Posts Tagged ‘art’

Dutch art dealer Jan Six made the discovery of a lifetime at an auction house in 2016, when he saw the hand of Rembrandt in an unknown painting that had gone unnoticed for four centuries.

The portrait of a well-dressed young man with red hair was presented on Wednesday as the first “new” Rembrandt to surface since 1974. It will be on display at the Hermitage museum in Amsterdam for a month.

With the help of an unnamed investor, Six snapped up “Portrait of a Young Gentleman”, painted around 1634, for a bargain at 137,000 pounds ($185,000) at the London auction. Given past sales, it will likely now be worth very much more.

“Finding a Rembrandt is a tremendous feeling”, Six told Reuters.

Six has a special relationship with Rembrandt, having grown up in a house filled with classic Dutch artwork, including a Rembrandt portrait of one of his ancestors, a former Amsterdam mayor, also called Jan Six, as the centerpiece.

With his knowledge of the artist and the period, Six noticed a particular type of collar the subject of the painting wears, which was only in fashion for a short time around 1633 and was painted in a style that only Rembrandt used in those days.

The specialist on Dutch and Flemish old masters then spent 18 months using X-ray techniques and analysis of paint samples to prove he had in fact bought a real Rembrandt.

The 39-year-old art dealer eventually won the backing of more than a dozen Rembrandt experts, including the former leader of the Rembrandt Research Project, who spent a year verifying its authenticity.

“Seeing all these experts agreeing to what you’ve found is truly special. With the support of this vast body of knowledge, anybody contesting the painting would clearly represent a minority,” Six said.

Until now, the existence of the painting had been completely unknown, as there was no previous literary reference to it. This makes the discovery different from other paintings attributed to Rembrandt over the years, as they were already known to exist.’

But Six says he knew exactly what he saw when he laid eyes on the painting at Christie’s.

“I saw so many details pointing in Rembrandt’s direction, that I was totally convinced,” he said.

The newly discovered Rembrandt, measuring just under a meter high, is thought to have been painted when the artist was 28. It was almost certainly cut out of a larger painting, experts say, probably also depicting the young man’s wife.

Six said he will now try to find a buyer for his discovery, but he did not want to speculate on how much it might be worth.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-rembrandt/dutch-art-dealer-discovers-first-new-rembrandt-in-44-years-idUSKCN1IH14V


Synesthetes can taste sounds, smell colors or see scents, and research proves these people experience reality differently.

By Laura Moss

I know that the number four is yellow, but I have a friend who insists four is red.

She also says four has a motherly personality, but my four has no personality — none of my numbers do. But all of my numbers have colors, and so do my letters, days and months.

My friend and I both have synesthesia, a perceptual condition in which the stimulation of one sense triggers an automatic, involuntary experience in another sense.

Synesthesia can occur between just about any combination of senses or cognitive pathways.

Synesthetes — or people who have synesthesia — may see sounds, taste words or feel a sensation on their skin when they smell certain scents. They may also see abstract concepts like time projected in the space around them, like the image on the right.

Many synesthetes experience more than one form of the condition. For example, my friend and I both have grapheme-color synesthesia — numbers and letters trigger a color experience, even though my experience differs from hers.

Because her numbers have personalities, she also has a form of synesthesia known as ordinal-linguistic personification.

Scientists used to think synesthesia was quite rare, but they now think up to 4 percent of the population has some form of the condition.

What’s it like?

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and director of the Laboratory for Perception and Action at the Baylor College of Medicine, isn’t a synesthete, but he often uses this analogy to explain the phenomenon.

When you see this photo, you likely think “President Barack Obama” even though those words aren’t written anywhere on the picture. Your brain automatically and involuntarily makes that connection, much like my brain makes a connection between the number four and the color yellow.

“It’s not the same as a hallucination,” Eagleman explains in the documentary “Red Mondays and Gemstone Jalapenos.” “It’s not actually interfering with their ability to see, so in that same way, you could picture a giant orange pumpkin sitting in front of you, but that doesn’t prevent you from seeing through that and past that.”

Synesthesia is a sensory phenomenon that’s unrelated to memory, so if you’re not a synesthete, you could teach yourself to associate a color with a certain number for example, but your brain wouldn’t respond the same way a synesthete’s would.

For instance, someone without grapheme-color synesthesia would have a more difficult time picking out the black twos from the black fives in the image on the left.

However, if your numbers have colors, you’ll see the triangle of twos almost instantly.

But this task may be even easier for some grapheme-color synesthetes.

Daniel Smilek, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo, has identified two groups of synesthetes among those who associate colors with letters and numbers. There are projectors, those whose colors fill the printed letter in front of them, and associators who see the colors in their mind’s eye, like I do.

What about people who can hear silent videos?

Synesthesia doesn’t just apply to people who associate certain colors with images. Some people have the ability to hear sounds in videos when there is actually no sound being played.

Psychologist Chris Fassnidge calls this phenomenon “visually evoked auditory response” (vEAR). While it’s technically not synesthesia, Fassnidge believes it’s a new form that warrants further study. “Some people describe it as a buzzing sound in their head,” Fassnidge told Vox. “For other people, it’s kind of like a white noise. And then other people say it varies depending on what it is they are looking at.”

A 2008 study suggests that vEAR is fairly common — affecting 20 to 30 percent of people — and many people may not realize they are associating faint sounds with imagery.

“A lot of people don’t realize they have this thing until you start testing for it in the laboratory,” Fassnidge said. “Maybe because they co-occur so frequently you either aren’t aware of the mental sound until you strip away everything else.”

What causes it?

About 40 percent of synesthetes have a first-degree relative with synesthesia, and many synesthetes recall having synesthesia as long as they can remember.

“I was definitely playing with it when I was 5 or 6 years old because I remember raiding my parents’ record cabinet, searching for records that I liked to listen to for colors,” said Sean Day, a synesthete who associates colors with both sounds and tastes.

A 2018 study conducted by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the University of Cambridge analyzed DNA samples from several families who have multiple generations of synesthetes. They concluded that while the families differed in DNA variations, there was one commonality. There was an enhancement of genes involved in cell migration and axonogenesis – a process that enables brain cells to wire up to their correct partners.

“This research is revealing how genetic variation can modify our sensory experiences, potentially via altered connectivity in the brain,” Professor Simon Baron-Cohen stated in the study. “Synesthesia is a clear example of neurodiversity which we should respect and celebrate.”

Other experts believe that everyone may be born with the ability to experience synesthesia.

Daphne Maurer, a psychologist at McMaster University, has speculated that all of us may be born with the neural connections that allow synesthesia, but that most of us lose those connections as we grow.

Eagleman acknowledges there may be synesthetic correspondences in the brains of non-synesthetes, but that people are unaware of them until they’re teased out.

He points to something called the bouba/kiki effect as an example. When asked to choose which of two shapes on the right is named “bouba” and which is “kiki,” most people choose kiki for the angular shape and bouba for the rounded one.

Research also shows that people are likely to say that louder tones are brighter than soft ones and that darker liquids smell stronger than lighter ones.

In his book, “Wednesday Is Indigo Blue,” Eagleman says these examples prove that these analogies are actually “pre-existing relationships.”

“In this way, synesthetic associations our ancestors established long ago grew into the more abstract expressions we know today — and this is why metaphors make sense,” he writes.

However, synesthesia differs from these examples in that the sensory experience triggered is automatic and unlearned, making it different from metaphorical thinking.

“It’s a genuine phenomenon, and people who have it are actually experiencing the world differently,” Eagleman said.

How is it tested?

Consistency is one of the best ways to test for synesthesia.

“If you tell me that your letter ‘J’ is a very particular shade of powder blue … I can test you on that and have you identify exactly the shade that best matches,” Eagleman said. “If you’re just being poetic or metaphorical or making something up, then you can’t capture those colors again. But if you’re really synesthetic, then you’ll be able to pick exactly those colors out years later.”

Researchers also look at synesthetes’ brains. Using positron-emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging, they’ve found that people who report seeing colors in music, for example, have increased activation in the visual areas of the brain in response to sound.

Pictured right are the regions of the brain that are thought to be cross-activated in grapheme-color synesthesia.

The pros and cons

Some synesthetes say their condition can be uncomfortable at times. For example, seeing words printed in the wrong color can be strange, or certain names may taste bad to a synesthete. Others report suffering sensory overload or feeling embarrassed at a young age when they describe experiences they didn’t know were atypical.

However, most synesthetes think of their abilities as a gift and wouldn’t want to lose them.

“You’ve experienced extremely unpleasant odors,” Day points out. “Do you want to permanently lose your sense of smell?”

There may also be some benefits to being a synesthete, such as an ability to discern similar colors and easily memorize information. For example, I might not remember a digit in a phone number, but I’ll have an impression of green and therefore know the mystery number is six. (Some of my numbers are pictured above, as depicted by the Synesthesia Battery.)

In 2005, Daniel Tammet set the European record for pi memorization by memorizing 22,514 digits in five hours. He attributed the feat to his ability to see numbers with color, texture and sound.

There’s also evidence that synesthesia may enhance creativity. A 2004 study at the University of California had a group of students take the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. The synesthetes who took the test scored more than twice as high in every category.

In some instances, the neurological condition has even led to unique job opportunities. Some car manufacturers, for example, are hiring synesthetes to help designers create cars that are more pleasing to potential drivers.

And synesthetes keep good company. The list of known synesthetes is long and includes Vladimir Nabokov, Vincent Van Gogh, Marilyn Monroe, Billy Joel and Mary J. Blige.

Musician Pharrell Williams associates music with colors and says he can’t imagine life without this “gift.”

“If it was taken from me suddenly I’m not sure that I could make music,” he told Psychology Today. “I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. I wouldn’t have a measure to understand.”

If you think you may be a synesthete, you can take the Synesthesia Battery created by David Eagleman’s lab: https://www.synesthete.org/pretest_start.php?action=register&remail=&semail=&ch=

Learn more about synesthesia and Eagleman’s research in the video below.

https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/what-is-synesthesia-and-whats-it-like-to-have-it

By Chris Baraniuk

Now and then, a painter like Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso comes along and turns the art world on its head. They invent new aesthetic styles, forging movements such as impressionism or abstract expressionism. But could the next big shake-up be the work of a machine?

An artificial intelligence has been developed that produces images in unconventional styles – and much of its output has already been given the thumbs up by members of the public.

The idea is to make art that is “novel, but not too novel”, says Marian Mazzone, an art historian at the College of Charleston in South Carolina who worked on the system.

The team – which also included researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Facebook’s AI lab in California – modified a type of algorithm known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), in which two neural nets play off against each other to get better and better results. One creates a solution, the other judges it – and the algorithm loops back and forth until the desired result is reached.

In the art AI, one of these roles is played by a generator network, which creates images. The other is played by a discriminator network, which was trained on 81,500 paintings to tell the difference between images we would class as artworks and those we wouldn’t – such as a photo or diagram, say.

The discriminator was also trained to distinguish different styles of art, such as rococo or cubism.

Art with a twist

The clever twist is that the generator is primed to produce an image that the discriminator recognises as art, but which does not fall into any of the existing styles.

“You want to have something really creative and striking – but at the same time not go too far and make something that isn’t aesthetically pleasing,” says team member Ahmed Elgammal at Rutgers University.

Once the AI had produced a series of images, members of the public were asked to judge them alongside paintings by people in an online survey, without knowing which were the AI’s work. Participants answered questions about how complex or novel they felt each image was, and whether it inspired them or elevated their mood. To the researchers’ surprise, images produced by their AI scored slightly higher in many cases than those by humans.

AIs that can tweak photos to mimic the style of famous painters such as Monet are already widely available. There are even apps that do this, such as DeepArt. But the new system is designed to produce original works from scratch.

Outside the comfort zone

“I like the idea that people are starting to push GANs out of their comfort zone – this is the first paper I’ve seen that does that,” says Mark Riedl at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

The results of the survey are interesting, says Kevin Walker at the Royal College of Art in London. “The top-ranked images contain an aesthetic combination of colours and patterns in composition, whereas the lowest-ranked ones are maybe more uniform,” he says (see image above).

Walker also notes that creative machines are already producing work for galleries. For example, two of his students are experimenting with AI that can learn from their drawing style to produce its own images. One, Anna Ridler, has used this technique to develop frames for a 12-minute animated film.

Art such as Ridler’s still relies heavily on human guidance, however. So will we ever value paintings generated spontaneously by a computer?

Riedl points out that the human story behind an artwork is often an important part of what endears us to it.

But Walker thinks the lines will soon get blurry. “Imagine having people over for a dinner party and they ask, ‘Who is that by?’ And you say, ‘Well, it’s a machine actually’. That would be an interesting conversation starter.”

Reference: arxiv.org/abs/1706.07068

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2139184-artificially-intelligent-painters-invent-new-styles-of-art/

A long-lost Jackson Pollock painting once owned by a New York City socialite — and worth up to $15 million — was discovered in a dusty Arizona garage, according to a report Tuesday.

The splattered abstract art, which hits the auction block this week, was unearthed in January 2016, when retiree Gordon Cosgriff called an appraiser to his Scottsdale home.

Cosgriff hired the appraiser, Josh Levine, to size up how much a signed L.A. Lakers basketball poster was worth, according to the news site.

But an orange and green painting — featuring Pollock’s signature splatter — caught his eye under a pile of art, he said.

“As we’re going through the stack and we’re down to this last piece … I was like, ‘God, that looks like a Jackson Pollock,” Levine said.

Arizona is generally home to traditional southwest paintings, not big name New York City modern art, but it looked legit.

Levine then launched a borderline obsessive hunt — and even hired a private investigator — to prove it was the real thing.

Levine traced the owner’s history and learned that his late sister, Jenifer Gordon Cosgriff, once lived in the Big Apple in the 1950s. As the “black sheep” of her Midwestern family, she hobnobbed with provocative artists.

Her friends included writer Clement Greenberg, modern artist Hazel Guggenheim McKinley — and Jackson Pollock.

Levine forked over tens of thousands of dollars to authenticate the piece and to prove Gordon Cosgriff’s was at a Pollock art showing. And he hired experts to investigate the style and chemical make-up of the paint.

“All I was interested in was, was it executed before Jackson Pollock was dead, before 1956?” Levine said.

Experts soon confirmed it was one of Pollock’s missing “gouaches” — a style in which he used paint, water and a binding agent between 1945 and 1949.

Levine was thrilled.

“I actually felt weightless,” he said. “I was actually kind of worried I was having a panic attack or something.”

The painting, which faded and slightly damaged, needs to be restored at a price of $50,000, he said.

The piece will be auctioned off on June 20. Levine estimated it will sell for between $5 and $15 million.

By contrast, the Lakers poster he was at first called to appraise was valued at just $300.

http://nypost.com/2017/06/13/jackson-pollock-painting-worth-up-to-15m-found-in-dusty-garage/

Korean artist Jeeyoung Lee creates three-dimensional fantasy worlds.

With her background in visual design and photography, Lee captures her dreams, experiences, memories and emotions by building elaborate sets for her ongoing self-portrait series “Stage of Mind.”

In one of her latest works, “La Vie en Rose,” Lee drew inspiration from a Korean proverb, “Life is a thorny path,” and sculpted thorns made out of resin and plaster to represent life’s countless hardships.

“Pretty much anything surrounding me can become a source of inspiration,” Lee tells CNN.

Lee photographs herself as a character in each set and then records their destruction using video. “I could have used other models, but I find it more suitable to model myself since my work is very biographical. It reflects my identity and my life.” Her creations are cathartic, a way to remember and meditate.

Each installation takes Lee between two to three months to produce — from buying supplies to setting up lights — and the cost of each set varies from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Lee works completely solo and her photos are free of digital manipulations.

“This entire process is an act of discipline and training. I wouldn’t be able to experience these emotions through Photoshop.”

Her newest images, which were recently exhibited at the Gallery GO in Korea. Below, Lee discusses her work with CNN Style.

CNN: Why did you choose to create “a room” to capture your thoughts and memories?

Lee: When we visit someone else’s room, we can guess a lot about that person. A room is an enclosed and private space and my work is about creating a space that represents my psychological state of mind. So I thought characteristics of a room would be suitable.

CNN: Does being Korean influence your work in anyway?

Lee: I guess there would be a subconscious cultural element, since the environment that a person grows up in affects his or her identity. Some of my previous works, such as “Nightscape”, “Resurrection” and “Treasure Hunt” depict the Korean landscape that I saw growing up.

CNN: Why do you favor creating real scenes, as opposed to creating them using software programs like Photoshop?

Lee: The fact that I’m reflecting on real events and emotions that I’ve experienced makes my work real. On the other hand, the fact that the scenes I am creating only exist in my head makes it surreal.
I am creating installations to bring my thoughts into the real world, and taking photos of them to capture a part of my life and reminisce that moment.

By destructing the scene at the end, I’m putting the moment back in the past, where it belongs. This entire, emotional process is an act of discipline and training for me. I wouldn’t be able to experience this through Photoshop.
CNN: Your gaze is always fixed away from the camera in your photos. Why is that?
Lee: I want people to look at the entire scene, not just the model. Also, by not revealing particular facial expressions, it becomes an indirect expression of my emotions and allows for a wider interpretation of my work. Even though I am a protagonist in my work, I want the person to appear as one of the objects in the picture.

READ: Chinese artist makes mountains from tower blocks and construction sites
CNN: What is most challenging about realizing your work?

Lee: My installation is a very labor-focused work. So it’s physically hard, and eventually it’s a battle with myself. Sometimes traumatic memories I have with the story I’m recreating disturbs me.
CNN: Tell us about your most memorable project.

Lee: “Anxiety” means a lot to me. It was a very experimental work. I consider the entire process of building a set, taking a photograph, and destroying it, as my work. In most cases, the photograph is the final result, but for “Anxiety,” I exhibited two photographs and a video.

“Anxiety”

This work addresses common worries, insecurity, and doubts that we go through in our everyday lives.
In it, a performer makes a strange noise and I’ve cut the sound of the phrase “it’s okay” per syllable, and she reads them as if she’s singing. It sounds very disturbing, but since the work deals with concerns and insecurity, I wanted to deliver those feelings to the audience more directly.
CNN: What is your dream project that you hope to work on?

Lee: I have a lot of projects that I’d like to work on. Since I’m creating different sets inside the studio, there definitely are spatial limitations and there are limitations to the kind of light I can use. I want to work in a really large space, so large that a person will appear as small as a dot. I also want to try building an installation in the back of a truck and move around like a traveling theater.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/21/arts/artist-jeeyoung-lee-surreal-rooms/index.html

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Urban artist Biancoshock has converted Milanese manholes into tiny rooms to spotlight the extreme conditions people around the world are forced to live in.

The satirical intervention — titled ‘Borderlife’ — draws specifically from living standards in Bucharest, where more than 600 people call the city’s sewers home.

‘If some problems cannot be avoided, make them comfortable,’ Biancoshock says ironically.

The artist describes his work as ‘ephemeral experiences’ that play with the urban landscape of European cities.

He made the headlines in 2012 with a stress-reducing installation at a Milan bus stop, where customers could kill time waiting for their bus by bursting bubble wrap.


This photo provided by Australian Synchrotron and the National Gallery of Victoria, shows an image discovered with X-ray fluorescence microscopy, beneath Edgar Degas’ Portrait of a Woman. (Right) Degas’ painting Portrait of a Woman.

By Merrit Kennedy

Using specialized X-ray imaging, a team of researchers in Australia has revealed a striking painting of a woman’s face hidden under French Impressionist Edgar Degas’ Portrait of a Woman.

The researchers believe the auburn-haired woman in the hidden work — which they also attribute to Degas — is Emma Dobigny, who was reportedly one of Degas’ favorite subjects and modeled for him in 1869 and 1870.

It’s long been known that another painting lay beneath the image of an unknown woman in a black dress and bonnet, housed in the collection at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Since at least 1922, the research team explains in Scientific Reports, another form has slowly become visible, discoloring the bonneted woman’s face.

“Degas painted directly on the underlying portrait with no intermediate ground paint layer using exceptionally thin paint layers, thus little pigment is present to provide hiding power,” the researchers wrote. “The hiding power of paint layers often decreases as oil paintings age.”

Even as the traces of a ghostly form emerged over the course of decades, conventional imaging technology could only provide hints of what the hidden portrait looked like.

Now, an enhanced process known as X-ray fluorescence elemental mapping gives a far better picture. The technique allowed the researchers to scan for the individual elements — such as iron, zinc and copper — found in different colors of paint. This chart shows maps of elements the researchers tested:


(Left) Eleven elemental maps providing an overview of the construction of the painting. (Right) Detail of zinc map.

The team said the maps “can be used to deduce pigment use based on the elements observed within the context of the painting.” For example, “Fe and Mn are co-located in the hidden sitter’s hair … strongly suggesting the use of the brown pigment umber.” The researchers detected cobalt in the face, and deduced that it is “probably present as a blue pigment, which is useful in defining flesh tones.”

By layering the elemental maps together, the researchers were able to create this representation of the hidden work:

It didn’t take long for them to identify Dobigny as the painting’s likely subject, study co-author Daryl Howard told the BBC: “Once the image had come through, basically what I did was to look up Degas’s catalogue of works. And I would say in under five minutes, it seemed that we had a good match. … I think the likeness is quite amazing.”

The researchers think at least seven years passed between the two portraits. The earlier work uses lighter and cooler tones, while the later painting is warmer and darker. This was helpful to the imaging process — as the researchers explained, “his change in palette provides exceptional elemental contrast.”

The X-ray fluorescence technique was previously used on Vincent Van Gogh’s Patch of Grass to reveal a portrait of a peasant woman, as NPR reported in 2008.

The team in Australia said the technology has advanced since then — it’s faster and can measure “spatial resolutions on the order of the size of a paint bristle.”

This technique, researchers concluded, “will significantly impact the ways cultural heritage is studied for authentication.”

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/05/488824963/x-rays-reveal-hidden-portrait-under-painting-by-edgar-degas