Near and Far

Designed by Baroque architect Francesco Borromini in 1632, this gallery in Rome’s Palazzo Spada is a masterpiece of forced perspective — though it appears to be 37 meters long, in fact it’s only 8. The effect is produced by diminishing columns and a rising floor; the sculpture at the end, which Borromini contrived to appear life size, is only 60 centimeters high.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spada_02.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ah

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Franz_Von_Stuck_-_The_Guardian_of_Paradise.jpg

A famous artist once painted an angel with six toes.

‘Who ever saw an angel with six toes?’ people inquired.

‘Who ever saw one with less?’ was the counter-question.

Life, June 12, 1890

Marine Warfare

Humans tend to abuse sea creatures, so digital artist Neil Mendoza gave them a way to fight back. As Smashie the fish swims around his aquatic habitat, he takes aim at the human habitat outside; the hammer drops periodically when a rotating cam releases it.

Mendoza created the project through Autodesk’s artist-in-residence program. You can build your own “fish hammer actuation device” with the instructions here.

He Who Falls

French acrobat and dancer Yoann Bourgeois created “Celui qui tombe” for the 2014 International Dance Biennial of Lyon. He calls the six dancers “a mankind in miniature.”

“It’s clear that if you do it ‘your way’ rather than the group’s way, you imperil and unbalance the joint venture,” wrote Luke Jennings in a Guardian review. “But you also get freedom. Or do you?”

Perspective

http://www.georgesrousse.com/en/archives/article/georges-rousse-in-ruesselsheim/

French artist Georges Rousse photographs anamorphic images in abandoned and derelict buildings.

When the scene above is viewed from the right vantage point, it looks like this:

http://www.georgesrousse.com/en/archives/article/georges-rousse-in-ruesselsheim/

This video shows him at work on a project in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, in 2013:

Another Perspective

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Benjamin_Eug%C3%A8ne_Fichel_The_Connoisseurs_1871.jpg

All [J. Smith] ever paints are pastoral landscapes. But years after Smith’s Lake Placid is bought and exhibited by a very conservative museum, an art critic discovers that by tilting the painting 90 degrees, it can be seen as a painting of a devil embracing two nudes. The critic calls this aspect Ménage. The enraged artist protests that he had never intended to paint the lewd picture, that his painting is a realistic representation of Lake Placid and nothing more, and that the critic’s interpretation is illegitimate.

Is Ménage a work of art? If so, is it a work by Smith? Can Ménage be a better painting than Lake Placid (or vice versa)? Or is this painting neither Lake Placid nor Ménage? Would you, as the conservative curator, remove the painting?

— Eddy Zemach of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, posed in Margaret P. Battin et al., Puzzles About Art, 1989

Priorities

https://pixabay.com/en/sunset-monkey-ape-bali-ocean-sea-653431/

“Once I saw a chimpanzee gaze at a particularly beautiful sunset for a full 15 minutes, watching the changing colors until it became so dark that he had to retire to the forest without stopping to pick a pawpaw for supper.” — Adriaan Kortlandt

The Alphabet Building

http://www.archdaily.com/137434/alphabet-building-mvrdv/241-alfabetgebouw-overzijde-n#_=_

Dutch architects MVRDV created a unique design for Amsterdam’s Alfabetgebouw, an office building for small and mid-size creative companies. On the building’s east side a series of dotted windows spell out the building’s street number, 52, and on the north side the shape of each window reflects the unit number of its tenant.

To make the alphabet fit on a 6 × 4 facade they had to omit two letters — but “the IQ is inside the building.”

Field Reports

Explorers of foreign countries can produce strikingly different maps — here’s Joseph Husson’s Map of a Woman’s Heart (1840):

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_a_woman%27s_heart_(11858147624).jpg

And here’s D.W. Kellogg’s Map of the Open Country of a Woman’s Heart (circa 1833-1842):

http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Beauty/true.htm

Who’s right? Looks like the safest plan is to drop into the center by parachute.

“The Attack of Love”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seutter,_The_Attack_of_Love,_1730,_Cornell_CUL_PJM_1020_01.jpg

How a woman assails a man’s heart, by German map publisher Matthäus Seutter, 1730. Princeton map curator John Delaney explains:

[F]orces are attacking and defending the fortress of Manhood that sits in a frozen, passionless sea. The side of Love, representing the fairer sex, employs four sets of artillery batteries (on the left) to bombard the walls with appeals to vanity, offering delightful surprises, charms, and joys, and plying with tenderness, wishful thinking, and ‘un certain je ne sais quoi.’ Over the walls, naval ships lob such feminine wiles and virtues as beauty, pleasant conversation, gentleness, and ‘regards languissant’ (languishing looks). Love’s forces are camped for the duration (at the lower left), commanded by their general, Cupid.

As the key states, there are also methods for defending and conserving one’s heart against this unrelenting onslaught: memory, prudence, industry, experience (see the lettered outposts along the fortress walls). Ultimately, however, it is a war of attrition. As the trail winding through the fortress and along the coastline proves, the love-struck victim surrenders, retreating, first, to his friends for advice, deliberation, and information, before moving onward to the garden of pleasure and his first encounter with his beloved. … From there, via a subterranean passage, he arrives at the Palace of Love — note the change from fortress to palace — which resides in a sea of peace. Entering is easy, according to the note, but leaving is impossible without losing one’s liberty. Another definition of a prison?

There’s a high-resolution image in Cornell’s rare manuscript collection.