5 VERY CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT CARAVAGGIO’S PAINTINGS


Did you know…

Young Sick Bacchu (1593/1594)

Young Sick Bacchus (1593/1594)

1. …that Caravaggio’s Young Sick Bacchus (1593/1594) is in fact a self-portrait. The artist looked at himself in a mirror while he painted it. The reason he looks kind of sick is that the painter himself was convalescing from a disease, probably malaria, at the time, and had just left hospital.  Bacchus’ greenish lips and opaque eyes reflect his unhealthy condition.

 

The Death of the Virgin (detail)

The Death of the Virgin (detail) (1606)

2. …that the Church was shocked at this painting – The Death of the Virgin (1606) –  as they recognized the model Caravaggio used to depict the dead Virgin Mary. She was in fact a well-known courtesan whose bloated body had been dragged out of the river where she had drowned. Caravaggio used common people he saw in his contemporary Rome streets and also at the places these people usually hung out, such as taverns and brothels in the turn of the 16th to 17th century, to represent biblical and mythological scenes which would have taken place centuries earlier. I had a chance to see this painting myself at the Louvre and can attest, from first hand experience, to its fascination.

 

The Supper at Emmaus (1606)

The Supper at Emmaus (1606)

3. …that some people find it strange that Jesus is depicted in this painting – The Supper at Emmaus (1606) – as a much younger person and without a beard at a moment that would have taken place after his resurrection. However, Caravaggio was inspired by the Bible itself to make this choice. In the Gospel of Mark (16:12) we read that the apostles did not recognize Jesus when he first appeared to them after his death, for he had a different form. The painter thought it would be logical to depict this new “form” as a younger version of Christ himself.

 

Lute Player (1596)

Lute Player (159that

4. …that for many years there was doubt about whether the person depicted in this painting – Lute Player (1596) – was male of female. But, by the kind of shirt he is wearing and the fact that it’s open almost down to his bellybutton and yet showing no sign of cleavage, we can be pretty sure it’s a man. The Castrati (castrated, in English) were famous for their beautiful voices and very popular at the time, so this could be one of them. The effects of the hormonal changes that the body of a castrato goes through correspond to those we see in the painting, such as the hairless skin and swollen face.

5. …that experts believe the arrangement of flowers and the fruit depicted to the left on the same painting were not really done by Caravaggio. They differ significantly from his typical style. They believe those elements were added at a later stage by the Netherlandish painter Jan Bruegel.

We will be getting back with more interesting facts about Caravaggio’s stunning paintings in another blog post. Watch this space.

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Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

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Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

 

English Teaching Should Go Beyond Language!


Teaching English with Art: the ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING materials you have been waiting for:

Click on the image below to know more about TEACHING ENGLISH WTH ART and buy your eBooks:

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

OUR BLOG “LINGUAGEM” HAS HAD A GREAT FIRST YEAR!


HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE.

Please find below some official stats sent by wordpress.com on the blog LINGUAGEM. We’ve had a great first year. Thanks for the support and we will back stronger than ever in 2015.

BLOG LINGUAGEM: 2014 official stats

BLOG LINGUAGEM: 2014 official stats

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 8.48.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 8.52.35 PM

 

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

Sample activities from the eBook TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: PICASSO


Image 2: Acrobat on a Ball. 1905

Acrobat on a ball, Picasso

Acrobat on a ball, Picasso

Activity 4: speaking. Level A1/A2

  1. Describe the picture. What’s the predominant color?
  2. This is a painting from Picasso’s Rose Period (1904-1906). Everything is kind of pinkish. How was Picasso feeling during this period? Why do you think so?
  3. What does the color pink remind you of?
  4. Who are those people? What’s their relationship? Where do they work?
  5. The girl can stand on a ball. This is difficult to do. What else do you think she can do? Can you do anything difficult? What?

 

Activity 5: speaking. Level A2

  1. What’s this girl like? Tell us about her personality. What about the man?
  2. Describe the girl physically. Now describe the man.
  3. What do you think she likes doing in her free time? What do you like doing in your free time?
  4. Do you like the circus? What do you usually see in the circus?
  5. Pair work: students are divided into A and B. Student A lists the positive points of a circus. Student B disagrees and says why.
  6. Make a poster of a circus (a drawing or a collage or both) and present it to the class.

Activity 6: writing. Level B1/B2

  1. Write a composition imagining what your life would be like if you worked for a circus. Tell us about your job. What you usually do. The different kinds of people you work with. Do your relatives work there too? Who? (Do some research on the Internet to find out what kind of life circus people live. Use your own words in the composition. 400 – 700 words).
  2. Read your partner’s composition. Help her correct some mistakes and ask questions to help her write a more complete and better composition. Then ask her to help you with yours.

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Click on the image above to access the KINDLE STORE: Teaching English with Art: Matisse, Picasso, Caravaggio, Monet, Norman Rockwell

Click on the image above to access the KINDLE STORE. Teaching English with Art: Matisse, Picasso, Caravaggio, Monet, Norman Rockwell

Au revoir Jorge Sette

Teaching English with Art (video)


Teaching English with Art: the ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING materials you have been waiting for:

 

 

TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE. Click here for more info: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1kP

 

TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: PICASSO. Click here for more info: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lA

 

‪#‎matisse ‪#‎picasso ‪#‎fauvism ‪#‎cubism ‪#‎moma ‪#‎tate ‪#‎teachingenglish ‪#‎language ‪#‎learningenglish

Cubism: the most revolutionary art movement of the 20th century


Pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Cubism is one of the most revolutionary and seminal art movements of the 20th century. It has its origins in the post-impressionist paintings of Paul Cezanne, and aims at depicting reality in a non-naturalistic way, being considered the seed of the abstract paintings developed later on. Cubism in its more innovative and radical form lasted from 1907 to 1914, when the First World War broke out.

The end of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century were marked by great technological innovations that cried for an art form that could express these fast changes and new times. Traditional art, based on realistic works, which had been perfecting the use of perspective since the Renaissance, could not compete with the innovations of photography and film. They would be a mere replication of these more accurate methods of showing reality.

Portrait of Fernarde by Picasso, Pablo. 1909

Portrait of Fernarde by Picasso, Pablo, 1909

In an attempt to grasp the essence of the times, Picasso started to move towards more simplified depictions of objects and the human form, trying to represent simultaneously the different angles from which they could be seen, not only from a unique perspective. He started to flatten his images, making use of geometric shapes (such as cubes, hence the name of the movement) and deconstructing reality by slashing the image into different planes, producing, thus, an effect which had a more intellectual than sensorial impact on the viewer.

The iconic painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is considered the first Cubist work of art. Primitive art, such as African masks and Iberian sculptures, played an influential role in the development of Cubism. This first phase of the movement is usually known as analytic cubism, characterized by the use of dark, almost monochromatic color hues, and growing to a point where the deconstruction of reality became so radical that the viewer could hardly identify the object or person depicted. The second phase, synthetic cubism, was a lot more energetic and colorful, including the technique of collage, where real-life two-dimensional materials, such as colored paper, newspapers or even hair ribbons, were glued to the painting.

Bottle, Guitar, and Pipe by Picasso, Pablo

Bottle, Guitar, and Pipe by Picasso, Pablo. 1912

It’s hard to pinpoint when Cubism really finished, although we usually place it in the historical period between 1907-1914. It actually did not end, but transformed itself and evolved into other styles in the following decades.

Even today we can identify strong influences of Cubism in architecture, design and, of course, the arts in general.

NOTE: If you teach languages, you might want to check out our series of eBooks TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ENGLISH available  from AMAZON.COM: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with art

Teaching English with art

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

Mick Jagger is Dorian Gray


Today I read in the paper that the killer of John Lennon, Mark David Chapman, appealed to be released from prison for the third time now. It has been denied. Now he can try again in two years’ time. I don’t think he will be able to lead a normal like outside of prison. There is always the danger of his being lynched. Besides, it looks like Yoko Ono is against the measure too. She must be really afraid he will be coming after her. It makes sense. I can only imagine the amount of publicity he is going to get the minute the steps out of jail: book deals, reality shows, record contracts (Chapman sings Lennon) and what not.

Although I started off as a fierce Beatles fan in my childhood and early adolescence, things changed as I came in contact with the Stones’ music through a close friend while we lived in England in the late eighties. We were language students in Bournemouth and borders in the same house. He introduced me to the Stones and I’m very grateful to this day. The roughness and wildness of the Stones’ music were a lot more reflective of my personality in those days. They are still my favorite rock band.

It’s not only the music that fascinates me, but the whole persona of their lead singer, Mick Jagger. I may have read three or four biographies about him (the one I would recommend is Philip Norman’s) and I can’t get enough of his personal and public story. Mick reversed many assumptions that most people have. He turns ugly into sexy and even cute at times. He makes looking old cool. He makes rock and roll professional and businesslike. He will not have his disturbingly wrinkled face and drooping oversized lips be touched by plastic surgery in an age when even 30-year-olds are having their features altered to look like weird Kens and Barbies.

Mick Jagger is Dorian Gray

Mick Jagger is Dorian Gray

Mick Jagger did not share the most common prejudices of his era. Legend says all he wished to be, back when he started, was Tina Turner. She opened for his shows a number to times in the sixties. Rumor has it he would imitate Tina’s moves for hours in front of a mirror. She was the coolest person in the world for him.  This is one of the funniest things I heard about Mick. There is also gossip that he’s bisexual, but whatever his sexual preferences may be, the fact is he has always treated gays and blacks friendly.

However, it’s undeniable that Mick Jagger has a very dark side to his personality. His whole attitude towards life reminds us a little bit of Oscar Wilde: especially on the occasion when he was put in jail in the sixties for drug consumption at what looked more like an orgy than a party. It’s said prison really broke him for a while, just like it damaged Mr Wilde badly at the end of the XIX century. Even more precisely, he seems to bear an uncanny similarity to one of Oscar Wilde’s most famous characters,  Dorian Gray.

Unlike Gray, however, whose aging process and corrupt and criminal lifestyle were all reflected on a portrait of himself he kept hidden in an attic, while he himself remained young with features as angelical and fresh as when he was a teenager,  Mick Jagger’s  parched and wrinkled canvas of a face certainly bears all the marks of sins and experience of someone who’s been sailing against rough winds for the most part of his life. His 70-year-old body, however, just like Dorian Gray’s tight, flexible and muscular structure, does not seem do be different than a 25-year-old man’s, when you see him on stage. The Stones’ song Time is on My Side seems to say it all about the mythological figure.

Besides, very much in Dorian Gray’s fashion, he is famous for having destroyed and corrupted many lives who dared to get too close to the light and got burned by its brightness. Marianne Faithfull, for example, the troubled young singer of the 60s who dated Jagger, especially reminds me of a modern Sybil Vane, the first woman Dorian Gray destroyed on his path to utter corruption and crime. Some will say that Jagger sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the success of his career and eternal youth of his body. No wonder he continuously thanks the dark forces through the ultra popular ode Sympathy for the Devil.

Not only until the mid-nineties did I have a chance to actually attend a Stones concert. An unforgettable experience at the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo, under heavy rain, with some of my closest friends.  Also, in the summer of 2012, I visited a great exhibition in London at Somerset House, where they showed rare pictures of the Stones in poster-like sizes.  This was part of a celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the band. I had a great time attending the exhibition, being in the heart of London, and looking at this rare collection of Stones pictures. The gift store was a rip-off, however, and the same T-shirt you could buy for 10 pounds in Camden Town would cost close to 50 at the museum. I was rational enough not to give in to the temptation.

Unlike Lennon, we are fortunate Mick Jagger is still among us. I know we will always have his music and his taped shows, but it’s good to know that this force of nature is very much alive and kicking. In the movie SHINE A LIGHT, Martin Scorsese manages to capture much of his energy and charisma. You feel like Mick is not performing for the camera at any moment, he is just doing his thing, being his difficult-self, while Scorsese and his crew are running around trying to capture his best on camera. Good thing the director managed to do so. Now we have this wonderful performance frozen in time on our bookshelf and can watch it whenever we need to infuse more energy and inspiration into our dull and unglamorous lives.

What do you think of Mick Jagger and the Stones? Share your opinion with us as you rate this post.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

BuzzFeed Quizzes are driving me crazy


I’m getting awfully confused with all these BuzzFeed quizzes I’ve been taking: it looks like I’m an Audrey Hepburn version of a unicorn, living in New York, commuting everyday (or should I say galloping) to Barcelona, while honing my Shakesperean skills as a writer to be read as a self-published $ 0.99 e-book on Amazon. I need more from life.

BuzzFeed quizzes

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

 

What are Your Favorite Works of Art?


Living in São Paulo is an advantage for those who love what is usually called High Art, as we have a fair number of museums in the city. Of course, we lack the spoiling infinite choices of those who live in places like London, Paris and New York, but things could be worse.

However, going to a famous exhibition in Sampa is not without its frustrations and annoyances, as there are usually long lines on the weekend and the facilities are far from excellent. Besides, I’m quite addicted to audio tours, which, unfortunately, are not very common in Brazilian museums. I can’t stand guided tours, so I never join those little groups of people who follow a uniformed museum employee listening in awe whenever the guide decides to stop in front of a painting of her choice to spill out all the memorized knowledge in artificial intonation. I tend to run in the opposite direction.

So it’s not surprising that my best experiences in art viewing will have taken place abroad. The objective of this post is to share and discuss with my audience four of the great masterpieces I’ve already had the chance to see in person. I don’t think there is anything wrong in admiring pieces of art through apps, books or video, but I’m sure we all agree that the experience of standing only a couple of centimeters away from a great sculpture or painting in a beautiful museum can not be beaten.

The pieces I chose to write about here are not necessarily listed in any special order. They represent some of the art I feel most moved by – either because of their sheer beauty, or because they may be related to a special moment in my life. Two of them are based on stories I may have read or heard: I love pictorial representations of mythology. They are among my favorites. Also I did not have to think long and hard before selecting the pieces for the post. They are the ones that first came to my mind:

1. Samson and Delilah, by Peter Paul Rubens: I first saw this painting while roaming through the rooms of the National Gallery in London last time I was there. My eyes were immediately drawn to it for its vibrant colors, strong subject matter and unique distribution of lighting. You can see Samson, of biblical fame, sound asleep on Delilah’s lap while his hair, source of huge strength, is being treacherously cut off. The Philistines are already waiting there on the doorstep to take him away and blind him. The painting by Rubens is highly sensual and yet poignant, and, to me, its relevance can also be traced to my childhood, when I first heard the story and was deeply impressed by it.

Samson and Delilhah, 1609, by Peter Paul Rubens. National Gallery

Samson and Delilhah, 1609, by Peter Paul Rubens. National Gallery

2. The Lady of Shallot, by Waterhouse: I have a funny personal anecdote about this painting. I had discovered it on an app about art and fallen in love with its bright colors and hippie-like atmosphere (although it was painted almost 100 years before the “flower power” movement). I have always been a fan of the romantic sixties and its music. Pre-Raphaelites, therefore, with their drama and romance, feature among my favorite painters. Well, a couple of years ago, I was in London for work and had an afternoon off. I decided to invest the time visiting the Tate Gallery, with the sole purpose of seeing this particular painting. My surprise was that, as I entered the museum, for some reason, I marched straight up to the room where the picture was hanging, without ever having been there before.  I had passed other rooms on my way into the museum, but somehow this was the first room I got into, after making a left off the main passageway. I could only interpret this, of course, as fate. The Lady of Shallot, just like a magnet, had dragged me to the place. She probably was as eager to meet me as I was. The painting itself is a bit too high on the wall and the colors are somewhat faded in comparison to the copy I had on the app. But still it’s impressive, and remains one of my favorites of all time.

The Lady of Shallot, 1888, by John William Waterhouse, Tate Gallery.

The Lady of Shallot, 1888, by John William Waterhouse, Tate Gallery.

3. The Thinker, by Rodin: In my teenage years in Recife my mother used to introduce me to her friends who came to our house as “the thinker”, the son who would spend hours either reading or staring into the void in front of our backyard garden with his mind going places she could not fathom. When I was still in high school, she gave me a little marble figurine in the shape of Rodin’s The Thinker, which she had acquired as a souvenir in Europe. This little gift is one of my most treasured objects and I keep it in my living room to this day (see picture below). Therefore, years later, I teared up with emotion when I first laid eyes on one of the versions of The Thinker, brought to the Pinacoteca in Sao Paulo as part of a huge Rodin exhibition in the mid-nineties (we had to stand in line for hours, and, once inside, needed to rush through the pieces as if in a car race, so many people attended the event everyday). A couple of years later, however, I could indulge in as much Rodin as I wanted too, roaming freely around the rooms and gardens of his Museum during a sunny summer day in Paris.

My little version of THE THINKER by Rodin. My living room.

My little version of THE THINKER by Rodin. My living room.

4. Mars, the God of War, by Velázquez: The pressures against growing old  – or really, the prejudice one confronts after reaching 30 – are mounting in today’s infantilized society, and it’s hard not to feel progressively inadequate and afraid. Obviously one keeps postponing – for himself – the cutting off date after which you should be considered old: it’s usually at least 10 years ahead of your current age. Therefore it was with a warm feeling of relief and reassurance that I came across this riveting Velázquez’s painting at Museo del Prado in Madrid: it dares to show the god of war, Mars, as an emaciated and tired middle-aged man, with his stunning shield lying on his feet. My conclusion was that, if even the gods need to confront the aging process, it should be OK for the rest of us.

Mars, God of War, 1640, by Velázquez. Museo del Prado.

Mars, God of War, 1640, by Velázquez. Museo del Prado.

There are many more pieces I’d love to write about. I promise my loyal readers to get back to the subject in future posts. For now, I believe this will give you a preview of my taste in Art.

What about you? What are your favorite pieces of art? Share them with us.

NOTE: You might want to check out our language and art eBooks available  from AMAZON.COM. Click here for further info:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

 

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

 

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.