Monthly Archives: December 2018

December 15

Nero: Poet, Hedonist and Sadist

On the 15th of December 37 AD, Nero, the famous Roman Emperor (54-68 AD), was born in Antium, Italy. He was a controversial figure known for his explosive violence, homoeroticism, love of poetry and bad acting. This puzzling mélange of character traits has spawned numerous anecdotes and stories about Nero’s life. They present him as […]

December 14

Paths to Modernism: Puvis de Chavannes’ Murals

On  the 14th of December 1824, the Symbolist painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes was born in Lyon, France. Considered a ‘painter’s painter’, he was a great influence on artists, amongst which Matisse and Picasso and universally popular in his time. “Virtually all the artists and critics of the day admired Puvis de Chavannes. His admirers […]

December 13

Wassily Kandinsky: Architect of the Future of Art

On the 13th of December 1944, Wassily Kandinsky, an influential Russian painter and art theorist, died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. He has been credited with painting the first purely abstract work in the history of modern art. In the summer of 1922 he began teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where in the same year he […]

December 12

The Motel, Unsettling Icon of Popular Culture

On the 12th of December 1925, Arthur Heineman opened the first recorded motel along Highway 101 just north of San Luis Obispo, California. As he couldn’t fit in the full name ‘Milestone Motor Hotel’ on the sign, he left it as ‘Motor Hotel’, which then came to be abbreviated as mo-tel. This first example of […]

December 11

Art and Insanity: Séraphine Louis, Naïve Genius

On the 11th of December 1942, a naïve painter, Séraphine Louis, also known as “Séraphine de Senlis“, died in a Villers-sous-Erquery hospital in northern France, although according to her mentor, Wilhelm Uhde, she died at Clermont’s lunatic asylum in 1934. It is questionable then whether Uhde wanted to withdraw from being associated with the mentally ill painter or […]

December 10

Beyond the Veneer: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

On the 10th of December 1928, Glaswegian designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh died in London relatively unknown and destitute. He was one of the artists who reaffirmed craftsmanship at a time of emerging Northern industrialization. He agreed with those in the British Arts and Crafts Movement who hailed a return to the individual touch […]

December 09

Troublesome Love of Edith Sitwell

On the 9th of December 1964, Dame Edith Sitwell, a British poet and critic, died in London. Both as an artist and as a public personality, she was a provocative and controversial figure. Her poetry, influenced significantly by the French symbolist movement, was often experimental and multidimensional. In her early career she focused mainly on […]