Fun Art Facts
I’ve got a few facts about art and artists to share with all of you in this 3T Art Blog post. Hope you find them interesting. I sure do. Maybe some of this info will even be new to you. Let’s get started!
· Art was an Olympic sport. That’s right. Hard to believe, isn’t it. The ‘modern’ Olympics we know today were founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He struggled for many years to get his vision off the ground, but persevered and the first official Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.
Coubertin was a huge art lover. He dabbled in art as well, being the designer of the Olympic rings logo still used today, and wanted the Olympics to recognize the arts. He felt it was the only way to make it a well-rounded competition since exhibitions of sport and exhibitions of art were on equal footing in his eyes.
In 1912, the arts were added to the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. Medals were given out in painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and music. The only catch for these competitors was that their work had to reflect sport in some way. Between 1912 and 1948, a total of 151 medals were given out to creators. Only two competitors were able to win a medal in their sports competition and win a medal in the an arts category too.
After WWII, American Avery Brundage became the president of the International Olympic Committee. He only supported amateur athletics and felt the artists who competed were more profession than amateur as they made their living from their art. He campaigned against the art categories that Coubertin had fought so hard to establish as part of the games. Unfortunately, he was able to push his agenda through before the start of the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, making the 1948 Olympic Games in London, England the last time the arts were considered equal to sport.
It seems this still wasn’t enough for Brundage. He then ordered the 151 medals awarded in the arts expunged from the Olympic records even though Brundage himself had entered his work in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angles, USA, for which he was awarded an honourable mention.
The Olympic Games still celebrate the arts in different ways during the weeks the Olympic Games are held, but sadly not in the same way that founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin would have like to see it.
· Acrylic Paints weren’t available commercially until the 1950’s. Acrylic paint only came on the scene around 1934 when the first usable method of acrylic resin dispersion (defined as the process used to mix a pigment with a liquid completely, separating each particle of pigment on a molecular level) was developed. This new synthetic paint was originally invented to be used as house paint and paint for military vehicles. At this point, it was too runny to be used by artists.
Between 1946 and 1949, Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden (now Golden Paints) developed the Magna brand of paints. These paints were acrylic resin mixed with mineral spirits making them useable with oil paint. Soon after this, Golden developed an acrylic that was water-based calling it Aquatec. He was not the only one who was working on this formulation. Henry Levinson’s Permanent Pigment Co. produced an acrylic paint called Liqutex and began selling it in the early 1950’s. These were the first two large commercial manufactures of acrylic paints.
By the 1960’s, companies such as Grumbacher and Daler Rowney were manufacturing lines of acrylic paint too. Artists such as Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko, who developed their own signature style of artwork using acrylics, actually helped popularize these new paints. Since then, many other companies manufacture acrylic paint including Winsor & Newton, who didn’t enter this commercial market until 1971.
I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re really luck to live in a time when we have so many brands, grades and viscosities of acrylic paint to choose from. Acrylics are my go-to for most of my work. I’ve been painting with them for years and I’ll be honest with you, I have a love / hate relationship with them. I love them because they dry fast and I hate them sometimes for the exact same reason. How about you? What’s your relationship with acrylic paints?
· Who invented the colour wheel? Do you have any idea at all? I was really surprised when I found this out. It was Sir Isaac Newton. That’s right, the same guy who was the first to understand and develop the laws of gravity, calculus, and understand the nature of white light. Newton was a brilliant mathematician, physicist, and author. It was his discovery of the visible spectrum of light that brought about the concept of the colour wheel.
Until this development by Newton, red was thought to be the lightest colour and blue the darkest. During his isolation from the bubonic plague in 1665 (sound familiar?), he began experimenting with white light and its effects on a prism. He learned that white light itself is made up of many colours. Violet was the first colour he observed in the spectrum. He discovered how light bends, twists and rolls, what we refer to today as waves of light. In 1672, he published the findings of his experiments.
In 1704, Newton presented the first colour wheel. Musical notes correlated with colours beginning with red. His original colour wheel was based on ROY G BIV. If you’ve not heard this term before it stands for: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the spectrum of colours found in white light. Newton noted that different hues could be seen depending on how the ratios of these colours were mixed. We still use the colour wheel today, though its layout has changed a bit, but his overall understanding of how colours are mixed has stayed the same.
· Salvador Dali painted in water! Really. Not always, but he did. I came across this awesome pic a while ago on Facebook and immediately shared it to my feed. Salvador Dali painting while swimming in Venice, 1947. Don’t you just love that floating easel?
That’s all. I just really wanted to share this pic with all of you!
· Easter Island Heads. We’re all familiar with the huge sculpted heads on Easter Island. It’s a special territory of Chile located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Archeologists believe the monumental statues on Easter Island, called ‘moai’, were created by the Rapa Nui people during the years 1100 and 1600 CE(AD). Did you know there are nearly 900 statues all over the island? Different shapes and sizes, with the earlier carvings being less detailed. It is believed they were carved in the images of various chiefs.
Moia were carved from solidified volcanic ash, or ‘tufa’, found in the island’s Rano Raraku quarry, using basalt stone picks to create the carvings. Each moia was carved as a single piece with the average height being 13 to 20 feet tall and weighing up to 80 tons. Of all the statues found, the largest still lies in the quarry with many others. ‘El Gigante’ is 71 feet tall and estimated to be between 145 and 165 tons. Wow!
Only about 30% of all the statues found on Easter Island were actually completed and erected. They were placed on stone platforms called ‘Ahus’ or buried in the ground to help keep them upright. The images we’re used to seeing of the Easter Island heads actually hide the statues true heights. They’re not just heads. They have carved bodies as well.
Sadly, the moai statues are slowly disappearing. Weather and pollution have been hard on the statues, the tufa being a porous rock, making the statues fragile enough that they’re no longer allowed to be touch by the many tourists who visit Easter Island each year.
· Van Gogh only sold one painting? Even though Vincent van Gogh didn’t start painting until his late 20’s, he produced more than 2,000 works of art before his death only 10 years later. About 1100 drawings and sketches, and 900 paintings are attributed to his short art career. His best and most famous works were created in the last two years of his life.
Van Gogh’s work was little appreciated while he was alive, his fame growing in the years after his death in 1890. It’s said that he only sold one painting during his lifetime, ‘The Red Vineyard’, to artist and art collector Anna Boch.
Today, van Gogh is considered to have been one of the greatest contributors to the modern art movement. It’s been suggested by art historians that he did indeed sell 2 paintings in his lifetime and some drawings as well, but unfortunately we’ll never know for sure.
I hope you enjoyed these interesting little tid-bits in this last post of the month. Next month’s theme is going to be ‘The Artist’s Studio’. We’ll be discussing things like the layout of your space, how to light it, tips for storing your materials, and how to set up your workstation. You’ll get a lot of good take-aways in March so don’t miss any of the 3T Art Blog posts.
See you next Thursday!