Portrait: Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and Academic skeptic

28 April 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  6 minutes

Bust of Cicero, Palazzo Nuovo, Musei Capitolini, Rome © Freud/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bust of Cicero, Palazzo Nuovo, Musei Capitolini, Rome © Freud/cc-by-sa-3.0

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and Academic skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during the political crises that led to the establishment of the Roman Empire. His extensive writings include treatises on rhetoric, philosophy and politics, and he is considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and served as consul in 63 BC.   read more…

Portrait: Richard Wagner, composer, theatre director, polemicist, conductor

23 March 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  6 minutes

Wagner bust in Bayreuth © Schubbay/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wagner bust in Bayreuth © Schubbay/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas (or, as some of his mature works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung).   read more…

Portrait: Ernest Hemingway, American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman

23 February 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  6 minutes

Ernest Hemingway at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, 1939 © Lloyd Arnold - www.phoodie.info

Ernest Hemingway at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, 1939 © Lloyd Arnold – www.phoodie.info

Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three nonfiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.   read more…

Portrait: Angela Merkel, physicist and first female chancellor of Germany

26 January 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  11 minutes

© א (Aleph)/cc-by-sa-2.5

© א (Aleph)/cc-by-sa-2.5

Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician and scientist who served as the chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), she previously served as leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2005 and as Leader of the CDU from 2000 to 2018. Merkel was the first female chancellor of Germany. During her tenure as Chancellor, Merkel was frequently referred to as the de facto leader of the European Union (EU) and the most powerful woman in the world.   read more…

Portrait: Salvador Dalí, world renown Spanish surrealist

22 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  9 minutes

Salvador Dali with his pet ocelot Babou in 1965 © Library of Congress - Roger Higgins

Salvador Dali with his pet ocelot Babou in 1965 © Library of Congress – Roger Higgins

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquess of Dalí of Púbol was a Spanish surrealist artist renowned for his technical skill, precise draftsmanship, and the striking and bizarre images in his work. Born in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, Dalí received his formal education in fine arts in Madrid. Influenced by Impressionism and the Renaissance masters from a young age, he became increasingly attracted to Cubism and avant-garde movements. He moved closer to Surrealism in the late 1920s and joined the Surrealist group in 1929, soon becoming one of its leading exponents. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in August 1931, and is one of the most famous Surrealist paintings. Dalí lived in France throughout the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939) before leaving for the United States in 1940 where he achieved commercial success. He returned to Spain in 1948 where he announced his return to the Catholic faith and developed his “nuclear mysticism” style, based on his interest in classicism, mysticism, and recent scientific developments.   read more…

Portrait: Franz Marc, one of the key figures of German Expressionism

24 November 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  5 minutes

Franz Marc, 1910

Franz Marc, 1910

Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc (8 February 1880 – 4 March 1916) was a German painter and printmaker, one of the key figures of German Expressionism. He was a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a journal whose name later became synonymous with the circle of artists collaborating in it.   read more…

Portrait: Wassily Kandinsky, expressionist and pioneer of abstract art

22 September 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  8 minutes

Wassily Kandinsky in 1922 by Hugo Erfurth

Wassily Kandinsky in 1922 by Hugo Erfurth

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist. Kandinsky is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa (today Ukraine), where he graduated at Grekov Odessa Art school. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics. Successful in his profession—he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat (today Tartu, Estonia)—Kandinsky began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.   read more…

Portrait: Theodor Herzl, father of modern political Zionism

25 August 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  18 minutes

Theodor Herzl © Alberto Fernandez Fernandez

Theodor Herzl © Alberto Fernandez Fernandez

Theodor Herzl was an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist, playwright, political activist, and writer who was the father of modern political Zionism. Herzl formed the Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish immigration to Palestine in an effort to form a Jewish state. Though he died before its establishment, he is also known as “Visionary of the State” of Israel/”The prophet” of Israel. Herzl is specifically mentioned in the Israeli Declaration of Independence and is officially referred to as “the spiritual father of the Jewish State”, i.e. the visionary who gave a concrete, practicable platform and framework to political Zionism. However, he was not the first Zionist theoretician or activist; scholars, many of them religious such as rabbis Yehuda Bibas, Zvi Hirsch Kalischer and Judah Alkalai, promoted a range of proto-Zionist ideas before him. Herzl Day is an Israeli national holiday celebrated annually on the tenth of the Hebrew month of Iyar, to commemorate the life and vision of Zionist leader Theodor Herzl.   read more…

Portrait: August Macke, a German Expressionist painter

28 July 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  10 minutes

Selbstporträt mit Hut (1909) by August Macke

Selbstporträt mit Hut (1909) by August Macke

August Robert Ludwig Macke was a German Expressionist painter. He was one of the leading members of the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). He lived during a particularly innovative time for German art: he saw the development of the main German Expressionist movements as well as the arrival of the successive avant-garde movements which were forming in the rest of Europe. Like a true artist of his time, Macke knew how to integrate into his painting the elements of the avant-garde which most interested him. Like his friend Franz Marc and Otto Soltau, he was one of the young German artists who died in the First World War. The August-Macke-Haus is a museum dedicated to August Macke founded in 1991. It is located in Macke’s former home in Bonn, where he lived from 1911 to 1914.   read more…

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