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…

Paula Modersohn-Becker: When Life Imitates Art

The name Paula Modersohn-Becker may not say much to you outside of Germany, but at 30 years old she was the first woman to paint herself in the nude, in Self-Portrait at Sixth Wedding Anniversary. Here, one quarter turned with her face flushed, she exposes two small, perky breasts crowned by an amber necklace, one…

A Room with a View: Gustave Caillebotte’s Paintings

I dwell in Possibility – A fairer House than Prose – More numerous of Windows – Superior – for Doors – Emily Dickinson It’s been a long year of repeated lockdowns and painfully drawn-out hours, when the only escape is looking out the window — anything to gain a break from the day and stop…