Museo del Prado

The Museo del Prado in Madrid is one of the world’s great art museums. Its walls are lined with the works of some of the world’s best known and most revered painters, including not only the works of Spanish masters such as Valasquez, Goya, Tiepolo, and El Greco, but others of the great artists, including Raphael, Titian, and Bosch. Even amongst all the other works of the great masters the most interesting art in the museum is in a small gallery on the ground floor containing the collection of 14 paintings by Francisco Goya now known as the Pinturas Negras (Black Paintings). These fascinating paintings, some disturbing and all uniquely compelling, are among the most arresting art works I have ever seen. The inevitable question for anyone who sees them is what they mean, a question that has drawn me in since my first visit to the Prado many years ago.
Continue Reading Sunday Arts: Pinturas Negras

La Sonate à Krutzer by René François Xavier Prinet

There is a natural tendency to think of musical compositions as autobiographical vehicles – that is, as expressions whose meanings can only be fully appreciated through an understanding of the composer him- or herself and of their lives. (My post last week about Chopin reflected this perspective.) Nowhere is this tendency more evident than with respect to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven; it is a common assumption that the drama and passion of his music can only be fully understood in the context of, say, his deafness, or his unrequited love for his “immortal beloved,” or even his never-ending financial woes.
Continue Reading Sunday Arts: The Kreutzer Sonata

The Chopin Monument in Łazienki Park, Warsaw (the statue depicts Chopin under a willow tree)

Welcome to the inaugural installment of the new Sunday Arts series, which I previewed in a recent post. It seemed appropriate to me to devote the first post in this series to my favorite composer, Frédéric Chopin, and to my favorite of all of Chopin’s compositions, his Polonaise in A-Flat Major (Opus 53), written in 1842. It is a great piece of music, and it is also a piece of music with a distinctive connection to the composer’s personal history.
Continue Reading Sunday Arts: Chopin’s Heart       

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

The purpose of this post is to announce a new feature I will be introducing to this site in September. The reason I am announcing the new feature in advance is to try to make the intention of the new feature clear from the outset, and also to let readers know that the new feature – which I am calling “Sunday Arts” – is open to all for readers’ own contributions, as I explain below.
Continue Reading Coming Soon: Sunday Arts