monday, 16 March 2020

"I ground matter find the continuous line. And when I realized I could not find it, 
I stopped... "

Note: Both the quotation and the artwork are by Constantine Brâncuși. The latter is titled "Sculpture for the Blind (Beginning of the World), 1916"

Friday, 7 February 2020

A pioneer 

...of serialised fiction, most of Dickens's major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey's Clock and Household Words, later reprinted in book form. These instalments made the stories affordable and accessible, and the series of regular cliffhangers made each new episode widely anticipated. When The Old Curiosity Shop was being serialised, American fans waited at the docks in New York harbor, shouting out to the crew of an incoming British ship: "Is little Nell dead?" Dickens's talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a coherent novel at the end.   

The Old Curiosity Shop was printed in book form in 1841. Queen Victoria read the novel in 1841 and found it "very interesting and cleverly written".

Note: the photograph above is in fact a daguerreotype portrait of the author and was taken by Antoine Claudet  in about 1852.