Scientific Mysteries of Movement and Light

“This week marked Vincent van Gogh’s 162nd birthday. The always-illuminating Maria Popova celebrated in her Brainpickings newsletter by bringing back studies linking van Gogh’s celebrated 1889 painting The Starry Night — where light and clouds flow in turbulent swirls on the night sky — with studies of turbulence in fluid flows….
“The painter’s magnificent brushwork made (intuitive?) use of a property known as luminance, a measure of the relative brightness between different points. The eye is more sensitive to luminance change than to color change, meaning we respond more promptly to changes in brightness than in colors….
“Van Gogh’s creations during his most turbulent period mirrored nature’s turbulent flows, as if his mind somehow tapped into a universal archetype where luminous becomes numinous — and the painter’s brush and nature’s brush become one and the same.”
The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh 1889
The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh 1889
Excerpts from: 
Van Gogh’s Turbulent Mind Captured Turbulence 
By Marcelo Gleiser,
Theoretical physicist and cosmologist; professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College; and co-founder of NPR’s 13.7 cosmos and culture blog.
H/T Lorna Wood 
NOTE: “Scientific Mysteries” headline credit to  Maria Popova’s Brainpickings newsletter 


A Site for Saw Eyes

There is no "Right Way Up." Steven Schwarz  Sydney, Oct. 2014

There is no “Right Way Up.” Steven Schwarz, Sydney Oct. 2014

One day I will travel to Sidney, Australia to meet and greet my friend Steven Schwarz. Over the weekend he added his latest painting entitled One Hand Makes Dark Work to his WEIRD FRICKIN’ SHITE! sACRED AND ODIFEROUS! Facebook album. Then he posted it on his Cosmic Rapture blog which in turn was posted to Facebook by me. And linked to my blog now.

Steven had sent to me two of his paintings from that album at the end of last year as a prize for guessing which way was the right way up for his painting shown here, originally titled “And Then I Tripped…”.

This is not really the right way up, though, because his painting is horizontal as his SRS signatory is on the lower right. It’s much more beautiful in real life than this picture does justice.

Thanks Steven… me and the paintings became best of friends!


A Site for Saw Eyes

Steven R. Schwarz portfolio blog


Springtime Perennial

Locals over at Facebook will recognize this photo as my cover photo which is then cropped to a profile picture. They may not know I think I’m taking a picture of a landscape that could exist somewhere near Rhinebeck, New York. 

Locals relax by the tulip fields along the canal in Haarlem, The Netherlands, 1931.

Photograph credit: Wilhelm Tobien, National Geographic Creative

Photograph credit: Wilhelm Tobien, National Geographic Creative

Long live the tulip! We can buy tulip bulbs in virtually all colors, including a purple so deep that it looks black. And by planting a selection of varieties of this perennial, we can enjoy their beauty from early spring through early summer.

Tulips do best in areas with dry summers and cold winters. The brightly colored, upright flowers may be single or double, and vary in shape from simple cups, bowls, and goblets to more complex forms. They are excellent in beds and borders; many types are good for forcing into bloom indoors, and most are excellent for cut flowers.


  • Did you know: If you dig up a tulip bulb in midsummer, it’s not the same bulb you planted last fall. It’s her daughter. Even while the tulip is blossoming, the bulb is dividing for the next generation.
  • To get the longest vase life, cut tulip stems diagonally, then wrap the upper two-thirds of the flowers in a funnel of newspaper and stand them in cool water for an hour or two. Then, recut the stems and the tulips will last at least a week.
  • In 17th-century Holland, the new tulip was such the rage and fashion that a handful of bulbs was worth about $44,000.


NOTE: Although the Netherlands only controlled the Hudson River Valley from 1609 – 1664, in that short time, Dutch entrepreneurs established New Netherlands, a series of trading posts, town and forts up and down the Hudson River that laid the groundwork for towns that still exist today. 

Dutch Colonization,

Criss Cross: Birdboy

Dear Flipped Again,

It’s been six weeks since my last post but I have not forsaken you. Here is another page in Arts History. — KG

Sir Anthony van Dyck (Dutch pronunciation: [vɑn ˈdɛi̯k], many variant spellings;[2] 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and Flanders. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching …


Anthony van Dyck: Self-Portrait with a Sunflower (c.1632).

Anthony van Dyck: Self-Portrait with a Sunflower (c.1632).


… Ben Thompson, Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville,  asked Art History Professor Scott Brown to write an essay contextualizing the artwork for the publication which would accompany the show. They had served together on several committees and Thompson knew that although Brown was a medievalist, he had an interest in the cutting edge art of today.

Brown found that many of the artists alluded to the past in their subject matter, composition, or technique. Jason John’s “Birdboy” pays homage to Flemish Baroque artist Anthony Van Dyck’s “Self-portrait with a Sunflower” (1632).

Because these are young artists, there has not been the availability or opportunity for art historians to look at their work in depth. Brown proposed and developed a Junior Methods Seminar where his students will spend the semester examining the nature of the exhibit as a whole. They will research one artist and then write a scholarly essay on one piece of that artist’s work.

Jason John: Birdboy 2010

Jason John: Birdboy 2010


NOTE TO SELF:  You need to get in touch with Dr. Brown tomorrow.

Dalí’s Botanicals

Long after Salvador Dalí had been influenced by Giorgio de Chirico of the previous post, Swiss publisher Jean Schneider in 1969 commissioned him to re-stylize an assemblage of traditional French 19th-century botanical engravings for a series of lithographs.  

Cerises Pierrot, Salvador  Dali. Lithograph 1969

Cerises Pierrot, Salvador Dali. Lithograph 1969

He published 14 lithographs known as the FruitDali Series and stashed away Dalí’s watercolor studies in a bank vault. 

The lithographs were very popular with art collectors; my favorite is Cerises Pierrot. The eye stares at me. What does he hear with that big red ear? I don’t know if he is allergic to cherry blossoms but his nose is bleeding. 

The original watercolors were sold individually for over $1 million at Bonham’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London on June 18, 2013.  

The History Blog has a short Bonham video showing how Dalí superimposes his surrealistic imagery over the original botanical. It’s very stimulating and if it were in Youtube format I’d post it directly.


Poire Don Quichotte, Salvador Dalí. Lithograph 1969

Poire Don Quichotte, Salvador Dalí. Lithograph 1969

Here Don-Quixote-pear-branch slays a tilted-windmill-pear-dragon as Sancho-Panza-pear-blossom urges him to take care.






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