Lee Sandstead's Dirty Little Secret

Art historian Lee Sandstead has a dirty little secret:  many of the paintings he had been taught to admire when a student, were disappointments when he saw them in person.  This is by no means a condemnation of the artists who painted the works, nor of Sandstead's teachers for lavishing praise upon these paintings.  It is just that whenever Sandstead encountered these pieces in museums, he noticed that the elements which had originally made the paintings special were missing or obscured.  The problem he found was that many artworks are in need of a good bath.

“This might sound rather incredible,” says Sandstead, “but most classic paintings in a museum need some kind of conservation, such as replacing the varnish. And even more incredible, in all of my art history classes that I have ever taken, no professor had ever mentioned this very basic—yet crucial—fact.”
Sandstead's quest to see paintings as they were "intended to be seen" began with Leonardo daVinci's La Giaconda (the Mona Lisa).  When he first saw it in its current state, he was . . . underwhelmed.  “I sat there looking at this very small and dark painting behind three inches of bullet-proof glass scratching my head in puzzlement. Where were her eyebrows? Why is she so yellow?”
He knew from the account of Giorgio Vasari, who described La Giaconda in 1547, that there was once something more to the painting:

In this head, whoever wished to see how closely art could imitate nature, was able to comprehend it with ease; for in it were counterfeited all the minutenesses that with subtlety are able to be painted, seeing that the eyes had that lustre and watery sheen which are always seen in life, and around them were all those rosy and pearly tints, as well as the lashes, which cannot be represented without the greatest subtlety. The eyebrows, through his having shown the manner in which the hairs spring from the flesh, here more close and here more scanty, and curve according to the pores of the skin, could not be more natural. The nose, with its beautiful nostrils, rosy and tender, appeared to be alive. The mouth, with its opening, and with its ends united by the red of the lips to the flesh-tints of the face, seemed, in truth, to be not colours but flesh. In the pit of the throat, if one gazed upon it intently, could be seen the beating of the pulse. And, indeed, it may be said that it was painted in such a manner as to make every valiant craftsman, be he who he may, tremble and lose heart.¹

What then was Sandstead missing?  Though he had not been taught the fact in school, he soon realized that for paintings, classical paintings, to be understood, several items were needed:  the removal of centuries of dirt and grime, the removal of yellowed and aged varnish, the addition of a new varnish to bring out the colors and increase the depth of the darks, and some good, controlled lighting in which to view the works.
As Sandstead says, ". . . before you can understand an artwork. . . (its) characters, symbols, messages, themes, etc., you first have to know what you are looking at."
Searching out works in museum's throughout the world, Sandstead, a talented a photographer in his own right, began taking pictures of paintings in need of cleaning, and correcting them digitally so he could appreciate the works as they were intended to be viewed.

Now, Sandstead, whose TV show on The Travel Channel, Art Attack with Lee Sandstead, revealed the man to be "the world's most fired-up art historian," is trying to educate the public about what they should be seeing, at least superficially, when they look at a painting.  Using new technology built upon Apple's iBook Author, Sandstead teamed up with app company Tapity to release a new, interactive book, Cleaning Mona Lisa, available today at the iTunes store.  In it, Sandstead describes his disappointment with certain works which were not being presented at their best in museums, and shows examples of how some works would look if they were restored and lighted properly.

His audience is not intended to be artists, but the general public– most artists should already know that many paintings in museums have been damaged by age.  As such, though, it is very encouraging.  Sandstead's presentation is clear and simple, and his energy has the chance to encourage more people into museums.  More importantly for contemporary realists, Sandstead has a sympathy for indirect painting methods, and is eager to educate his readers in the differences between classical and modernist technique, and why they should be appreciated differently.

Cleaning Mona Lisa is available for iBooks2 on the iPad.  It can be purchased on iTunes for $2.99.  For more information, visit Sanstead's website.

¹Vasari, Giorgio, "Life of Leonardo da Vinci", in Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, translated by Gaston DeC. De Vere, (London: Philip Lee Warner, 1912-1914).


gucci - biodegradable liquid wood sunglasses

prototype model of gucci sunglasses in liquid wood, 2012

after their 2011 debut of four sustainable eyewear models produced in collaboration with safilo group,
italian luxury brand gucci is continuing their commitment to the environment with the design of sunglasses
made from liquid wood - a biodegradable material which has never before been used in the eyewear sector -
and new eco-friendly packaging.

the initial prototype of the semi-matte black sunglasses with shaded grey glass lenses has been developed
into a set of frames which draw their formal elements from the stems of the bamboo plant. the hardware,
including the hinges and small metal rings that outline the bamboo joints, are all made from recycled metal,
paired with mineral glass lenses. liquid wood boasts a composition from bio-based materials:
wood fibre from sustainably managed forests and lignin from the paper manufacturing process and natural wax.
the eco-friendly material offers an alternative to plastic which is typically used in the production of eyewear.

the fashion house first began using 100 % recyclable packaging made from FSC (forest stewardship council)
certified paper in 2010 and will now extend this towards its eyewear collections. the new foldable cases will minimize stock space,
limiting both the weight and amount of shipments made, in turn reducing 60% of CO2 emissions. the design will bear the
mobius loop which is an internationally recognized symbol used to designate recyclable materials.

initial gucci eyewear produced from bio-based plastic, 2011 in flamed havana with green background

the 2011 models of gucci's eco-friendly eyewear are made from an acetate, which compared to traditional acetate used for optical frames,
contains a higher percentage of materials derived from natural origins. the bio-plastic has been created in two colors exclusively for gucci eyewear,
flamed havana with either a red background or a green background, recalling the fashion house's iconic green-red-green web.

alternative bio-plastic gucci frames, 2011

david beckham plays beethoven with soccer balls

in an ad for the samsung 'galaxy note', david beckham sounds out 'ode to joy' on a 15-foot wall by kicking soccer balls at specific drums

in a web-only ad for the galaxy note smartphone by samsung, soccer player david beckham plays beethoven's
'ode to joy' by kicking soccer balls against a 15-foot wall of differently sized and toned drums and gongs.

shot in under two hours, the ad was directed by creative agency cheil USA. in addition to highlighting the large screen size
and S-pen stylus functionality of samsung's galaxy note, it celebrates the upcoming olympic games of which samsung is sponsor,
as 'ode to joy' has been used in several opening ceremonies and olympic commercials of years past.

the 'galaxy note' ad

in the advertisment, the director uses a 'galaxy note' and S-pen to show beckham the 'strategy' for this play

blow job - gale-force wind portraits

blow job - gale-force wind portraits by tadao cern

'blow job' by tadao cern studio, 2012
all images courtesy the artist

tadas Ĩerniauskas of lithuanian photography studio tadao cern has created a new collection of wind-pushed portraits entitled 'blow job'. the lighthearted series pictures
various persons enduing gale-force winds funneled directly at their face. the close-range images were captured in a public photo shoot which took place during
the design week
of Ĩerniauskas's native vilnius, lithuania as visitors to tado cern's studio were given the opportunity to participate in this air-blown series. the artist
says of the project, 'I wanted to do something very fun for myself and the visitors, just laugh and have a good time. I was surprised that there were so many laid-back
people who were not afraid to look funny! spacious studio was bursting at the seams and everyone was crying with laughter, laughing at themselves and at each other.
everyone (and there were more than one hundred!) who dared to stand up in front of my lens that evening will remember this photo shoot for a long time and have an
extraordinary shot in his album

'blow job 2012' a call to models by tadao cern

via bored panda / behanced

Shiver me timbers, the 2012 D4G Winner is..

Shiver me timbers, the 2012 D4G Winner is....
Posted: 17 May 2012 10:04 AM PDT
After 114,000 submissions and millions of your votes, second grader Dylan Hoffman of Caledonia, Wisc. is this year’s U.S. Doodle 4 Google National Winner. His doodle “Pirate Times” will be featured on the U.S. Google homepage tomorrow, May 18.

Hoffman, who attends the Prairie School in Racine, Wisc., responded to this year’s theme “If I could travel in time I’d visit...” with a colorful depiction of his dream visit to an era filled with swashbucklers. There, he’d “sail a pirate ship looking for treasure, have a colorful pet parrot and enjoy beautiful sunsets from deserted islands.” With his win, Dylan has come into some treasure of his own: a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer and a $50,000 technology grant for his school. As an added bonus, Dylan’s doodle will grace the front of a special edition of the Crayola 64-crayon box, available this fall.

After this year's record-breaking submissions, choosing the National Winner and the four National Finalists wasn’t an easy decision. In addition to selecting Dylan, millions of public votes also helped us determine the four National Finalists, each of which will receive a $5,000 college scholarship:
  • Grades 4-5: Talia Mastalski, Grade 5, East Pike Elementary School, Indiana, Penn., for her doodle “Traveling to me.” Talia says, “When I think of Google, I think of a wormhole leading me to knowledge. If I could travel in time, I would visit a similar wormhole into the future to find out about ME.”
  • Grades 6-7: Herman Wang, Grade 6, Suzanne Middle School, West Covina, Calif., for his doodle “Retro City.” Herman says, “If I could travel in time, I'd visit Retro City. A future city made of robots and humans.”
  • Grades 8-9: Susan Olvera, Grade 8, SOAR Alternative School, Lafayette, In., for her doodle “Traveling Back to the Future.” Susan says, “If I could travel in time, I'd travel back to the future. If there is life on other planets, I believe we'd visit the natives as well as invent different ships and rockets for quicker transportation. With what we have accomplished currently, I believe the ‘future’ isn’t so far away.”
  • Grades 10-12: Cynthia Cheng, Grade 11, Edison High School, Edison, NJ, for her doodle “A World of Adventure.” Cynthia says, “If I could travel in time, I'd visit the age of the Vikings. Though their tales of monsters may not have been entirely true, they were some of the greatest explorers in history. It would be a remarkable experience to share adventures and discover new lands with them.”
After the awards ceremony in New York City today, all 50 of our State Winners will unveil an exhibition of their artwork at the New York Public Library, where their doodles will be displayed from May 18-July 19. In addition, the artwork of all our State Finalists and Winners will be displayed at exhibitions in their home states across the country over the summer. Be sure to check out the local exhibition near you.

Thanks to all of you who voted and helped us select this year's winner. Even more important, thank you to all of the students who submitted entries. Keep on doodling and we’ll see you next year!

Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP, Product Management