Wandering Eye: An eye for giving

Editorial Staff Art


While they’re practically fresh in comparison with the Upper Paleolithic cave drawings found in Europe and Indonesia, these newly discovered paintings on a massive cliff face in the jungle of Colombia are over twelve thousand years old, and their setting is being hailed as the “Sistine Chapel of the ancients. (Guardian)
Leonardo da Vinci attributions are often fraught and met with intense scrutiny, and the recently discovered drawing that one expert claims is “the true face of Salvator Mundi” is no exception. The news broke recently when an associate at UNESCO Florence claimed da Vinci’s vaunted authorship in a statement to the press . . . which was greeted by skepticism and outrage. Some scholars believe the work to be an imitation of the master, executed later. Without laying eyes on the physical drawing, scholars have cast doubt on the notion that it could be by any master whatsoever, one expert going as far as to call the technique “clumsy.” With any luck, the cool assessments of microbiologists will put the controversy to bed. (Smithsonian/Finestre Sull Arte/Artnews)
Vincent van Gogh scholar Martin Bailey continues his weekly blog on the artist, Adventures with Van Gogh, with a post about his most unusual self-portrait: The Artist on the Road to Tarascon (1888). The painting, which was in the collection of the Magdeburg museum in Germany, is thought by many to have been destroyed during World War II. But some believe it may have actually been looted and hidden away. (Art Newspaper)
Another van Gogh shrouded in mystery, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, is one of twelve works featured in Missing Masterpieces—a digital exhibition presented by Samsung in partnership with the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. The exhibition provides information about these lost treasures, and encourages the public’s help in tracking them down. (Mental Floss)


Millions staff writer Ed Simon inches toward a nuanced view of the American colonial milieu through an examination of one settler: Devonshire-born Thomas Morton. Arriving in New England in 1622, the free-thinking lawyer and libertine saw around him “Nature’s Masterpiece.” His hedonistic community of neopagans—consisting of whites and natives alike—is held up in contrast to the starchy society built by the nearby Puritans. (Public Domain Review)

The dreamlike tableaux of surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico—a follower of, and, in his own words, “the only man to have truly understood” Friedrich Nietzsche—might seem a strange point of emphasis for an art collective motivated by Marx and materialist concerns, as Guy Debord’s nascent Situationist International was in 1957. Yet, that was just the case. Scholar Ara H. Merjian probes the why. (Cabinet)

Vivian Gornick, failed novelist, came to a singularly postmodern conclusion when she realized she was fit not for writing fiction, but memoirs. As Gornick notes in this essay, the dominant literary mode of our day (scratch even a nominal work of fiction and you’re likely to discover a roman à clef) also suited twentieth-century English author Storm Jameson. If only she’d discovered it sooner. (Harper’s)

Two new books on the subject of arts and crafts movement churches in the United Kingdom are available for your enjoyment. Here’s some brief background on both. (Apollo)

Scenic backdrops have been around since long before Zoom got into the game with their outer space view and other window dressings. Here we’re offered a brief history of their use in photography from the earliest days, and commentary on why we love playing pretend in front of the camera. (Psyche)

Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge was a labor of loving accumulation and curation, as ANTIQUES spelled out in a recent article. The energetic, expressive paintings of Cornish marine painter Alfred Wallis (1855–1942) are now view at that venue, in a retrospective titled Alfred Wallis Rediscovered. Learn more about the artist and his work in this profile. (TMA/Hyperallergic)


University student historians and recent graduates are invited to submit proposals for the Victorian Society New York’s annual Emerging Scholars colloquium, to be held in May. Founded in 1966, VSNY supports scholarship relating to nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century culture. Recent papers have included nineteenth-century tableaux vivants, cookbook recipes revealing artistic gluttony, and the hatpins women used to protect themselves from men pitching woo on city streets. Send two hundred–word proposals (preference will be given to American/New York topics) and CVs to info@vicsocny.org by March 10. (VSNY)