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…

Portrait: Paul Klee, painter and graphic artist

23 June 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  8 minutes

Paul Klee by Hugo Erfurth in 1927

Paul Klee by Hugo Erfurth in 1927

Paul Klee was a Swiss-born German artist. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually deeply explored color theory, writing about it extensively; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are held to be as important for modern art as Leonardo da Vinci‘s A Treatise on Painting for the Renaissance. He and his colleague, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture in Germany. His works reflect his dry humor and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.   read more…

Portrait: Saladin, the most famous Kurd in history

26 May 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  14 minutes

Portrait of Saladin © The Trustees of the British Museum/cc-by-nc-sa-4.0

Portrait of Saladin © The Trustees of the British Museum/cc-by-nc-sa-4.0

Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, better known simply as alah ad-Din or Saladin, was a Sunni Muslim Kurd and the first sultan of Egypt and Syria and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader states in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate spanned Egypt, Syria, the Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia), the Hejaz (western Arabia), Yemen, parts of western North Africa, and Nubia.   read more…

Portrait: Friedrich von Schiller, poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright

21 April 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  11 minutes

Friedrich Schiller by Ludovike Simanowiz (1793 or 1794)

Friedrich Schiller by Ludovike Simanowiz (1793 or 1794)

Johann Christoph Friedrich (von) Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life (1788–1805), Schiller developed a productive, if complicated, friendship with the already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works he left as sketches. This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism. They also worked together on Xenien, a collection of short satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe challenge opponents of their philosophical vision.   read more…

Portrait: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, national poet and naturalist

24 March 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  7 minutes

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Joseph Karl Stieler in 1828

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Joseph Karl Stieler in 1828

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, critic, and amateur artist. His works include: four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. He is considered to be the greatest German literary figure of the modern era.   read more…

Portrait: Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the Diesel engine

24 February 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  14 minutes

Rudolf Diesel © volvotrucks.com

Rudolf Diesel © volvotrucks.com

Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel was a German inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the Diesel engine, and for his suspicious death at sea. Diesel was the namesake of the 1942 film Diesel. The first successful Diesel engine ran in 1897 and is now on display at the German Technical Museum in Munich. Rudolf Diesel obtained patents for his design in Germany and other countries, including the United States. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1978.   read more…

Portrait: Juan Carlos I, King Emeritus of Spain

27 January 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  14 minutes

Abdictation of King Juan Carlos I © Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain

Abdictation of King Juan Carlos I © Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain

Juan Carlos I (Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón, born 5 January 1938) is a member of the Spanish royal family who reigned as King of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014. In Spain, since his abdication, Juan Carlos has usually been referred to as the Rey Emérito (“King Emeritus“).   read more…

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