art

Upping the ante

Corporate art patronage is hardly new. Consider the influence the great Italian merchant family, the de’ Medicis, had on their time and place: Florence during the Renaissance. Some might say culture …

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Setting sail

Through the centuries, the urge to go “down to the sea in ships” (Psalms 107, verses 23-24) has been a cry of romance and adventure few can ignore. The Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing i…

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Take a seat

One of the most congenial phrases in Western civilization is “Have a seat.” The implication being the visitor is not only welcome but hospitality is offered. Thus, one of the friendliest places in th…

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Fool me once

A favorite art history story that might be apocryphal is about the Renaissance painter whose portrait of a leading bishop was rejected for not being a true likeness. The painter then added a fly on…

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Mixed messages

The seminal history on media and war is Phillip Knightley’s “The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq.” Knightley’s take is truth is the first fatali…

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Chuck of all trades

He studied agriculture and agronomy, did a five-year stint in the Coast Guard, went to law school and became president of a Wilmington, Del., law firm. Then, he just stopped and picked up sculptor’…

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Nature’s calling

Ansel Adams, during much of the 20th century, was synonymous with American fine photography. More than 24 years after his death, Adams is still considered one of the most widely known and beloved American photographers. Enter the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a small jewel of a show that looks at Adams work in a different way, allowing visitors to reconsider the depth of his achievements. “Transcending the Literal: Photographs by Ansel Adams from the Collection,” comprised of some 40 works, runs through Aug. 17.

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Large and in charge

Some artists are instantaneously recognizable by their style. One of those is Fernando Botero, he being of the rotund people. The style has been called innovative, a gimmick and a tired clich�. But everyone agrees on the commercial success Botero has had since he began using rounded figures when he was a young painter in Florence, Italy. The spaces themselves give opportunity for large patches of color that give his figures sensuality. Botero claims they were inspired by the work of Giotto di Bondone and Sandro Botticelli.

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History on a plate

A short-lived enterprise between 1770 and ‘72 in what is now South Philadelphia is notable as much for its political nature as for its aesthetic quality. The soft-paste clay porcelain of Bonnin and Morris, who dug along the Delaware River banks in Delaware for the raw ingredient, was eagerly sought. The duo turned the white clay into delicate and beautiful tableware. They also proved a native industry could compete with imports, thus boosting the nation’s confidence in its ability to be independent.

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Global Fusion

With lifelong fragility, haunted by his own sexual identity and an artistic temperament split between European culture and Mexican history, Juan Soriano managed to conquer his own demons and create some of the most interesting modern art of his time. It combines a knowledge and appreciation of European art history — cubism and surrealism — plus Mexican regional traditions.

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