Category Archives: Art

The Cardiff Giant.

Here’s the whole story of the Cardiff Giant from the Museum of Hoaxes:

The Cardiff Giant, a gigantic ten-foot tall stone man, emerged out of the ground and into American life on October 16, 1869, when he was discovered by some workers digging a well behind the barn of William C. “Stub” Newell in Cardiff, New York. Word of his presence quickly spread, and soon thousands of people were making the journey out to Stub Newell’s farm to see the colossus. Even when Newell began charging fifty cents a head to have a look at it, people still kept coming.

Speculation ran rampant over what the giant might be. The central debate was between those who thought it was a petrified man and those who believed it to be an ancient statue. The ‘petrifactionists’ theorized that it was one of the giants mentioned in the Bible, Genesis 6:4, where it says, “There were giants in the earth in those days.” Those who promoted the statue theory followed the lead of Dr. John F. Boynton, who speculated that a Jesuit missionary had carved it sometime during the seventeenth century to impress the local indians.

The truth was somewhat more prosaic. It was actually the creation of an enterprising New York tobacconist named George Hull. The idea of burying a stone giant in the ground occurred to him after he got into an argument with a methodist Reverend about whether the Bible should be taken literally. Hull, an atheist, didn’t think it should. But the Reverend disagreed. The Reverend insisted that even the passage where it says ‘there were giants in the earth in those days’ should be read as a literal fact. According to Hull, after this discussion he immediately “thought of making a stone, and passing it off as a petrified man.” He figured he could not only use the fake giant to poke fun at Biblical literalists, but also make some money.

Read the rest if you don’t know it. The story is awesome.

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Howard found E.Y.’s favorite print!

Nice job, Howard!:

Now buddy, you and I both know what you have to do next.

Masterpiece.

Georges_Seurat_-_Un_dimanche_après-midi_à_l'Île_de_la_Grande_Jatte

Today looks like it might be my first day of a week of blogging from the Panera Bread Company (home of free wi-fi) as I can’t get my Mac laptop to sync with the University Center’s ethernet connection.  Hopefully, you’re reading this before you go to the Art Institute of Chicago, so that I can tell you about my favorite painting in the world.

When I was young, my parents dragged me to some of the greatest cultural institutions in the world long before I was old enough to fully appreciate them.  I have been to the Louvre in Paris, for example, but not since I was nine.  The one thing I do remember about that visit, however, was the French Impressionist who painted entirely with dots.  Later I learned (or at least continued to remember) that his name was Georges Seurat.  While I was born in Chicago, my family left for New Jersey when I was six years old and I didn’t come back until I was applying for college and had an interview at the University of Chicago on the South Side.  While I was here, Dad took me to the Art Institute and I was absolutely hooked by the painting above.

It’s called A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Seurat, and, of course, I loved it because I remembered the dots. Seurat died of some unknown disease at just age 31, so there aren’t many of these paintings to look at, anywhere. But I also love this particular painting because it’s absolutely huge. Seriously, the dang thing takes up more area than most people’s kitchens, and it’s all done in unique, individual dots. I visit it every time I’m in Chicago and just sit and stare at it for at least 15 minutes. As soon as we’re done with our tour at 2PM, that’s where you’ll find me.

PS It’s also the subject of a Stephen Sondheim musical which is much, much better than a musical about a painting has any right to be.