Author Archives: John

Exhibition 2018: a little gallery through a glass, darkly

Are not all photographs self portraits, in fact? Seeing both, sees much more…

Posted in Posts … news | Leave a comment

Ceci est une vraie photo

My little exhibition of photographs opens in Cividale on 9th June (at weekends for a month) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike the warnings which annotate everyday life (“may contain nuts”, “do not attempt at home”…) this is a promise: No reality was hurt in the making of this photograph. No CGI (computer-generated imagery), no Photoshop.     

(No lung damage will result from smoking: Ceci n’est pas une pipe.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I can find a moment I will put up gallery or two of these new images during June

Posted in Posts … news | Leave a comment

Is not every photograph a self portrait?

My little exhibition of photographs opens in Cividale on 9th June (at weekends for a month) 

Unlike the warnings which annotate everyday life (“may contain nuts”, “do not attempt at home”…) this is a promise: No reality was hurt in the making of this photograph. No CGI (computer-generated imagery), no Photoshop.     

Posted in Posts … news | Leave a comment

Both/and is the real world we neglect for either/or

Posted in Posts … news | Leave a comment

The Impossibility of Truly Seeing….

Posted in Posts … news | Leave a comment

But what IS in front of the eyes?

Posted in Posts … news | Leave a comment

Cognoscenti 122: Keeping their secrets in Urbino Palazzo Ducale

straining to imagine the key door in Palazzo Ducale Urbino

Deep inside Federigo di Montefeltro’s palace, in that extraordinarily condensed, triangular, liminal world created by turning away from the rectilinear Renaissance calm, for its balconies to face the road to Rome, lie all the secrets of that duke’s cosmos.  

The studiolo, the double chapels to the muses and to god, these are well known. But that which might hold the best key to this amazing late 15th century world, is a pair of doors of beautifully made intarsia, every panel as slightly different as phases of the moon, and each constructed with the most precise and intentional geometry – this is no mere decoration.

Today, while all admire the brilliant perspective projections and the technical mastery of inlaid wood, images of instruments (Francesco di Giorgio?) or squirrels (Botticelli?), these doors are virtually invisible and, as far as I could see last week, without any caption.

Their ‘pictorial’ side – with caged birds and a chiming clock (above left) – is displayed, but the enigmatic, coded side which might help unlock that world for us, is barely visible and only by squeezing a camera round and photographing them in a mirror.

35 years ago, when we could touch such things, I remember an ILAUD student being able to make precise measured drawings and then enthral us with his arcane geometrical attempt to unravel their secrets.

 

29 September 2017 

Posted in Cognoscenti | Leave a comment

Pirouetting with Piero della Francesca : The Piero Gaze

My general talk on Piero della Francesca finally went off this week, and the compliments were encouraging.  Encouraging to have another go. And maybe, actually spend a complete, unrushed, fifty minutes pondering the Piero gaze – simply through these three extraordinary fragments:

The youths seeing each other directly, recognising their desire as if for the first time and its fragility – they are, after all in the presence of the first death; Adam’s dead body lies on the ground by them. Hands are held gently as a huge potential opens up. The pregnant moment.

The pregnant teenager, her gaze inwards, seeing herself and her offspring as if for the first time, as he moves under her hand. Her fate overcomes any terror – she is, after all, a virgin; she is not resigned but rather recognising the huge potential which awaits.

The bleary-eyed figure, on the cold Easter dawn, gazing directly out, at me but through me and at everything. His appearing, his appearance is as astonished as it is astonishing. It is the moment of recognition, when the sting of that first death is totally transformed by belief. In this gaze too, the world will not be the same again.

Posted in Posts … news | Comments Off on Pirouetting with Piero della Francesca : The Piero Gaze

The world of Piero della Francesca : a couple of thoughts

This post – just as we are leaving Italy for a winter in England – simply locates two or three things which, during the recent Cognoscenti tour to the world of Piero della Francesca, I promised to make available to those on that tour.

The first is the David A King’s fascinating and completely original take on The Flagellation. I mentioned his ideas only very briefly as we stood in front of this amazing painting a few weeks ago.  Click here and you will be introduced to his thesis about Bessarion (to whom I did introduce the group) and his astrolabe, linked mysteriously with the Piero painting. The best introduction is the slideshow of his lecture in Urbino, well worth a glance (click on his “silent lecture” click here, once you are on his page to download it as a pdf).

The second is a short essay I wrote 25 years ago about Urbino. It’s a very brief introduction, but while on the tour, one of the travellers who had read it (as we had circulated it to the Renaissance City tour in 2915), suggested more of you might be interested, now you have had a taster of that remarkable city.  Here it is: my-kind-of-town_jmck.

Crowds at The Resurrection, at The Annunciation, and filling the piazza in Arezzo

Crowds at The Resurrection, at The Annunciation, and filling the piazza in Arezzo

Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words | Comments Off on The world of Piero della Francesca : a couple of thoughts

Cognoscenti 121 : Piero della Francesca – The Flagellation

Just back from the Piero tour – shocked as ever at just how small and yet utterly vast is this picture; and how impossible it is to see all or even most of what it contains, even with ten or more quiet minutes and no interruptions from tour groups. With bright spotlights reflecting off its protective glass, it is also almost impossible to photograph; but at least one get up really close, which reveals so much.

My details of the urban perspective (a and b) are much closer to the actual sense and colour than the published ones (c and d).

27 September 2017

Posted in Cognoscenti, Posts … news | Leave a comment