Belgian travel photographer Kevin Faingnaert spent three months traversing Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru, forgoing winter in his home country for an exploration of South America. The resulting travelogue is an incredible visual diary that pays homage to the people and places of the countries he visited.
From breathtaking landscapes to nuanced portraits, Faingnaert captures the spirit of each location in his desaturated, timeless photographs. Faingnaert’s past clients include National Geographic, VICE, AFAR, and Outside Magazine, each of whom have called upon his skills as a gifted storyteller. While his South America voyage was personal, that didn’t stop him from weaving an incredible tale that immediately draws viewers in.
Photographing all that he experienced, from Lake Titicaca to the snowcapped peaks of Patagonia, Faingnaert brings us along on his travels. By photographing the small, quiet moments in this trio of countries, he moves well beyond the typical tourist vision and settles into a peaceful, loving reportage of the place he called home for a season. We had to chance to speak with him about his memories of the trip and what he’s up to next. Read on for our exclusive interview.
What sparked your trip to South America and how long were you in each location?
I spent October to December 2016 escaping the cold of Brussels’ winter into the heart of South America: the Andes. I photographed my way across the South American landscape—from the rugged extremes of the Andes in Peru, over the world’s largest salt flats in Bolivia, to the genuine Patagonian wilderness in Argentina. For 3 months I traveled through Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. I had long dreamt about this trip, but never found the time for it until the winter of 2016.
What were the most memorable locations you visited during your travels?
In Bolivia, far off the tourist trail, south of the large lagoon Colorado and giant Uyuni salt flats, there is a beautiful place, Eduardo Avaroa NP, where several beautiful lagoons surrounded by a number of high volcanoes and geysers stretch over a relatively small area.
Buenos Aires in Argentina. Argentines love to dance and Buenos Aires is famous for its tango, the symbol of passion and tragedy. Tango is being practiced at almost every street corner of the San Telmo and La Boca neighborhood. I loved the dark, moody but warm atmosphere of the tango houses I visited. I took some classes and they are some of my best memories of my trip.
And to give each country credit, the Ausangate trek in the sacred valley in Peru. The trek is a 43-mile backpacking trip that runs through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Andes. Reaching high passes close to 17,000 feet, the Ausangate Trek reaches some seriously high elevations. Along the way, I passed by small villages, glacial lakes, towering snow-capped peaks and herds of alpacas.
What type of story were you hoping to tell through these images?
I didn’t plan on telling a particular story. That only came afterward when I was home. There was no roadmap. The hope was simply to watch, listen, and record life in the balmy desert, the lush forest, the highest altitudes and vibrant cities. With this series, I hoped to combine vast natural wonders with portraits and tiny flashes of everyday life. It’s my love letter to Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.
What was the most surprising encounter you had during your trip?
All the cholitas I got to talk to and photograph near La Paz in Bolivia. It’s the first thing that will strike you when visiting Bolivia—the cholita women with their bowler hats. They are everywhere, and most of the women wear them perched atop their long black braids. This cholita fashion is a source of pride. It’s this kind of tradition and sense of pride which I hadn’t felt anywhere else and which intrigued me about Bolivian culture. It is definitely the most traditional country in South America.
Your images have a timeless quality to them, how do you go about deciding what to photograph as part of your travelogue?
I always pay attention to the weather, the story, and the color palette while traveling and photographing. If the light isn’t right, I leave my camera in its bag. When the colors of a scene aren’t my thing, I turn around. Compared to other photographers I know, I don’t shoot much. I don’t try to shoot everything while traveling. I spend 80% of my time hanging around and talking to people with my camera in its bag. At times, I even leave it at the hotel, explore the area and only come back later when the light is right. I also don’t like things which are too obvious, too vibrant, too much in your face. I like my images to be poetic. There’s not much happening in my images. As you pointed out, I aim to give them a timeless quality.
What were some of the commonalities you found throughout the three countries you visited?
South America is a continent full of big contrasts in somewhat everything—in nature and politics, poor and rich. South America, from the Amazons to the Andes mountains, offers an infinite scale of landscapes, climates, flora and fauna: high mountain chains, the endless plains of the Altiplano, the Amazons with muddy rivers and tropical valleys, the mesmerizing salt flats, high altitude colored lagoons crowded with flamingos, the highest navigable lake in the world and then there’s the beauty of Patagonia. It is also striking in contrast between its small villages with mud houses, the giant metropole Buenos Aires, colonial charming cities like Sucre….
Argentina is definitely a lot more different than Bolivia and Peru. While Peru and Bolivia are countries with incredibly bad roads, the Argentinian roads are better than in Belgium. The weather differences are also very extreme. Not to mention the height differences. La Paz, for example, rests 3660 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level. It means you have to get used to the altitude, which takes some time. But it’s these extremes which make South America all the great for adventurous travelers
What photo equipment did you bring with you during your trip?
I shoot part film and part digital. I brought a Mamiya 7II camera with only one lens and a Canon 5D Mark III with two lenses.
It’s been a few years since your trip, do you plan to return?
At the moment, I don’t plan to return to Bolivia, Peru, or Argentina. I’m looking to travel to other countries in South America though. Columbia is high on my list. Just need to find time for it.
What’s next for you?
I have some travel assignments for different magazines planned this year—Senegal, Vietnam, Spain… And I’ll be in Finnish Lapland this summer, working on a new personal documentary project.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Kevin Faingnaert.
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For many creatives, talking about money can be uncomfortable. Yet, the more skilled you are at knowing your value and fighting for it, the more you’ll see your business grow. And while there are some who think that negotiating should never be a factor when buying art, the reality is that it’s commonplace. Buyers like to feel like they are getting a deal, and so it’s up to the individual freelancer to come prepared with a good set of negotiation skills whether you are selling individual artworks or trying to close a deal for a job with a client.
Gone are the days when good negotiators conjured up images of large egos battling over who could stiff the other. Once you’ve created a good basis for your pricing and you know your market, you can begin to think about what leeway you have to negotiate. And it doesn’t have to be combative, in reality, respect and a willingness to work with the other party will often breed better results—and long-term relationships.
Let’s look at 10 tips for improving your negotiating skills, whether you are selling a piece of art or negotiating a commission with a large corporation.
Often, in a move to make sure you get the job, it’s easy to undersell yourself and put in a bid just to close the deal immediately. But in doing so, you risk being woefully underpaid and set a precedent, if the client returns for future work. It’s crucial to get your ideal pricing correct at the beginning and aim high knowing that you may have to come down in price during the negotiations.
Know Your Bottom Line
Just as you should start with your ideal price, you’ll also want to know—in advance—what you’re happy settling with. Understanding what you’ll be satisfied with monetarily will let you go into the negotiations relaxed. The worst thing is to panic and blurt out a number to close the deal, only to feel as though it’s worked out unfavorably once you walk out the door.
The best negotiators have a poker face and never let you see them sweat. They come prepared with their reasoning and the logic behind the pricing they can offer and stay confident in their delivery. By panicking, you’re giving the other party power, and leave the impression that you are unsure of yourself. If you’re negotiating with someone who is skilled, they’ll capitalize on this to perhaps pull you into a deal you’re uncomfortable with.
Put Yourself in a Position of Power
Aside from staying calm and confident, one way to leverage the negotiations is by getting the other party to throw out the first offer. It’s not always possible, but by getting the other party to toss out the budget for the project or what they were hoping to spend, you’ll quickly be able to adapt and see if you are way over or under their line of thinking. This will give you the upper hand to counter.
Find Creative Ways to Close the Deal
Sometimes, thinking outside the box can help close the deal in your favor. Knowing your numbers is essential to making things work, but often it’s just about letting the other party feel like they got something out of the negotiations. Whether it’s free shipping on an artwork or bundling together multiple services or paintings together at a discounted price, there are many ways to make a deal happen.
Think “We” Not “I”
We often think of negotiations as adversarial, but if you think about it as a team effort to leave both parties satisfied, you can change that dynamic. Instead of working against each other, use “we” statements that evoke the feeling that you are a team and want the negotiations to end successfully for all involved. This will naturally make the other party more willing to meet you halfway.
Sell the Value
Don’t assume that everyone knows exactly why the service or piece of art has a specific price placed on it. You should know better than anyone the market you’re working in and what makes your prices competitive and worth paying, so lay the cards out on the table. It’s harder for someone to argue against facts, and will also help them understand why the deal is worth the investment.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in negotiations is not listening to the other person. When you sit back and truly listen, the other party will often give away subtle clues about what they will be happy with or what might make the negotiations move forward. For instance, did you notice them eyeing a screenprint at your studio? That could be incorporated into the deal as a “gift.” Or, in past conversations, did the client mention how much they love their dog? Offer to throw in some extra shots at their wedding reception with their prized pooch, no extra charge. Listening will also give you an idea of whether or not they’ve reached their maximum or if there’s still room to get them up to your ideal price.
Watch Your Body Language
Body language is important in general for clear communication, but even more so in negotiations when you’ll want to keep the dynamic warm and nonadversarial. Lean in and don’t keep yourself closed off, which will keep engagement high and the other party motivated to work with you.
Take Your Ego Off the Table
Remember, it’s just business, not personal. This can be a difficult concept when talking about something as personal as your artwork or your business, but it’s critical to keep your eye on the end goal and not be offended during the negotiations. By taking your ego out of it and focusing strictly on results, it’s less likely that the negotiations will escalate and get hostile. This doesn’t mean you can’t express concerns if you have them, but remember to be objective and respectful. In the long run, it will help you get things done.
Now get out there, practice, and take your business to the next level with your negotiating skills!
German photographer, digital artist, design director, and adventurer Mark Siegemund captured the incredible cityscape of Shanghai with a drone camera. Now living and working in the Chinese metropolis, his growing portfolio showcases the city’s dynamic, urban landscape from hard-to-reach angles, just like views from a bird’s perspective, above winding streets and between skyscrapers.
A city that is essentially divided into two parts by the Huangpu River, Shanghai separates the future from the past. On one side is the Financial District, also known as Pudong, and on the other is the old sector, called Puxi. Siegemund’s images capture this strange juxtaposition, showing the contrast between tradition and modernity. Images of the sprawling Financial District reveal it’s vast scale, swirling neon lights, and skyscrapers bathed in sunlight. As a design director for an architectural firm, Siegemund is often drawn to Shanghai’s most majestic structures. A focal point is often the needle-like Oriental Pearl Tower which is the second tallest structure in China (the first being the Shanghai World Financial Center).
In contrast, old town scenes include ancient villages, crowded spring festivals, and the flag-filled streets of temple towns, in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Recently though, there’s been ongoing demolition projects with plans to replace traditional neighborhoods with low-rise housing developments. Siegemund reveals on Instagram that sadly, some of the “ancient winding streets that have housed Shanghainese communities for generations” will cease to exist. “Residents welcome visitors, saying, ‘You’d better look now, it’s not going to be here for long.’” He continues, “Living in a mega city like Shanghai it is not always easy to calm down and find peace!” It is only when he looks behind a wall or discovers hidden paths, that he might find communities living the “slow life.” “I hope they will prevail forever and overcome the endless urbanization process!”
Find more of Siegemund’s incredible images on Instagram.
German photographer, digital artist, design director, and adventurer Mark Siegemund captures Shanghai’s incredible cityscape with a drone camera.
His growing portfolio of drone photography showcases the city’s dynamic landscape from hard-to-reach angles…
…just like views from a bird’s perspective, above winding streets and between skyscrapers.
From the vast Financial District…
..to the backstreets of old temple towns…
…his stunning images capture the city’s unique mix of old and new.
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Tapping maple trees is a tradition spanning hundreds of years. Dating back to the 17th century, early settlers in the Northeast US and Canada learned about sugar maples from the Native Americans. For a brief period of time between winter and spring, holes drilled into the tree yield the sap we’ve come to love on pancake and waffles. This still exists today, but technology has helped tweak the process—one that Redditor HDC3 shares in an epic DIY maple syrup tree tap.
In a post on Imgur, HDC3 showed the extensive prep that went into the tree tap. The savvy DIYer readied 200 reusable drop rigs, which “combine a spile or spigot or tap with a one meter (three foot) 5/16″ hose and a tee with a cap on it.” The taps were then drilled about two inches deep into the tree. Those 200 drop lines connected to “lateral lines” using the tree, which further connected to a larger mainline and collected the sap—almost 100 gallons of it.
This system also allowed HDC3 and crew to tweak the sap itself. “The sap comes out of the trees at around two percent sugar,” they explained. “This year (yesterday) I added this four-stage reverse osmosis system that I assembled from parts I found on eBay and stuff I bought at Lowes. It brings the sugar content up to eight percent which means that it’s saving us 75% of the work boiling out the water and increasing our yield by a factor of four.”
After collecting the sap, half of an oil tank helped to evaporate the water in it. “It isn’t pretty but it makes delicious maple syrup,” HDC3 recalled. Once that was complete, it was time to boil. “We bring the sap to around 60% sugar on the evaporator then filter it and take it into the house to finish on the stove. We filter it again when it reaches 66% sugar then bottle it.”
After all that work, the first production run of 2018 yielded about 2.5 liters after eight hours of evaporation. HDC3 is hopeful that their future batches will make even more syrup to enjoy. Learn more about this DIY in HDC3’s Imgur post.
Redditor HDC3 showed off an impressive DIY project for tapping maple trees. It started with 200 drop rigs.
Then, the group drilled a 5/16″ hole about two inches deep into the tree and inserted the tap.
The drop lines were connected to the lateral lines…
… that ran to a mainline.
The lateral line serves four trees and a total of 10 taps.
They collected almost 100 gallons of sap!
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Can’t get enough of the funny way your dog or cat trots around? Animator Stephen Cunnane breaks things down with his mesmerizing animal gait animation. Focusing on four-legged animals (quadrupeds) Cunnane’s animation moves from walk to sprint, giving a close-up detail on how the paws’ movement makes the body gently sway.
“Animals walk weird…who knew?! This animated video helps break down animal gaits for animators, artists, or any old fan of studying creatures,” Cunnane writes. And clearly, his work has been a hit, with over 60,000 views of the clever clip. If you think looking at the gaits of animals is all fun and games, it’s actually serious business.
Animals not only change their gait depending on the type of terrain, but some—like lizards—even use it to help with respiration. Interestingly, humans were unable to fully understand and define the gaits of animals until photography made it possible to create still images of animals in motion. English photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s 1878 images of The Horse in Motion was even taken to help settle the idea that at some point, all four of a horse’s hooves leave the ground when trotting.
Across six different gaits—walk, amble, pace, trot, canter, and gallop—Cunnane uses a canine to demonstrate a type quadruped gait. The well-designed animation will bring a smile and any pet owner or animal lover who can’t get enough of watching mammals move. And, if you prefer insects, Cunnane has another animation for you.
Stephen Cunnane created a charming animation detailing the gait of four-legged animals.
Interested in the way insects move instead? Don’t worry, Cunnane’s got you covered.
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If someone told you that the human race is very close to living forever, what would you say? According to futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, by 2050 we’ll have the capability to become “immortal.” Pearson, a former sound engineer and inventor, claims to have “85% accuracy when looking 10-15 years ahead,” and lists several technological advances as reasons for his prediction.
“There are quite a lot of people interested in living forever,” Dr. Pearson tells The Sun. “There always has been, but the difference now is tech is improving so quickly, lots of people believe they can actually do it.” One technique for extending our lifespan? Pearson points to advances in genetic engineering to prevent cell aging and scientists attempting to create 3D printed organs. This would allow us to simply replace “old parts” when necessary. While it might sound crazy, IFL Science points out that he may be alluding to factual studies, such as the gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas 9.
But Pearson is really banking on android bodies as our pathway to immortality. Equating it to “renting a car,” he theorizes that “the mind will basically be in the cloud, and be able to use any android that you feel like to inhabit the real world.” Brain interfaces are already a reality, though they are primarily used by people with extreme paralysis. These chips, implanted directly in the brain, allow people to operate prosthetics or computers with their thoughts. And with increasingly realistic dolls being pushed by the sex industry, Pearson’s idea may not be so farfetched.
One final theory by Pearson eschews a physical body altogether, in lieu of the virtual world. “You could make as much fun as you could possibly imagine online. You might still want to come into the real world,” he predicts. “You could link your mind to millions of other minds, and have unlimited intelligence, and be in multiple places at once.” But alas, if you are getting ready for 2050, you better start saving your cash. Pearson predicts the first wave of technology will only be available to the ultra-rich, with it taking about 10 to 15 years to trickle down to the rest of us.
h/t: [IFL Science!]
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Love art and traveling? Why not combine your two passions by visiting some of the best art destinations the world has to offer. From street art capitals such as Berlin and New York to the world-renowned galleries of Paris and Florence, great art can be found in all corners of the world. Whether you’re inspired by the work of old masters, love contemporary art, or you just want to soak up some healthy creative energy, here’s our list of the 10 best cities to visit to satisfy even the most insatiable art lover.
If you’re an art lover, Paris should be at the top of your destination list. With too many fantastic museums to mention, perhaps it’s best to start with the biggest and oldest. Built in the early 12th century, The Louvre was previously used as a royal fortress. It was turned into a museum in the late 1700s and today displays around 35,000 objects. It’s home to some of the world’s most famous artistic treasures, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Another must-visit gallery is Musée d’Orsay, situated in the former, ornate Gare d’Orsay railway station. Here, you’ll find the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world. Produced between 1848 and 1914, the entire French national collection includes the work of Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, and much more.
For contemporary art, be sure to visit Modus Art Gallery, which showcases an eclectic, ever-changing collection. Other mentionable contemporary galleries include Yvon Lambert, Galerie Xippas, and La Maison Rouge.
For art without queues or an entry fee, check out the Belleville neighborhood, where you’ll find plenty of world-class street art and graffiti.
New York City, USA
Home to world-famous museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York can be overwhelming for an art lover. While we naturally recommend visiting these world-famous museums, you can also explore some of the less sign-posted art locations within New York’s contemporary art scene. To help, companies such as New York Gallery Tours will guide you through the labyrinth of galleries in the hippest parts of the city, including Chelsea, SoHo, Tribeca, and the Lower East Side.
Whether you stay within Manhattan or head out to the outer boroughs, you’re bound to have plenty of options. For a more raw view of the city’s art, head to Bushwick (in Brooklyn) to explore graffiti art-covered streets, hang out with the local creatives, and visit cutting-edge contemporary galleries that showcase emerging talents. With so much to see, though, make sure you have a plan in place beforehand.
Berlin is one of those cities where art can be found around every corner. It’s a place where the urban landscape is constantly changing, with new street art seemingly popping up overnight and older pieces being covered or changed. Perhaps the most famous spot for street art is located in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, where part of the historical Berlin Wall is now used as the longest open-air gallery in the world.
The city’s East Side Gallery spans more than 1,000 meters (1.3 kilometers) and features hundreds of painted murals. However, if you want to avoid the tourists, you can just as easily find some of the world’s best street art all over the city. Each neighborhood has its own unique vibe, but the alternative streets of Kreuzberg is a great place to start if you want to see amazing works of art on nearly every wall, doorway, and rooftop.
If street art isn’t your thing, you can visit Berlin’s countless galleries and museums. There’s even a whole island in the middle of the city, aptly named Museuminsel, or Museum Island, where you can find five world-renowned museums. Among the many artworks on display, you can see masterpieces from artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Manet at the Alte Nationalgalerie; in the Neues Museum you can explore ancient Egyptian art; and, at the Altes Museum you can see the largest collection of Etruscan art outside of Italy.
One other piece of art you can’t miss in Berlin is the giant Molecule Man sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky. Erected in the river Spree in 1999, it features three human figures made from perforated aluminum. The monument intersects the three districts of Kreuzberg, Alt-Treptow, and Friedrichshain, and symbolizes the reunited West and East Berlin.
Home to Art Basel—one of the world’s most prestigious international art fairs—Miami’s vibrant art scene offers a full menu of artistic delights. For galleries galore, visit the Wynwood Arts District, where you will find over 30 contemporary art spaces and studios. Here, you can also take a street art tour with Wynwood Art Walk.
We also recommend the waterfront Perez Art Museum for the best of modern and contemporary art.
With hundreds of galleries scattered among skyscrapers, back streets, and old towns, Tokyo is one of the most exciting places to visit for its art. Tucked away in an old neighborhood of traditional wooden houses and temples, SCAI The Bathhouse is one of Tokyo’s most prestigious contemporary art galleries. The former 200-year-old bathhouse is now a white-walled art space, but still retains details of its past, such as wooden lockers where bathers would have stored their shoes before taking a dip. Past exhibiting artists include Anish Kapoor and Tadanori Yokoo.
For art with a view, head to the Roppongi entertainment district and to the top of the 54-story Roppongi Hills Mori Tower skyscraper. Here you’ll find the legendary Mori Art Museum, where over the years its ever-changing exhibitions have included the polka dot installations of Yayoi Kusama.
If Renaissance art is your thing, Florence is the city for you. Explore the colossal collection of the Medici family at the Uffizi, which includes masterpieces by Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Da Vinci and more. To complete your Renaissance masterpiece tour, head to the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s iconic David sculpture.
For your contemporary art fix, visit Florence’s Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, also known as the “anti-Uffizi.” Through themed exhibitions, this gallery is devoted to showcasing the best of contemporary Italian art.
Barcelona is a must-see destination for art lovers, as it’s home to Museu Picasso; one of the biggest Pablo Picasso collections in the world. But the Spanish hub has a lot more to offer besides Picasso, including large collections of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque art displayed at Museu Nacional d’Art. However, a trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without marveling at the architecture of Gaudi.
London, United Kingdom
London is home to all styles and eras of art, so it’s a great city to visit if you want to see a bit of everything. You can find classics from Van Gogh at the National Gallery, modern art masterpieces from the likes of Picasso, Hockney, and Warhol at Tate Modern, as well as many contemporary gems at Saatchi Gallery.
For a less-formal setting, visit Shoreditch, a creative inner-city district in the East End. Here you can marvel at some of the city’s most impressive street art and even join in on an Alternative London Walking Tour, led by the local street artists and creatives.
Having seen a recent boom in contemporary art, most of Beijing’s art can be found in 798 Art District. Here, former industrial buildings have been transformed into contemporary art spaces and open-air installations. You can find pretty much any type of art—from photography to sculpture to fashion design.
For Chinese historical art, check out the Poly Art Museum which features ancient bronze works from the Shang and Zhou dynasties.
While Chicago is home to world-class institutions—such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago—it’s a city where you don’t have to be indoors to see great art. While wandering around the central business district, The Loop, you’ll find plenty of public artworks including Anish Kapoor’s iconic Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. You can also find an untitled cubist sculpture by Pablo Picasso, which was the first of Chicago’s public art pieces to be installed in 1967.
However, if the windy city lives up to its nickname, and the weather is just too much to stay outdoors, head to the former warehouse district, River North, where there’s over 100 contemporary art galleries to explore.
As art history tells us, it was American artists such as Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko who revolutionized and redefined art in the 1940s and ‘50s. They pioneered the abstract art movement, and paved the way for most contemporary installation, sculpture, and performance artists we know today. However, some might not realize that the first artistic innovators came even before them. Modern art started to evolve during the early 20th century with French movements such as Cubism, led by Pablo Picasso. But one of the first artists to step away from traditional painting altogether was French artist Henri Matisse, who led the Fauvism movement in the 1900s.
In the early 1930s, Matisse exhibited his murals titled The Dance at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The abstract, gestural shapes depicting the human form showed the American art scene a new kind of painting, and arguably led to Cubism, Expressionism, and Futurism. Moreover, in the ‘40s and ‘50s Matisse stepped away from easel tradition altogether, in favor of large-scale paper cut-outs—a large body of work that inspired many modern abstract artists, and continues to influence artists today.
“From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.”—Henri Matisse.
Who was Henri Matisse?
Considered the greatest colorist of the 20th century and a revolutionary artist who helped define modern art, French artist Henri Matisse first emerged as a Post-Impressionist. In 1904, he led the Fauvism movement; French for “wild beasts,” the les Fauves were a group of modern artists who favored pure, bright colors and expressive brushstrokes over realism.
Having also worked as a draughtsman, print maker, and sculptor, Matisse’s colorful artwork mostly depicted still life and the human figure. Confidently rendered in strong, vibrant shapes, he often used the white of his exposed canvas to create light-filled scenes. As he once said, “I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.” As his style developed, Matisse’s depictions became more abstract and fragmented, until eventually—during his final years—he created work almost exclusively using colorful paper cut-outs.
Henri Matisse’s early work: Fauvism
Lasting just 4 years (1904–1908), the Fauvism movement was led by Matisse and fellow French artist, André Derain. Characterized by seemingly wild brushwork and vivid colors, Fauvism could be described visually as a hybrid of Post-Impressionism and Pointillism. Les Fauves painted their subjects with a high degree of abstraction, depicting only basic shapes.
Inspired by the teachings of Gustave Moreau, a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, as an art student Matisse once said, “He did not set us on the right roads, but off the roads. He disturbed our complacency.” In 1896, after studying Impressionism, Matisse announced he “couldn’t stand it anymore,” and abandoned his earth-colored palette for bright Post-Impressionist colors.
Matisse and Pablo Picasso
In 1906, Matisse met Pablo Picasso, and although they became lifelong friends, they were also rivals whose works were often compared. They both often painted the female figure and still life, but while Picasso painted from his imagination, Matisse drew inspiration from nature. The two great artists were first brought together at the Paris salon of Gertrude Stein, an American art collector living in Paris. Stein and her friends collected hundreds of works by Matisse and Picasso, championing them as major artists and welcoming them into their elite social circle.
In 1912, Matisse spent seven months in Morocco, producing about 24 paintings and numerous drawings. In 1917 he relocated to Nice, France, where he resided for the rest of his life. Even through World War II, during the Nazi-occupation of France. When his son, Pierre, begged him to flee, he refused and wrote, “If everyone who has any value leaves France, what remains of France?”
“Creativity takes courage.”—Henri Matisse.
Matisse’s final years: the cut-outs
Diagnosed with abdominal cancer in 1941, Matisse underwent life-changing surgery that left him bound to either his chair or his bed. Painting and making sculptures had become impossible physical challenges, so he developed an expressive new technique. Committed to form and color, he picked up a pair of scissors and began creating paper-cut collages, which would later be known as “cut-outs.”
With the help of his assistants, Matisse would cut abstract shapes from sheets pre-painted in colorful shades of gouache. The artist would then arrange them into lively compositions. Initially, the early pieces were small in size, but eventually, they grew into murals or room-sized works. The result was a groundbreaking art form that was not quite painting, but not quite sculpture, and became his signature medium for the last decade of his life. Today, the work of Matisse’s final artistic triumph continues to inspire contemporary artists all over the world.
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We’ve written about a lot of library digitization projects, but one of the more interesting collections to bring their books to the public is Amsterdam’s Ritman Library. Its collection of esoteric, religious, and philosophical manuscripts is based on the private collection of 20th-century businessman Joost Ritman, whose family made their fortune selling plastic tableware to airlines. And now, a good portion of the library’s core collection is online thanks to The Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown.
In reality, the Ritman Library has been aiming to digitize its collection since beginning its Hermetically Open project in 2012. A play on the library’s status as a hub of printed materials in the field of Hermeticism, it was the start of an effort to bring these precious materials to a wider audience. Luckily for the library, they had a fan in Brown, who had visited the Ritman on several occasions while writing The Lost Symbol and Inferno. In June 2016, Brown announced that he would be donating €300,000 ($368,000) to the library in an effort to help them digitize their core collection of 4,600 pre-1900 texts on alchemy, religion, and magic.
And now, the first results of the donation are online, with the Ritman Library announcing that 1,617 occult manuscripts are ready to be explored. While the library admits that the interface is still new and will be improved for searchability and manuscript downloads, it’s still an exciting step for those interested in Hermeticism. And while there’s no language filter just yet—many of the books are in Latin, Dutch, German, or French—typing in an English speaking place of publication will yield some results in English.
More books will surely be added shortly and the first release follows closely after the opening of the Embassy of the Free Mind, Dan Brown’s new center that “aims to promote ‘free thinking’ through culture, art, science, and spirituality.” The Ritman Library’s collection is now housed at the center, making it an international hub for those interested in mysticism and philosophy.
The Ritman Library has been sharing their progress as they scan and digitize their vast collection of occult manuscripts.
A generous donation by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, a fan of the library, helped them jumpstart their digitization project.
h/t: [Open Culture]
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