Finding Roots. Irma Stern’s Zanzibar Paintings (1939 – 1945)

Two men share a cup of coffee together in close intimacy. Ochre turbans regaled with purple ribbons are wrapped around their heads suggesting faraway lands and stories yet untold brewing under the blanket of shared physical space. There’s a cheekiness to the moment, captured in the wink of the man to the left. There’s a…

Mary Cassatt – In the Loge (1878)

When Countess Olenska appeared in the box of one of New York’s oldest aristocratic families one January night in the 1870s, a wave of indignation reverberated throughout the seats of the new Opera House. You’d think the fine gentlemen and ladies of New York would have been more enthralled with the Faustian tragedy being played…

Jusepe de Ribera – Penitent Magdalene (1611)

If there was ever an ultimate “Am I a sociopath?” test, it would have to be Jusepe de Ribera’s Penitent Magdalene painting. I dare you not to cry. It’s hard for me to put into words what moves me about this painting. Ribera’s artistry and understanding of the human psyche are beyond words. In fact,…

Helen McNicoll – The Mother (c. 1912)

When it comes to Impressionism and motherhood there’s probably no one more famous than American artist Mary Cassatt, whose touching vignettes of the mother-child relationship blossom in unassuming poses under the guide of cool, calculated brushstrokes. Berthe Morisot too, another Impressionist, tackled motherhood with tenderness and candor, returning to the subject of her daughter, Julie,…

Lawren Harris on Creativity and Despair

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change” — Mary Shelley Fewer things are harder than to change one’s self, one’s mind. Neuroscientists would blame it on the loss of brain plasticity that comes with aging. Behaviorists blame the habits themselves, ingrained in our everyday actions and thought patterns….

Emil Filla — Reader of Dostoevsky (1907)

The first time I saw Reader of Dostoevsky I laughed.  It looked exaggerated, like a meme of someone who had just spent the last thirty minutes scrolling through Twitter. Mind you, it’s possible that my reaction was due to my mixed feelings for Dostoevsky himself.  Anyone who has struggled through the Russian’s long winded paragraphs…