Childementary Learnication

Good Tuesday, my friends. I hope you are all well rested from the hectic weekend, because it’s now time for me to teach you some trash. Sit up. Pay attention. And be sure to take notes, or not, you’re grown. Today is Art Class!

Leonardo DaVinci – Vitruvian Man 1490

Leonardo DaCaprio, sorry, DaVinci is known across the world as a great scientist, artist, and engineer. He not only helped further biology, by being a creep and messing with bodies in mausoleums without proper permissions, he also helped pioneer some modern day technologies such as the tank and the helicopter. His paper and woodcraft version of the chopper was known as an Arial Screw. But one of his most notable accomplishments however was actually in the field of geometry. The Vitruvian Man looks like a piece of surrealist art where two men occupy the same space in different positions allowing only their arms and legs to differentiate from each other. However, this drawing was not to be seen as fine art at all. To win an argument concerning whether it was possible for a circle and a square to have the same area, DaVinci drew the diagram. The “perfect form” of the man shows that in different positions he can cover the same amount of space in both shapes. DaVinci was a regular smart ass. There are mathematical equations that could’ve been used to show this, but he really had it in for whomever the argument was started by.

Michelangelo – Sculpture of David 1501-1504

Michelangelo’s David is by far the most well known statue in the world. It’s the tall marble man with the tiny penis. This part of the lesson will be three-fold as there is so many interesting facts surrounding this iconic work of art. First, the David was actually a protest piece! It was created to protest the corrupt ways of the Medici family who were busy running Italy like their own personal piggy bank. The people were David, while the Medici family were their Goliath. Second, that tiny penis wasn’t always deemed acceptable. For a good while, Italy ordered the piece to wear clothes. A bronze leaf skirt was created for David to cover up that little peen. Third, in 1991, the David’s toe was smashed with a hammer by a deranged vandal that claimed the original model asked him to do so.
Donatello – David 1440

And as a bonus, it’s not the only statue of David! The sculptor, Donatello also made a statue of David, albeit much smaller, and less nude. If you consider wearing a hat and boots to be less nude, that is. Truthfully, I feel like Donatello’s David is even more naked, for some reason. Maybe it’s the sword? Maybe it’s Goliath’s head beneath his feet? Maybe it’s Maybelline.

Jan Van Eyck – The Arnolfini Portrait 1434

As a final lesson for the day, I’ll show you a piece of art that most people outside of the art industry rarely discuss. The Arnolfini Portrait is one of the most enigmatic paintings in existence, with scholars around the globe still trying to pick apart the many Easter eggs that Van Eyck hid within it. But for the sake of class, we’ll skip past the symbolism in the bed post and chandelier. We’ll overlook the dog and shoes on the floor. We’ll bypass the potatoes on the window seal. We’ll also not draw attention to the “step and repeat,” parallel pattern that the floor boards are laid in. Instead we will focus on the mirror in the center of the painting. Depending on how good your resolution is on your display, you might notice that Van Eyck actually painted himself, painting the actual painting, in the painting, itself!

Jan Van Eyck – The Arnolfini Portrait 1434 (zoomed in)

That’s right, if you zoom in on the mirror, you will see the backs of the Arnolfini’s, and Van Eyck, “smiling” for the canvas. It’s notable because there were not many artist hiding themselves in the center of commissioned works back then. That’s like the wedding photographer being in the bride’s pics.

Anyways, I’m totally glad you showed up today. I hope we delivered the goods as we’ve been trying to do consistently as of late. If not, how about you smash that follow button and teach me and my friends a real lesson! Go ahead, my defenses are lowered.

“I love art so fucking much!” — Jae Davis

8 comments

    • I searched through their trash and asked a few neighbors. I wasn’t able to find a pregnancy test, or get any info on whether she was having morning sickness or pregnancy cramps. A neighborhood rumor suggests that she was a chronic alcoholic, so that tummy was nothing more than a beer belly. Questions answered? Lol

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    • So I went through the family garbage and canvassed the neighborhood, but I was unable to find a pregnancy test or gather any info on whether Mrs. Arnolfini was having pregnancy cramps or morning sickness. A local rumor suggested that she may have been a major alcoholic and her tummy was nothing more than a giant beer belly. I hope this info helps…lol.

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      • Actually, I did some research way before I saw your response. The whole thing with the lady in the painting is symbolism. I knew just through the appearance of her gown and the lump that suggested fertility. The gown itself is a symbol of life, in all its greenery. It is of expectation, the couple, and the inevitability that there will be life stirring within her. Thanks for the response though. Much appreciated the laughter that it roused! lol

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      • A common gesture used by female’s in the public eye during the Renaissance period was placing a hand on stomach, pressing against their undergarments, most commonly their girdles. Her hand on her stomach was not a sign of pregnancy. The bundle around her tummy was nothing more than her holding the extensive fabric up. The dress she is wearing is her wedding dress, which is typically cut long and wide. I’m sure you’ve seen movies where brides bundle up the fabric of their dress to run or dance. There is a statue of Saint Margaret, the patron saint of childbirth, in the background, but it should be understood that this painting was done on their wedding day, in their wedding chamber. The fertility signs are for good will towards their consummation in hopes that it proves fruitful, as was the goal for nearly all unions back then. This painting is literally just a wedding portrait. (Art Major Here)

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  1. While in college, I took courses in which I studied these pieces of classical art that you have chosen for this post. My favorite, is the Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, because of its vibrant color and detail of textured portions of the painting. From this painting, I am especially tempted to touch the folds in the maiden’s green dress because of its intricate and pronounced detail and texture. One thing I had not noticed or paid particular attention to was the mirror in the background when I first saw this painting many years ago. That mirror within the painting was genius! But I always wondered, if it was just the style of dress or was the maiden with child? I truly enjoyed the easter eggs that you provided for each of these classic artworks. Thank you for sharing!

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