Tag Archives: History

Top New Books: “The Art Of Earth Architecture – Past, Present, Future” (Mar 2020)

The Art of Earth Architecture Past, Present, Future Jean Dethier March 2020The Art of Earth Architecture demonstrates the wide-ranging applications and sustainability of this building material, while presenting a manifesto for its ecological significance. Featuring raw-earth masterpieces, monumental structures, and little known works, the book includes the temples and palaces of Mesopotamia, the Great Wall of China, large-scale urban developments in Tenochtitlan in Mexico, the medinas of Morocco, and housing in Marrakech and Bogota.

For almost ten thousand years, unbaked earth has been used to build remarkable structures, from simple dwellings to palaces, temples, and fortresses both grand and durable. Jean Dethier spent fifty years researching this landmark global survey, which spans five continents and 250 sites.

This definitive reference features many UNESCO World Heritage sites and contains essays on the historical, technical, and cultural aspects of raw-earth construction from twenty experts in the field, as well as hundreds of photographs, illustrations, and architectural drawings.

The Art of Earth Architecture Past, Present, Future Jean Dethier March 2020

Jean Dethier has dedicated his life to the research, safeguarding, and development of earth structures around the world. Dethier worked at the Centre Pompidou as a curator of influential architectural exhibits for thirty years. Winner of the prestigious Grand Prix national de l’architecture, he sat on the jury of the 2016 Terra Award, the first international prize for contemporary earthen structures.

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Travel & Surrealism: “Jungle Xanadu – The Story Of Las Pozas” (2020)

Filmed, Edited and Written by: Bob Krist

Narrated by: Fabiola Stevenson

Jungle Xanadu - The Story of Las Pozas Short Film by Bob Krist March 26 2020

Edward James, a rich eccentric and patron of artists Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, built a surreal sculpture park in the jungles of the Sierra Gorda in Xilitla, Mexico. The project took 35 years, spreads over 80 acres, and is accessible to the public. This piece is filmed in black & white infrared, a technique that reacts to heat as well as visible light.

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History: “European Castle Ruins” Digitally Restored By NeoMam Studios

From AtlasObscura.com (March 26, 2020):

…a team of designers recently looked at the now-ruined castles of Middle Ages Europe, lifting the fortifications up from their dilapidated states and digitally reimagining the structures as they were in their heyday.

Samobor Castle Croatia - Digital Enhancement by NeoMam Studios March 2020

Seven European castles were virtually rebuilt, restoring them from their keeps to their baileys. Architects pored over old paintings, blueprints, and other research documents that describe the strongholds, then offered their opinions to the NeoMam Studios design team, which digitally revived the structures from the ground up.

NeoMam Studios website

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Art: “The Most Beautiful Gardens In Art” (Christie’s)

From a Sotheby’s Online Magazine (March 26, 2020):

From Sargent to Sorolla, Jonas Wood to Winston Churchill, Berkshire to Bali — how artists have found solace and inspiration in gardens the world over.

Edouard Manet The Monet Family In Their Garden at Argenteuil 1874 - Christie's Online Magazine

Edouard Manet The Monet Family in Their Garden At Argenteuil 1874

Gustav Klimt Farm Garden with Sunflowers 1905-06 - Christie's Online Magazine

Gustav Klimt Farm Garden with Sunflowers 1905-06 Christie's Online Magazine

Christie's Online Magazine

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Art Videos: “El Greco: Ambition And Defiance” (Art Institute Chicago)

Art Institute ChicagoExplore the exhibition “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” with curator Rebecca Long and research associate Jena Carvana. Follow along as they lead you through the galleries and share some of the reasons El Greco and his work continue to fascinate us.

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Top Podcasts: Alexander Von Humboldt – “The Last Man Who Knew It All”

Smithsonian Sidedoor PodcastAlexander von Humboldt might not be a name you know, but you can bet you know his ideas. Back when the United States were a wee collection of colonies huddled on the eastern seaboard, colonists found the wilderness surrounding them scary. 

It took a zealous Prussian explorer with a thing for barometers to show the colonists what they couldn’t see: a global ecosystem, and their own place in nature. In this The Invention of Nature Alexander von Humborldt's New World Andrea Wulfepisode, we learn how Humboldt—through science and art—inspired a key part of America’s national identity.

More fascinating Humboldt facts:

  • He strongly opposed slavery in the early 19th century, calling it the “greatest of all the evils which have afflicted mankind.”
  • He was the first to theorize human caused climate change by changing how water flows through a landscape, on a local level, and warned about deforestation.
  • He invented isotherms, the lines on a weather map that we still use today. He used them to show which parts of the world were experiencing similar temperatures.
  • He made the world’s most detailed map of Mexico and the American west.
  • He nearly summited what was then thought to be the world’s tallest mountain (while wearing 18th century wools, no less.).
  • Another thing Humboldt and Jefferson bonded over? Mastodons. Humboldt was the first to discover remains of a species now known as Cuvieronius hyodon in Ecuador, which were similar to the “giant elephants” being found in Ohio. The teeth Humboldt found were the clue that these weren’t modern elephants; they looked pretty different. And because these teeth looked sharp, Jefferson and some American scientists thought they were for meat eating! Eventually Georges Cuvier, a French scientist who was friends with Humboldt, proved that these were different from Indian and African elephants, and even woolly mammoths—and the species eventually ended up renamed after him. One of the few eponymous misses for our friend Humboldt!

If you’re interested in learning more about the life and times of Alexander von Humboldt, I’d recommend reading Andrea Wulf’s book The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World.

Travel & Quarantines: Author Frances Mayes Writes Of Poet John Keats In Naples, Italy In 1820 (NYT)

From the New York Times (March 26, 2020):

I have seen Naples from his vantage of a ship anchored offshore — one of the most sublime locations in the world, that sweep of coast stacked with apricot, carmine, azure and rose villas; the blue, blue U of the harbor; the emphatic Vesuvius anchoring the view. 

Frances Mayes
Frances Mayes

In October of 1820, typhus raged in Naples. With his artist friend, Joseph Severn, the British poet John Keats rocked in the city’s harbor for 10 days, not nearly the quaranta giorni — 40 days — that give us our word quarantine.

Before this journey, Keats always felt intense melancholy. In “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time,” he wrote “… mortality / Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep.” (And in the smooth pentameter of “Ode to a Nightingale”: “I have been half in love with easeful death.”) Not a holiday, this voyage out of England was a desperate trip to the sunny climate of Italy. His cough had grown steadily worse. Since the morning he’d seen a splotch of blood on his pillow, he knew he had little chance of surviving the consumption that had invaded his lungs. His last-ditch: Go to Rome. Meanwhile, exile at sea.

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