It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Secrets Committed to Canvas: A Tour Through the CT Gallery

page: 1
<<   2 >>

log in


posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 02:03 PM
From the golden hazy past to the vast frantic present, the world's greatest works of art have been commissioned by the powerful to further their causes: aggrandizement, public relations, social engineering. And yet, the most straighforward commission can be a vehicle for the subversive purpose of the artist.

Wily politicians and potentates have always sat on their artists, hard. While art is a useful tool, it has an inherently destabilizing effect upon the social equilibrium. The imagination is a slippery and unreliable animal, and puts the individual beyond the reach of law and reason. Thus, the great artists were kept usefully occupied by churning out nativity scenes and state portraits. These days, they are consigned to marketing, which has proven a far more effective baffle for their disruptive energies.

However, the chaos at the core of the creative urge will reassert itself, again and again, in spite of the most cunning efforts to contain it. A painting can be an indictment, a confession, an encoded message, an in-joke, a fraud: conspiracies in oil, there to be seen by those with the right vision.

Let us begin the tour with my personal favorite, Rembrandt's The Night Watch.

Disorder dominates this painting, you can almost hear the cacophany. It was commissioned by the Amsterdam Musketeer's Militia, a morally bankrupt group of profitteering poseurs. It deviates sharply from the compositional norms of the day in several key respects. Group portraits at this time would have had the subjects posed formally at the center of the painting, looking directly at the viewer, dressed in uniform or in contemporary finery. Here, the subjects are made ridiculous; dressed like actors posturing as soldiers.

I highly recommend Peter Greenaway's film essay on this subject, J'accuse. He lists no less than 34 of these damning little details in The Night Watch. Here is a selection:

3. Is it not curious that there is such a difference in height between the two men? Willem van Ruytenburch hardly comes up the Banning-Cocq’s throat. Surely simple propriety could have equalled out the heights of the two men - Willem looks demeaned by being made a ‘shorty’.

4. The outstretched hand of Banning Cocq does not seem to fit so well into Banning-Cocq arm or sleeve. Is there a reason for this?

5. There is a very demonstrative shadow of Banning Cocq’s hand on Willem’s belly. Is this a deliberate provocation of a sexual nature?

6. The head of the lance held by Willem van Ruytenburch seems to be a flagrant genital substitute - complete with dominant penis and a suggestion of testicles - could this really be so accidental?

7. Banning-Cocq limply holds a glove by the finger with exaggerated distasteful nonchalance in his right hand. The held glove is a right hand glove. Since his right hand is already gloved - and his left-hand very extravagantly ungloved - this held glove cannot be his. Who¹s is it? And what is it doing here? What is going on?

8. The musketeer loading the musket is ostensibly doing it the wrong way around - an image of incompetence? Or has Rembrandt been admonished for making Dutch military secret too public for the Spanish?

10. There is a man in the centre of the painting making an ambiguous gesture - is he avoiding the firing, helping it, aiming it to shoot?

12. And this brightly-lit girl has a companion with a hidden face - what are both these girls doing? Running away? Running to? Just running?

13. There is someone else running away - the powder boy on the left - is he a messenger of some sort - a whistle blower, a sneak? A witness eager to tell what he has seen?

14. There is a one-eyed man at the very back of the crowd in the centre peering over everyone’s shoulder - is it a Rembrandt self-portrait? Rembrandt, it is said, after more than a few people have scrupulously studied his 57 self-portraits, had a lazy eye, an astigmation in his left eye, his sinister eye, but this is his right eye - right for left - because Rembrandt had to paint his self-portrait in a mirror.

15. The only figures looking significantly directly ‘at the camera’ at us, are Jacob de Roy in the black hat centre right - and Rembrandt - could this be significant? Are these two people the only two ‘in the know’?

16. The composition of the painting centres strongly on the two central figures, Banning-Cocq, Willem van Ruytenburch, and the man in the middle of them, Jongkind. The pointing hands, the gestures, the compositional lines - are they more than just compositional - are they accusational? And if a little of the painting is removed, cut off from the left hand side of the painting - these characters become even more central. And a little of the left hand side of the painting was cut off. In 1715. The painting stayed under Banning-Cocq control. Did they cut off this portion for merely practical considerations, or is there a more important reason?

18. There are exactly 13 pikes in the picture - thirteen was an unlucky number in the mid-17th century - accidental?

Beyond all these sneaky allusions to petty misdeeds, Rembrandt may also have been levelling an accusation of murder at his patrons. Early on in Rembrandt's association with the Militia, their popular (and relatively virtuous) Captain died in a shooting accident on the Musket range. In the forground of the painting, peering at us over Banning-Cocq's shoulder, De Roy points the barrel of his musket like an accusatory finger at the successor to the dead Captain, the diabolical Banning-Cocq.

The public reaction of the militia to Rembrandt's work at its unvieling was warm approbation, but if Greenaway is correct, their private reaciton was quite otherwise. Indeed, Rembrandt's sudden, unaccountable plunge into obscurity and penury may have been at their hands.

Next up: The Queasy Confessional Work of Walter Sickert

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 02:39 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

Great stuff Eidolon.

If I had commissioned someone to paint my buddies and I as dashing musketeers and I got the above, I would be pissed. It looks like Rembrandt put the poor little nubbin in the equivalent of a gold lame' suit. Also, what do you suppose is with that high metal collar that Willem is wearing? And is that a giant boar-spear or what?

I really love pulling apart artwork like this, thanks.


posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 03:01 PM
There is nothing that ties Walter Sickert conclusively to Jack the Ripper. But there is a tantalizing amount of circumstantial details, which in conjunction with Sickert's work makes one wonder.

The evidence consists of a few Ripper letters tainted with Sickert's DNA; the stationary bearing the same watermark as other peices of his correspondence; and the subjects of his paintings resembling in posture and settting the Ripper's victims.

They are unappetizing images; the flaccid sallow subjects reclining on squalid beds, rendered in shades that suggest morbidity and decomposition.

There are others who assert that Sickert's paintings are not a confession, but are rather another case of indictment. Sickert is supposed to have sprinkled clues throughout his body of work that point to a Royal Conspiracy behind the Ripper murders.

More on Sickert:

edit on 24-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because:

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 03:38 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

Interesting thread, I have not much to offer to it but...

And like you said I would be far more worried about what sort of insinuations the artists are doing then what the ones who commission the artwork are trying to do. One is pretty obvious, the other a bit less obvious. And you know I have even seen some people insinuate things through other forms besides paintings and art. You might not believe this but even through words that might have more then a few meanings, and through strange pictures that can mean more then a few things, and not only that but also videos and songs and all the things they say and symbolize and visualize I think they might be up to or trying insinuate something not quite so obvious.

Who knows E23, what do you see since you got an eye for this stuff in this picture, because all I see is some guy wishing he was taller.

I however prefer this picture it brings out the awesomeness that was Napoleon Bonaparte way better. Do you think the artist is trying to say something with this one as well?

But sorry I am not familiar with the painting in your op at all and none of those characters you mentioned, or what this whole nights watch was. In fact at first when I seen it before I read there some famous past peoples I thought it was some sort of circus parade going on, and they were some sort of traveling performers, I was even looking for the clowns, you know the regular ones with red noses and big floppy shoes.

But you could be right E23 I know its hard to believe, but it's true sometimes people say more then what is intended to say with the tools and art they have at hand, even here on ATS I have seen some sneaky people try to do exactly that.

A bizarre phenomenon huh, strange some people are.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 03:56 PM
DaVinci is the eternal cash cow for those looking to milk conspiracies in paintings. Everybody is familiar with the DaVinci Code, but who here has heard of a shadowy collective known as The Mirror of The Sacred Scriptures and Paintings?

Photo of the Crystal Cup Seen With Mirrors in Milan Cenacle

But, according to Hugo Conti, a self-taught Argentinian historian who leads a mysterious group called "The Mirror of The Sacred Scriptures and Paintings," the writings conceal much more -- a key to secret images.

"It is easy to find invisible images in Leonardo's paintings. Many of his characters seem to be staring into space. In reality, they are indicating where one must place the mirror to visualize the images," Conti told Discovery News.

When applied to Da Vinci's painting "Saint Anne, the Virgin and Child," on display at London's National Gallery, a mirror reveals a figure which some cynical observers say looks like the Star Wars character Darth Vader. !

Da Vinci gave us the helicopter, the Mona Lisa, scuba gear... and Darth Vader. I guess that would explain this:

As you may have suspected, the Wookie is of dubious provenance. It is the first in this tour's series of Fantastic Forgeries.

Next up: F is For Fake. And Fraud. And... you know.

edit on 24-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: formatting fluffed up.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:02 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

So is this that got you going to the more morbid of train of thoughts E23, a sort of hell no doubt.

But it's another person I am not familiar with, this Walter Sickert sorry never heard of him. But the prospect that if one really wanted to one could probably find out what his extra curricular activities and hobbies were. So you saying Sickert was Sick, and probably had an another persona in his head named jack? I goggled to see who he was and a bit of his artwork, and he does seem to have a fascination with naked women laying on beds, but then again it seems lots of artists and people seem to have that same fascination as well, only they were better artists then this guy.

You now he could of just been another crappy painter that's why the pictures are so morbid, or you could be right. I't is not a far stretch to think off, some things are only complicated because we don't make ourselves look at them, or want to look at them, but when looked at with open eyes things are just glaringly obvious, It's all a question of does anybody really want to know about such things. It will spoil most peoples tea time, that it will.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:13 PM

Originally posted by galadofwarthethird

So is this that got you going to the more morbid of train of thoughts E23, a sort of hell no doubt.

Nah, and I'm not in a morbid mood, exactly.

But it's another person I am not familiar with, this Walter Sickert sorry never heard of him.

He is commonly considered to be one of the finest Impressionists. I freely confess, I don't care for his work, in content or execution. Not, as you put it, my cup of tea. However, he is mainly recognized today for his links to the Ripper case.

You now he could of just been another crappy painter that's why the pictures are so morbid, or you could be right. I't is not a far stretch to think off, some things are only complicated because we don't make ourselves look at them, or want to look at them, but when looked at with open eyes things are just glaringly obvious, It's all a question of does anybody really want to know about such things.

I think we've got a whole website here for people who are hungry for precisely that kind of knowledge. Anything hidden must out, eh?

edit on 24-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:24 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

I love art history and reading interpretations.
Thanks so much for this thread!

One painting that has always stood out to me is The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.
It's as if Bosch knew that people would devolve into only catering to their base desires just as we see today with the Me Generation and how they are only concerned with satisfying themselves through instant gratification while placing morality aside.
edit on 24-3-2012 by Afterthought because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:25 PM
reply to post by galadofwarthethird

Here you go, dude. By Kehinde Wiley:

I saw this a few years back in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It is massive and wonderful in person.

Also, the artist snuck some priceless pearls of subversion in there:

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:26 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

A favorite pastime for some on this site, find the alien or ufo in the old renditions of paintings.

But I have yet to see the dark Vader or Wookiee one, the picture does remind me of a description I once read on some site of one of the supposed alien races out there, a more wolf like race that is supposed to have evolved from a wolf like creature in another galaxy far far away.

Art meet Real life.... Real life meet Art.....Now please quit trying to imitate each other so much, your confusing peoples.

Nah, and I'm not in a morbid mood, exactly.

So you saying that your not exactly quite in a morbid mood.

Got to run, c ya latter alligator.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:32 PM
reply to post by Afterthought

Hey, thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

That Bosch work is one of my very favorites, and before I head out for the night, I am going to post a detail of it for our delectation.

An exposition of Tantalus. The beasts being led by the apple dangling from a horn. The woman in the river resisting the advances of the man. The pull of that which is out of reach, and the huge avian tormentors.

Good stuff.

Have an excellent Saturday night, ATS.
edit on 24-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because:

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:34 PM
I don't see how the musket is being loaded the wrong way around. It is a MUZZLE LOADING MUSKET.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 04:36 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

Thanks for posting that painting. It's quite beautiful!

I hope you have a lovely evening and I'll add to the thread if I think of any other paintings. This thread certainly has amazing potential.

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 12:47 AM
F is for Fake

Art = Filthy Lucre.

This equation describes the relationship of the well-fed artist to the hand that feeds him. But what of the entrepreneur who dares to aspire to a far larger slice of the art market pie? Enter the forger. (Also, side-stage, but taking an even heftier haul of the proceeds, the wartime profiteer.)

There is an endless gallery of Forgeries to be seen, and the fortunes made in foisting them off on the gormless rich, decades at a time, far exceeds the profits made off the original works. One of my favorite dudes ever, Orson Welles, made a film (incomplete, yet flawless, the feckless bastard) documenting the golden years of one of the most successful known forgers of our time: Elmyr de Hory.

The film is named F for Fake, and it is a magnificent piece of flimflam. The perfect CT onion; layers upon layers and hollow in the middle.

Anyone who hasn't seen it and is getting apprehensive saucer eyes off the 1:30 run-time: it is after twelve where you are, or it Sunday morning. There is nothing better you could possibly do for yourself right now than to watch this film while you are sluggish and sleepy/hungover. I promise you.

Uncle Bob (why not chuck another sardonic Santa-faced genius into the ring?) chimes in on De Hory:

In August 1968 the Spanish government imprisoned a man on the island of Ibiza for creating a long series of sketches and paintings — beautiful, intensely lyrical works that Art Experts had universally proclaimed as masterpieces.

The imprisonment of this Maker of Masterpieces did not represent censorship in the ordinary erotic or religious sense. Nobody even accused the artist of Political Incorrectness. He got jugged for a technical matter — namely, that he had signed the wrong name to his works… or several wrong names, in fact. Names like Picasso and Van Gogh and Modigliani and Matisse, for instance. Not that anybody knew then, or knows now, what name the man should have signed.

Hoo boy. You can probably see right where he's headed there, and before you read the rest, I hope for your sake you are amongst the pleasantly post-midnight inebriated rather than in the company of those suffering the uncharitable pangs at the liver and cornea in the cruel light of Sunday morning.
edit on 25-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: Suuunday morning!

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 01:41 AM
reply to post by groingrinder

Good call. I think there should be the 16th cent. equivalent of Civil War reenactment groups out there, somewhere. I'd particularly like to think that they are loading hand-made muskets in a manner true to the period smack in the middle of the painted desert.

Rock on, Renaissance Arizona.

Honestly, though, I tried to vet this via the internet, as it seems totally feasible to me that there should be muskets that you load from behind and require no tamping. But, I don't know this crap, and neither does the internet, evidently. We will take your word for it, Groingrinder, and hail you as a God amongst geeks.

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 02:19 AM
A goodnight post. Or goodmorning.

Contemporary conspiracy theories depicted with blatant and obscene panache by David Dees. His Renaissance forbears would have blushed.

Sorry, my Freemason brethren, you know I love you, but this stuff is priceless. I can hear you giggling. It's okay.

I hope you don't have a mouthful of Scotch:

And practically everyone who frequents this site is familiar with David Dees.

Chuck Heston, hefting the 2nd Amendment.

And this? Pure mad whimsy:

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 09:14 AM
reply to post by Eidolon23

Just watched the Welles film. Time well spent! It's past 6am now, but I can say with a straight face that it was worthwhile! A straight face tinged with sleep deprived delirium, perhaps, but nonetheless its better than filling my mind up with negativity just before sleep as happens all too often on this particular website. I bid you all a groggy yet well intentioned farewell.


posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 09:19 AM
reply to post by 3n19m470

I am so glad you enjoyed it.

The best thing ever said about art and posterity, courtesy of Maestro Welles:

Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes.

A fact of life. We’re going to die.

"Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced – but what of it?

Go on singing.

Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.

edit on 25-3-2012 by Eidolon23 because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 09:24 AM
reply to post by Eidolon23

I hope you don't have a mouthful of Scotch:

The first painting you posted has the subject in attire that resembles baphomet with its horns as it's standing with its arms symbolizing the 'As above, so below' adage. Love the red hat with the All Seeing Eye!
edit on 25-3-2012 by Afterthought because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 12:38 PM
reply to post by Eidolon23

Correction: Creepy Shriners courtesy of Steven Daily.

The link is still valid, but yeah.

top topics

<<   2 >>

log in