There are numerous cases when in one way or another, somebody finds out a painting that hung over a prestigious gallery for years is a fake. Or it could be that a once seemingly useless painting is actually a long lost original by a minor artist.

But what happens if it doesn’t what it appears to be?

One famous example of a mistaken identity is a Remembrandt called the Elderly Woman in a White Cap.

The painting is actually a portrait of an old woman (probably in her sixties) set in profile, wearing a white cap and a brown fur coat.

Trouble started when one source explained that it was a fake.

First, the canvass had multiple wooden panels, something the painter only employed single ones in all his canvasses.

Another thing is that the white cap was a dead giveaway that she was a mere servant, and that she could not have afforded to wear an expensive article of clothing, a fur coat, for example. In addition, Remembrandt could not have done the painting because a servant could not have afforded such luxury to pay him for his efforts in the first place.

The last part is the light effect the experts detected on her face. Since she was wearing a coat, light could not have reflected on the chin. As such, Remembrandt would not be caught dead (pun not intended) making such a mistake, since he was a sticker for details.

So, everybody would have agreed to these findings, if not for the other set that came about to debunk them.

Other experts were called to check on the paintings and found out the following interesting evidence:

The appearance and quality of the additional panels do not necessary meant that it was not Remembrandt’s. Somebody could have attached them at a much later date.

Yes, it was a servant who was being painted but the fur coat was added by someone else long after Remembrandt finished the painting. It was implied that this was done to increase the value of the painting. Apparently, rich people portraits are more expensive than those of the peasants. Go figure. So, if the panting was originally about a servant, then the dress should have been a white simple dress, as it is worn traditionally.

The second evidence would explain why there was a light reflection on her chin. The white dress would reflect the light, so logically, Remembrandt would have painted it to be seen that way.

As to the issue if the servant was able to afford Remembrandt’s services or not, it can be explained that at times, Remembrandt was known to make portraits of people from all walks of life, but not necessarily for their benefit or as paid service.

Therefore, the original Remembrandt is still an original, albeit an altered one. Yikes! That would probably worse for me, to own a tampered masterpiece by a classic painter. However, that is just my opinion. What do you think is better? A tampered masterpiece or a genuine fake?

One of my favorite paintings was not a da Vinci or even a Remembrandt.

Being a nurse probably would have geared me toward realistic paintings or statues of lovely figures.

It did not work that way. My earliest favorite was a Monet, a painting called A Woman with a Parasol. It depicted a lady wearing one of those long white frock dresses with an old-fashioned umbrella (a parasol, as if you don’t know that already!). She had with her a little boy wearing a white and blue sailor suit. They stood against the backdrop of a cloudy spring morning sky. Beneath their feet was a field of green grass, with scattered yellow buttercups and lavender. Her head was posed to made as if looking sideways at the painter, and tendrils of hair played on her face.

All the while, there was a mild breeze blowing in to her right.

It was first seen in the cover of a notebook, brought from one of those specialty bookstores. At first it was an instant like because it was a classical painting by one of the masters. Then again, I was too young to know which one was which, but had a feeling it was by someone really old. (For young children, the distinction seemed rather bent toward intuition than anything else. Besides contemporary art tended to be too modern to my precocious tastes).

Second, Monet just painted the perfect shade of blue for the sky. I had and have tried the same thing. Nothing came close to how he did it.

Third, the brush strokes were lovely to look at and feel. The way the grass and the dress swayed in the breeze looked perfect and peaceful.

It didn’t matter that the notebook was well-worn, I kept it until junior high school. At the last resort, I tore the copy of the painting and attempted to put it away for safe keeping. Needless to say, I could not find it anymore but the collecting other copies of every painting I have come across through the years continued.

I thought I was indifferent to Art but remembering this piece of memory explains why I love Art this much.

 

In one of my awkward job attempts as a English as Second Language teacher/orientee , a foreign student talked about sexuality. He mentioned how he observed that there were more people who flaunted their homosexuality these days. He also added that there were studies indicating the relationship of common use of plastic containers used to store food to increased hormone levels. He didn’t mention which hormone he was referring to, just that he googled the research online.

This got me to thinking about another artist which was recognized in the international scene, a Frida Kahlo. There was a movie about her some years back, and it starred by Salma Hayek. There was this memorable scene that had a voice over of Ms. Kahlo saying, to the effect, that she was faring badly in Paris but was actually enjoying the fame and fortune, even picking up same sex partners along the way.

I remember thinking, whoa. First, she’s lying. Second, she’s sleeping around. Third, she’s sleeping around with women. My upbringing had been conservative and although I am aware of people preferring partners of the same sex, it was a little shocking to realize there were people who were unfaithful that way.

As my research turned out, Frida was openly sexually active with both men and women, even during her marriage to Diego Rivera. They had, to say the least, troublesome marriage. Both tried to tolerate extramarital affairs because both practice it yet Diego was particularly sensitive to the ones she had with other men. At one point, they broke up because of that but later on remarried.

Like the other artists I wrote about in my earlier blog entries, Frida had a troubled childhood. Born into a Catholic household of mostly women (since all of her siblings were female), she was close to her father. She was also born into a time of wars, so that it was common for her mother to entertain soldiers. Some years forward, she suffered from an illness that left her crippled on one leg. She wanted to be a doctor, but left the notion after an accident that obliged her to spend some time in the hospital completely immobile.

To pass away the time, Frida chose to draw self-portraits. She drew her style from Mexican culture, to result in colorful pieces, filled with symbols.

Where am I going with this? What seems to be the connection between being homosexual and childhood?

Well, that being a homosexual may be caused partly by influence of a person’s background and surroundings but it is primarily a choice. I believe at the very bottom of things that we were designed to be men and women, with nothing in between. What you believe in may be different, and I respect that.

I still don’t believe that the rampant use of plastics would in any way influence such a complex interplay of outside factors and innate free will, particularly in a personality such as Frida’s, plastic or not.

Let me know if you can find research for this.

If you have been reading this part of my blog, you may be aggrieved to know that I am no art critic or student. All I have is an enthusiastic heart for the canvass, and lately, a compassion for a man who needs more than just a distraction. In his passionate lecture lecture, the professor gave me a bucket list of art galleries to go if and when I should have the chance to tour around the world. How laughable that may seem because I think I know where I belong. Of course, he would not accept no for an answer.

He consented to have this published online for future reference (should you dear reader, feel the need to spend a few thousand dollars for a trip around the world project).

Here is a small list of great art exhibits and galleries:

The Third Line – this is from Dubai and what roaring commentary Tim gave! He praised the ‘progressive’ notion of having contemporary art pieces from international and local artists. A certified favorite, he said. I have yet to see that.

Proyectos Monclava – stumbling into a striving cultural scene from the other side of the fence during dangerous times requires courage and the professor certainly choose this initially as a challenge. He visited this gallery when there was a supposedly a threat to his life. This gallery features a crew of Mexican and non Mexican artists with regular speakers of different races.

Johann Konig – Located in Berlin, this houses both historical and current pieces.

Yvon Lambert – lovers of the art can enjoy this gem from Paris that values pieces from the American art of the 70’s.

The Hotel – the emotional side of me would be thrilled to visit this gallery in London. The professor said that this institute features art imitating life.

Gagosian – I have yet to see this but it is said that this gallery can be found worldwide. The staff hosts quality exhibits that are said to be worth the wait. Probably once I have the time, I can take a look.

Jonathan LeVine – This one among the many New York houses artwork from artists who try their hand on experimental art and murals. A to-go during non peak hours, perhaps?

KS Fine Art – Displays weird art pieces galore, he said, in New York.

Modern Institute – as the name implies, this Scotland- and worldwide-based gallery is a house for modern pieces. More than that, many of their featured pieces have already won Turner Awards (which I understand that is a big deal in Art).

Daniel Bucholz – Germany artists displays artwork with modern residential interior design. One website described them as adventurous.

Given the chance, I would rather focus on one painting at a time right now. I rather prefer the classical canvass-styled artwork, statues or whatever. I remember one thing that first put me off from art was these weird art mobiles in one of the class visits to the local art museum. One of my classmates mentioned that one of the pieces looked like a decapitated head. I was seven and it was a bit traumatic to see how my imagination ran wild that night. It was a wonder that I did not lose heart on continuing with the Nursing degree.

 

I find I cannot take emotional outbursts. I always keep them private, within the comfortable confines of my bedroom. As a nurse, I also understood, that working as a healthcare provider, for all its promotions of compassionate duty, frown against showy expressions. I remember the stories of doctors hugging their patients and smiling rehab staff. Although not uncommon, as a whole, medical people really do see the need to hold back to protect themselves emotionally.

There was only one time when I literally broke down and it was not even with crying or shouting. It happened after my first encounter with death, a seven year old who had to have a breathing tube to survive. I sat down and stared at the wall for an hour while more experienced fellow nurses (unfeelingly?) walked by.

No amount of book learning would ever prepare one for situations like this. They mention debriefing, stages of grieving, etc., etc. What I know right now is that to understand grief, one has to live it.

After the talk about Vincent Van Gogh, I know that Tim was trying to tell me about his personal struggles. Yet instead of expounding on it, he moved on to another painter, a Mr. Salvador Dali.

 

He seemed to be more like himself, too.

 

Mr. Dali was discussed in my college days but almost as a passing topic, as if making sure we nursing students should know some sort of general trivia. The course at that time was taught by a cynical Social Studies teacher. She mentioned that Mr. Dali himself was a staunch supporter of radical Marxism ideals.

Like Mr. Van Gogh, he also experienced being discriminated. Unlike the former, however, he was confident and at times even flamboyant. At one time, he even made a disparaging statement about his mother which prompted his father to kick him out of home and inheritance.

Family-wise, he was raised by an authoritarian lawyer father and a much more sensitive mother. Her death gave him one of the biggest shocks of his life.

Apparently, however, he recovered at least outwardly. Mr. Dali rose to fame, made some friends and enemies because of his ideals. He enjoyed fame in his life and posthumous.

Mr. Dali was a surrealist (paintings with weird dreamlike topics) master, so it may be little known about his influence as a Renaissance artist. For the life of me, I cannot distinguish the difference between the two except for the topics each genre represent.

I see his paintings and see the realistic and dreamy lines converge to give out a sense of being concrete and abstract. Tim even gave me a glimpse of his reproductions, albeit from another room.

All I can say is that, wow, Mr. Dali is one great artist. (And all the people say, duh!)

Right now, at the very least, Tim succeeded from turning the intimate topic of personal life to the limelight of the greats. Mr. Dali was all we ever talked about the rest of the day. His wife had to call him four times before he could cut himself away from such an interested student. Still, I hope to give him, in due time, a peek of future hope that I learned and accepted during my time of loss.

 

 

My official welcome to the world of art begun in a rustic gallery somewhere in San Francisco and was spearheaded by one mousy man called Tim. I found him after accidentally falling in love with a painting in a hospital. You may want to read the full details at my earlier blog post. Almost all the literature I have been exposed to gave me a caricature of artists as tall, lean French men with long mustaches but he was neither. In fact, he was short, stubby and of Latin American descent. His tastes run parallel with his eccentrics. One year, he would love to paint Abstracts. On another, Realisms. Of course, he will never forget the other year of Impressionisms. He confided that there was even one year in Art school when because he could not make up his mind he combined all three genres, much to the consternation of a conservative professor.

Nonetheless, this played a vital role (how nursing-ish!) in his career. After years of empty galleries and failed projects, his fame finally “took flight” and much of his paintings are sold in considerable amount by well-to-do families. Much of this were credited to his outlandish techniques.

He has since taken a Sabbatical of two years, to refresh his passion for something new. I think it was more like he simply run out of ideas to what to paint. I am reminded of a paranoid client (we are being encouraged to say client rather patient, to sound more professional) with a mystery ailment. After countless lab procedures that garnered no significant results and numerous consultations, the doctor simply told the patient that he (the doctor) just didn’t know. The patient walked out, never to be seen again.

I hope this would not happen to my dear friend. Losing clientele is probably one of the worst case scenarios I do not want Tim to experience. However, oblivious to this possible event, he called me up this morning as he wanted to teach me about one artist who (according to him) shared his out-of-the-box notions in Art.

Vincent Van Gogh, Tim started, was one of those painters who were not appreciated at his time. Born to father who was a Catholic minister, he first thought his calling was in religion and even worked as a missionary at one time. However, he suffered from bouts of emotional stress and depression. It did not help that he had two failed attempts at romance and not one successful employment as a bookstore clerk, salesman and preacher .

Despite the Catholic background, he underwent some training in a Protestant theology school, although he too did not this finish well. Mr. Van Gogh also drove himself to malnutrition and addiction to alcohol. He suffered hallucinations, probably from substances he drunk like the now banned absinthe. His own brother, who supported his artistic undertakings even confessed to having a difficult time living with him.

My professor rambled on and on about this and his low self-esteem.

I wonder if Mr. Van Gogh had a chance to be checked by a psychiatrist for all his troubles. It seemed like he needed some anti-anxiety pills or Valium. Or probably not. It has occurred to me that almost all artists had this tendency to kill themselves.

The somber end involved with a shoot in the torso. Many believed that it was a suicide but the gun was never found in the scene of the crime.

I cut him off in mid sentence. “What seems to be the connection between his life story and his art? So far, you have not mentioned even once of his works.”

Tim gave me a exasperated sigh. “To understand an artist’s work, you would have to understand his life.”

Then he took me to his patio. There were rows and rows of bright-colored paintings, swirls of light and color. Even one dark familiar painting of the night sky seemed to dance. The bold strokes seemed to leap from the glossy paper. There was beautiful chaos to my untrained eye.

“These are reproductions of the real paintings,” Tim said sheepishly. “Dirt cheap, yes, but faithful to the core.”

“Whose work are they?” I asked silently, suddenly knowing the answer.

“Vincent Van Gogh,” he replied, turning toward one painting called Starry, Starry Night. “They serve to remind me to never give up, even if everything should come to nought.” My professor could really be British sometimes.

I looked at Tim and it seemed the years were stamped in his face. I didn’t understand and yet I understood.